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Handmade Quilting

Lady Liberty {July in the Sugarblock Club}

16/09/2016

There’s been a marked absence of Sugarblock Club blocks around these parts since early July (that one that I was pretending was still June) and yet despite being three months adrift on the block a month idea, I promise I’ve not given up, although I may be rethinking my plans of trying to have the quilts themselves finished for Christmas; even my optimism only stretches so far.

This week I tackled July. Lady Liberty is a beautiful beautiful block, and of all the full quilts for each month, this is the one that calls to me irresistibly.  What stops me from ransacking the stash and just going for it is that it’s foundation paper pieced, and I struggled a bit with the last attempt.  It was all right in the end, and made some of my favourite blocks, but it was definitely sewing that required a thinking brain.

So I cut out the pieces for both my blocks, and set myself the challenge of making just one of them, taking my time and doing everything properly.  I’ll admit I tried to cut a few corners on the last one; I didn’t precut the fabric, or perforate the folding edges, or starch the finished triangle, but this time I did it all.  Cutting the fabric into appropriate sized squares does seem to waste rather a lot of it, but hopefully some of the offcuts can be put to use in a later block, and it does make it easier to get everything lined up.  I didn’t notice the perforations making the paper much easier to fold while I was assembling the block, but it did help to get it to pull away gently so it’s worth doing, however much it sets your teeth on edge as the needles squeaks through the paper.

Space for the Butterflies - Mariner's Compass block, Lady Liberty, July in the Sugarblock Club from Stitchery Dickory Dock

Spray starch was the other new weapon in my arsenal and I wish I’d used it before.  It stopped the points of the very pointy triangles from wandering off out of shape as soon as I took the paper off the back and gave me at least a fighting chance of getting the points to line up.

Space for the Butterflies - Mariner's Compass block, Lady Liberty, July in the Sugarblock Club from Stitchery Dickory Dock

And line up they did.  Things were looking very good on points until I came to join the centre, and I can’t blame the paper piecing for that. This is my best effort, it’s still not perfect, but what wonkyness there is doesn’t jump out at you, and after four attempts with varying degrees of wonkyness, the seams weren’t going to hold up to any more abuse before there’d be nothing left to sew.  When I come to make the companion block I’m thinking of hand basting the centre join before I sew it with the machine so I can get it exactly line up, but I don’t know whether that would work, or whether it would just pull out of position as it went through the machine; if you’ve done it, or have any top tips for making that centre point line up, please do tell!

Space for the Butterflies - Mariner's Compass block, Lady Liberty, July in the Sugarblock Club from Stitchery Dickory Dock

The quilt so far; ten blocks, a nine patch quilt and a plus one.  Making these blocks is teaching me so much, not just in construction techniques, but in how to make a scrappy quilt hold together.  I know, when I come to lay out the blocks each time that there are a couple that I pass over and pick last because they’re difficult to place and don’t seem to sit easily with the rest.  Initially I thought it was because they both have very strong blues that weren’t at the time represented anywhere else in the quilt, and it’s true that using more of my blue batick elephant fabric has helped to rehabilitate the one with the big blue cross, and I hope that my second Maritime Star, which uses the dark blue flowers for the centre star, will have a similar effect.

Space for the Butterflies - Mariner's Compass block, Lady Liberty, July in the Sugarblock Club from Stitchery Dickory Dock

But the more that I look at it, the more I can see that it’s not the blue that’s the problem; it’s the green.  My two problem blocks both contain some of my last snippets of a gorgeous green and yellow swirly Amy Butler Midwest Modern print.  It’s a fabric I love and it goes beautifully with some of the colours in the rest of the quilt, but I think it’s too cool to play nicely with the very yellow based greens in the other blocks.

Space for the Butterflies - Mariner's Compass block, Lady Liberty, July in the Sugarblock Club from Stitchery Dickory Dock

When I tuck the edges under of that blue orange peel block, suddenly it seems a much easier fit, and I think before too long I shall have to take its edges off and give it a little freshen up, probably just by substituting the green for one of the yellows.  I’m quite tempted to change the corners on the blue cross block too but as it’s the less awkward of the blocks, and I have another five blocks to make before I’m up to date, it might be a while before I get to it.

I didn’t sort my scraps by warm or cool when I did a pick for this quilt, I pretty much just chose colours that I like and yes I suspect if I sorted what’s left in the bag I’d find that the things I’ve used the most of are all warms, and the ones I’ve skipped over are on the cool side.

Someday, when I sort my scraps into something more lovely than the various carrier bags in which they currently reside, I wonder whether it would make sense to sort them by warm/cool as well a by the colours themselves, but I think we all know that day might be a long time coming!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Finished Handmade Quilting Work in Progress

Liberty Print Plotting {handmade}

14/07/2016

I’ve been plotting and planning and knitting this week.  The knitting I can’t show you, try at least not just yet. It’s super top secret, for sale to the point that I’m hiding it even from Ravelry, but all being well and a few nice commutes with space next to me to wiggle my elbows without prodding someone and I might just be finished.  There is a teeny tiny sneak peek over on Instagram but I don’t think it’s going to be giving too much away.

I’ve still got my July Sugarblock club blocks to make, but I’m still steeling myself before I try foundation paper piecing again.  I’m sure that all the lessons I learnt with May’s block will carry over, I’m just procrastinating a bit on the fabric choices as much as anything else.

Space for the Butterflies - A Liberty Butterfly Quilt

And so the plotting begins, or perhaps the plotting has already been there.  I have a little stash of Liberty print leftovers from making sundresses for the girls, and a little bag of scraps from Alice Caroline’s stand at a quilt show, and another little bag of scraps from Jo at Greene Fabric Co, a plan and sort of a pattern.  It’s my next big quilt, except its going to be everything that the Fishing Net Quilt isn’t; much smaller, and with very little piecing if any.  I’ve got a length of white on white flower print which I want to use as a whole cloth backing and then using the Alice Caroline Butterfly Cushion pattern as a guide, set raw edge applique butterflies in the centre, followed by some daisy chain free motion quilting and then another border which will either be raw edge applique leaves in a sort of Orla Kierly style, or possible a grandmother’s garden hexie pattern.

Space for the Butterflies - A Liberty Butterfly Quilt

For now of course it looks like this:

Space for the Butterflies - A Liberty Butterfly Quilt

But I know I can see it in my head, now I just have to make it reality.

And speaking of reality, in looking through to find my Liberty print stash I found this:

Space for the Butterflies - A Liberty Butterfly Quilt

It’s finished, it’s actually something I finished a while ago, made from a hexagon pack that I picked up at Libertys without any serious plan other than I really liked sewing hexies together.  It’s about 9dimensions) and it’s a very pretty slab but to be honest I have no idea what to do with it.  I suppose I could unpick it all and use the hexies as focus points in the centre of flowers, or as paving stones in a river, but it seems a shame to waste all that sewing, so I’m throwing it open to ideas – what do I do with a hexie slab that I made on a whim?

Space for the Butterflies - A Liberty Butterfly Quilt

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Handmade Quilting

Maple Leaves – The Sugarblock Club in June

08/07/2016

If I promise faithfully that I didn’t look at the July block until I’d finished these two, can I still claim that I made the June Sugarblock Club blocks in June? Truth be told just about all my making time in June was caught up in finishing the Fishing Net quilt (now happily ensconced on the top of the pile on the play frame) and by the time I’d finished that it was the end of the month and I’d not even had the time to pick fabric for June’s blocks.

But I don’t want to get behind because then I’ll never catch up, and just be left with some random orphan blocks that look like they should be a quilt if only I’d finished it, so first on the list for July were June’s maple leaves.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugarblock club for June

Compared to May’s paper piecing, these whizzed together in no time.  In fact I made both in one evening having only really intended to choose the fabric and maybe do the cutting out.  Before I knew it I’d started just one seam and then suddenly it was nearly bedtime and H and I were sat on the floor playing layouts with half a year’s worth of blocks.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugarblock club for June

I thought about doing an ombré effect for the maple leaves and I’ve seen some beautiful ones popping up across the internet along those lines; they look stunning and the whole idea would be amazing as a big quilt made out of rainbow ombre leaves, but the multicolour called to me more this time. I think I’ve been quite heavily influenced by our trip to Devon last weekend; I woke up before the children on the Saturday morning and wrapped myself up in the quilt that I made my Mum to sit and look out of the window and knit and drink in the view.  The leftovers from that quilt have ended up in so many projects, especially the blue polka dots, and so it seemed only right to pair them with the blue and orange flowers from the original.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugarblock club for June

And in the other leaf that blue check printed with tiny white flowers is from Mum’s fabric stash.  It’s the first time I’ve used it in a project, and as there was a plastic tag still on it it might be the first time it’s ever made it to any project but it works beautifully here and if I can manage to keep my cutting straight it might make an appearance in a few more blocks.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugarblock club for June

And with these two finished I’m now officially half way through. Twelve blocks done and twelve to go, and we’re almost at the stage where I have to lay the blocks on the lawn and take pictures from the bedroom window to fit them all in.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugarblock club for June

I love laying them all out nicely to start to get a feeling for what they’d look like as a quilt together, though whether I’m making once quilt or two is still up in the air. Amy’s Starlight Sampler quilt is such a great example of what you can do with a block of the month quilt that doesn’t involve just setting them up in a 3×4 rectangle so I’m looking forward to seeing any suggestions she might have for a layout, and I have to admit after my recent quilting workout, two littler quilts do sound ever so slightly more appealing than one completely giant one.  Plus at some stage we’re going to be getting bunkbeds for the girls and can you imagine the cuteness of bunkbeds with matching but not matching quilts.  I think we all know where this is headed don’t we!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On 

 

Finished Handmade Quilting

A Fishing Net Quilt {handmade}

01/07/2016

Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

A year and a quarter in the making, and it’s finally finished.  If ever a quilt was to be my magnum opus, I think this would be it.  Whether it can claim the title of the biggest quilt I’ve ever made is a little uncertain; my silk quit isn’t as long, but it is wider and I haven’t quite got to the point of getting out the tape measure and doing the maths to be absolutely certain.

Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

What is absolutely certain is that this is the biggest quilt with this degree of piecing, the silk quilt basically being rows of 10 giant squares, and the biggest quilt that I have ever quilted on my little sewing machine.  Looking at the quilt and then looking at the sewing machine I rather feel like I owe it a service as a sort of spa break for sewing machines so it can recover from all the hard work.

In size it is big enough to wrap around a tree, big enough to completely cover me (and I’m 6’0”), and the sort of size that can see Kitty, Pip, Elma and me all sat on the sofa and all nicely tucked up underneath it.  It’s going to be a popular quilt come winter, and because it’s new and shiny it’s my favourite now – though I’m having to fight H for it of an evening.

Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

The backing is a batik print that came from Bramble Patch.  If I’d been more organised at the time I’d have written down what it was but I think I was just too captivated by it to pay much attention to important things such as labels.  I’m pretty sure it’s a Makower Fabrics Island Batik print, the imaginatively named 6/550  As I said, the quilt is massive, so I pieced the backing by buying 3 metres of batik, cutting one metre off, dividing that in two vertically and sewing that on the side of the remaining 2 metre section to give a 2 metre by 67ish inch backing section.  It was pretty much exactly the same width as the quilt so I tried to be as careful as possible when lining up front and back but I did end up needing to piece in a little strip a couple of inches wide on one corner.  Fortunately in such a busy fabric it’s not noticeable unless you know what you’re looking for.

The binding is a sea of calm compared to the riot of the back, it’s a Moda essentials dots print, and I love how it works as a soft companion to the front and then a crazy vibrant contrast to the back.

Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

As well as winning the prize for biggest every quilt quilted by my machine, it’s also the first time I’ve done more than just an all over stipple of one variation or another; the first time I’ve really tried to match the quilting to the quilt.  I started with the blue zig zags; in the piecing they make the net, but for the quilting they were waves. Each line has three rippling lines in varigated blue thread (YLI Sea Mist) so for me they’re fairly densely quilted and oh are there many hours of working the quilt through the machine in there.

Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

For the inner triangles I went with a much lighter touch, and a different colour (yellow varigated). I wanted them to be under the water; the little swirls and eddys and occasional air bubbles so you can imagine a fish, or perhaps a teeny tiny submarine wiggling from one side of the quilt to another.

Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

I love the way it turned out; while I was quilting it I seriously began to question whether I actually like the quilting part of it and thought wistfully of long arm quilting machines; it’s a serious upper body work out hauling that much fabric around and I am very determined that the next quilt I make will be smaller. Much smaller.

Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

Famous last words I know, but I do have a plan for the next one, and a lovely little stash of Liberty scraps too!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On 

Finished Handmade Quilting

Twinkle twinkle little stars {handmade}

03/06/2016

I fell in love with big ship sailing on Morning Star. In the context of the Tall Ships Race she’s not actually that tall, but a 62 foot gaff ketch is still a pretty decent size to take surfing down the swell of the Bay of Biscay en route to Lisbon. And if Morning Star was in my thoughts last week as I made the first of the May SugarBlock Club blocks, it’s her tender who inspired the second.

Because what else would it be called but Twinkle, as in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  And this block is certainly full of stars.

Space for the Butterflies - Morning Star Block Sugarblock Club by Stitchery Dickery Dock

As is always that way, the second block was easier to construct; I had more of an idea about what goes where, and how best to line things up and that meant I could play around with the fussy cutting with a bit more accuracy.

The yellow stars are fussy cut from a fat quarter which hasn’t featured in the quilt so far because I totally broke my own sort of rule about this being a stash only quilt and added it to the mix when we were shopping in Harrogate on our anniversary trip away.  I did only have two yellows and there was starting to be a serious risk of them being overused so I’m utterly unapologetic to myself.  They also happen to be the perfect size for the points!

Space for the Butterflies - Morning Star Block Sugarblock Club by Stitchery Dickery Dock

I love the end result, it’s a block that really seems to go well with the other blocks I’ve made so far and it’s just so cheery to look at.

And as for the quilt so far, well it turns out that ten blocks is a really awkward number to try to set out in a quilt layout,

Space for the Butterflies - Morning Star Block Sugarblock Club by Stitchery Dickery Dock

And on a really windy day, you’ll be lucky to get even one photo with them all in it that doesn’t look like this!

Space for the Butterflies - Morning Star Block Sugarblock Club by Stitchery Dickery Dock

Seeing all the blocks together, at the moment the block with the cross of blue elephants feels a little out of kilter with the rest, and possible the dark blue flowery petals too, but we’re far from finished and I seem to remember being a bit unsure about one of the first blocks I made that I now can’t imagine not being in the quilt so we shall see how the year goes on.  It is making me think a little more about the art of scrap quilts and how it’s never just a question of grabbing the next bit of blue fabric!

And speaking of blue fabric, I’ve basted up the fishing net quilt and I have every intention of uniting it with the sewing machine again soon – so I may yet finish a quilt this year!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On