Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Then, using thick polyester wadding and a navy and white striped back, he quilted the small sandwhich with Auriful 12wt variegated thread in purple, orange and yellow. It's super thick and fun, a spool I'd had for a while, because I always quilt in safe white. All it takes is sewing with a 5 year old to pull you out of your comfort zone! And this ended up being the perfect choice for this project!
We added a sleeve to the top half at the back and a big tab that attaches with velcro down the bottom and then bound it all with some strips I already had in my stash of scrap strips. (Please excuse the slightly disturbing camera smile Tully insists on these days!) I attached the binding to the back and stitched it on the front. I love the finished look it gives it!.
I haven't decided yet about some kind of seat belt. Maybe I'll just unpick if from the old one and attach it to the new?
Monday, 24 February 2014
Another quilt on the pre-baby list done! Another one not for us or for baby, but for my oldest friend who turned 30 this month. Slowly but surely I am getting through the list for others (ok, maybe not so slowly, I'm just impatient!) and then I'll spend the last couple of weeks making what I can for the baby. It makes me glad I've been handstitching the hexie quilt for my little one because I'm enjoying working on it each evening.
In my last post, I wrote about taking short cuts to help me get these quilts finished. I bought this Hello Petal Layer cake for my friend's quilt so I could sew it up quickly with minimal cutting and no time choosing colours (even though that's usually my favourite part!) While I was deciding what kind of design to make, I was really drawn to Rachel's Penny Patch quilt and Blue Elephant Stitches' Granny Square Quilt. I love the 2.5" squares in both and I considered for a while adjusting the pattern for either to work with a layer cake. In the end, I just couldn't bare chopping those little girls' heads off and came up with this design to make the most of the mix of basic prints and illustrations.
- Prints I wanted to keep completely intact.
- Prints that could work cut into 4.5" squares, and co-ordinating basics to match each one.
- Prints that would work cut into 2.5" squares and basics to match each one.
First I worked on the pile that would be little postage stamp (2.5" squares) blocks. I cut the first 10" block into 4 x 2.5" strips. Then repeated with the co-ordinating print. This makes two identical blocks.
Cut these into 2.5" strips across the grain.
Sew them back together like the picture above. Continue this method with the rest of that pile of 10" squares.
Then, onto the pile of prints for 4.5" squares. Cut 2 x 4.5" strips from the 10" block. Then cut 4.5" squares from those strips. Repeat with the co-ordinating print and sew 2 identical blocks together like the picture below.
Once you've sewn/trimmed all your blocks (they should all be 8.5" square), work out your desired layout. I like that this layer cake came with 42 squares, making an easy 6x7 block layout. Sew together in rows, then sew the rows together.
Thursday, 20 February 2014
In the last couple of weeks we've had some sad tragedies (and much hope) with babies in my family, which have pushed me ever more to the sewing machine, but also made me more impatient for the arrival of ours. I've added more to my list, yearning to make for them as the only way I know how to express my prayers and hopes and sadness. But I'm also having to go easy where I can (photos on our washing line instead of at the beach, binding the quilt on our bed before I finished quilting - I'll finish it one day) so that the time before baby is spent meaningfully with the kids, keeping back the chaos rather than inviting more in.
I cut 6.5" strips of each colour, and the cut those into these 45 degree triangles. (Do they have a name??) Once the top was sewn up randomly, I used my new go-to backing, this 150cm wide numbers print from Ikea. I bought LOTS when I was down there last, and it's making that last part of the quilt finishing go just that bit faster.
So I ordered some Anna Maria Horner linen and velveteen this week to make single cloth cushion (pillow) covers rather than patchwork ones for our new sofas. We bought new sofas rather than made them. I think I'll skip a border on my Modern Medallion quilt for my cousin, and maybe simplify the hand quilting. The hexie quilt for the baby will probably be more cradle size than cot size (and maybe finished after the birth!). And I used a layer cake for a super quick quilt top for my friend who turns 30 this weekend. Cutting corners doesn't always come naturally to me. Things should be made to their full potential or original design! But they will still be beautiful, and more (or just as) importantly, finished. And if it means I have a little time for detours such as this quilt, that makes it worth it.
Thursday, 30 January 2014
The last two days my Facebook news feed has been full of adorable little uniform - clad five year olds starting school for the first time. It happens every year, but this time has felt particularly poignant because Tully is not one of them. After two years of thinking, talking, reading, weighing up, here we are, officially not sending our five year old to school.
And this post is absolutely not a comment about those other five year olds and their families. They, many of them my close friends, know what's best for their families. But today, especially, with its absence of uniform and lunch box and out-the-door-by-nine, I am particularly peaceful and thankful for our decision.
Tully and Eve wake up and play well together most of the time while I sleep in. It's taken me most of this pregnancy to be ok with not trying to get up before them, but I'm at the uncomfortable stage where I eventually, fitfully fall asleep around 2am. Tully gets them both a little yoghurt and piece of fruit, first breakfast, and then when Tim or I get up, we make a big batch of porridge. I'm so thankful I can get the rest I need.
After breakfast, it's tidy up time. Last year, when I had pre-school and daycare, I wondered how the heck I was going to cope without my child free days. Surprisingly, I'm actually finding it easier without them! Not having 3 or 4 days a week where we have to be out of the house early means we've developed a new routine of tidying the house every day, all of us together. I have never been so underwhelmed by housework. I'm hoping this routine will hold us in good stead when the baby comes in just 7 weeks (!) and I'll be asking them to do some of it without me.
While we tidied, the post lady rode by. The person who lived here before us (nearly 5 years ago) was a travel agent and never changed her address with certain travel magazines. The kids are convinced these come for them (which works in my favour with all the packages that arrive for us!). Tim and Tully had a flick through over morning tea, chatting about different destinations around the world, while I went to an antenatal appointment. I'm so thankful Tim's PhD has him choosing his own hours. He does usually 'go to work' at the uni, but he can stay at home and be with the kids when I need him, and study in the evenings.
Then, at 11, we started some sit-down work. We read a Beatrix Potter book together on the couch, then some phonics. I wasn't going to use work books for Kindergarten, but Tully felt so left out when everyone was talking about going to big school at the end of last year, that I bought them for him to make it feel official and real. He absolutely loves them, partly because they're right at his level, and partly because I sit down with him.
The post lady's delivery brought up a discussion about where the mail comes from and how the post system works, so after lunch and a rest, we made cards for each other, so we could post them in the red box down the road, and have them arrive back in our letterbox.
My number one goal this year is to nurture a peaceful home. I never thought that could be synonymous with newborn, caesarean, PhD, homeschool. And believe me, the heat and discomfort has me failing often! But today, as we came and went as we needed, as we worked at things that interested us, as we paid no attention to the clock, as we organised our day around our needs, and not those of a big institution, it confirmed what I hoped for as we weighed up this big decision. This is peace for us.
Sunday, 26 January 2014
Happy Australia Day! Such perfect weather to head into the city for the Maritime Festival to watch the old planes do tricks and take photos of quilts. There was even tug boat ballet!
Late last year my 5 yr old Tully asked if I could teach him to sew his very own bed quilt.
"Even the cutting, ok, Mum?" Ok!
I let him raid my stash and scraps and he straight away chose many of my Sarah Jane prints, and other blue, teal and green prints, with a healthy splattering of red, orange and yellow. It was so wonderful and amazing to see him drawn to the different prints and colours, not just the 'boy' ones, and grow a colour selection that was really cohesive.
Sewing a single bed quilt with a child is a big assignment, but we made it manageable and enjoyable by giving him a taste of each stage. When he got bored, he'd tell me he'd had enough and ask me to keep going. And so I did. It kept each step coming at a pace he enjoyed and stopped his interest from waning. After not insisting on him completing it all, it's a joy to hear him tell people that he made his quilt!
After sewing all our 5" squares together in blocks of four, I decided on Maureen's Quilt as You Go method because it keeps the quilt in smaller pieces for longer. I started with a fun zig-zag free motion quilting design before I realised that was going to take me till the rest of the year! This simple diagonal line was much faster and still effective when matched with the quilting we did 1/4" on either side of the seams once the whole quilt was together.
We decided on this Ikea Britten Nummer print for the back. A new favourite of mine!
And today we came to the Newcastle Foreshore to take photos and enjoy the Australia Day celebrations. Tully stood so proudly next to his creation. You can see from these photos that we added an Out to Sea Map near the top right and a little signature "T" in the bottom left corner, just for fun.
After sewing the last stitch on the binding, Tully grabbed it, wrapped it around him and ran through the yard in a kind of victory lap. Hurray! I'm so thankful for opportunities such as these!
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
I'm excited to share a quilt finish with you, my first for the year! I think partly because it represents finishing off a run of custom orders, partly because there was a break in the heat last week which shot up my energy levels, and partly because I'm feeling more in a groove in general. I'm enjoying a little season of spare time (due to summer holidays) and sleep ins (thanks Tim!) before the baby comes in just two months!
Sometime last year, my cousin sent me a scrap pack of leftovers from this Monaluna Havana fat quarter pack. She had used the line to cover some canvas frames to decorate her daughters' room. I started to cut into it straight away, deciding one evening on the Impromptu pattern, and sewing up the blocks using white from my scraps.
Well, I learned that night that you don't try to match whites in the evening. The fluorescent light in my sewing room severely limited my ability to see shades of white (or any colour for that matter) and when I woke up in the morning the distinct cream with the crisp white of the Monaluna prints nearly made me cry!
Well, I have to tell you I was pretty tempted to forge ahead, but if there was one thing I'd been learning, it was to go with my gut, and to make something I was really happy with, rather than push for a finish. Over the next few months, I unpicked every block, cut strips of a much better white match, and sewed them back together again. I'm so glad I did.
I free-motion quilted with this chrysanthemum design. Oh my this is fun! And fast! And I love that the vast amount of white brings it out even more.
Backing was my biggest challenge. I actually want to give this back to my cousin, and with 2 little girls under 3, I didn't want to make it completely impossible for them to enjoy by adding even more white to the back. I decided on this Dear Stella print which I stashed for pinnies before my fabric fast. It's one of those prints in my "very favourite but very hard to use" category. There are times when I think it adds too many other colours to this simple quilt, and other times when I think it's perfect. I binded it with a mix of coral scraps because I didn't have enough of any one print. I have to say I was particularly happy with how these matched each other so perfectly.
I was so cranky with myself for forgetting to take this into the city when we were in there for dinner. A quilt with cars and scooters seems ill-suited to my messy garden and falling down fence. But even with a rise in energy, it appears I still have my pregnant brain. Oh well. Next time!