A Bevy of Easter Pressies

That was an extremely unusual Easter all around, I think. A time when many people, regardless of belief, like to get together with family but this year couldn’t. We’ve barely left the house since the lockdown started, with much of our shopping being done by my brother-in-law and a very kind neighbour who works in Morrisons. As such, there was not a vast quantity of chocolate eggs floating around the house this year, but since commercial Easter eggs are typically a lot of packaging and not all that much chocolate, in recent years I’ve tried to make something for my family in addition to or instead of chocolate. Here are some of this year’s creations!

I’ve made my mum quite a few cushions, but I realised that I hadn’t given my sister one. Last year I enjoyed a really fun weekend trip away to Oxfordshire with the Quilt Group ladies and we did some classes at Village Fabrics, one of which was folded patchwork. I took along some beautiful blue and white batiks that I’d had for a long time – I bought them on my first ever trip to the Festival of Quilts! They’re also colours I know my sister really likes as well. They worked really well for the folded pattern and I had great fun fussy-cutting the circle prints for the cornerstones. The block finished at 18 1/2″, perfect for a good-sized cushion. To add a bit of detail, I found my sashiko supplies and quickly discovered why sashiko on batik isn’t widely recommended! But I adored the look of the crisp white stitches against the blues and blacks, so I persevered.

For the quilting, I decided to do some very simple walking-foot quilting so as not to distract from the clean, elegant look of the piecing, in blue and white cottons. The back and binding of the cushion was some pretty bird fabric that mum found for me, which suited the style of the cushion.

For mum, I decided that a new table topper would be a nice thing to make; I made her a Christmas one when I first took up quilting, but it’s a bit season-specific. A Spring/Easter one was definitely due! For this, I used five different Moda Ombre Confetti prints from a half-yard bundle I had in my stash – one white/cream for the background, a gold, a purple, a pink and a green. As our kitchen table is round, I decided to make another hexagonal topper – plus I do love sewing equilateral triangles! I started cutting and piecing without being quite sure how it would all go together, ended up cutting some more strips to get a decent number of triangles, then splotted everything on my design wall and moved bits around until a pattern fell into place. It zipped together in an afternoon.

I decided to really go to town with the quilting on this piece, with an assortment of dense fillers and floral/leaf motifs. Although it’s not a big piece, it still took a good amount of time to get it quilted – it still takes me by surprise how mentally and physically intense this kind of quilting can be! And of course I had to try and do it as secretly as I could – not easy when you’re in lockdown with the person you want to gift something to! Still, I’m really pleased with how it all came out, especially the big flowers. And it looked great on out Easter Lunch table!

The last gift I actually have photos of is a bag that I made for my niece, Nia. She needs a bag to take swimming and she loves mermaids and seashells, so I used these motif to make her a cute little tote bag. The internet provided a nice scallop shell, but I couldn’t find a mermaid in the pose I pictured, so I had to draw my own – and humanoids are not my favourite things to draw! I am rather chuffed with how it all came together in the end – enough that I may have to play with the mermaid design a bit more!

I used a faux-punto effect under the shell to make it really puffy and dimensional, enhanced by fairly dense echoed paisley shapes quilted around it.

I am particularly proud of the magnetic tail fastening, the addition of some extra stabiliser really helps to keep the fin shape looking perky! Assembling all the disparate bits into a bag in the right order took a little bit of pondering and puzzling, but I picked my way carefully through it. To make it actually useful as a swim bag, it’s lined with some waterproof fabric left over from when I made a change mat for Nia before she was born! I am not sure when the local pools are likely to be open again, but I’m sure she’ll think of other things to carry in it until then.

I also made a quilted panel wall hanging for my little nephew Aled (who is too young for chocolate anyway, even without his dairy intolerance issues) and a cork fabric wash bag for my brother-in-law – and I failed to take photographs of either of them while they were still in my possession! I can certainly say that, for me, boredom over the last few weeks has NOT been an issue!

In Under The Wire

June and July have been rubbish for crafting; for some reason, they often are for me. But since I already let June slide by without a single post, I couldn’t let the same happen to July! I’ve managed tosneak in a bit of sewing here and there, and I have a few things I’m excited to work on or be working on, so here they are. 🙂

Honey Pot Bee Blocks

In some ways, you could say that this has been a “distraction” from finishing other projects, but on the other hand it’s actually been one of the few reasons I’ve had recently to slope off to the craft room for a bit of quiet sewing that I’m not sure I would have managed otherwise, so on balance I don’t think this was a bad project to join up with! I’m not yet caught up with all the blocks, but I have made progress with several of them.

One of May’s blocks was the Feather-Leaf block by Julie of Intrepid Thread. Initially I decided to modify my version by piecing my strips slightly wonkily on a foundation of interfacing, and used scraps of the Kona Graphite background to make the leaf edges look jagged:

They’re…. ok? I liked the effect in general, but for me they didn’t sit as well with the other blocks as they might, so last week I whipped up a more “vanilla” version but gave myself permission to use some “virgin” FQs to make them. After all, if I didn’t have scraps in the colours I wanted, it was clearly time to create some!

Much better! These are a bit more zingy and modern in feel. Not sure if I’ll use all four yet, but at least I have the option.

June’s blocks were the Economy Square by Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts and the Urban Woven block by Mimi of Sew Says Mimi. The Economy Squares are super-easy to snap together and highly addictive! I bobbed together nine in no time at all to make the centre of a top for a Project Linus quilt:

I’m not completely sure about that autumn leaf/”cornflakes” fabric choice, but it’s done now and it certainly won’t show any baby puke! 😉 It was a really nice way to showcase this scrap of Forest Animals fabric that I had knocking around for exactly this kind of project, and I will be making some more for my Honey Pot Bee quilt(s). I’ve already fussy-cut a bunch of centre squares, now I’m auditioning borders:

The Urban Woven block gave me some hesitation, partly because of how I wanted to interpret it, but when I finally transcribed the instructions onto a piece of paper, took it into the craft room and got to cutting and piecing, it went together really nicely:

July’s finished blocks are the Blended Scraps block by Leanne of She Can Quilt and the bonus Mushroom block from Stitching Notes.

After an initial, “Meep I don’t have enough colours!” moment, it turned out that really I totally did have enough colours and this was a very enjoyable block to make, and very effective.

The Mushroom block was proposed as a possible alternative block back in May and I had five printed out and on my list of Do Wants already, so when Molli posted a Magic Mushroom Giveaway chance, I whipped one into shape:

These things are loads of fun to make, the other four should follow along soon. 🙂

The “RSC17” blocks are starting to look pretty good as a group, though it’s going to be one heck of a quilt in size!

My floor isn’t big enough…

I still have a couple of book blocks and a stack of mini log cabins (and maybe the bonus trees from back when the Bee was announced) to make, but I’m pretty pleased with Operation Catch-Up. 🙂

French Knot Folly

Inspired by a swap on Craftster (which thankfully I didn’t join, or I’m sure I would have disappointed my partner), I started a rather epic embroidery project of French knots on a silk ground (lined with cotton for better stitching and sturdiness):

I’m using a sit-on hoop that I might like a lot better if I replace the hinge hardware with something half-decent. As it is, it’s quite hard to tighten it enough to really stop the hoop drooping when stitching at the furthest points. And zillions of French knots are slow going! But it’s a nice project to have next to my chair in the sitting room because it doesn’t require loads of thought – just grab some variety of blue embroidery thread (so far we have cotton floss, silk perle, cotton perle, rayon and metallic threads) and get knotted! The beads have added a glitter and sparkle that I’m really enjoying and I also have more buttons and shells to add to break up the area. The tide’s coming in – slowly!

Hexie Swap #2

A Craftster swap that I did decide to join was the second Hexie Swap, to add to my stash of 3/4″ hexies for the Infinite Hexie Map project (infinite because it might be infinity before I finish it!) This time I sent hexies to six people and have so far received hexies from two partners. These are the groups I sent out:

And these are the ones I’ve received so far:

They chose some great fabrics, although I realised I would need to re-make the hexies in the left-hand photo because they came up a whisker under 3/4″ and at that size a difference is really quite obvious and irreconcilable. Such things are always a risk when swapping with other people, but one I accept. They’re already unpicked and pressed and I have plenty of spare templates! Speaking of, here is the mini-mountain of finished hexies so far:

It’s been a lil while since I counted, but I think there are well over 400 hexies there already! Many have been made by swap partners, but quite a lot are ones I’ve sewn from my scraps. It’d be great to reach 800 or even 1000! My hexie-stitching kit is well stocked so I’ve no excuse:

I’m going to need to print and cut more templates soon, though!

Something Old

Oooo look! Progress on an old (very old!) WIP! I was having something of an off-day where I wanted to do something but didn’t want it to be anything terribly complicated or fussy, so I made myself trim down all the shockingly badly cut batik charm squares I bought to extend this Disappearing Nine-Patch:

Pro tip – 4.75″ is a terrible size of square to use in a D9P quilt! But I’d started so I figured I’d try and finish, so a load of trimming and half-a-dozen new D9P blocks later and I have this:

I like it rather better now it’s bigger. It still needs some borders to frame it and make it a bit more sensible still, but now I feel like there’s hope for it. What it probably needs next is a really narrow dark border that will pull it together and also allow me to “fix” any size weirdness caused by the initial use of 4.75″ squares. I already have several batik samples and bits in a similar colour palette, so a border of some kind should not be too hard to create. Flying Geese, maybe?

ArtLanka Elephants

Staying on the subject of batiks and borders, I had a very lucky find at the local car boot sale at Clarach not long ago. It was 99.999% total tat, but during my brisk cruise around the rather tired offerings, my eye snagged on something that looked a little more promising and a little more fabric-y. Some examination revealed two batik panels in similar colours and both with elephants as the central feature. At £3 for the pair, I genuinely couldn’t leave them there! Other than a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie, they were the only things I bought.

They even still have the artist’s information and serial numbers stapled to them:

Currently I’m thinking that the tall narrow one could become a wall hanging and the more square one might make a great bed or throw quilt. Hmmm, matching decor, too twee? I suppose I’ll find out! If I manage to organise myself a trip to the Festival of Quilts next month, I’ll be taking these two along with me and hunting for suitable batiks to make borders for them both. The loose plan currently is to base border designs on the batik designs present in the panel, if I can figure out how to implement them nicely.

So, that’s about where I’m up to. It actually seems like quite a lot, it just doesn’t feel like I’ve made much recently! Perhaps I will have to sneak in another crafting holiday if/when work permits. 🙂