Thursday, 20 July 2017

Does "Practice make perfect"?

I have never done much machine quilting as I enjoy hand quilting, especially using  larger stitches with Perle threads as I think they add interest to the quilt.

However I have tried machine stitching in the ditch and sewing a machine foot's width either side of rows and columns.  I'm not too successful with in the ditch quilting as I find it incredibly hard to stay in the ditch and it is so noticeable when you wander off.  I tend to use this method if I want to machine stitch between the blocks before adding Perle hand quilting elsewhere in the quilt.

On a few baby/children's quilts where I have done the double row of machine quilting, sometimes more successfully than others.  I have a tendency to wobble a bit and find the stitch length can vary too.

However, I had two baby quilts ready to sandwich and quilt and decided to do the double row of machine quilting on both.

Happy Cats was done yesterday and "What's in the Square" this afternoon. In fact I sandwiched AND machine quilted "What's in the Square" this afternoon so I am feeling pleased with myself.
I've had a close look at the quilting and I am really pleased as it's pretty even and the stitches all look a even length, no sudden bits of tiny stitches.  So I am beginning to think that the old adage "Practice makes perfect" may be right.  I'm not perfect but vastly improved!

Here's Happy Cats:

I have no idea why this photo has been turned around, all the other 5 photos are correct!

.A close up of the stitching:
I will hand quilt around each picture with the thread I used for machining.
It's Mettler Silk-finish 100% cotton. Recently my LQS decided to change the range of threads they sell so had a sale on Mettler threads and I bought a few spools of variegated threads in colours I thought I would use in future projects. This blue/green/yellow spool is just right for this quilt.

What's in the Square?

 A close up of the stitching:
Again I have been able to use one of my Mettler sale spools, a pink/lilac mix.

This is the thread I will use to hand quilt around the pictures. It's Pearl Crown Rayon  by YLI.

So now I have two quilts well on the way to being finished. 
Happy Cats is first in the queue and I will start hand quilting this evening whilst I watch some TV.


Monday, 17 July 2017

Sorting and Sewing

I have been sorting out a few fabrics: 2 pieces I can use for backing my Happy Cats quilt and one for the pink Happy Blocks quilt top I put together some weeks ago.

I have trimmed all the little cat motifs ready to use in a future Happy Cats quilt, and created a Project Pack with the remaining cat fabrics and other fabrics I used in the one I am currently sewing together.
I also added chunks of leftover fabrics I used for framing the cat motifs.

Instead of putting the leftover scraps and chunks into different places in my stash they are being stored altogether which should make it easier and quicker to make another quilt.
I also added a note with the sizes I had cut the framing fabrics and popped that into the pack.
When I sorted through my cat fabrics looking for suitable ones for Happy Cats I found this strip of black and white whimsical cats.  It's been in my stash for many years as I never knew how I would use them.
Oops, this has been turned on end!
I ran out of time to do any more cutting but I will trim these into separate blocks and put together another Project Pack with bright solid fabrics for frames . 
I think this might make a Siblings Together quilt.
I have begun sewing together the rows for my Happy Cats quilt.  Hope to complete this later today.

In order to cut down on the amount for scraps and leftovers I have, I have decided to try to finish up more bits as I go along or make Project Packs.

When I finished the baby cardigans I was left with an almost full ball of grey and part of a ball of navy.  A friend recently gave me a full ball of navy (which looks the same colour as mine) and an almost full ball of red and white.  Instead of putting these away in my yarn stash I have started to crochet a striped baby blanket which can be used in the car or pushchair.

I started with a chain of 100 and am using a double row of dc to make each stripe.
Here's how it's looking so far:

The colours are brighter than the photo shows.  A real pillar box red and navy not as black as it looks in the photo.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

New layout for Cat quilt

I changed a few of the 5.5"squares, exchanging some of the paler ones for two deeper coloured fabrics.  Then I looked through my cat fabrics again and found a scrap I had rejected first time around because I didn't think it would be large enough to cut 5.5" squares from. However, I just managed to get 2 squares from it.

I also made 4 new framed cat blocks: 2 with orange frames, one with brown and one with green.
Much happier with the new layout, more pop to it.

This is the previous one:

Hope to find a little time at the weekend to sew these up into a finished top.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

More knitting - 2 for the price of 1!

I have been enjoying knitting for my friend Amy's expected baby. Only about 5 weeks to go now.
Knitting all done, now I need to concentrate on the baby quilt.

I bought a couple of new knitting patterns and I started with the hoodie in a lovely variegated grey/white acrylic yarn. Nice to knit with and very soft, ideal for a baby.  I think acrylic yarns make sense for babies as their clothes are always in the washing machine!

Not used this yarn before but my local wool and sewing shop stocks it.  They had little cardigans knitted up in the various yarns and I loved the way this one knits up, making a pattern which almost looks like Fair Isle.

It's called CHERISH, baby double knitting from King Cole.  This is a Skipton (Yorkshire) company but the yarn is actually made on licence in Turkey!  A bit ironic as Yorkshire was the seat of the woollen industry all the time I was growing up until perhaps the 1970s.

Anyway, when I was part way through knitting the hoodie my neighbour came round for coffee and admired the yarn so took a closer look at it and immediately spotted two joins in the yarn, not far apart, which I would soon have to be knitting and working around.  I had already found one join so my neighbour suggested I took the knitting yarn back to the shop and ask for a new ball. I would never have thought of doing this. However, I did and was given another ball. So I then had 3 balls instead of the 2 I had purchased. Of course I carried on with the old ball of yarn and finished the hoodie.

Here it is:

As I had the rest of the 2nd ball and a completely unused new one I made another cardigan using my old tried and tested  pattern (like the previous blue/yellow/white striped one) but knitted it in the next size up.
Ta da!
Interestingly when I rewound the small amount of yarn left I found another 2 joins in the yarn, only a metre or so apart!
So, two baby jackets for the price of one.  I also sorted through my box of white and cream buttons and found sets for both items. I also made lots of other sets of buttons up, ready for future projects.
Here's all four knitted jackets:

I am really pleased with them.  I have so enjoyed knitting again!

I have an hour or so this morning to do some sewing so I will be concentrating on the Cat baby quilt, also for Amy.  I went to the LQS yesterday but they didn't have any cat fabrics in the colours I wanted but I did come home with another FQ which I think will tone in so I can replace a few of the 5.5" squares and get a little more variety and colour into the quilt.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Trial layout of Cat blocks

I spent a busy day (no Wimbledon on the middle Sunday!) cutting 1.5" strips from the fabrics I picked out a couple of days ago and framing my trimmed cat fabric pictures. Including the five already made I now have 32 of these blocks.  I added a couple of patterned fabrics to the three cat fabrics and cut out 31 x 5.5" squares.

I have just quickly laid them out on my sewing room carpet:

Good to take a photograph as it gives a clearer idea of placements of blocks and colours.

A few things immediately jump out at me:
  • I like the orange frames (there are two different orange fabrics and I have more of both) so I can scatter more on the right hand side of the quilt.  I hadn't realised they were all over the other side.
  • I also like the grass green solid framed blocks
  • Too many pale framed blocks
  • Another 2 brown framed blocks would help to strengthen the contrast too
  • I need another one or two variations of fabric for the 5.5" squares, it's a bit too "samey"
  • Probably too many of the blue and white background cat squares too. I have other cat fabrics in my stash but they have pink and purple in them and as I am making this a gender-neutral quilt they won't be quite right. So a bit more thought here or a visit to my LQS for another cat fabric option.
I have used a pretty bird print frame for two of the blocks - 2nd row, 6 along and also in the 6th row, 6 along. I think I will cut a couple of 5.5" squares from this fabric and swap for a couple of the other paler squares.

Not worried about making more blocks as I have lots of the cat picture fabrics and there is always the option of making another Cat Quilt another time so I am happy to stockpile the leftovers with the remaining fabrics chosen for this quilt.  I will create another "Project Pack"!

I have enjoyed making the framed blocks - Happy Blocks a la Cathy (Sane, Crazy, Crumby blog) so I won't mind making some replacements.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Starting a new quilt

Not much time for sewing this week as we are half way through the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.  I am a tennis fan, have been for pretty much 60 years! Wimbledon is my favourite although I also follow the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne.

However, whilst I've been watching Wimbledon on TV I have been knitting more baby cardigans and for the past couple of days I have also sorted out fabrics for a baby quilt for Amy's baby.

Amy is a cat lover and has two cats so I thought these cute cat fabrics would be ideal.  I don't know whether the baby will be a boy or girl so thought these colours would work either way.

These will be used to frame each cat picture to make blocks.

I will use these cat fabrics for alternate blocks.
All fabrics are from stash. 
In between matches and changeovers yesterday I cut and trimmed the cat pictures:
I have more brown and paler cream ones that I can cut if I need more.
Today I cut a few 1.5" strips to use for framing the pictures and sewed up five of them.
Hope to make a few more tomorrow.  The blocks finish at 5.5" after trimming so I think I'll do a 7 x 9 layout.
However, I am making up the quilt as I go along so that might change.