Tuesday 27 November 2012

Pies and Tarts Quilt - Final Slices

Pies and Tarts Quilt
Pies and Tarts Quilt - Final Slices

At the weekend I had a lazy Sunday afternoon, sitting in front of the television watching the final race of the Formula 1 2012 Season from Brazil, with Sparky the cat on my lap, hand sewing the last slices of my Pies and Tarts quilt together. I started English paper piecing my Pies and Tarts Quilt in February 2011, so this marks the end of an era.  These are the small 'tarts', which will be appliqued up to the edge of the quilt.
What does this mean?  It means that I do not have a hand piecing project on the go at the moment.  This is probably a good thing, as it means I will have to concentrate on hand quilting some of the quilt sandwiches that are waiting for my attention.

Ferrero Rocher Tower

Ferrero Rocher Tower
Ferrero Rocher Tower
I thought I would share this picture with you.  For the celebrations at the weekend I created a Ferrero Rocher Tower. 
It used about 73 individual Ferrero Rocher, mounted on cocktail sticks, on a cone of Florist Oasis, with a 12cm diameter base.  I covered the cone in gold paper, so that when our guests indulged in a chocolate, there was a pretty paper behind.
It certainly had the WOW factor when it was revealed. 
The chocolates were tasty too!

Monday 26 November 2012

Easy Street Part 1 - Mystery Quilt

Suzi Cat on Easy Street Quilt Fabric

'I think it is time you made your decision ...'

I have been putting off making the FINAL colour choice decision for Part 1 of Bonnie Hunter’s Easy Street Mystery Quilt, but my assistant, Suzi the cat, insisted that I start it today, in order to keep up with everyone.  Suzi only joined us in April, but already she is a VERY keen quilter.

My final decision was to use the tan ‘Kansas Troubles’ print from the ‘Back to the Prairie 2 - 9195’ Moda range, for Bonnie’s grey (yes, it is grey here in the UK) .  I don’t think I have the full yardage for this, but I think I will have enough for Part 1 of Easy Street.  Any remainder, I can supplement with some other scraps from the same range, which I have. Let’s hope I get away with it.

The background fabric is made up of similar tan based fabrics, but with prints all over them.  Again, a lot of my scraps are from the Kansas Troubles ‘Christmas’ range from a few years ago which I purchased as a lovely fat quarter bundle from Sunflower Fabrics.  There is also a lovely Sandy Gervais 'Friendly Folk' Moda print in there for which I have about 2 yards.
The 2 inch strips from these scraps have varied from a full bolt width to 4 inches – so no scrap is safe.  The other colours will be red, green and purple.  The key thing was to ‘shop my stash’, which I should be able to do for 90% of the quilt.
Easy Street Mystery Quilt Sewing Machine

I have been quilting for several years, but all my quilts have been hand stitched and hand quilted. Machining a quilt together has not really entered my radar, until recently, and I am using the Easy Street Mystery Quilt, to bring me up to speed. Using the machine is much quicker, but I do like to get my seams accurate.  Sew far, sew good. Bonnie’s tips about how you feed your units, and the pinwheel seam were great.
Part 1 Easy Street Quilt - Twosies
Part 1 Easy Street Quilt Twosies

Part 1 Easy Street Quilt 4-patch
Part 1 Easy Street Quilt 4-patch

With my scrappy scraps, I am having to cut in batches, to ensure that I still have a good mix of backgrounds for later on, as I don't have a clue how much I am using. So far I have done about 50 units, but have some more time today and tomorrow to get this first step finished.  Everso pleased that I have got started on this. I wonder what pattern it will end up to be?

Friday 23 November 2012

Easy Street is Launched!

Easy Street Mystery Quilt Fabric Selection
Easy Street Fabric Selection
With the first reveal of the Easy Street Mystery Quilt launched today whilst I was at work, it was a tense day until I got home. 
With the first pictures revealed, it has helped me make my final decision regarding the colour scheme.  I have gone for the cream option, but I will be quite particular to keep out any white, to blend nicely with that 'Kansas Troubles' fabric.
With that excitement out of the way, my attention has moved onto the preparations for a BIG family celebration tomorrow.  So no sewing for the next few days.  I might have a chance to cut up and sew some fabric on Monday, but unlikely before.  If I get up early, I might be able to get something done before all the followers wake up in America.  I can't wait to get started!

Monday 19 November 2012

Christmas Countdown - Advent Calendar

Country Christmas Advent Calendar 107, Makower UK
"Country Christmas Advent Calendar", Makower UK
Whilst looking for scraps for the Easy Street Mystery Quilt, I came across this panel in my stash, #107 Country Christmas Advent Calendar by Makower UK.  I must have bought it at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, several years ago, and several Advents have passed since then.  It has a pocket for each day, just big enough for a chocolate.  I am sure I have had it for 5 years or more. This is clearly a missed opportunity.  It must be AT LEAST 120 chocolates that I have gone without!  In an attempt to redress the balance, I thought I could get this ready for 1st December, THIS year.

It is a neat little project. Everything you need is there, including the instructions. Once the pieces have been cut out, the hems need to be folded back, pressed and sewn. 
Advent Calendar, Isamet 0500, Pfaff
Stitching the pocket hems for the Advent Calendar
With red and green pockets, there wasn’t really an ideal thread colour to use, so I opted for a gold metallic (Isamet 0500), to add to the glitz of Christmas. 
Box pleats for the pockets of the Advent Calendar
Box pleats for the pockets of the Advent Calendar
The 24 pockets are in strips, so they need to be folded to create a box pleat, and then attached to the main fabric panel.  So far, there has been more pressing with the iron than stitching, but all the pockets are attached, ready for a quilt sandwich, and the decision of whether to hand or machine quilt.

There are still 11 days to get this completed, within in which time Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt will have started.  I notice it will be 24 days since Bonnie made the announcement, maybe next year I can use the calendar to count down to her Mystery Quilt, and refill it for 1st December!

Saturday 17 November 2012

#2 Butterfly Quilt - Techniques and Construction

Butterfly Quilt English Piecing Blocks
English Paper Piecing the Butterfly Quilt

The Butterfly Quilt was hand pieced, using the English Paper Piecing Method.  This involves tacking each piece of fabric over a paper template, to give it shape and structure, and then sewing the pieces together.  I tend to leave all the paper in until the top is complete, again, to keep its structure.  I find that this method leaves me with a dead flat top at the end. 

This was a great project.  I spent hours playing with fabrics from my stash and choosing the colour combinations.  It was a great portable project too.  I used my train journey to work to cover paper templates and piece blocks, and it went on many car journeys, as well as holidays to Amsterdam, France and the USA.  This is where all the action took place, and without a fuss, quietly the blocks came together. Once the blocks were together I decided it needed a border to frame it.  I pieced 2.5” x ¾” strips together out of the scraps, and that made up the border, along with calico borders. In a large quilt like this, don’t underestimate how long it will take to remove the paper templates!  For the back of the quilt, I used the same cream calico as on the front.
Before I put the sandwich together I needed to add the 64 antennae. The antennae of the butterflies are hand embroidered, using a backstitch, in a regular stranded embroidery cotton.

The wadding in the middle is 100% polyester.  All I remember about it is that I wanted one piece of wadding, and with the large quilt, my choices were limited.  I had also previously had a BAD experience hand quilting cotton wadding, which ‘bearded’ on a navy background, so I knew I wanted to give that a wide berth.  Having used the quilt daily for several years, I still really like the feel of it.
When it came to the quilting, I knew I wanted to hand quilt it, but I didn’t know where to start.  As the top gradually came together, I knew I had to do something about it, so I booked onto a
Sandie Lush Hand Quilting Workshop, at Busy Bees, in Newport. That was a brilliant class, and I left with the confidence to start quilting the Butterflies Quilt.  I didn’t know what to quilt on it, so I made up my own pattern (not without MUCH deliberation), having outlined the butterflies, and ‘stitched in the ditch’ of their bodies.  I remember quilting this quilt quite distinctly. It was July and August in 2006.  It was HOT.  And I was underneath a quilt, hand quilting.  I was quilting to a deadline – I had entered it into the NEC Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, so it had to be done, ready for delivery in August.  Without the deadline, I think I would have done more quilting on it. 
Butterfly Block Scrap Quilt
Example of Butterfly Quilt Block
Once complete, I washed it in the washing machine.  I had been dragging this quilt around with me everywhere for a couple of years.  The cat had regularly sat on it whilst I quilted, and the heat of the summer meant that more recently, it had taken the brunt of my perspiration.  It washed up a treat on a 40 degree wash, and luckily the sun remained out long enough for it to dry outside on the washing line. However, almost immediately, it was packed up and taken to the depot where they were collecting the quilts for the show.  I was missing it already.
Further information about the Inspiration Behind the Butterfly Quilt can be seen in earlier posts.

Friday 16 November 2012

Easy Street – Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt

Bonnie Hunter Easy Street Mystery Quilt - Black Background
Easy Street - Choice 1 Black
Easy Street Fabric Selection Cream
Easy Street - Choice 2 Cream
I’ve never done a Mystery Quilt before, and I am the sort of person that likes to know where I am heading before I start on anything.  But there are times when you have to move out of your comfort zone, and try something different.  Viewing some of the beautiful ‘Orca Bay’ mystery quilts that participants made as part of last year’s Bonnie Hunter’s annual Mystery Quilt, has really inspired me, and I hope this one works out as well.
Details of Bonnie Hunter’s 2012 Mystery Quilt, Easy Street, can be found on the Quiltville Blogspot

The first part will be revealed on Friday 23rd November, 2012, and every following Friday for the next 6 – 8 weeks.  If you care to look, quilters all over the internet are going crazy about the prospect!  Bonnie Hunter is a fabric scrap addict, and her quilt designs are usually scrap quilts – that’s just fine with me.  Naturally the aim is to use up your scraps, but her colour scheme doesn't correspond to my stash, so this is what I have come up with.  I plan to use deep colours red, purple and green.   My background is the pretty tan print, "Bound to the Prairie" #9195 by Kansas Troubles for Moda, which I used for the background for another Irish Chain scrap quilt, but I am still wondering what to use for the ‘background’. My first choice is using black prints. Again, this was inspired by the use of black in some of the Orca Bay quilts that were done last year. 
 My second option is to use cream, ditsy floral prints for the ‘background’
It’s so hard to decide when you are moving into the unknown!  Which is your favourite?

Tuesday 13 November 2012

#1 Butterfly Quilt - Inspiration Behind the Quilt

Butterfly Scrap Quilt Fabadashery
Butterfly Quilt by Frances Meredith
The inspiration for this scrap quilt came from a picture in a quilting book I took out of our local library, early in my quilting journey, about 2003.  The original picture in the book was no more than a couple of inches big, but it was enough for me to work out a pattern for a block.  I like a scrappy quilt, and this quilt used all sorts of fabrics.  At the time, the only patchworking I knew was English piecing, so I made my own paper pattern, cut out all the pieces, and off I went.

History of the Butterflies Quilt
During the period when I was making the quilt, I went to a JOAnn’s store, during a trip to America, where I saw a pattern of the same quilt being sold on the shelves. I guess it was only then that I realised that the quilt I was making already had a history.  Further research when I returned home to the UK revealed that a pattern, and the history of the quilt was published in a book “The New England Quilt Museum Quilts: Featuring the Story of the Mill Girls -Instructions for 5 Heirloom Quilts” by Jennifer Gilbert (Paperback,1999) [NB: Which I notice you can currently access via Google Books].  I discovered that it was originally made in about 1935, by a lady called Nina Shrock, Harvard County, Indiana, USA, using a design by Laura Wheeler. When we were back in America in the Autumn of 2007, we made a pilgrimage to the New England Quilt Museum, in Lowell, where we able to see the quilt on display, the one I had seen originally in my library book, back in the UK.  It was a nice feeling. I now have a pencil with the same butterflies on it, as a memento!

What fabrics did I use?
My creative journey has included dressmaking and embroidery, and it was only in about 2002 that I inherited a collection of beautiful quilting fabric and I considered doing some quilting. Amongst the collection were packets of fabrics, which I later learnt were called Charm Packs.  There were 5” squares, 4“ squares, and tiny 1.5” squares, mainly from a mail order company, Strawberry Fayre based in Chagford in Devon, UK.  I wanted a project that was going to use these up, and the scrappy nature of the quilt, seemed like the ideal choice. 
However, I did notice in the small picture that there were ‘constants’.  For instance, the body of the butterfly was the same for each.  I did not have anything suitable, so I went to my local quilting and patchwork shop, BusyBees, based in the Craft Units at Tredegar House in Newport, Wales.  There I found a brown batik fabric.  I was recommended to give it a wash before I used it. I think that was a good idea.  Otherwise, I didn’t wash any of the fabric – the bits were too small.

There is a whole mix in there.  Ironically, it was only after I had completed the quilt that it was brought to my attention that there were a lot of 30’s reproduction fabrics in it.  This was not intentional, it was serendipity at work.  At the time I didn’t realise what 30’s reproduction fabrics were.  I also have one or two bits of special fabric in there, including the first piece of fabric I ever bought, at the Marldon Apple Pie Fair in Devon, back in the early 1980’s.  You can see details of Techniques and Construction in this post.

Dimensions: 243cm x 243cm (approx 8ft x 8ft)
Blocks: 64 blocks, 10” x 10”
Piecing Method: English Paper Piecing. Hand Pieced
Quilting Method: Hand Quilted
Dates: 2004 – August 2006

2007 South West Quilters Award for Traditional Quilts, Quilts UK , Malvern
2007 ‘My First Bed Quilt’, Great Northern Quilt Show, Harrogate

#4 Butterfly Quilt - What did I learn from this Quilt?