Tuesday, 29 September 2015


In May 2015 Hans and I stayed in a summer house in Sweden at a place called Kärshult (pronounced  Shashult). We stayed there with Hans’s family and it was a wonderful holiday. While I was there I was inspired to make a quilt so this is the start of that project. I’ll also be doing the same as I did with my Christmas quilt and record the time is takes to make it.

I’d already made some notes so I’ll include any which are relevant in this first post. The quilt itself will be a combination of designs. I have the idea of what I want it to include but am happy if it evolves differently. That’s part of the fun.

My initial inspiration was to have Log cabin blocks. The house was made of wood and so is a log cabin. This this the central part of the whole design. I’m not 100% certain what size blocks I will do. I have bought some Log Cabin rulers and have an option of 4 sizes. I think I’m going to go for the larger size to reduce the number of seams. That will make the quilting part easier. I’ll be arranging them in a starry night formation. This is because one night we stood outside and looked up into the sky and saw the magnificent stars. As there was very little light pollution the sky was twinkling with lights.

I pondered the design all the time I was there. On the last day I sat outside on my own. At this point I knew I wanted the log cabin blocks in a starry night grouping but I needed a border. At that very moment there was a squawk overhead and, when I looked up, I saw two geese flying over the house. If this was in a book or a film I’d groan with the cliché but it actually happened. So flying geese as the border it is!

I also want to include some applique but as yet I’m not sure of the designs. I have some ideas (Danish and Swedish flags/hearts) but this is something I’ll be more certain about when the quilt takes shape.
I’m also going to do this as a quilt as you go project. Probably sewing each starry night block (so four log cabin blocks) together then quilting these. I’m not certain about that though so let’s see.

I took many photographs and selected those which inspired me the most. Finding fabric was a little problematic as at the point I hadn’t located High Street Quilting at Birtley so I have purchased it from the internet. That said I am happy with my choices. I have matched up a photograph with each fabric but in some cases it is less what the photograph shows and more my recollection of the item I want to represent in the quilt.

The heart of each log cabin block is the central square to represent the hearth of the home. The house actually did have wood burning fires which was very cosy and atmospheric, The room Hans and I spelt in had a beautiful fire and it was especially romantic to turn off the lights and lie in the dark watching the red and orange flames.

The light half of the log cabin blocks will have less of a variety of fabric (mainly as there were less things that were light) so I’ll be using each one more than once in each block.

There were beautiful white flowers everywhere. When I came back I looked them up and they are called Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa). I have a pure white fabric as their petals.

In the area we stayed there were many silver birch trees. I tried to find a fabric that represented the colour of the bark but all the silver fabric I looked at was too silvery. I decided to use a white fabric with a white leafy pattern which I think I’ll also use for borders as it has a leafy/foresty theme.

Dotted in amongst the trees were large and small lakes. They were almost all a pale blue colour. Quite delicate and light.

So these three will make up the light section of the log cabin blocks.

The darker half will have five colours.

I have no photo for sky as I am representing it on the quilt. It was just before dusk and the sky was a dark blue colour.

Hans has told me many stories of the times he spent at the house. One of those stories told of a moose who wandered near the house one year. I said I’d love to see a moose too but he told me it was rare and in all the times he had been to the house moose were rarely seen. On the drive to the house we told Sara and Michael I wanted to see a moose and again I was told they are shy, reclusive creatures who hide away. Then out of the woods appeared a moose. Just a few metres away! It stood for a while and watched us. We got out of the car and took photos. It was quite unconcerned. So I’m using a brown fabric for the moose.

As it was a forest I wanted to represent the trees so have a darker green for the pines.

All around, on rocks and the trees, was a very pretty moss. It gave the whole forest a fairy tale atmosphere.

The lovely Wood Anemones had bright yellow stamen which stood out against the white of the petals. I wanted that colour too.

So these are my five dark colours. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Things to do

I've completed one of my Things to Do:

Completed 28th September 2015. Peter’s cushion. I used a cushion pad I already had and sewed up some dark blue and white stripy fabric. I'll mark the items I have completed with an * in the original post.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Things to do

­I have a list of sewing projects I want to do at some point. They include:

  • Sweden quilt. This is my next big project. I have all the fabric and will be starting as soon as we get back from Denmark.
  • Zipped fabric bags. On the internet there are a gazillion tutorials for these bags and they are usually called pouches. Ugh. I hate the word pouches. I call them bags. None of the tutorials are quite what I want though so I’ve been tweaking. I want to do several types/sizes to fit around whatever is needed.
  • Appliqué. I’ve always thought it looks lovely and adds something extra to a project. I attempted some on my Christmas quilt and loved it. I found it very satisfying.
  • Peg holder. I’m actually in two minds about this one. I decided to learn how to make them when my own peg bag gave up and died. Since then I’ve been keeping my pegs in a plastic jug and in that time I’ve grown quite fond of that jug. It serves its purpose well and I have no complaints. So now the peg bag is on my list less out of necessity and just because I want to say I can make one.
  • Small hexagon quilt. And when I say small hexagon I mean it. I got some free, tiny, paper templates with a magazine and have the idea to do a lap quilt with lots of white negative space and the small hexagons scattered across that space. I have green/blue and mustard coloured fabric picked out for it so sort of have the idea there.
  • Bright blue quilt. This one will be super modern in design. I bought some bright turquoise fabric and again want lots of negative space but with patches of different sized squares in some areas. Again I know the design in my head. I also want to have a quilted back as opposed to one piece of backing fabric.
  • Placemats and coasters in the 1718 quilt design. I have practiced making Christmas coasters and placemats using cheap poly-cotton fabric. I now have an idea of what they need to be sewn like. I want to make some good quality ones too. I saw the copy of the 1718 quilt at the Quilt Museum in York and bought the book that has the patterns. I have an idea to have some of the designs on placemats and coasters in good quality fabric.
  • Nisse placemats and coasters. I need to make 3 sets of these for Michael’s children. I have the Nisse fabric so just need to find something in red that is suitable to edge them.
  • Tile Quilt. This is inspired from the shop doorway in Sunderland. I have always admired the tiles and want to make a quilt inspired by them. I’m not that keen on the colours though so it won’t be an exact copy.
  • Hexagon quilt. This is the first one I started a few years ago. It’s from a book and is EPP. I have all the hand sewing done so just need to join the pieces up and quilt. It is huge though so I want to quilt as you go in smaller pieces then join.
  • *Peter’s cushion. This is such a small job but I have been putting it off. I couldn’t find the fabric for it but recently it appeared again so I’m aiming to do this one first before all the others.
  • Bookmarks. Just sew a few to have as spares for when needed. I might also use them to practice appliqué.
  • Clear front bags. I saw a pattern for these in a magazine and loved them. They are ideal for holidays as you can see everything inside them.
  • Drawstring bags. These will be of 2 types. Type 1 will be your normal, round bottomed drawstring bag (though it’s trickier that you would think to find a good pattern so I’m thinking of testing out some ideas to get the one I want). Type 2 will have a crocheted outer part that covers the bottom and halfway to ¾ of the way up. The rest will be fabric and it will have a fabric lining. I looked on the internet for drawstring and it’s very disappointing. Cheap looking and boring colours. So I have bought a lucet and will be making my own.
  • Laundry/clothes bags. Again they will be drawstring but won’t have round bottoms. They are to put underwear etc in when travelling and also one for dirty clothes.

Wow. Fifteen things. I’d better get a move on

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Christmas lattice Quilt. Part 7.

I’m finished the Christmas quilt. This will be a long post as there were quite a few small but fiddly steps so I’ll include them all here.

I finally managed to finish the FMQ on the border. It went much better than before and even though I wasn’t 100% happy with the results (when am I ever?) I can live with it. I then sewed on the binding.

I wanted to do a quilt label that matched the theme of the quilt. This is probably something I’ll try to do for each of them. For this quilt I planned to do the label in a pale cream fabric with a border in the backing fabric. I wanted the border to blend into the quilt as my plan was to appliqué gold stars onto it. I have ever done appliqué before so more on that later.

First I cut out the label pieces.

I then sewed the border pieces to the label.

Then came the applique part. As always I read up about it and looked at the different methods. The one that looked the easiest was where you iron interfacing to the shape then machine stitch around the edge. That didn’t appeal to me as much though as the photos of examples looked a little clumsy and as I knew I wasn’t going to be great at it I didn’t want to have clumsy as my aim. So I decided to do the technique where you cut out the shape in freezer paper and iron it to the wrong side of the fabric.

From what I read it was advised to leave a ¼ inch seam allowance but when I did this it was too fiddly for me to manage so I cut a larger seam allowance. Hopefully I’ll improve with practice.

There are then differing ways to tackle the next step. Some people trace the line of the shape onto the fabric then either finger press, or just turn with the needle, and sew to the background fabric. I tried this but again it was too tricky for my novice ability. I preferred the method whereby you press the edges over to have a cleanly defined line.

I then sewed the stars to the label with small stitches. I love this! I’m definitely going to do more appliqué. It’s just the right amount of hand stitching for me. Something I can do while watching the TV or on the go.

I wrote my label and made a mistake. I spelled Christmas wrong (Christmass L). In my defence I was tired. I also started sewing it to the quilt back and it was wonky so I left it and went to bed. This morning I had another go and transformed the mistake into holly and sewed it on straight.

All through the project I have been doing my best to remember to record how long I spent working on the quilt. I added it all up last night and it was 43 hours. I’m actually pleased with that. Not too bad really.

And here is the finished result.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Christmas Lattice Quilt. Part 6.

All was going swimmingly with my Christmas Quilt. I managed to make the quilt sandwich without too much trauma. I had originally thought I would try to do this part on the floor in the sitting room but at the last minute I decided against it. This was partly because I couldn’t face crawling about the floor (won’t someone think of the knees!) but also because I found it difficult to estimate how long it would take and envisioned everyone wanted to get back and forth to the kitchen making it twice as stressful.

I used the kitchen table instead and this was the best option. Not only was I up off the floor but the weight of the quilt hanging off the table pulled out any wrinkles. I started with the centre of the quilt in the centre of the table and the rest hanging over each side.

I pinned a handwidth apart all over the quilt. Again starting from the centre and radiating outwards. Once all the fabric on the table was pinned I pulled the quilt until an unpinned bit was on the table and continued that way. I found that as long as I checked for wrinkles and folds each time I moved it and it was fine. It’s probably not as taut as quilts that are taped to large tables but it’s the best I can do with what I have.

I was pleased with the result.

I then went on to quilt in the ditch; horizontally and vertically through the charm square triangles then diagonally along the sashing. I haven’t got a photo of this but it is basic stitch in the ditch so we can use our imagination.

I then moved on to the free motion quilting and all went very wrong. My poor sewing machine wasn’t happy.  Thread snapped. Stitches were ugly. Needles broke. The machine clunked. I persisted for a few days and during that time I took the machine apart twice (to fix the clunking) re-threaded more times than I care to remember and got more and more frustrated. Each time it went horribly wrong I did all of the above then went back to ordinary mode with an ordinary foot and all was well. I read blogs on FMQ. Watched excellent classes on Craftsy by the inspirational Leah Day. Nothing made any difference.

So I went to Tullys in Sunderland and test drove a new machine. I could FMQ fairly easily. I now have a new machine. It’s a Bernina 350 Special Edition. The Ricky Tims one.

It is beautiful. My trusty old Janome is still in use and wonderful for most stitches but I think I was asking too much with the FMQ. She just wasn’t happy with it. ­­­And now I can be 100% certain any issues I have with FMQ will be down to me and not the machine.

I haven’t done any more with my Christmas Quilt as I want to use Bernina on less complex projects than FMQ until I’m more familiar with it so have moved onto one of my other projects; perfecting zipped fabric bags.