Sunday, 20 April 2014

Fiddly curves

As usual, we're with my parents-in-law at their holiday house near the beach for Easter. We're having a lovely, relaxed time. Of course, I brought plenty of quilting with me, and at the moment I'm appliqueing a new magazine project, so just a small peek here:

These long strips are cut on the bias so I can curve them into shape. To avoid the iron erasing the marker, the first few I pinned on the ironing board, following the marked lines, then pressed them, which was insanely fiddly around the tight curves. It was really hard to get the curves smooth, and to avoid puckers on the inside edge. So then I tried just guiding it into place with one hand and encouraging a smooth curve with the iron as I went, which was much more successful - way faster and better results! Of course, the trouble could have been avoided if I'd brought my mini-iron, but at least now I  know it can be done without!

It's all set aside ready for stitching tomorrow. I'm about to string up the children's egg hunt in the living room, then head to bed.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Via Airmail

I went to a baby shower yesterday, and just managed to get this quilt finished in time. Less than an hour before it started, I was still hand-stitching the binding, and after a speedy photo-shoot I had Simon removing the pins holding it to the board while I got changed.

The mother-to-be is my cousin Julie, and both she and her husband are pilots. So my inspiration was planes, and the paper plane image was taken directly from their very aeronautically-inspired wedding (they even had miniature paper planes as confetti!).

My initial design thoughts were for an ombre background, but then I remembered my selection of Vicki Welsh hand-dyed gradients, and spent a lovely few hours with may of them strewn across my table, selecting the best colours. The only way I can bring myself to cut into these fabrics is by making them a feature of the quilt, which partially explains the simple piecing.

However, I did add some detail in the quilting. Five smaller, quilted planes are hidden among the swirls:

If you look really closely in the photo above, there's a join in the binding. Not only does it add the appropriate feel of an airmail letter, but the diagonal stripe is perfectly-angled for joining the binding strips, as well as the mitred corners.

The heart contrail detail was also inspired by the decorative lighting at their engagement party. It's all quilted using glossy Glide thread; in a selection of colours to blend with the background (except the contrasting hot-pink heart). This thread just purrs through my sewing machine, and I used matching BottomLine thread in the bobbin.

It's always lovely when a quilt is so well received. Here (with permission) is Julie's surprise at  discovering the details in the quilt, and I've been promised a quilt of the baby doing the same when she arrives.

The post "Via Airmail" was posted on on 14/4/04.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Autumn sun

I started quilting this afternoon, and was bathed in gorgeous autumn sunlight - enough to cast a rare shadow from the needle:

The sunlight has now long-gone, but I need this  quilt tomorrow, so had better keep going!

After a small amount of ditch and detail quilting, I chose to quilt swirls, my only challenge was working out the thread colours to match the different and changing gradient fabrics. I ended up choosing five glossy Glide threads in dusky burgundy, rich blue, pink, aqua and pale blue.

I decided to quilt in the ditch between the gradient strips, to keep the seams nice and straight. While the end result isn't ideal (some of the stitching can be seen), it has certainly achieved the desired result - well worth the effort (especially as there weren't too many!).

The post "Autumn sun" was posted on on 13/4/14.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Slow progress

Things didn't go quite as planned with the quilting I mentioned last post. Quite aside from disappearing to bed with a cold for a few days, the thickness of 2 layers of flannel and the thicker batting posed some problems, mostly some breakage of the top thread. I solved that with the settings below (more for my reference than anything else!).

However, my greater problem was the small bumps where the seam allowances were folded back. when working with flannel, I always press them open to minimise this, and my design didn't have all that many seams meeting in one place, but it was enough with the extra thickness in general. My solution was a little unorthodox, but worked. I turned the quilt upside down and quilted from the back! Of course, this will only work for an allover pattern, but I used the meandering open feathers, so that was ok. I don't have any puckers or bunched-up areas, and I'll see how flat it lies, and how straight the seams are later, but at first glance, I'm happy.

I've set it aside for a few days while I work on another quilt. I started by tracing the pattern on a disc. Yes, the lightbox did make a difference, even through a disc! Now I'm working with this selection of Vicki Welsh's beautiful hand dyed gradients, and a white-on-white snowflake print:

One last thing. If you read my blog in a reader, rather than on the blog, you'll have noticed I've reduced what goes into the reader to just the beginning of the post. I'm sorry to have to do this, but unfortunately I had experience this week, along with many other quilting bloggers, of having my content (complete posts, including my photos) stolen (most likely through a feeder) and posted elsewhere, with neither permission nor links to the original. While a joint effort has closed this particular site down, I'm now taking precautionary measures - which also explains the text below, which will now appear (hopefully fairly unobtrusively) below all future posts.

The post "Slow progress" was posted on on 11/4/14.

Thursday, 3 April 2014


I'm working on a couple of quilts at the moment. The first is this flannel quilt for an imminent and much-anticipated arrival.

I plan to quilt and bind it tomorrow, as I want it ready for when it's needed. I'm enjoying working on this quilt for a few reasons. The first is the cause for making it. The second is the softness of the flannel fabrics. The third is the colours; the blues are so rich and wintry. And the fourth is the speedy way the simply-pieced flannel quilts come together!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Quilting evolution

The applique quilt I was working on before I started the beach quilt is now finished, and is already with the magazine editor. Here's a little peek:

I just love the texture of the McTavishing, and the more of it I do, the happier I become with my version of it. I've loved it since I first discovered Karen's work about five years ago, but the way I quilt it has changed a lot over that period. Below is one of my first efforts:

Looking back, I'm amazed how happy I was with it! This was quilted just by looking at some of Karen's photos. Then I bought some of her books, and watched videos of her quilting it. And practiced - a lot! I've learned not to repeat each line so many times, and to make my lines curlier. For a while my version included lots of spirally-looking bits, but they've worked their way out, too.

Back to the new quilt; I love the small feathers in the outer border; thy finish it off really nicely. No more photos of it until the magazine comes out in a few months, but it's a larger version of Snowdance (below) for which I've been asked to write a pattern a number of times.

Incidentally, Snowdance was McTavished, too, and you can see evidence of the spirally-bits! One of the reasons I use it so often is that it fits easily into the smallest and oddest-shaped spaces, such as between all these appliqued shapes.

And while I'm at it, I thought I'd link up with Amy's McTavishing Monday (even though it's now Tuesday here!). Amy has been posting about McTavishing for a few weeks now, and has some lovely photos, videos, links and tips.