Tag Archives: easy quilting

The Doll Conspiracy

12 Aug

First an update on my Pirate Quilt. You may remember it. If not here is a reminder. Here is a link to one blog.   Here is another .

In it the ship is small but it occurred to me that a bigger ship on a wall hanging would also be a useful addition.

I also appiquéd the mariners compass as an alternative to an embroidery.

In a former life I made dolls and when I started quilting seriously I relegated the paraphernalia to a small section of my work area. (This small section is the size of many ‘3rd’ bedrooms in estate agent terms). I have been meaning to get in there and sort it out with the idea of trying to offload the moulds and made dolls so that I can put my frame in the room. It was only after I had done an inventory and photographed all the dolls that I realised just how much ‘stuff’ there is in there. What I really need is someone wanting to start a  doll making business who wants to buy a whole working studio. Then I just need to sell the dolls I have already made. In case you think  I am exaggerating take a look at this lot. It’s only a drop in the ocean but it’s a bit overpowering.

Kimmie mould  by Cindy Marschner Rolfe

From the Joey mould by Cindy Marschner Rolfe.

Another Joey

Angel Love by Cindy marschner Rolfe.

Theodore by Cheri Chagall with Donna Rubert 28″ body.

Christina.

Sylvie by Cheri Chagall.

Mimi by Cheri Chagall.

Crystal.

L’il Boo by Cindy Marschner Rolfe.

Lucinda

Cleo

Yvette

Ivan

Jenny

Emily

Chubbins

Sipho from Donna Rubert’s Flossie mould

June

Theodora from Theodore mould by Cheri Chagall.

Hannah Rose by Donna Rubert

Elmo

Aaron

There are some more on my web site nsaaquilting.co.uk

It’s not just the dolls or even the moulds. There are wigs, shoes, eyes, and goodness knows what else.

I  have come to the conclusion that life is too short. There are many more dolls I would like to make but I would have to live  several decades more and still be able to lift the moulds – unlikely. Then there is the quilting. So many quilts, so little time.

Blue Dogs, Green Birds, Pink Rabbits and a Game of I-Spy.

3 Aug

I have finished two more UFO’s this week. If I am not careful I might run out. I am getting the hang of the quilt frame now although I have decided that there is not really any scope for imaginative quilting. The space available is too small. I need to come into some money to buy a long-arm setup but as I have no rich relatives ready to leave me their worldly wealth I guess it won’t happen. That being the case I am getting to be a bit of an expert at meandering. I don’t have too many problem stitches these days but I have also discovered that washing the finished quilt evens up the stitching in the antiqueing effect. It also makes sure that all the years sitting in the UFO pile in various dusty locations are washed away leaving a clean fresh quilt. It has the added advantage that you know how it will look when it is washed.

The first was originally a BOM by Kookaburra Cottage. This link will take you to the BOM page on their site and lots of lovely examples of their particular style of design. I have loved them since the first one I saw. They are a bit pricey as a pattern which explains why I make more than one from each.

Little Macca’s Farm

Someone once told me I should label my quilts. Nothing looked right but then I got an embroidery machine and I have never looked back. Just give me an excuse and I will make a label.

The other quilt is an alphabet quilt. I wanted to use up all the charm squares of children’s fabric I had accumulated. Looking at it again after all these years I see that I made it into an I-Spy quilt of sorts too.

In case you are wondering how I achieved the ‘wonky’ effect, wonder no longer. Starting with the top of the centre square attach a strip of fabric to the edge. Attach another strip down the right side onto the new shape. Then the bottom, then the left side. You now have an ordinary upright  block bigger than you need. Make a template the size you want the finished block then place it onto your straight block at any angle desired and cut off the surplus with a rotary cutter. Easy Peasy.

Mustn’t forget the label.

The monkeys are from Oregon Patchworks on this link. There are lots of variations on the monkey embroidery. This one is an applique but there are some straight forward embroideries on the same theme.

Let me leave you with another set of views from where I live.

View Towards the Beach

The Beach

The Outer Harbour

Jeremy Fisher and Friends and Another Vanquished UFO.

21 Jul

This week I have been finishing a quilt based on frog fabric. I actually bought the fabric in  a shop in Trinidad. There’s a bit of name dropping for you. Before you go  green with envy, we went at Easter and it was closed. The only highlight was the revolving restaurant at the top of the hotel. It was a good job we went as there were not too many other people there.

As I finished it I realised that it wasn’t the only frog related item I had made over the years. I once made a quilt and matching bag based on the Peter Rabbit stories. As it wasn’t needed after all I still have it so I took a picture of the Jeremy Fisher alphabet block in faux cross stitch.

Also on the matching bag in normal stitching.

I also, at some time made a couple of frog characters when my Daughters were small. I don’t think anybody actually used them for anything but I haven’t got as far as the charity shop with them yet.

With the quilt as background.

Relaxing on the day bed.

He looks a bit miserable.

This one looks startled.

 

 

I also did some embroideries for a ‘Rainforest’ quilt that  I never somehow got round to. He is particularly fine.

Now for the purpose of the blog – the quilt.

As you can see it is a very easy pattern. Each small square is 2″ (2.5″ before seams) making 10″ finished and each frog square is also 10″ . The border of each square is either 2″ (2.5″) strips or 2″ (2.5″) squares. Add  2″, 1″ and 4″ borders and bind. How much easier could it be. As long as you watch your seam widths and match the seams it cannot fail to look good.

I think I may be getting the hang of the quilting frame. The size  of quiltable quilt on the frame at any one time is still frustrating but at least I can do a good job as long as I plan it. There are times though when I would love to do a really big design. Not,I fear something that will happen in the absence of a win on some game of chance. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath blue in the face not being an attractive look.

See this tip on one of my other posts for the ‘how to’ on seams.

I had occasion to make a wedding  anniversary card this week. If you are interested the embroidery comes from Emblibrary.com. under ‘Tweets’. There are lots of different ones. You need to scroll down about 5 designs then you will find all the different tweets. There are patriotic ones, boy scout ones, golf ones, birthday ones etc etc etc. As usual the digitising is faultless.

I decided to change all 15 needles on my embroidery machine yesterday. They didn’t appear to be a problem but some of them had been in rather a long time so I didn’t think it could harm. I was quite impressed with myself. They are usually a pain but once I had loosened the screws I managed to get them all in without a hassle. The reason they are a pain is that the shanks are round so could go in any way except that they can’t or they don’t work. The difference between front and back is obvious if you can see the thing but bionic sight would be an advantage. The screws were the problem. I had been working on the basis ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ but the tightness of some of the screws made it obvious they should have been changed before. Still, hopefully they should be fine for a while now. After all who needs a working wrist.

Been There, Got Several Teeshirts.

7 Jul

I don’t know whether anyone else has noticed but the variety in fabric design seems to have declined over the last few years. You may have noticed that my fabric of choice is bright and cheerful and if the colours clash a bit well it wakes me up in the mornings.

Take these fabrics I used in a Sunbonnet Sue quilt I blogged about some time ago.

Now whilst you might not want an outfit made from them, these fabrics work really well in applique. I did wonder if fabric companies are afraid to be too adventurous in case they can’t sell it, the price of cotton being what it is these days. It could be fashion, although the fabric companies by definition set  trends. It could just be the recession and general air of depression of course.  On the other hand a jazzy bit of fabric cheers me up no end.

Anyway, when fabric with a zing was available I bought it and here is one of the quilts I made with it.

This is a very good way to use up some of the smaller measures of fabric sold by retailers. There is also no reason why the sleeves could not be a different fabric. Another way of doing it would be to sew strips of fabric together or crazy patch some pieces from odd scraps. You could even use the logos from old tee-shirts or design your own and use printable fabric to make lots of miniature shirts. Only your imagination can hold you back once you start down that road.

See how it’s done? A rectangle of fabric with a neckline cut out and two more smaller rectangles for sleeves. This allows different fabric for sleeves or the same fabric in a different direction as on the striped shirt below.I used embroidery stitches to sew them on but satin stitch would be less likely to fray. It depends whether you like the ‘country’ look. As a rule I don’t but tee-shirts are allowed to fray. In fact walking down the high street I see a few holes might make them more authentic. If you are using the same fabric on the whole shirt you could just draft a full tee-shirt shape and cut it out in one piece. I would suggest you use either the three piece or the whole shirt method as a mixture might look strange. Not that I have ever tried, just making sure you think about it before committing all that fabric.

A few more.

To finish it off and draw it all together, matching corner squares.

Now tell me that didn’t cheer you up on a dismal day.

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

15 Jun

I have finished the pirate quilt. I wasn’t sure I liked it until I quilted it. It is amazing the difference it makes.

Here it is loaded on the frame. Thread colour chosen, bobbin colour chosen – and off we go

I am still at the meandering stage. I have lots of fabulous ideas about what I would like to do in the way of quilting. Unfortunately they mostly require the full sized area provided by a long arm machine and frame. The main problem is that unless you draw everything out in advance you could get to the bottom border and find you can’t repeat the same pattern as you stitched in the top border. Not only frustrating but also the ruination of the quilt. The reason for this is that as you progress and roll up the quilt under the machine arm the space left on which to work reduces. The only cure is a long-arm setup.  Still it beats stitch-in-the-ditch – much more fun.

View of the front and back of the quilt.

The finished Quilt.
Top Left.

Top Right.

Bottom Left.

Bottom Right.

Pilchards.

Walking the Plank.

Ship.

Compass.

The compass is an embroidery from Emblibrary.com

If you are thinking of using a piano key border and loading it onto a frame for quilting it might pay to consider that it may stretch as you roll  and quilt so stabilising first will help, otherwise you get a slightly twisted border. Just a heads up so it doesn’t creep up on you and ruin your quilt.

Now I just have to write up the pattern to go to the designer and then onto my web site. nsaaquilting.co.uk

The Wind in My Sails and a Parrot on My Shoulder

2 Jun

The next quilt is going to feature pirates. I am looking forward to getting my teeth into something new as I have been revamping some of my existing patterns for various reasons.

The first decision was what to use as a background. The one I wanted to use, although fantastic for a one-off was not going to go down too well as a pattern. It would have been too complicated and therefore probably not too popular. There are a limited number of people out there prepared to attempt the more complicated designs. If you make Mckenna Ryan patterns you may disagree but I don’t design art quilts, mine are for using therefore the method of construction used for them has to be more robust and therefore incorporated into the design. If you don’t know her work click on the link. Her designs are beautiful.

I decide to use a method of construction I have not put into any of my patterns so far. I am including a tutorial for those that would like to copy it. I used combinations of blues to represent sea and sky. I could equally have used greens for an island, browns for sand and blue for sea/sky to make it more detailed. I am going to be using it as a backdrop for several appliques so I decided to keep the background simple. I may experiment with alternatives when I have finished the prototype and am testing the pattern.

I am aiming at 8″ blocks and therefore each block needs to finish at 8.5″ to include the seam allowances before attaching each block to the next. The bigger your starting square the better but a normal width of fabric allows 10.5″ – 11″ squares to be cut without wasting fabric so this is what I did.

10.5″ – 11″ squares of two fabrics

The size doesn’t have to be exact as long as they are at least the required size.

Stack the two fabrics one on top of the other and slicing through both layers cut the shapes shown. They can be as random as you like as long as they are cut together and therefore identical.

Identical shapes cut from two squares.

This will give you two sets of identical shapes.

Swap the second and fourth shapes with each other.

Second and fourth shapes swapped.

This gives the same two squares but in two different colours. It is important to keep the layout the same as they are going to be sewn back into two identical squares. I can tell you from experience that if you get it wrong the best thing to do is throw it in the scrap bag and go onto the next one. Working out the correct sequence when you have lost it is not easy. This is especially true if it is the second one you are sewing as there is nothing to compare it to.

Stitch them back together as shown with a 1/4″ seam. Make sure it is not bigger than that or your square will be too small. There are a lot of seams in each square.

Pieces joined together into two shapes.

These will not now be squares as you have removed fabric from the width but not the length with the seams.

The next stage is to measure the pieces and decide what size you can make the finished blocks. they must all be the same so they need to be trimmed to match the smallest. If you have cut and sewn correctly you should be able to trim them to 8.5″. If this is not possible don’t get out the quick unpick. Life is too short to rip a seam. Just trim them all to the nearest measurement you can manage. Whatever this is they must all be the same.

Trimming the blocks.

I use a ruler and integrated cutter. Much safer than the usual ruler and separate cutter. It also keeps the blade at the right angle. they are not easy to come by but after much searching I found a new one a couple of weeks ago.

Once you have decided on the layout of your blocks sew them together in alternate directions. This way you only have to worry about matching the main seam, not all the ones on each triangle.

Sew blocks together in alternate directions.

The best way is to sew a row of blocks together then sew rows to each other. When you come to do this you want to make sure that the seams stay aligned so that your finished quilt does not have badly matched seams. T o make sure put a pin at right-angles to the cross seam through the upward seam making sure they are perfectly aligned. Do not remove this until the seam is sewn. As the pin is at right-angles the needle should skim over it. If you are nervous about that use a tacking thread to hold the seams in place before sewing. If your are using an overlocker this will obviously not work, it will damage the blade. The tacking method is a good one when using an overlocker. I often do use an overlocker to construct my quilts but as I will be applying appliques to this background I don’t want the seams to impede the sewing of the satin stitch so I am using the tried and tested method instead.

Pin at right-angles to cross seam and through vertical seams

This will give you a perfect matching seam.

Perfect Seam join.

When the rows are sewn together they look like this.

Finished background.

Bugs Squashed – Update

12 May

I have finished the bug quilt from the last post and quilted it. I am quite pleased with the result. I was going to stitch in the ditch as I couldn’t see a better way but I think the meandering fits the bill. See my last post for applique ‘How to’ instructions.

Up to now this is my second best selling pattern, Funky Farmyard being the most popular. If you want a copy go to http://nsaaquilting.co.uk

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Here We Are Again

30 Apr

The reason I have been incommunicado is that I have had a long holiday communing with nature and catching up with old friends.

The BC  and I went to the Lake district which is not normally a sensible thing to do in April considering April is known for showers and The lake District for deluges at the best of times. Strangely some of the South West sunshine must have accompanied us as we had a very pleasant week. The cottage was a bit quaint for my liking. Wood burners may be very rustic but they are a touch lung unfriendly. I am also not sure I really want all my clothes to smell of wood smoke. It is not a perfume Christian Dior is likely to be marketing soon.

Luckily I had quilts in the car so I was able to curl up and be cosy warm despite  temperatures lower than those I am used to. The BC didn’t use his so presumably I have been living soft.

Here is the quilt itself. Again it is one of my early ones and very fiddly so the piecing isn’t perfect but it works on a keeping warm level. I think it was before rotary cutters took off and each piece was individually cut out and stitched together. I believe there are easier ways to do this type of quilt now but I haven’t investigated that branch of piecing as yet. I am fast coming to the conclusion that life is not long enough to fit in the essentials never mind the rest.

The original pattern is ‘Judy’s Flower Patch’ by Judy Martin. It comes from the book ‘Scrap Quilts’ by her. The one in the book is a lovely double quilt. I made mine into a quillow as it is kept in the car and folds up into a pillow when not in use.

Here is the one the BC didn’t use but I still had to wash to get rid of the smokey smell. Simple but cheerful. (The quilt not the BC).

In case you don’t know what The Lake District looks like this is pretty much it. Some strange person seems to have crept into the picture. Do they have Leprechauns in The Lakes? Looking a little closer, could it be a gnome?

I have also just noticed that there isn’t actually a lake in the picture. This is because even in a district called The Lakes they are not everywhere. I believe this type of country is known as a Fell. Certainly didn’t do my feet a lot of good but I didn’t actually fall. The only problem was that BCs map reading seems to have gone off a bit over the last few years. I think we got lost just about every day. We even ended up climbing over a rather rickety looking dry stone wall at one point. Interesting but something perhaps better tackled a few years ago. Anyway, we survived the experience. The next time we got lost it was an erronious input into the satnav. Garbage in, garbage out as they are wont to say.

After the week in The Lakes the BC arranged to do a mystery tour via old friends. (I think he was trying to put a bit of excitement into my life). I was a bit worried I might not recognise any of them but it didn’t happen so that was alright. I quite enjoyed catching up with people. It is amazing how many years pass  unnoticed. It’s actually quite scary. I even visited one of my aunts and she is 102 and still cutting her own lawn and going shopping. There is hope for me yet as long as I inherited some of those genes.

The Importance of Being Earnest.

10 Mar

I must remember that irony is something not everyone understands. It doesn’t always travel the length of Britain so I guess I should have known it wouldn’t translate so well round The World. What you have to remember when reading my posts is that my way of getting through life involves a deal of self denegration and a modicum of self mockery. Probably something to do with placating fate but then let’s not get too deeply into that.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, I will not be using my Noah’s Ark quilt as a doormat. I have taken it apart though and will be re- quilting it. The replacement track for my quilting  frame has just arrived and I am letting it reach room temperature before installing it. That way, hopefully it won’t crack. I am still getting advice from various quarters about the standard of quilting and am hoping the new track will help. Everybody is being very helpful so hopefully we will get there.

Meanwhile perhaps you would like to admire my latest creation. I thought it was a bit mediocre before I quilted it but I think it has come up rather well. The quilting had defined it rather like the backstitch on a cross stitch picture. I am hoping my next quilt will be better but crossing ones fingers and manoeuvering the carriage on the frame are not compatible so let’s hope luck doesn’t come into it.

A few details

I tried to do a pastel quilt but  I am afraid this is the nearest I could get using my stash. I just don’t seem to do pastels. I now have much more fabric and so could probably do a paler version but it wouldn’t be me somehow. Anyway, apparently vibrant colurs are better for babies so that is my excuse.

I have spent the day packing panels and fat quarters for the Spring Quilt festival at Westpoint in Exeter. If you are in the area pop in. I wager you won’t be disappointed.

Smoke, Mirrors and Sleight of Hand

2 Mar

I finished the first quilt with my new machine,stitch regulator,carrriage combo. Am I happy? Nope. I can see no reason why I won’t get all the problems smoothed out and look back on the early times as a learning experience, at the moment though I am not a happy bunny. I finished one of my favourite tops and thought it was ok  until I looked closely then I found that I obviously haven’t got the hang of the setup. Happily, for the purposes of this blog you can’t see what I can see cos it is mostly on the back. I haven’t decided whether I want to unpick it all and redo it or even if that is possible at this point. However, you can pretend it is perfect and enjoy the result. I haven’t got a dog which is a shame because I gather that the dog’s basket is where all the failures go. It will probably end up gracing the floor when members of the small people class visit. Mind you it won’t get much wear under those circumstances. I don’t think that has ever happened now I come to think of it. I wonder what it would look like as a door mat.

It is a similar one to a top I showed you in July 2011. It is just different fabrics, same pattern. When you pay the price I did for the pattern(s) you make a few.

It is by Kookaburra Cottage and I kept fairly closely to the original colours as I liked them.

The Quilt.

Crocodile. Does it look to you as if he’s going to do the peanut tossing trick with a feathered substitute?

Monkey. I love the way he oozes into the other frame.

Zebra, believe it or not with perhaps a Tick Bird. I’m just an old romantic.

Someone commented that my zebra didn’t look like one so I tried again. Well what did you expect. Black and white is so passé. Blue is the new black – or is it white.

The Zebra

The Ark and the Dove of Peace. Looks like the sea is a bit choppyand I’m not sure why Noah is walking on water. He could get his socks wet.

Giraffe and Butterfly.

I did this as per the pattern but I wandered into the The Cotton Patch one day -not an easy feat when you live as far away as I do- and saw this fabric which I used in the next one. Much more authentic, I think you will agree. I have just spotted the potential for a bit of free motion on the background fabric.

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Hippo and Rhino with Parrot and Butterfly.

Lion and Friend. I’ve seen a lion close-up on a kill in the wild and I can tell you, even full of food they are not that friendly.

Elephant and Mouse. What’s to say – such a cliche.

Kangaroo and Rabbit. That relationship has me a bit bemused. Should have gone to Specsavers. (You might have to live in the UK to get that reference).

Is it my imagination or are fabrics not as interesting as they used to be. I suppose it could be that as it is now expensive companies are playing safe and not risking printing fabrics that might be too different. Unfortunately I am totally incapable of using dull colours.  Apparently this is unusual among those that live in  grey countries. (Daughter number one did her degree dissertation on the subject). I blame it on my exposure to Australian patterns whilst escaping from Papua New Guinea for short sortés and retail therapy. To be honest PNG has the potential to be sunny if only it didn’t rain so much.

Stop Press! I have had email exchanges about the stitch quality of my set up and I think that I have the answer. Basically I can sort out the looping problem but my expectations are too high. ‘C’est la vie ‘ as our Gallic cousins are wont to say. It still beats anything I could do with free motion quilting off the frame. In fact I don’t know how anyone does that. I could go back to stitch- in- the- ditch but it kills my shoulders and it’s a real pain trying to keep ‘in the ditch’ so to speak even with all the fancy gadgets I have purchased over the years. I have discovered that having my original ‘frame machine’ available off the frame with the purchase of the new one, I now have the facility to do echo quilting with a large throat machine. This helps somewhat if I could only keep the stitches straight.

The pile of OFOs has to diminish so watch me go.