In the Pink

Last night I finally finished my pink quilt. This is for a friend whose going through challenging times and when I asked her what her favourite colours were she said pink and red. I went for a pink quilt.

The pattern is a disappearing 16 patch, have a look at my last post on the quilt if you’d like to see the process, it’s actually a very simple block. Here’s the finished top waiting to be quilted…

Not my best photo but you get the gist!

I found a Rose and Hubble fabric for the backing which was perfect, with shades of pink and turquoise leaves. I like the Rose and Hubble fabrics for backing too as although they’re described as a poplin, which I think of as quite crisp, they’re actually quite fine and soft. What I didn’t realise until later is that the line of leaves actually isn’t straight, it slowly drops across the width of fabric – it’s not an issue on a quilt really, but just imagine if you’d made a dress – the hem would be a nightmare!!

It’s the first quilting I’ve done on my new machine and I’m pretty pleased. The extra space to the right of the needle makes such a difference, it never felt squashed up, even when I was quilting in the centre. I initially had a few problems with stretches of missed stitches, but I got out the instruction book, increased the needle size and went on a medium speed instead of fast and the stitching was perfect.I also stitched using a glide mat, this came with a quilting ruler I’d bought and I have to say it’s a game changer! It’s a slippy silicone mat which is slightly tacky on one side to stay put on your machine bed, it has a little hole for the needle to go through, but the top is very slippy. This meant the fabric was so much easier to guide through – quilting is hard work for the shoulders, but this seemed to make it a lot easier, especially for free motion quilting.

I used a pink, purple and turquoise variegated thread for the top thread and a pale pink for the bobbin. I stitched a quarter inch either side of the long diagonals first. I then did free motion quilting with a large flower in each four square block. The diagonal lines needed a bit more in them, so I stitched a four leaf shape on the centre of the cross and also the half way point where there’s a little hour-glass block. I originally thought of trying the new quilting rulers for the border, but after a quick practice I decided I needed a lot more! Instead I stitched a wave pattern on the pink border. This is actually more apt as my friend likes open water swimming and lives at the seaside.

I was originally planning to do a scrappy border, mainly because I didn’t have enough of one colour to edge it. I decided however to use the backing fabric instead,I’m pleased with the lighter binding.

All that was left was a name and a label. All quilts need a name, I pondered on a few, like A Yorkshire Hug, Strawberries and Peaches (too long!) then the phrase In the Pink came to mind, I did google it to check it’s actual meaning and it means feeling in the best of health, which seems fairly apt as I’m sending her the quilt hoping she will soon be feeling ‘in the pink’.

Tomorrow I’ll parcel it up and pop it in the post.

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I get a Whoop Whoop

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Bethlehem Embroidery SAL

It’s three weeks since I shared my Bethlehem embroidery, this is the piece from a workshop I did last year with Deborah Mullins. She was keen to stress it was’inspired by’ not a true representation of Bethlehem embroidery, which is considered to be the finest of the regional Palestinian embroidery styles. Last time I was just finishing the copper wire coils…

I ordered some more perle threads, found the ones originally provided in the workshop, and debated how to finish it. I was tempted to go more down my usual repetoire of stitches to complete it, rather than predominantly couching which seems to dominate this style of embroidery. I then happened to mention the embroidery to one of our doctors at work who is Palestinian. He was so enthusiastic and keen for me to meet his wife (once social restrictions are relaxed) as she is very keen to keep the embroidery traditions alive, that I haven’t the heart to not finish it ‘properly’!!

I started to couch some turqoise variegated perle thread around the spirals, using a soft copper colour to couch it down. I liked the first spiral and initially I liked the second spiral…until I tried to continue on to the third one. Palestinian embroidery is traditionally done with one long continuous thread, if you look at the bookmark below which I made in a previous Deborah Mullins workshop, each side with the flowers, hearts and loops is done with a continuous thread…

…so I tried to have it contiuous which meant couching either side of the spiral. The first one (second spiral!!) didn’t look too bad, but the third one was much closer together so it really wasn’t going to work. I then decided to stop each thread at the Y junction and restart in the centre. I think it looks much better.

Once I’ve stitched the last two spirals and sorted out the second and third one, I can then work out another couching pattern to fill in the spaces. I can’t quite decide between leaves or hearts! There’s also another row of chevron stitch to go on the border between the orange and the teal background. So still a fair bit of work to do!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis of Stitching by the Sea, we post our progress on our chosen projects every three weeks. Please follow the links to see what everyone else is stitching.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

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Toying with Tyvek

Whilst I was reorganising my sewing room I decided one way of tidying up was to complete another box from the Stitchbook Collective – as I said before, I’m easily distracted!! The next one on my to do pile was on Tyvek. I was interested to try it as it’s something I’ve heard a lot about – some people at myEmbroiders Guild enthuse about it.

I’m not sure exactly what tyvek is made from but it comes in either paper of fabric form, both feel quite papery, but one notable feature of both is that you can’t tear it. If you hold it up to the light you can see lots of fibres within the tyvek.

Our first job was to cut the two samples into four pieces. These were then coloured with different media, I used watercolour, silk paints, Inktense pencils and for something completely different, highlighter pens! The tyvek is then place between two sheets of greaseproof paper and a hot iron is hovered above. The tyvek suddenly shrinks and changes into weird textured pieces. If you hover too long then the whole thing will disappear! It’s another of those completely random crafts where you have no way of planning what it’s going to turn out like!

I chose two pieces I thought I could create something with and had a delve around in my textiles box. This was my base just stitched down with running stitch…

Tyvek is a bit weird to sew, it’s a bit like trying to sew soft plastic. In the end I used fly stitch, following the patterns from the tyvek. I added some trims, the twisted one is like that because that’s how it came out of the drawer and it didn’t seem to want to straighten out, I liked that effect. So this is my finished piece – very experimental I would say!!

For my second sample I simply stitched four of the other pieces onto the calico so I would remember the different effects you can get with tyvek.

It was interesting to have a play with tyvek, but I can’t say I’ll be rushing out to buy any in a hurry, mainly because it just doesn’t suit my style of embroidery. At least I know what it is now in case in the future I suddenly get an experimental mood!! This is what I’ve enjoyed about the Stitchbook Project, trying out lots of different techniques and textiles. I’m already half way through the next box – on Couching and Laid Work

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Memories of June

Early yesterday morning I managed to finish the wordplay for June, the one that goes with the Anthea Calender SAL by Faby Reilly. I was just in time before July was released later in the morning.

June’s SAL was cornflowers, it’s a beautiful vibrant blue design. I shared it here a couple of weeks ago..

What I didn’t realise until Faby kindly mentioned it, is that I’d completely forgotten to add the french knots and the beads! So yesterday I finished it properly, it makes such a difference, it’s gorgeous!

Trying to think of words to include in the wordplay wasn’t easy, I haven’t exactly done much recently apart from sewing and gardening! I’m trying to keep these covid free whilst still reflecting the times. In the end I stopped trying to think of what June has been like this year, and thought about what I remember of past June’s.

Centaura is the latin name for the cornflower, I’ve only got the perennial cornflower in the garden and that gets a bit sprawly and needs keeping under control! Roses are usually coming into their best in June, we’ve got probably over 30 roses in our garden, not counting the hedge.

We always enjoy watching the birds visiting the feeders near our condervatory. We’ve had lots of bluetits in June as the parents brought their brood to feed. It reminded me of a line in a book I read last year ‘Oh look, someone’s opened a can of bluetits!’ One of the fledglings nearly flew into the conservatory after feeding on the perspex feeder we have attached to the window, it was right next to an open window and before we knew it the little thing was perched in the open window looking round. Luckily it decided to fly out rather than in!

The phrase in the middle is by Jenny Uglow. The full quote is ” We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course, it’s our garden that is really nurturing us. ” It seemed particularly apt for the moment, as if I’m feeling fed up with the current situation then I do feel a lot better after a session in the garden.

My walking buddy and I often do our long distance walk in June as the weather is usually decent and the days are long, without having the inevitable price hike on accommodation once school holidays start. The hay is usually being cut and neatly stacked, the calves are getting frisky in the fields and we’re always extra vigilant if the path goes through their field – we once had a detour of a couple of miles due to frisky calves and their protective mums.

Up in the Yorkshire Dales the wildflowers meadows are beautiful, full of buttercups, poppies, cornflowers to name but a few. I think the farmers get a special grant to delay cutting the hay so the meadows are protected, it gives the flowers chance to set seed ready for next year.

Last month we also had the saga of the bumble bee nest! A swarm decided to take up residence under the eaves outside our front room window. I rather enjoyed watching them, however the workman who came to give us a quote for replacing our soffits was not so impressed, even after I reassured him (with fingers crossed!) that they would be gone in a matter of weeks, long before he was planning to do the work. I love seeing bumble bees and refused to ‘deal’ with the nest, we need as many bees as we can. They were short term residents to my relief, but then whilst working in the front garden last week we noticed some smaller bee activity around the nest, like lots of them! We had a few concerned hours thinking another swarm had moved in, luckily they were obviously just raiding the nest as the next day they were gone!

We’re now half way through the SAL, I’m making mine into a book so these wordplays will be on the facing pages. Here’s six months of wordplays…

The design for July has just been released and it’s pretty bunches of lavender with butterflies. There’s lots of french knots though, I’ll be doing them in my sleep!

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Sewing Room Pictures

Over the last few days I’ve been reorganising my sewing room, I’ve been mulling it over for a while as the previous layout just wasn’t working. I decided at the weekend to rearrange the cupboards, then if I’m happy, I’ll make it a bit more permanent. More about that later, it’s still a work in progress as you can see but so far, so good…

Of course when I’m moving everything round, emptying cupboards and drawers I find stuff, get distracted, you know what it’s like! Propped up in the corner I found an Ikea box frame, still in it’s packet, I think my daughter gave me it when she was having a clear out. I realised the aperture was a perfect size for a sewing themed card a good friend had sent me after attending my quilt in a day class. The card had been stood on the windowsill ever since as it’s so pretty. I stuck it in the frame but it needed something else…

As a box frame there’s room for little things in front of the mount, I started looking round for bits, an old thimble of my mums, a handmade label and some buttons. Somewhere I have a box of vintage cotton reels, but of course I haven’t found that box yet! In the meantime I found some wooden reels, I’m tempted to wrap a little ribbon or lace round them but for the time being they’re plain. I then had the idea of standing a couple of long pins in one of the spools…

I like it, it’s all a bit temporary as nothing is attached, so if it is tipped, the whole lot will change, but I think it will make a nice addition to my sewing room.

This friend clearly knows me too well too, at the weekend she sent me a link for the virtual classes being set up instead of the live ones at the Festival of Quilts. I’d managed to ignore the direct e-mail they sent but of course temptation was too great once I’d followed the link. I’m now booked on to two live classes on zoom, they’re £15 each, so I’ll let you know how I get on. I’m doing Folding Circles with Jennie Rayment and Machine Embroidered Landscapes with Wendy Dolan. Follow the link if you fancy learning something new.

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

Our weather is very unsettled at the moment – blazing hot one day (well, hot for us!!) and then a drop of 15 degrees, thunder and hail the size of £2 coins the next day! The poor flowers don’t know whether they’re coming or going! I managed to take a few photos before the hail hit them…

My roses are just starting to look good, they’re a bit late this year as I was so late pruning them. This one is called Lark Ascending, it’s a beautiful delicate rose with a gorgeous scent, it’s up in the autumn bed at the top of the garden. It will be quite a big shrub when it going.

You can see it from the amber & Amethyst garden, mingling with the foxgloves and the perennial cornflower …

The foxtail lillies are looking quite spectacular, I’m still quite amazed that I’ve managed to grow these! Next to them is another David Austin rose called Port Sunlight and behind it you can still see the little dark orange flowers of a geum, that one has been flowering it’s socks off since early spring!

Along the back border of our garden I’ve planted a hedge of wild roses, they’re just coming into flower now. Underneath them I’ve planted varius perennials to try and keep the weeds from creeping in from the old railwayline behind. There’s alchemilla mollis, geraniums, self sown feverfew. It looks rather pretty at the foot of the roses…

One of my favourite roses in the garden is called Champagne Moments, we bought it when we got married. I think it’s a great rose, it’s tough, healthy and flowers well, it hasn’t got the strongest of scents, but it’s still smells nice. I’ve given quite a few as presents too. There’s actually three rose bushes here, planted closely to look like one big bush. It’s something David Austin recommends and I’ve done it several times when funds allow, it does make for a good show!

As well as roses, we have lots of self-seeded annual poppies at the moment, the lovely purple ones, they come in all shades from almost white to quite a dark purple. I let them come up all over the garden, even in the middle of paths. I make sure they’ve set seed before I pull them up at the end of the year.

Another plant I have dotted about the garden is veronica, I do like the intense blue spires, they pretty much look after themselves too. This one is in the amber & amethyst garden, it looks quite striking next to the alstromeria and the pieris.

One of my friends is a professional gardener, I’ve finally succumbed and asked her to come and help me, just a morning a month. We’re tackling the front garden at the moment and it’s made such a difference, we’ve cleared the top area, she’s bringing her rotavator next time, then I can put some membrane down, make a path and plant some shrubs. Just having someone working along side is such a motivator and it’s great to have someone else to bounce ideas off. In the meantime, I just need to try and keep up in the back garden!

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Spring Orchards

I started a new embroidery kit a couple of weeks ago, it was meant to be my stitch anywhere project, i.e the one that’s in my handbag for stitching when I’m out of the house. However, it’s crept into becoming my go-to stitching at home too as I’m enjoying it.

It’s a kit I bought a couple of years ago in the embroidery shop in Grassington further up Wharfedale. If I visit a little shop like that I like to buy something to support them this caught my eye as it reminded me of the walks my friend and I have done up in the dales when the blossom trees have been in full bloom.

It’s needlepoint rather than cross-stitch so it’s stitched on canvas. It’s a bit smaller than I realised, though a better size for me really, the finished embroidery will be 11cm square. One thing that appealed was the use of different stitches to get the different textures, there’s french knots and long stitch as well as tent stitch.

I had to stitch the centre in tent-stitch first, then add the extra stitches before moving on to the border. I’m probably about half way through all the french knots, I’m making some of them a bit bigger than the instructions say, but they’re coming out more like the photo on the front. I don’t find it as easy to count tent stitch as opposed to cross-stitch, and fitting in the long stitch neatly is a whole new ballgame – the tent stitch coves the cross-over point of the canvas, whereas the long-stitch lies between the holes, so I just fudged a bit where needed.

I love the dry stone wall and the gate in particular, the gate is made to stand out by stitching over a long stitch, so it’s just raised a bit.

I’ve just started the outer border to give me a rest from all those french knots as well as the concentration working out where each one is meant to be!

By the way, the kit is by Derwentwater Designs, they are a company based in the Lakes, they have some lovely kits sold by a lot of independent shops, I couldn’t find a website specifically for them.

Linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, follow the link to see lots more sewing inspiration.

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A trio of Blocks

Each month I’m making three blocks to be mailed around the world for Foot Square Freestyle block swop party, I’m usually scraping in at the end of the month and June was no exception!

June was Monike’s turn and her colour scheme is indigo with accents in golden yellow and hot pink. I ordered a couple of fat quarters for the accent colours but I remembered in my stash I had a charm pack (5″ squares) in shades of indigo with a sort of Japanese (???) style print. I bought it from a Quilters destash page some time ago.

I flicked through my 365 quilt blocks book, I was limited to ones that were based on at least 9 squares, due to the 5″ squares of fabric, though accents could be any size. I felt the colour scheme lended itself to more modern blocks than I tend to do – taking part in this sort of project does make you sew out of your comfort zone – both colour and pattern-wise. This was my first one…

There was only two or occasionally three of each print, so I didn’t have enough to be too fussy about the direction of prints, though I did try and choose ones where it wouldn’t be too obvious, though I’ve only just realised that none of the squares match on the bottom right block, two were meant to but I think it possibly looks better for none matching than half!! . It looks more like a red/orange in the photo, but it is a lovely magenta really.

The second block just had an hourglass block in the middle in the accents, it was interesting trying to sort the charm squares out into lights and darks etc…

I realised a lot of the squares I now had left were quite linear in design, I graded them according to tone and found an ideal block pattern in my book…

This month we’re making blocks for Robin in shades of blue and yellow, so it could be a nice summery block. Do have a look over at the F2F website to see what everyone else has been making.

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In the Pink

I seem to be in pink mode at the moment!

I’ve a few projects on the go at the moment and one of them is a quilt for a friend, she’s going through difficult times at the moment so I thought I’d make her a quilt. I asked her what her favourite colours are and (to my surprise) she said red and pink. I decided to concentrate on the pink!

I’m not very keen on buying fabric on line, but needs must, I don’t find it easy to see if the colours work together. I had a look at the wool warehouse site and found you could pull the ones you liked onto a wish page and check how they worked before you bought, it did help. My starting point was the one with butterflies, this gave my the turquoise second colour as well as including several shades of pink. The ‘plains’ with the bubbles on is Lewis & Irene blueberry range, I’ve used it quite a bit recently. In this case I’ve decided they’re bubbles as she likes swimming, especially in the sea! I also realised when they arrived that the teal one with the blue flowers on has also got tiny octopi on it! The coral pink one I admit if I’d been in a shop choosing, I probably wouldn’t have included it, however it’s exactly the shade of some of the butterflies and also flowers on the pale blue one. In real life it doesn’t look quite so orangy, it’ll be fine!

I wanted a fairly quick block, I decided on a disappearing 16 block. The quilters amongst you have probably heard of the disappearing 9 and 4 blocks, this is made along the same lines. The block pattern is for sale on the UKQU site, it’s by Lyn Butler, she’s made it into a gorgeous Christmas mat with lights and darks from a charm pack.

Rather than light and dark, my fabrics worked better as pink or turquoise. I cut a couple of 5″ squares in each fabric and had a play arranging them. Once I was happy I stitched them into a block of 16. I used the chain piecing method which is where you don’t actually cut the threads between the blocks, you just stitch one row of pairs, then add a third square to each row and so on. It does make it easier and there’s no threads to snip!

Once it was all pressed it was time for the scary bit! I cut it either side of the diagonal line, turning the board rather than moving the block. The diagonal strips were then moved round one space and the block was re-stitched. After my first block I retrieved my Best Press spray from downstairs and sprayed each block liberally, all theses second seams are on the bias, so you do have to be careful not to stretch the fabric. The starch made a big difference.

If you decide to make this pattern and you want it a little bigger, one thing to bear in mind is the size of the first set of blocks. I thought about using 6″ squares so a set of 9 blocks would make a good sized throw without a border. I only decided against it as my fabric was 21″ wide, so 6″ blocks were a lot more wasteful than 5″ blocks. However, having made my 16 block up, it only just fitted on my A2 cutting board and my 24″ ruler was only just long enough. The bigger blocks would have caused problems.

Once the blocks were re-sewn, they measure 17.5″, I made nine altogether and decided on the final layout. With only nine blocks it didn’t take long to stitch them together. I concentrated on getting the square intersections matching rather than the diagonals, I decided they wuld be more obvious if they missed. Some of the diagonals are perfect, some not so!

I wanted it slightly bigger, I had just enough fabric to have a one inch border in the turquoise and a two inch border in pink, I had to use both shades of pink, so I made the corners darker.

I’m pleased with it so far, I’m just waiting for some backing fabric to arrive so I can finish it and post it off to my friend.

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As Busy as a Bee

Last week I decided to make a little present for my MIL, she always admired my bumble bee pincushions, but having stitched it three times already, I wasn’t sure I was ready to stitch it again just yet. I also realised it was also a lot smaller than many people realised – the bee is only about 2″ square!

Whilst I was having a bit of a sort out during lockdown, I found a lovely panel of a bumble bee in a furnishing weight fabric, together with a co-ordinating piece for the backing, isn’t it gorgeous! I bought it at a quilt shoe with the idea of making my mum a cushion,before I realised just how many cushions she had in her room at the time! It was perfect for my MIL.

I decided it needed some kind of simple trim such as piping, just to finish it. I found some thick piping cord in my stash and some smudgy dark drey/black quilting cotton. I cut some bias strips, covered the cord and stitched it round the front panel.

If I’m making cushions for myself, I often don’t put an opening in such as buttons or a zip, I just stitch it up and if it needs cleaning I unstitch it again. However as this was a gift I thought I ought to do it properly! I cut the backing piece in half so it would overlap, finnished the edges and then stitched the front and back together. I found some bee tape in my stash which worked really well for ties, I even managed to alternate the colour of bees across the three pairs of ties.

I had an 18″ cushion pad, so my bumble bee cushion was complete, ready for delivery in an afternoon…and she loves it 🙂

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