27 March 2013

Birds of a Feather Block Two

I have finished block two for the Birds of a Feather quilt. I only had a little left to applique, I managed to get that done yesterday while 'watching' TV with the family. I have decided with this quilt to try and piece the blocks as I go, rather than leave it all to the end as I normally do. Assembling quilt tops is my least favourite part, perhaps because I have such a small space to work in and no room to spread everything out? I was going to attach block 2 to block 1 until I checked the assembly diagram again and realised they are not next to each other in the finished quilt :D

20 March 2013

Silk Shading

When we moved to this house 18 months ago, I was delighted to find that we were only 20 minutes away from Hampton Court and the world famous Royal School of Needlework. I was even more excited to learn that they offered beginners day classes which were open to everyone. Last year I attended a course on Crewel Embroidery and this Saturday I completed the beginners Silk Shading Class. This technique has always fascinated me and I have tried many times over the years to get to grips with it, without success. It is also know as Needle/Thread painting or long & short stitch. I have bought books and kits on the subject ...

And although I understood the theory (or I thought I did!) my stitched results looked messy and nothing like the pictures! Within ten minutes of the class starting on Saturday I knew I was in good hands, we had two wonderful teachers who explained exactly what we had to do and were so patient :) The class kit, came with pre-traced silk and plenty of threads (these are my left overs)...
I quickly learned to think of it not as long & short stitch to be worked in rows, but more as a colouring in or painting technique, like a staggered satin stitch. In order to get good smooth blending, you need to come up into the previous row of stitches splitting some of them, and not down into them as I had been doing. We started stitching straight away, you can see the first petal I stitched in the middle where I still have blocks of colours and harsh edges...
The second side went a little better, outlining the piece in split stitch first really helps get a smooth edge...
I took some time to get used to the random nature of the stitches, everything else I do requires even stitches the same length and neat rows, it was very liberating to stitch this way :) ...
I finished my piece at home with a centre of French knots...
You can see from this photo of the class sample that I still have a lot to learn...
I had a wonderful day at the RSN and have signed up for the two day follow on course in August. I found the day quite tiring, as I had to really concentrate! When I mentioned how exhausting it was to my husband and son, I thought they were going to wet themselves laughing! They found the whole idea of a day of embroidery being tiring completely hysterical!!! They couldn't believe I had spent 6 hours on four petals and a stem, but I know you all understand :))
I am confident to try my kit now and some practice pieces in my instruction book, I really want to practice what I have learnt before August. Of course what I really want to do, is to become proficient enough to attempt a stitched picture of Jasper...

13 March 2013

Dear Jane Wednesday

This week I have managed two blocks, using the Freezer Paper piecing method. I did a short tutorial for this method which you can find HERE

F4 - Old Windmill
F6 - Deanie's Daisies

Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing

I love the accuracy you can get with foundation paper piecing, but I really dislike removing the paper at the end! When I heard about a method using Freezer paper that doesn't involve sewing through the paper I thought I would give it a try. I decided to practice using a Dear Jane Block and I love it! I thought it would be a good idea to do a little tutorial so you can try it too.

First you need to trace your block pattern onto the dull side of a piece of freezer paper; number the sections and cut them apart; score lightly on the lines between numbered sections (take care not to rip the paper)
Fold back the line between sections 1 & 2 and iron the glossy side of the FP pattern to the wrong side of your chosen fabric for piece 1, the piece should be at least 1/4" or more all round
Using the FP as a guide, trim the seam allowance to 1/4" away from the fold
Line up your number 2 fabric right sides together and stitch carefully along the edge of the fold. DO NOT stitch through the paper! Extend your stitching by about 1/4" each end beyond the fold.
Press the FP back in place from the back and front to press the seam; fold back number 3
Trim seam allowance to 1/4" as before
Keep adding and trimming pieces in order until you have completed the section, you can see here how I have extended my stitching beyond the marked areas - don't worry if it looks messy!
Using the FP as a guide, trim all seam allowances to 1/4" - leave the FP in place
Use the FP to help line up seams and piece the sections into rows and then into a block, you can remove the paper when the block is complete - and re-use it if you wish :)

12 March 2013

Trying to Stay Warm!

It seems funny reading some of the Australian blogs I follow, where everyone is complaining about the heat. It has turned bitterly cold here again this week, and after walking Jasper for nearly two hours in the bitting wind, I was really looking forward to spending an hour or so in my cosy little sewing room just to warm up! I decided to prep block two of Vintage Valentine.
Freezer Paper pieces traced and cut out...

Pattern traced to vinyl for easy placement...
Fabrics chosen and roughly cut...
I am not sure about the blue bird, but there is a little blue in the border fabric...
Everything together in the basket until I am ready to stitch...
Hope you are all managing to stay warm/cool :)

08 March 2013

SDW SAL Week 19

I managed to put in a few hours this week to make up for not stitching at all last week :)  I have finally finished the church! I am so glad to have it done, I think it is the last of the big motifs. I had huge problems with the brown silk, every time I put a little tension on the thread it would snap, most frustrating! It was very strange, I love AVAS silks and have no problem with any of the other colours. I am stilling waiting on my skein of dark blue silk, so I will need to go back and fill in the gaps. I hope to finish this row by the end of next week, it will be so nice to scroll down and start on the alphabet.
Here is where I started on Monday...
and this afternoon...

06 March 2013

Dear Jane Wednesday

After a break of a couple of weeks, I am back making DJ blocks on Wednesday's :) I have decided to machine piece these small blocks where possible. I have lots of hand piecing/applique projects on the go, and as one of my goals this year is to become bestest friends with my sewing machine, these small blocks are a good way of practicing my skills (or lack of!)
Any easy block this week - H12 Hannah Lou's Hearts.
My block chart is very slowly filling up...

05 March 2013


Just to prove I do actually finish the projects I start :) I thought I would post some of my finished quilts here. This is 'Celine' I bought it as a kit at a Dutch quilt show from Quilt it, something I never normally do, but I loved the combination of cross-stitch, lace and quilting and the fabrics! I changed the border from the original piano key style to this plain one so I could do some more hand quilting. Machine pieced, hand quilted, a lot of the fabrics are by French General.

01 March 2013

February Review & March List

It's the 1st of the month again and time to see how much I actually achieved last month.

I have continued working on this every week, except for this week as my husband has been on leave and I have not picked up a needle!
Vintage Valentine
Block one is complete and I am pleased how it turned out, I will work on Block 2 in April
Birds of a Feather
Block 2 prepped and all ready to start stitching :)
Dear Jane Wednesday
Hmmm started off well, but have missed this week and last
Easy Street
Have not even looked at this :(
I have also started two new projects this month, I have a really bad case of startitis at the moment! 
Block 1 of The Caswell Quilt is almost complete and block 2 is ready to stitch

And today the last of my crewel wool arrived for Manifesto :)

March Goals:
  • Continue to work on SDW, maybe I can finally finish the church!
  • Start Manifesto!
  • Stitch Block 2 of BOAF
  • Prep Block 2 of VV for April stitching
  • Finish block 1 of Caswell Quilt
I think these are achievable (famous last words!) 
We have just been for a very long, very muddy walk and Jasper currently looks like this, the floor doesn't look much better...