Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Creative and Crafty

Hello readers!  How are you all this fine morn?  Quite surprisingly, I have woken up to see some lovely bright sunshine.  Most welcome.  It seems we're nearly through January already.  For me, it has passed in a flash and it hasn't been a bad January at all.  Roll on February though, let's get into Spring, shall we?  I'm pleased that all my favourite flowers are appearing in the shops.  Such divine colours and I do love the scent of the little narcissi.  These sorts of flowers are always cheap too, which is a bonus.


With the New Year, it's been a time for starting new projects.  You may recall from my last post that I had taken delivery of a large order of yummy yarn (Drops Karisma).  I have dived headfirst into that and opted for an African Flower motif, one I have been wanting to try for a while.  I looked at a few tutorials and finally wrote out my own and drew myself a little diagram, I find these far easier to work from as I go along.  You can find good tutorials at Yvestown and Heidi Bears should you fancy hooking up a few of your own.  I am joining as you go, slip stitching into the corners and around every third stitch along the edges.  One thing I loathed about my first granny blanket was all the joining at the end, so this method avoids that entirely.


I've continued with it here and there, including at Crafty Wednesday at Stag and Bow.It's going to take me a good while as there are so many other projects vying for my attention.


Talking of which, you may recall that last New Year, a craze swept through the quilting community known as the "Scrappy Trip Along".  I made two quilts in that design, one back in January and another just recently with my Christmas version, and this year, the chosen project has been the "economy block along" based on a tutorial at Rita's blog Red Pepper Quilts.  I resisted for a while but finally decided to hop on with this quilt along, too.  If you are on Instagram, you can search for "economyblockalong" and keep up with everyone's progress. So I have attacked the stash and been cutting like a crazy lady for although you can use any fabric to make this quilt, I decided to follow Rita's example and make an "I-Spy" style quilt.  This has a cute novelty fabric for the centre of each block, surrounded by various colourful prints.  I don't really buy a lot of novelty prints so I was concerned I wouldn't have enough but it was amazing how many I found in my stash once I started looking.


Rita's tutorial is based on a 5 1/2" block.  Kind folk on IG and on their blogs have come up with some different block sizes, going as big as 12" in some cases.  I decided to go for the middle ground and opted for an 8" finished block.  Here is a suggested cutting diagram below, but I like to make my blocks oversized and trim them so I opted for a 4.5" central square, two 4" squares for the first round and two 5.25" squares for the second round (the 4" and 5.25" squares cut diagonally in half).


It has been fun pulling out all the fabrics from my stash and coming up with interesting combinations.


I decided to have a little clean out inside my sewing machine when it seemed a little unhappy one day.  I do this regularly but am always surprised to see how much lint collects in there!  The machine always runs better afterwards.


Not content with having the economy blockalong on the go, I decided to start on another simple quilt.  For ages, I had been looking for a charm pack I had bought including fabrics from the range "Dream On".  I had mislaid it in my Den but I came across it a few weeks ago, tucked behind some teetering piles of fabric.  Surely not!  It' a gorgeous fabric range based on vintage sheeting of the 1960's and '70s.  I supplemented the charm pack with some gaily coloured basics and some actual vintage sheets from my stash.


As if that wasn't enough, once I'd completed that one, I started on another top, this time using my favourite shades of pink, green and a gorgeous lavender-blue.  Even the trimmings seemed pretty enough to snap for Instagram!


I cut 2.5" strips across the width of the fabric, joined them in groups of five, then cross cut them to give me some traditional rail fence blocks.  A simple and effective design that packs a punch in these delightful colours.  Here it is on the design wall before the blocks were joined together.


In the background, the "Dream On" top had come together beautifully and was ready for sandwiching.  Orange is a difficult colour to get right, I find, but is spot on in this range.


Well, that was a busy few days!  The reason I made those two quilt tops was because I wanted to road test some new machines.  It seems January is the month when I get itchy feet and start pondering whether the perfect sewing machine is out there.  I did my research on the net and set aside a whole day to go into the shop and thoroughly try out the three machines I was interested in.  I took the quilt tops and some other smaller projects.  I have learnt from experience that you really do need to try the machines with projects you would actually make at home.  It's no good trying out little test squares, because the performance of the machine is entirely different when you make full size quilts on them.


Excitingly, I  found a machine whose quilting performance blew me away.  Home came Jenny Janome and I am completely and utterly thrilled with her.  I've never had a machine produce such perfect results.  Everyone looks for different things in their perfect machine.  I can't tell you how great it feels to have found mine!  This is one machine I know I'm not going to grow out of for a good while.  Love!


Jenny Janome had no trouble finishing off the two quilt tops and they've now been hand bound and are awaiting their moment of "ta dah" glory.  Then they'll be offered for sale.


It's difficult to tear myself away from that fabulous machine though!  I've still the economy blockalong to finish, after all. Here it is on my makeshift design wall yesterday. I think I have fiddled a bit with the layout since then and I've joined half the blocks.


Now I have to tackle the ironing so I feel I have earned a little more time with Jenny Janome!

Xxx

31 comments:

  1. Beautiful colourful post. Gorgeous spring flowers, wonderful yarn making wonderful squares or should I say hexies, and pretty quilts made with wonderful colours.
    Julie xxxxxxxxx

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  2. beautiful quilts and one lovely machine!

    poppyinstitches@yahoo.co.uk

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  3. Hen they are ab fab stunners...so much work and all in a few days...you are amazing!!
    May I ask what that pen like "thing' is? Its in the pic with all the safety pins, looks interesting and I am nosey....
    Made me laugh to see the inners and dust inside your machine mine gets a hoover once a week...even if the house does not!
    bestest to you as ever..I do love your cheerful posts!
    Daisy J x

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    1. I've got a feeling it's a gadget that helps to fasten and open pins saving your breaking your nails :) I know Hen will put me right if it's not lol.

      Peg x

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  4. So much crafty, colourful creativeness! :) x

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  5. I didn't know there was a new quilt-along going on. I did the scrappy trips one last year too. I don't think I have enough novelty fabrics to do something like this, though. Yours is looking beautiful, as are all of your other quilts! The new machine looks wonderful! Isn't it great to have a new, improved one? I got mine three years ago. It's a lower-end machine than you shopped for, a Brother brand, but it's sooo much better than the 1970's Kenmore I was using before. :)

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  6. Well, well - not only do we share a love of quilting but now we share the same machine! Yours is a newer model, I've had mine for a few years, but the Janome Horizon has been just brilliant - totally brilliant - for every quilt I've made. I, like you, have to de-fluff the inside - with the Janome if you remove the plate, the whole bobbin holder slides out easily and you'll be very surprised how much accumulates around it. Mine gets to the point where there's a whole little nest of compacted fluff - always seems a shame to throw it away! I made a massive quilt over Christmas, but it's been too wet to photograph it, since! Should have dashed out with it this morning in the sunshine. Enjoy your quilting and your new machine. And your Drops wool - I use that too - isn't it lovely in the hand?

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  7. You are everything vintage I would love to be.

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  8. Beautiful quilts-you're much, much faster at making quilt tops that I am. Congratulations on your new machine. I'm still using the little Sears Kenmore machine my Hubby bought for me our first Christmas together, 36 years ago! It's still sews like a dream though so no complaints.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  9. I love the look of your quilts, they are gorgeous. Lucky old you getting a new sewing machine.

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  10. Hen how busy you have been and how lovely your finished projects are - I am hoping to start my first quilt this year so I shall be looking at yours for inspiration and also seeking out the blogs you have suggested. I love your crochet and again thanks for the link for the tutorials, it is such a fabulous way to learn. As always Hen you do us proud with things which have me drooling. Have a fabulous week Hen, big hugs to you
    Dorothy
    :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  11. Ah hen I am economy blocking too, its so addictive, I'm making a kingsize for our bed.
    Yours looks very jaunty!
    I love my Janome and yes I have cleaned out the lint twice already with this economy blockalong.
    ps. love the thread snipper, I could never be without it now on a machine!

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  12. So much lovely - I adore the crochet!

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  13. Lovely quilt tops! Very amused by your fluffy machine insides- every class I teach I end up cleaning everyone's machine out and usually I have a competition to see who has the most fluff in there! I swear I would have enough to stuff a small cushion by now if I had kept it all. I am also pondering what machine to go for next...want something that can just do straight stitching really,really well...wondering about a Juki.

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  14. The fabric combinations are beautiful.

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  15. The fabric combinations are beautiful.

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  16. Oh how I love your biscuit container! Also the quilt with the orange I LOVE it! It reminds me of my childhood.

    Blessings,
    Amy Jo

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  17. Hen, each of your quilts is a beauty...and I continue to be amazed at how many quilts you do complete!

    I'm also a very satistifed Janome owner, although my machine is much more basic than yours. Still...it's done all I asked of it, and ...if I ever find enough time will cover even broader future horizons.

    Please do not discard those beautiful slivers of fabulous fabric trimmings. They are full of possibilities!

    Best wishes to you and yours. xo

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  18. Blimey….. I'm worn out just reading this! Fantastic makes as always Hen :) Wish I could work as fast as you! xx

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  19. What a lovely bunch of sewing - beautiful colours. I saw on IG that yu had the new Janome. I tried one out the other day, but was dissappointed in the angry birds nests that appeared at the start. Have you found this problem?

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  20. Fabulously colourful post to brighten up another dull day. Would never have thought to take in my own sewing to try out in the sewnig machine shop but so right. Can't wait to see your progress on the African Flowers crochet.

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  21. Such beautiful bright colours on this grey January day! Jenny Janome looks 'the dogs doo-dahs', sounds like you finally found your perfect machine after all.

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  22. Beautiful new makes and how fun to get a new sewing machine! I am sure you will be sewing many pretties on it! Have a lovely day! xo Heather

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  23. Lovely!! The patchwork with the "Dream On" fabric and sheets. . . ! ♥

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  24. Hen, I so look forward to your blogs! They really do brighten up a dull January day! Thank you for all your ideas and vintage ness!!! Xxx

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  25. Beautiful & bright, just what I needed to see on a grey & miserable day like today

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  26. Wow Hen - so much of this blog post I absolutely LOVE!! Gorgeous colours, gorgeous fabrics - you are one talented lady! Looking forward to seeing progress on all your WIP's! J9 x

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  27. Hi, I love your blog, is beauty, I love the colors, I love your crochet, visit my blog too,hugs from Brazil.
    http://www.titacarre.com
    http://elo7.com.br/titacarre

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  28. I too have just bought myself a Jenny Janome and I am just as much in love as you are. It's a wonderful machine and makes me feel so confident because everything works out well! So much fun! Greetings from Germany

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  29. Hi Hen, I'm looking into getting a new machine and remembered you were pleased with your Janome. Are you still in love with it? Have you found any glitches? I think it's either this one or a Bernina 710. Both have the large space for quilting and the dual feed, but it's always good to get an honest opinion rather than rely on shop assistants or out of date reviews! Many thanks, Debbie. xx

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