Sunday, 30 September 2007

Quilt and wow

This has been a busy week, culminating in a trip to London to support DH on a cruise down the Thames, with dinner and dancing, at the end of an important business trip. (If anyone is thinking of doing this trip for a special occasion, I can thoroughly recommend it. The food and service were very good, and the views of London by night were stupendous.) A good time was had by all, but too much eaten and definitely too much drunk! Never mind, it gave us a chance to meet up with DS for lunch on Saturday (still scruffy but lovely with it) and come back to reality with burger, chips and coke!

On the quilting front, I am getting on with my happy houses. I saw a tutorial on Tonya's excellent blog for making pieced letters. I am passionate about writing (as a teacher, I'm on a mission to educate the world) and am always on the look-out for fabric with writing on it, which I incorporate into all my quilts. So naturally I had to have a go at the letters. Tonya suggests starting with capitals, but I've never been one to follow instructions so started with lower case. I am very pleased with the letters I've produced, and will definitely do some more in the future. Tonya has a number of other inspiring tutorials, so do go and have a look.

When I was at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC I signed up for a taster edition of a new internet quilting magazine, called Quiltwow. The taster is now up and running and looks very interesting. There's an art deco wall hanging tutorial, a paint and stitch project, instructions on how to make postcards using photos, a series of journal quilts, along with a celebrity interview and some favourite books. I'm not quite sure whether it's for me, as it's a bit arty, but I'd recommend anyone to have a look and decide for themselves.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Mile a minute anon

I am thinking of setting up a support group for those in the grip of Mile a Minute blocks. They are very addictive, and once you start making them, you can't stop till you have enough for a quilt. I'm thinking of calling it MaMA or Mile a Minute Anonymous. If you would like to join, please let me know. (LOL) Last week I had a coffee with my friend Jackie, and showed her my Mile a Minute quilt top. Jackie is a very talented quilter, but a perfectionist, and has lots of UFOs which she thinks aren't perfect enough to finish yet. However, in less than a week she had not only tried a new restricted colour version of the block, but actually finished a top! Here she is, peeping over it (sorry Jackie, I did say I wouldn't get you in the photo, but I'm not very good at keeping still when I click!). The consensus of our quilting group is that it should be called Liquorice Allsorts (after the famous sweets). Doesn't it look fantastic!
Here is a photo of an applique block I have recently finished for a challenge I have taken with a group in Rugby It's taken from 'Quilting the Garden' by Barb Adams, Alma Allen and Ricki Creamer and adapted slightly. The challenge is to make blocks month by month with certain features, such as house, stars, flying etc. and July's challenge was circles, as you can see (they are supposed to be circles, honest!). I still have a block with half or quarter square triangles to go, (and the quilt to assemble, of course) and the show and tell of completed quilts is tomorrow! Don't think I'll be quite ready. Jane has finished her quilt - well, she would have, wouldn't she, as she's organising the challenge! Don't worry, Jane, I'll get there eventually!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Stack and slash finished!

I have successfully finished my stack and slash quilt, and I'm very pleased with it. I decided to put a narrow border of dark brown round it, and then another wider border of a tan floral. I went to The Bramble Patch to get the fabrics, and had a good time selecting from their lovely range. After I had put the dark border on, it seemed clear that another border wasn't needed. The dark edge just threw attention back into the centre, and another border would have added nothing except size. I decided to bind in the same fabric, and sent for more fabric rather than another trip to the shop (a personal visit can be expensive, as there's usually something else there I 'need'!)

I had done some machine and hand embroidery along the joins, and added a few pieces of lace too, to make it look a bit more crazy.

Here are some close-ups to give the idea.
The quilt is a lap quilt size, for a friend who will be celebrating her 60th birthday soon. I shall tell her it's a lap quilt, specially designed for old ladies to put over their legs when they're in their wheelchairs, so she'll have to use it as a picnic blanket or sofa throw for a good few years yet!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Happy houses

I said I wouldn't be able to resist those Happy Houses, so here are the four I made last night.

Aren't they great? In case you can't see, the people in the doorways are a girl playing a cello, Snoopy with a football, an alien playing some sort of alien instrument and a girl with long hair and pink sandals. It was fun finding the people for the doorways, but not as easy as you might think. Even with my extensive colection of novelty fabrics, I couldn't find too many images which were large enough or complete. Heads without bodies and torsos with no legs aren't usually seen in doorways, at least, not round here! I have five more ready to go - a pirate, a dog, a boy playing a saxophone, a witch on a broomstick and some dogs standing on a kennel. Can't wait to get stitching!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

A UFO and a cutie!

Since completing my Mile a Minute top, I decided that it was only fair to make another top into a quilt - sort of evening out the numbers somewhat and easing the conscience too. I decided the easiest one would be the smallest, so have finished the Noah's arc string quilt.

I bought a fat quarter of Noah's ark fabric at a bargain price thinking that it would be enough to make blocks which could be sashed etc and make a nice Project Linus quilt. Of course, unless the pictures are printed in rows, it's imposible to cut out all the images without slicing off animals' heads, legs, trunks or other vital body parts, and making it all look a bit strange. With this fabric, I managed to cut six good pictures, one with a reasonable join in it, and then the centre two (right and left) were joined as best I could to make up the numbers. With some lovely string-pieced sashing, I think it's turned out well. I don't think children's quilts should be too heavily quilted: it's the snuggle factor which is important. I half wish I'd put another plain blue border round the whole thing before binding, but it's too late now, and I'm sure the recipient isn't a quilt judge!

Last week I went to our local hospital to deliver some Linus quilts and had the good fortune to be allowed to take the picture of a recipient. I don't know how it is in other countries, but here in the UK you can't take photos of children without parental permission, even at Nativity plays, swimming competitions or sports days. It's sensitivity gone mad, I say. But this little cutie has already been in the local paper, so it's fine for you to coo over her.

Her name is Faith and she was shortly to go home for the first time. I love the way she is clutching her quilt, as if to say, 'This is mine now, and you're not taking it back!'

I had decided that since I have recently delivered lots of Linus quilts (40 in August) I wouldn't start any more myself, just wait for them to roll in (believe me, they do! So many good-hearted quilters live in the centre of England!) . However, surfing and enjoying others' blogs is dangerous to your quilting time, and I discovered a wonderful pattern called Happy Houses, which is not only gorgeous and suitable for boys or girls, but also very simple to make. You can view it at Hearts for Linus where there are also the instructions. I'm off to make a couple or twenty now! LOL

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Mile a minute

Hooray! My mile a minute top is completed! I decided to make mine 10x10 blocks, and put a narrow black border round it to make the colours sing. I'm really pleased with it, and have already started some more blocks - couldn't resist it! I'm going to give it to DS for a sofa quilt - he lives in rented accommodation and the settee has seen better days. It will be ideal for that purpose. Typically DD has also requested one, but since she currently lives at home, and the settee is still in good condition (lol) she can wait.

I also experimented a bit with variations. There's a strped frame for added pizzazz, a plain yellow frame to unify and a motif in the centre to identify the receiving group.

If you're interested in the mile a minute, then check out Fiona's beautiful top (she obviously has some very pretty fabrics in her scrap bag), Patti's amazing blocks (she's responsible for starting the whole thing off - look back to July 7th for a tutorial) and Andrea's fantastic 'quilt as you go' mile a minute quilt (yes, she's actually got a finished quilt, and a gorgeous one too!), but beware: they are very addictive!