Thursday, July 31, 2014

Meet Kai

I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to introduce you to Kai. I've completely fallen off the blogging/quilting bandwagon and all I can say is baby number 4 has tipped me over the edge. My days and nights are filled with baby cuddles, and that's just fine with me right now.

So do you want to hear the birth story? Kai was born almost 2 weeks late. After three days and nights of early labour pains I suddenly went into full on labour while at my parent's house for dinner. All of a sudden I wasn't hungry. My dad asked me if I shouldn't be in hospital and I told Todd to pop his dinner in a container, and take me to the hospital... now! I phoned my midwife on the way and left a message. Previously I had been quite teary that labour was taking so long to establish, but now that things were moving I had a burst of energy and determination  Its funny how the anticipation of the pain was almost worse than the real thing. I arrived at the hospital before my midwife. Fortunately another midwife was able to get the bath started and I wasted no time getting on the gas! Although I don't think it did much for the pain, the gas helped me to focus and not become panicky. Todd had parked in a loading zone, and was about to leave to re-park the car, but I told him not to go anywhere, that this baby was coming and I didn't care if we got a parking ticket! Both my midwife and back up midwife made it just in time (we all forgot to call the student midwife... whoops). As soon as the bath was full I hopped in, and after two almighty contractions I was ready to push. He needed a little bit of help, as his shoulder got stuck, but at 7:20pm Kai joined our family - all 9 pounds ounces of squishy cuddliness. Oh the relief... the joy... there's nothing like it. He came out hungry, sucking on his fist and he's fed every 2 hours day and night ever since!

He's a pretty settled baby, loves his food and cuddles and is really smiley (started at just 2 weeks.)  The whole family love him to bits, and fight over who is going to hold him next.  I can't believe he's already 3 and a half months old!  Here's some snaps from my phone:

This gorgeous outfit was sewn by my lovely friend, Cath Palmer, who happens to be a midwife (and who was able to help calm me down when I was worried about how the birth would go). The pants pattern is Anna Maria Horner's Quick Change Pants, with a lovely soft flannel on the inside.

She was so thoughtful to make tops for each of the siblings too. How nice is that!

My sister, Amelia, made this beautiful quilt with gorgeous soft fabrics! It's the perfect size for him to have some tummy time on. 

She also made a matching ball with some very special fabric. I wish you could see it up close. The stitches are so fine and delicate. What a lucky boy.

I would like to take the liberty of adding 4 lines to my mum's favourite poem:
You are the trip I did not take
You are the pearls I cannot buy
You are my blue Italian lake
You are my piece of foreign sky
You are my quilting masterpiece
You are the book I did not write
You are the blog I cannot tend
I'm far too busy holding you tight.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Flea Market Fancy Quilt while waiting for baby

I'm officially overdue and I can't wait to meet bubs. You know that moment when heaven meets earth and your world stands still and the pains of labour are all worth it. I'm hanging out for that moment!

In the mean time I'm keeping busy. I made this little quilt for the baby using Flea Market Fancy reprint fabric (and a couple of other Denyse Schmidt fabrics.) Not very original, but super easy and very satisfying (I cut the squares 4.5" if you're wondering.)

My husband is always very honest when appraising my quilts (which is good because when he gives a compliment I know it's real) and he told me outright that he didn't like these fabrics at all. It made me momentarily question how I felt about the quilt and I wondered about whether there was too much pink in it. I was going for gender neutral because we don't know what we're having, but I think it's ended up gender inclusive. The more I look at it the more I love it! This is definitely a keeper. 

To keep it really soft I used wool batting (which has a slightly higher loft than cotton or bamboo) and  quilted it sparingly. It has ended up very soft, and the rounded corners just add to that softness. This was the first time I've tried rounded corners, and other than using more fabric than usual making the bias binding, it was easy and I love the outcome. I used this tutorial from "a quilt is nice" for the rounded corners (although I sewed the binding to the front of the quilt and hand sewed it to the back.) I also used this video to make the bias binding.

I didn't get around to making a quilt for me to snuggle under during night time feedings (even though I have a couple of quilt tops ready to be quilted), so I splurged and bought this Daydream bamboo blanket. When Grace was born I bought a bamboo wrap from Aden and Anais, and it was the softest thing ever. Now they make an adult size blanket out of four layers of the same fabric (rayon from bamboo fibre muslin) and it is divine!

So here's me at 41 weeks ready to pop. We're celebrating kids birthdays over the next couple of days, so maybe the baby's waiting for it's own birthday. Either way, it wont be long now :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Waldorf Doll

I started making a Waldorf doll for my little Grace a year ago for her second birthday. The simple style and natural materials really appealed to me. Well, I've finally finished it in time for her third birthday coming up. I don't know why it took me so long. It really wasn't too difficult to make. There's some excellent tutorials out there, and I've heard this book is great. I used bits and pieces from free online patterns, and looked at lots of different tutorials, but mainly used these instructions to make the head, these to make the body, and this one for the hair. The most painful bit was making the dress - even though it was so simple. I really don't enjoy making clothes, especially tiny ones, with fiddly bits of elastic in sleeves. I planned on making a couple of dresses so she could change outfits, but one dress will have to do for this dolly. I'm really happy with how she turned out and hopefully she'll be treasured for years to come. I'm planning on (eventually) making another one with my left over supplies, and I'll try to make the nose stand out next time (I neglected to put a bit of glue on this one to keep it in place.) You can see a hint of a nose though... right?

I also made a little doll quilt with leftovers from my Scattered Showers quilt.

The new baby is due any day now, so the timing for finishing this doll has actually turned out quite nicely, as it will be great for Grace to have her own baby to nurse and cuddle while I have mine. I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Baby Nixon's Quilt - Rough Tutorial

I've had quite a few emails asking for details on how I made baby Nixon's quilt, so I've put together a very rough little tutorial outlining what I did, and the basic measurements. Please note, my patterns are nothing like this - they are much more detailed with pages of step by step photos/diagrams, and in depth instructions.

As you may know, I try to find the quickest easiest way of getting the look I like, and this quilt was no exception. It's a fun little one that can be adapted to whatever size you need. I used the same technique on the back of this quilt.

So, I started with pieces of patterned fabric that were 9" wide. I can't remember how many, maybe 20 pieces, 9" x approx 12". Then I cross cut them to varying thicknesses - approx 2" to 3" (see rough diagram below.) (Please note that even though the diagrams look very wonky, the fabric was actually cut with a rotary cutter and ruler throughout the process, so the edges were straight and the corners square.)

I cut the white sashing 1 1/4" wide (3/4" finished - using a 1/4" seam allowance).  I then sewed the strips of patterned fabric together with 1 1/4" x 9" sashing strips in between until it was the width I wanted the quilt to be. Nixon's quilt was about 40" wide.

At that point I horizontally cut through the entire 9" x 40" strip, giving me three 3" x 40" strips  (hopefully the pic below explains it.) 

I repeated this process another 4 times ending up with 15, 3" x 40" strips.

I then arranged all of the strips, rotating some strips 180 degrees to make the quilt look more random. When I was happy with the arrangement I sewed the strips together with 14, 1 1/4" x 40"  strips of white sashing in between.  I don't have the quilt anymore so I can't remember exact dimensions but the process would work for any size. Nixon's quilt was approximately 48"long, but you would just make more strips for a larger quilt.

I hope this all makes sense! I really enjoyed making this little quilt. I like the way the sashing makes the fabrics stand out, but you don't have to carefully align the vertical sashing strips, so it's pretty fuss free. It's also an orderly way of making something which looks random.  Please let me know if you have any questions. Cheers!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Baby "Frequency" Quilt

I've finally finished quilting my small "Frequency" quilt. You can find the tutorial for the quilt top here.

I enjoyed practicing free motion quilting on the pink strips (I tried quilting one of the patterned strips but preferred the puffy look so left them unquilted.) At first I had planned on doing a different design on each strip, but I liked the designs I chose so much that I doubled up on them to practice them more.

The quilting shows up very well on the back (there's no hiding mistakes here!) My machine (Janome 1600p QC) is fantastic for free motion quilting. It glides effortlessly over the quilt.

I've shown these pictures before, but they show the quilting close up, so I thought I'd show them again.

Wobbly "organic" quilting

Pebbling - love this look!

The twirls were a little tricky around some of the angles.

Not perfect by any means, but overall I'm really pleased with the result, and I can feel my confidence improving with free motion quilting.

By the way, only 5 weeks to go until bubs number 4 arrives! Apparently he/she is measuring big (90 percentile), so I'm hoping I don't go late like I did with the others. Exciting times ahead :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Baby Nixon's Quilt

We've been loving our summer holidays and have just returned from an 8 night cruise to some beautiful Pacific islands with my extended family, as well a 3 week holiday to Queensland to spend Christmas with Todd's family. I feel very spoiled. With the baby due the end of March I don't think we'll be going away again any time soon, so it was lovely to create special memories.  We've returned to a scorching heat wave. The forecast is 46 degrees Celius today (115 degrees Fahrenheit), so we're bunkering down in the air conditioned room, and I finally have a moment to share Nixon's quilt with you.

We were lucky enough to be visiting with my in laws, Leia and Ben, when she had their beautiful son, Nixon, 2 days after Christmas. You forget how tiny newborns are, even though he was a good size - 9 pounds, 4 ounces. It makes me excited to meet my little one (we don't know if it's a boy or a girl, we're having a surprise.) I finished Nixon's quilt just in time (sewing the binding on while they were in the hospital.)

The idea for this quilt came from the back of my latest Gathered In quilt. It seems that I do that a lot - try out a new idea on the back of a quilt first. Lotta Jansdotta's fabric looks lovely against the white sashing. I'm not sure the exact size of this quilt, but it would be about 100cm by 120cm.

They live by the beach, so quilting waves and pebbles/bubbles in the sashing seemed appropriate. I really enjoyed quilting this because I could use the seams as a guide.

You can see the quilting quite well on the back.

I tried wool wadding for the first time. It was lovely to work with and made the quilt puffier than usual, so the quilting stands out and it's nice and soft.

Here's little baby Nixon...

And here he is being loved by his big sisters and cousins.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Simple Strip Quilt Tutorial

This super simple quilt would be a quick weekend project or great way to practice hand quilting. I like the way the white strips separate and show off the patterned fabric. I made a very similar quilt a few years ago (Adelaide's quilt) and thought I would put together a more comprehensive tutorial for you, with a few photos. It's not a pattern, but rather a general guide to how I made my quilt. It measures approximately 38" x 48" (97cm x 121cm).

All fabric for this quilt was 44" wide, and I used a scant 1/4" seam.

This quilt is particularly good if you have a number of fat strips of fabric in your stash (all the strips don't have to be the same width.) You will need a number of strips of fabric (selvedge to selvedge). The strips I had on hand were about 5" x 44" (the fabric strips in the photo below were folded in half - selvedge to selvedge.) Lay the strips down, one under the other until it measures the desired length. Mine was 48" long.

Now take each fat strip, trim the long edge, and cut into thinner strips (selvedge to selvedge). Don't trim the selvedges yet - you will do that once all of the strips have been sewn together.  Some strips I left as their original width (about 5"), and others I cut into two thinner strips (2" - 3"). My strips varied in width between 2" to 5" but there is no right or wrong width. It doesn't matter how many times you cut the strips, but the more times you cut, the more white strips you will need to add. It will still measure the same length when it comes back together.

Lay the strips out until you're happy with the arrangement. Make sure it measures the desired length. You wont lose anything in the seam allowances once the white strips have been added. You may want to add more patterned strips or trim some down.

Now it's time to cut the white strips (all selvedge to selvedge).  Count the number of patterned strips you laid out, take away one, and cut that many 1" white strips (I had 15 patterned strips so cut 14, 1" white strips.)
Cut two 2" white strips (for the back of the quilt.)

Sew a 1" white strip to one side of each patterned strip except the last one at the bottom, and then sew all of the strips together in your arranged order, ironing towards the patterned fabric as you go.

At this stage your quilt top should look something like this. If you don't want a pieced back you could just trim the selvedges from each side of the quilt and your quilt top would measure almost 44" wide.

However, if you would like to make an easy pieced back, after trimming the sides of your quilt, cut a strip down the length of one side of your quilt top (mine is 5" wide.)

My quilt top measured 38" wide.

Add a 2" white strip to both sides of the patterned strip you cut from the edge of the quilt top. The white strips will probably not be as long as your patterned strip- that's fine. Iron your seams towards the white fabric to reduce bulk in the seams.

For the backing I used a piece of fabric approximately the same length as my quilt top. Then made a horizontal cut about a third of the way down and added the pieced strip (as shown below.) Trim the pieced strip in line with the rest of the backing fabric.  The pieced back should now measure at least 2 inches bigger than the quilt top all the way around.

Now for the fun part. This is a really easy quilt to quilt because you can use the seams as a guide. I straight machine stitched 1/4" inside the patterned strips and hand quilted with red perle cotton no. 8 down the centre of the white strips. I didn't mark any lines, just eyeballed it. It's not perfect, but I like that hand crafted look.

 And here's the back...

It doesn't get much simpler than that! Enjoy! And let me know if you have any questions.