Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lions and Polo Ponies

I go through spiral bound notebooks like there is no tomorrow.  At work, I have to have something to scribble on, otherwise I completely lose focus.  A fresh list every day.  I think my colleague who holds the stationary cupboard key is sick of the sight of me.  So, I designed a slip cover, that makes these notebooks a little prettier, but also is a good way of enjoying a pretty fabric. This is Amy Butler Lotus Wallflower in sky on the cover and Chez Moi Hunky Dory Mosaic in sparrow for the pocket. 

I really like the Hunky Dory fabrics.  Not as a collection, which I think is too wishy-washy for me, but every time I'm in the quilt shop, I just happen to pull out bolts of the individual fabrics. 

This particular one is not for work use, and is storing little snippets of stuff.  Like the business cards I pick up in restauraunts, and pages pulled out of the Sunday supplements.  And on page one is a reminder of the waiter who told me, after he asked me what I did (I'm an animal nutritionist), that his South-African family is mad keen on polo and breeds lions for a living.  I kid you not.  Lions. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spring Quilt. The Less Good

When starting a new craft, I find people are often advised to start with an easy project.  Take knitting, it's always garter stitch scarves and woolly hats.  And then they end up with a drawer full of projects that they don't really need or want, from yarn that they wouldn't choose with more experience (admitedly, I'm sure many early projects are much loved items...).  But anyway, I'm so impatient, I just chose a project I love the look of, regardless of difficulty rating and plough on.  This is probably terribly foolish.  And it leads, often, to half finished projects.  But, it is also a process that lends itself to learning very quickly through making mistakes. 

Take the Spring Quilt.  Michelle's pattern is lovely, but I would have done a better job of it had I known what I was doing.  These are some of the things I tripped up on learnt, by just doing.


Using a tape measure, school ruler, pencil and a pair of scissors (albeit proper fabric scissors) to cut 2.5" strips isn't fun, quick or accurate.  Will be buying a roller cutter and proper patchwork ruler before the next time.

Choice of sashing fabric:

I blithely went  into John Lewis and chose white cotton.  I choose what was super wide and therefore excellent value.  It also turned out to be sheeting (don't laugh).  It doesn't hold up well to being pinned and seems stretchier than the quilting cotton (looser weave?) so when I pulled it taught to baste the quilt sandwich (get me with the lingo) the sashing was then left 'baggy'.  It is also see through.  Which leads me onto my next point.  I should have pressed my seams to the dark fabric.  So don't look too close, OK?  I am dying to try Kona Solids, after seeing how much they are loved in the Blogosphere


I tried REALLY hard.  With thanks to Sarah, who suggested (via her blog post) to stick it to the floor! Although this worked better than I thought on carpet, I think a nice non-carpetted floor would have been better and stuck firmer.

Look, I even bought special pins.  Did I do it the right way?  Should I have put the pins in the 'ditches'? 

Quilting and choice of batting:

On the first attempt I chose the only batting they had in John Lewis (some, lofty, fluffy, platisticy stuff) and off I went with my standard machine foot.  Yep.  So that didn't work at all.  I stitched two lines and went straight back to Google Blog Search.  With help from the blogosphere I chose a more appropriate cotton batting and invested in a walking foot.  And off I went agian.  Much better!
But, the main problem I had with this quilt is that I still had a lot of movement in the layers and hence this problem.

I think, in an ideal world, I would have further quilted the whole thing.  But, I stopped where I did as I was worried that it would be a whole squooshed up mess if I went any further.  Anyone have any ideas?  Did I not baste firmly enough?  Rush with the machine?  Have tension issues?  Any ideas greatly received.  Can I still call it a quilt, since large sections aren't quilted?  Will the batting disintegrate over time for this reason?

The biggest lesson:

That the world of crafty bloggers is amazing.  I haven't picked up a book, or attended a real-life quilt group (which I should do!).  All the advice I have gotten, for fixing problems and answering questions has been from you all.  So thank you.  You're amazing. 

Anyway, these are my lessons.  But, I still love it, and enjoy the colours every time I look at.  And, when I fell asleep under it whilst watching Miss Marple (I didn't rate Angela Lansbury in that role, she should stick to Murder She Wrote) on Sunday afternoon, it was bliss.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spring Quilt - The Good

White sashing added following great admiration for the quilting style of Rita (of Red Pepper Quilts).  Rita was a great help too, with her excellent binding tutorial here.
I was also inspired by a trip to Hobbycraft (I know, how did that happen!), where I chose the fabrics on a whim one day.

Fabric for the top and back
Acres of white cotton (more about THAT to follow at a later stage!)
I used half a metre of each of the following
Amy Butler Love Tumble Roses Pink
Tanya Whelan Darla Ditty Blue
Tanya Whelan Darla Picnic Rose Sky
Amy Butler Lotus Wallflower Green
And the fifth pattern I can't remember..........

For the binding:
Amy Butler Love Sunspots Wine
Hobbs Heirloom Premium Cotton 80% cotton and 20% polyester

Why no in focus, full quilt shot (see post below for it lying on the bed)....?  Because then you would see the, err, beginner quilter issues.  Which I will tell you about later.  I can see the problems, but you know what?  I. Still. Love. It.

Blog resurrection

Well, I'm not sure if it is a resurrection, since it was always there.  But, since I have got back into reading blogs, I thought I'd re-start mine.  So here we go. 

The main reason I'm re-starting?  I have just finished my first quilt (of sorts...):

But more about that later......
A quick re-cap about me.  You can find more if you read back through the archives, but beware, the pictures really weren't that great!

By training and profession, I'm a scientist:

I live in glorious Nottingham.....

with these guys.....

....and these take up a large portion of my time....

and I REALLY like shoes.....

Happy Saturday :)