1

Hey Baby

At the beginning of April I am going to become a sort of aunt as my boyfriends sister is having a baby boy. This has provided me with the perfect excuse to create. First up, a crib quilt. I used this design on Moda Bake Shop as the starting point and the 10 Little Things fabric line also by Moda for most the fabrics. I then picked a few coordinating child friendly prints from my stash to complete it.

The first blocks:

photoTwenty blocks later and I was auditioning to find the perfect layout. It’s surprisingly difficult to get a design where you have all the inner blocks pointing in different directions!

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As you can see I still hadn’t quite got it right at this point!

I chose to use a dark grey for sashing as I thought it would show up marks less than white or cream and then added another border of a grey truck and car print. I decided to also do a pieced back to make a truly reversible quilt.

Quilting in progress:

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I quilted in the ditch on the front of the quilt and used a blue variegated thread on the back to add interest.

The finished front:

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And the back:

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Finished size 33″x41″. All ready to wrap up and give away.

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2

For my mum

Due to a somewhat unconventional upbringing, I never studies any textiles at school. The first time I used a sewing machine was at 23! I was going through a difficult patch in my life and was still living at home. My mum was desperately trying to find anything to distract me so she took me out bought me a £20 sewing machine, a book on basic patchwork and a few fat quarters. From that point on I’ve been hooked. Learning to sew was the perfect distraction and as my sewing has improved so has my confidence and wellbeing.

I knew I wanted to make her something to say thank you and when I came across Fabric Freedoms range of fabrics based on the designs of William Morris, I knew they’d be perfect. My mum adores William Morris designs, I’d already made her a cushion from somethings similar in the past.

This is the result.

It’s the first time I’ve made a quilt not using a pattern. I based the central cross and dot part on something I’d seen before but worked out the sizes myself and designed my own border.

I quilted in the ditch around the central motifs and around the border.

The final design ended up at 58″ square, perfect for curling up under on the sofa of an evening.

I just hope she likes it!

Sorry for the abysmal photos, it’s grey and raining outside and I don’t have anywhere big enough to hang quilts to photograph.

3

Recently

I am a terribly unreliable blogger. I have many posts I mean to write but I forget to take the photographs or never quite get around to it. It’s always the thing on the To Do list that I don’t quite get to.

I’ve made another quilt.

It measures 55″x45″. I love the contrast between the mostly monochromatic fabrics with the one striking accent colour. It’s also the first time I’ve ever appliquéd anything. It took me a while to get the stitch set up right and there were many terse words exchanged with my machine but I got there.

I’m hoping to hang it at the top of our stairs if I can figure out how and can persuade the boyfriend to lend me his drill. He’s rather averse to putting holes in the wall but I’m sure I can talk him round.

I’ve been doing a bit more organising. I had so many boxes and random spools of thread lying around that I could never find the best match.  So I treated myself to an organiser.

I could stare at it for hours. It’s a thread rainbow! That’s a 120 spool organiser and it still doesn’t quite fit all the ones I own. Not sure how I managed to acquire quite that many :S  And yes, I do have a bright pink office!

I’m forever losing pins and bits of thread onto the floor along with my magical disappearing seam ripper. I must own about 6 of the things and yet when I need one (which is frequently) they’ve all vanished. Thus, this was born:

I used this pattern (link is to the pdf file). It has a removable bag for putting thread ends and other generic rubbish in, lots of little pouches for all my tools and a pincushion on the top. There’s a cup of rice in the bottom of the pincushion which weighs the whole thing down and stops it sliding off the corner of the work surface. So far it’s working well. I’m hoping it brings an end to painful feet-pin interactions!

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Etsy

If I was ever under the illusion that being self employed was going to be easy, I’ve well and truly shattered it this week. I’ve been running around like an absolute loon trying to sort things out and keep on top of it all. I traded at a really poorly attended craft fair over the weekend which knocked my confidence. I so desperately want this to work! I was tempted to pretend it didn’t happen and not record it so that my accounts look better but that wouldn’t please HMRC now would it?

Other than that, I’ve had a bit of a home photo studio going so that I can get set up selling online. I would love to own one of those fancy home photo studios you see advertised but I think I’d better make some money before I spend it. Instead I made do with a photo cube, an old style 100w bulb, a piece of felt, a tripod and my trusty dSLR.

Overall I’m delighted with the results.

The jewellery has turned out beautifully despite my other half complaining that the back wasn’t in focus. My protestations about depth of field did not receive an impressed response!

As for some of the cushions:

I’m more than a little surprised things turned out as well as they did, maybe I’m missing a career as a product photographer 😉

I’m in the process of uploading everything to Etsy. If anyone’s interested my shop can be found at www.etsy.com/shop/AnaCrafts . Hopefully it’ll start to take off but in the mean time I’ll stick to obsessively checking my shop stats!

5

Things not to do

I finally finished the quilt of basting doom. Hours of manipulating metres of fabric under the sewing machine were a success. It looked fabulous, I was ridiculously proud of myself. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of it in its pristine finished state before things went rather downhill. If I make mistakes they tend to be spectacularly bad as was the case here.

I had the genius idea that I’d wash it before unveiling it to the world. Shoved it in the machine on a hand wash cycle and waited to see what happened. I should mention at this point that I didn’t prewash any of the fabrics. This is partly because I’m a lazy bugger and partly because the majority of the quilt top came from a Layer Cake and I don’t believe(?) you’re supposed to wash precut fabrics before use. When I took it out the machine, some of the red colour had bled in a couple of places leaving red stains in the middle of two non-red squares.

No problem, thought I, I can fix this. So I washed it again but this time with a scoop of Vanish in the wash. The colour run faded but didn’t disappear. So off I went to the supermarket where I found a product called colour run remover.

I read the instructions, it claimed to remove colour runs while returning your clothing to its original colour. I soaked the affected areas of quilt in it.

After half an hour (far, far less than the several hours recommended), I went back to check. The colour run had been removed the only problem was it had taken all the colour with it. It had sodding bleached the whole centre of the quilt. Nowhere on the packet did it say that it would destroy EVERYTHING.

The top and bottom are beautiful and vibrant and as they should be while the middle is a washed out mess.

A bit more of a close up showing just how messed up it really is. I could kick myself. I was obviously naive to think colour run remover would be what it said and not BLEACH.

The only scant bit of comfort is that I’ve learnt never to do it again. The only option for the quilt is going to be to try and tone the bright colours down to match and pretend the whole thing was meant to look vintage.

*cries*

1

A cautionary tale

So, I sewed up the quilt top, pieced the backing and cut the wadding to size. Then it was just a case of basting it so it all stayed in place while I was quilting. A simple task surely?

The trouble with a double bed sized quilt is that you need a double bed sized space to lay it out in and my office doesn’t have that. My first ingenious idea was to lay it out over the bed in the bedroom and baste from there.

This was a failure. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that until I’d already basted the whole thing. The backing wasn’t stretched taut enough so when I started quilting, I ended up with creases and wrinkles sewn in. I gave up for the day.

Yesterday I spent the first hour unpicking all the previous days efforts to start again. This left me feeling so despondent that I thought I’d treat myself to a trip to Hobbycraft for a browse. I was really well behaved and didn’t buy anything but spent a happy half hour having a mooch.

Returned home and went for basting mark II. I knew I’d have to tape the backing and wadding out to have any chance of getting it tight. The only big enough floor space was the lounge so after some furniture rearranging, I prepared my layers by masking taping the backing and wadding to the carpet.

I’m a sucker for any device that claims to save you time. This means I’d invested in a microstitch basting gun. It fires small tacks through the layers to hold them together and is allegedly much faster than pinning.

So off I went, firing tacks left, right and centre. Five minutes later, *snap*, I’d pressed too hard and broken the needle. So back to Hobbycraft I went to buy some quilters safety pins. It seemed I was going to have to pin baste after all.

Everything was finally going to plan. I pinned the centre and started working out. I was over halfway there, on the home stretch when… I ran out of pins. I thought the 150 I’d bought would be more than enough but clearly not. Back to Hobbycraft I went yet again. By this point the staff were viewing me rather suspiciously (what sort of person visits a shop three times in as many hours) so I paid for my extra pins and fled.

By the time I’d finished it was 8pm and dark but it was done. A task that should have taken me an hour took more like six. I am filing this under “it’s done, now let us never speak of it again”. It just better be taut enough this time…

1

In progress

Despite my promises to myself that I’d update this at least twice a week, I’ve not quite managed. Amazing how time runs away when you’re enjoying yourself! I’ve been busy locating and booking fairs for over the summer as well as learning about tax and allowable expenses from HMRC.

Still it hasn’t stopped me getting on with a new project. It’s another quilt again using fabric picked up when I was in Vegas. I’m using the pattern Polka-Dot Parfait by Cotton Way with the fabrics as pictured in the design (Bliss by Moda).

I’ve sewn all the blocks up and trimmed them to size

For some reason mine have ended up at 9″ square rather than the specified 9.25″ but I suspect that’s more to do with my dodgy sewing than an inherent pattern error.

Then it was a case of laying them out to decide on the pattern. Trouble is my floor wasn’t quite big enough but it was enough to get the idea. I always find this part quite fiddly, making sure that identical patterns and colours aren’t next to each other. It’s always hardest doing the bottom row as you’ve only got a few blocks left and it’s difficult to substitute them as it wrecks what you’ve already done. Still, I’m pretty pleased with the overall result.

Now to get the rows sewn up and then connected together before adding the borders. I’ve also got to decide what pattern to quilt it in, I’m really not sure yet.