Friday, 20 February 2015

Katy's Camera Challenge

Back in the New Year, Katy announced a Camera Challenge to help hapless souls like me to make more of our cameras.
Last year, I moved on from a point and shoot camera to what I believe is a bridge camera, I think somewhere between a point and shoot and a proper DSLR model.
Mine is a Sony Nex C3 and my main reason for buying it was a desire to take better quilt pics. Jury is still out on that one although I think I have some pretty good people snaps.
I think my undoing was that the purchase coincided with a phone upgrade and the phone cameras are so quick to use, always in your pocket or bag...........

But, I want to learn and Katy is taking tremendous trouble to put together challenges and give hints on good practice so I am determined to try and be a model pupil.

I am a little late with my first assignment though - my blog reading has suffered this month as life around here has become just a tad more hectic of late. But yesterday I managed a couple of quick shots. Our challenge was to take some photos using our automatic mode and then try again using the more specific pre set options, landscape, portrait etc. I haven't so far tried the sports mode which is for moving objects or people. So here are my results.

Landscape taken using "Intelligent auto" (not necessarily matching my abilities)
Please ignore signpost - I really was pressed for time, could have cropped it out but trying to be honest here.

And here it is again, using pre set landscape mode.........

What do you think? I am not seeing much difference.

Moving on swiftly to portrait, maybe I should have been going for more of a close up but here is Intelligent auto............

and portrait mode...............

Obviously "my subject" moved position but I think number two is ever so slightly clearer.
These were taken in late afternoon sunshine shortly before a stonking hail shower.
Location - the Millennium Footbridge over the mouth of the River Doon, in Ayr.
Hopefully I will try and do the Sports Mode too, maybe over the weekend. In the meantime, to avoid detention, I am going to link this quickly to Katy's Camera Challenge 2015.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Going Large

Well I had hoped to post a bit more frequently but life is a bit hectic and I'll need to be satisfied with as and when I can manage.
I have a bit of time at the moment but as luck would have it, BT Mail is playing up and I am having trouble receiving emails  downloading attachments before my connection drops out. It is so frustrating as I have sent myself pics from my phone for this post. I'll concentrate on the words for now. (edit; it's taken most of the day on & off but have made it!)

So, January - managed a bit of sewing. I made a start on my Bee a Brit Stingy Row by Row quilt. The first row is for ourselves and I really liked the NY Beauty in one of my Pinterest pics. But I wanted to experiment a bit and drew up a square block inspired by the points of a NY Beauty. The trial block ended up in the bin - too many points coming together creating a big lumpy mess.
Take two - not too bad so I soldiered on and got my row completed.

I have asked my Bee mates for a basically black and white scheme with one extra colour of choice in each row, in each block. Background to be black or white in alternate rows and I am happy with greys being thrown into the mix. Funny to think I won't see this row back until about this time next year....

I have also been beavering away on my class quilt, quilting the four panels that will come together QAYG style to make a double version of my Modern Sampler quilt.
In an update to my last post regarding backing, I am regretting my choice of the Ikea duvet cover - it was cheap, it felt cheap and well, I just wish I had bought better stuff. It quilted fine, but I doubt it'll stand the test of time and when you consider the time and cost that goes into making a quilt top, it probably deserves something a bit better quality.
I should've known better...............

Yesterday I managed to make a whole quilt - it took me about an hour. Yes, you guessed - it's another for the Princess and the Pea project. I have been working on this wee project for over a year in a very relaxed manner. I want to make 20 little quilts to adorn an Ikea dollie's bed for Grand daughter Ava's 3rd birthday. The birthday is now only 6 weeks away so I need to pull out the proverbial finger now and finish them up - I think I have 3 to go. yesterday's was made quickly from slicing up a Heather Ross fat 1/4 and adding in strips of another fat 1/4 that I have been hoarding because I loved its colours. Not a lot of measuring took place and I bagged rather thank bound. Needs must. I will, I promise do a separate post to show all 20.

On Sunday, in Alloway Village Hall, directly opposite Robert Burn's Cottage, I held my first workshop of the year. It was 25th January, Burn's Birthday and I suppose we should have been taking part in the Haggis Hurling, but believe me, I think we were happier sewing. The workshop was one of my Accuquilt ones, using diecut animals to make a baby quilt.

The ladies had fun cutting,


                                                                 They made quite a mess,


                               Some got carried away and seemed to be planning a Safari Park,

Quilt tops were created,

And not a pink elephant in sight - just lilac giraffes.

                                                       Great fun was had by all.

                                              And finally, remember my Mega Pinnie?

Somebody always has to go one better - it really was more like a small pouffe, no end to the variations on a theme. Coffee mug in the pic is for scale, honest!!

Little & Large.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sewing Again

Isn't it good to get back into a routine after endless days of holidays, chocolate & Christmas cake!!

I made a gentle start to my sewing by making two Bee Blessed blocks. The January block is Maple Leaf and Judith has a great tutorial on her blog. Pity I didn't pay more attention to it!! My blocks are straight & square but were snapped lying on the back of a settee so they look a bit weird. I am trying hard to use the pre cut, useful fabric that I organised last summer and pulled what I thought was perfect for these blocks. I decided to compromise and have a contrasting stalk, so far so good. However, I hadn't looked out the 3 x 4.5" print squares and of course, didn't have enough to complete without adding in the little imposter, and I had already made the HSTs.............hope it's ok.

Next I want to share a great tip - during this next term, my students will be joining the blocks of their Modern Sampler quilt and getting ready to Quilt As You Go. I have always tried to encourage a bit of creative thinking when it comes to backing fabric in an effort to save the pennies. Those of you in the US will be shocked to learn that craft cotton here in the UK is averaging the best part of $22m - totally not an economical option for backing. I have seen loads of gorgeous quilts over the last couple of years appear in blogs, with backings made from the ever popular Ikea number fabric - secretly I felt I was slipping dangerously towards recruitment for the Quilt Police because I have looked at this fabric a couple of times and turned my nose up at it.
About a year ago my friend Janet, clever girl, took herself off to Ikea in search of ideal backing and opted for a duvet cover. Now this is just genius because you basically get twice the fabric for your money. A double duvet cover is 2m x 2m and you get both sides, that is a lot of fabric.
So I threw caution and prejudice to the wind and took a trip too. And got this -

I grabbed the double duvet cover at £15, not realising until I got home that the quilt that I am making is 84" long! You might be noticing a pattern in my approach to projects............
Anyway, inspiration struck and I unpicked a couple of the pillowcases that were included and would you believe an unpicked pillowcase measured 70" wide!! So I have joined sections on to the panels I have cut ready to layer up.

Onward, ever onward.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

subtitled - always look on the bright side of life.

Goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015. As we hurtle through the 2000s it always amazes me how quickly time seems to have passed since we were all worrying about the Millennium Bug and nearer to home, we were preparing for a Millennium party.

Usually we look back at this time of year but I'll keep my sewing memories short and stick to December only - I kept my sewing to a minimum to avoid that horrible stressful feeling that seems the opposite of the pleasure we should get from making gifts.

I made three things.

The Death Star cushion, for my 7 yr old nephew - very well received, phew! Pattern was courtesy of  Melinda at Quirkygranola girl

My second gift was a Kilner Jar pincushion - very quick to make and open to many possibilities.

My third, and final gift was a Bionic Gear Bag. I have watched many bloggers produce beautiful Sew Together pouches and discovered quite an online controversy over the origins and originality of both of these bags. Being slightly perverse and really not interested in joining the debate, I chose to buy the Bionic Gear bag pattern, all 33 pages of took me two full days to make and I found it quite the challenge, mainly because I don't really enjoy struggling with thick seams  However, I was chuffed with the result, wouldn't say no to making another and the recipient liked it!

But, no more looking back, let's see what the future holds.

My classes start back next week for a term of joining blocks and Quilting As We Go.
I have two Sunday workshops before the end of my quilting year in March - both involve help from my Accuquilt Go, Gordon.

On the personal sewing front, I am pretty excited about Bee a Brit Stingy 2015. Sadly we are reduced to six members and we have chosen to do a Row by Row Round Robin quilt. I have a Pinterest board with some inspiration and I think I have reached a decision which is good as I have January & February to complete Row 1.
I hope to get back in the Bee Blessed saddle and contribute blocks each month to this worthy cause.

In less than a week, my daughter & family move in with us whilst they are "between houses". Their new one will not be ready until May and the old one was sold much quicker than anyone anticipated.

Our house is not huge so I am nobly sacrificing my sewing room, aka the spare bedroom - the upside of this is that I spent today re-locating to the conservatory and having a bit of a clear out at the same time.
We may not have many rooms but we are blessed with loads of big cupboards, some of which are being re-organised. Upside - a nice pile of stuff for the next charity bag and finding a haul of bubble wrap in the loft which had been put away in case it came in useful, and guess what? It has.

So for the next few months I will accentuate the positives and look on the bright side. Another upside - we shall have a cat in the house again after a couple of years without. And if no one else is quite ready, Colin certainly seems to be.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Mum & Grannies

I recall with ease just what I was up to 30 years ago well as being terribly proud of my fine young son, I am also forever grateful to the clever optical experts who came up with very thin spectacle lenses. Goodbye Deirdre!

More conventional December news - I have finished my Granny blocks that I am making along with my classes for our Modern Sampler quilt. I now have all 20 done and assembly will be after the Christmas & New Year break.

I also finished this large block / small quilt, made from a QuiltJane pattern. It finishes at 24" square, I have a notion to make a quilt of giant blocks.........................

It was made with the leftovers from my Tree Skirt, 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Pillow Talk

Steadyyyy....if you are visiting from a casual surf, sorry to burst your bubble, this is a quilting blog.

And if you are reading from across the Pond, Happy Thanksgiving!
We have a saying here in the UK along the lines of - when America sneezes, the UK catches a cold - well, over here we still have Christmas as our main turkey fest but seem to have very suddenly adopted Black Friday, it's all over our Press and Internet. Happy Days.

But I digress. Today I wanted to show you a cushion /pillow that I have just finished as a Christmas pressie for a young nephew. It occurred to me along the way that many reading here will not be familiar with my "fully quilted" technique that I now teach all the time in my I took a few pics and thought you might like a look.

Basically what I do is construct the front of the cushion, if it to be pieced. I then add sides, large enough to cross over, envelope style, on the back, before layering up & quilting. If the front of the cushion is to be appliqued then this can be applied to one single length of fabric.
I usually work with the width of the fabric, around 42" - 44" x about 1/2m (about 20")

Below you can see my "Death Star" cushion in the making. I EPP'd the actual Death Star, courtesy of Melinda's pattern at Quirygranola girl..
I decided I wanted it slightly off centre and applied it porthole style to my background fabric.

From this stage it's time to layer up & Quilt as Desired..........

Trim after quilting, just as you would for a quilt. Measure the depth of your cushion, let's say it measures 19" (variable according to your cushion front style). Cut two binding strips to this length, by 1.5". Theses are to bind the short ends and I like to sew them right side of binding onto the wrong side of the cushion. See below.

Press away from "quilt" and fold the long raw edge to the edge of the quilt.

and then fold over onto the right side of the quilt. This then allows you to machine stitch on the right side and I like to do this with an applique stitch.

Now, remember we have an estimated cushion depth of 19"? You will lose an inch here once the final seams are sewn as I recommend a 1/2" seam allowance for security! So we need to work towards a cushion width of about 19" (I always think when making a 3D item like a cushion, a wee innacuracy here and there is ok)
Lay out your quilt/cushion with right side facing up. Fold one side over the other until you achieve about 19" width. At this stage the width will look a little narrower than the depth - that is ok.
Pop a couple of pins along each fold. You can see my pins in the next pic.

Now, leaving the pins as they are, re-fold with the right sides together. Now you are ready to stitch top and bottom seams. Be sure to use your walking foot here and make those seam allowances about 1/2" Where you stitch over the multiple layers reverse stitch a couple of times as these are the points that will be stressed most when stuffing.

Clip corners.....................

and turn doesn't this look luxurious on the back, it just makes for a more substantial cushion cover, do have a go.

Poke your corners, I do like a neat corner.

Insert cushion pad. My actual cushion measured 17" square and took an 18" feather pad.
Result - one Death Star cushion for a Star Wars obsessed 7yr old.


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