Tagged: needlework

Good Fortune – Summer Dreaming, the story of a quilt

Way back in May, at a craft fair, I attend most months, I was approached, thanks in no small part to a runty  border collie puppy, by a lovely couple who spotted my Good Fortune bed runner.

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They loved the warmth of the colours and the busy look of the juxtaposed strips but they wanted it bigger, with more piecing.  Of course, I said I could do it, not knowing if I could even get the fabric.  As it turned out, I couldn’t actually find the fabric I needed in the UK and found it on Etsy – as luck would have – the three jelly rolls that I had worked out that I needed to make the super king size quilt they wanted.  We agreed on a 8ft x 10ft (96″ x 120″) quilt as they wanted not too much over hang but I wanted to give them enough for a pillow tuck.  Anyway the rolls were ordered and I was able to use a local ebay based fabric shop for the border and backing fabrics.


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It took a little while for the fabrics to make the journey over from the States and it arrived in mid June.  To give me the size I wanted, I went with 5 strip blocks (not sure if this counts as Rail Fence, perhaps someone can let me know). I knew they wanted “the more pieces, the better” so was not worried about it being too busy for the, I was a bit concerned about the green fabric, not because it isn’t beautiful, but people react to green in very disporate ways, a bit like marmite.  It’s my favourite colour but would it suit my couple?

Any way the strip set piecing began; I’ll accept a small slapped wrist for not trimming my selvedges before I started but I had a method and it worked for me.

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So strips were sewn together and pressed so that all most of the seams went in the same direction! Then pressed flat.  Then the strips were cut into 4 10 1/2 inch blocks.

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Sets were sewn and blocks were cut until I had 80 blocks and then the assembly began; strips of 8 blocks sewn together and then, the ten 8 block strips sewn together to make the main quilt top.  It seemed enormous.  It’s the biggest quilt I have made, the previous being a quilt for my king size bed (6’6″ square). But as I finished the main piecing the weather changed from sunny-but-cool to hot, hot, hot!

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The weather helped me though: I was able to spread the quilt top out on our lawn to measure for the borders.  It had a grey narrow border, a pieced, scrappy border and a wide grey border.

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Luckily the weather lasted, I don’t think I could have easily made it last year with the continuous monsoons we had as I have nowhere in the house big enough to spread it out.  Once the border were on I spread it out again to measure for the backing.  Sadly I didn’t remember to take a picture of the backing which in the end I pieced with a rectangle of the grey, to break up the green, my nerves were still present, obviously. It looked lovely though.

Anyway the finished quilt top looked like this:



It was pinned flat but was a bit blowy and very, very hot..  Scrabbling round the garden pinning it to the turf was no mean feat, and the next day, making the quilt sandwich in the same way, my new neighbours must think I’m a bit bonkers.  I pinned it securely in position and then basted it properly the next day.

I still hadn’t decided how to quilt it, I favoured an all over largish  stipple to counteract the geometric lines but my clients were a bit dubious, or unsure.  In the end I decided to use a geometric design, but chevrons at 2 inch spacing.   I must admit to almost taking it all out at one stage because it was so hot, and the quilt was so big and heavy and I knew that the free motions stipple would have been quicker!  I had hoped to have it finished in three to four weeks but I phoned my lovely customers and apologised for the slow progress but I was finding I could only quilt for about 15 minutes at a time.  They were very understanding and as soon as the weather cooled a little I was able to complete it.

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The scrappy border was added and then the quilt was washed, I speed hand sewed the border to the back as the forecast was promising rain and I wanted to dry it outside in the fresh air.

I am delighted with the finished quilt, in love with all Kate Spain’s designs, and am happy to report that my lovely clients have added this beautiful thing to the other lovely things they have in their beautiful home.



Bony fingers

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In the dim and distant days of my childhood, when readymeals were new-fangled Americanisms and you had to wait for the television to warm up before watching it, there was a song played by Terry Wogan with monotonous regularity that went something like this “Work your fingers to the bone, what do you get? Bony Fingers!”

I’ve woken up with this in my head this morning and I’m sure it has to do with the fact that I’m currently sewing a set of patio suite covers for a client which are going fine but I’m hating.  It’s not really my bag.

I have a gorgeous bed runner I’m currently working on in Deb Strain’s Spa using a Missouri Star big star technique.  My hands, my fingers, are itching to get back into it but I have to finish this set of covers by the weekend.

I also have 3 layer cakes in Harvest Moon sitting waiting to be turned into a “Hannah & Richard quilt” – this is to go with “Hannah’s quilt” that she already has but is for a single bed.  Hannah is moving to Bristol tomorrow and I hope that they will both be very, very happy.  He is a lovely man and makes her happy.

You would think that I would just get on with the blasted set of covers but it’s a bit like going back to the woven mat I had to do in needlework at school.  I wasn’t allowed to move on to the next thing until I had finished it but I hated it – it took me 9 months to finish in the end, it was a double sided six inch circular mat of woven wool and it took me a whole school year to finish.  I really can go slow with things when I don’t like them. Bleugh.

UK Quilters – where to start


We have a wonderful history of traditional quilting in the United Kingdom wonderful Welsh quilts, wholecloth quilts and paper pieced quilts.  Great information about these local traditions is held by the Guild of Quilters of the British Isles.  When I have some spare money, I will be joining.

If, like me, the idea of of all those little bits of paper and fabric and those hand turned seams is a bit intimidating you might take a look at American style quilting instead.

I must admit to trying to do the little hexagons when I was a child, and it may be that I do have a lot more patience at this ripe old age but somehow I doubt it.

I started using precuts (mostly by Moda as these are the most affordable here) as I was not confident with scissors and cutting out, the fact that all that was done for me was a real boon.

The Moda Bakeshop gives some great inspiration and projects are graded on difficulty and I have been very inspired by the tutorials I have watched by the Missouri Star Quilt Company and their video tutorials.  Jenny Doan has a wonderful way of making it seem simple and achievable.  It’s a great starting point.

I have made things I would never have imagined I could achieve and Free Motion Quilting has become something of a favourite after intially terrifying me.

I now belong to a wonderful group of quilters on Etsy, mostly from North America, all different and inspirational.  Please visit the team shop, not necessarily to buy but to be inspired by their talent and creativity

Not drowning but waving …

Well after almost a year, here I am again.

The move and its on and offness got a bit much and I decided to stay quietish for a bit.  We are now quite settled, John’s gone to look at studio space this morning and I’m working on a commission for a customer.

He’s recently been accepted as an exhibiting artist at Flameworks, so barring any neurological surprise we are now making progress.

I have been busy while I’ve been quiet and below is a selection of the lovely things I’ve managed to create:












Lots of things of wended their way off around the globe, including an enormous crochet blanket.  All my stuff is available for sale over in my Etsy shop.  So if you know me, stop by and say hello.

Paint the whole world with a rainbow

As you know, to say that I have become quilt obsessed is something of an understatement.  This has now extended to making treasuries on Etsy too – although those pictures look kind of quilty too.  The commission for the table runner and placemats is underway for a Mrs B of Tavistock and I attended a much better Craft Fayre on Saturday organised by Year 6 of a primary school; they had even arranged the Military Wives Choir who sang right in front of my stand and were wonderful.  My latest treasury is called “Paint the Whole World with a Rainbow” some of you may remember this phrase, fondly or otherwise!  There’s nothing of mine in there just beautiful quilted items from my fellow Quiltsy team members.

This last week I have been making a Noddy quilt from panel I found on Ebay and have upcycled – it was sold as new but I think has been cut down from a duvet cover?  Anyway, I’m delighted with the finished item which is here:

 The quilting on the back looks lovely too.  The dotty blue fabric is from the Maisy Mouse range by Andover fabrics – I think this is now discontinued but in the depths of deepest Devon, Ashburton to be precise, can still be found.  There are more pictures here, in my Etsy shop.

In other work the tea cozy at the top is made of Domestic Bliss by Moda charm squares.  I used six for each side, pieced them by machine and then wadded and backed them with a pink gingham check.  I used a tea plate to round off the corners and then quilted both sides in a simple diamond design.  I bound the bottom edges of the front and the back before constructing the cosy and then pinned the two pieces together and machine sewed the binding to the top seam.  This was then hand finished on the reverse.

If you would like full instructions – leave me a comment and I will see what I can do – it’s simple and fun to make and sits nicely on my 2 pint pot.  I’m over to have a gander at the clever new things over at Handmade Monday.  You should go too.

Stitching in the blood … with Handmade Monday

Way back in 1921 Margaret Morrison and her two sisters and older brother were orphaned, losing their coal miner father to an obstructed bowel.  Their mother had died the previous year and they were left alone.  John, the oldest at 17, reported the death to the Registrar and the family left their tied accommodation to go to their nearest family in Edinburgh.  They couldn’t all be accommodated with their grandparents and in order to stay together they set up home on their own.  Margaret was 13 and Christie and Bessie were between Margaret and John in age.

John joined the merchant navy and Margaret became apprenticed to a dressmaker.  Between them, Margaret and John paid for the home and set about paying for Christie and Bessie to become nurses.  They both became nurses, Bessie became a very senior Matron in a number of large hospitals around the country.  There was some kind of rift during or just after world war two and Christie became estranged from the rest of the family – if you know anything of  Christie Morrison born circa 1905 in Bannockburn, Linlithgowshire, Scotland I would be delighted to hear it.

Margaret Morrison was my grandmother.  Her full name is a bit of a mouthful, Margaret MacLennan Morrison MacLachlan, and she has been gone for long time, having died in 1981.  Whenever I am stitching I think of her.  She worked for most of her life and I wish that I had her treddle singer.  I have one small piece from her home.  A pottery cat string holder which hung on the wall of her kitchen where we sat together when I was very small watching with fascination as she removed her rollers.

I hope she would think I have done a good job on the bag above.  It is made from alternately pieced 2 1/2 inch strips of fabric which are then pressed and pleated to conceal the contrast fabric. The pleats are partially stitched so that the contrast fabric can be glimpsed.  It has had cotton wadding added to give it some body and the top has been bound in black bias binding and hand stitched.  there are two imitation leather handles attached with vintage green silk twist.  It is lined with matching cream fabric.  I have been thinking about it for a couple of weeks and I’m very pleased with the way it’s turned out.  It really is lovely to be able to make things  and to share the creativity of others – please visit Wendy and the crowd for another Handmade Monday extravaganza – I’m a bit early but won’t have time to post tomorrow.

Sunday Blues featuring Handmade Monday 51

It’s a soft, grey, January day here in old Plymouth town and there was some talk of snow on an earlier weather forecast.  I will believe it when I see it.

I have just checked the metoffice site and there is a weather warning – perhaps, perhaps not.  It looks like my travel plans for tomorrow may be cancelled.  I was quite looking forward to a day out – what a shame.

Friday saw the arrival of some lovely bits of fabric on which I have spent far too much money.  I bought some more fabric for a bag (3 different designs). Included in this stash is a new jelly roll which, as a pennance for indulging myself, I had mad an agreement (with myself) that I couldn’t start it, couldn’t even unroll it, until I had finished the Puttin on the Ritz jelly roll.

I started out to make another small quilt but I had 15 strips left and once I had started sewing it was clear that it wasn’t enough.  So this is what I made instead.

It’s a baby changing bag 14x12x6 with a matching changing mat, comme-ca:

So now, as well as finishing the Boy Blue quilt, I can embark, comparatively guilt free, on new quilt journeys.  I have some lawn prints waiting to be turned into a pinwheel quilt, I have some Sherbert Pips collection which are going to be one with stars made of 4 patch blocks and half square triangles and I have the Morris & Co ones which I am keeping for me.

They will form the quilt for our new bedroom in what hopefully will be our dream new home.  If you all send prayers or positive thoughts or good vibes I’m sure that can only help.

When you’ve finished with all that malarky – why not pop over to Wendy’s Handmade Monday, I know Ros‘ tutorial will be one not to miss.  Happy Sunday everyone.