Mary, Mary, quite contrary….

…how does your garden grow? Better than mine I hope. Winter seems to be never ending this year. We’ve had glimpses of Spring, little teasers just to whet the appetitie and give us hope and then the winter returns with a bang. And so my garden remains untended and bare. Perhaps this is for the best as I fear whatever planting I will do when Spring finally arrives may not survive the attention of my two little boys.

 

However, while I may not be able to get my outdoor garden growing I reckoned that there was absolutely no reason that I could not create a little garden of colour. I pulled some recently purchased scrap bags of Sunkissed by Sweetwarer for Moda from my fabric stash and set to work. A little bit of crazy quilting on some octagonal fabric bases resulted in the creating on three colourful flowers. These I backed in some lightweight cotton and then I must admit that I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to use them. And so they sat on the corner of my sewing table for a couple of weeks while a few other projects nade their way through my machine.

Finally I decided I would make a cushion, and that I would keep the design simple. So I grabbed some cream cotton and batting and set up my quilt sandwich. I used some of the green fabrics from the collection to add some leaves to my design, and with the hlep of my trusty vanishing fabric pen I quickly sketched out the layout and design of my cushion front late one night.

There followed a flurry of stitching. First there were the stems, then the leaves were raw edge appliquéd in place. The flowers followed, first attached with some fusing fabric and then stitched in place. Because of their bulk they needed the stitching to attach them firmly, but this also served to add a little more quilting to the cushion. The design was finished with a single butterfly hand quilted between the flowers.

To finish the cushion I decided I would try something a little different to my usual buttoned envelope back and bound edges. Katie over at Sew Katie Did has a wonderful tutorial on how to add an invisible zip to a pillow and I decided I would give this a try. Of course I first needed a back for my cushion. Rather than just opt for a plain or contrasting fabric layer I choose to make up a second quilted panel and make the cushion reversible. As the cushion is to be a belated Mother’s Day gift for when we go home for a visit over Easter I decided that the back should be all about Easter. So I pulled the fabrics back out, pieced together and embelished a bundle of eggs and after some creative scattering and frequent rearranging I finally settled on a suitable arrangment and fixed them in place with more raw edge appliqué.

Spring popped back once more with a bit of warmth and sunshine to show off the finished cushion. It did not stay, but I am sure it will be back again soon. In the meantime there are more colourful Easter eggs on the way.

Easter’s on it’s way

Easter is less than a week away and I am really looking forward to it. Not because of chocolate eggs, chicks or bunnies, but because we are off home to visit my family. We’ve not been back since before Christmas so everyone is excited about the visit.

I feel I’ve been sewing every spare moment this past week or two, not that there are too many spare moments, but I have a few lovley gifts to bring home with me.

Unfotunately now that the sewing is done my time is taken up with packing and organising for off (not helped by the fact that my youngest is teething again/has yet another cold) and there is little time for blogging or aught else. But I can at least show you a few glimpses of my Easter work.

Time to Swoon

Being relatively new to quilting I am of course not all that knowledgeable about all of the terms, blocks, patterns etc that exist. So when I started hearing about swoons I didn’t have a clue what people were talking about. To me a swoon was somethings ladies of old did when their corsets were too tight!

A friend wrote about working on her swoon, and I had images of her practicing a sigh and graceful fall. I came across a few more mentions and then there were images always of single blocks, often scrappy and multicoloured so I never really connected them all. But that piqued my interest and I finally decided to research a little more on what a swoon was. And so I discovered Camille Roskelley’s swoon pattern. I love the idea of large blocks where the colours really get a chance to shine. I knew that I wanted to make one.

And so I have decided that this will be one of my next projects. Because I have several smaller projects (gifts) I need to work on in the coming weeks I am going to just work on this a block at a time when I need a break from my other works. I’m not going to do a full sized quilt as to be honest my house would not let me. I live in a small house filled with myself, my husband and our two little boys. Finding the space to baste and work with a crib sized quilt is already a challenge, anything larger would defeat me, I fear. Storage too is an issue so my projects tend to be confined to those I can gift or use. At the moment there is most definitely space and need for a lap quilt for chilly evenings on the sofa. I have the perfect fabric: my recently purchased New Leaf by Daisy Janie. If the first completed block is anything to go by it is going to be a beautiful quilt indeed.

 

Plates and Flutterbys

Moda recently held a friendship quilt blog hop. Through it I discovered lots of wonderful new blogs to follow, among them that of Vanessa Christenson. Having a browse through the V & Co. blog I stumbled across her recent tutorials on how to make and finish a dresden plate. I’d always been daunted by this design but her tutorials made it seem so easy and I knew it was something I had to try.

I had recently purchased some remnants of FreeSpirit’s Kumari Garden by Dena Designs and they seemed like the perfect choice for this project. I quickly cut out 20 petals and was surprised at just how quickly the Dresden plate came together. I was between minds as to whether I would place my plate on a dark or lime green background. My husband chose dark green so I went with that. Even now I’m still not sure it was the right decision but I do really love the result.

I initially intended on using the background fabric to finish my dresden plate but instead at the last minute I opted for the butterfly Kumari Garden print.

This gave me the inspiration to do a little creative hand quilting around the dresden plate design. As this piece was destined for a cushion cover – yes I am rather fond of them – I felt I needed a quilting design I could use to fill the corners. A quick bit of drawing on the computer and I came up with an outline of the butterfly I had chosen from my plate center. I scaled it to a couple of different sizes, printed it, traced it on tissue paper then stitched through this to transfer the design to my quilt. I chose to use some Chariots of Fire from my recently purchased King Tut threads – the reds and yellow hues picked up nicely on those in the central butterfly.

With a simple slip cover backing and binding pieced together from a selection of Kumari Garden prints the finished cusion is now sitting proudly on my sofa, the colours and flutterbys reminding me of summer days to come.

Scrappy fun

When first I discovered jelly rolls I really wasn’t sure what to do with them. But after a little bit of eperimenting and I was soon churning out all manner of cushions, table mats and wall hangings. I loved the variety of colours and designs but even more so the variety of shapes and pieces I could play with. I cut triangles, wove folded strips, pieced rectangles, mixed collections.

Spurred on by my success with jelly rolly I decided I would purchase a moda scrap bag and see what I could make with that. My first purchase contained fabrics from Kate Spain’s Central Park collection. As soon as I saw the fabrics I knew what I was going to make with them Cori over at Let’s Eat Grandpa had made the most amazing quilt as you go cushion and I really wanted to try out her design. So not only was this going to be my first scrap bag project, it was also going to be my first attempt at some quilt as you go stitching. I followed Cori’s tutorial which explains beautifully how to create these wonderful quilt as you go designs. Despite her comments on how thread intensive this project would be I was still under prepared and had to wind a few extra bobbins as I went. But wind I did, and as I added strip after strip of fabric I saw a rather pleasing desing appear.

It took a few evenings of sewing but I finally finished off my square. I had hoped I’d get to include a few more of the blue and purple fabrics along the outer edges of the square, but that was not to be. Rather than return them to my sewing press to await another project I joined up some strips of these fabrics to make the binding for my cushion. Backed in orange and yellow I am very pleased with how it turned out. The central patch is perhaps a little larger than I would have liked, the end result not quite as flower-like as I hoped, but it still brings a large smile to my face each time I see it.