Monday, 30 June 2014

The finished cushion!

If you are following the progress of the cushion I am making for the rocking chair in my conservatory, you will know that I had finished the hand embroidery and was feeling quite satisfied with progress so far.  However, I did think that the background was missing something and I had thought that I would try out some of my newly learned free motion quilting between the appliqued shapes.

I had thought that the easiest stitch to use would be a simple 'stipple' but, I was wrong!!  I tried it and it was extremely difficult to get it looking nice without stitching over the applique shapes or the embroidered stems.  So I unpicked it all which, took a V-E-R-Y long time and left me with little pinprick needle holes in the background fabric which I couldn't get rid of.  (Not sure if you can see them here but believe me they were there!!)

What was I going to do now?!  Well, I decided the only way forward was to try a different free motion quilt stitch which would be easier to fit in round the shapes.  I have to point out here that, it is probably only my lack of experience using the stipple stitch which made it difficult for me to use it.

So, I started again this time using a 'pebble' FMQ stitch.  It is a more dense design and, was easier to control nearer to the edges of the flowers and butterflies.  I decided that I liked how it was looking and, there really was no going back at this point!

I spent on and off all day (it is a very labour intensive stitch and you need to take breaks between sections otherwise your shoulders and hands get too tense) slowly filling in all the background with pebbles.  It is not perfect, so do not look too closely but, I am delighted with the result.

All that remained then was for me to make the quilted fabric up into a cushion which I did by adding an envelope backing and some binding.

And, here it is! My finished cushion.  

Of course now that it is finished I have decided until I make another cushion to go with it that it isn't right in my rocking chair as the second cushion in the chair is red!!

So I have swapped it into another chair for the time being where it looks very pretty.

And I've moved the cushions from this chair into the rocking chair as they don't clash with the red cushion!  So all my chairs are happy now!! 

Friday, 27 June 2014

A little more progress with block two...

This last week I have had a little time to continue stitching the embroidery on block two of my 'Mrs Beasley's Sampler Quilt'.  The second block of this beautiful quilt designed by Leanne Beasley is really starting to come to life as the embroidery stitches are added.

I have managed to get all the flower stems and leaves sewn. The next step is to add the lettering and finish off the little embroidered details.  Not too long before it will be finished!!

If you look very closely, you can see the faint pencilled outline of the letters in the photograph above and a spray of flowers in the photograph below.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The next step in the experiment...

You may recall that I recently started work on a cushion cover for the rocking chair in my conservatory and, that I had used a new (to me) technique called raw edge applique. Well, I have now added quite a lot of embroidery detail to my cushion cover and it is really starting to look how I want it to.

I have chain stitched all the flower stems, added the word 'Fleurs' (also in chain stitch) and scattered a few french knots here and there.  I chain stitched the body and antennae on the butterflies and the stamens in the flowers and then I outlined all the stitching and the applique shapes with running stitch.  All the embroidery was done through a layer of batting on the back of the cushion front, so it has quilted the two layers together.

Overall, I am pleased with how it is looking although, I keep feeling that the background is lacking a certain 'je ne sais quoi' .  I have tried adding all sorts of extra embroidery including lazy daisy flowers in cream silk thread to try and create a subtle effect and french knots but, I took them all out again as I didn't like them.

Then suddenly, it occurred to me that the perhaps the effect I am looking for could be achieved by some free motion quilting in the background to make the applique stand out more and, I would get to practise my FMQ stitching on a real project.

So far, I have stitched some more little samples of FMQ stippling which are looking quite neat but, I haven't summoned up the courage to stitch it on the actual cushion front yet!!  I'll report back here when I have!!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Finished FMQ Sampler and self-binding a quilt

As, I mentioned I was going to in my last post, I finished off my FMQ sampler by using the backing fabric to self bind it. When I was looking for tutorials on self-binding (using the backing fabric to bind) a quilt, I discovered that I use a different method to many of the tutorials that are available, so I thought I would share with you my own tutorial of how I self-bind my quilts.  The difference comes when folding the corners. There is nothing wrong with the other methods that I found but, personally I find the corners can be a little bulky and, I have difficulty making them look nice when I stitch them (maybe no one else has this problem!)

With the method that I use, I cut a little of the fabric away, which reduces the bulk.  This is my method (I hope it makes sense!)

You start by trimming the batting (wadding) level with the quilt top being careful not to cut the backing fabric.

Next you trim the backing fabric so that it is one inch larger than the quilt top and batting.

Now, at each corner you take a ruler and measure two inches down from the point of the corner on each side and make a small mark.

Fold the point of the corner onto the quilt top in a diagonal line between the two marks you have just made and press. (Please ignore that my corner tip has a cut made across it but I had cut it off before I decided to photograph it!)

Now fold the point of the corner back on itself so that the tip rests on the first fold you made and press again.

Unfold the corner and cut away the point along the second fold line, cutting away a small triangle of fabric.

When you have done this to each of the corners you are ready to fold the backing fabric which extends beyond the quilt on each side to make the self-binding.  Fold the backing fabric in half towards the quilt top so that the raw edges of the quilt and the backing fabric touch.  Press.

Fold the backing fabric in half again enclosing the raw edge of the quilt. Press and pin (or clip - my new binding clips were great!!) in place.

At the corners fold the cut point of the corner over the corner tip of the quilt top along the fold that you made earlier before double folding the backing fabric.

Then continue double folding the backing in place, first on one edge and then on the second edge to meet it. 

This gives you a neat mitred corner with much less bulk.

When all the edges and corners have been pinned (clipped) in place simply top stitch the binding close to the inside folded edge.

When you get to the corners stitch over the mitre putting your needle down to turn.

Stitch all the way round and over stitch where you started to finish off and your quilt is finished!

Hope this is useful to someone! 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Keeping up with my FMQ practice!

Actually, the last couple of weeks I haven't been doing very well at keeping up with my free motion quilting practice!! It has been a busy time as my family have all returned from their various places of study for the Summer and, I have been somewhat side-tracked by one or two other projects which have been fast-tracked to the front of the ever growing 'things to make' list!!

Free Motion Quilt Sampler: Front View

I really don't want to give up on the FMQ though, as I felt that I was getting a bit of a rhythm going and, I don't want to have to start completely from scratch.  So, one evening earlier this week (isn't it great now that the evenings are light enough to sew in the natural light?!) when my eyes felt too tired to concentrate on hand embroidery, I thought I would make another FMQ practice sampler using one of the pieced blocks I discovered among my fabric scraps.

Free Motion Quilt Sampler: Back View

The block has been constructed in exactly the same way as the last FMQ sampler block. The fabrics are obviously different and, I have quilted it differently too.

'Pebbles': Back View

I have even been brave enough to try out a new (to me) FMQ pattern which is called 'pebbles'. I have seen it used a lot and I like the effect it gives. My first attempt is not brilliant as I had to go round each pebble more than I should in order to get to where I needed to stitch the next pebble.  I'll have to look for a tutorial to see how I get round this problem.  The overall effect is quite nice..... but, more practice needed!!

'Pulley': Back View

The 'pulley' and 'loopy flowers' patterns are both feeling more and more comfortable and I think I would even feel confident to use them when quilting a finished quilt, which I am very happy about.

'Loopy Flower': Back View

I thought  I would do the same as I did last time and leave myself enough backing fabric to self bind the sampler so that it can be turned into a small table topper.  I haven't had the chance to trim it up and bind it just yet but,  I am excited to finish the binding because, I found these cute little quilt binding clips when I was out shopping today.  They are designed specifically to clip your binding in place until it is secured with stitches and I want to try them out!  Maybe over the weekend? 

Cute little quilt clips for holding your binding in place until sewn!

Whatever you are doing I hope your weekend is full of sunshine! 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

An experiment....

As you may have read in one of my recent posts, I wanted to try and spruce up some cushions I have in my rocking chair which sits in the conservatory. The chair came out of storage when we moved to England and, I could only find a couple of very plain cushions to put in it (heaven knows where the original cushions went!!)

Last weekend I spent moments here and there browsing through my large collection of needlework books for ideas for my new cushions.  All the books are so inspirational and every time I look at them I want to make so many different things. 

A technique I have been keen to try is raw edge applique and I decided to be a little bit experimental with my new cushion covers and try this technique combined with some embroidery.  

I measured, cut and pressed a piece of background fabric in cream. Sorted out some pretty scraps of fabric from my scrap box which I could use for flowers, butterflies and leaves.  I then drew the various applique shapes I wanted onto the paper side of some fusible web, cut them out roughly, fused them to the wrong sides of the various scrap fabrics and cut them out precisely ready to fuse onto the background fabric.  

The shapes were fused into place on the background and I then tacked some lines of running stitches between the shapes to form stems and tendrils.  I then secured the applique shapes using a tiny straight stitch close to the raw edge of the shapes.  

I have basted the front as it is so far to a piece of batting and my next step will be to add some embroidery using some beautiful Stef Francis variegated silk threads that I have had in my possession for some time.  All the tacked running stitch stems and tendrils will be unpicked and replaced with embroidered stitches as well as the flower stamen and some extra stitches for decoration here and there.

When the embroidery is complete, I will add some quilting stitches to the background.  I think it is shaping up quite nicely so far and I'm looking forward to working on it some more later on today!

Thank you for visiting and I hope you have a lovely day!!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Just a few more stitches...

As I mentioned in my last post, it was busy here last week and not a lot of stitching took place. However, in the quiet moments here and there, I added a few more stitches to my 'Mrs Beasley's Sampler Quilt'

I love the colours of the threads that Leanne Beasley (the designer) has chosen to compliment the beautiful Tilda fabrics.

I'm really getting excited to finish this block and, I can't wait to see what the next one will be when Issue 12 of Vignette is published.