Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Two More Finishes and some CFS / Bad Science News

 Two more finishes?  I know!  It feels really good!

This quilt in particular has been on the go for a long time.  My DiL died in 2009 and I've been using his shirts ever since - the primary objective of making quilts for his 4 grandchildren was met quite quickly, but other quilts have been ticking along more slowly.  This quilt is the very last one - the one for my DH.  I used all the scraps that I had leftover to make the hexagons - but it's taken me years to get the individual flowers sewn together!

This summer I finished sewing them together and appliqued them onto a grey spot background.  Last week I quilted and bound the quilt.  Finished and given to my DH!

Approximately 60" x 40"
This little quilt has also been on the back burner for a while.  The top was finished last November, I think..... so it was good to get it quilted and bound this week too.

36" square it was a 'use it up' project using scraps from various sources.  It has a few fragments of a nursery fabric including a teddy bear head, so it's been called 'Square Bears'.  It will be off to Linus at some point.

I'm also pleased to say that the variegated Shasiko thread that I'd run out of has been ordered and arrived, so I'll be back to hand sewing the project that needed it soon too.

Now, onto the bad science news that I mentioned in the title of this blog post.

You may know, if you read this blog, that I suffer from ME / CFS.  Earlier this month data from a landmark study in 2011 was released to the public.  This was the study that had been telling the world that people with ME / CFS could improve their chances of recovery if they undertook 'graded exercise' - doing a little more exercise each day.  This didn't chime with my experience, where days might be good or bad, and trying to do 'more' on a bad day could send me into a horrible relapse where I would struggle to get out of bed.  I spent three years almost housebound, and although I'm not as bad as that now (thank you, pregnancies and cranial osteopathy!), it's only by carefully preserving energy for planned things (like my children coming home from school, or seeing friends for an evening once every two months) that I get through my days with reasonable grace.  I still miss out on lots of things that I've love to do and can't.  If there was a cure I'd be first in line for it!Sometimes it makes me sad and sometimes it makes me cross but I don't generally whine about it as I'd rather use the energy for something positive. 

HOWEVER it has now been shown that this study was bad science and that the results aren't at all reliable.  Why is this important?  Why is this important to me?  Because the original study was widely picked up in the 'popular press' and I suspect that the new interpretation of the data won't be.  Please, if you've read this far, read this article about it

Bad Science misled millions with CFS.

Then think about sharing it with your friends too.  I'm only one person with CFS/ME but there are lots of us around - and we'd all love you to understand a bit more about our very variable condition.

Off my soap box now, and planning to do a little calm hand sewing.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Another finish!

 In all honesty, it feels like another three finishes!

I made cushions with the leftover 2 1/2" squares - mini quilts, really, with envelope backs.  One was 26" and one was 24".

I started with this one - and the pattern is quite regular.  I worked through the pizza boxes and built up the pattern from the centre, matching colours where I could.
 The second one is more fluid - starting with the idea of interlocking colour 'boxes' and then making it up to a square in the best way that I could.  There are just a very few squares left - not enough for even one more row on the cushion - so I think that they complete the gift nicely.
 Here they are filled with cushion inners from that lovely online auction site.....
 This is the full sized finish, though.  80" square it is the quilt for my SiL and her family, called 'Paris Square Dance'.

I wish that I'd got the colours to be a bit more true to life - it's brighter than it looks here!
 Quilted in orange thread rather than my usual grey, the quilting stands out beautifully on the back.
 An indoor 'draped' shot - still not showing how bright it is!

Anyway, you can see that it is a quick to make design - alternate quarter square blocks and plain blocks give this pattern with lots of movement in it.
I used my IKEA fabric for the back - nice and wide - with a stripe of the orange border print running through it.

I like the effect - it's made it a reversible quilt!

It's been a few months since the last quilt finishes that I've had, apart from last weeks map quilt.  I think that the 365 challenge has eaten up more of my time and sewing thoughts than I'd realised this year.

Still, if I want to complete the challenge I need to do some serious catching up now - I'm almost exactly two months behind at the moment.  Not exactly a coincidence that the last block I made was on the day that the school holidays started!  Time to start cutting and sewing little blocks again!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

World Quilt or Quilt the World!

Quilting the world - my journey!

It started when my SiL asked if I would undertake a commission.  Of course, I don't / won't - unless they sound fun, are for no money and I get the final say on how it happens.....so obviously this project was a 'yes'!

She and one of my nieces bought these lovely fabrics for my eldest niece and showed me a couple of world map quilts on line.  The quilt is a birthday gift from them (and her dad!) to her.

Aren't the fabrics great?  Lovely and bright which is what I like!
 I chose to use the Shwin and Shwin free map pattern from here.  Lovely web site with some fun patterns that they share.  This one prints out over 40 or so A4 pages which you then stick together.  That took up most of the kitchen table!

It was straightforward to trace onto the fusible - once I'd redrawn the map through the paper so that I had a reversed map to copy!  Perhaps I should check my printer settings to see if I can reverse things at source!
 Then it was time to slice up the fabric (this batik star didn't make the end quilt, but I did play with it in my piecing at one point).  Clean pizza boxes were great for keeping colours separate.  This was 'Africa' with a little of Asia.  I cut the fabrics into 2 1/2" squares.
 I'd decided to try and make each continent a different colour.  Each set of patches were set out in an 'efficient as possible' layout and then sewn together.
 Then the traced shapes were placed on the patchwork and fused.

Cutting out followed - hard work through the patchwork seams!

Then the map was traced onto the blue background fabric so that the continents could be placed into the right places.  This blue fabric was quite opaque, so I had to use a light table (mine consists of two LED camping lamps under my sewing machine extension table -  Heath Robinson but workable).
 Once the land was in place it was time to back and baste the quilt.  It's about 60" x 38".
 Next, time to dive into the quilting.  As you know, I did have a tiny crisis of confidence between quilting the land and quilting the seas.
 All was well once it was evenly quilted.
 This was the quilting design that I chose.  I'm better at it than I used to be!  Overall I spent about 16 hours on just the quilting.  It felt like a lot for a piece this size, but it is all quite dense.

Ta-da!  This is the finished quilt.  Bound in some of the left over fabrics in 9" strips for a cheerful finish.
I'm pleased with it.  Hope that the commissioning family like it too!

Time to spare to finish these string blocks for charity quilts at my quilting group too.

Now I need to use the rest of the 2 1/2" squares - watch this space!

So are you inspired to make your own world quilt?  Mark on the countries you've visited with buttons?  Applique symbols to represent the world and your family?  Do share if you undertake your own version of a world map quilt - whilst I sit and work out how to to quilt the rest of the world!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

In Love Again!

 Remember that ugly baggy bit of quilt I showed you last week?  Well, I jumped in, feet first,
and started quilting the oceans - and it's made all the difference!  I'm totally in love with it again!

The quilt is no longer baggy and saggy.  It took me about 16 hours in total to quilt this top (which is roughly 60" x 40").

Swirls on the ocean and 'graffiti quilting' on the land masses.

I can't promise that it will lay flat, but I'll have done my best!

Binding, hanging sleeves and label still to do - but I'm making good progress on it!

Friday, 2 September 2016

Deja Vu

 Do you remember a few years ago I made a 'flower tree' with lots of fused flowers?  And that after I'd sewn around the edge of each fused flower I ended up with baggy areas in between that I really struggled to quilt (in fact it took me months and months of just trying to work out what to do and to pluck up the courage to actually do it)?

Deja vu with the fused world map that I'm working on - but this time I don't have months and months - it needs to be finished SOON!
 I need to quilt the ocean over the weekend, then quilt The Americas....and fall back in love with the project, I hope!  It was all going so well until this point!

Turning to projects that I am still in love with (!)  I've made great strides (pun intended) with this little wall quilt.
 I'm happy with how the stitching is going, but I need to finish the lower RHS and then decide on my stitching direction on the top section.
 I also made good progress on this hexie quilt - big stipple quilted and the binding machine sewing to the front.

I need to hand stitch the back of the binding down now, but not until after I've completed the world map quilt and perhaps the QST quilt which I have decided will be quilted with orange thread, rather than my usual grey!

Lots to keep me occupied when the DD's go back to school next week!

I hope to show you a progress post on the world map right from the beginning next time I blog.  Cross your fingers that I'm able to quilt the baggy problems out of it in the meantime!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

More Summer Sewing

 The joy of a little bit of retail therapy this week - I was close enough to The Cotton Patch to actually visit in person, rather than by mail order like I usually do.  It made a nice change and I came across these variegated shasiko threads that I didn't know existed!  Lovely colours!

I also topped up my thread stash and treated myself to a charm pack. The 'utility' purchase is of heat 'n' bond lite - the fusible that I have most experience of, ready for a world map project.  All exciting stuff!

 Away from my sewing machine for a week, I've been able to make progress on this little wall quilt.

I was happy with the left hand side, lines of sewing up and down.  It took me a while to decide what to do on the right hand side and what I'd be doing.  I knew that I didn't want to do just either straight up and down or straight left to right.  Perhaps I'll be able to show you a bit more progress on it next week!
This shot shows a little more of the gorgeousness of the thread that I've been using.

Now, of course, on the right hand side I'm using my new variegated shasiko thread!

Hope that you are having fun stitching too!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Summer Silliness!

 So here is my project using those QST's I talked about - all laid out on my 'design bed' - no design wall on holiday, but when you are sewing at the dressing table there is likely to be handy bed, isn't there?
 Here it is all sewn together - an off centre design in the modern style. 

I'm going to make it a bit less modern, though, as I've decided that it needs a couple of borders to bring the size up a little.  Planning a soft grey followed by an orange, so it should be nice and zingy.  Then I'll need to make time to turn it from a flimsy into an actual quilt!
I've got so many projects flying around my head at the moment, and so many WIPs that I want to make more progress on, but in the real world (as opposed to my parallel sewing world!) I haven't had much time this week.

I did have time to have a play date with Benta, though.  I made this pin cushion (about 3" square) in the same time that the prolific Benta made three!  See them (and more!) on her blog here!

She also gave me one of her selvedge pouches - aren't I the lucky one!  It's a very cool bit of sewing!

Happy summer sewing, everyone!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Week of WIPs!

I'm away on my holidays - of course, taking my sewing machine and some projects with me!  Unfortunately my packing wasn't as rigorous   as it might have been and I arrived without either rulers or quilting gloves.  I ordered a ruler straight away - and if I'd have realised that I didn't have my gloves I'd have ordered another pair of those too!
 I didn't realise in time, though, so this hexagon piece will remain unquilted until I go home.  I just got as far as appliqueing it onto a larger piece of fabric and wondering if the size was just slightly odd.  It may work in my favour that it's unquilted, as I might add to it in order to get a more useful size. 

Before going on my hols I made four blocks on the 365 challenge - but I messed up the one on the top right so badly that I think even I (with my appallingly low standards!) will need to remake it.
 I did some border adding on the project, though, and added first the inner dark border.....
.....and then *most* of the light border.  I seemed to come away without three of the light blocks.  Really not my best attempt at packing!

Despite the lower LH corner being missing, as shown in this photo, I'm pleased with how it's coming together.

With my newly delivered ruler I'm starting to make the 50 QST's that I need for my next project.  I hope to have more progress to report next week, when I'll be safely back in my quilting cave with ALL the equipment and supplies that I need (for the moment!).

Happy sewing everyone!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Busy, busy!

 Lots of sewing this week - delighted to have my sewing machine back from it's service!

 A total of 14  x 3 1/2" square blocks this week - I'd forgotten how fast these little blocks can go together.
 Some of them are nice and square, others need a bit of a trim and square up!
 Some had triangles that were teeny tiny by the time we'd finished!
 This is another pin cushion made with some of the scraps - about 3" square.
 Three post cards - all variants on a 9-patch theme and roughly 6" x 4".
 A hand stitched improve pin cushion - about 3 1/2" square.
Finally, three more 'wild women' - when I excavated the sewing machine for its service I found these three unfinished 'dolls'.  Roughly 2" x 3" plus hair, legs etc.  Good to get them completed and ready to give away at some point!

Now I need to decide which projects to take with me on holiday - always an exciting prospect!

Happy stitching, everyone!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

This and That!

 Ta-da!  The final 6 1/2" 'light' blocks from the second border are complete!

I haven't made any of the 3 1/2" dark blocks this week as my regular sewing machine has gone away for a service, and I don't trust the accuracy of my daughters machine which I've borrowed!
It was fine for making a few more sweet pea pod purses, though!
But the piecing on this 16 patch looks decidedly 'improv' even though I did start off with 16 x 1" pieces!

The windmill on the RH pincushion was the left over bits from the centre of the block in the first photo - too good to lose into my scrap basket!

My machine should be back by the end of the week and I'm looking forward to it!

Happy stitching, everyone!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Baden Powell Award and Bits and Bobs

 What a proud and happy girl!

DD1 worked hard and got her top Guiding award - completing the Baden Powell challenge.  She had to undertake 10 tasks (in her case these included taking her Water Safety badge, writing up notes about a visit to a wildlife reserve, cooking a meal from another culture - all sorts of things) and to go away with some Guides to take a challenge, where you weren't allowed more than two or three other girls that were from your own Guide Unit.  Quite a challenge for DD1, but she managed and feels very proud, as she should.

Thank you, Girl Guiding, for giving her this opportunity - and in particular thank you to her Guide Leaders for encouraging her!

 I've been getting on with my 365 challenge blocks again.

Almost at the end of this round of 6 1/2" light blocks.  Just two more to make and I'll have enough for the second border (not that I've sewn together the first (dark) border yet!).
 The little dark blocks are going to be the focus for the next couple of months, I think.  These ones could have done with a bit more contrast in my fabric choices, I think....I'll have to relearn that!
 I've also made this ready for the end of term - it was tricky to get the thread outline just right for the dragon, but I'm quite pleased with the final result.
 I also ordered some crushed walnut shells as I feel a pin cushion festival coming on!

Here are my first two attempts, made in response to seeing the ones on crazymomquilts.

I have lots of scraps, so I think that I might well be making more little lovelies!
Plate bag for DD2's camp made and filled.
Another small batch of sweet pea pods made too - that should cover the next couple of birthdays that I'd like to give a homemade gift for.

Phew!  Loved all my sewing this week, and I'm looking forward to getting more sewing done this week before the school holidays start and things get a bit busier at home!