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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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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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!


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Quilting the Universe – Big Bang

It started out by me asking teenage son what colours he wanted in his quilt. We were standing in the kitchen at the time and he answered, “Just like this.”

“What, the kitchen?” I queried. “Blue, white and orange?”

“Yes”.

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Now, having the benefit of knowing my son since birth, blue actually means navy, white actually means grey and well, orange just means orange. So I set about gathering appropriate fabrics. Once I had gathered together about 100 metres of each colour I then researched quilt patterns. This quilt is intended for him to take away to university in September this autumn and I allowed myself 5 months in which to make it. I started in April and almost, almost, got it finished today but nPastelBigBang_m-1ot quite. I just couldn’t resist showing you……..

KaffequiltsagainThe design is from Kaffe Fasset’s Quilt Again book and is the Big Bang pattern. In the book the quilt has 3 stars which I thought was a rating for impressiveness. It actually means level of difficulty which just goes to show that if you don’t know your own limitations then there are no limitations!

Essentially, the pattern is a Lone Star that goes all the way out to the edges of the quilt.

To cut a very long story short – the thinking time and colour matching and fabric setting; the processes and time consuming patchworking. Then the construction and with every little bit and strip added, this quilt top just got bigger and bigger! In total there are 1392 diamonds. Yep, nearly 1400 diamonds and all with bias edges!DSCN5282

But there are easier ways to sew 1300 diamonds together: Straight stitch a clatter of fabric strips together and then cut them at 45 degrees. Then sew the diamond strips together. Press that tiny 1/4″ seam allowance open – good grief! And make sure your diamond points all match up – yeah right!

However, at long last I had a quilt top which is clear proof that time is limited and not endless. I think I should get a PhD for that discovery!

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The quilting is really fairly simple and I mostly used my walking foot – North, South, East and West : NE, SE, SW, NW and then octangle rows to join up the points of the compass. That should hold the bias together yet remain soft and flexible enough to snuggle under. There’s a bit of a free motion quilting in the centre to make a spiral too.

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While I was quilting the layers together, I did begin to think that this quilt was the same size as the universe. I have henceforth discovered that the universe is not infinite and neither was the quilt because the quilting did eventually come to an end. Do I get another PhD for that one? I sewed the binding on and the only thing that needs to be done now is slip stitch this over the raw edges and give the whole thing a really good pressing.

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In the centre is the original Big Bang – hot and firey. Then all the debris, dust, dark matter and the foundations of our universe radiating out. Our solar system is orbiting around about the orange/turquoise band – warm enough for life but not too hot nor too cold. As we get towards the edges of the quilt, and therefore, the edge of the universe, everything begins to cool down and the second Law of thermodynamics is irrefutably proved. Of course the first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed  – which this quilt also proves – all my energy has transferred into this quilt which in turn will keep my son warm and loved when away from home.

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For scale – son is 6’6″ (1.98m)

And when he takes official ownership of the quilt it will come with a single condition, namely, to make a Big Bang!

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