corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


19 Comments

Every Quilt I’ve ever Made

Firstly, that title sounds like I’ve been making quilts for 100 years – I haven’t. It’s been two years.

Secondly,within 10 minutes of starting to patchwork and quilt I started to gather and collect all my scraps of fabric from every project. You know how that goes…….

Thirdly,  if you are a quilter you might want to look away now. This is not accurate block making nor a precise method of patchworking but it certainly uses up those scraps.

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So following Demented Fairy’s good advice, I sorted all the scraps into colour-ways and stuffed them into plastic freezer bags and stashed them away.

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However, fast running out of freezer bags and space I decided it was time to do something with all these scraps. Now, when sewing clothes, your scraps might be in the region of 0.5-1m. With patchworking, the scraps are 2″ -4″ and below!

So I delved in and dug out a bag: this one happens to be mostly orange.

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The scraps were then pressed, laid out for possible colour combination options with some being removed, then roughly sorted into shapes ready for sewing.

And start sewing random bits together……..1/4″ seam allowance and a pale grey thread.

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When it becomes too difficult to sew any more pieces, like the angle is too acute and there are no more straight edges, trim to make the patchwork squarish and carry on.

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I kept up this process until the block was close to 15″ or so. Pressed really well…….

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…..and then just picked another bag and started the process all over again, and again, and again. Then all of a sudden, I had 20 blocks! Each block was then trimmed to 14″ in a rare attempt to square things off. Can you spot the original start point in this block?

I bought some plain yellow (now I have scraps of yellow!) and made a quilt top with all these random blocks with 2″ yellow sashing – 4 X 5 blocks and big enough to lie atop a UK king-sized bed.

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In this quilt, there are fabrics left over from summer dresses, shirts, totes, skirts, scarves, wash/cosmetic bags and, of course, other quilts.

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So, I’m feeling quite pious at this point. I’ve put the otherwise useless scraps to good use and made a quilt top. But of course, that’s not the end of the quilt. It now needs wadding and a backing to make it complete. I went and bought some of my favourite fabrics by Kaffe Fassett for the backing (I now have scraps of backing).

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Fabulously bright and happy. The quilting of all layers includes wiggly lines on each block and straight line sewing along the sashing. It looks good from both sides.

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It’s teenage son’s girlfriend’s birthday in March so guess what’s she’s getting as a 20th birthday present? Which reminds me that teenage son will not be a teenager for very much longer – like where did those years go?

Every finished quilt needs a title and a label. This one is called “The Learning Years”. I have learnt so much about patchworking and quilting in the past two years and teenage son’s girlfriend is at university – so it’s a title that refers to both our journeys.

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Of course, there’ll always be more scraps………

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Bin ’em!


12 Comments

Holly Rose

After last week’s regimented sewing time, this last week was slightly unusual.

I accompanied 24 students into the wilds of the Mourne Mountains for three days: no mobile signal, no Internet, no TV, radio or most of anything linked with the 21st century. My goodness, how will we cope? We did however, have hot and cold running water, a roof over our heads, beds and en-suites and tonnes of food, which definitely helped.

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Well, of course everyone survived. Which just goes to prove beyond absolute doubt that Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook/Pinterest/Blogger/Wordpress/Google/Bing/Android/i-anything/email/etc,etc,etc may be wonderful thingies but in reality do not enable us to survive!

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The girls were absolutely frantic, they just kept staring at their blank phone screens at any and every available moment like a signal might miraculously appear while the boys just sort of went “Yeah, no signal, OK. Got a football?”.

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Anyway, while they all went off hillwalking, kayaking, bouldering, mountain biking and other things involving fresh air, I sat on my well padded backside padding it a little bit more doing a constructive project – hand sewing.

BTW – I never take my students out unless the rain stays away and the sun shines – I’m lucky that way – Jinkes !!

A colleague had a baby in early September, well actually, his wife did.

14433048_10210567245760386_5165385499060978708_nI had already completed the quilt top awaiting the imminent arrival and it just needed quilting and binding – this was my hand work for three days. Hand quilted, the binding hand sewn and all completed in time for coming home on Friday to Wi-Fi, email, Facebook and all the other sh**e.

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The pattern for the quilt top is Jelly Roll Jam 2 . Sorry, I can’t remember the fabric but you might just be able to see pine trees, birds, bees and tents – all outdoor things.

The other side is backed with birds.

20161021_11380720161021_113815With the fabulous backdrop of the Mourne mountains here’s Holly’s quilt which is also in part a memory quilt for her father who went hillwalking and camping before Holly was born. I don’t believe he reads this blog so we’re safe.

James,  it will be years and years before you you can venture up the Mournes again……….

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I hope Holly loves the quilt –  James, but I’m sure you love her way more.

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38 Comments

and counting…

No use having pretty PJs and not having a pretty bed to lie in.

I’ve been making patchwork quilts for just over a year now and I’ve managed to rack up quite a collection but surprisingly we don’t have one for ourselves. The very first one (my ‘learning quilt’) was backed with a cheap shower curtain and given to my mum as a picnic blanket ( no pics); the next (still learning) went to my sister as a spare;

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with a bit more experience and practice I made a very special one for her which helped heal emotional wounds. Rockpools.

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I concentrated all my efforts and sewed up the universe for my son going off to uni. Big Bang
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I made little ones for my niece and grand-nephew.

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I repaid my long-lost friend’s kindness and hospitality with a giant all out Kaffe Fassett infused quilt. Frames

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So enamoured with Kaffe Fassett fabrics I selfishly made and kept one for myself but it resides in the living room and is for snuggling under when watching TV. For Me

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Each quilt so far has stretched my sewing repertoire, design and skill. I’ve done strips, triangles, circles, diamonds and squares.

Our bed is bare!

I know my husband would not appreciate my penchant for mega colour or real fancy piecing and there would be arguments about a quilt cluttering the marital bed, so with this in mind and in an attempt to keep the peace, I restricted the palette to blue and white in a geometric block. This is called by the manly name of Carpenter’s Square. Sources of inspiration for many quilts are either domestic objects or natural elements. It is unusual to find a quilt which is directly named after a tool.

It is just about complete, only the binding to hand sew on another 2 sides. But the sun was shining early this morning, so while the rest of the house lay asleep in their (unadorned) beds and the dew was fresh on the grass I took some photos. BTW, it’s hanging upside down!

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Each block is a different mix of blue and off-white with sashing in between and five borders which really add to the overall size. It measures 2m square and is just big enough to cover the bed with a little overhang down the sides.

I got the pattern from this book Quilts: The American Story which I bought for a song online as an ex-library book. Its condition is perfect and this is probably the first time I have loosely followed a pattern for a quilt. The original inspiration quilt was sewn up in traditional red and white and heralds from the late 1800s. The book rates this design as ‘advanced’ but to be perfectly honest with you, I am by no means an ‘advanced’ quilter and I managed it. The original is 3 X 4 blocks but I made mine 4 X 4 for a square quilt not a rectangle.

As far as quilt patterns go, I tend to ignore them and use the design as a starting point – I just buy a load of fabric, cut it up, sew it back together again and that’s the finished size of my quilt. I managed to just about get two blocks from 2 long quarters: one blue and one white.

The binding is made from all the little scraps and cut-offs, just pieced together in strips of 3.5″ and folded over. There’s a mighty lot of seams inside that binding but they’re acting like extra batting to give a padded effect to the edge of the quilt. And I like that it is random and improvised to counter the precision of the blocks.

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The back is just one extra wide fabric in a flowery cream on blue.

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The quilting is a very, very random and badly executed free motion stipple over the blocks with straight line stitching down the centre of the borders. This creates a rather stiff quilt due to the density of the stitching but in reality, this quilt will lie flat on the bed during the day and will no doubt be folded out of the way during the night (hot flushes determining the amount of bed linen employed).

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In a sense then it is purely decorative rather than useful but then you never know if the electricity will fail and we might need an extra layer. The quilt is still is sewn well and can withstand daily use if necessary.

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The label is yet to be sewn on; like a launching of a ship, this is the last thing to do and marks its completion and transition into use. The quilt is called “…and counting” – a multiple purpose name – firstly, to my continuing quilt making but more importantly as a testament to the years already shared with with husband and to the many more to come. He’s a patient, good man, he has to be, living with me. He has put up with a lot and is still here………

I am also constantly reminded of blessings – and taking time to count them. When days drudge by and worries spiral just take 5 minutes and reflect on the good things. There is the real – family, friends, house, food, constant flowing clean water, electricity and freely available energy, good infrastructure and free health care, employment and salary; and then there is the abstract but no less important – security, freedom, learning, sharing, choice, equality, creativity, happiness and contentment.

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Rest assured that I did not make this in one week! I started in October 2015 sewing one block a week in between clothes and other stuff. So it has only taken 6 months to make but hopefully there will be many years of use.


20 Comments

Snuggle on a Cuddler

AppleII’ve been experiencing a very first world problem recently, in that my old Apple Mac is now apparently obsolete and has decided all by itself to retire, albeit sporadically.  Gosh, 10 years old and you’re thrown on the scrap heap! I have knickers older than that. I now have a brand new one and normal service resumes. Thank you as always for your very welcome comments to recent blog posts but technology prevented me from replying individually – apologies.

And so life continues – a sewing post about a quilt and this is the very first one that I have ever intentionally made for myself.

A sprinkling of Kaffe Fasset pinks and reds tempered by some variegated greys and an exercise in precision. I sewed some 4X4 blocks and then got fed up with that and moved to 2 X 2 blocks, making absolutely sure that all the points and corners matched. When the world falls into chaos and violence, there is comfort in order and precision; there is everyday in the small things; there is routine and normality in 1/4″ seam allowance.

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We bought new sofas recently and one of them is called a Cuddler – larger than a single seat but smaller than a sofa – sort of cosy for two people who know each other well; covered in dappled grey, this new quilt fits right in but it wasn’t planned that way, just a happy coincidence. The fabrics were purchased way back at the beginning of summer  and the sofas about a month ago.

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The pinks and reds lift the blandness of the sofa and warm it up. I had three blocks left over and these became a cushion cover.

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The backing is pale grey and the quilting is a straight-line grid with inner squares. You can see how washed out grey on grey is.DSCN5869

When I started this quilt I started to sew hexagon blocks but got fed up with the fiddling and need to match too many seams – I got 4 made and they form the corners.

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It’s smaller than my usual Montana sized ones but just the right size to snuggle under on a cuddler.

This quilt is un-named apart from For Me!

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52 Comments

Cat Endorses Quilt

I know lots of you have cats, dogs and other domesticated animals who relish helping you with pattern placement, sorting fabrics and cutting out etc.. I’ve seen the pics!  Mine, (cat called Eddie) however stays well out of the way of sharp things like pins, needles and scissors so it was somewhat a surprise when the other day she came out and nestled comfortably on my latest quilting project as I sat in the garden and hand sewed the binding. I couldn’t shift her which I took to be a good omen – cats especially know ‘things’- and I now believe this quilt is not only endowed with effort and love but animal instinct too. Just wierd.

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Did anyone also note the colour coordination between my choice of clothes and the quilt? – You get bonus points – well done! [dress= Vogue 8870, pink & multi-coloured chiffon; cardigan = Burda Cocoon Cardigan 11/2013 #107, saffron yellow mohair blend]

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This one is for my very dear friend Caroline who I met this summer after a 20 year weekend break. She was busy, I was busy but we reconnected easily, simply and effortlessly. After a short but extremely enjoyable 4 day visit I decided she needed a quilt and so she gets one. She has no choice in the matter!

Starting point – a painting Caroline has had for as long as I have known her. Here’s the colour scheme.DSCN5543

Next was to personalise the style. Caroline is a photographer and has a million (or more) paintings, pictures, photos in her home either hanging on the walls or leaning against walls or stacked waiting to be hanged. So frames, borders, mountings are prevalent throughout. So the quilt pattern was going to be like frames around a picture.

I did get carried away a wee bit with this idea and some of my frames are rectangular, big squares, little squares and no where near square. Once again I made a quilt that has a basic plan interweaved with improvisation.

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Individual blocks

31 fabrics used which I determine to be significant as it’s a prime number and no one in the entire world understands prime numbers so they’re weird. All fabrics are Kaffe Fasset because Caroline is a bit posh and likes and appreciates the good stuff. they were bought online from FlorenceRose and I couldn’t recommend this Internet site enough! Excellent communication and personal service and not bad prices either! And although there’s only 20 involved in the planning stage, I bought many more and used them all.

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The finished blocks were round about 10″ with a few at 20″ to upset the regularity and some are only 5″ sewn together. My inspiration was this which is actually paper pieced – aye! in your dreams!

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The blocks are essentially constructed around a square in the middle with ‘frames’ or borders surrounding them. Sometimes the centre pieces are rectangle and every block is different. Approximately 9X9 grid with all the leftovers sewn into a stripey border.

Mine (or rather Caroline’s) has simple straight line machine quilting in a grid-ish pattern to keep all the layers together.

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Pre-quilting airing

It’s huge! About 96″ (2.4m) square. I have no idea how I got this through my little home sewing machine – sheer tenacity and brute force determinism I suppose. We have a King-sized bed and to check for fit (just like dressmaking) it reaches all the way from the head to feet and hangs over the edges too: perfect for wrapping yourself up in while watching a movie or Breaking Bad on the sofa with lots of room for one other! Take it in the camper van for days out while photographing landscapes. Lay it on the heather for picnics or lying back and gazing at the sky…..

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I never really use a pattern when making a quilt – I just buy a load of fabric, cut up and sew it back together again. When there’s no fabric left – that’s the size of the quilt! Maybe I should try to be a bit more disciplined……DSCN5691

And when there’s nothing on TV or it’s raining just gaze at the quilt…….count the fabrics, look at the frames, try to figure out the construction and method in my madness, or just simply smile at the colours. It’s a happy quilt.

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The backing is a simple black and white print to contrast with the colours on the front with a patched strip down the middle.lhd665_zoom__14098

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And no quilt is complete without a name and a label

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The quilt has already been posted, has arrived and been unpacked and just in from Caroline……..

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Her cat on the quilt!