corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Trio of the Sun, the Galaxy and a Heart

A few years ago I claimed to have quilted the universe, well, this week I quilted sunshine, our own galaxy and a little bonus.

DSCN5317A few months back I asked my SIL if she’d like a quilt; at the time it was between seasons, I was lacking inspiration and I had enough clothes to get me through spring/early summer but still had the need to sew and create. K said yes and provided a few images for inspiration and suggestions for colours and off I went down the rabbithole of quilts.

This is from Reccamea designs and highlights the contrast between colour and grey.

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I have rarely followed a quilt pattern: I look at patterns and get ideas, then I buy a tonne of cotton, cut it up and sew it up again. However much fabric I purchase – that’s the size of the finished quilt. I like the freedom of this kind of sewing – innovation combined with discipline. To make a double bed or king sized quilt which will be about 4 metres square you need to quadruple the metres purchased, so buy enough fabric for about 6 sq metres to allow for cutting and seams (and mistakes). And then you’ll have some fabric left over to add to your stash to be used for yet another quilting project. You can’t ever do one quilt because there’s always fabric leftover to start another – cunning plan…..

I found this design and was immediately struck by its simplicity and striking visual impact. This was my starting point…. From Esch House Designs, the pattern is available for purchase.

The colour palette suggested by K was grey with a touch of colour. What I came up with is “Sunshine on a rainy day” – anyone remember the 1980’s song by Zoe? The lyrics are perfect and the melody is an earworm.

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Pre-pressing, quilting and binding. Merely a check for finished size.

The whole time that I was sewing this I was also singing – thank goodness it has now been completed and delivered. I’ll now have to find another song to sing…..

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Blocked stripes of monochrome with one third of Kaffe Fassett vibrant orange/pink. The greys represent a cloudy sky and the colour represents the sun peeking out – also possibly a sunset/sunrise.

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The back of the quilt is yellow in a wood-effect design. The quilting is a loose wiggly line across the joins and is more representation of clouds.

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And then I thought….the only person in this little family who doesn’t have a quilt is Lucas, my young nephew. That would just be mean if he didn’t get anything. So I went ahead and made a single bed quilt that hopefully is appropriate for a 10 year old boy.

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He got the galaxy with all the planets and our single star in roughly the right order but with a disclaimer in the title of “Not To Scale”.

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Some planets are appliqued and others are half-circle sewn. Jupiter has an appliqued storm and Saturn has its rings. The earth has its polar caps, the moon including the dark side.

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The sun is a quarter Dresden plate and determines the top of the quilt. Poor little Pluto had to be added onto the end and made the quilt very long and no doubt will hang over the edge of any bed. But in any case, it’s a cold, icy planet and so it’s a suitable position.

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The back side is representative of all the microwaves in the universe with a zig-zag navy and white fabric. You can see the relatively loose machine quilting that sort of mirrored the planets’ position.

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And then I thought, but now everyone in this little family will be receiving something, except Leigh, my niece. She already has a quilt but it’s really not fair to leave someone out. So, she got a cushion with a big pink heart.

The whole family now has at least one handmade, unique item that I hope they will enjoy and value for many years to come.

I received some lovely Thank You letters the next day….

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and yes….. those of you from an older generation may question the value of learning phonetic spelling…..

 

 

 

 

 


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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!


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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.

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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.


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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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