Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Tumbling Blocks Quilt

At last it is finished!
I have previously posted about the making of this quilt in April here and here.
The one thing I would change:  I really should have thought more about my choice of colours and only chosen fabrics that I really loved, as I no longer really like the aqua colour that I used as the tops of the 3D blocks.

The Quilting Process

For me, the quilting on this was a nightmare!
At first, I tried going around each 3D cube in a hexagon shape, but this meant that I had to double back a lot.  So I left it alone for a few days weeks to ponder over a solution.
Next I tried free-motion quilting but my lines were very wonky and my stitches were uneven lengths.I think I need a bit more practice with this skill before doing it on a quilt, so again I left it and went onto creating other things.
In the end, after much procrastination and delaying, a friend who does card-making suggested a solution that I tried and am much happier with the outcome.   And with a sewing-rut reminder from Danielle, I was ready to just crack-on and get it finished last weekend.

I stitched along the tops of the rows of cubes, in a wide zig-zag line, straight across the width of the quilt. Then I went back and stitched the up and down vertical lines in between by lifting the foot and pulling the thread a little to carry on stitching without snipping.  It's not as neat as I'd imagined, and there are a lot of cut threads that I clipped instead of threading through - very lazy of me really.
Here you can see the 10" border fabric as well as my pen lines that mimic the patchwork hexagons all the way over the border to the very edge.  In the above photo you can just see the blue stitching from left to right in the zig-zag. 
It is bound in an Amy Butler fabric ( I think)
Showing the two different mid-tone fabrics. I ended up introducing
a second mid-tone fabric to make the quilt a bit bigger.

What I have learnt

I really enjoy patchwork - measuring, cutting and piecing the jigsaw puzzle together, and am eager to start a new one.  But from now on, unless it's continuous line quilting, I think I will pay a professional to do the quilting.
I only have a limited amount of time to devote to creating, and the feeling of frustration, the worry and the procrastination really took it's toll on my creative output.  The monetary savings by quilting it myself just weren't equal to the cost to my creative well-being.
But on the upside - I am sure she will like this quilt, I am now out of my sewing rut and I am working on a new dress and a new quilt!

Monday, 29 July 2013


At the end of August I am going to a Stitch Gathering in Edinburgh.  A choice of two out of a possible 6 workshops were available, and I am fortunate to be enrolled in both of my first choices! I love it when that happens.  On the day we will be getting a goodie bag, coffee breaks and lunch all provided.  Sounds like a lot of fun to me.
We were sent a fabric ticket to create a colourful patchwork block, and assigned a person to create a name-tag for, which I have posted about previously.
I recently received the supplies list and so have enjoyed a little online shopping for the few bits and pieces that I didn't already have.

Three new things

In preparation for spending a day in patchworker's heaven, here are a few things that I have been making:
I had previously made a large ironing board that sits next to my desk along with a large cutting mat.  So this week I have made a mini board using a piece of hard board from the back of an unused picture frame.
This mini ironing board is the same size as my mini cutting mat and fits perfectly into my sewing machine travelling bag!
I also made a padded, drawstring bag for all my sharp tools to be safely carried within.
And the last thing that I NEEDED was a ring pin-cushion.  I got the idea from a Amy's Crafty Shenanigans blog and then googled for a tutorial, and found one here.  I first made the red one and it turned out as pointy as a gnome's hat, so I decided to make another one but this time with a curved top.  I thought more carefully about my fabric choice and used a fabric design that says "make some quilts" on one side and "take it easy" on the other.

I am really looking forward to doing the two workshops that I signed up for, and looking forward to meeting like-minded creative women.  I will let you know how it goes.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Crafting on holiday

We have been on holiday recently to some islands off the west coast of Scotland, known as the Western Isles or the Outer Hebrides.  We stayed in a traditionally thatched cottage on the island of Benbecula, sandwiched between North Uist and South Uist.
If you have a look at a map of these islands, you will notice that from the air it looks like a whole lot of puddles - these are very small lochs called lochens.  Among other things my Mr likes fly-fishing so this was fisherman's heaven for him.  He did buy me a rod but I just wasn't really in the mood for it, so this is what I did, whilst snuggled down amongst the heather:
Crocheted flowers inside hexagons.  I started this little project a while ago and it is perfect to keep me occupied whilst travelling (and whilst being a fishing companion)
Here you can see both Mr and myself happily enjoying our holiday in our own preferred activities!

The ferry ride over from mainland Scotland is 5 hours and in that time I really managed to get very quick at making these up, I even perfected my techniques on the ride over so much that I no longer have to refer to the pattern.  On the ferry ride home I even received a compliment on my crochet work from a stranger who said in a spanish accent "so is a flew-er?  Is buw-tee-foo"
Here is my successful fisherman with a 1.5 lb freshwater brown trout.
He also caught a 1 lb and we had one each for our tea that evening.

Our first week the weather was grey, cloudy, wet and windy.  I wasn't very impressed by my Mister's choice of holiday destination at all - especially when mainland Scotland seemed to be basking in the first spell of sunshine we've had in years.
I'm not a happy holidayer = wet, grey and windy.

But thankfully the Outer Hebrides (and Mr) redeemed themselves when we started to enjoy some of that sunshine in our second week of the holiday.  I did wear some me-made dresses but only in the 3 evenings when we went out, otherwise it was a comfy-clothes kind of holiday, learning the history of the people, exploring the nature reserves and photographing the scenery.
For those of you who may be interested, here are a couple snaps from our holiday:
the many lochens of Benbecula
beautiful and peaceful beaches everywhere
remains of an ancient stone circle
wild flowers are protected, known as machair
Disclaimer for the unscrupulous:  These photos were taken by myself so please do not copy or use them without direct permission from me.  Thanks.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Mellow Yellow in the Sunshine

I have made another version of Butterick 5354, in honour of the sunshine that Scotland has finally been blessed with.
Blue skies and warmth on our skin during Summer (that lasts for more than three consecutive days) has been unheard of here for five years, according to my own recollection.

I used a cotton/rayon blend that I found in a remnants bin for $10 whilst on holiday in Australia last year.  It has a substantial feel to it and a subtle shine which gives it a luxurious look and feel.
For this version I decided to add the little capped sleeves, gives it a slightly less casual look. 

I have worn this with jeans to play ten-pin bowling and a meal out with "the girls" and not one person asked if I'd made it myself.  Usually they're onto it straight away.  Perhaps the pleating detail, along with the rich nature of the fabric made it look a bit more mainstream.  But in a way I was glad not to have to say "Yes, I made it myself" for a change, and just get to wear it.  Another benefit was that my colleagues weren't compelled to have to give my clothes compliments, which is what usually happens once they find out I've made something that they've admired.  I do love to have my handmade clothes complimented but sometimes it is nice just to be able to enjoy wearing them without chatting about them.
The back is fairly plain really, but I decided to include this photo for two reasons.
One is that I have put on a lot of weight during the months of June and July, and hopefully acknowledging my overindulgence and stagnation will motivate me to be more careful and active in the coming months.
The second reason is that many, many times I read a lovely blog about a dress and they never show you the back.  There are some blogs that I read regularly and really enjoy, but despite sharing nearly 10 photos of themselves in their new dress, with a close up on a side seam, a collar, a waistband or a hem, not one of the photos shows the back of the dress.  And these women have fabulously svelte figures and create stunning dresses that really suit their curves.  And so I have decided to show the backs of more of my makes - even though this one is a plain style and my curves currently are not as I'd like them to be.

My resolve: posterior - for posterity

From now on I shall endeavour to reveal the back view.  How about you?

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Fabric shopping in the flesh

I recently had to go to the big city for work, and right near the carpark was the shopping mecca for fabric lovers - Mandors of Glasgow.  It is such a novelty for me to actually see and touch real fabric as I live in a rural part of Scotland and rarely get to step inside an actual fabric shop.  I'm more familiar with online shopping.
So here is what I was able to buy in the flesh:
3 metres of floral intended for a dress, 2 metres of measuring tape fabric for a skirt and a little bit of twill tape to secure the neckline of a jersey dress I have in mind to start.

The other "in the flesh" moment was meeting the fabric-savvy Hazel from Disaster in a Dress blog.  I've been reading her blog for a while and now I have actually met her in real life!  Yay!  And boy does she know her way around a fabric shop.  I don't think there's anything she doesn't know about fabric.
A great bonus for me on an otherwise worrying work day.
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