Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Battenburg Quilt

I bought a fat quarter pack of 8 fabrics from Cotton Patch of the Dan Bennett Cosmos Daydream range ages ago when they were first advertised and the plan was to make a quilt for the snug.  I also got some plain cotton sheeting in a purple/pinky colour from Abakhan to go with it.

I didn't really decide on a design at first but I had some ideas about a trellis type pattern (squares on point).  Then I saw some pictures of a disappearing 4 patch  - this one in-fact, and fell in love with the design so had to start straight away!

From each FQ cut 3 strips 5'' by 22'' then cut these into 4 5''x5'' squares so you end up with 12 squares from each FQ. Also cut 3 strips 1.5'' by 22 - you might only get 2 strips depending on how well the FQ has been cut, these will be used for border.

Cut the same number of 5'x5' squares from the plain fabric, then join each patterned square to a plain one, and join two of these pairs to make a square.

Then to make the disappearing 4 patch, cut an inch either side of the centre seam in both the horizontal directions, then rotate each of the middle strips so you end up with something looking like this:

Then join everything back together!

And you end up with a stack of 48 disappearing 4 patch squares...

These I joined into 8 rows of 6 patches. Then I cut 1.5'' strips from the plain fabric for the first border.  The strips I cut from the patterned fabric were joined together and used to create the second border. I had just about enough fabric to make these 2.5'' wide and be long enough to get around the entire quilt.  I would have liked a wider outer border but there wasn't enough fabric - I used up every last scrap of the FQ's, so much so that if you look closely you might see a tiny bit of selvedge!!

Once I'd finished the top, I got distracted with making other things (clothes, and quilts as presents), and this sat languishing in the drawer for nearly a year.  But this spring, I decided to clear out some of the backlog of planned projects and WIPs so this top came out and was pinned and quilted.

I've gone with free motion quilting on the 4 patch centre as I need the practise!  My speed of movement/speed of needle still isn't perfect so the thread tension is a bit off on the back but I'm definitely getting better.  For the borders I quilted the ditches and 0.5'' from the seams, then bound the quilt with more plain fabric.

The backing fabric came from the fabric bins at Abakhan (the teal block-work one is left over from the unfinished/unblogged Wintersmith quilt, I really need to crack on with that one!)

This one is mine.

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts

Monday, 21 April 2014


Sometimes you have to spend all your time in the garden... Spring is here and there's so much to see and do.

I'm building up my fern collection for the damp shade under the willow trees and I just love the way that the fronds are unfurling at the moment.

My hellebores for the same area of the garden are growing nicely in their pots - they started off as (cheaper) tiny seedlings but are now big enough to produce flowers, and the colours are lovely.

I've spent my time tidying everywhere, the polytunnel is now looking acceptable (point of note:- if you leave your turnips in the tunnel they bolt and reach the roof with bright yellow flowers!) and I even have one surviving pea plant at the end. I planted four for overwintering (last August) but I was too keen and there was too much growth last year and they just rotted (a common problem in the tunnel).  However there are pea pods on my survivor so fingers-crossed!!

My seedlings (16th April planting) were grown enough for potting on and moving from the window ledge to the tunnel. Here we have a couple of different tomato varieties, the one germinating cucumber, peas and mangetout. Oh and if anyone wants foxgloves, shout! I have loads planted from seeds collected last year (a lovely variety called Pam's Choice - creamy white with pink throat).  And there's the one surviving pepper plant from last year - I don't have much success with them either, hot and damp tunnel issue again....

While I've been tidying and potting, Mal and his Dad have been busy designing and constructing new veg beds.  The long term plan is to move all of the veg growing to the area next to the tunnel, and last year he built a couple of beds.  But we decided because of our heavy clay solid and poor drainage, we needed something a bit more substantial.

More pictures to follow - these are yesterday, and two beds were completed today I just didn't get around to pictures. I have to say they are mightily impressive!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

I am Number One

Last Sunday I did my first Tri of the year - hopefully there will be more to follow! I did the same one for the first time last year and enjoyed it even with a hideous chest infection. But then the rest of the year was a write off with various other cold/coughs (all attributed to evil work air-con).  I'm really hoping that I can keep the exercise levels up (training is to strong a word for it!) and actually improve on my times rather than just getting round. 

Saying that I did actually finish 2 minutes faster this year! The 400m pool swim was endured (having only been swimming a couple of times this year!) - but I wasn't first out in my wave (the first wave as well hence I was #1!!) so didn't have that couple of second leading the race like last year! I was quickly over taken by other Club racers but I did manage to catch up with the girl who'd beaten me out of the pool. That's the trouble with being in the first wave - there's no one to chase down and overtake...

The outward leg of the bike phase is ever so slightly uphill - so it's not obvious you're gaining height, it just feels like you're knackered!! Returning felt so easy just spinning along - I probably should have been working harder!

Out of transition for the is straight up hill so you feel knackered and wibbly legged but after 5 minutes or so I started to get back into running rhythm. I was feeling surprisingly good on the run phase, even with the lack of training. The chest infection must have taken it out if me last year. 

Finishing the race I did feel I should have pushed myself further, especially as I realised afterwards that I was only a few second behind one of the Club gents, so might heve been able to catch him if I'd upped my run pace a bit.

Oh well there's always next year (and Deva Diva in the summer, and Newbury in autumn)....

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Me Made May!!

I've been planning for this since I started sewing and heard about it on the Blogosphere last year, and now it's finally here.

If you haven't heard already, it's all about pledging to wear your own clothes throughout May as much or as little as you want with no pressure of panic sewing beforehand.

More about it on Zoe's blog here.

And this is my pledge:

I've gone with five days a week as at the weekends (in May) I'm usually pottering around in the garden wearing scruffs.  I'm hoping that this will highlight the things that are missing from my handmade wardrobe and help me plan what to sew for the rest of the year (rather than succumb to the latest Blog fad!!)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Fan girl

Looks like I'm turning into a bit of Deer and Doe fan girl - first there was the Belladone, then the Chardon, and now we have the Sureau.....

I had this grey/blue linen sat around for a few months - I think it came from Abakhan and the plan was always to make this dress and jazz it up with some piping.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
I cut a 38 bust and graded it to 40 a the waist and added an inch to the length of the bodice and the fit is not bad (I'm getting better).  It might be a 1/4 inch too long in the bodice now, but meh who's going to notice?!

Oh look, a zip

I didn't do anything fancy with the side zip, just followed the instructions.  They're really easy, the instructions that is, and the dress came together without any head scratching, procrastinating, or the seam ripper.

I *love* the contrast piping, and the wooden heart buttons (found on eBay). I'm so impressed with the finish as well (pats self on back). I tried to not cut corners or rush and it really shows.

And I was even a little OTT on the finish on the inside - every seam is bound.... Well it's linen, it's going to fray like billy'o (although it was fine when I was sewing). 

Possibly a bit too much?

All in all, I love this dress!!! Yay!!!!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Slow, slow, quick...

Now usually it takes me ages to finish a quilt, and it sits there for weeks between stages (evidence the half finished Butterfly quilt top, the finished Battenburg quilt top, and the half quilted Wintersmith quilt).  However, the first grandson of my lovely friend and colleague Laura arrived 10 weeks early and I decided that he'd need a quilt to keep him warm!

As I said in this post, this was made from a charm pack of Kate Spain's Daydreams collection for Moda (I'm a little bit of a Kate Spain fan...), and 5 FQs of solid pastel colours - ideal for a baby quilt I thought.

Given I started with the charm pack I decided to keep it simple (and quick), just cutting the FQs into 5'' squares, and then joining everything together to make the quilt 10 squares in both directions.  I didn't think about the placement at all, just divided everything into ten piles then joined everything in each pile to make the rows.

The backing and binding fabrics came from the craft cotton bins at Abakhan. I love the marble blue sparkly one - might have to go back and see if they have any more! For some reason I was being a complete spanner and it took me a few tries to join enough fabric together for the back (rushing, not thinking).

As the design was so simple, the quilting stayed simple as well, just joining the corners of the squares to divide them on the diagonal.  I didn't mark or draw anything at all, doing it all by eye.