Finished Quilts

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Monarch of the Glen

It has been a long while since I posted anything but I feel that the story of the Monarch of the Glen needs to be told.

Just before Christmas last year, we received news that Laughing Boy's best friend had been diagnosed with myeloma and kidney failure.  My first thought was "I need to make him a quilt!"  Laughing boy was dubious about it but as I reminded him, this is all about me.   I chose the colour palette over the holidays, pulling all my stashed precious navy fabrics, you know - those fabrics that you have for years but can't bear the thought of cutting up as they are for stroking only.  I decided that this quilt needed some precious.  I also wanted to quilt to symbolise something rather than be an abstract design.  I see Julian as strong, noble and gentle so the idea of the monarch of the glen quilt was born.

I really wanted to do a Dan Rouse deer but couldn't work out how to draw the stencil so decided to do a mash up of Dan's reverse applique technique and Luke Hayne's deer.  At our January guild meeting, I was able to finalise the design, with the help and guidance of the ladies there.

navy 6" blocks and orange 3"blocks
 My first problem came when I put the template on the (yet to be sewn) quilt blocks.  It was just too small, especially as I wanted it in the corner.

a bit lost in the gloaming.....
I couldn't work out how to make the template bigger.  Of course in hindsight (and after seeing Lisa's fabulous version) I could have gone to a printers and copied it bigger but I was a quine on a mission and I remembered that I had this fab magazine.....
There was a paper template of the design on the front cover. Result!  So I traced it on some Swedish tracing paper then reworked it so it was a little bigger.  Then I pinned the orange patchwork to the back of the blue patchwork ......

And sewed round the outline....

I bought some really neat duckbill applique scissors and, following Dan's instructions, cut roughly 1/8" inside the sewn line to reveal.....

All of this was done in the space of a couple of weeks - that is warp speed for me.  But that's where things started to slow down (much to my shame).  It took me two months to make the sandwich and start quilting....

I decided to outline the deer three times then radiate lines outwards.  Reader, I am ashamed to say it took another three months before the quilting was finished.

I'm not sure why it took so long. Actually most of it was done quite quickly, I just sort of stopped with a quarter left to do.  I think that it was partly that I was worried that it wouldn't be good enough or J would wonder why on earth I made it.  It's always an issue I have - handing a finished item over and the worry that it won't be liked or appreciated or wanted.  I got a stern talking to from my MIL and Jane from the EMMQG gave me a gentle kicking and so finally cracked on and it took no time to finish in the end.

Then came the bits that always bring me joy...

squaring up....

I may have cut through the wee man's cricket numbers at this point
and the binding...

I was ridiculously happy with the mitred corners on this quilt
And whilst enjoying Andy Murray at Wimbledon, I even added a label - my first ever on a quilt...

And it was finally finished, over 6 months after it was started and after a load of horrible chemotherapy and stem cell treatments had been completed.

And it was finally gifted.  I wrote a letter to explain what the heck it was all about.  I received the most fabulous reply from J, saying that he had followed its progress on Facebook but had no idea it was for him.  The morale of this story for me is to get on and finish things.  It is with enormous regret that I didn't get this quilt finished sooner, that it sat neglected for so long, whilst I fretted over silly things.  Finished is better than perfection and certainly better than the gnawing worry of not finishing.  I am glad that the Monarch of the Glen was able to bring some comfort in the end.

Julian passed away a couple of days ago.  Cancer fucking sucks.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Lady parts

Well, sewing still seems to be bumbling along without much focus.  Thank goodness for bees!  After a shortish hiatus, I rejoined the bumbling honeys and this time round we're doing travelling quilts.  As usual, I was scratching around for inspiration and sat on my sofa staring at the Georgia O'Keefe print that Laughing Boy got me for our first Christmas together and there it was... my starting block....  I love Georgia O'Keefe and her flowing, sensuous, suggestive style.

Dark Iris I Georgia O'Keeffe Print
Dark Iris I by Georgia O'Keefe taken from
I thought it might be an interesting challenge to improv a block based on this print. I have not really embraced improv before and to be frank it frightens the bejeesus out of me.  So it took me about 4 weeks (on and off, stop, start, stop, worry, start - you get the picture) to finally finish my starter block (very late)...

So all the things I love about Ms O'Keefe - fluidity etc - I seem to have managed to anglify them!  But I am quite chuffed that I did this all with an image in my mind and some fabric on the table.  So my starter block for "Georgia on my mind" has begin its journey and should be back with me as a finished quilt top next year.  I've asked my bee sisters to keep a simple colour palette of greys, whites and greens if possible and to just do what they feel is right - no need to slavishly copy other O'Keefe works.  I am excited to see what returns.

Check out this Georgia O'Keefe site for more examples of her lovely works.

Monday, 21 September 2015

four months on.... still no wiser!

It's been four months since my last post.  Lots of reasons/excuses.  Not much sewing going on here over the summer.  I have finally found some time today and I can't find my rotary cutter!



Thursday, 21 May 2015

Spring 2015 Bloggers Quilt Festival

Hello there. It's been a while.  And to be honest, I was pretty sure that it would be a while longer before I knocked on again.  In fact, I felt that I shouldn't enter this Spring's festival due to the lack of co-ordinated blog and sewing activity.  However, something happened to change my mind and I have decided to enter Bonadoochi in the large quilt category....

Check here for the full story but the short version is that two very dear friends of mine decided to create positivity for their family in a time where life just kept throwing them pain and part of this involved a renewal of their wedding vows. I asked them for a favourite song they had and was given "Everyone's got to love sometime" by the Korgis to work with.  Bonadoochi quilt took me way long that I had hoped (nearly a year in design and construction) and is by far the biggest quilt I have ever attempted.  Too big for me to quilt so a good friend did the (fantabulous) deed.

When I gifted this quilt,  it took a while before either friend realised what it was all about and then the reaction was just wonderful.  I think the words resonate so well.  The reason I have decided to enter it for the festival is that they have recently suffered another heartbreaking loss.  This is in dedication and tribute to them both and Spence senior (may he rest in peace).  Beautiful people who I am so lucky to have had in my life.

Quilt Details
Size: 90" x 80"
Fabrics: for the heart, all from stash and many have been there a while so from memory lots of Anna Maria Horner, some Joel Dewberry, a smidge of Denise Schmidt and some randoms
Fabrics: for the background - Carolyn Friedlander Architextures
Fabrics: binding: Denise Schmidt Chicopee
Fabrics: backing: Tula Pink birds and bees
Quilted: professionally (in all senses of the word) by Trudi Wood

Monday, 9 March 2015

Another weekender....

...but not a bag!  A much better weekender, which involved sewing, cake, lashings of tea, chat, laughing and more food.  A sewing retreat weekender!  Huzzah!

Nearly a year ago, the Stitching Together ladies mused on organising a weekend away dedicated to sewing.  9 months (and 1 impregnation) later and we were packing up Hannah's roof rack and heading to Norfolk on a Friday and staying until Sunday.  The venue was a B&B called the Old Bakery in Hindolveston run by a lovely couple Alison and Mike.  Alison is a quilter and so, as well as the usual B&B clientèle, she offers quilting/sewing retreats and workshops.  We made what, in retrospect, was a school girl error of stopping for lunch on the way because if there was one constant over the weekend, it was food!

Anyway, my usual approach to retreats is to pack erratically and wing it.  This time I had a plan and actually planned for the plan. I was going to FIGHT THE FEAR and make a chuffing dress already.  Yep, my dressmaking demons would be tackled head on by making the Mortmain dress from Gather Kits which is marked suitable for"ambitious beginners!"  I'd bought the pattern and fabric (from the Village Haberdashery) last August....

directional print fabric, you nutter!
As usual, I need to make things a little trickier so I decided to buy some slippy dippy fabric to fully line the dress too.  Matching thread and metal teeth zip joined the dressmakers carbon paper and other various tools.  I even took an old sheet that Tanya had given me to make a toile.  People - I was taking this seriously!

So we arrived just after 2pm and were immediately offered coffee, tea and two choices of home made cake (delish).  Then it was unpacking, setting up and sewing.  We were staying in the holiday cottage but were given full run of two big rooms in the main house for our sewing activities.

thanks for the photo, H
We sewed until 7, where we were served an amazing two course dinner, with a trio of desserts...

all using local or home grown ingredients
Then it was back to work, for another couple of hours or so.  My sewing yodas were on hand when I had a big wobble - "follow the pattern, you must" (thank you Hannah!) - and to help with great hints (Lizzie!).  At the end of day 1, I had made my toile and realised that the size 16 fitted me perfectly - no FBA needed thank goodness.

Day 2 started a two course breakfast! Thank the Lord I had roomy troosers!  Then a full day's sewing, interrupted only by Alison bringing refreshments and cake, a two course lunch and two course dinner...

chocolate trio
By the end of the day, I have made two more dresses - the outer dress and lining version, all french seamed to within an inch of existence....

unlined and unzipped but extremely satisfying
Check out the pattern alignment of the top and skirt - a happy accident :)

Day 3 and another two course breakfast.  And we had to get as much done as we could before lunch at 1pm (with elevenses included of course!).

This is where things started to go a little awry. I think it may have been that croissant after the american pancakes.  Anyway, see that squint zipper ^^^^^  That took me three hours to put in and it was all wrong. And the bottom of the zip on the right hand side as you look at the photo is all queer too and the waistband doesn't line up. But on the plus side, I am loving the fit across the back, if you excuse the dodgy posture.

The others were more productive...

simply awesome cross stitch by Hannah

and Hannah's foxy quilt top

a maternity dress for Lizzie (and a skirt for her Nancy)

an adorable baby quilt by Tanya (along with cushion covers)
However, by then we had run out of time and I had run out of patience, having bent two needles in the zip inserting process. So it was a quick pack up and tidy around, then lunch (more cake, obvs.) and packing the car.  Big hugs to Alison (with plans to return!) and we were off, never to eat again.... well, not for a while anyway.

A brilliant focussed weekend, with lovely stitchy friends hosted by a fab couple.  If your interest has been piqued by the Simply Solids Sew-in Retreat in September, I would say go for it. The chance to have dedicated sewing time to focus solely on what you want to do, with no pressure to attend classes, is a brilliant opportunity.  You will be with people who will help and support you and vice versa.  I can't guarantee that you will be able to eat your own body weight in cake though..... Or head of to Mike and Alison's in Norfolk and take your elasticated waistbands!

I was hoping to show off my finished frock by now but after breaking 4 (FOUR) more needles and the dress nearly getting flung out the the window along with the sewing machine and my sanity, the zip is still not fitted.  But I did have a Eureka moment this morning on the drive to work - use a different type of needle, stupid!  So that's the plan (and a not exposed zip either).  Watch this space for my first fully finished frock......

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Flowered Up

Remember when a weekender meant something other than a bag....  distant memories indeed.  A little like the workshop run by Mandy at one of our first EMMQG meetings two years ago next month.  The plan was for us all to make an Amy Butler Weekender bag, guided by Mandy who had already bitten the bullet and made a lovely one.  I could only stay until lunchtime because Forest were playing at home that afternoon!  I managed to get some (but not all) of the pieces cut out before heading home to look after the wee man while his dad went off to the footie.  The bag pieces were packed in a box and shoved under the wardrobe.

About 6 months later, I sewed up one of the sides of the bag, added piping (really badly) and again it was all packed away.... out of sight, out of mind.

Last month, nearly two years since starting, I decided to pull out the box from under the wardrobe and finish the b*gger!  I was working on half memories of other people's experiences and working with some dodgy sewing done 18 months ago.  I mostly ignored the pattern instructions and decided to do a couple of things differently....

I put a zipped pocket on one side....

trust me, that pocket has a zip!
 I put a seam in the middle of the pocket on the other side....

honest guv!
I used leather handles that I've had for years, bought for some forgotten project, instead of the fabric ones.  I didn't put pockets at the ends of the zipper panel, just because.  And I kind of sewed the lining in as I went along, which kind of sort of worked....

didn't all go according to plan....

And after some focussed sewing days, I had a finished bag....

It's sooooooo not perfect but it's ok.  The whole experience did allow me to see how much better my sewing is now than then.  The bits I did two years ago annoy me a little because I would do them better now but still I am glad it's done. If I was a good girl, I would unpick some of it and redo but that ain't going to happen.  Made with some of my most precious MM fabrics, it is now my sewing machine bag and I love it!  AND it's finally off my flipping WIP list - woohoo!  I feel a little lighter :)

PS a little musical interlude for those of you in a nostalgic where did I put that smiley face t-shirt......?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

going on a bear hunt...

Just as I was sitting down to write this post, I started singing "I'm going to write a blog post, it's going to be a big one, what am I going to do? I'm not scared".  With immense apologies to Michael Rosen, it made me giggle.  Anyway *awkward shoe shuffle*, cracking on....

After my last post, Pennie commented that I should join up with the #sew4sanity gang over on IG. The rules are pretty straight forward:

  1. finish something I've started
  2. sew with hoarded loved fabric
  3. make something that's not a quilt (like a bag or garment)
  4. sew something completely outside of my comfort zone.
And you can mix and match so one project could cover more than one of the rules.  The aim is for it to be a monthly goal to meet all of the rules. At the same time, I've been waking up thinking about patterns and sewing, so McMojo is clearly feeling better and (whisper it) a bit keen.  

These two things have given me the incentive to get off my backside and make the side kick tote I promised Sue, the incredibly patient winner of my giveaway in October last year. To meet the rules, I used some hoarded Tula Pink raccoons for the lining (#2), I made a bag (#3) and I took myself completely out of my comfort zone by putting in my first ever flush zipped pocket into the bag lining (#4).  Boom!

I couldn't quite get my head around the flushed zip until I realised it was like a porthole then it all clicked and I was away.

not perfect, but not bad for my first time
It was only after I'd finished that I'd figured out that I could have practised on scrap fabric rather than going live with the poor raccoons. D'oh!  Anyhoo, it worked out OK. The rest of the bag came together pretty easily.

I need to iron it!

It was a fab accident that ninja racoon showed up and hit the middle of the zip and it give anyone not allowed in the evils!

I added a wee label, you know, to make it more designer!

So, this bag has really helped get me back into the swing of things and ultimately, I really enjoyed sewing it together.  I haven't quite got my sewing space organised yet and am still losing things all the time but it's all about forward momentum.  Just got to make a couple of wee mindings and this bag will be heading off the its new owner and I feel a little lighter.

Now to choose a WIP to might even be my weekender...Now that would be a bear hunt!.....*feels a little faint*