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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

Crochet Elma Family Handmade Inspiration Kitty Knitting Photography Pip Sewing Work in Progress

Progress and Planning

29/04/2016

This week I have been plotting.  I’ve been making as well but I’m having one of those phases where I flit between projects depending on mood and concentration levels and while some things have got a little bigger since the last time you saw it, none of them are anywhere near finishing.  The backing and wadding and binding for the Fishing Net quilt are still in their bag, as is the background fabric for my next quilt, mostly waiting for me to tidy my desk up even just a teeny tiny bit to make room for what will be a quite gargantuan quilting effort.

Space for the Butterflies - Cottage ripple Space for the Butterflies - Cottage ripple  I picked up my crochet again when the weather turned cold, mostly because it’s so cozy to work on while it’s all spread over my lap.  I have now finished the first third of the central section, although given that that has taken me a year and a quarter I can only hope that the rest won’t take as long to finish.  I’m definitely getting faster, and my trebles are getting more fluid, so I have high hopes.  I’d say maybe by Christmas but it turns out that after all these years I am actually learning that given that the last third of the year has all three children’s birthdays and Christmas, I might want to rethink what I’m going to be able to do on top of all of the deadlines for birthday jumpers.  Maybe a year from now – what do you think?

 

The chief distraction from the crochet has been Christmas knitting. Of the 2015 variety.  I was doing so well with H’s Christmas present balls of yarn; he had his January socks in January and his February socks in February and his March socks are ….

20160429-DSC_0073 two inches of the first sock that keep falling off the needles as soon as Pip even looks in their direction.  I do like the pattern but I think it’s my least favourite of all four yarns and when I was looking for something to grab for car knitting while we were travelling last weekend I’m afraid I glanced in their direction, and then went to pick up the loveliness that is Socks that Rock medium weight to make a start on April’s socks.    Space for the Butterflies - handknit socks

It’s proof that lovely yarn practically knits itself because by the time we arrived back on Sunday night I’d got to the toe shaping.  Forgive me for my sock infidelity lovely March socks, I promise I’ll get back to you just as soon as I’ve finished the second April.

But I mentioned plotting.  I picked up one of my stash of Oliver + S patterns the other day and realised that not only has Kitty grown out of the sizing (that’s not that much of a surprise, she may be five but she wears age 8 and 9 clothes) but Elma is on the cusp of being too grown up for them too.  Well that will never do.  And so on a rainy wet evening this week that felt entirely borrowed from February, I pulled out a good chunk of my dressmaking fabric stash, divided the patterns into Kitty and Elma sizes and asked them to do some choosing.  And so I have a summer sewing list of sorts.

I’ve done this before; make lists and lined up fabric and pattern and then that seems to have satisfied that particular creative itch and I’ve never actually got around to doing the cutting and sewing, a sort of textile equivalent to joining a gym making you think that you’ve actually done some exercise.  So lets just say that this is the intention, even if we have to wait a little bit for the reality.

So what do we have?

Space for the Butterflies - campervan skirts

Well probably first on the list is going to be the girls’ souvenir from our weekend away – H and I both fell in love with this camper van print, to the point that even a similar print but with beach huts couldn’t distract us from the vision of two little girls running around in camper van skirts with dotty pockets.  My plan is to make more (yet more) of the Purl Bee’s Skirt for All Ages, it’s a great pattern and the previous incarnations have been top of the wardrobe picks all year round.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronille

After that, and in the spirit of fairness and the slightly more important spirit of dressing them as near to matching as I can get away with while they’re still small enough to find it fun, I have the Citronille pattern for Susanne, in sizes to cover both girls.  It’s a beautiful floaty gathered smock dress, which will be perfect for the hot days I’m convincing myself are coming (even if we have to go travelling in Europe to find them), and work well with leggings underneath for the rest of a British summer or when Kitty grows 10 inches overnight.

I can easily imagine that this is as far as I will actually get, but if I indulge myself for a second and press on, both girls have chosen a skirt from my stash of Oliver + S patterns;

Space for the Butterflies - Oliver + S skirts

Kitty’s is the Badminton Skort to be made out of a blue quilting cotton (Toy Box II by Sara Morgan for Blue Hill Fabrics), with possibly something of a contrast for the shorts underneath depending on how far I can make the fabric stretch, and Elma chose the Hopscotch Skirt and a pile of fat quarters from a seaside print. It’s crazy to think that when I bought that fabric it would have made her a dress. Oh well!

And last, but by no means least, we have the challenges;

20160429-DSC_0141

a Fairytale dress for Kitty from fabric from the weekend’s haul, a beautiful albeit nameless quilting cotton, and for Elma an Ice Cream Dress from two of the oldest lengths of fabric in my stash.

20160429-DSC_0110

They’re both Liberty Tana lawn, one a birthday present from the days before the children arrived, and the other bought while I was on maternity leave with Kitty.  Liberty print is far too special not to be treasured and held onto until exactly the right project comes along, and I think this might just be it – always assuming I can get around to making it before Miss Elma grows again.

And lest you be worried that poor Master Pip Squeak is missing out in all of this, (a) his birthday comes first, (b) he needs a new jumper before then and (c) I have some truly amazing navy blue fabric with a white lobster print that needs to be something for him, I just can’t quite decide what – any suggestions for sewing patterns for little boys?

Joining Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On.

If you like talking about sewing, and knitting and making things both with and for the children, please would you vote for me? I’m a finalist in the MADs blog awards and I need your vote to win – to vote click here.  You have to give an email address, presumably to stop us spamming the results and then look for Space for the Butterflies on the drop down menu for Best Craft Blog.  You don’t have to be a blogger, or based in the UK, just be someone who enjoys reading and can spare a couple of minute to vote sometime between now and 27 May – thank you so much x

 

 

Finished Handmade Photography Quilting Work in Progress

April in The Sugar Block Club

21/04/2016

With all the fun of finishing up my Fishing Net quilt top, and choosing backing and binding (now sat in a big squishy pile by the side of my desk), I think this month’s Sugar Blocks got a little bit pushed to one side.  I picked out the fabric combinations and then tucked them back into the fabric bag, and there they sat until this week.  And I’m glad I pulled them out again and started sewing because I think this could easily be my favourite block so far.  I know we’re only in April but I love the Ohio Star, and I love any method of construction that does not involve trying to accurately cut and piece lots of really teeny tiny triangles.

I’ve gone for quite different colour combinations for both blocks; in sorting through all the fabric options I just kept coming up with blue, blue and more blue; it’s easily my biggest collection of scraps, both in terms of what made the cut for this quilt and the overall scraps pile, but I don’t want this to be a quilt dominated by blue.  So one yellow and one green it is.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugar Block of the Month Club - Stitchery Dickory Dock

The yellow is pure sunshine; golden and warm, with even the floral print in the corners picking up the bests of the reds and oranges, perfect sewing at the end of a glorious long day.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugar Block of the Month Club - Stitchery Dickory Dock

The green I think has also picked up a little of our weather over the last couple of days, trees coming into leaf against the deepest of deep blue skies.  It’s still such a surprise and pleasure to me to see how different the blocks look when you change the colours and the contrast around and I’d be hard pushed to choose between them.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugar Block of the Month Club - Stitchery Dickory Dock

Then comes the really fun part; putting them all together and starting to see the quilt take shape.  A funny shape right now I grant you, and it will probably be June before it looks vaguely quilt sized, but I love how with each additional pair the colours all balance out just a little bit, and even the blocks that I wasn’t completely sure about at the time, seem perfectly matched and very much in tune with the whole.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugar Block of the Month Club - Stitchery Dickory Dock

I look at all of these blocks together and I can’t quite decide whether to be amazed or slightly concerned about the state of my half of the studio because I can look at these blocks and know that I haven’t bought any new fabric; every inch is something that would otherwise be considered a leftover.  I think I’m just glad that they’re all getting to come out into the light of day!

Space for the Butterflies - the Sugar Block of the Month Club - Stitchery Dickory Dock

And thank goodness for a dry day and sunshine in which to take pictures – you know a quilt is growing when you can’t quite manage to get it all in an overhead shot – I had to stand on a garden chair to get these pictures, and I know it won’t be too long before I’ll be laying them out on the lawn and then sprinting upstairs to take a picture out of the upstairs window. I’m sure there must be a better way to photograph quilts in progress – I just haven’t found it yet!

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

Elma Family Finished Handmade Photography Quilting Sewing Work in Progress

A finished fishing net {handmade}

08/04/2016

The blessing and curse of blogging is that you tend to have an exact and rather precisely dated record of things. And so it is that I know that I first started making my fishing net quilt in March. Of 2015. Yes my friends, such is the life of a mother of three with lots of other hobbies that it’s taken me a whole year and a bit to make a quilt top.

Space for the Butterflies - The Fishing Net Quilt Top - made with the Tri-Recs tool and  Dan Stiles Marine fabric for Birch Fabrics

I think I started with energy, then did the maths on just how many triangles I was going to have to cut out (600 and something, yes really) and then I stalled, and tucked it all away in my project box.

I had a little sewing flurry in the autumn and I could start to see how it was going to come together but then the Christmas making started up and I stalled again.

Space for the Butterflies - The Fishing Net Quilt Top - made with the Tri-Recs tool and  Dan Stiles Marine fabric for Birch Fabrics

But starting the Sugarblock Block of the Month club reminded me just how much I love making the big projects, and how all you need to do is break things down piece by piece. And so I picked it up again and sewed and sewed, and then spent whole evenings listening to podcasts and ironing seams, and when we went north for the Easter weekend I had a box full of little square blocks and an eye on my parents-in-law’s lounge floor, it being much bigger and less covered in Duplo than mine!

H and I sat down one morning and laid it all out completely randomly, made a few tweaks and then I stacked up each row, pinned it together and labelled everything with post-it notes, and when I got home I started to sew.

First the blocks into rows and then the rows into sections and then finally there was just one seam to go and it was finished, and I have a quilt top.

Space for the Butterflies - The Fishing Net Quilt Top - made with the Tri-Recs tool and  Dan Stiles Marine fabric for Birch Fabrics

And more importantly, a quilt top that I love. This is the first time I’ve ever really ‘designed’ a quilt rather than followed a pattern. I’m not sure how much you can really call it designing when it was mostly using the Tri-Recs ruler and sewing it all together but it was my vision and now it’s my reality.

The fabric is Dan Stiles ‘Marine’ line (from Birch Fabrics) that I first saw advertised as a ‘coming soon’ line on Fabricworm, set an alert for, and ordered the fat quarter bundle as soon as it landed. It is everything I love; the sea, whales, dolphins, mini yellow submarines and blue and gold is one of my favourite colour combinations of all time. The two shades of Kona cotton (Mediterranean and Ultramarine I think) were bought with a different plan in mind, but the more I thought about it, the clearer I was in my mind; this quilt was going to be a highly stylised version of a fishing net, with the Kona for the net and pretty triangles at the centre.

Space for the Butterflies - The Fishing Net Quilt Top - made with the Tri-Recs tool and  Dan Stiles Marine fabric for Birch Fabrics

The two blues of the triangles give it a bit more depth than a single solid would, and there’s not rhyme or reason to the placement; I matched triangles quite randomly and laid them out however the patterned triangles looked best and let the blues fall where they may.

Space for the Butterflies - The Fishing Net Quilt Top - made with the Tri-Recs tool and  Dan Stiles Marine fabric for Birch Fabrics

Not knowing exactly the dimensions I was aiming for means that I’ve got a few blocks leftover either to piece into the back or to play around with while I work out the quilting pattern. When we were laying it out I started with what I thought I could cope with as the minimum width and then just kept adding rows and columns until we ran out of enough blocks for another row and ran out of carpet to put it on.  The result is that it’s huge. Properly huge.  Usually I peg my quilts to the fence or the washing line to photograph them but with this one the only way to get the bottom of it off the ground and out of the mud was to enlist H and Elma as quilt holders.  H is 6’1″ and has nice long arms – this is going to be a quilt to snuggle the whole family.

Space for the Butterflies - The Fishing Net Quilt Top - made with the Tri-Recs tool and  Dan Stiles Marine fabric for Birch Fabrics

It’s a slightly strange feeling to have finished. This has been the work in progress sat on the back of my desk for a whole year, which means that it feels like I’ve been working on it forever, and so if I think about sewing now I find I’m automatically thinking in triangles.  But fear not; the latest instalment for the Sugar Block Club arrived in my inbox last Friday so I have a couple of blocks to build, and an increasingly solid idea about the next plan!

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

And I promise this is the last time of asking – if you enjoy seeing what I make, or reading about the crazy adventures of our little family, I would truly love a nomination in the MADs and the BiBs blogging awards for writer, craft, or family/school days (all the details are here – short version: anyone can vote, you don’t have to blog or be in the UK and I will be eternally grateful if you do x).

Crafty Ideas Elma Family Handmade Kitty Photography Pip Work in Progress

Crafting with the girls: felting

01/02/2016

Saturday afternoon, while H is at hockey, and Pip is hopefully having a nap, is my craft time with the girls.  It’s not an exclusive thing, they make and create things all day long, but I try to make Saturday afternoons a little bit special, a time when I can just push away the outside world for a little time and focus on my girls.  Making it a part of our weekly rhythm is a bit of a work in progress though and this week we got to Saturday and I wondered what on earth we were going to do, I hadn’t planned anything, or even thought about anything.  The answer it appears is to have a house that is full to the brim with craft supplies because this week’s project literally landed at my feet when a little parcel of bright pink carded wool tumbled off the dresser into my lap.

Space for the Butterflies - crafting with the girls

It was Kitty’s, a birthday present from Elma, but it had sat unopened just waiting for us to try another experiment in felting.  And so that’s what we did.

I’ve never tried needle felting before but I do own a needle felting tool, a rather vicious piece of kit that holds five felting needles inside a circular guard.  What I don’t own is any sort of felting mat, either official, or clean washing up sponge purloined from the cupboard, so we used a garden chair cushion on the basis that it was largely foam and if I accidentally felted something to it, I could live with that.

I’ve seen a few beginner projects that start with making a 2D shape inside a cookie cutter so with Valentine’s Day approaching we thought we’d try hearts. My first effort, just using layers of fibre did very nearly end up being part of the garden cushion, but then we  put down a background of wool felt and that helped, although we still had to gently lift it off the cushion from time to time.  Those of you who know about felting, is that normal on a proper felting mat or is there something clever about it that stops things sticking?

It was the perfect project to let Kitty loose with, stabbing away to her heart’s content and adding layer upon layer to her pretty heart while Elma and a newly awake Pip and I had another go at wet felting.

Space for the Butterflies - crafting with the girls

The last time we tried wet felting, hoping to make little felt balls we could string as beads we ended up with wiggly worms, so this time I thought we’d set out to make wiggly worms, managing all our expectations from the outset!  Thanks to Christmas I also had quite the collection of bubble wrap envelopes and it turns out they’re just the thing for making wiggly worms.

Space for the Butterflies - crafting with the girls

We practiced teasing out the wool until it was as light as a cloud and then laid them all on top of each other, splashed on a bit of warm soapy water (Pip’s favourite part), and rubbed them back and forth between two sheets of bubble wrap envelope until they were all stuck together. Space for the Butterflies - crafting with the girls

Elma has decided that they’re wands, although a wobblier wand you’d be hard pushed to find, but I’ve got every intention to sneak them away when they’ve finished playing with them to try needle felting the wet felting to some background felt as the outline of a heart and making it into a little heart for them each for Valentine’s Day. What do you think? I’m very much a novice at the whole felting thing – would that work?

Space for the Butterflies - crafting with the girls

But the bit that made me smile to myself was that when the felting and the construction lost its appeal neither of the girls could quite bring themselves to put down the wool! They made streaks for their hair, pretended to powder their noses, and just generally squished and mashed it between their fingers. I think their exposure to all things woolly from a very early age is starting to show, and it does make me happy to see!