Thursday, 29 May 2014

Do you wanna ...

... make me an Elsa dress, please mummy?

Asked my nearly 5 year old daughter some many weeks (months?) ago. Umm no, thanks, darling daughter.  I do not. I'll buy you one instead.

Except at the time of looking, said Elsa costume was out of stock. Everywhere. Except on eBay where I could pay £££ for one. Of course then I realised that even if once came back into stock in her size, it would still carry quite a hefty price tag. And then I thought - pull yourself together Hannah, YOU CAN SEW. Sew the child a costume, for goodness sake.

Now I really wish I was the kind of sewer who could take 3m of blue satin and whip it up into an Elsa from Frozen costume without a pattern. But I am not. I am a pattern sewer, not a winging it sewer. And I am not a confident dressmaker, and an entirely novice costume maker. So I turned to Craftsy, rejoiced that there are individuals out there who can not only perform this feat but who are willing to write it up into a pattern for numpties like me, and purchased this one

There are several such patterns on Craftsy at the moment and I could have chosen any one of them. I'm not sponsored/ affiliated/ bribed in any way. I went for this one primarily because it had no closures - zips, velcro or the like. I wanted her to be able to get it on and off on her own. And also because it avoided the use of stretch organza for the upper bodice. The thought of that was just too much, frankly.

I then braved the fabric stall at Leeds market and purchased* this little lot:

*Yes, that's right, I bought fabric. I don't think this counts though, right? And otherwise it would have been a patchwork quilting cotton costume. But don't worry, I will confess all when I link up with Fabriholics Anonymous at the end of the month. 

And then I decided that that blue organza for the cape just wasn't quite right, and if I was going to do this I was going to do it right, so I went and purchased a metre of this off eBay too. 

And set to the cutting. Great start. The fabric doesn't press well, doesn't hold a fold, is slippery. Ugh. I did my best, using my rotary cutter, mostly. There weren't many straight lines. I had another trip to the fabric shop as I hadn't bought enough white organza (chiffon, whatever) to accomodate the long sleeves and lining (yep folks, this is a proper lined bodice and everything). 

The pattern is really thorough, aimed at the confident beginner (that's me!) there are detailed explanations and photos of every single step. Jolly good. I won't take you through every sorry detail of my process, but let's just say there was fraying, stretching, slipping, fraying, iron incidents, skipped stitches, gummed up needles, fraying, a million thread changes, gathers, FRAYING. None of this is the pattern's fault of course, she warns that fancy fabrics will lead to headaches but as I said, quilting cotton just wasn't going to wash here. And I sure as anything wasn't making it twice.

So being a dedicated pattern follower, I followed the pattern. The only change I made was the cape. the pattern features a cute integrated cape which is just perfectly Elsa like, but it was rather short and not very full and I decided it just wouldn't do. 

I had seen this tutorial for making a separate Elsa cape so I decided to incorporate that and make a long cape with a train. I also wanted to maximise the fabric I had bought so I made it considerably wider than suggested. This meant I had to pleat it as I basted it to the bodice, but I survived.

My main saving grace was the overcasting stitch setting on my machine. Without that I think there would be no actual dress left by now. And also these awesome Clover forked pins. I had bought them after reading a recommendation by Kerry and stashed them away, forgotten. I remembered them when I was battling with the satin skirt and they worked great for holding the slippery stuff together. Oh and for the first time ever I remembered to use polyester thread for my gathering stitches! Amazing - doesn't snap. 

I fretted slightly over how to hem the skirt, the satin didn't hold a fold particularly well. After a bit of googling I decided to try out the blind hem foot on my machine. I had already overcast the raw edge so just one fold required. It is a long way off perfect, but it worked out well enough. Hurrah!

Anyway, pictures. Needless to say she utterly, totally, completely adores it. And while I won't be making another I do feel like a very proud and accomplished mama indeed.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

WIP Wednesday

I didn't actually register that it was Wednesday today until I saw the WIP Wednesday posts popping up on my Bloglovin' feed. Another super busy week with only minimal sewing time, sadly.

I got a bit of breathing space at the start of the week though and managed to achieve this:

And then, the next evening, this:

I am really enjoying this Aviatrix Medallion. I had forgotten how much I love making a medallion quilt. The way it builds up is so satisfying.

Progress has slowed now, sadly, and not just because the next border is made up of 8" blocks!

More because I have a maternal obligation to turn this:

Into this:

Or something vaguely resembling it, at least.

So far I have cut some very wonky bits of organza and satin and generally felt very grumpy with the whole affair. What a lovely mummy I am. Wish me luck!! Costume making is really not my greatest strength. And I miss my medallion ...

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Bloggers' Quilt Festival

The biannual Bloggers' Quilt Festival is one of those blogging institutions that I have enjoyed from the sidelines for the last couple of years. Hosted by Amy at Amy's Creative Side, it is timed to coincide with the (for most of us) online eye candy of Quilt Market.

Anyway, Spring Market has been and gone but the current Festival remains open for entries until May 23rd. I am pleased to be entering for the first time this year and have decided to submit my Marcelle Medallion into the small quilt category. I know I have mentioned this quilt more than once before on this blog, so I hope you'll indulge me, but it really is my proudest quilting achievement to date and I feel very excited to be able show it off.

The Marcelle Medallion is one of those quilts that I had seen and admired several versions of on Instagram and Flickr. It was impossible to resist, therefore, when the lovely Penny Poppleton started a QAL in September last year. The #mmqal on Instagram is well worth checking out for some amazing versions of this quilt. The pattern is from the beautiful book Liberty Love by Alexia Abegg (she now of Cotton + Steel fame, the reason so many of us have had our eyes on all the Quilt Market pics!).

This quilt was utterly addictive to make. I started by foundation paper piecing the centre block to avoid any tricky templates and Y seams. This isn't as directed in the pattern but I am so glad as I did it for those pretty perfect points. 

Marcelle medallion centre

From then on I simply worked through the pattern, piecing tiny triangles, teeny geese, mini bricks and lots and lots of cornerstones! I absolutely loved the piecing but agonised over ever single fabric choice. The bundle for the centre block was pulled around that gorgeous Blythe floral, and I decided to build up from there. I can't do scrappy, I need order, so I broadly alternated between warm and cool colours for each border. This pattern would be an amazing scrap buster but actually I cut into a lot of precious yardage to make this quilt. No regrets, that is what fabric is for and it is wonderful to see so many fabrics and lines I love, it really sums up my 2013 fabric purchasing for me! 

 marcelle detail

It is pieced and quilted in white Aurifil 50wt thread #2021. All the low volume background fabrics have a white (rather than cream or grey) tone to them and I wanted to reflect that in the quilting. I love the clean look the white gives and how it makes those saturated jewel colours really shine. It is quilted simply with the wavy serpentine stitch setting on my Janome machine, with my walking foot. I started by marking and quilting these lines 2" apart but when I was done decided it needed a heavier texture, so I went back and did the lines at 1" spacing. I am pleased I did.

Marcelle detail

Unlike all my other quilts, this has never been washed. I rather like the "flat" look of it, which was hard won after some vigorous basting!! It is indeed a small quilt by my reckoning, at just 59" square. My intention is to hang this one on the wall. Really must get my husband on that task!

Marcelle medallion finished

Details as follows:
Pattern: Marcelle Medallion by Alexia Abegg (from Liberty Love)
Size 59" square (so 236" round)
Fabrics: Numerous. Blythe by Rebecca Bischoff for Robert Kaufman, Watefront Park by Violet Craft, Tsuru by Rashida Coleman-Hale plus many, many other prints and solids.
Backing: Pam Kitty Love birdies
Binding: Kona Nautical
Quilting: Wavy serpentine lines 1" spaced with white Aurifil 50wt #2021

There are, as always, lots of amazing quilts being entered in the Quilt Festival so be sure to check them all out! 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Giveaway winner time!

I was so happy and excited that so many of you took part in my first ever giveaway, 204 comments in total!

I sat last night and spent an enjoyable hour reading through and replying to all the comments that I could; I did have really quite a lot of lovely comments from no-reply bloggers, which made me sad as I couldn't email you back a reply. So if you commented and haven't heard back from me in the last couple of days chances are you are indeed a no-reply blogger. It's worth taking a moment to fix that, as I do love to be able to reply directly to comments by email :-)

It was such fun to hear about all your thoughts and experiences on free motion quilting. Lots of complete beginners, lots of people just dabbling and lots of people who are much more experienced and absolutely love it. The real message that came through of course was that PRACTICE is the way forward to Angela Walters-esque FMQ goddess skills. 

Anyway, time to announce the winner.

Mr RNG went for comment 111 which is Tabitha.

I have emailed you Tabitha, so pop me back a reply with your shipping address and I will get the book in the post to you on Monday.

I have some precious sewing time tonight, my husband and big girl are away wild camping, the house is tidy, the dog is walked and the baby asleep for now so I am pressing on with my Aviatrix Medallion. I am wanting to get up a post with an entry into the Bloggers Quilt Festival but that can wait till tomorrow.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

WIP ... Thursday

Ugh, I had fully intended to get this post up yesterday but was totally thwarted by the tiny girl who didn't go to sleep till gone 11pm. It's been that kinda week. The free motion quilting book giveaway is still running here until Friday evening if you would like to go and check that out. And I will update on the very tiny bit of sewing I have managed over the last week.

I want to start with a very warm hello to all my new followers!! I know there are many of you out there and I am so excited to welcome every one of you. I am fully intending to read through and reply to all of the lovely comments on the giveaway post, a slightly bonkers task perhaps with 150+ comments but I am super grateful to see so many new names and want to take that time. If the baby will just give me an hour I will get to it!

Saturday was our Leeds MQG sit and sew day. If you are in the Yorkshire realm and would like to get involved please do, we have a Facebook page and a Flickr group too. I decided to take some hand piecing this time. It isn't my favourite but I was travelling alone and really couldn't face lugging my huge machine. Plus I didn't feel like I got the sewing vs social balance quite right last time and wondered if a hand project would improve that. 

So I took along a block from the never-ending UFO that is my Pile O Fabric 2013 Skill Builder BOM. This has been sat in a semi completed state for sometime and I knew I needed a bit of focussed energy to complete it. 

And so I did.

@lisasew @helenlay82 @laurablackwell I pressed on! It isn't appliqued down yet though ....
Diamond Carat block
Well, sort of. It isn't actually appliqued down yet. Next month, maybe? Anyway it was a thoroughly lovely day with lots of time to chat and look at other people's projects too.

Home sewing time has been at a real premium lately. I am trying to change my eating habits and break my sugar addiction and so am currently 11 days into a Whole 30 which seems to be occupying a lot of my sewing time with food prep!!

What little time I have grabbed has been spent slowly working on my Aviatrix Medallion. Having completed all the cutting I was faced with that rather intimidating centre block, my first time piecing diamonds. I found them a little challenging to my spatial awareness, and very delicate with all those bias edges, but they came together pretty well. Elizabeth is so incredibly talented and has the block come together in a way that avoids any Y seams but that again challenged my brain slightly (that's okay, I like to be challenged!). But I pushed on and ended up with this:

Boooo :-(

Can you see that blunt yellow centre point? Yuk. I was not happy with that AT ALL. I didn't expect perfection but that was just too obviously bad for me to live with. I slept on it, then warily got out the seam ripper and removed that quadrant. 

I really thought I might have to totally re-do it, and even went through my scrap bin for the relevant sized pieces. But then looked a little closer, and with a bit of shifting got this:

Hurrah! :-)

It is still far from perfect, but the eye is drawn to those centre points and they are much, much better, so I am happy now. The next border is just some straightforward HSTs which are all ready to be pressed and trimmed ... when I get a minute!

Off to read some more comments now :-) I do love to hear from you all, thank you!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Giveaway Day!

***Giveaway is now closed! Thank you so much for all your lovely comments. I am off to bed now but will draw the winner this weekend.***

I am very excited today about my first ever Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day! So if you have clicked over from there, hello and welcome. I am Hannah, I live in Yorkshire in the UK with my husband and two lovely small girls. You can read more about me here and here, if you would like to. I do hope you will stay and have a little look around, or save me to read at a later date (when you are less busy). I've only been blogging since February so not too much to wade through!

Here's my favourite finish so far this year, just to give you an idea of what I like to do.

Marcelle medallion finished
Marcelle Medallion finish

Giveaway time!

I have decided to give away my copy of Free Motion Quilting with (the incredible) Angela Walters. It is in as new condition, primarily because it is unused. I bought it with aspirations of becoming a FMQ goddess but have to face facts; that is never going to happen. So rather than it sitting here on my shelf I will send it on to someone who will actually use, love and learn from it. 

So, what to do? Just leave me a comment please. Any comment will do, but if you are feeling wordy you can tell me how you feel about free motion quilting! I LOVE the way it looks when done well but don't find it easy to do well at all. I would still love to learn, but I enjoy piecing much more and have found a pleasing groove with simple straight line quilting so I am settling with that for now.

As I am a new blog I have a rather select group of followers. I would love it if you chose to follow me, so whether you are an old or new follower please use an extra comment to tell me how you follow. Email, Bloglovin or whatever you like the best. So that's 2 chances to enter in total :-) 

I am willing to suck up the postage costs and send this book internationally so this giveaway is open Worldwide. It will stay open till Friday May 16th at 10pm BST and then I will use a random number generator to draw the winner. If I don't hear back within 48 hours I will draw again.

***I will be emailing the winner so if you are a no reply blogger or if you don't know if you are or not please consider either addressing that OR be sure and leave your email address in your comment. If I can't contact you, you can't win!! ***

Good Luck! I am really looking forward to connecting with new people this giveaway week.
Linking up with Sew Mama Sew, go enter more giveaways, I am!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Dottie quilt finish

Finally getting round to sorting this post! I was really pleased to get my Dottie quilt finished up a couple of weeks ago. I'd been trying to clear the decks a bit before getting too absorbed in my Aviatrix Medallion so I pushed on to get it completed.

#dottiequilt is finished! Will wash it and then blog it. #quilting #quilt #sewing #handmade @cluckclucksew #finishit2014

I started this quilt earlier this month at our Leeds Modern Quilt Guild meeting and wasn't all that thrilled with it at first, but it has really grown on me. 

It's a pretty simple layer cake pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew. I wouldn't say it is the greatest beginner pattern as it is a little fiddly but it comes together fairly quickly and I really love the effect of those double snowball blocks. 

I'd had that border fabric stashed for a long time for this quilt. It is Front Row in green from Jenean Morrison's Silent Cinema line. I used a layer cake square of it in the quilt too, to replace a textured solid which read as white, and I'm really pleased with it. I do love the reliability of using whole fabric collections but have learnt that adding in even just one or two prints from other lines can really help lift and brighten the finished effect.

I pondered over the binding too. My husband suggested this pink Aneela Hoey print but I felt it needed something a bit stronger and less girly.

This Tula Pink Acacia diamonds print is just the perfect teal and the perfect scale. I've bought a half yard of this once before and used it almost immediately in the final border of my Marcelle Medallion. I was sad, so I replaced it, only to have used it up to bind this quilt. I'm not sorry, it's perfect, but isn't it funny how some fabrics sit in your stash forever while some just won't stay on the shelves? I should have bought yards of this.

I even had a backing for this quilt in my stash. I picked up this lovely Pam Kitty Love print from Fat Quarter Shop when it was 50% off. I love bargain quilt backings and this is so pretty.

I quilted it with my go to quilt pattern, the wavy stitch setting done with my walking foot. At 2.5" spacings on the diagonal. I feel I am getting a little predictable with this but it just works so well and I love the effect it gives. 

I'm not sure yet where this quilt will end up. I had started it thinking it might be a gift for eldest girl's reception teacher this Summer. But I'm not sure that's a precedent I wish to set!! I'm still pondering. But it's another one off the FAL list!

Details as follows:
Pattern: Dottie by Cluck Cluck Sew
Fabric: A layer cake of Hello Luscious by Basic Grey, plus Kona Snow and some Front Row in green by Jenean Morrison for the outer border
Backing: Pam Kitty Love
Binding: Acacia teal diamonds by Tula Pink
Size: 61" by 69"
Quilting: Wavy lines with my walking foot on my Janome Horizon 8200. In white Aurifil 50wt thread #2021

I'm planning a little giveaway tomorrow for my first ever Sew Mama Sew giveaway day so be sure to pop back then!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

WIP Wednesday - slowly slowly

I've been working on my Aviatrix Medallion over the last week. Having finally settled on my fabric choices I have been slowly, slowly, cutting out all the pieces. There are a lot of pieces. I enjoy cutting (tragic, I know) when I have time and space to work through it all methodically. Elizabeth's instructions are super clear and I was able to work slowly through the list and organise everything into little ziplock bags. 

Last night I laid out my centre star. I've never worked with diamonds before and these ones are pretty tiny (just 1 3/8" ) so it all felt a bit confusing. I've not quite settled on my layout yet so I plan to piece the single coloured points together first then take another look.

I managed to do one quickly this morning while the baby played. I have to admit, I don't think I have it in me to mark dots on 100s of tiny pieces so I eyeballed it. The points aren't perfect, but it looks okay. We will see how it goes on ...

Linking up with Lee from Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Friday, 2 May 2014

End of April, start of May

Time for another little monthly round up and to link up with the lovely Lynne.

Lily's Quilts

This month looks quite impressive really, with three quilt finishes. Of course two of them were done all but for hand sewing the binding, but still, a win's a win, right?

So we have the Playground quilt and the Sparkling Cider quilt both finished and very much loved. I've also finished the Dottie quilt and promise a post on that over the weekend, just need my assistant (husband) around to help me get some half decent photos. 

Lots of blocks for Siblings Together this month. Some St Louis 16 patch blocks for Hadley. A little collection of wonky cross blocks for Susy and Mary. And I've snuck in early with May's block for the Siblings Together quilting bee because Nicky has been super organised and got her fabric out already. This is the last month of our lovely bee, 12 wonderful quilts made for this charity. In fact, if any of my bee mates are readying this, please go and have a look in the Flickr group, I've stickied a question for you all.

I feel so pleased to be involved with making quilts for Siblings Together

Siblings Together

For those that don't know, it is a UK based charity which aims to reunite the many many siblings separated by the care system. Every Summer they hold Summer Camps and give each of the children that attend a quilt of their very own. It is so easy to get involved if you would like to give a little back with your sewing this year. You can make a quilt, a quilt block or even just offer some fabric for someone else to do so. Lots more details in the Flickr group here. Please do go and have a read.

I also made some more quick baby bibs for a friend's baby girl and finally finished the Chev 'n' Hex block for the 2013 Skill Builder BOM!

Oh and I made a super little pressing board using Katy's easy tutorial and my husband's slightly terrifying staple gun.

A few confessions about planned items left untouched. Still not made any more knickers. Haven't started the Parisian top. Nor the cargo duffle. And, most shamefully, I haven't made any progress on my second travel duffle.

I am a bit cross with myself about this. It's on my Q2 FAL list and it really would make sense to have it done in time for our holiday in July so I need to not forget about it altogether! I just got really distracted by the Aviatrix QAL ...

Anyway, time to look forwards to May.

  • That Travel Duffle, as mentioned above.
  • My Aviatrix Medallion. This makes me happy happy. I am slowly ploughing through all the cutting and enjoying it very much indeed. I think that will occupy most of my sewing time this month.

So we'll leave it at that! Expect a rather blank mosaic in 30 days time ... !

Linking up with Lily's Quilts for Fresh Sewing Day and also the Small blog meet. And now I'm off to see what everyone else has been up to this month.
Lily's Quilts