Friday 28 June 2013

Calm before the Love Entwined Storm!

 Mostly this week I've been making / finishing / tidying up samples to complete my latest City and Guilds module, but I did find time to make these two Dear Jane blocks (these ones for myself!).  It's years since I'd added to my scrappy pile of finished blocks, so this felt very good.

 I've also been trying to learn ANOTHER new-to-me applique technique - this one called 'back basting'. 

Of course, I didn't know that I was going to try it out, so wouldn't necessarily have cut out the freezer paper for this method!

Can you see that I've machine stitched around the shape?
The idea is that you stitch to give you the needle turn line - you undo the stitching just ahead of where you then needle turn.  I'll find out how easy or difficult it is this weekend, when I'm going to have some hand sewing time.

You might wonder why I've been so interested in different methods of applique.  It started with my C&G and a requirement to learn some dimensional applique techniques, but has taken on 'legs' as I've joined with 2375 or so others around the world who are interested in starting a free BOM applique project by Esther Aliu, called Love Entwined.  Its causing an internet quilt bloggers storm!

The first part of the pattern (first of 18 months - eek!) was published yesterday.  I'm happy to say that it's mostly pieced, and doesn't require us to have our background fabric yet.  I have quite a lot of fabric in my stash, but not a spare 7 1/2 yards of background for this!

Ester has put an amazing amount of work into this, and even if I only manage the first five months (which would lead me to complete the central panel) I think that it would be a lovely thing to do.

Of course, I know that I have 1) limited time 2) limited energy and 3) limited patience, so although I'm experimenting with different hand applique techniques, I might just decide to use fusible applique and machine stitching, as a way of joining in without letting my (sewing) life being ruled by it.

Hope that you have fun plans for your crafting time!

Monday 24 June 2013

Let Them Eat Cake - Please!

 Hard to believe that my DD2 is 8! 

She requested a circus theme for her birthday.

We bought her stilts, juggling scarves, plates to spin (amongst other things).  Cousins handed over a clown costume made by their shared Grandmother.  I set to and make cakes.

This is the one that she had on her birthday - if she'd been later home from school I'd have had time to add a pennant to the top, decorations along the path, perhaps even a 'gate' over the path too.  Despite this she was still pleased with it!

I was so pleased that my SiL has such a great tin, it made making this cake a doddle.
This was the cake that she had for her birthday.

Another simple design, but quite a big impact.  The first thing she did after blowing out the candles was steal the nose and eat it, before running out to play with all her party friends in the garden again.  Rather cute, two of her friends stayed behind to replace the missing nose with a strawberry!

I've managed to hand over quite a lot of the cakes to other people, but there is still plenty left if anyone wants to drop by and sample a slice in the next day or two!
It was a day of baking on Friday. 

We started early as DD2 was given a cake pop maker for her birthday, so we had cake pops for breakfast.  We've managed to get a little neater at decorating them, but still room for improvement!

I also made and decorated  36 cup cakes (using left over butter icing from the big cakes - so quite quick, I'm pleased to say).

I am so enjoying a quiet (non-baking!) day today, after a busy weekend doing lovely things with both girls.  I'm planning small hand sewing things this week, nothing at all grand or big or requiring much in the way of thought or physical effort.

Hope that you are having midsummer fun too!

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Crafting and Crisps - what a combination!

Kettle Chips - Louise Gardiner It's not often that I see and advert and 1) rip it out to put it in the back of my sketch book and 2) Google it to find out more!

What I found was that the latest Kettle Chips adverts have been sewn and painted by Lou Gardiner.  Go and have a look at her site and you'll be able to enjoy not just these images, which just show the basic packets, but also a whole range of her work which is stunning!  The site is beautifully set out too.  I'm still drooling over some of the examples of her work, and wondering if I'd ever be able to produce anything so lovely.  Sadly, I think that the answer is 'no', but that won't stop me having fun in my own small way!

Of course, if I could eat crisps whilst crafting without getting greasy fingers on my projects, that would be another great accomplishment!

I've finished my first 'freezer paper on top' attempt.  I think that you can see that the right hand side was the second one - so at least I've improved a bit, although whether its better sewing or better pinning / layout of the spindly piece I'm not sure!

I'm hoping to find out soon as I'm just preparing another two pieces (the same size as this, 8 1/2" square).  Quite fiddly, but very portable!

Not much other sewing to show.  I've made a sample hat brim (with a different type of stiffener in each quarter!) and then these ice cream post cards, prompted by picking up some doilies in Poundland this morning.  I'm not really a doily person for serving food, but quite like them now and then for card making and scrapbooking!

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Applique Week-ay

 Okay, not the best title rhyme I've ever seen, but I've had a week of applique obsession: a delivery of two second hand books on applique (both by Ellie Sienkiewicz who seems to be a 'Baltimore Album Quilt' (and BAQ style) guru, hand applique, machine applique and a feeling that improvement is just around the corner (or perhaps just out of reach, I'm not putting money either way, to be honest!).

This is my finished 3D Baltimore style block.  I've got stuffed seaweed and clams, stuffed and furrowed coral, concertina pleated limpets and a folded hexagon not-quite-a-sand-dollar!

 This second block was much faster to put together - seaside rather than seashore.  This one was created with fusible applique and sketchy machine stitching.  I was thinking pen and ink and children's book illustrations from years ago.
 The applique didn't stop there.  Another two Dear Jane blocks have been completed for Liba's quilt - and they both had tiny applique pieces.
 Here is the new I-6 one next to my 'old' one which has already been sashed.
 This is my new J-13 next to the one in my scrappy Jane.

So, five blocks made for Liba's quilt, none for my own!  I have a whole row ready for sashing and sewing on to the blocks that I've already completed.  I think that I should aim to do this over the summer and make a few more blocks for my own.

In the meantime I'm working on a 'needleturn with freezer paper on top' block (not my design) I'm trying really hard to get pointy points on the leaves and neat non-frayed corners where leaves met stem.  I think that I still have a lot to learn, and I'm not sure that I'll be able to  improve as fast as I'd like.

Any more applique related things?  Well, there is a new BOM being generously offered by Esther Aliu that is starting soon.  Another historical based quilt, called Love Entwined.  As Esther is a master applique quilt artist I'm pretty sure that this would help to hone my skills.  If you'd like to join, check back through her posts to see how to join her Yahoo group.  I'm not sure if I'm up to an eighteen month long project on top of what I'm already planning, but I love the idea of it!

Finally (!), never short on ambition, I bought the 'Dear Hannah' book on Monday evening at my quilt group meeting.  From the same author as 'Dear Jane' this is a mix of applique and pieced blocks.  Some from historical quilts, some invented.  It's good to have a background project to look forward to once I've finished my Dear Jane (which I'm still thinking will be years rather than months!).

After another three books to fit onto the shelves (ah.  Four.  I've just seen 'Spunbonded Textile and Stitch', which arrived on Saturday and I haven't even opened yet), I should be making time for book  sorting / clearing this week.  I don't know how much longer my DH is going to want to see my stack of books on the living room coffee table, as I haven't been able to fit any new purchases onto the shelves dedicated to quilting since the New Year (and I've bought quite a few books, it would appear!). Ho hum.  If anyone has any tips for Tardis like increase of space within the fixed confines of our house, please do feel free to share them with me!

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Dear Jane Take Two

 This is my I-13 towards the Dear Jane quilt that Liba started.  This block, lovely though it is, didn't go quite to plan - this is my second go at it this time around. (I'm sorry about the photo, I clearly didn't get the lighting right, as the colours are more similar to the one shown below).
This is the first one that I made, using Liba's fabric that had ideas of it's own about where its colour should be!  The problem started when I sprayed the block with water to make the wash out marker disappear.  This is the block even after it had gone through the washing machine.  Not ideal.  Not at all ideal.  I know that reds sometimes bleed, but this was really quite intense!  It can't be used in the quilt, obviously, so I re-made it in the closest red print that I had to this (and yes, I checked for colour fastness first!).

 Still, here it is next to my own I-13 made some years ago.  I *think* that my piecing has improved slightly, but only slightly!

For light relief (or should that be low relief, ho ho) I also made these machined beach huts. I'm not entirely sure that the proportions are right, but it was a change from hand stitching shells, which is the other sewing that I've been doing, which I'll probably show you next week.  As we're now in our final school half-term my thoughts are obviously turning already to summer holidays!