Thursday, 16 March 2017

Seasonal stitches

Hello there!
Well here we are on another windy, rainy March morning and before I go back to the sewing room I thought I would share a few recent projects with you. None of these are from The List, but are (mostly) part of the bigger project of making seasonal decorations. My aim is to have a table runner & wall hanging for the kitchen and cross stitched smalls for the front room for each month of the year, so after finishing the January Snowman I went looking for wall hanging ideas for February. I found a beautiful free pattern available on the Janome site here and started pulling fabrics. The project finished a bit bigger than I wanted so when I printed the pattern out I only enlarged it by 200% instead of 225%. It was only later that I joined the dots and realised I had made life harder for myself - by making all the pieces smaller all those beautiful flowing curves were smaller and tighter and how on earth was I going to applique them without ruining those tapered points???? So I played with settings on my new sewing machine (did I mention it has A Lot?!!!) and practised and looked at projects online and worried some more and practised some more... In the end I decided I needed to do some of the bits I felt I could tackle so I made a start satin stitching the hearts. Then I blanket stitched the flowers and then the swirls inside the hearts. Finally I decided to use the raw edge applique technique for all the remaining pieces. I am not a fan of the messy, frayed look that often results from just straight stitching round a shape but as this will never go near the washing machine I am hoping it won't fray much and I had to get this done before it got put aside & became a UFO... Once the applique was all finished and the borders were on I decided to try echo quilting rather than free motioning round the shapes. This technique had seemed way beyond me when using the walking foot on my old machine, I don't know if it was because it was a cheaper generic foot or because it was an old machine but it didn't walk so much as jumped like a grasshopper and it was kinda nerve racking to use! The first time I put the walking foot on my new machine - wow!!! It walks like an old man with a zimmer frame! Very unthreatening and for me it opened up a whole host of possibilities for trying quilting ideas I'd seen but discounted in the past. Anyways... echo quilting... how did I get on?? I love it!!!! :-) I actually enjoyed the quilting process on a project for the first time!! I added some jewel like heart shaped buttons for the flower centers and am really happy with the result :-)



I did vow to have a break from applique projects after I finished this but then I fell fast and hard for a project in the current Quiltmaker magazine which I discovered in WHSmiths on Wednesday so last week this started happening...


I have also been fitting in some cross stitch (head is behaving much better thank you :-)) and completed the last in the set of 2004 Cross Stitcher's Surprise Series from Rainbow Gallery. Stitched on 14 count cream aida with DMC colors and finished with button, fabric, & ribbon from my stash...


Next on the cross stitch list is a restitching job. Some of you may remember the three little bunny pillows I stitched way back here? Three years ago now! They have become known round here as the "vanishing bunnies" because as soon as you back away from them they disappear (!) and each spring I take them out and think "oh I really must do something about these!!". Well this year I decided they weren't going up until they were sorted so I unpicked and unstuffed the wee pillow & then unpicked the bunny and the flowers around him. I chose much stronger solid colors to restitch him and voila!


He vanishes no longer!!! I am working on the other two now...
There has also been some knitting going on because the day after I finished the Hermione scarf Hubbie and I took a day trip which just happened to involve a visit to Nairn Wool Shop. This is about 30 miles from us so I don't go that often but I just love it when I do! She has a great selection & very friendly staff and I was only going with the intent to squish some yarn and make future plans but a ball of Stylecraft Head Over Heels jumped in my bag... It is sooooo soft and I couldn't resist the colors....


It's a beautiful pattern called Daydreamer which came in a supplement with a knitting magazine last year or you can buy it direct from the designer here. It's the first time I have tried a lace pattern on a sock but it's a nice simple one & I'm really enjoying it. I have one sock done and am working on the other one now, I don't have sock blockers so for you to see the lace pattern you have to see the sock on my foot...

 

Well I hope you are enjoying March, whether it is bringing you warmer days as Spring approaches or cooler ones as you head into Autumn. The first true daffodils are starting to bloom around here and there are buds on trees and shrubs, everything is starting to wake after it's winter slumber. Yesterday I didn't even need mittens or a scarf when we went for our walk! It is time to make a start on tidying up the garden and getting ready for a new season out there (although that might wait till tomorrow as the wind is howling down the chimney and throwing the rain against the window right now!). Wishing you a lovely week whatever you are up to :-)






Sunday, 5 March 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - February update

Hello there!
It's time for another update on the 17 ufos in 2017 project, February is such a short month isn't it?! I have also been battling bugs & migraines this month so there really wasn't a whole lot of cross stitching going on round here. Spring Fairy started the month like this...


... and has finished the month like this...


Bottom corner still to stitch then metallics to finish, backstitch (tons of!), and finally beads to go... this is staying out for another month (although I have some other stitching I need to take care of in March so we will see how much Fairy actually grows by the end of the month...)
But less stitching time in february meant more knitting time and I did manage to finish number 16 on The List - the Hermione scarf for my daughter! 


Here it is folded up on the chair waiting for her to collect it...


I am really pleased to have this one done and off the list!!! In the end I actually really enjoyed knitting it (probably a reflection on how my knitting skills have progressed in the 2 years since knitting the matching mittens for her!). Definitely breaking it up into chunks helped with the motivation & as it's knitted with DK weight yarn it is very warm & snuggly. Dear daughter certainly seemed very happy to collect it the other week :-)
Another smaller project I tackled this month was number 6 - the July table runner. Pieced last year & just needing quilted & bound it got pushed to one side by more time sensitive projects last summer. I decided to do a mix of free motion quilting & quilting other parts out with the walking foot. Here's a pic of the back so you can see the quilting easier...


I am still getting used to my new sewing machine & as the foot pedal is entirely different to my old machine it kinda feels like I'm starting over where the free motioning is concerned but I am determined I will get there!!! (My plan over the coming months is practice....practice....practice....) Here's a pic of the right side, the light has been so grey here what with all the rain this month...


The pattern is actually a Christmas one from the Winter 2014 Quilting Celebrations magazine (picture it in green & red with a white background?) and I'm hoping to do a lot more applique projects now I have my amazing fancy sewing machine! I will have to tell you all about her in a separate post sometime...
The last project off the list that I worked on in February was number 8 - the Posy layer cake quilt. Although the top was only pieced last year this quilt has been on it's way for a few years now. It all started when I fell in love with this fabric....



It's called Posy and was designed by Aneela Hooey for Moda in Spring of 2013. The little girl reading, those gorgeous little bunnies? Although (apart from the lilac) these are not my usual colors I fell fast & hard for it. That summer dear hubbie bought me a layer cake of it and in Spring of 2014 we shopped for co-ordinating fabrics at the Edinburgh Quilt Show and during our holiday in the Lake District. At that point I thought I had a quilt pattern picked out for it but actually getting started was way down the list. Fast forward two years (!) and the March/April 2016 McCall's Quilting plopped onto my doormat & I saw this Field of Stars pattern. To be honest the fabrics it's made in really aren't my cup of tea but the pattern behind? Oh yes!!! Best of all it uses 9 1/2" squares between the Ohio Stars which makes it perfect for a layer cakes' 10" squares. Also it was an easy pattern to adapt to get the size of quilt I was looking for. It was pretty quick to piece & I started in on the quilting. I used my walking foot to run diagonal lines through all the Star blocks like this...


Then I free motioned out the layer square squares and stitched in the ditch round both sides of the inner border. Then some more free motioning in the outer border...


I added the binding so it was a little more sturdy for man handling while I did some hand quilting round the stars. I picked 2 colors (pink & lilac) of perle cotton & started big stitch quilting... and then we got warm weather (well it was July!) & it was so hot sitting under this big quilt!!! Into the bag and away it went. February has been many things but hot is not one of them (!) and a little bit of hand stitching snuggled underneath a quilt seemed pretty appealing...


Gradually star by star, row by row, until one night it was finished!!!! At 84" square it is pretty much the biggest thing I can fit on the floor of my sewing room without having to start moving furniture out...


...and about 5 minutes after this pic was taken it jumped right on our bed & has been there ever since! I am SO HAPPY to have it there!!! (I am also really lucky to have a hubbie who doesn't mind sleeping under such a pink, girlie quilt!)
So two months in I have finished 7 projects off the list & 2 more projects have seen progress, I'm so glad I decided to commit to this! I'm off to see what other bloggers have finished off their lists this month at the linky page, have a great week folks!