Monday, 26 August 2013

The Chocolate Quilt, a retirement gift for a special friend, in neutrals (and some basting tips)


A few years ago I joined a block swap of neutrals, to make Friendship Blocks (24 of them). I have a special friend that I wanted to make a quilt for, I knew her retirement would be in a few years... These would be perfect so I chose Chocolate Fabric as my focus fabric.  Fast Forward to this spring and my friend gave the word that she would be retiring.. very shortly.

I was so very glad that I had these blocks all safely stashed away for her quilt. These and a few more were enough to make a quilt 70' by 80" for her.

sub sets

Friendship Stars is a traditional pattern, and one of my favourite. Simple blocks let me play with colour values. Using these neutrals in various lights and darks was challenging for me as I love colour. I love to play with colour, bright, deep, dark, wild, fun....

So this was not only made as a special project, it was "outside of my box", and since the theme colour was brown I quite easily thought of chocolate.

Thinking of chocolate makes me smile, and so does my special friend; this is why this quilt was made especially for her.

assembly of sub sets

Some work notes: I like to use painters tape to mark my sewing lines. I also used the Angler 2
A finished block ( 1 of 28)

I prefer to baste with thread and needle.
 I find it much easier when quilting because catching the pins locked together annoys me.
 Threads are also much quicker to pull out.

I like to use tools. Especially if I  have invested in them. If they do not make my sewing life easier, faster, more fun then I do not keep them.          
Basting  - some people like to pin baste because it goes so fast. It is also easy for multiple people to baste at the same time.
 I will do this if I have a small quilt that I will be finishing up on the machine very soon.    
What I prefer however is thread basting. I use basting needles (which are long and flexible) and long lengths of thread. Usually I put a single knot in the end and take long stitches (about 3 to 4') either in a horizontal grid, or radiating lines from the center.   For larger quilts the radiating lines from the center can be done with a long single length of thread. Smaller quilts work well with a grid, lines about 6" apart. I also run a line of stitching along the perimeter. I leave the trailing  back end un-knotted.
It is so easy to pull the length or smaller sections of basting out while you are quilting.    Sometimes good friends will be patient enough to help thread baste with you. It can take an hour or two  to properly  baste a full size quilt. Working with friends, six of us can baste it in 20 minutes; especially if one person is the designated needle threader!
Tip: Whether you are basting with thread or pins there are some details that need to be looked after.
  1. Press the backing fabric (and the top) so there are no puckers and it will stretch evenly
  2. Lay the backing, good side down, flatten and tape (painters tape works well)  to the floor or a  table or clip (bulldog clip) to a table top edge. I like to use two six foot banquet tables butted together in a square (or if needed I can use blocks of wood to spread them evenly). Be aware however that whether you are using pins or a needle and thread that there WILL BE needle marks on your surface - so DO NOT USE A DINING TABLE OR YOUR HARDWOOD FLOOR
  3. The backing should extend a few inches larger on all sides than your top
  4. Layer the batting, evenly to the edges of the backing, then either tape or clip in place
  5. Lay the top, right side up. Smooth evenly from the center outwards in all directions. I tug the bottom backing layer to make sure there are no folds in the fabric.
  6. When these layers are all evenly stretched in each direction ( but not under tension) then tape or pin in place so that you can baste.
  7. Basting is a very satisfying step, this signals that the sewing part of the project is done and now it is time to quilt!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

A Birthday/Retirement gift "Gia'Normous Beach bag" (thanks to ReanaLily Designs)

I enjoy making and giving handmade gifts to people that I care about but sometimes it is hard to find something that I have not made before. 

Hand made gifts are not free gifts. They are not cheap gifts, nor are they the easy way to give a gift.

When you are a sewer or a crafter, most of your free time is spent making things, or at least as much free time as you are able to steal from the rest of your life obligations.  Some people do not understand however that when you are busy making a gift you are not able to work on other projects
Whether you are purchasing new fabric and notions or using fabric from your stash. The stash fabric needs replenishment.

When I make a gift I think of the recipient throughout the whole process: choosing a pattern, reading the pattern, auditioning fabrics, cutting, sewing, ironing... this is a lot of time dedicated to a single person. So when I make something for you it is special. AND I made it instead of doing other things that I love to do.

Not only does my friend receive a unique gift, personalized for her, but she also has, embedded into the gift, my time. The time that I cannot replace, but I do give it freely to the special people that I care about.

My very special friend's Birthday is the end of the month. She is celebrating 60 years of  wonderfulness as well as retirement. I have made quite a few gifts for her over the years so this was a real challenge. Shopping for a ready made gift at a store would have been equally a challenge.

Procrasternetting led me to this great blog:  Which has a great list of bags, patterns and tutorials. and from this list I chose:
The bag on ReannaLily Designs website Gia"Normous Beach Bag"  Designed by Jen Eskridge (Thank you for sharing your pattern)

My friend is always trucking around lots of "stuff". So a  big stash bag would be perfect and this looks pretty easy. Which it was!

I added a line of stitching to the outer pocket. This seems to be quite a flexible pattern, easy to up-size or down-size. My version has a self fabric handle instead of webbing.

The bag that I made for my friend.

I need one now  too!

Watch for a post on the other special gift that I recently finished. I made a bed quilt for another special friend.

I don't think that I can die until I am done making something for the people who are special to me. Lucky me, I keep meeting new people who become special to me. So I will have to live a very long time....

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Australia Quilt

A few years ago a friend asked if I could "make a wall hanging or something" with some fabrics that her daughter had purchased on a trip to Australia. I took on the challenge, provided she was fine with it being a few years for me to find the time.
It is however now complete, This is the final view, along with the pattern I based my quilt on. Each time that  I looked at the prints I envisaged something labyrinthine. I knew the prints very well, and on a quilt shop stop I saw this pattern BQ by  Maple Island Quilts I thought I found a winner.
Over the last couple of years I played with multiple designs but in the end, they were all so similar to variations of the BQ pattern. So I decided to use that , and adapt the sizing to fit the pieces of fabric in the kit (11" wide).


For quilting, I repeated the geometric Quarter Square but randomly added 1 squiggly line of quilting in each block. No matter how carefully a journey is planned, there are curves along the way; and this is usually fortuitous.

 What did I start with:
 Six 11" (30 CM) wide strips of prints based on Aboriginal Art


I have not been to Australia personally, but from those who have been there the outstanding memories that they share are  Ayres Rock, the vastness and wanting to go "Walkabout". The adventures shared have been wonderful - somewhat mystical, self realization and serendipity. That is what I wanted to convey here.
Best of all, it is a perfect quilt... why... because DONE is perfect!!!!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

AWOL and Gifts for Special Babies

I have taken the last 10 months break from blogging but I have been quilting.... and doing life stuff.

 A few of the projects completed are in the photos below. I will blog each story over the next while... just to get back at it. I have missed you all. There are quite a few special baby items here....

Baby Grab Ball

Diaper covers and inserts

Bird Quilt for Baby

Small Wall Hanging

Cool Quilt with glow in the dark Name

Baby Quilt (Moda Little Apples Charms)

Baby Bibs

Close up of Baby Birds and Mama Bird

Hunter's Star Sofa Quilt

Receiving Blankets and Burp Cloths

More Receiving Blankets and Burp Cloths