Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Storm At Sea Quilt

Sometimes you see something and you get a teeny bit obsessed with it.  I happened upon a Storm At Sea pattern a few months ago.  I can't remember what appealed to me first but I started googling the pattern and my search revealed a whole host of variations.  I was completely taken by it, it's total versatility!  The same blocks arranged and rearranged, the same blocks with 2 colours, with 3 colours with an array of colours, with an extra block thrown in........ the completely different patterns it can make are endless!

I spotted the picture below and knew this was going to be the variation I would make.  It reminded me of Moroccan and Tunisian tiled floors.  When I was 2 or 3 weeks engaged, I went to Gibraltar with my friend and fiancĂ© and we took a day trip to Morocco......and we ended up in Tunisia on our honeymoon so you can imagine that I have lots of good memories from both places and wanted to recreate a little of that.......

Anyone who has happened upon my blog before knows that I'm a bit of a divil for the foundation paper piecing method and since this was going to be my first repetitious pattern in quite a while, I decided to go with this method again as it takes the guess work and the accuracy out of it.  I hate ripping anything back and when there are multiple seams...... this way is just easier. 

My sewing room floor.  My poor sewing room floor.  I meant to take a picture but I'd like you all to think that I'm a pillar of organisation and work only at a station of complete tidyness and order.....but those of you who have worked at paper piecing, you know what I mean by my poor sewing room floor! ;)  I took a little break in between blocks and made my little fabric covered box and it proved very handy for holding my little stack until I was ready to add them all together.

I stuck with the blue and white colour scheme from the picture I originally fell for.  I thought it was perfect and why mess with perfection.  I did however choose a navy "shadow" from Stof instead of a solid colour.  It gives a little more texture and dimension, I think.  I did hours and hours and hours of chain piecing and slowly my blocks built up.  Each block is easy but the process is very time consuming and a tad monotonous!  Let's just say, I can't wait for my new sewing machine which will have a built-in thread cutter so save me trimming hundreds of threads!  That alone sucked hours of my time!  Worth it though...

I moved my sewing machine from my sewing room, to the kitchen table, to the coffee table in front of the tv and back to my sewing room again..........just to change things up a bit.  In truth, I dislike repetitive patterns, I get bored easily.  I think that's why I like foundation paper piecing, you get to change things up completely and make very, very accurate tiny pieces with minimal points to match up!

I had intended to make a king size quilt for our bed....... everytime I look at it, I'm reminded of those first months and years together with my husband because of the memories it evokes but it wasn't to be!  My husband suffered from a case of labrynthitis not long after our twins were born in 2011.  It was caused by a simple ear infection but the ear infection was caused by those first few weeks of pure exhaustion brought on by 2 newborns in the house.  At the time, it was a terrible bout, he was off work for a good length (no joke for a self-employed person), he was so dizzy that he couldn't hold his babies and couldn't stand straight without the room spinning.   He still suffers when he's run down or overly stressed out and the dizzyness takes over........ well, I don't know what it says for my poor quilt because everytime he looks at it, he grabs the counter and turns away while muttering something about it being "lovely, dear".  I have joked about getting my own room if I do make a kingsize because I don't think he could actually get under this quilt but I'm not ready for seperate beds just yet!

So that's how my king-size plan converted to an over-sized lap-quilt.  It's probably more of a single quilt size but since I don't have any single beds at my house, this is going to be a throw quilt for the couch for our new conservatory when it's finished!

Can I just mention that while I do love paper-piecing, I am SICK of pulling those papers out.   Thank heavens I chose to use Carol Doaks actual paper-piecing paper as opposed to using standard printer paper as I used to.  This falls out in comparison but still it's a tedious job.  To those who always said it was therapeutic, I'm calling you in future to avail of free therapy at my house when I'm finished a paper-piecing project! You have been warned! 

I had planned on three borders, skinny blue, medium white and then a large outside blue border but I've decided I hate adding borders - not the look, I just ALWAYS seem to measure wrong and end up 3/8 inch short!!  Grrr, so right now, I've stopped at a skinny blue border........ I'll give it a rest and see if I can get the motivation to do the rest!


Monday, 15 December 2014

1 less UFO, 1 more new project

Yes, this week I finished a long-term project.  So of course, I should move on to the next unfinished project and get some more knocked off the list........... that's what I SHOULD do, but this time Instagram won out.  I spotted the cutest little pattern, went on the hunt, found the sellers page and couldn't resist adding to my cart.  And sure, what's the point of an instantaneous pdf download if you don't start working on it instantaneously??? 

Anyway, let me rewind to my finished project first...

I started this quilt way back here.  The pattern is by Thimbleblossom and is called Swoon.  I added a paper pieced border of 3" flying geese to make it a little bigger and to add more colour.  I got the top done fairly quickly, it has enormous 24" blocks so it's satisfyingly swift.  When that much was done, I folded it up and put it aside!

Months later, well, nearly a year later, the ladies in my sewing class helped me baste it at our class (I've no floor big enough to baste a kingsize quilt at home) and when that was done......... I folded it up, put it aside and moved on to something new!!  Yes, sinful I know!

Eventually, I pulled it out again couple of months ago to decide finally whether it would be machine or handquilted and I decided to go with handquilting.  I know it's slow but I enjoy it and it's less likely to go wrong on me than using the machine.  I need to practice my machine quilting more! 

I did a basic three line, cross section through each star that gave a nice trellis effect on the back, then between the stars and all around the border, I quilted in some different sized stars.  I am happy enough with this much but have a feeling that I may add more quilting over time but in the meantime, I squared it off and added the binding last night!  This binding (pictured above) is also the fabric on the back of the quilt, it's deep navy with a black shadow and a gorgeous silver swirly design throughout! I love it!


Ooooh, it's amazing how excited you can get about a quilt that has been hanging around the house for nearly 18months!  Adding the binding seems to have transformed it!  It pulls out the navy from one of the blocks and from the flying geese on the border!  I love how binding just frames the quilt and finishes it completely!  I'm delighted that I managed to get this quilt finished just before we hit 2015 too otherwise it would have been on the go for 2 years!!! 

Hmm, it's actually difficult to see the binding against the dark green of the grass but take my word for it, it frames it nicely!  And now, I can finally put this project to bed!  Well, on my bed anyway!

Now as for the new project........ it's too darn cute to sit for long (and it's small so won't take much time) so watch this space!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

3 Years, 4 whole cushions

When I was younger and didn't know how to sew, I was envious of people who could make their own cushion covers.  To me, it was so complicated and I couldn't understand when they said it was "sooooooo easy" and "easiest thing in the world to make".  Nope, cushion covers were definitely complicated!

Fast forward to almost exactly 3 years ago and I took my first sewing class called "Getting to know your machine" with Pippablue in Galway.  I had taken a notion to buy an Argos Value Machine for a whopping €50 but didn't even know how to thread it, much less make it go!  I was reminded of this a couple of months ago when chatting with my good buddy Heather (who blogs here).  She said she remembered my excitement at that first class.  I went on a hunt to find the picture we took when we finished up.  Oh I was so nervous and delighted with myself that day.  Check out my first ever, teeny tiny cushion......... I'll admit, it's still on a chair in my bedroom, even more dwarfed by the size of the chair!

After that class, I didn't sew for months.  I was a little daunted by the thought of ruining beautiful fabric by actually cutting it up!  When I joined my quilting class a few months later though, I got over that and when I finished my first quilt, I made this cushion from the gorgeous nautical range by Sarah Jane called Out to Sea.  I made it for my son but eventually I "borrowed" it and it's sitting on the top shelf in my sewing room because........ well, it makes me happy!


After this a whole 2 years went by before I made another cushion.  To be honest, I was procrastinating.  A soft green velvet cushion on my couch had worn out/shredded/wasted away and it needed a new cover.  I just couldn't get the motivation to use a dull fabric.  When you're used to the beautiful quilting fabrics we use, upholstery fabric is just BORING!  But finally, last week, I got it done.  It's the one in the center......... blends in pretty ok, doesn't it?

Excuse my poor tatty couch!

So that was it, I got my mojo back with that boring cushion out of the way so today, I grabbed a bunch of scraps from a gorgeous range of fabric from The Quilt Shop and sewed them up and finally, FINALLY I have a proper girlie cushion in my house!  It took less than an hour to make this 18" cushion. 

Feel free to squeal at the girlishness........I did!

When you live with a hubby and 3 male children, you don't get many girlish things in the house.  My small boys are happy for me - well, they were after they exclaimed in disgust "what is that girlie thing doing in our house?" while pointing and screwing up their faces.  I explained mummies need for pretty and they're ok with it.  I might even manage a few more!