Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Out and About - Birmingham

I have been out and about again! This time I was accompanying my mum down to Birmingham for the Festival of Quilts show at the NEC. However whilst I was down there I took the opportunity to peruse some of the other sewing related gems Birmingham has to offer. 

Birmingham Famous Rag Market

Last time I was in Birmingham I sadly missed the chance to go to the Rag Market, so this time it was at the top of my list. One word...WOW! This place is incredible. I think it could be summed up as being a slightly chaotic mix of chiffon, bananas and fish. It is a little treasure trove of goodies and for people (like me) who love to have a thorough rummage whilst shopping this market is perfect. 

I have found that in a lot of markets the stall holders can be really pushy and pester you to buy thing however this was not the case in Birmingham. Everyone was very chilled out and there was no hard sale. As for the prices yikes! After spending the previous day at the festival of quilts looking at designer cottons prints some of which were going for nearly £25/m I nearly jumped for joy when I saw lace for £7/m,  cottons for £3/m, net for £2/m and even some jersey for £1/m.

Check out this wall of zips! Not only was there loads of fabric at the market but there was also an abundance of notions including buttons, elastic, ribbon, lace, trims and everything else you can think of.
Needless to say a made a few purchases. I wont bother detailing everything but I bought several solid colour stretch fabrics, some chiffon to have a play with, several zips because you just never know when you'll need one and also a dozen buttons because I just can't help myself!

Just to prove that there was bananas too.

Fancy Silk Store

I also popped in to the Fancy Silk Store across the road from the market. I was totally overwhelmed by the volume of fabric. It went all the way to the ceiling! I only had a quick look in the shop as I didn't want to be tempted in to buying even more but they looked like they had a fantastic selection of cottons and jerseys as well as a large selection of wool and suiting fabrics.

 The only thing I would say is that due to the volume of fabric and the way it is stacked up, I think that you would need a lot of help from the shop staff to reach the bolt you were thinking of buying. I was a bit worried that if I yanked a bold to hard the whole wall might come down.

Guthrie and Ghani

I didn't take any photos but I did hop on the number 50 bus out to Mosley to visit Guthrie and Ghani. I took the same trip in March so I knew what to expect and I already had my shopping list together. My plan was to buy the Colette Hawthorn and Macaroon patterns, however, by the time I arrived at the shop I decided (mainly because it was howling a gale) that instead of the Macaroon I was Colette Anise Jacket instead (sorry macaroon maybe next time). I am waiting for the fabric shops at home to get their winter stock in before I buy fabric for the Anise so for just now I only bought fabric for the Hawthorn. The Hawthorn as a dress requires quite a large meterage so I decided to just buy enough for the top version. I figured that way I ca work on any fit issues I might have with the bodice befor I invest in a larger quantity of fabric. So in the end I settled on this bluey grey linen effect cotton, which I think will make a lovely crisp top.

Also I was really excited to see that GandG are stocking Deer and Doe patterns now, I think they might be on the list for net time too. Also I just want to say thanks to the great staff at GandG I was given some excellent recommendations for breakfast (Cherry Reds) and coffee (Yorks Bakery Cafe) in the city centre.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Mother Daughter Quilt

Time for something a little different (well for me anyway). 
Over the past couple of months I have been making plans for a baby gift for one of my fellow crafty friends. From the second I found out she was expecting I knew I wanted to make her something special. I got straight on to Pinterest for some inspiration. I went through several different ideas ranging from simple bibs to cute little outfits but in the end I decided that a baby quilt was the way to go.

For the uninitiated, the world of quilting is pretty daunting. I found that narrowing down the choice of fabric and design was definitely the most difficult part of the process. My first dilemma was obviously not knowing if baby was a boy of a girl so for the first few months I just had to wait patiently. Fortunately mum to be was soon told that there was a high probability that she was expecting a girl. After this exciting news I decided to go for the Moda Storybook charm pack as my main fabric choice.  Storybook contains a wonderful mix of dreamy prints including hot air balloons, princess castles and little birds, perfect for a little girl (although I have seen some wonderful boys quilts made from the range too).

Seeing as this was my first ever quilting project, I wanted the design to be fairly straight forward. I knew I wanted to stick with a design based around charm squares as I think they are a great size for small quilts. Each square is small enough to be in scale with the small quilt but is still large enough to display the fabric and prints nicely. So with that in mind and after a lot of pinning I found this pin which had a list of perfect tutorials from ohfranson. The I settled on Charm Squares Quild Redux  for my final design as it is an ideal pattern for beginners with no complicated angles, curves or difficult cutting.

To give me a kick start and guide me through the world of quilting my Mum very kindly came over to my flat for the weekend to help me piece together the quilt top. It was the first time that my mum and I have both worked on the same project and it was a lovely experience to produce something together. With my mums experience in quilt making we made quick progress with the piecing.

This was our sewing setup. Mum at the front and me at the back. You might recognise the blue Quiltofax that I made my mum for her birthday earlier this year. It has been working great for her and she has had some lovely comments from sewing friends (one of whom is even planning to make her own).

One thing I found whist making the quilt, there is absolutely no where to hide! Sometimes, in dressmaking, you might have a slightly dodgy seam, wonky hem or just can't be bothered finishing all those raw edges. However, when making a quilt, these little details can't be hidden with a belt or taken in at a later date, everything has to be exact! To add to this you also can't get away from needing to press every little seam.

One thing that my mum is a particular fan of is tacking. I know a lot of people use adhesive sprays, curvy safety pins or even tack guns for sandwiching their backing wadding and top together. However, mum is a traditionalist when it comes to these things, so we hand tacked everything together. It was pretty quick on a quilt of this size (33" x 40") but I imagine it would have been quite back breaking on a full size quilt. Having the whole quilt hand tacked definitely had its benefits when it came to the quilting stage. I think negotiating between safety pins would have been a bit of a pain.   

Thank goodness for walking feet! I hate to think what it would have been like to quilt this without it. I opted to keep the quilting pattern fairly simple and continue the theme of lines and rows. As it is a baby quilt I also wanted to keep it quite soft and didn't want to make it too stiff with a tight quilting pattern.

Shortly after baby Catherine was born I created this little label for the back of the quilt with her name and date of birth. I also embroidered a pair of baby feet inspired by one of the designs in my Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection book.

I stitched the label in to one of the corners at the back of the quilt and then hand stitched the rest of the binding. Normally I am not a big fan of hand stitching but in this case I found it quite exciting. I found that hand stitching the binding was the very last step and was akin to framing a new piece of art. 
I like the look of the hand finished binding my only concern is how it will stand up against frequent washing. I guess if is starts to unravel it can either be hand stitched again or I can run round it with the machine.

So here is the finished article. I am really pleased with the way it turned out. I wouldn't say that am a quilt making convert but I did really enjoy making this little one. Also, I think as it is a gift for a friend and a project that my mum and I both worked on that makes it even more special. 

I thought you might all like to see a quick pic of little Catherine. She is sooooo cute! So Catherine,I hope you like your new quilt. Hopefully, it will keep you cosy in the colder months and give you comfort for many more years to come :-)