Friday, 30 September 2011

Alice Day!

So here is the finished article! (Not so different to the other shot on the line) It took a few hours to hand sew the binding, mostly in the car until Little E woke up. Turns out I do requests now and he wanted me to sing 'Wind the Bobbin on'.  Very appropriate. So another hour or so this morning and Voila! and into the washing machine it went on a gentle wash. And it came out without having shrunk to dolls house proportions so happy, happy day!

The wonky, bunchy stitching on the bottom!

Nonetheless, I have my happy face on. Its all folded up in its gift bag ready to go to its new home.

To add to the above we are now back from spending several hours with Alice and she is beautiful and small and seems very, very content, Little E was quite gentle with her and not at all jealous of me holding her.  I think she may have Johns brow and Beckas chin and holding her lovely little self made me quite broody........Becka looks entirely fab and we didn't see John because he was off playing a gig in Southampton so it seems all is good and relaxed in the house of family Alice.

Becka liked the quilt too! She didn't mind the wonky bottom and what is more I sneaked a look at the green nursery and can confirm that the quilt would be great in there! I didn't get round to finishing a cushion to go with it and I completely forgot the fabric gift tag too (but I think I got away with that as  hadn't mentioned them to anyone else!). I've been channelling the spirit of a headless chicken for the last week......time to relax.

Last day of quilt making! Off to see Alice!

So I have slept on it, not literally of course, (its tiny and that would be ridiculous) and the wonky stitching on the back gave me nightmares but now I am looking at it again I still like the front, wonky stitching and all. Mum arrived and decided the major wonky seam on the back was glaringly noticeable (even amongst all the other wonky seams) so she upicked it and I resewed it and using a bit of jiggery pokery so it doesn't look nearly so bad.  I've done the stitching in the opposite direction and used this fab tutorial to attach the binding.  I will be sewing the reverse side of the binding on the journey down south in the car - often a journey devoted to sewing and the only opportunity for uninterrupted sewing since Little E came along. Provided he is asleep of course otherwise it is four hours of singing the Wheels on the Bus.....anyway here is a look at the nearly finished quilt. I quite like it, I am quite pleased! (Not the back of course , its a shame its not a little better) but for a first, far from perfect go, I like it.

Yes I am happy.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Actual Scary Quilting......

Oh for goodness sake! How hard is quilting!?!

Its like some kind of self inflicted torture, why have I done this to myself? Ha ha! Thats me laughing on the inside, very deep down and quietly. Silent laughing you might say. No outward signs of mirth at all. OK I will stop now.

And I've only quilted in one direction so I have the other direction to look forward to tomorrow. Ok, the top still looks passable which is the most important thing but the bottom is not so good....what I feared would happen has,  the straight line of fabric does not line up with the quilt seams in a very obvious and big way. I am prepared to suspend final judgement at the moment and hope that when its all neatly bound it will look OK.  Everyones first quilt is full of wonky seams right?!

I am not ready to concede defeat just yet!

Two days to finish quilt!

So I am running  behind a bit here, the blanket stitch on the lettering is done - its less than perfect but OK I think overall. Hopefully Becka and baby are more into the 'handmade home' look than a haute couture finish otherwise we are stuffed. I have fitted the walking foot to the machine (a scientific endeavour all of its own if you need a clue there is some great instructions here ) and re-pinned the backing, batting and quilt top together.  

I know I should probably leave this flat somewhere but having a two year old running wild makes it difficult. So it will be all go tonight on the actual scary quilting. Then the binding and then hopefully it will go in the washing machine and won't come out the size of a handkerchief.......Who knew the gentle art of quilting was so stressful! I fully anticipate a jaunt to and from the planet freak out tonight to converse with the inhabitants in a high pitched voice otherwise only audible to dogs. Arrrrrghhhhh!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Three days to finish the quilt!

So, there is 3 days until we pack up the car and go to see pressure then! 

Here is 'Alice' appliqued onto the quilt using bondaweb....I've decided to add it to the quilt before quilting because rather than quilting in straight lines 2 inches apart as per the pattern I am quilting in horizontal and vertical lines joining up the light green sections which means the lines should only cross the name vertically in two tram lines - we will see! I am doing a blanket stitch in white around all the letters to secure them and hopefully they won't fray too much when washed.

This is the back of the quilt modelled by Little E. As I said in an earlier post all the additions to the pattern meant the back was no no longer big enough for the quilt so I added a plain green strip up the back to add width.I got as far as pinning it all together for quilting before deciding I wanted to applique the name on first and so had to unpin it all. I used a font called cooper black which is a particular favourite of mine for children's items being a nice chunky font. It puts me in mind of a 1970's jeans logo which I thought was Lee Cooper but isn't.


So tomorrow blanket stitch and actual scary quilting!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bunting Queen!

No I haven't interrupted the frantic quilt making to start a new project, they are just running a bunting competition in Craftseller this month which has caught my eye.  The prize means you get featured in the magazine and win vouchers to spend in Hobbycraft. As 90% of what I have made since getting my sewing machine last year comprises bunting for birthdays and newborn babies it does seem they are calling me by name to the mothership.

This is bunting I made for a new born girl called Ida May.  I like to add applique relevant to what the little ones like or to suit the occasion, so birds, pirates, horses and cupcakes with candles have all featured.

Well you never know. You've got to be in to win it!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Thoughtful (and speedy!) stitching...

Despite the grey weather we had a nice trip to the beach this weekend. Liitle E found some things I thought we could take home and arrange in a 'nature table' to remind us of our day and to add to on other nature outings. Very creative I thought. 

Unfortunately Little E had other ideas and lobbed them over a bridge into a stream on the way back to the car.

In other news Becka has given birth to a beautiful baby girl called Alice weighing 5lbs 8 oz! John rang us yesterday to tell us the wonderful news and sent us a lovely picture too.

This also means its time to totally freak out on the quilt, sew, sew like the wind!
The arrival of baby Alice got me thinking about little E's arrival. A lovely lady who lives two doors down from me made a Peter Rabbit quilt out of the blue when he was born. We hadn't exchanged more than a few words then but I was so touched over the time and trouble she had gone to for us. Since then we have become friends and I visit most weeks for a gossip and a bit of crafty chat. She was 80 last year and has been quilting for many years and she doesn't laugh at my beginners questions. Of course I have yet to show her any finished work!
By coincidence another family friend made a quilt for Little E which was also Peter Rabbit. 

So many thoughtful people around us willing to make so much effort to  celebrate a new little life. All that thoughtful stitching. Welcome to the World Baby Alice! xxx

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Baby quilting resumes....

Ok, Ironman diversion over, back to baby quilt making. I have managed to sew all the sides to the white fabric centre. There were some serious sweating over cutting out the centre to the right size but it turned out fine with a little jiggery pokery.  Probably this would be vastly helped by having a longer quilting ruler and a larger cutting mat, but I am sure there is a technique I have yet to stumble across using only stumpy starter tools.

Unless you are very confident in your cutting I would recommend pinning the side to the white fabric , turning it back to check it meets where it should and then putting four or five stitches to secure it in place before continuing to sew the rest of the length.  

This avoids any unpicking (ahem, as if). 

(Well pretty good for a first timer)

I am now thinking it needs an edge (other than the binding) and am going with plain white, so am cutting 1 1/2 inch white strips to go all around the outside.  

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Ironman: Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg

So its the aftermath of IronMan we've shouted ourselves hoarse and I've got a pain between my shoulder blades from all the clapping.  I'm sure this is an insignificant pain compared to what the people who actually did the IronMan were experiencing as they woke up yesterday. I spent about seven great hours out on the course in total and got to see both Matt and Lindsay cycling.  Lindsay was just started to climb St Brides Hill and frankly looked picture perfect.....not the puce, sweaty mess you might expect! As it turns out Matt finished the course and Lindsay just missed the cut off point of the cycling having cycled most of the 112 miles, a completely stirling effort in what they are describing as the hardest Ironman in the World but I am sure she is nonetheless disappointed in the extreme. Andrew who was running to raise money for his little girls new wheelchair also did not finish. Had I had not met these people in person and/or online I don't think I would have spent quite as long on the course cheering for them and everyone else.  

It was a really mixed bag weather wise but the rough windy conditions were consistent throughout. We retired home after the second torrential downpour on account of being soaked to the skin, leaving the athletes toughing it out for several more hours. It was an impressive display of physical and mental strength from all entrants. JJ returned to the course at 8.00 in the evening and said the athletes were so grateful for the encouragement at that time. A completely inspiring and exhilarating day.

Well done Iron men of Wales! 

And to those who did not conquer the course this year, come back next year, or anytime in the next 4 years the Ironman will be in Wales.

To use a Welsh saying 'Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg' which roughly translates to   'Constant hammering WILL break the stone'. 


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Testing your metal - Iron Man Wales

Well, its hard to get away from it and why would you want to? There was a good vibe in Tenby today, lots of super fit looking guys and girls pushing space-agey bikes about the place (or bike porn as the enthusiasts seem to be referring to it ), making you ashamed of tucking into your (third) donut from Greggs.  Restaurants and cafes were getting in on the act and targetting the atheletes with carb loaded plates of spaghetti and pasta boxes.

We sat down for a coffee and ended up sharing a table with Matt and Lindsay from Florida who are getting ready for Ironman tomorrow.  Matt was slightly disparaging about the damp climate (the time honoured question: Why does it rain so much in Wales? Answer: Its the mountains) and the lack of air conditioning in UK hotels but otherwise they were absolutely relishing the challenge.  First timers to a full Ironman, they were also understandably a little anxious and explained to us that there is a 17 hour cut off point so if you haven't swum your 3.8 km, biked your 112 miles and run your marathon by then, you don't officially finish.  Which must be pretty gutting but particularly if you've come from America to do it. Cut off time back in Tenby is midnight when all Ironmen (and women) plan to return to the finish line and apparently there is a lot of blubbing and whooping and general emotional outpouring which is understandable given the size of the achievement.......and the endorphins (short for endogenous morphine don't you know).  I used to run to work everyday and thought I worked with the funniest people at nine in the morning....not so much by midday. Thats the power of endorphins.  It made me reflect on my (more modest) past glories and think back to the London Marathon, I can't imagine doing that after a cycle and a swim.   I nearly fell off my bike with exhaustion after doing a 60 mile bike ride between Cork and Kerry.

Perhaps I am not or will ever be an Ironman.  Maybe I'm a Copperman or a Brassman or some lightweight alloy (not lightweight in any physical sense obviously). Just a bit less metal than Matt and Lindsay. But the whole atmosphere and their commitment to this huge challenge did make me want to dust off my running shoes anyhow.

Good Luck Guys, I'll be looking out for you!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Little Birdie

So although I loved the colours in the It's a Hoot charm pack I wanted a fabric that I could pick a motif out of to add to the finished quilt and I found this Little Birdie by Ann Kelle. It arrived this morning and is a totally fab match for the It's a Hoot line so I have added two squares of it to the quilt.

Here is one of the lengths stitched together with the soft lime Moda fabric, I've used five squares for two sides and seven for the other two. It will end up being approximately 43 x 43 inches.  I've  ironed the seams open ready for sewing to the centre piece. Hopefully I will get half an hour to myself this weekend to do this, then I'll probably preoccupy myself with the preparing the name and bird applique for about a week instead of getting on with the actual scary quilting!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Gender Neutral Quilting....and some peace to do it

So Lovely Becka is having a baby! She seems to like things pretty contemporary so I decided on It's a Hoot charm pack by Moda.  I picked out some of the more 'wishy washy' squares and anything baby pink as we don't know if it is a boy or a girl. As I said previously the nursery is a strong green colour and she doesn't want anything too gender specific so I am mainly sticking with brights.

Also Becka is Swedish and they have some crazy different ideas, have a look at this weeks news on  a pre-school in Stockholm whose goal is to free children from social expectations based on their sex Gender Neutral Swedes.   Actually although I do think its a bit odd avoiding using the pronouns 'him' or 'her', I think I do agree with omitting or at least reducing books like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty from the children's library. 

What purpose do these funny helpless characters awaiting rescue have as role models  in the modern world?

Anyway I digress. I have procrastinated with starting this quilt, as with anything new its a bit daunting.   Also, when do people do all this crafty stuff when they have children?! I finally got Little E settled in bed last night and made myself comfy in front of the sewing machine and JJ says 'Won't that noise wake the baby?' Little E tries to sew his fingers to the machine if he is around when I am sewing so when if not at night? Anyway, this morning I managed to sew three squares, yes three whole squares before he woke up and I had to go to work.  Then I realised I had sewn one square the wrong way up.  Completely shattered, I thought does it really matter? It is an abstract pattern, it has no top and bottom, Becka could be giving birth right now and I still have to learn how to quilt and bind this for her little one. Then my mum turned up to pick up Little E and she decided it did matter and unpicked it for me. 

Monday, 5 September 2011

Annie Washbrooks Quilting Quest, Cream Teas and more Cakes...

We had a lovely time this weekend making cakes. Well I did and I thought Little E did too until I saw these pictures, what a sober chops! Never mind he was tucking into the cakes with gusto so I think he was smiling least I hope so, surely he's too young to be comfort eating....As it was such a nice day on Saturday we took a drive out to Annie Washbrooks in Velindre which is a big fabric shop in a collection of barns at the back of someone's house. We have been meaning to go for a while. It is a rabbit warren in there with wall to wall fabric bolts,  a great selection, (particularly for these remote parts) although I'm not sure its the place for a bargain hunt. Mum managed to get some silks to finish a Thai quilt she is repairing for my sister which has nearly turned into a complete remake so she was very happy.

There is always time to stop for cream teas. On the way back we found the very lovely Wenallt tea rooms set up in a farm outbuilding (running theme this weekend!). Friendly staff, lovely tea in a bright teapot and fab cakes and even a hanging quilt for decoration. Recommended. The toilet, which was the main reason for stopping, is  a portaloo by one of the barns (the barn also houses a decaying Triumph Herald, for shame!) thankfully it wasn't the stuff of festival nightmares, it was pristine if draughty.
When we got home I had a mini panic about my own quilt making which is at the stage you see below! It is going to be my first foray into quilting and is a baby quilt for my friend Becka whose baby is due in FIVE DAYS! Arrghhhh! Anyway, I've decided to follow a pattern on Moda Bake shop with a few modifications.  Here's the link Personalized baby quilt.

I'm using an It's a Hoot charm pack. Becka and John don't know if they are having a boy or a girl and have painted the nursery green so I'm hoping the quilt will fit the colour scheme. More about that after I've actually done some work on it!