Saturday, 19 September 2015

Time well spent ...

On the rare occasions I try and rationalise the amount of time spent on blogging and on Instagram, I am instantly put right by the amount of support and inspiration I get from those 'time-bandits!' Fellow quilters really are the best people, aren't they? So much of what I'm working on at the moment, I wouldn't be if it wasn't for the people I've met or if I didn't receive the help or see the ideas everyone is willing to share.

Over on Instagram, six of us have started a Bee where each person works on a section, then passes it on to the next and so on until the quilt comes back to you with all six sections completed. There are no rules but you are guided by the design of the quilt owner's first block and any colour preferences they suggest. Our tag is #weshouldbeesectioned ... and I definitely thought I was going mad last week when trying to think of what to do!

After reading many great tips on the Internet - just googling 'quilt bee' brought up dozens of fabby ideas - I decided I would go for a seasonal-themed design. Yes, you are correct in your immediate thoughts - there are only 4 seasons - but I'm giving everyone carte blanche to just choose colours or themes that represent their favourite season ... so if I end up with six autumns (my favourite season), so be it.

The finished block is 27" x 21" and is made up of 5 different sized sections (wonderfully organised and put together into a pdf for us all by Julie @mackandmabel) and my first attempts (and a now discarded half dresden plate which will now be made into a cushion!) didn't float my boat:

That's supposed to be an apple in the top left! So, back to the drawing board ... any autumnal block surely has to have a leaf in it so that was easy:

Afterwards, I went back to the dresden plate (because I really like them) and found (in a very old quilt book) what was described as a Grandmother's Fan - only needs a 1/4 of the petals - so that was my next block and, for the strip in between, I just went with some simple blocks out of apple fabric I had in my stash rather than trying to paper piece 3 x 3 1/2" apples:

Now for the bit that made me think I had lost it! I decided to make a paper pieced pumpkin - in the biggest section - an 18" block! What was I thinking?! It's been ages since I'd paper pieced and even then, it was only simple stuff. Ah, what the heck - let's go googling again! And whilst I didn't find a template for exactly what I had in mind, there were plenty of tips and good sites for me to feel confident enough to crack on.

It took a while; I had forgotten about the extra amount of fabric you need to use: 

But by putting that photo on IG, my friend Maria (@sewlovetosew - our Queen Bee) reminded me and eventually (it took hours and hours!) my pumpkin was finished. In the end, I had to make him in 3 sections:

Here he is with the other blocks:

Maria may regret giving me great advice because she gets my block first!! 

And my other finish this week was an 'old and forgotten' group of blocks that I made about 4 years ago and put away because I'd fallen out of like with them:

After putting the photo on IG - 'should I bin or add to and finish? I was so humbled by one of the responses: 'I think someone would be very happy to get this, especially someone who doesn't have much.' (thanks again, Tammy) that it chivvied me along to finally finish it:

Kindly photo-bombed by Nell! And another great use of time on social media is the link ups - thanks to Amanda Jean and Sarah - through their link ups, I have met lots of talented and kind quilters and learnt loads. 

Friday, 4 September 2015

Going. Going. Gone!!

Three of my favourite colleagues have retired this year. My Line Manager, Emma, went in April and she received my first finished quilt since breaking my shoulder last year. Simple but sweet:

Then in July my boss, Mike, retired after 37 years and he got my piece de resistance quilt:

And this week, my specialist adviser retired after 30 years so he just had to have a unique quilty gift too! I love to personalise my gifts and Ian was easy to plan for. I tried to pick out non-girly fabrics:

He loves photography and rugby, drinks lots of tea and enjoys the 'occasional' packet of McCoy's crisps with his lunch! Here's the appliqué blocks:

I wanted to try a new free motion quilting pattern (motivated by my friend Jasmine @ Quilt Kisses whose improvement in her FMQing is so inspiring) and got great advice from Angela Walters:

After a little practice (5 minutes!), I just went for it! The swirls were a little crazy to begin with and I went a little bit off with the tails:

Nell offered her advice:

And I just persevered ... the more I did, the easier it got:

Here's the quilting from the back and the label:

And on Tuesday, I handed it over and said goodbye to a dear colleague who will be irreplaceable :'( 

Goodbye, thank you and good luck, Ian:

Linking up with the lovely Lorna @ Sew Fresh Quilts and Amanda Jean @ Crazy Mom Quilts and Sarah @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict.