Friday, 26 June 2015

Maria's Quilt!

Maria had a lovely birthday yesterday, and, happily, the quilt was finished to give to her - with several hours to spare!

After my late panic about how it was looking all together, I am actually really pleased with it now.

It wouldn't be to everyone's tastes, but it has just the bright, whimsical, slightly crazy mix of fabrics look that I wanted for Maria!

I think changing that middle block was very important though, it looks really different now...

And I think the whole quilt works together so much better because of it.

Although I do like the 'on the surface' look of this quilt, that's only part of the story with it. The more important part is hidden away deeper into the quilt.

It was constructed from 15 largeish blocks, and each of these blocks has a hidden picture or cute creature or message, each one particular or personal to Maria. They've all been part of a blog post along the way, so I won't show you all of them again, but just a quick sample of them. Ten are hidden away in lift the flap blocks. This one, for example...

Hides a mermaid, with the obligatory rainbow tail of course!

Or this one...

From a drawing Maria did.
Or one more...

Of the remaining hidden pictures/creatures/messages, four are in a 'pocket in a block', along these lines...

A bee buzzing out of this pocket to visit the neighbouring flower garden, tucked up under a flap.
 And one is in an envelope in a block...

Maria has had lots of fun exploring these different elements, and whenever she drags the quilt around with her (happening quite a bit at the moment!), it tinkles gently as the bell (inside the envelope block) jiggles around. It's the first tinkling quilt I've ever made!

For the binding, I did think about going scrappy, but there's just so much going on in the quilt that I decided the red and white spotty fabric all the way round might help bring it all together more.

And, again since there's so much going on in the front, I just used a bright, flowery, vintage sheet for the back.

Happily, it's a lovely flannelette one, so extra soft!

And, since it's Friday, I'm doing some linking up - over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Crazy Mom Quilts, and Chezzetcook Modern Quilts who's hosting TGIFF this week.

Have a great weekend,


Monday, 22 June 2015

Wool sunflower cushions

While I'm still beavering away on Maria's quilt (going well today!), I have a couple of cushions to show you from a while back. I loved the sunflower cushion I made on the plain linen, and wanted to try a different kind of sunflower, just with wools and inspired a little by Van Gogh colours.

I collected a few bits and pieces of wool that I thought might work...

And shoved them in the washing machine with a packet of bright yellow machine dye. Some worked better than others, but then that's part of the fun of dyeing fabric!

And it gave me plenty of pieces for petals to create some sunflowers, just raw edge appliqued on to a simple wool cushion (made from an old blanket).

This one was a present for a very special friend.

But then I liked it so much and had plenty of scraps left over, so I had to make another!

I'm finding sunflower cushions much more successful than sunflower plants round here this year, we planted lots of seeds and, sadly, I don't think any of them have come up. We haven't completely given up hope yet though, so fingers crossed for the plant variety as well as the cushions.


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Take 5

1) Thank you for all your helpful and constructive comments on my last post. After feeling a little defeated by the quilt when I was writing here on Thursday night, I then spent Friday almost entirely in the woods and the garden which restored me to full positivity! I went to bed with a much improved attitude to the quilt. That middle block still had to go, which meant seam ripping through 2 ballet lessons yesterday and then a little more as well, not my favourite job, but never mind.

Clearly trying something new on a regular basis is great, but maybe not so much when it's the last block in a quilt! But now that's over with I'm feeling confident about the rest of the quilt. It's probably going to be a bit too much of a hodge podge of colour and pattern, most likely it won't be anything even remotely close to an aesthetically perfect quilt. But I've never been trying to make a perfect work of art here; I've been trying to make a quilt that will be very individual and special to Maria. And I know this quilt will be that. As well as all the hidden creatures and pictures and messages to explore in there, just being a hodge podge of colour and pattern is quite Maria like - she spent most of yesterday in bright orange leggings, a purple butterfly patterned top and a red hair band worn male tennis player style in her hair! All very reassuring! So now I just have to crack on and get it finished.

2) A few distractions taking me away from that though! First up, I still haven't got into any particular groove with replacing 'This Moment'. Last week was full of wild swimming photos, which felt more than enough self indulgence on this front! But so far none this week, so...

A slightly late snapping of the famous Theo sea dance!

Too cold for Sam!

Lots of jelly fish.
3) Then distraction number two - the garden! I've been doing lots more gardening than usual this year and really enjoying it. I'm sure this is in no small part down to reading along with other bloggers who clearly love their gardens and the time they spend out there. In particular there have been two bloggers who have inspired me the most to get out in my patch more. First up, Kim over at Mothering with Mindfulness. Her garden is just beautiful and completely full of goodness, in every way. And Kim's love for her garden and the time they all spend out there really shines through. And secondly, Yanic at Family, faith, food, fabric. Yanic and her husband have an amazing drive and enthusiasm to improve their (already lovely) garden and build up their food production. And this is definitely infectious. So thank you both very much for the inspiration. There are still huge areas of very untamed jungle out there, but here are a few peeks at bits I've been working on recently.

The greenhouse is still doing OK - tomatoes and cucumbers growing nicely, I'm slightly worried that they're not as big as they really should be at this stage, but still hopeful.

We inherited some very well established blackcurrant bushes which always do well, they're nearly ripe. Sadly none of us are very keen on them!

The gooseberry bushes we inherited, on the other hand, are extremely popular, and I'm having trouble preventing the children from scoffing them all at the moment. They're still at the very sharp, hard stage and the children will happily eat them like this, whereas I'd like a few left to fully ripen to soft, sweet golden deliciousness!

Loganberries and Tayberries look like they're going to have bumper crops...

I still have no idea which is which, but the children seem to like both, and they both make great jam!
The raspberries always get eaten before any thoughts of jam, and they're nearly ripe too.
I think my garden photography needs a bit of work generally, but this next photo really doesn't give much of an idea of what it is at all!

Mainly sweetcorn in here, but a courgette up the top with some spinach/lettuce, and there's a pumpkin in the centre of each bag too, they're just starting to poke their heads through.
I cleared a patch of ground and built a little raised bed with some of the wood that we still have lying around from long ago building work. It's lined with some water permeable black fabric stuff that we had tucked away in a shed. And for this year I've planted vegetables in there in large compost bags, adapting an idea for instant garden beds that I saw on Yanic's blog here. Obviously we're having to be careful with watering but so far it's working well.

There's another patch I'm in the process of clearing just next to it, where hopefully I'll build another raised bed in the next couple of weeks. Not surprisingly, I find raised beds with good quality soil so much more manageable than the larger, very daunting patches of ground on the other side of our veggie plot that have very heavy soil riddled with bind weed!

Here's a look at said daunting patch where my onions, after a promising start, look like they're struggling a bit now. I have been watering them regularly, but possibly not enough???

The broad beans are really struggling, they got badly eaten quite early on. Egg shells in the greenhouse seem to be working, but eggshells in the veggie patch - not at all. I did a terrible thing and put some nasty slug pellets down. They've recovered lots since then, but I think it may be a little late.

Then a couple of tractor tyres with peas... 

And runner beans...

And quite a few potato plants scattered around that seem to be doing OK too but haven't made it into photos. So I'm hopeful we may actually get a reasonable amount of produce from the garden this year. And I'm also much happier about rainy weather these days now too, which is handy given where we live!

4) Of course there's another sewing distraction in here as well! Another something for Maria's birthday started but not yet finished, no prizes for guessing what this may be...

This is a typically made up as I go along kind of creation, that has evolved through the process. But I have (I think!) taken photos all along the way, so most likely I will attempt to explain the slightly muddled process when it's completed!

5) And then to finish with, I need to bring in another blogging friend, Yvonne at Quilting Jet Girl. There are lots and lots of quilting themed link parties out there - work in progress ones, finishes, fabrics etc. There's basically something for every stage of your making out there, and on every day of the week. But Yvonne has a slightly different linky party going on every Thursday - Quilty Thankful Thursday, in which she highlights something from the week for which she is thankful, and encourages us to do the same. So when you're next reflecting on anything that fills you with gratitude, head over there to link up too. And for me, this week has been full of moments/experiences/people for which I'm thankful, this post already has lots, but since it's Fathers' Day today then the biggest thank you has to go out to Fathers. Two in our house. My own, who is coping amazingly well through a difficult time, always positive and bringing much happiness to the house, particularly to Venetia and Maria who love having their Grandpa around.

They can wrap him round their little fingers, even persuading him to let them do his hair!
And Harry - Sam, Theo, Venetia and Maria's Dad - not only a wonderful Dad but also a wonderful husband, not least because he puts up with the amount of time I spend at the sewing machine and all the fabric stashed and scattered around the house. So thank you!