Sunday, 30 October 2016

Free Motion Quilting - What I have learnt

As you know I love patchwork. I have made clothes and bags, but patchwork is my passion!
 
It all started back in 1996 when I spotted a patchwork quilt in a magazine and immediately bought a small cheep sewing machine. That fist king size quilt has pride of place in my bedroom and is still used to build dens!
 

Faded and worn, but a den building staple!
 
For  person who avoided sewing lessons at school because they were for girls that is quite an achievement!
 
When I started patchwork I was  determined hand quilter. I couldn't seem to get the machine to quilt in the way I wanted it to, so I stopped trying - I didn't realise I needed special feet and strong enough thread.
 
In 2011 that all changed when my youngest son requested a quilt for his birthday which was 3 weeks away. I undertook a self taught crash course in machine quilting. The joy of the internet is that you can find out pretty much anything and I was able to find out why my previous attempts had never worked. The quilt was finished at 2am on his birthday and he still pulls it out to snuggle under whenever he can.

The birthday quilt designed by mini.

My first attempt at free motion quilting!
 
So my free motion journey has been a relatively short one - especially placed in the context of the 20 years I have been making quilts. And it is a journey I have loved. In fact I often love the free motion quilting more than the patchwork.
 
As a sewing teacher I have taught free motion quilting to all my patchwork classes. Some students love the challenge and throw themselves in whole heartedly, whilst others give it a go and then run away screaming!
 
It is a hard skills to master - especially on a small domestic machine - but is one that is worth working on. My free motion is not perfect and nor do I ever expect it to be. I have the privilege of knowing that if I select a thread that matches the fabric I am working on then all of my faults will fade into the background of the quilt. They will add texture and interest. Even if the thread doesn't blend in the not so perfect pebble will look perfectly fine in a sea of not so perfect pebbles. They will all look amazing together!

'Mistakes' make up part of the whole design.

For beginner to free motion quilting this idea of just doing it, ignoring the little 'mistakes' and trusting the journey can be tough. It can cause a project to be rejected. But you must keep going, keep quilting, keep moving forward. Each time to quilt with our machine you are getting better. Each pebble will blend in with the other pebbles.  You will never reach perfection but you will create a unique quilt that will wrapped around you family and friends for many years - 20 years and counting in my household.
 
When in doubt - just keep quilting!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Making Changes.....

2016 so far has been a year of epic changes.... moving house and town, changing schools -twice and changing job!


As with any changes all of this has taken a toll on our family. We love where we now live in Stroud. It has taken 5 months but we finally feel at home. It is a great town with lovely walks into town and all sorts of lovely shops.

Image result for images of stroud

The rest of life is settling down, but we have had to make some changes. The boys have stopped Saturday morning activities for a little while - family time has been needed to help us all settle in.

And I have made the decision in the last 2 weeks that my creativity has taken a nose dive in the last 18 months through work pressures, teaching commitments and life! Like so many of you I can't function without being creative. It is part of my soul and without working on something creative my brain starts to suffer...... I suffer!

So..... I have decided to stop teaching. I love teaching and passing on my skills and creating fabric addicts! But I NEED to work on my own creations. I want to finish my City and Guilds, I want to create new items and I want finish my stack of half finished quilts.... I want to do something for me!

It has been a hard decision and I am heart broken to leave my students, but having made a commitment to look after myself more I feel better already.






Just some of the things I have been doing since my decision to slow down: crochet (3 blankets on the go at once), bread making and finishing the quilt top for my Tulip Medallion quilt.

Sometimes hard decisions lead to a happier life.... a hopefully a more creative life!

See you soon,


Friday, 26 August 2016

Making Progress: Quilt Design and Life

Over the last few months things have changed dramatically in the Quilting Along the Grain household!

Over the Easter break we were told we needed to leave our much loved home in Tetbury. Our landlord had decided to sell the house. Unfortunately the  rental rates in Tetbury had risen beyond my income so we had to make the heart breaking decision to leave Tetbury and start again somewhere...

After looking at our options we decided as a family that Stroud would be the best place for us - midi and mini attend groups here and maxi needs to the train line to get his new College in Swindon. As in most places rental properties appear on the internet and then disappear in hours so we were very fortunate to find a four bed Victorian terrace in our budget.

So four months on we are semi settled into our new home and life in Stroud. New schools and finding new friends has been a journey with lots of tears, but we are slowly putting down roots.

In the move I lost my beloved studio.... it really did make a weep! Now I have a very small space in my bedroom with lots of fabric in bags and equipment everywhere.

I have been focusing on the Medallion Quilt to get me through the settling in process. Sewing has always been my refuge when things around me are changing. It helps me to anchor myself when all around me is swirling.

Here is the progress I have made:


This is my new sewing area. I have managed to carve out a little space with some wall space to hang small design work. 



To the tulips I have added a round of Flying Geese and Economy Blocks in the corner.

I wanted to break up the ridged shapes with some colour so I added a layer of strips of colour.


The next layer is a round of different coloured foundation pieced stars.



I love the way that the quilt is growing and the fabrics by Blueberry Park are simply beautiful.

I think this is last layer of design and I am really excited to be entering the final phase of the patchwork design. Next to write the instructions for the quilt so I can start teaching the design in three weeks.

I hope you like it too!


Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Designing a Medallion Quilt

It has been a long while since I last made a medallion quilt.

I made  a Marcella Medallion by Alexia Abegg in 2014 for a fabulouc friend who turned 40. The quilt is being loved and used by my friend and family - including the dog!

When I finished the quilt I had plans to make another medallion quilt for another friend who also turned 40 in 2014. But I had run out of mojo and inspiration by then ,I couldn't find the right fabric and pattern. It felt like I was wading through design treacle!

Then I saw the Blueberry Fabric by Karen Lewis, and I was totally smitten!


I bought some grey Kona - Silver, Iron and Steel to be exact. I like the contrast in the brights of the pink/red and the grey. I then bought the plain Kona fabric to match the Blueberry Park and the Fog pattern from Blueberry Fabric. Now I have bundle of fabrics, both solid colour and patterned.

But what about a quilt design?

I wanted a central star again and I found the wonderful paper piece patterns by Wombat Quilts. If you have never visited Wombat Quilts you are in for a treat. Cath Hall as has gathered a fabulous collection of paper pieced patterns for anyone access. I love this one:


It is called Ellen's Snowball and there an instructions for 12" and 16" blocks. I have chosen the 16".

Next up was getting the quilt designed around the central block... for this the amazing app TouchDraw comes in very useful!


There is a mixture of simple sewing, paper piecing and some blocks I am still figuring out how to piece...

So the journey begins with a central star.... hopefully it will end with a finished quilt by October 2016 when my friend turns 42!



Saturday, 12 December 2015

Blueberry Park Fabric

It has been a long time since I last bought quilting fabric.

My tiny sewing fund has been limited to materials for my City and Guilds.

That all changed when I found out the lovely Karen Lewis of Blueberrry Park had her first fabric line coming out. It started a bit of an obsessive searching to find the prints and the things that people have been sewing with it!


I have a few scrap pieces of Karen's screen printed fabric which I am treasuring until I have the perfect plan for them, so I knew I HAD to have the collection of fabric.... but how to afford it?

Having just a few fat quarters wasn't going to cut it, I NEED to have the whole collection...

That's when the amazing UK shop that is Simply Solids came to the rescue. They have a wonderful monthly Blueberry Park club. Seven fabrics from the collection each month, over ten months. So I can get the whole range and spread the payments - what's not to love?!?!?

This week the first bundle from Simply Solids arrived and I am in love! Seriously in love!


The first seven are from the selection above and they are gorgeous!

I have a plan for them already. I missed a very dear friends 40th birthday last year. I had planned to give her a quilt, but I just didn't manage it. I want to design and make a medallion quilt for her and these fabrics are just perfect. Maybe I didn't manage it last year because I knew Karen was going to bring me inspiration with her fabulous fabric line!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Bunny Cushion!

The birthday party day has arrived and the present was finished with an hour to spare!



The pattern by Elizabeth Hartman was really easy to follow but the cutting out was quite intense because there are pretty small pieces of fabric!

I made the bottom of the bunnies face a little bit bigger so he has a nice chubby face.

Once I had finished the piecing I decided to not quilt the bunnies face apart from the nose and some whiskers. I then concentrated on the background. Into to this I quilted carrots and swirls. A bunny needs carrots after all!




The picture of the finished cushion is not great - no light here today!


I hope that the birtdhay boy loves it as much as I loved making it!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Sewing a Bunny!

This weekend midi monster has a birthday party to attend. It is the 10th birthday of his best friend.

You may not know this, but midi monster is a very talent young sewer. He can happily set up a sewing machine and can sew patchwork blocks, quilt and make simple things. His best friend is also a young sewer, he has helped his mum set up her machine and discover stitches she didn't even know about! They both attended sewing classes with me earlier this year and loved it.

But what to give a young man that will be meaningful and not too expensive?

The obvious answer is a quilted bunny cushion to go on his bed!

During an search on the internet last weekend we came across a wonderful pattern sale last weekend at Oh Fransson, the wonderful blog written by Elizabeth Hartman.

Elizabeth Hartman designs the most amazing blocks and quilts. Her new animal shape blocks are gorgeous and luckily there is bunny one!

Bunny pattern by Elizabeth Hartman

Just look at those amazing bunnies!

This evening we have printed the pattern off and sat discussing the cutting instructions for one bunny. After much consideration it was decided that mummy should cut out the required shapes - they are little bit fiddly.

So begins the first new project in quite sometime..... plus a short deadline! Must be ready for the birthday party at 11am on Sunday!

Wish us luck!