A Slothful Rainbow Finish

The original sketch Slothy is based on.

April has been a strange month for me. It’s not been unproductive (in terms of crafts or work), but it feels like it was. Weird. However, I can share a finish that has taken me to some new places and that I am very proud of – the Rainbow Sloth is finished!

It took a degree of dithering over a few of the finishing details (how to do the face/eyes/claws, to embroider or not to embroider, hanging solutions, leaf arrangement and attachment), but finally it has all come together!

The face was trickier than I expected – mostly because I wanted to show the classic sloth face-markings but not end up with something that looked like a skull. To make it appear “fuzzier”, I ended up quilting the white areas quite heavily with a thread with a special property – Madeira’s “Halloween” glow-in-the-dark polyester thread, which quilts really nicely. I deliberately allowed the quilting to overlap the darker areas in places to help blend the transition better, and left the eye and nose markings unquilted so that they retained some dimension and definition.

I perhaps slightly lost the plot for some of the face quilting – in my defence, it’s quite a challenge to quilt with a colour that blends in perfectly with the fabric you’re quilting!

Sloth’s eyes and nose are scraps of a synthetic, slightly metallic, leather-look fabric that I have had for literally years – more than long enough for me to forget how annoying it is to sew with. It sticks to the machine’s foot, rucks up and generally refuses to stay put – and of course you can’t pin it where it’ll show because pins leave “scars”. I had to completely re-do both eyes after the first try ended up a total mess.

However, it was also a great choice for the claws, so when I came to do them I pinned a generously sized piece of tissue paper over the area I wanted to place the claws, drew claw shapes based on what I could see through the paper, then carefully slid a piece of the synth-leather underneath so that it was sandwiched between the quilt top and the tissue paper.

This made stitching it down along the lines an infinitely more pleasant and accurate experience – to complete the look, I only had to carefully trim the excess material away from my stitched lines et voilà! Claws!

As you can also see, I did decide to embroider a bit on the leaves – and I think I can say with confidence that I can totally do French knots now! The floss used for all the embroidery is DMC’s speciality glow-in-the-dark thread – because if you’re going to glow, GLOW! Right? Right! This is the same floss as I used to outline Slothy, and a bit is also couched into one of the vines on the branch.

Without rootling out and setting up a tripod, this was the steadiest photo I could manage of the piece after the lights went out, but it shows the general idea. I’m really pleased that the different patterns of French knots on the leaves can actually be distinguished, and the glowing stars on the background fabric can be made out, too.

Because I knew that I wanted at least some of the leaves (especially along the top) to overlap the edge of the quilt, I had to think carefully about the order of attaching the binding, hanging solution and leaves so that they didn’t interfere with each other. To begin with, I trialed different leaf positions until I had a look I liked, then attached them one by one. To keep the nice leafy look of them, the best way to attach them appeared to be to stitch along either side of the midvein of each leaf, far enough to to make sure the leaf was firmly attached and wouldn’t flop, but not so far that the stitching would obstruct other features or get in the way of the binding. This also means that the leaves can be pulled back to “peek” underneath.

If I hadn’t literally only just had this thought, it could have been super-cute to add some little “hidden” creatures underneath the leaves as a kind of quilty “Easter egg” – ah well, perhaps next time! 😉

Once the leaves on the branch were attached, I tackled the hanging solution:

After quite a lot of thought, I made a folded “sleeve” that matched the top edge of the circle, interfaced it for support, drew a couple of angled lines at either end and, with the aid of a lil more interfacing for reinforcement, inserted long buttonholes along each line, but only on one side of the sleeve. The idea is that a wooden dowel can be passed easily through the buttonholes and be held inside the sleeve, thereby supporting the quilt despite the slightly unconventional shape. The sleeve was initially attached to the back of the quilt with a line of stitching 1/8″ from the edge, then held down more firmly when the binding was attached. (Incidentally, this photo also shows a bit I’m really fond of, namely, the “ghost” sloth on his branch, created by the quilting on the back. I was very particular about matching the needle and bobbin threads so the shape is really easy to make out.)

The binding was next – I confess I “cheated” a bit here and used a nice navy-blue satin binding from my favourite haberdashery shop in Cardigan, folded around the edge of the quilt, clipped into place and then secured with this decorative leafy stitch. Part of me is still slightly wondering whether I should have used a green thread for this, but actually I like that it doesn’t shout for attention against the rest of the quilt, while keeping the “rainforest” theme.

Ghost sloth is made of stars and rainbows!

Finally, with the binding safely on, I could attach the last three leaves at the bottom (the stitching holding them in place overlaps the binding) and call the piece finished. 🙂 It has certainly been an interesting journey and the destination, I hope, will not disappoint the recipient! Slothy is on his way to his new home in Canada right now, hopefully he’ll have a swift(!) and comfortable journey. He also allows me to tick off a scrappy milestone myself, given that he is almost entirely made with materials I already had in my stash – the only things I bought specially were the two glow-in-the-dark threads and the binding – and creating that ticker-tape effect sure had me burrowing through the scrap baskets!

Will be linking up with Needle’n’Thread Thursday, Can I Get A Whoop-Whoop and TGIFF – all links in the sidebar.  🙂

Science! Baby Quilt

And suddenly, a baby quilt!

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A good friend of mine, who I worked with for four and a half years, had her first baby a couple of weeks ago.  I’d planned to make him a quilt anyway so I already had these fabrics pulled, I just needed a spark of inspiration and a kick up the bum – handily provided by the email announcing his birth!

The colour scheme is based on my friend’s preferences (her favourite colour is blue) and the fact that she is a chemist and her husband is an engineer, so I used the most science-y fabric I had to hand!  These are two of my favourite prints in the quilt:

I chose to do a random arrangement of squares that finished at 9, 6 and 3″ and started with a rough sketch of an arrangement on some graph paper so that I would know how many squares of each size I would need to cut.

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The layout meant there were some partial seams to deal with, but by going slow and thinking carefully about which bits to sew in which order, it all worked out well.  Because I wanted it done and sent off quickly, I decided to do a simple diagonal cross-hatch pattern for the quilting.

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The quilt is backed with a funky chevron print that has a lovely soft feel, and bound with left-overs from piecing the top.  I’m very pleased to say that the whole quilt (other than the wadding) came from my stash.  🙂  It’s all washed so it just needs a label and I can post it off along with a card and some well-earned Cadbury’s chocolate for the proud mum!  🙂

Linking up with Monday Making, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? and TGIFF (when they go live).  🙂

Origami Crane Cushion

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And here’s my finished Origami Crane cushion.  I’m really pleased with it.  It’s actually been finished for a lil while, but the weather’s been too foul (and I’ve been too busy) to take any decent pictures until today.  🙂

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The back is another envelope arrangement, with some nice wooden buttons I found at a local haberdashery shop.  It now lives on my bed and is great when I want to sit up and read a book.  🙂  Hooray for finished things!

Linking up with Monday Making, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? and TGIFF (when they go live).  🙂

A Trio of Cushions

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And they’re finished!  😀  I used a simple envelope+buttons arrangement for the backs, luckily my favourite haberdashery stall in a local market had just the right buttons in just the right colours:

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And here are some close-up shots:

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You can read more about the fronts here and here.

I must say a big thank you to the people who offered suggestions on how to finish off the quilting on Elsa, it really was a help!  Lifting the “ground” level brought everything together much better.  And after doodling around a bit and trying a few of the suggestions (and screaming in frustration at my white rayon, which decided to HATE almost all my assorted needles for some reason – the “right” one turned out to be a microtex 80/12), I ended up with this:

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It’s not at all what I thought I’d end up with, but I think it works.  🙂  I got a great tip from Carole Gold about using tracing paper to test and stitch FMQ designs, and although I wasn’t able to use it this time because it turns out we have nothing like that in the house (not-quite-moving house really sucks), it’s a great idea that I’m definitely going to try on other projects once I’ve grabbed myself a roll of baking paper to use.  🙂

Linking up with Let’s Bee Social, Free-Motion Mavericks, Can I get a Whoop Whoop? and TGIFF.  🙂

Sssssssssss………… BOOM!

Christmas is coming, they tell me.  Thanks to the nature of crafting, it feels like I have to start thinking about Christmas presents in August to have a hope of finishing anything!  But I’m off to a good start here (shhhh-I-know-it’s-October-already!), with themed cushions for my cousin John’s three children.  Here are the first two.

The two boys are great fans of Minecraft, and the Minecraft characters make fantastic subjects for patchwork thanks to their pixelly designs.  I chose the Creeper and the Blaze, partly because I wanted to use Bali Pops to make them and I happened to have a green set and red-orange-yellow set:

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Figuring out which colours to use where was harder than I thought it would be, especially with the Blaze face; the Red Hots Bali Pop contained fewer dark browns than I remembered and they weren’t as dark as I remembered, either!  But the Creeper came out very well; I added in a couple of greys and a black from the Licorice Bali Pop set as well.

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I decided that I didn’t want the main designs of the cushions “disappearing” over the curve of the cushion pad, so I added complementary plain 2.5″ borders to bring the size up to 20.5″ square and frame the faces nicely.

For quilting, I couldn’t resist practicing a bit of my FMQ.  I’ll freely admit right now that I’ve never played Minecraft (Terraria is my dig-it-craft-it-fight-it sandbox game of choice), and I’d always slightly assumed that Creepers were animated angry bushes!  After a bit of research I now know that they’re not, but I couldn’t resist quilting my Creeper face with a “creeper” pattern of leaves!

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This one is hiding in the bushes, clearly!

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Before doing the FMQ, I outlined the eyes and “mouth” with black straight stitching and also quilted in the ditch all the way around the border.  There’s some ends to tie off and bury and I quilted a few extra leaves into that gap in the middle at the bottom, too.  A bit of a trim and an envelope back (I have two solid green fat quarters ready and waiting for that duty) and I can call him done!

I used plain calico to keep the back tidy and not shedding fluff everywhere, and I actually really like the look of the quilting on that side, too:

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Almost a shame that it won’t be seen much!

For the Blaze, I decided that only a flame pattern would do – except that I’ve never quilted a flame in my life!  However, I refused to let that put me off, threaded the Pfaff up with variegated orange thread and let rip.

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….and apparently it worked.  Mostly.  They aren’t the most amazing flames ever (I had more than a few directionally challenged moments), but for a first go I’m very pleased with how they came out.  Once again, I’d outlined the eyes and gone around the border first, then I quilted the flames in layers that were roughly 2 squares high, working my way back and forth up the face from the bottom.

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Definitely more of a challenge than the leaves, but I like it and would do it again (on the right project!).

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And here’s the back.  Again, I’m almost sorry that it won’t be seen much.  Ah well!

I hope I get a chance to finish these off soon; life is looking uncertain again and I’d like to actually finish something for a change!  I also have a more girly cushion for my cousin’s little girl to share soon, it is very sparkly.  🙂

Linking up with Free-Motion Mavericks and Can I get a Whoop-Whoop!

Patchy the Easter Bear

My niece is a bit too young for Easter eggs, even if she didn’t have a dairy allergy.  I decided to finish off the teddy I was making for her instead.bear_0304_1I started him before Christmas, and did quite well on piecing the basic squares, but then stalled on construction.  He’s made from most of a flannel layer cake with accents of normal quilting cotton.  I lined him with interfacing because the weave of the flannel is very loose and stretchy and I wanted to give him more support.  I didn’t actually know how best to handle the flannel, so I used a 1/4″ seam allowance, but I should probably have used 1/2″.  The nappy-looking panel is actually a pocket.  His muzzle was a happy accident – I only realised the same fabrics were opposite each other on the two front halves after I’d sewn them together.  His eyes were done on the machine with a decorative stitch and his nose and mouth are hand-stitched.

bear_0304_3He’s quite a big chap!  I stuffed him by shredding up some fluffy polyester wadding I bought some years ago, before I actually knew what I was doing quilting-wise.  Patchy must have been very hungry; he ate almost all of it.  Thank goodness, too – I’d bought something like two metres of the stuff and it was otherwise kind of useless.  I have about enough left to make a wall hanging, which is about the only other thing it might be good for.

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Linking up with Can I Get A Whoop Whoop and TGIFF!  🙂