Uncategorized

My masterpiece: Leah’s Quilt

My very first “nibling” arrived almost two months ago now, a little baby girl named Leah. When I found out about the pregnancy, the first thing I did was started thinking of crafty gifts to make. (Second was congratulating the parents-to-be!) A niece called for more than a pair of booties or a hat, and I very quickly settled on a quilt, something appropriate for a new baby, but that could be cuddled and snuggled for years to come as well, as long as my sewing holds up.

The TL:DR version

This post is long, so I’ll cut to the chase if you just want to see a pretty picture and move on (read on afterwards for close ups and construction details). I absolutely love how well this quilt turned out. Sure, if you look closely, there is some technique improvement I need to keep working at. But the overall effect is better than I hoped when I planned it, and I’m really happy with all the details I included. Here is the finished masterpiece:

P1110400

The Details

I consulted with Leah’s mama on a theme/colour scheme (without giving away what I would actually make), so with “three little birds” (theme) and coral and turquoise (colours) in mind, I started to pull together ideas and draft the quilt. I also wanted to incorporate a different type of triangle, after conquering the half square triangle on another project.

IMG_20150301_110752

My initial plan plus a ton of notes made along the way!

I initially wanted to do paper piecing, as Leah’s parents gave me a book last Christmas, but I consulted with Pinterest (of course) and came up with some appliqué ideas instead. I really wanted to incorporate the bird theme in a bigger way than simply choosing fabric with birds on it, though there are at least fabrics featuring birds as well.

Despite not usually being drawn to greens and oranges, I found myself really liking the shades I was choosing and a great selection soon came together. I can’t recall all the designers, but the Persimmon by Basic Gray (for Moda) collection features heavily and the bird fabric in the centre of the main blocks across the middle is from the Acorn Trail by Teagan White (for Birch) collection (side note: while looking up the names of these lines, I found the Eiko collection. I absolutely adore koi fish and spent a pretty penny getting a yard each of Playing Koi and Eiko’s Pond – blogging is expensive!). Most of the fabric comes from GJs.

P1110413

Piecing the triangles, squares and strips was easy. I used a tutorial from See Kate Sew for the triangles, though I think I used Kate’s template as a basis, but ultimately went with marginally different triangle dimensions, seeing as I wanted them to be spread evenly over a set area. There is an updated template now too, which I will definitely use in future, as it was a bit of a trick working out which end of the seam to line up.

I completed three large blocks very quickly in November, but with baby not due until January, Christmas projects quickly took priority. I picked up the appliqué sections once our Christmas holiday was done, which took a bit more time. I did a lot of work in the two weekends before Leah arrived, then by the following weekend she was here, so I really went into overdrive. My Instagram attests to this being my number one project for a few weeks.

Screenshot_2015-02-02-15-42-33

Trust me, don’t ever use Birch basting spray, 505 is the only one to use!

I drafted the bird and tree myself, but drawing (unintended pun!) heavily from designs found on the internet. Despite not really designing these pictures, I’m still really happy with my drawing skills, as I’m usually all stick figures and two dimensional houses with trees and flowers to the side! I wasn’t initially set on the number of birds to appliqué, but as it started coming together, I thought it was appropriate to have the large one in one corner and two on the tree, to pull the “three little birds” theme together a bit more.

2015-01-13%2018.56.49

P1110393

Using my self-drafted pictures, I made the various appliqué pieces, cut them out, stuck them on and appliquéd around them. It is time consuming, and can be a bit fiddly, but the process is relatively straight forward. The key is to test the tension, as well as the length and width of the zig zag on scraps, because you do not want to be unpicking appliqué stitches!!

The time consuming nature of this task gave me lots of time to think about the remaining pieces and the quilting, and I ended up going on multiple thread runs to Spotlight to pick up different colours, where I was initially going to appliqué entirely in a neutral grey. I also decided I wanted to quilt around the key elements of the bird and tree designs using a contrast colour on the back, so that the design would show through. This both solved the problem of how to quilt these sections, because they were too large not to, and introduced some extra features on the back. I have always done a plain backing on my quilts, but I wanted to make this one more interesting.

In addition to quilting the designs through the back, I chose three different fabrics and added Leah’s name. I planned how I was going to quilt the middle section, then worked out the placement and size of the letters to ensure they weren’t randomly quilted. I’m pretty impressed with how perfectly this came out, because while I measured everything up, I was ultimately quilting blind! I just threw the quilt under my machine and hoped for the best here.

2015-01-26%2015.55.00

I quilted all the straight lines first, and despite giving it considerable thought, I still wasn’t really sure how I would quilt the triangles until it came time to do them. In the end I decided to quilt on both sides of all the seams, but in a way that meant I wasn’t stopping and starting and tying too many threads off (i.e. the lazy way!). Again, I’m really pleased with out this turned out, especially on the back, it gives it another interesting feature.

P1110408 2

You can see the outline of the bird here too, though you can’t see the contrast colouring.

The hardest part of quilting just inside the appliqué stitching was the curve of the leaves, which I did under the walking foot, thinking it was a gentle enough curve to cope. It worked for the most part, though I had to unpick a few leaves and try again, as they came out really bad the first time around. I would love to master free motion quilting and do this that way instead in future.

P1110411

The contrast colouring can be seen more clearly on the tree (click on the photo for a larger version).

Seeing as this is going to a newborn and I used basting spray, I threw the whole quilt in the wash once it was done. This set the quilting stitches in around the appliqué pieces, which especially disguised the quilting on the front of the tree while really bringing out the leaves, so I was pleased with the effect.

P1110401 2

I changed my mind at the last minute about the binding. I initially cut green strips from the Kona solid I used in the middle of the backing, but I decided this would be too harsh against the front of the quilt. I had just enough of the coral spots and gray thatch leftover, and decided to do two sides with each, contrasting it with the opposite colour across the top and bottom. I’m happy with the outcome, although I didn’t plan the corners out well. If I’d thought about it more, I could have had the join right in the corner.

P1110406

I also made the strips wider than the standard 2.5 inches, and sewed them on the front with an 0.5” allowance. This just happened to fold over nicely with enough of an overlap for me to stitch in the ditch on the front and still catch the back. I have always hand stitched my binding down, but it is time consuming, and I didn’t want to take another 3-4 evenings to finish the quilt, baby had arrived by this time and I needed to post the quilt to America! I hate stitching in the ditch, I’m terrible at it, but I set my foot pedal to low speed and took my time. For the most part, it looks good, but I failed to catch about 7-8 sections on the back. I just pulled these across a bit more and went over them again, which is probably not good practice, but it worked for me.

One last detail and tip – I used Mathilda’s own bamboo batting, and was not overly happy with how well it quilted. I’ve quilted with wool, bamboo and cotton before, but this was the first time I’d experienced threads of batting coming through the quilt. It’s also not quite as soft and cuddly as my first bamboo quilt (from memory, the batting from that came from Spotlight!).

Pattern test: Autumn Street Luminous quilt block

I’ve been loving all the rainbow quilt projects I’ve been seeing around the place and have been wanting to join in, so when Abby from Things for Boys was looking for pattern testers for her Luminous quilt block, I volunteered. I was also in a bit of a sewing funk, so small projects with a deadline were ideal to get back into the swing of things, I have so many sewing plans and I want to get stuck in (I’ll be heading up to my sewing room for the day just as soon as this is posted).

A quilt, even a small one, in the time available was beyond me (it’s a miracle if I get one completed in a matter of months, as opposed to years), so I decided to test both the rainbow and two-tone block on their own, each in a different size. I stocked up on rainbow fabrics (Kona brand purchased from GJ’s extensive collection), which will come in handy for the many future rainbow projects on my sewing “wishlist”, and went through my stash for two-tone inspiration.

Two-tone block
As I was going through my Christmas collection, I was thinking how the design was a bit wreath-like. I was also aiming for a cushion with this one, using the 18 inch block, so I decided a Christmas cushion would be a great addition to December’s decor. From there it was an easy decision to try my hand at fussy cutting my favourite santa fabric (the santas turned out to be the perfect size!), though choosing the remaining fabrics was a bit trickier. I initially thought it would be a good idea to break up the red with some additional cream, however, you can see from the layout below that that was not going to work, the wreath effect was totally lost.

P1110423

The design actually works far better with more red, as you can see in the finished product below.

P1110424My quilting was very simple, I’m still not very good even with just straight lines, so I tend to go for a forgiving quilting design by quilting just around the inside edge of all my seams (stitching in the ditch is way too dangerous!). To incorporate more of the green, I made some flat piping to frame the design. I really like the way it turned out.

P1110429It looks a little lumpy as I don’t actually own a cushion insert, so I had to stuff it with fabric!

The back is rather bright, having made an envelope-style cover using the red star fabric. I should have interfaced the pieces, or lined them, as the back is rather flimsy compared to the front, but considering this will be a seasonal show piece, not designed for year around practicality, it shouldn’t matter too much.

Rainbow block

Project two was the 12 inch rainbow block, which could be used for all sorts of things I think, but I decided on a tote bag.

The block itself is gorgeous. Abby and I have talked colours extensively, and she has changed up a few from what she initially recommended to use. In particular, the yellow corner could use a little extra pop, so the final pattern recommends a brighter orange and yellow, and I think the blues have been edited. On the whole my block still looks great, I really love it, and I think you could substitute colours with whatever you have in your stash if you didn’t want to go out and buy every colour recommended, without it affecting the final result.

Another way of doing it would be with prints, which Ms Midge demonstrated with her test, it looks awesome as well.

rainbow

In terms of construction, this is a very effective block that is actually surprisingly simple to put together, it came together really quickly and Abby’s instructions are really clear and easy to follow. The pattern includes heaps of extra guidance and tips as well, including how to put a couple of quilt options together, which is nice as some patterns can be fairly basic and don’t recognise that not everyone is an experienced quilter.

I initially wanted to use a deep grey fabric as the backdrop (the same as a bag I recently made for myself), but Spotlight was out of that colour, and my choices were black, purple or an army/khaki green. Black was too harsh and green clearly wasn’t going to work, so purple it was, and it looks great, possible better than the grey would have.

P1110440

I was going to try for a slightly more complex bag, with a flat bottom and possibly separate side pieces, but I decided a flat, square backdrop would be best for the block (this decision was possibly aided by a good ounce of laziness).

I used batting in between the block and the bag fabric, which I think was important because of the use of white fabric – the purple would have shown through otherwise. The quilting was fairly simple, using aurifil thread in white (which gave amazing results, I’m definitely using aurifil wherever possible in future) and a rainbow Mettler thread which is coming up to being two decades old. My mum bought this for me very early on in my sewing days, I want to say in the first year or two of high school, but I’ve never found a use for it until now. Completely by chance, the variegation in the thread perfectly matched the sections of the piece, so that green thread ended up with the greens, blue ended up with the blues and so on. I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried, it was the perfect final touch for the design! It might be a bit tricky to see, but hopefully the pictures below help (click on them to see them larger).

P1110437P1110439

Note: I was provided the pattern in exchange for testing, but all thoughts and opinions as described here are my own.

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine

It’s that time of year again, time to get handmade gifts and Christmas crafts underway. I think I’m going to make clothes for a couple of family members, I’ve joined the Sew Delicious Sweet Pouch Swap, and I always like to make a couple of decorations for the tree and gifts.

As I didn’t have a blog last year, here’s a round of my projects from Christmas 2013:

Table runner

I made a table runner for my mum, which was inspired by this pin:

24c966d4f866ed31a3e587cf53c51f9e

As soon as I saw it, I envisaged a Christmas version with red, green, white and gold. Unfortunately, on close inspection, there was no instructions associated with this pin, it was actually an item for sale on Etsy. On closer inspection still, it’s not even a pieced quilt. It is a print that the person has quilted, which is stated and fine for the price, but if you look closely, its asymmetrical! They should have cut an extra inch or so off the right hand side so the main wreaths are centred.

Nonetheless, I set about trying to replicate the design in a pieced quilt. Free instructions for a garden twist block were actually very hard to come by, and so I used a couple of sources, but made most of it up myself. I took photos every step of the way, and intend to upload detailed instructions here one day. That pin is my post re-pinned, so I’d like to be able to introduce some proper instructions to help people out on Pinterest, in case anyone else wants to actually make one themselves. Here is the final result.

P1100850P1100857Oven mitts

I decided to use the leftover christmas fabric from the table runner and leftover thermal batting from making my own oven mitts to make some christmas oven mitts for my mother in law. I was really pleased with how well these turned out, I love the stripey piecing, and these ones turned out much better than the ones I made for myself. The tutorial I used can be found here.

IMG_20131208_181931

Button trees

I saw these on Pinterest amongst one of those long annoying pictures that had 8-10 pictures all joined up, but doesn’t really link to any instructions or useful website. However, it was easy enough to replicate, I just ordered a bunch of buttons and some red thread online.

IMG_20141123_220634

I have a bunch of leftover green buttons, so this year I think I’ll make some button wreaths like this one:

Button-Christmas-Wreath

I also love these cards. I’m very hit and miss on Christmas cards, but I’ll try and make a few of these for some key friends and family I usually make the effort for.

Tree skirt

Last year was the first Christmas my husband and I spent together in our own home, as we previously lived with his parents. We both love Christmas, so we bought a fake tree (I wish we could have a real one every year!) and I finally had a reason to make a tree skirt, which I’d been thinking about for a few years. I love the santa claus fabric on this, it was pricey, but so worth it and also offset by using leftover star fabric from the table runner and oven mitts for the alternating wedges (I don’t know how much I bought, but that star fabric has gone a long way, I was using leftover scraps for a fourth project today). I used an excellent online tutorial, which sadly has been taken down. I trimmed the skirt too much on one side, so one end is longer than the other, oops! Luckily it’s easy enough to hide at the back of the tree. Otherwise I’m really happy with how it turned out, but it’s a project I’d like to re-do every few years to change things up under the tree (any excuse to buy more Christmas fabric!). Sorry the picture is terrible!

P1100881

Here’s a close up of the gorgeous fabric I used.

IMG_20131209_213223 2

I have some of this santa fabric leftover that I’d like to do something else with, like applique some santas onto a project or turn them into christmas tree decorations, and I also have this fun wombat fabric in need of a project. I have no idea what to do with it, so this one may just sit in my Christmas stash for a while.

IMG_20140927_125434

Hoppity hop

Thanks to my lovely sewaway roomie and generous tip giver Helen for nominating me for the blog hop! I have to admit when Helen first asked me I would like to participate, I had not a clue of what she was referring to, but I finally gave in to feedly (bring back Google reader!) and signed up to all the lovely social sewer blogs the other day, so I’m up to speed!

Unfortunately, I’m sans coffee machine today as I’m visiting the in-laws cat while they are overseas (yes, we drove a long way to spend a weekend visiting a cat, but given his preference is to sit on our faces all day and night while we’re here, the poor thing is clearly not getting enough love from his carers), but I’m all settled in with a french press to finish up this post.

IMG_20141011_110324Some cute bunnies (and a guinea pig) I saw at the pet store today – most appropriate!

Why do you write?

As I said above, I finally sorted feedly out and added a whole bunch of sewing blogs to my reader, from all the wonderful people I’ve met at social sewing, along with some from the wider network. It seems like everyone often mentions yet another blog in their own posts, so my unread items seem set to grow! Entering the world of Feedly also allowed me to see I have four subscribers. FOUR! I was pretty stoked to be honest, this little blog hasn’t been up for long and I haven’t publicised it too widely yet.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying I really started this blog as a diary, a place to record my finished products for myself. I also wanted to note all the trials and tribulations along the way, especially for when I go to repeat a pattern or use a similar technique from a previous garment. Having a public blog increases the accountability to myself somehow, but I also hope that by publishing online, I can help other people in future, as I have found so many blog posts and online tutorials useful. I hope I can either pass useful links on further, or even help with my own interpretations and tips and tricks. I’d also like to branch out to post some of my cooking adventures and experiences trying out tips from Pinterest.

What are you working on?

Many things! I must always have a dozen projects on the go between sewing (clothes, crafty things and quilts), knitting, cross stitch and any other random things I’m working on. I was quite proud to finish (starting from scratch too) three garments in one week a while back (hoodie, dress and cardigan) – quite an achievement for someone who likes to start projects with a bang, but has trouble with timely follow through.

I recently set myself a goal of completing 10 projects I had either started or had in the pipeline, so technically I’m working on these, though I have snuck in a couple of other things as well. Lets see how I’m going with those 10 projects:

  • Finish my new cowl – I got so close to finishing this one, but really need another ball of yarn to add a bit more length. The imperative has gone with the weather warming up, but as soon as I take a trip to Morris and Sons, I will get back to this.
  • Reknit a pair of socks – I finished one half of the pair just the other night and will cast on the second today.
  • [secret knitting project] – yet to be cast on, but also hoping to make a start this weekend.
  • The ric-rac giraffe finished!
  • Make a new pencil skirt using a self-drafted pattern – half way there, but I need to take at least 8 (!) inches total out of the side seams, not quite sure why, but my wool fabric went crazy wide post-cutting.
  • Finish my latest quilt for the first time, I moved straight from quilt top completion to basting to quilting. Then progress slowed, but I will keep plugging away at this, a bit at a time, and get there in the end.
  • Make my second self-drafted hoodie – done, but yet to be blogged.
  • Make a moneta (or two!) – done!
  • Make a cute Christmas reindeer – still cut out, still waiting to receive a single stitch, but I definitely want him standing by my tree this December.
  • A new bag in cord fabric – I’ve gone off this project, so project number 10 is likely to be revised.

I’m also working on my sewing room. We are lucky to have a second bedroom, and once husband sold the cross trainer he never used, I took full ownership of it. But it is a mess, mainly due to a lack of storage (and I guess all my unfinished projects taking up room!). I’ve purchased lamps, because the lighting is awful, but I still need storage before I can get everything in its right place.

How does it differ from other sites of its genre?

What’s the phrase that I think WordPress uses when you first sign up? “Just another WordPress site” I think? That sums my blog up well. It’s early days yet, so maybe I’ll find my little niche one day.

How does your writing process work?

Again, early days, so I’m not sure I have a process. I have a bunch of things I made pre-blog that I would still like to post about, plus a range of recently completed but un-blogged, often un-photographed, projects.

At the moment I have a list of things I’d like to blog about, and a bunch of drafted blog posts in a word file on my Google Drive, which are awaiting photos or the time to be edited and posted. I’m even typing this one here in advance (I’m writing this on 7 October), as Helen has pre-warned me of my nomination for the blog hop. Keep an eye out for other future posts I’ve already written on hoodies, scarf neck cardigans, the importance of quality tools and supplies, and my go to baby knitting patterns.

Roughly my process is to draft a post, or even a few at a time, then gather photos, then eventually finalise and publish. However, I think in future, I’d like to do what some people have noted they do in terms of using blog posts as a work in progress document while they’re constructing, taking the right photos along the way, then finalising and posting once they garment is complete. Or I could write all my notes in Drive as I go and take photos of each step as I write them down, so I don’t forget things, then use those notes and photos to put together a post later. That way I have a detailed diary for myself plus a public-facing post with the highlights, photos and notes that will be useful to others.

Nomination time!

It looks like fellow social sewers Kat, our amazing sewaway organiser, Liz, who I had the pleasure of getting to know at sewaway, and Mel, who makes amazing things with gorgeous fabric, haven’t posted anything yet, so I would love to hear from them. Feel free to join in whoever you are though!

 

Moneta Squared

While the idea of making your own clothes may seem like a great way around the lack of well made, well fitted clothing in “plus sizes”, in reality, patterns are no different to than RTW. They stop well short of my size in most cases. While all the fundamentals of garment making have been safely tucked away in my brain since my school sewing classes, I’m certainly not skilled enough to size up patterns, even if they at least came close to my size, which most don’t. I have successfully, however, dabbled in cutting up some well fitted, but well worn, RTWs and made a pattern out of them, so that’s an option for some things.

Luckily, there are also a few “plus size” patterns, and like the RTW world, pattern makers are increasingly aware that there is a market for “plus size” patterns. The first one I purchased is the Moneta dress by Colette Patterns (while there are only a few Colette Patterns in plus size currently, all future releases will go up to a 3X). When I purchased it, I knew it would fit, but only just! However, when I actually went to make it and measured myself to double check sizing, I was pleasantly surprised to find I’d lost a few inches and would actually be making a 2X, the second largest, size.

I have an oddly small bust measurement, that can be up to three sizes smaller than my waist and hip measurement, depending on the sizing being used by pattern makers. As an aside, this means I get excited when I’m looking at patterns and think I can fit them, only to move my eye down to the waist/hip lines and realise no way, no how is that garment going to fit! For the Moneta, it meant that I decided to create my own bodice, scaled from a 1X shoulders/bust to 2X waist to try and avoid having the dress falling off my shoulders, or at least revealing my bra strap constantly, which is a common issue for me. This proved tricky as there are two pattern pieces, one for all sizes up to 1X and another for the 2X-3X sizes. Slightly annoying, but Rachel was lovely enough to help me with some excellent tracing material to make my new pattern pieces.

I was aiming for a wearable muslin using $3/metre polyester fabric from Darn Cheap. It is a gorgeous colour with great drape, so it seemed like a good choice for the dress. Construction as per the instructions was very straight forward for the most part, however, I do not recommend following the instructions for the gathered waist. The instructions call for ¼ inch elastic to be stretched by hand while sewing it onto the non-stretched fabric underneath. Recipe for disaster! It may perhaps work with some less flimsy fabric and smaller waist measurements, but it did not work for me. I didn’t take a photo of the results unfortunately, but there was no way I could continue on to attached the skirt to bodice in the shape the waistline was in, parts of it were super gathered, other parts not at all. Luckily, I was at social sewing at the time, so Helen helped me with an alternative technique, shirring. Instant success! I only had to sew one line of elastic and the skirt was good to go. Helen is quick to credit Megan Nielsen for the technique, I can’t find the right tutorial there, but Made by Rae also has some good instructions, which outline almost the exact process I followed.

Once I got over the elastic issue, the rest was easy! I used washaway wonder tape to stablise the hem, which worked a treat. Here is the final result:

Moneta finished2

I did attempt the tie collar that Colette Patterns offer in their freebie extras pack for the Moneta, but it was a disaster. Against my own better judgement, I attempted to use interfacing, which ruined the whole thing, and I also found that the tie wasn’t long enough and just wouldn’t sit right. I ended up cutting the collar out of the dress and using this Made by Rae tutorial to make a simple neckband (I didn’t top stitch mine though), which gave me perfect results first time. Finishing this dress, my first since high school (and, in fact, I’m not sure I ever finished that one) allowed me to take part in Mocktails in the full spirit of the event, rather than just wearing a RTW outfit. I even made the cardigan I wore with this, but that is a post for another day.

Moneta finished

While I’m happy with the dress overall, it’s comfortable and fits fairly well (ignoring the pulling under my arms that I can’t be bothered addressing with an FBA or whatever I need to do at this point), wise Helen suggested that the lady skater skirt might look rather flattering on me with the Moneta bodice. Enter the Moneta/Lady Skater hybrid:

Moneta lady skater

This fabric is much thicker than the first Moneta (it also needs a press after washing, which I didn’t do before these photos!), so I went with a straight 2x bodice, as the first was quite fitted. I didn’t think this fabric would allow for the bit of stretch needed to get into my first one. I measured the bottom of the bodice and found this aligned with the top of the size 7 skirt. I didn’t even need to go any easing, the match was perfect. I lengthened the skirt by two inches because I don’t like my dresses too short and to make up for the shorter Moneta bodice. However, I think this will still be a winter dress with tights as it feels a bit too breezy at the back for me to comfortable in it. I used the same neckband tutorial above but because my scraps were too short, I had to do in two strips, with the joins aligning with the shoulder seams. I screwed up the measurements to begin with, forgetting the neckline is lower at the back. I tried to fix it up, but still have a teeny bit of gaping at the front. Not enough to make me want to rip it out and start again though, and I don’t think anyone would really notice. I also had oddly gaping underarms, which would have been noticeable, but were fixed by taking the seams in a tad, mostly on the bodice side, with a touch also removed from the sleeves.

moneta lady skater2

Though it was intended for a Moneta, this fabric would not have gathered well, so the lady skater skirt really was a good call. I may try the a lady skater in full one day, however, I think the bodice would be too long for me. Wearing this dress to work a couple of times got me multiple unsolicited compliments, so this one is definitely a win! All credit to Helen for the suggestion, I wouldn’t have even considered attempting a pattern mash up without her. The social sewing crew really are most excellent and helpful people.

And with these two dresses, one of my ten projects is done.

Crazy cat lady quilt

For about 20 or so months, my husband (Lance)  and I lived with his parents, my in-laws. Though there was the odd downside, the cheap living really came in handy when it came to paying for the wedding, and then six month later a trip to the US for my brother-in-law’s wedding and paying off my student loan really quickly. One of the other benefits was having a cat around. I’m allergic to cats, so I’ll never have one of my own, but I love having an animal around the house, cats included, even if they make me itchy and sneezy.

This is Fudge:

2013-03-11%2020.56.03

Fudge also enjoyed having me around, I became the clear favourite when my brother-in-law moved the US. He would completely ignore Lance no matter how insistently he tried to get Fudge’s attention, but would come to me any time, invited or not. One of the other things Fudge absolutely loved about me was my quilt.

2013-08-12 20.57.08

I got it out to keep me warm in our living room over winter, and Fudge very quickly grew attached to it. Sometime it was folded on the back of the couch, sometimes it would fall on the floor and other times it would be in a messy pile on the couch. No matter where it was, that was where you would usually find Fudge sleeping. He didn’t care where it was, as long as it was underneath him. If you were sitting on it or in his way, he would let you know. On the odd occasion it was too messy for him to settle down comfortably, he would let you know. The pitiful glares and stalking around would make it clear what he wanted (and, of course, I obliged).

2013-04-17 15.33.02

When we moved out, I felt bad taking the quilt away from him. But it was my first quilt, and unlike my second one, I still loved the fabrics. It was my project when I had my first break from tertiary studies in many years and decided I needed something to fill in my time. It also took many years to complete. The top was made in NZ and the quilt finished in Australia some years later.

I still had some of the fabric leftover, and some other fabric that matched, as well as enough of the batting to sew together into one largish piece. So I made the cat his own quilt!! Yes, I know, crazy, but that’s how bad I felt.

2013-12-22 11.02.48     2013-12-22 11.03.20

The whole time I was making the quilt, I kept thinking “damn cat’s probably just gonna reject this thing after all my effort, he’ll know it’s an imposter”. But, lo and beyond, on Christmas morning when he opened his gift, he seemed rather pleased with it.

2013-12-25 09.51.00                      2014-01-12 18.48.10

And he continues to use it. One day my in-laws even found it in the hallway, he’d tried to drag it from one living room to the other!

Lotus Brick Path Quilt

Almost three and a half years after starting, I finally finished my second complete quilt recently.

P1110180

This is my second ever quilt and came about before my pinning days, which have inspired me to do much more interesting things in future, so it’s a fairly basic quilt. Basic = quick, at least where the quilt top is concerned and I finished it over a weekend, so that part was good.

It was a weekend where I needed to be at home, but I also needed to stay busy. Unfortunately, the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake sparked a chain of events that led to my Granny’s death about a month later. I had been to visit her just the weekend before, and am so so pleased I decided to jump on a plane at the last minute and see my Granny and the rest of my family just two weeks after the earthquake, because that was the last time I saw her.  At that point, everything was fine, she was in hospital but expected to recover, but then ended up with an infection just the day after I left and was being kept comfortable and pain free by the following weekend and was not expected to make it more than a couple of days. So as I waited for the inevitable phone call, I made a quilt top.

The pattern (not that you really need a pattern for a brick quilt) is Amy Butler’s Lotus Brick Path Quilt. At the time, I was quite taken by Riley Blake and Michael Miller fabrics, and ordered a whole bunch from America via Etsy, which was quite cost effective at the time. I’ve found shipping to be a lot more prohibitive these days, but at the time I remember getting a bargain.

I would have to say that these fabrics are no longer my taste, so this is not a quilt I really want displayed proudly anywhere. However, it will make a nice extra layer on the bed in winter or cosy couch quilt.

P1110184

After three years of sitting in my fabric stash container, and with a strong desire to tackle a new quilt combined with thoughts of “must finish the last one first”, I finally unearthed the quilt top for completion over the sewaway weekend in June. I figured three days of hunkering down to sew with some lovely fellow sewers was the perfect opportunity to get the damn thing done. Unfortunately I ran out of thread before I fully finished quilting, but it got me over the basting hump and 75 per cent of the way through quilting so I kept going and finished it off at the next social sewing day.

The quilting is terrible, so viewers are encouraged not to look closely. It’s straight lines with a seam for a guide, so hard to screw up in theory. However, I think it was a combination of a “don’t care, just want to get this done” attitude as well as the Bernina walking foot perhaps not being the best. My first quilt was completed on my Husqvarna, which is difficult to use as the needle is off centre and it has two sewing speeds: stop and FAST! But the quilting foot seems more heavy duty and fed the quilt through more evenly, whereas the stitch length result from the Bernina is highly variable and the quilt seemed to slip around a bit under the foot. Next time I quilt using the Bernina, I will have to take a bit more time and experiment a little first to make sure I’m getting some nice even quilting. Otherwise it might be a case that investing in a second (and expensive) quilting foot was a waste of money.

P1110188

The backing is some gorgeous butterfly fabric I picked up at GJs, which is the 2.2 or 2.4 metre wide fabric that doesn’t require any piecing. I targeted that fabric to keep things simple, but it also limits fabric selection, so my chosen fabric perhaps doesn’t quite go with the front. But I loved the fabric (so much that a dark version is the backing for my third quilt) and didn’t care too much about finding the *perfect* fabric, it just need to be done! I went with a Riley Blake spot for the binding, in keep with the quilt top fabrics. And I actually really like the green on cream effect on the back. In fact, I may just like the back more than the front of this one.

P1110187