‘simply retro’ granny squares

chair2

I recently got back from my annual sewing retreat where I enjoyed some ‘me’ time with my patchwork buddies. As usual, we did nothing but eat, sleep and quilt – no kidding!  It was the best time ever!

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have to stop to make meals, do the laundry, vacuum, dust, go to work and all that real life stuff. In a few short hours I managed to stitch together the blocks for an entire quilt top!

The pattern is from Camille Roskelley’s book ‘Simply Retro’. I fell in love with the classic, fresh, retro look of this quilt … a lovely modern take on the humble granny square. I love it! And the best part? It’s fat quarter friendly – you only need 12 fat quarters and a few metres of white to make the top!

banister3

The simple do-able style of the giant 20″ blocks meant that the quilt grew pretty quickly too – hey, I like that!

banister4

Now I’m not gonna lie, I’m not a big fan of machine quilting (I much prefer to hand quilt) but, let’s face it, hand quilting takes time and some days you just wanna get it done, right? So … I opted to have a go at ‘edge to edge’ quilting on the machine. I chose wavy lines rather than straight ones, hoping to add some movement to the quilt whilst at the same time keeping it modern.  What do you think? 

quilting collage

apples

I finished it all off nice and neat with some cute red and white check 🙂

binding

on gate2

on gate

So there you have it … a quilt finished in just under 3 weeks (certainly beats 12 years!).

Phew! I’m off for a lie down …

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Happy stitching!

Natalie xx

 

 

‘Morning Star’ … a journey of a thousand stitches

Actually, it is likely to be somewhat more than a thousand stitches. I guess it would be several thousand, but as I didn’t count them whilst I was making this wholecloth quilt, I will never know the exact number of times the needle entered the soft peachy cotton fabric.

Morning star 34

I have always been fascinated when I have come across old quilts or coverlets in museums or books. I always find myself craning over the rope barriers in museums to take a closer look, to find out more about the maker.

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My mind sets off wondering how those women managed to create such beautiful, intricate and timeless treasures without the luxury of a fabric store with all its choice of fine cottons, without a ‘daylight’ bulb and without all the notions and mechanical aids of today’s modern world.  How different it was for those women of my past who didn’t have a fabric ‘stash’.  It is nothing short of miraculous how they did it  and I love how their strength and tenacity is preserved in the fibres of those beautiful hand made quilts.

These are some of the things that I pondered as I stitched ‘Morning Star’ and in my own way I felt connected to those women as my hands busied themselves with the rocking motion of the needle. I yearned to create something timeless as they had done, to create my own little piece to enchant the eye with intricate patterns.

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The journey began with a sketch on squared paper, doing my best to draw out a ‘scaled down’ version of the actual thing.

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I knew that if I could come up with a design for just one quarter of the quilt, then I could mirror and flip the pattern to create a whole quilt. I started with a design for the centre star; I practiced drawing feathers and gathered quilting templates from magazines and books.

Morning star 25

I ‘scaled up’ the design to a life size version and I transferred it on to fabric, mirroring and flipping the pattern until the whole top was marked out.

Morning star 28

Morning star 26

Morning star 14

Morning star 30

Morning star 22

Morning star 21

Morning star 18

Morning star 16

I tried out several different thimbles, but the one that I found suited me best was a Clover leather thimble with a metal centre on the pad. By the time I had finished quilting ‘Morning Star’ I had worn a hole right through the metal on two thimbles and was on my third!

Morning star 9

Whilst the thimble protected my finger on top of the quilt, the finger on the underside took quite a battering and I was forced to stop on many an occasion when it would start to bleed from repeated stabbings.  I didn’t want to risk getting blood on the quilt!  Someone recommended that I use ‘udder cream’ on the afflicted finger which I found a highly amusing notion at the time, but I have to say it did help to sooth my chapped skin 🙂

Morning star 10

It delighted me to work simply with just the cloth and the frame. It was a real escape, simply to sit with the gentle rhythm of the needle as it gathered all those tiny stitches and lulled my racing thoughts.  I was able to lose myself in the doing of it and I loved it.

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Morning star 2

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I stitched ‘Morning Star’ back in 2005, so it is already a few years old and my hope is that I might get to hand it down to a grandchild at some point in the future and tell them the story behind the stitches.

I would like to tell them about those strong women who have gone before us, who stitched by candle light, making do with the materials that they had.  I would like to tell them about how every stitch in a quilt represents a moment in time in the life of it’s maker and I would like to explain to them that, although every tiny stitch stands alone, it is also part of the whole; connected to the rest.

Just like a family.

Natalie x

wedding fever, a swap and a new pattern

The Very Berry Handmade Textile ATC swap has come to an end and, a little over a week ago, I posted my wee card off to my swap partner with a little note. 

ATC envelope

The recipient is an American lady, so my little offering has flown all the way across the pond to New York! I do hope she likes it.

In the meantime, I have received this delicate blossom tree from Kathie who blogs over at Dipity-do-dah.  Those sweet little blossoms are really, really tiny and are not embroidered on, but cut from fabric!! Wow! Thank you Kathie – I love it!

ATC received May 2013

You can see a lot more amazing designs over on the flickr group – such a diverse mix of ideas and interpretations!  It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to the next Very Berry Handmade ATC swap later on in the year.

Alas, no sewing for me today I’m afraid.  Instead, I’m off out shopping for a wedding outfit – the wedding is next Saturday, so I’m cutting it fine, yikes!    (Note to self: don’t kid yourself that you will find wedding attire in John Lewis haberdashery department … resist going in there. … resist … 😉 ).

We will be having some house guests stay with us from my husband’s side of the family, so I can feel a bit of spring cleaning coming on and some cake baking too! It won’t all be cushion plumping and kettle polishing though – I will be making sure that I set aside a little sewing time before the wedding to do some hand quilting on my Mile-a-Minute scrappy quilt (which hasn’t been ‘mile-a-minute’ at all, by the way – but that’s a whole other story for another day :))

MAM quilt5

MAM quilt4

MAM quilt3

And finally, I am super excited (and a wee bit nervous?) to tell you that I will soon be launching a pattern shop from my facebook page.  It isn’t up and running yet and I am working hard behind the scenes to get my first pattern on there for sale as a PDF download.  I have lots of ideas for stitcheries, wall hangings, dolls and more!  Here is a sneaky peek at the first pattern that I hope will be available soon ….

When it rains detail

This will be one of a series of fun stitcheries featuring Harriet, a little girl who never ventures far without her Teddy.  Each stitchery will depict a day in Harriet’s life, or reveal a little bit about her character. I’ll reveal the message behind this little scene, once I’ve finished stitching it 🙂

Now, it’s time I hit the shops – that wedding outfit ain’t gonna buy itself!  Happy stitching folks!

Liebster Award

liebster

I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by the lovely Irina over at El Petit Taller.  Thank you Irina!

If you’ve never heard of this award before, it is for fledgling bloggers like myself and is a way for them to get to know others, get more followers and discover other blogs that they might like!

To accept the award there are a few rules to follow:

  • Each blogger should answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
  • Choose eleven new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
  • Create eleven new questions for the chosen bloggers.
  • Comment on their page to tell them about the award.
  • Each blogger should post eleven random facts about themselves.
  • No Tag Backs!!!

These are the questions Irina has asked me:

1. what person do you most admire?  My Mum! I admire her for many reasons,  not least for her courage, her boundless energy and her capacity to always put others before herself.  She has taught me the value of family, friendship and love.

2. what’s on your bedside table right now? A reading lamp and a photograph of me and my son when he was about 4 years old (he is 19 now).

3. what’s your favorite cooking recipe?  I have a really sweet tooth, so my favourite recipe is for Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Cake.  It’s super easy – plop everything into a bowl and mix! Never fails – yum!

4. is there a sewing book you would recommend? The first sewing book I ever referred to was ‘The Sampler Quilt Book’ by Lynne Edwards. It was the perfect introduction to patchwork and quilting! I also like Strips & Strings by Evelyn Sloppy.

5. what’s your favorite journey? Home. My favourite journey always leads me home.

I would like to nominate these lovely blogs for a Liebster Award:

And these are my questions for them:

  1. Sweet or savoury?
  2. A few really good friends or lots of acquaintances?
  3. City girl or country?
  4. Morning person or night owl?
  5. What is the most unusual thing you have ever eaten?
  6. What is your earliest memory?
  7. What is your favourite smell?
  8. What 3 words would you choose to describe yourself?
  9. What qualities do you most treasure in a friend?
  10. How did you choose a name for your blog?
  11. Is there such a thing as ‘enough’ fabric?

Now for some random facts about me:

  • I cannot walk in heels to save my life
  • As a teenager, I once fell asleep on a bus – standing up!!
  • I lived in Cyprus for 3 years from the ages of 3 to 6
  • I went to a total of 14 different schools when I was growing up
  • My favourite chocolate is Lindor by Lindt 
  • I love to bake
  • 24 years ago I had a holiday romance and I’m still married to him!
  • I am a self confessed fabric stroker
  • My favourite book is ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd
  • I love the sight of bluebells in the woods, so beautiful!
  • I have a miniature Yorkshire Terrier called Beebo

Beebo

Now all that’s left for me to do is to pop over to my chosen blogs and let them all know that I have nominated them for this wonderful award!  But before I do, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of a quilt I made from the ‘Strips & Strings’ book I mentioned earlier.

strips & Strings1

strips & Strings2

Happy stitching everyone!

thoughtful thursdays

 

Fabric overload

There is a very fine line between the sheer size of my fabric stash and mental illness

Sewing is my therapy 😉