Tuesday 27 September 2016

Two More Finishes and some CFS / Bad Science News

 Two more finishes?  I know!  It feels really good!

This quilt in particular has been on the go for a long time.  My DiL died in 2009 and I've been using his shirts ever since - the primary objective of making quilts for his 4 grandchildren was met quite quickly, but other quilts have been ticking along more slowly.  This quilt is the very last one - the one for my DH.  I used all the scraps that I had leftover to make the hexagons - but it's taken me years to get the individual flowers sewn together!

This summer I finished sewing them together and appliqued them onto a grey spot background.  Last week I quilted and bound the quilt.  Finished and given to my DH!

Approximately 60" x 40"
This little quilt has also been on the back burner for a while.  The top was finished last November, I think..... so it was good to get it quilted and bound this week too.

36" square it was a 'use it up' project using scraps from various sources.  It has a few fragments of a nursery fabric including a teddy bear head, so it's been called 'Square Bears'.  It will be off to Linus at some point.

I'm also pleased to say that the variegated Shasiko thread that I'd run out of has been ordered and arrived, so I'll be back to hand sewing the project that needed it soon too.

Now, onto the bad science news that I mentioned in the title of this blog post.

You may know, if you read this blog, that I suffer from ME / CFS.  Earlier this month data from a landmark study in 2011 was released to the public.  This was the study that had been telling the world that people with ME / CFS could improve their chances of recovery if they undertook 'graded exercise' - doing a little more exercise each day.  This didn't chime with my experience, where days might be good or bad, and trying to do 'more' on a bad day could send me into a horrible relapse where I would struggle to get out of bed.  I spent three years almost housebound, and although I'm not as bad as that now (thank you, pregnancies and cranial osteopathy!), it's only by carefully preserving energy for planned things (like my children coming home from school, or seeing friends for an evening once every two months) that I get through my days with reasonable grace.  I still miss out on lots of things that I've love to do and can't.  If there was a cure I'd be first in line for it!Sometimes it makes me sad and sometimes it makes me cross but I don't generally whine about it as I'd rather use the energy for something positive. 

HOWEVER it has now been shown that this study was bad science and that the results aren't at all reliable.  Why is this important?  Why is this important to me?  Because the original study was widely picked up in the 'popular press' and I suspect that the new interpretation of the data won't be.  Please, if you've read this far, read this article about it

Bad Science misled millions with CFS.

Then think about sharing it with your friends too.  I'm only one person with CFS/ME but there are lots of us around - and we'd all love you to understand a bit more about our very variable condition.

Off my soap box now, and planning to do a little calm hand sewing.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Another finish!

 In all honesty, it feels like another three finishes!

I made cushions with the leftover 2 1/2" squares - mini quilts, really, with envelope backs.  One was 26" and one was 24".

I started with this one - and the pattern is quite regular.  I worked through the pizza boxes and built up the pattern from the centre, matching colours where I could.
 The second one is more fluid - starting with the idea of interlocking colour 'boxes' and then making it up to a square in the best way that I could.  There are just a very few squares left - not enough for even one more row on the cushion - so I think that they complete the gift nicely.
 Here they are filled with cushion inners from that lovely online auction site.....
 This is the full sized finish, though.  80" square it is the quilt for my SiL and her family, called 'Paris Square Dance'.

I wish that I'd got the colours to be a bit more true to life - it's brighter than it looks here!
 Quilted in orange thread rather than my usual grey, the quilting stands out beautifully on the back.
 An indoor 'draped' shot - still not showing how bright it is!

Anyway, you can see that it is a quick to make design - alternate quarter square blocks and plain blocks give this pattern with lots of movement in it.
I used my IKEA fabric for the back - nice and wide - with a stripe of the orange border print running through it.

I like the effect - it's made it a reversible quilt!

It's been a few months since the last quilt finishes that I've had, apart from last weeks map quilt.  I think that the 365 challenge has eaten up more of my time and sewing thoughts than I'd realised this year.

Still, if I want to complete the challenge I need to do some serious catching up now - I'm almost exactly two months behind at the moment.  Not exactly a coincidence that the last block I made was on the day that the school holidays started!  Time to start cutting and sewing little blocks again!

Wednesday 14 September 2016

World Quilt or Quilt the World!

Quilting the world - my journey!

It started when my SiL asked if I would undertake a commission.  Of course, I don't / won't - unless they sound fun, are for no money and I get the final say on how it happens.....so obviously this project was a 'yes'!

She and one of my nieces bought these lovely fabrics for my eldest niece and showed me a couple of world map quilts on line.  The quilt is a birthday gift from them (and her dad!) to her.

Aren't the fabrics great?  Lovely and bright which is what I like!
 I chose to use the Shwin and Shwin free map pattern from here.  Lovely web site with some fun patterns that they share.  This one prints out over 40 or so A4 pages which you then stick together.  That took up most of the kitchen table!

It was straightforward to trace onto the fusible - once I'd redrawn the map through the paper so that I had a reversed map to copy!  Perhaps I should check my printer settings to see if I can reverse things at source!
 Then it was time to slice up the fabric (this batik star didn't make the end quilt, but I did play with it in my piecing at one point).  Clean pizza boxes were great for keeping colours separate.  This was 'Africa' with a little of Asia.  I cut the fabrics into 2 1/2" squares.
 I'd decided to try and make each continent a different colour.  Each set of patches were set out in an 'efficient as possible' layout and then sewn together.
 Then the traced shapes were placed on the patchwork and fused.

Cutting out followed - hard work through the patchwork seams!

Then the map was traced onto the blue background fabric so that the continents could be placed into the right places.  This blue fabric was quite opaque, so I had to use a light table (mine consists of two LED camping lamps under my sewing machine extension table -  Heath Robinson but workable).
 Once the land was in place it was time to back and baste the quilt.  It's about 60" x 38".
 Next, time to dive into the quilting.  As you know, I did have a tiny crisis of confidence between quilting the land and quilting the seas.
 All was well once it was evenly quilted.
 This was the quilting design that I chose.  I'm better at it than I used to be!  Overall I spent about 16 hours on just the quilting.  It felt like a lot for a piece this size, but it is all quite dense.

Ta-da!  This is the finished quilt.  Bound in some of the left over fabrics in 9" strips for a cheerful finish.
I'm pleased with it.  Hope that the commissioning family like it too!

Time to spare to finish these string blocks for charity quilts at my quilting group too.

Now I need to use the rest of the 2 1/2" squares - watch this space!

So are you inspired to make your own world quilt?  Mark on the countries you've visited with buttons?  Applique symbols to represent the world and your family?  Do share if you undertake your own version of a world map quilt - whilst I sit and work out how to to quilt the rest of the world!

Wednesday 7 September 2016

In Love Again!

 Remember that ugly baggy bit of quilt I showed you last week?  Well, I jumped in, feet first,
and started quilting the oceans - and it's made all the difference!  I'm totally in love with it again!

The quilt is no longer baggy and saggy.  It took me about 16 hours in total to quilt this top (which is roughly 60" x 40").

Swirls on the ocean and 'graffiti quilting' on the land masses.

I can't promise that it will lay flat, but I'll have done my best!

Binding, hanging sleeves and label still to do - but I'm making good progress on it!

Friday 2 September 2016

Deja Vu

 Do you remember a few years ago I made a 'flower tree' with lots of fused flowers?  And that after I'd sewn around the edge of each fused flower I ended up with baggy areas in between that I really struggled to quilt (in fact it took me months and months of just trying to work out what to do and to pluck up the courage to actually do it)?

Deja vu with the fused world map that I'm working on - but this time I don't have months and months - it needs to be finished SOON!
 I need to quilt the ocean over the weekend, then quilt The Americas....and fall back in love with the project, I hope!  It was all going so well until this point!

Turning to projects that I am still in love with (!)  I've made great strides (pun intended) with this little wall quilt.
 I'm happy with how the stitching is going, but I need to finish the lower RHS and then decide on my stitching direction on the top section.
 I also made good progress on this hexie quilt - big stipple quilted and the binding machine sewing to the front.

I need to hand stitch the back of the binding down now, but not until after I've completed the world map quilt and perhaps the QST quilt which I have decided will be quilted with orange thread, rather than my usual grey!

Lots to keep me occupied when the DD's go back to school next week!

I hope to show you a progress post on the world map right from the beginning next time I blog.  Cross your fingers that I'm able to quilt the baggy problems out of it in the meantime!