Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Shall we start with this one?

Earlier this year we heard there was to be a new niece or nephew, and so I immediately started planning a gift. The new parents-to-be requested a playmat, and, never one to take the easy way out, I liked the idea of an animal alphabet. I did some Googling, and bought this fabulous pattern from Don't Look Now in Australia.

New Niece who caused a bit of a stir arriving 5 weeks early!

And then I panicked..... And procrastinated...... And pondered...... And went back to panicking! I really don't know what possessed me. Not only was I an appliqué novice, I was also a total FMQ virgin, and let me tell you, this pattern will tolerate no vestiges of FMQ innocence!

I borrowed my lovely friend Nathalie's humongous Husqvarna machine, as there was no way my little Janome was going to cope with it. That was terrifying enough in itself - the Husqvarna sat at the end of the table for 3 weeks, breathing fire, and just daring me to think I had what it took to press its hallowed pedal.

My favourite part of the process was picking the fabrics for the appliqué. 26 letters and animals, many of which were made up of component parts that needed to be cut from different fabrics and layered up. All in all, including background and backing I used 90 prints and solids, all of which came from my stash - 53 hours spent on a quilt and I didn't even have to buy anything!

Once the hours of painstakingly tracing all the pieces was over, and the layout was done, it was time to start the business of free motion stitching round all the appliqué. The first few animals did not go well, but soon the Husqvarna and I were a well bonded team, and powered through them.

The stroke of genius was the fake giraffe for the back, lying forgotten in a cupboard for years (I don't know why I have fake giraffe, before you ask) and serendipitously discovered when looking for something else the night before the playmat was to be delivered.

I loved making this playmat. It taught me a lot of new skills and severely tested my patience at times, when I was tired. But it's great fun, a fantastic finished product, and the recipients loved it. Would I make another one? Ermmmm.............


Monday, 3 November 2014

It's been a while....

So what have I been up to in the past five months? Well, I would have said not much, but having put some thought into this post, actually there's quite a bit. I won't cram it all in here, but it includes 3 baby quilts; 1 wedding quilt; a lot of dressmaking; some lovely days spent working in The Village Haberdashery; a class with the awe-inspiring Luke Haynes; some quality time with friends and family; and a very special quilt made with some lovely friends for someone who's had a much worse summer than I have. There's been some pattern testing, and, I can't deny it, a LOT of fabric buying!

There's also been a job resignation; a lot of job applications; some hyperventilating about whether I'll ever find a job again; but mainly a lot of happiness and relief that I've taken myself out of such a toxic environment. In the words of Yazz, "the only way is up!"

I look forward to bringing you up to speed in more detail over the next few days!