Saturday, 15 May 2010

The finished article

So the wall hanging is completed.....hurrah....I took these pics in the garden as the sun was shining for a change & Bluebell the rabbit decided to get in on the action!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Almost done - the last leg

This morning I managed to get the front of the binding for the wall hanging done - almost without having to refer to any instructions!!!

I measured the outside edges of the hanging, added them up and added 12 inches to the total. I then cut enough strips so that when I sewed them together I would have one strip long enough to go round the whole of the hanging. Carefully I pinned and sewed with the machine until the binding was nearly all attached to the wall hanging. The joining of the two ends is the part which I find most difficult but S had found a really helpful pdf guide to show us how to do it. Using the pdf I got the ends joined!

My last job of the morning was pinning the binding around the back of the wall hanging so that I can hand stitch the binding to the back of the wall hanging with blind stitch. I hope that I can get it finished tonight & then I will post some pics of the finished article...happy days :-)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Nearly finished

A quiet evening & I managed to get plenty done on the wall hanging. I must admit that I am very pleased with how well this project is working out and I can tell that my sewing and cutting skills are improving.

I cut the border strips first of all but I also had to trim the background fabric down as when I started this project I had cut it larger than the pattern required (on purpose). Once the border strips were cut I then sewed the first one to the bottom of the background fabric, sewed the patchwork panel to the bottom of the first border and then attached the top and bottom borders. Thankfully as I had been accurate with my rotary cutter I achieved all of this without a hitch for once!

The next task was to cut and attach the side borders. I checked the length of the wall hanging to make sure that the size required by the pattern would fit (I found that the side strips would extend out further than the length of the wall hanging but this was no problem as I could trim them down once they were attached.

Once the side borders were attached I had to layer up the wall hanging with the wadding and backing fabric. I had some polyester wadding and some cotton wadding left over from previous projects. Unfortunately the cotton wadding was not wide enough to fit the wall hanging so I had to use the polyester wadding (having worked with both types I definitely prefer the cotton as it is much nicer to sew through although it is thinner). I laid the wadding out & placed the front of the wall hanging on top & then cut the wadding to size, leaving a nice wide margin of wadding extending out from underneath the wall hanging top. I repeated this process for the backing fabric.

Now it was time to baste! Even though this was a small project I still found it a bit tricky trying to ensure that all the fabric layers were pinned together nice and smoothy and pucker free. I wish I had some 505 spray to help the layers stick together as I was pinning them. After a bit of fiddling about I did manage to get the wall hanging basted.

Before I started quilting I changed the needle on the sewing machine....I had noticed that the previous needle was starting to make a slight popping noise as it was going through the fabric when I was sewing the borders. I hadn't changed the needle since buying the machine and I guess that the quilting I had done on the previous project had blunted the needle slightly. I also changed the presser foot on the machine for the walking foot.

My last job of the evening was quilting the wall hanging. I chose to use navy blue thread for this as the borders are blue on the wall hanging and I think it looks nice.

The last job is to add the binding. I am saving this task for tomorrow. I have not yet decided how I am going to do this. The pattern suggests that you do each side separately but I might do it as continuos strip binding to practice what I learnt on my first big quilt....anyway we shall see what tomorrow brings....nighty night xxx

Quick stitches

So yesterday I spent most of the day with my dearest sister but instead of any stitching we spent time at her house baking - chocolate eclairs & apple pie samosas. Delicious...the apple pie samosas will make a lovely alternative to mince pies at christmas so I must get the recipe from S so I can make some at home...they can be frozen so I'll be able to make some in advance of Christmas.....

Anyway after collecting HM from school we headed over to my Mum's for our usual Wednesday night dinner. Whilst there I managed to get the hand-stitching of the wording on the wall hanging completed.

After dinner we went home & put the children to bed & I was able to carry on with the wall hanging. I cut out the tiny bits of fabric for the small bird & flower & then stitched them on. Next I measured and cut out the fabric for the patchwork panel - this took some time as I wanted to ensure accuracy. Finally I stitched them together using the 1/4 inch foot for the sewing machine. As the pieces were small I did not need to pin them together.

I called it a day after that as the next stage is to cut out and sew together the border strips & I did not want to do these whilst I was feeling tired. P is out tonight so once the Twins are put to bed I can carry on - its such a lovely thing to look forward to!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Wall hanging - third session

So more work tonight on the flower pot wall hanging - in between live BBC streaming of the comings & goings from the Palace & Downing Street (I love watching history happening live!)

Time to blanket stitch the flowers using the sewing machine.

I was anticipating a bit of a struggle as I had last night but much to my surprise it worked very well and I was able to judge where to stop and turn the fabric at which point of the stitching action. I am very pleased with the finish to the flowers and I found that taking it slowly helped a lot.

The next part of the instructions required me to stitch the letters on to the fabric backing. I had originally planned to do this by machine if possible but I had a play with the free motion foot on my machine and found it quite difficult. This is a clear case of practice makes puuurrrrrfect so I have decided to hand stitch the letters instead (save free motion stitching for another day & another project). So far I have stitched the first three letters but will do the rest tomorrow. I might also attach a large button over the O but will make that decision once I have done some more work on this project. I have posted some more pics of tonight's progress.

So far, no sewing yet today but I thought I would spend some time updating the blog & I also made some scrummy coconut slice for hubbie & HM (my daughter) for tea tonight as a treat. I have not made coconut slice for ages and to make it even more special I used some of my best home made raspberry jam inside it. Also above is a photo of the blanket stitching I did last night around one of the flower pots on the wall hanging....its a bit difficult to see but I hope you get the general idea.

Wall hanging - second session

So the children were tucked up in bed & I sat down to work :-)

First task was to make my final fabric selection for the flowers and quilting. I referred to the finished design on the front of the pattern, using that as my guide. After choosing the fabric for the flowers, pots & stems I cut out the flower stems, pressed them and then decided to use my machine to attach them to the backing fabric (as I have a new machine I might as well use it as much as possible in the project & it will enable me to discover more about the functions & all the different stitches).

Stems attached, next came the pots & the flowers. I traced the pots & flowers onto fusible interfacing & then ironed them on to the fabric. I cut out the shapes now ironed on to the fabric, peeled off the paper layer on the interfacing and then ironed the fabric shapes to the backing fabric in the desired position.

The pattern instructions then advised to use a decorative stitch to securely attach the shapes to the backing fabric. I like to use blanket stitch but decided to do it by machine & not by hand. Again, this was a new function of my sewing machine that I was going to use. I practiced a little on a scrap of fabric before letting myself loose on the wall hanging. In fairness it probably will take just as long as sewing it by hand as I found it quite tricky turning corners & ensuring the stitches ended up in the right direction. Overall the finish is probably not as neat as I would like here but I am viewing it as a learning process & frankly practice makes perfect :-)

By the time I finished doing the blanket stitch around the flower pots it was time for bed & I decided that I will tackle the flowers this evening....

Monday, 10 May 2010

New projects - new adventures

So today I am starting my new project...a House on the Hill wall hanging. My very first patchwork project was a similar wall hanging but this one is a little bit bigger than the first. I love the House on the Hill designs and luckily there are many UK suppliers.

I have chosen the Flower Pot Quilt pattern but there isn't really much patchwork to this design but it should nicely fit the gap between my last project and my list of future projects. Hopefully the skills I learnt and improved doing my last project will help give this project a lovely finish.

I took a few minutes whilst the Twins were napping this morning to read through the instructions and to make a start. I have previously chosen my fabrics and they are already washed and are ready to go.

The first task was to cut the fabric I had chosen for the background. I had found that with the first wall hanging, the fabric frayed as I was working on it, so to prevent this I decided that I would overlock the edges I had cut. It was my first time at overlocking & on my new machine. It worked out fine. I did find that once the edges of the fabric are sewn that you need to set the stitches again to get the fabric edges to lay flat, otherwise they creep up a little.

The next stage which I managed to complete this morning was to trace the pattern on to the fabric. It is nice and light in my kitchen so I taped the paper pattern to my kitchen back door, attached the fabric over the pattern and used my tailors pencil to trace the pattern on to the fabric....I now should be ready for more jobs tonight, once the Twins are in bed :-).....

Sunday, 9 May 2010

My first large scale quilt is complete at last!

Today is a special day - I have completed my first large scale quilt (well its half a king size but my biggest quilt so far!).

For this project I had decided that I wanted to make a small quilt for my lounge, featuring mainly green fabrics.

I chose an easy and simple design from my favourite quilting book, Material Obsessions, which my sister gave to me for my birthday. I then chose the fabrics I liked when I visited The Wandering Line, in Purley. A fab shop dedicated to quilting.

Making the top layer of the quilt was a quick and easy job. I simply trimmed down the fat quarters into 18 1/2 inch blocks. I then cut the sashing strips into 3 1/2 inch strips (some needed sewing together to reach the desired length). All of the top layer was pieced together using the old Singer 533 machine given to me by my Grandmother (in law).

All the fabric and threads I had used so far were 100% cotton so I decided to used 100% cotton batting for the middle layer of this quilt (I made sense as I wanted it all to be made from natural fibres). The batting was purchased from Thread Bear, Hamsey Green, another local shop.

The fabric which I had chosen for the backing layer was not long or wide enough to cover the back of the quilt in one piece so I had to piece together two sections. This I did with the help of my sister. Together we taped the whole piece of backing fabric to her kitchen floor so that it would not move and then used 505 adhesive spray over the wrong side of the fabric, laid the batting on top and smoothed it all out. Then we used the 505 spray again and laid the quilt top on top of the quilt sandwich, smoothing the fabric out and pinned all the layers together for safety.

My sister & I both agree that using the 505 spray greatly reduced the risk of the layers of fabric slipping against each other and puckering when you come to quilting.

The purchase of my new Janome machine occurred in the middle of the process of making this quilt. I played with my machine for a while prior to getting ready to quilt my quilt and even trimmed off some of the excess backing fabric and batting from the quilt to practice on with the walking foot attachment which came with my machine.

The walking foot for the Janome made quilting the layers together easy as pie. The walking foot grips the top layer of fabric and feeds it through as well as gripping the bottom layer of fabric and feeding it through the machine. This again reduces the risk of puckers and slippage.

The last job to do was to join together the binding strips, stitch them to the front of the quilt and then blind stitch them to the back. I had not done any binding using the continuous binding strip method, so I enlisted the help of my sister. I stitched the binding strip to the front of the quilt using my machine and walking foot and then spent the last couple of days bind stitching the back.....completing my task tonight!

I am very pleased with the result. It is by no means a perfect quilt but it has given me the confidence to try some other projects.

I am already looking forward to my next project and am dreaming of future projects too...I can't help myself, I am so excited about where this new craft and machine can take me. Tomorrow I aim to start on a simple wall hanging for the hallway, then I plan on a simple purse with a zip so I can learn how to fit a zip, then next might come some embroidered napkins (I plan on making a set for Grandma for her birthday and if she likes them, maybe even a table runner for Xmas!) Eventually I would like to have a go at making some Amy Butler clothes that I like the patterns for :-)

Anyway enough for tonight...speak soon xxx