After a little break…

It’s been a busy few weeks here lately including half term and family visiting so I haven’t got much quilting done, but once the family had left, I started again this week desperate to try and complete some UFOs.

The first task I set myself was to complete some quilts for Linus – I had 3 ‘tops’ that needed sandwiching (putting a top, wadding and backing together) and quilting (stitching the ‘sandwich’ together), so I decided to practise a variety of free motion quilting skills I’ve been learning.

Free motion quilting is using the machine to stitch in a random way, moving the fabric in different directions, around curves, backwards, forwards and sideways, without having to turn the fabric round. It’s like drawing using the machine where the needle is the pencil, only you have to move the paper and not the pencil! I never thought I’d be able to do it but with a lot of perseverance, I’m getting there!

The first quilt I completed was a baby panel and with there being several baby motifs, I decided to use free motion quilting to outline each figure. Although it isn’t easy to see the stitching on the top, it’s a little more visible on the back.

A few months ago, I decided to purchase an embroidery machine as I’d seen some examples of using one for edge-to-edge quilting instead of using a long-arm machine to do free motion. I’ve had one or two goes trying this out and had some issues to overcome, but after spending some time using software to achieve the size and settings of the block I wanted to use, I had a go on the second Linus quilt. While there are still some things to sort out, I’m fairly pleased with the outcome and I know this is something I’ll also persevere to use more so I can use different designs. 

The final technique I’ve been practising this week is using rulers to assist free motion patterns. However the word ‘rulers’ doesn’t give the right image and should be described more as ‘guides’ as they are all different shapes and are used to guide the machine foot to create different patterns. The moment I saw these in use, I knew it was something I wanted to use too and so I purchased a special foot and templates from Westalee, an Australian company. I have loved learning to use these and am gaining confidence, particularly as I have just signed up to an online course to learn more. I decided therefore that the third Linus quilt was just right  for using the rulers and so I’ve been working on this one for the last couple of days and have just completed it. Again, some of the stitching isn’t always apparent just looking at the top, but look at the picture of the back and it’s much easier to see all the patterns. I’m pleased with the way it has turned out and it will inspire to experiment on future quilts. 

I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve put into these, especially knowing that children in hospital will benefit from these quilts, and I’m so pleased I can put my practice to such good use!

Posted in Free Motion Quilting, Linus, Machine Embroidery, Unfinished Objects (UFOs), Westalee Rulers | Leave a comment

The beginning of Infinity

Well, I haven’t managed to catch up with all my projects here yet but thought I would just post this photo of my next big project – another Jaqueline de Jonge design called Infinity. I have signed up to a workshop in November, led by Jaqueline, where she suggests the real difficulty with this design will be putting it all together, so it’s suggested that all the individual sections are completed before the workshop. I thought, therefore, amongst all the other projects I have on the go, that I had better start this one.

I’m really pleased with my progress and how it looks. My previous experience with Enchanting Stars has really helped me achieve the matching points here and I’m looking forward to getting on with the next sections. 

I’ll try and bring you up to date with lots of other projects soon! I’m just far too busy quilting to be writing a blog – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

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New babies!

This post is about two new babies – but don’t panic! Only one is mine – and is not human!

The first is to do with an announcement made to me by some dear friends that they are about to become first-time grandparents. Their daughter is one of my ex-pupils and through her parents, it has been a delight to be able to keep in touch with her. On hearing the wonderful news, I decided to make a baby’s play-mat and bag for the ‘mum-to-be’. I found some lovely fabric in my ‘stash’ that I’d bought during a visit to my daughter in America several years ago, and I knew it would be just right for a play-mat.

I decided, being a boring Maths teacher (retired) that I would go geometrical and make a hexagonal-shaped play-mat, made up of hexagons! Hexagons are usually sewn together by hand as it can be a bit tricky using a machine since there are 3 seams that meet at a point, but I found a helpful tutorial  online which meant I would be able to complete the play-mat BEFORE the baby arrived.

I also decided that it might be useful to make the play-mat into a ‘quillow’ which is a combination of a quilt and a pillow. By putting a pocket on the reverse, it’s possible to fold up the play-mat and push it into the pocket so that it can be used as a small cushion or pillow!

Here are some photos of the finished mat. 

In addition, I thought it would also be helpful to make a large bag to carry the play-mat and some toys, and knowing how much my friend’s daughter loves anything Japanese, I decided I’d also make her a ‘Natsu Bag‘ using the beautiful fabrics I buy from my favourite online fabric shop –  Japan Crafts. What a clever kit it is, using a 5 inch Charm Pack and just 1 metre of fabric for the lining and such a useful bag for all sorts of things.

I was thrilled to be able to give these gifts to the proud parents-to-be recently and very happy at their delighted and positive response. I hope they will be useful to them.

Now to the other ‘new baby’!

I have treated myself to an Embroidery machine! Never having had much interest in one, I happened to see a post in the Facebook quilting group about using an embroidery machine to do ‘all-over’ quilting – something I’m really keen to be able to do.  I set about doing some research and a few weeks ago, my new machine arrived! I can’t say how delighted I am with it and of course it has opened up a whole new area of sewing for me! I’m certainly no expert having only tried out a few things, but here are some examples of my ‘practice’.

Watch this space for more uses of my new baby! I just wish I had more time!

Posted in Linus, Machine Embroidery, Unfinished Objects (UFOs) | 1 Comment

It’s been a busy time

So I’ve just realised it is nearly two months since I posted anything, but that is not because I’ve not been working on my ‘UFOs’! Easter holidays with family here and then a trip down to my daughter’s to help out along with gardening, playing Bridge and walking in the North Yorks Moors has made life very busy (how did I ever find time to work?) However, in between all those activities, I have been beavering away on some of those ‘UFO’s.

I’ll start by bringing you up to date with Enchanting Stars – I’ve finally completed the quilt top! My last post mentioned that I still had 5 sections to do, but having decided that I would sign up to a workshop in November for another of Jaqueline de Jonge’s designs (Infinity), I though I’d better get on and complete Enchanting Stars. Here are some photos of the stages – and finally the finished top. Now I have to decide how to quilt it – this will be put on the back-burner as there are skills I would like to learn (more about this later!) to be able to do this quilt justice and for it, I hope, to become a bit of a family heirloom.

While this was a very challenging project, I loved putting it together and am looking forward to starting on Infinity. 

Lots more projects have been worked on over the last few weeks – I’ll post more on these soon. 


Posted in Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP), Jaqueline de Jonge, Quilt Tops, Unfinished Objects (UFOs) | Leave a comment

It took a bit longer than I thought!

Due to sorting out my mum’s paperwork and a family wedding (which was wonderful), I’ve been rather busy recently but have still been working away at Section D of my Enchanting Stars quilt when I’ve had a few minutes. I’ve finally completed this section today and am pleased with the result. 

The large circle here has to be put to one side now as it won’t be added until I come to Section H, but you can see from the photo of the quilt so far just where it will go! Only another 5 sections to go!

Posted in Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP), Jaqueline de Jonge, Quilt Tops, Unfinished Objects (UFOs) | 1 Comment

Which UFO shall I tackle today?

Soon after I started quilting in earnest, I found out about a Facebook group for quilters and what a great group it is. Everyone is so helpful and we are all encouraged to share progress on projects. It was through this group that I was introduced to the wonderful designs of Jaqueline de Jonge and I was immediately inspired to complete one of her designs. Last year I was delighted when I then had the opportunity to attend a workshop tutored by Jaqueline and it was there I started on her Enchanting Stars design. This is a photo of the pattern – not mine as I’m nowhere near finished.

Jaqueline de Jonge designs projects using a technique called Foundation Paper Piecing and I like to think of it as ‘quilting by numbers’. Using a printed paper pattern, fabric is sewn together by stitching along the lines  printed on the paper. Each section is numbered and although it takes a bit of getting used to, becomes a very straightforward way of assembling patchwork. In addition, this method enables really precise points in the patchwork which is sometimes difficult to achieve through normal patchwork.

So last November I attended the workshop where I learnt a great deal from Jaqueline and I was able to start on the Enchanting Stars design. There was no way it would be completed during the 2-day workshop so I knew it would become an ‘Unfinished Object’ (commonly known as UFOs in the quilting world) and that I would pick up this project when the mood took me.

I have worked on it a little since November but haven’t had the time or inclination to pick it up since my mother died since it takes a lot of concentration in cutting the pieces and keeping everything organised, but today was the day and this morning, out it came again!

I’ve only done a little today and will now work on this section (there about 8 sections and I’m on the 4th one) until it’s complete. Then I’ll probably have a rest from it and pick up another UFO.

Below is a photo of the first 3 completed sections. I’ll post a photo once I’ve completed the next section.

Posted in Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP), Jaqueline de Jonge, Quilt Tops, Unfinished Objects (UFOs) | Leave a comment

La Passacaglia

Sunday morning was always the time I would visit my mother and is now a sad time each week since she passed away on January 2nd this year. Through her last few months, she loved to see the progress I was making in quilts and one of the projects I started so I could share it with her was a hand sewing project called La Passacaglia. The method of sewing is called English Paper Piecing (EPP for short) and I was inspired by seeing examples from other members of a Facebook group. This site really got me started and you can see lots of examples that might inspire you too:

This hand sewing was something I could take up and do as I was sitting with my mum, and in her last few days and hours as I was sitting with her, it helped me cope. Now that she’s not here, I’m still going to continue because it will always make me think of her – and because I love how the colours and designs develop.

The rosette below was completed in mum’s last hours. I’ve made a few now and one day I may have made enough to put together to make a quilt but meanwhile I’m just enjoying the process.

Posted in English Paper Piecing (EPP), La Passacaglia | 2 Comments