Tuesday 31 July 2012

Tetris block 2 and a finish

Yesterday I found time to complete the second block for the Tetris QAL. Use the button on the right to take you to Melissa's site to see the completed blocks so far or to join in the fun. Here is my second block.
I managed to find a different selection of fabrics to block 1 in my scraps pile to make the 3inch blocks. I managed this arrangement at the first attempt going down the list of playing pieces given and placing them as I would in a game. 

If I put the two blocks together I can make two complete rows, that is a row with no white squares. Can't wait until the next selection of pieces are released.

I also completed this months baby quilt for Linus. This used some left over fabric from our Guide project so I only had to buy the wadding. Next months Linus quilt will use the Tetris blocks.

The colours are not showing up right due to the lighting, the border is in fact a pale lavender colour and the binding and 'blue' in the quilt is purple. 

Pets on Quilts starts tomorrow and I have been searching through my photos of Scamp and Picasso 'helping' with my quilts. Scamp loves to have his photo taken and even tried to get into picture above.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Sunshine, Olympics and stitching

I have really been enjoying the sunshine and started the garden tidy up since the weeds have grown huge as a result of all the rain. It also enjoyable to walking Scamp without getting soaked.

I haven't seen much of the Olympics so far but I did catch most of the opening ceremony which I enjoyed and the men's cycle race yesterday. Neither of these were good for sewing to as they needed to be watched but I got quite a bit of knitting done.

Yesterday I decided to make a straight skirt for the summer. I have had the material for a long time and just hadn't got round to using it. It is Laura Ashley and was bought as a remnant.
The skirt has a side zip and a slit at the hem on the left side. The back has two waist darts but the front doesn't. Really quick and easy to make. I must get someone to take a photo of the things I make being worn. 

Lily Pad Quilting is gearing up to Pets on Quilts which runs during August. Click the button on the right to follow the link and find out what it is all about. They ran a test 'linky' party to make sure the links will work for the event. Whilst having a look at the links I came across Happy Quilting where Melissa is running a Tetris Quilt along. As I love the game I decided to take part. Follow the link to find out more. Here is my block for week 1

The blocks should be 5inch squares but I am using 3inch. The quilt along makes 6 blocks and the finished size was too large for what I wanted. My quilt will be 30 X 45 inches without the borders. This will be my Linus quilt for August. I now need to make my week 2 block as I am behind having started late.

Finally got round to getting started with free motion quilting. When I was last doing quilting over 20 years ago I did it all by hand. The machine really speeds the process up but I was wary of trying this technique because I had been told how difficult it is to control the machine when you first start. This is my very first try.
I started with just getting used to the machine without the feed dogs and then tried doing a leaf. I was not too unhappy with this start and have already progressed on with the technique. I will post next week to show my progress.

I have finalised my design for the little quilt swap I am taking part in, the fabric has been bought and later this week I will be starting work on it. However before then I have a quilt to bind and one to quilt and bind.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday

This week has seen slow progress on my cross stitch as I have tried to give some time to other long term projects. However I have completed the border on the left side and started the next picture square.

I rather like the border.

The latest square is also rather fun.

I think it is about time I did some more work on the columns and scrolls. Unfortunately this is where I lost interest in the work last time. So my plan for next week is to match the time I spend on the ship with work on the scroll. 

This week I have also spent time on my English paper pieced quilt. I am making a 'Grandmother's flower garden' quilt for my daughter Lucy. I usually work on this on my train journeys to work but as I haven't been travelling by train recently this hasn't progressed very much. I am now on holiday so no more train journeys until September so I need to include this in my stitching time at home. This week I cut out 300 more hexagon templates,
The templates stay in the work until it is complete and are then removed. I also cut out and tacked the fabric to another 40 hexagons. These now need to be stitched together. I also bought some more fat quarters of flower patterned fabric to use in the quilt. Each area of flowers will have green paths between.
If you haven't come across English Paper Piecing patchwork before have a look at the tutorial here. The whole project is really portable in the early stages.  At the request of my daughter I am just using hexagons for my quilt however you can make a good range of other shapes with this technique. You can also mix shapes within the patchwork so long as they have an edge of the same size to stitch them  together. My hexagons are 1inch. To make a double quilt (80 x 95 inches) I need 2930 hexagons and 63 half hexagons to make the edges straight. So I have a very long way to go. At the moment I haven't decided if it is going to be all hexagons or if there will be some borders (paths) within it. Obviously this would reduce the number of hexagons I will need. 

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Birthday presents

This weekend I haven't been able to get to my sewing machine because my daughter Lucy has been using it to make a quilt for her boyfriend's birthday. In fact she has also been busy knitting for his birthday as well. Having made the small quilts for Project Linus as part of her Queen's Guide award Lucy was inspired to try making a larger quilt and a birthday quilt seemed perfect. The frog fabric was already in my stash as was some of the green but she had to buy the rest.

Lucy has finished the top.

The photo doesn't show the frogs very well so here is a close up ( opps took the picture on the squiff)

The fabric for the back of the quilt is really fun so we bought a little more than we needed so we could use it on another project.
Elephants are a bit of a theme for this birthday as Lucy's boyfriend saw a pattern for a knitted elephant in Tracy Chapman's book Toys to Knit and asked her if she would make him one. By yesterday morning all the pieces had been knitted.
The body pieces were being sewn at the point the photo was taken. By yesterday evening Loulou the elephant was complete.
Lucy is really pleased with her hard work. This is the first big item she has knitted having only learnt to knit last year. Most of her knitting to date has been sample squares to learn new stitches so this was the first time following a pattern and using increase and decrease. 

Lucy has asked me if I will do the quilting for her as she has run out of time. So this afternoon I will be sorting out the quilt sandwich and will hopefully have it all completed by Thursday. 

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Update on work in Progress Wednesday

This week I had set myself the job of completing the next picture, the discovery of the New World. However I decided I wanted to see what the border would look like so I worked on that instead.  I almost managed to complete the left border.

I am very pleased with how the work is progressing. Sharon over at pintangle  is running a work in progress Wednesday drop in group. Pop over and visit some of the sites. There is some fantastic stitching being produced. Click on the comments button on the Work in Progress Wednesday post and then follow the links from the comments.

Next week I want to complete some more of this sampler but I also want to move my Dresden plate quilt forward. I am hoping I will get lots done.

Monday 16 July 2012

Sketchbook time

This weekend was very different from the last one in that I didn't get my sewing machine out once, or my cutting board or any material. Instead I got out my knitting needles and also my sketchbook.

A couple of weeks ago we asked our Guide unit what charity they would like to support for the coming year. Each girl was able to write her choices down. We looked at the resulting list and the votes were to support an animal charity. Following discussion they decided the charity would be in the UK and that they wanted to do something not just raise money. The girls had really enjoyed learning sewing skills with out Linus project over the last year and thought that they would like to learn another skill this coming year. Therefore Lucy and I have spent time looking at UK animal charities and what projects they have this year so we can tell the Guides on Wednesday. The girls had already suggested Battersea Dogs and Cats home and have indicated they would also like to visit the centre. Battersea currently have Whodunnknit to make purly paw print patchwork blankets for dogs. So I set out to knit some squares.

The paw prints on the squares come in 3 different sizes, small, medium and large. The minimum size blanket is made up of 25 squares but you just add more for larger dogs. Unfortunately the paw print doesn't show up very well in the photo.
On the individual square it shows up better. If the Guides like this idea all we have to do is teach them how to knit. Luckily there are a couple who can already knit. The squares are really easy and the pattern is on the Battersea website There are also patterns for cat dogs and dog coats.

Whilst visiting other blogs I came across The sketchbook challenge. This gives a theme for the month and the challenge is to do at least one sketchbook page on that theme. So on Saturday evening whilst watching TV I pulled out my sketchbook, colouring pens, drawing ink and brushes and enjoyed a fun couple of hours playing. This months theme is circles.These are the results.
This is colouring pencils.

For this one I covered the page with charcoal and then smudged the circles in with an eraser or my fingers. I was rather messy by the time I finished.

These two were made with drawing ink and a paint brush. the first one reminds me of Mary Quants black and white dresses.  The activity was certainly a change. 

I also spent time this weekend finalising my design for a little quilt swap I am going to take part in. I am not going to show it on my blog until it is complete and I have sent the photos of it to Kate who is organising it.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

WISP Wednesday

I am feeling really pleased and positive about my millennium sampler this week as I have managed to spend quite a lot of time working on it and have just about completed two further areas, the 'rocket' and King John's seal. There are still a few finishing details to do on both areas but they wont take long.

As you can see I have also worked some of the border in this area as I wanted to get the the full effect of how it will look when completed.

I am going to move back down to the lower edge of the stitching to complete the next picture area which is 1492 Santa Maria, Discovery of the New World. I will then follow round the right hand side and finish with the area next to the 'Rocket' which contains the British crown. I can't make up my mind whether to stitch the middle scrolls as I go along or complete them first. I guess I'll just see how it goes this week.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Very busy Saturday

Yesterday was a brilliant sewing day. I spent the whole day at my sewing machine. I did get my exercise as I had to keep going out to the kitchen where I had set up the ironing board. I know everyone says set it up near your sewing area but I like to make myself get up and move around. It also reminds me to make cups of tea.

First thing in the morning I sewed in all the ends on my latest knitted baby blanket. This one is going in the pile to go to Linus later in the year.

I then cut out the skirt pattern I had bought whilst out shopping with my daughter. It was the material that attracted me first, a Nel Whatmore design called Sleeping Beauty in enchanted brown. It is a 2011 design and was half price in the sale which made it even more attractive. I wanted to make a half circle skirt and although these are fairly easy to draw out for yourself I wanted to save time so bought a pattern.

I am really pleased with the finished skirt and it fits really well. It would have been lovely to hang this outside to take the photo but London was very wet yesterday.
Unfortunately the photo doesn't do the colours justice. The fabric is 100% cotton and I have some good sized offcuts to go in my quilting stash.

Having finished that I hunted through my stash to find a border for the toddler quilt in progress.

I choose a light border which appears blue in the photo but is in fact lilac. I will use the same colour for the back and bind it with royal purple used in the 4 block. I would have liked to have got this quilted today but I haven't got any batting and my local quilting suppliers isn't open until Monday. I will quilt this on Tuesday as I am working tomorrow.

I also finished off a couple of the small premature baby quilts that the guides had been making. A couple of the girls moved away and their quilts just needed the fleece backing added. These will go to the hospital local to where we meet. There are twelve to go there and a job for today is to sew the Linus label onto them.

In the evening I sat and worked on my cross stitch whilst watching TV so there is quite a bit of progress on that this week.

I am pleased to have had such a good day at the end of a busy week. The elderly gentleman friend that I visit broke his hip last Sunday in a fall so he is in hospital having had surgery. Our older daughter arrived back home after a year in Paris. It was lovely to see her on Thursday and I look forward to our visits to galleries and exhibitions restarting once she is settled. The younger daughter is making a quilt and knitting an elephant toy for her boyfriend's 21st birthday which is the 24th July. Both are progressing well but she is now in Spain for a week. Lucky girl as it is set to be very wet in London over the next week. I said I would knit the elephants body whilst she is away.

So I am now heading back to my sewing machine for a couple of hours. I can't take the whole day as I have marking that must be done for tomorrow. Never mind I don't work during the holidays so there will soon be lots of time to spend sewing.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Bonnet Stitch

Take a stitch Tuesday this week looked at Bonnet stitch. I found the information about the stitch quite difficult to follow at first but having looked at other sources realised that pintangle has the clearest tutorial for this stitch. I tried out this stitch this morning and have eventually got it right. The picture below shows my efforts so far including a lot of mistakes.

I haven't had time to think about how I could incorporate this stitch into any current work but I quite like it and with more practice I am sure I will use it in the future.

WISP Wednesday

I wasn't sure I was going to post a progress report on my millennium sampler as progress this week has been very slow. It has been a week where every time I picked it up and worked on an area I made a mistake and had to unpick it. However this morning I read Sharon's blog about WISP and reassessed what I had achieved. Although I haven't got as far as I wanted I have moved the work forward and even with the unpicking I have enjoyed working on it. 

The area I am working on is of Stephenson's locomotive 'Rocket' There is more done than appears on the photo as the chimney is white and so doesn't show up very well.

My plans for this week are to complete the Rocket and the area of King John's seal. As both areas are quite well advanced this should be achievable.

On Pintangle today Sharon talks about the reasons for slow progress on projects and gives some useful tips on how to keep them moving forward. She emphasises that we shouldn't always expect projects to be finished quickly as hand crafted items take time. I think this is most important to remember in today's world where everything happens so quickly. Although this piece of work has taken a long time to get to the present point I have really enjoyed working on it and I have also found myself reading about the events I am cross stitching. So fun and learning rolled into one.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Plans for July

This week I haven't had time to do very much stitching, mostly due to having marking to complete for work prior to the end of the academic year. However I have had time to think about what I would like to achieve this month. I am lucky as I don't work during the summer holidays and so have time to catch up and practice new skills.
1. Complete Lucy's quilt ( using stamp collection and old patchwork blocks)

2. A baby quilt for Linus project

3. A knitted baby blanket for Linus project.

4. Complete Dresden plate quilt

5. Help Lucy make a quilts for friends birthday

6 Ongoing work on Millennium sampler.

In addition I need to complete the baby quilt already started.. This should be achievable as I finish work for the summer on 11th July. If I can manage these goals it will leave me free in August to practice my free motion quilting. I am desperate to try some of the beautiful designs that can be achieved with this method.