Friday 27 November 2015

Christmas Postcard Swap

I recently signed up to take part in a postcard swap which was organised by Sheila at Sheila's Quilt World.  I had never taken part in a postcard swap before and I was excited to be involved.  Sheila warned me that making the postcards may get addictive and, I do have to say I really enjoyed making my first card.... I will definitely be making some more!

I received my swap partner's details from Sheila and we exchanged emails. My partner is Pauline who blogs at Pheonix Heirlooms.  I think I was a bit over keen to get started as I had my card ready to send within a couple of days of the announcement of the swap and I know that Pauline has now received it.  I have now also received a very pretty postcard from Pauline in exchange.

Pauline's card has a beautiful snowflake on the front. The colours are very delicate and the stitching is exquisite! Pauline has also added some rhinestones for a touch of sparkle which, is just perfect for Christmas.  I really love my card.... thank you Pauline!!

This is the card I sent.  It was a lot of fun deciding what to make and send and I decided on one of my favourite themes.... a snowman!

He was quick to make using a fusible applique method finished off with buttonhole stitch.  I added a few little embroidered details and I also added a little bit of sparkle with some sequin snowflakes.

However, the most exciting thing for me was creating the reverse side of the card which I made by printing (through my printer) an imagine onto some plain white muslin.  I used Kathy Shaw's excellent tutorial which, I knew about through participating in her crazy quilt classes but, had been too nervous to try before! I was worried about damaging the printer but, it worked like a charm.  It opens up a whole world of possibilities! 

Wednesday 25 November 2015

TAST Week Twenty: Butterfly Chain

Week twenty of the TAST Challenge hosted by Sharon Boggon at Pin Tangle  is the butterfly chain stitch.  Sharon has posted a comprehensive tutorial describing how to work the stitch which, is a combination of straight stitch and twisted chain stitch.  There are also plenty of inspirational photographs giving you lots of ideas how to use it.

This was a new stitch to me and, before adding some to my sampler I made several practice attempts on a very scruffy piece of fabric which had previously been used for free motion quilting practice (among other things) and which has now been thrown away! It gave me the chance to decide how far apart the initial three straight stitches needed to be to give the look that I liked best when I pulled them together with the twisted chain stitch.

Once I was happy, I added a couple of rows to my sampler.  I used a variegated silk thread which I thought gave a very pretty effect. The first row I stitched in a straight line but for the second row I staggered the groups of straight stitches to give a zig zag effect.  

I found this quite a difficult stitch to get looking nice but, I am sure with practice it will get better.  Tension definitely plays an important part!  I enjoyed learning it and I think it would be a perfect addition to a crazy quilt block seam.... I may just add one to my December CQJP block! 



I also used up the thread that I had left in my needle after I had finished stitching to fill in some gaps between my French knots with some straight stitch seeding.  It was an area of my sampler which I wasn't very happy with.  I like it much better now! (Sorry the photo is a bit fuzzy!) 

Monday 23 November 2015

CQJP Challenge 2015: Finished November Block

Today I would like to share with you my finished CQJP Challenge 2015 block for November. I am once again using a block that I pieced for one of Kathy Shaw's wonderful online classes as the base block for November. The basic pieced block before any embellishment looked like this....

After I used the base block to complete a couple of the tasks (the addition of an extended surface embroidery design, a mixed techniques motif and a beaded monogram) for the class (ICQC 103) it looked like this....

The little watering can stitchery and the silk ribbon butterfly formed the extended surface embroidery task for the ICQC 103 Class.

I drew the watering can myself and then embroidered over it.

The 'C' was my beaded monogram and the rose was my mixed techniques motif and is completed using an applique technique called 'broderie perse'.

I have now completed the embellishment of the rest of the seams and here is the finished block.

And a few close ups of the latest embellishments....

A flower vine: Stem stitch stems, bullion knot flowers
and fly stitch leaves
 (I got the idea for this from a tutorial on Kathy Shaw's blog)

A silk ribbon bow couched with colonial knots

Buttonhole wheel flowers

Lace trim stitched with running stitch

Colonial knot silk ribbon roses with detached chain leaves

Flowers with detached chain petals mixed with straight
 stitch and colonial knot stamens and,
 a sequin held with a pearl seed bead centre

Combination seam treatment: Chevron stitch, cretan stitch,
detached chain leaves, straight stitch and colonial knots

There is just the December block to go now and then I can put the blocks together into a quilt.  For December I am using the final block that I pieced and used for a couple of the tasks from the ICQC 103 Class which currently looks like this....

Looking forward to getting this last block finished and piecing the finished blocks together into a quilt!

While I am writing a post about crazy quilting, I thought you might like to know that a competition has been organised by the Editors of Crazy Quilt Quarterly Magazine for entries into their 2017 calendar which anyone is welcome to take part in. You can find all the details HERE at Mary Anne's blog 'Magpie's Mumblings'.

I am linking this post to the Stitchery Link up Party at Super Mom - No Cape! and Design Board Monday at Bits 'n Bobs.  Why not pop across and see who else has something to share! 

Friday 20 November 2015

Snow Happy Hearts..... quilting progress....

As you may recall, at the end of last week I finished piecing my Snow Happy Heart Quilt. So, at the weekend I was keen to get started on the quilting.  I chose some backing fabric that I had in my stash (Northern Solitude by Holly Taylor for Moda) and pressed it carefully. It is a lovely green colour but the photo doesn't do it justice.

I selected some batting and measured, cut it and layered it on the backing fabric.  Then I very carefully laid the quilt top on the batting and backing and spent an hour or so hand basting them together.  I was eager to get started on the quilting and I was looking forward to some stitching time while I watched some television.

I usually hand quilt using a relatively big stitch and I don't hoop which works fine for small projects. However, things did not work out as planned.  I think the batting I used was thicker than normal plus, with the embroidered sections there was interfacing on some of the fabrics and, I just couldn't get my hand quilting stitches to look as I wanted them to.  I should probably add in here that I haven't hand quilted anything larger than a small wall hanging for some time, so I was probably also a bit out of practice!

I ended up taking out all the basting stitches, replacing the batting with a thinner piece and then tacking the layers together again.  To save time with the basting I used a tack gun. However, I still wasn't happy with the hand quilting stitches, so I unpicked the quilting that I had done and decided to try machine quilting instead.  I am not very well skilled at machine quilting but I thought I could manage some simple straight line quilting.

I started towards the middle of the quilt in the 'May' block and, have kept the quilting to a minimum as I want the quilt to have a natural look.

As the quilt top is fairly scrappy, I thought I would quilt in a scrappy fashion too.  I am just quilting each section with what I feel enhances that section.

Cross hatching squares, some stripes in some of the 'geese' and a few squiggles in the larger strips of fabric.

So far things are going quite well and I am quite happy with how it is looking. The back is also looking quite neat (if you don't look too closely!) so all in all perhaps a good decision.

Machine quilting is also a bit quicker, so I should have it all finished in time to hang it up with the Christmas decorations!  I hope to get some more quilting done this coming weekend! 

Tuesday 17 November 2015

TAST Week Nineteen: Bullion Knot

Week nineteen of the TAST Challenge hosted by Sharon Boggon at Pin Tangle  is the bullion knot.  As usual, Sharon has posted a comprehensive tutorial describing how to work this stitch.

Here are some photos of the bullion knots that I have added to my sampler.

Bullion knot is not a new stitch to me and, as it is a very versatile stitch, I have used it on many occasions.  Here are some of my favourites......

Bullion knot roses from a block in my 'Le Jardin' quilt. (A free pattern from Red Brolly Designs).

Bullion knot buds decorating a vine on one of my CQJP blocks.

A bullion knot bee which also appears on one of my CQJP blocks.

I often use them to make the bodies for butterflies but, my very favourite example of all is this little hedgehog which appears on the BCQC block I made in Kathy Shaw's lovely online class.

It took lots of bullion knots to make him! 

Monday 16 November 2015

Gift wrapping....

After finishing the piecing of my Snow Happy Heart Quilt blocks was crossed off my sewing 'to do' list, the next item on there was to make a few gift bags.  I think nothing is nicer than to receive a gift with a hand made touch.  There are so many quick and easy tutorials to follow for making little gift bags that I thought I should try and make a few.  Here are the results...

I used this tutorial and the two resulting little bags I made are really cute! 

I did try a couple of different ways from the way shown to box the corners of the bags and I still have another idea to try, so I shall be making some more! 

Speaking of hand made gift wrapping, I think you will go a long way to beat this really pretty book 'cuff' which Mary Anne of Magpie's Mumblings made and wrapped around the book that I was lucky enough to win in her blog giveaway recently. It arrived here at the end of last week.

Thank you for the beautiful book Mary Anne.... I am excited to try out some of the silk ribbon embroidery ideas and an extra thank you for making the prize so pretty with your hand made wrapping! I really appreciated it!