Friday, 20 February 2015

'Siblings Together' Quilt Bee - Foundation Pieced Block

I'm getting quite excited about this, you could say I have a (Quilt) bee in my bonnet... No? ok.

For anyone who didn't catch my previous post on the matter, I'm rousing a few local quilt enthusiasts to help me create some quilts to donate to the lovely people at 'Siblings Together' a UK based charity aiming to reunite brothers and sisters living in separate care placements through days out and residential retreats.

So the date has been set for Sunday 29th March, the location 'Make & Do' in Brislington, Bristol and I've been wracking my brains as to what we could work on...

It needed to be something suitable for individuals to work on independently (post friendly too) and I thought a scrap busting element would be perfect for getting people donating fabric. So here it is then -a foundation pieced 'String' block. It looks impressive but it's a surprisingly simple method.

This phenomenal example above is by Ashley over at 'Film in the Fridge' and there's a fantastic piecing tutorial as well. Instead of going for a kaleidoscope effect I thought we'd work on a single colour theme for each 4 square block keeping it gender neutral as I'm told that there tends be a lean towards girly quilts -so lot's of brights! Let's leave out the pink and try to reign in those florals people!

So to round up, if you'd like to come along it's completely free (though small change donations towards the wadding and backing would be very gratefully received!) and as well as step by step piecing instructions I'll be providing tea and coffee -there has also been talk of cake!

All you need do is turn up though if you're able to bring along as many small scraps of fabric as possible and perhaps a sewing machine (we have 3 available at the store) that will definitely ease the process.

If you're not able to come along then feel free to pop a block or two in the post (ideally to arrive before the 29th so we can factor them in). My own project specific tutorial and postal address will follow shortly.

Huge thanks to Kirsten for letting us utilise the shop and thank you all for your support! See you there x

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Siblings Together - Bristol Quilt Bee

A few days ago I read a post over at 'Lily's Quilts' regarding a charity 'Siblings Together'. It's a UK based charity aiming to reunite children separated from their siblings in foster care (as of course finding placements for several children together must be extremely difficult!) -be that for occasional days out or in some cases week long retreats.

Lynne has spearheaded a bit of a campaign to donate quilts in order for the children have a little token to take home and cherish as a reminder of their (sometimes rare) time spent with brothers and sisters at these retreats.

So time for a bit of back story. I was taken into care at 18 months old alongside my brother who is 3 years older. I was raised by my foster family and became completely estranged from my birth relatives at about 10 years old. Around this time my elder brother made the decision to return to our birth parents resulting in our separation.

My brother and I circa 1988.
Happily many years later we are now back in touch but I can vouch for this experience being extremely painful. I think it's vitally important for looked after children to feel valued and supported by society -which is often far too quick to focus on and widely publicise their statistical probability of failure. Needless to say this a cause close to my heart so I am appealing for a little help.

Despite being a bit of a quilting novice I'm organising a Bristol get together and 'Quilting Bee'. We'll be settling on a colour scheme in advance so that people can raid their stash and contribute a few set blocks to a group quilt over the course of the afternoon / evening.

Kirsten has kindly allowed me to use the space at Make & Do so if you're local to the Bristol area and would like to come along please get in touch for further details (dates to be confirmed!). If you're not local then not to worry! We'll be sure to post details of our plans in advance so that anyone wanting to pop a block or too in the post can still join in!

Do head to the 'Siblings together' website for a little further info as there are many other ways to volunteer and help out.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Christmas Things! - Handmade Quilt

Boy has this post been some time in the making! This was intended to be finished as a Christmas present for my other half's parents but fell by the wayside somewhat!

So the delay originated in my indecision with fabric choosing. I wanted it to remain a surprise but it's always hard to choose something for someone else's taste particularly when the stakes are so high with the sheer number of work hours...

After much deliberation I ended up making a bit of a compromise in getting OH's mum to pop in to the shop to pick out some fabrics for a mysterious surprise project. She was drawn to two Riley Blake prints in teal and black so I paired them with some basic black spotty for a bit of contrast, and some teal for a pop of colour.

The pale grey was a bit of a cheat. I purchased a 100% cotton duvet set, using one side for the backing and the remainder for the sashing and binding.

I assembled the blocks into rows first, pressing the seams in different directions then joined the rows to form the quilt top.

...And so to the next hurdle. I attempted straight line quilting 1cm apart without a walking foot (seemed like a great idea at the time) but was disappointed with the finish (and the pace!) so spent several hours unpicking. For such a labour intensive project I didn't want to be unhappy with the end result so ordered a walking foot and went against my usual inclination and took the time to start over, this time with lines spaced around 1.5 inches.

At first despite the walking foot there was a bit of dragging / distortion between the layers. It took a while with such an expanse or fabric (1.7m x 1.9m) to get into the swing of it but I eventually developed a bit of a technique of applying some tension as it fed through the machine to get a better result.

I quite enjoy the binding process, hand stitching it for a nice clean finish. I picked my way through it over the course of two evenings in front of the television. Have to say though I had sore fingers by the end!

I had considered stitching a little quilt patch but I just love this 'Handmade' tape by 'East of India' and thought it would finish it off nicely.

Luckily it was really well received which was a huge relief! There were definitely some hairy moments along the way but for my first proper large scale quilt project I think it turned out rather well.

I have a 'Quilty' charity venture in the pipeline so quilting locals stay tuned for further info!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Deer & Doe 'Datura' Blouse in Carolyn Friedlander 'Doe'

Ta dah! First dressmaking project of the year. This is my first Datura blouse by the fantastic french indie pattern company 'Deer & Doe'.

Coincidentally the fabric collection is also called 'Doe' by Carolyn Friedlander for Kaufman (this particular one being 'Sharp'). I had a hand in picking some new fabrics for the store. When this one arrived it told me exactly what it wanted to be!

I wasn't lazy this time (new year's resolution and all...) and made a toile (muslin) to check the fit and made a few changes. According to the envelope measurements I'm a 38 but due to the 'easy fit' I could definitely have got away with a 36.

One alteration needed was to adjust the shoulder slope, taking out a little excess around the armhole. This also raised the bust a touch which alongside taking in the side seams improved the fit dramatically. Whilst I'm quite happy with the fit I think I could have gone a little further.

Construction wise it came together pretty speedily (aside from Bernie's little hiatus). I must say the diagrams are a little lacking regarding the yoke assembly. I found this tutorial from 'The Drapery' really helpful for visualising exactly how it's done. It's really quite straightforward once you get your head around the method and yields a great clean result with no visible stitching at all.

The narrow curved hem was a breeze! I tackled it by stitching a line to act as a pressing guide at around about 1/4" (so no fiddly measuring at the ironing board!) and giving it a real good steam into place. I stitched this first turn, then pressed it up once more finally stitching it from the right side giving a nice clean finish (though two rows are visible from the inside oops).

Patience with the overall finish of my garments is something that I'm working on so I took some care with the insides too -overlocking the side seams and pressing them open, then finishing the yoke by hand with a ladder stitch.

Speaking of said patience, I delved through my vintage button stash fully intending to resist my usual 'Kam' snaps addiction (I promise!) only I wasn't quite happy with any of them. Ah well, snaps it is then!

Changes for next time? It's supposed to be 'Semi-fitted' but I'd fit it a little further reducing the fullness at the hips, narrow the shoulders and stretch the bias more when applying it to the neckline (though I might go for the peter pan collar next). Definitely more to come!

Now chambray or plaid 'Bruyere' shirt or polka dot 'Albion' Jacket next... Hmmm...

Monday, 2 February 2015

Hexie Piecing #2 - Perfect Points

I posted the first part of this little English Paper Piecing (EPP) tutorial last week, covering the stitch and method I use to easily piece hexagons with invisible stitches. I have another little 'habit' to share but thought to make it more digestible I'd break it down into a second post (there were so many pictures, so much editing! Yeah I'm lazy).

So today I'm going to cover adding further hexies (for those just getting started) and how I go about neatly joining the points.

Starting where we left off with out two hexies from the last post the next one if placed right sides facing, matching up one of the straight sides (half of the total seam) along the top.

Take a stitch through both at the edge and secure as before, working your way toward the centre point all the while keeping a close eye on matching up those corners.

Take the last stitch through the very point at which the corners meet. At this stage I like to open out my pieces flat and take another stitch this time joining the point of the next hexie along.

You can see in the picture above that my thread has come out at the point of the top left having joined with the hexie below, and is being taken down right through the point of the adjoining right (angling from the seam allowance out towards the folded edge).

I then flip my pieces so that the right sides are facing up and take my needle back down through the original point (angling from the very edge of the fold inward towards the seam allowance).

I pull the thread nice and taut then align the remainder of the seam, folding the previous hexie to do so, and carry on stitching the rest of the way. Secure and snip when you reach the next point.

The fabric I'm using here is beautiful Liberty lawn which is much more lightweight than the quilting weight cotton I usually use so a little word of warning, be a little cautious with the tugging when using finer fabrics!

Taking time with that stitch where the points meet gives a little extra strength at the join and opening them out flat gives me better visibility so I can match the points accurately placing the stitches exactly where I want them. Seems sensible to me anyway -but I'd be curious to know if you think it makes any difference at all... Any tried and tested tips?

If EPP floats your boat and you're looking to up your game then I definitely recommend reading Florence's post regarding fussy cutting techniques, and whilst you're there her Passacaglia cogs are just awe inspiring!

Happy Stitching x