Sunday, 30 August 2009

Dawn of a new quilt

I have been working on a page boy outfit for Austin to wear in a couple of weeks time at his uncle's wedding, where he knows his special job is to hold his cousin's hand and take her to her Dad for the wedding. The set consists of a pair of black dress pants with double pleat front, fly and hidden side pockets just like Daddy's, a black vest with satin covered buttons and satin pocket welts and back tie. a pink silk neck tie, and a white bamboo/cotton blend collared shirt. So far the pants and the vest are done (well, all but the hand sewing finishing bits). I'll wait until the whole outfit is complete to show photos.

In the meantime, partly a procrastination from starting the shirt (I hate doing collars and sleeve plackets!) and partly because the fabrics beckoned me, I started a new quilt for Madelyn's cot. Yes, her cot! I think I am laxing my SIDS police rules a little, figuring that a REAL quilt is little more than a wool blanket covered with cotton, not the smothering fluffy doona things that SIDS for kids tell you not to use. For those that don't know, my nephew Aden died of SIDS at 7 months old, so I have a huge fear of it now that I actuallly know a baby that was taken suddenly with no real explanation. I think with both my children my fears have peaked at around the seven month mark, and I remeber holding Aden, limp and cold in my arms and thinking "He's almost a little boy, he's so big, how on earth could this happen?" So as a result, Maddy sleeps with a breathing monitor (and I wish she had the camera that Austy had at the old house) and we only use 100% naturl fibres on the bed to avoid the risk of overheating. I think as a result, part of Madelyn's poor sleeping habit come from her being a cold sleeper like me, and I am a little scared to rug her up too warm, knowing that most of SIDS deaths happen in the winter when parents put too many layers on - and my biggest enemy is polar fleece and synthetic quilt fillings.

I have started using this quilt made by my EB quilter buddies, on the cot a couple of times when the weather has been super cool because I don't like leaving a heater on in her room unnattended unless I really have to, and because it's always draped over the rocking chair for our night feeds so it's easy to grab. It's not really the right size for a cot though and I can't tuck it in. I figured she'd be a wriggler like Austy and propper bedding would only last a few months before resorting to sleeping bags, but thankfully she's more like me, and keeps nice and snug under the covers. Therefore, a cot quilt is in order!

With this in mind, the last few fabric purchases have included a small piece of beige, cream, white, brown or cranberry fabric getting ready for this quilt. On their own, the colours don't look like much, but together Ithink they create a warm, calming feel. I had originally thought I'd do her cot quilt with some of this gorgeous stuff but my creativity juice isn't flowing and I'm not quite sure how to use it, so I just went for the simple but effective "Four Corners" pattern, gifted to me by Eden with the beautiful DQ6 quilt she sent me. I love the pattern - just the thing to showcase pretty fabrics, letting the fabrics speak rather than the design. And when I started preparing the pieces I loved it even more. It uses mostly charms and a little yardage for borders and backing, so it's the perfect thing for using up charm packs. Instead though, I am using yardage, cut into charms and hope to make it bigger than the pattern says by adding extra blocks and wider borders, so it tucks in just nicely around her mattress.

I am also happy to report that I FINALLY finished my border on Emma's Round Robin quilt!! Yah!!! It took me about 9 months (insert VERY embarrased smiley here!) so I was glad to hand it over in the end, so I could move on and work on something else. When I agreed todo the round robin, I was expecting that the whole thing would be finished before Madelyn came along, however this quilt took a little extra time to get to me, and I was panicking to try and get it done in my final weeks of my pregnancy. The first cut I did was the wrong way (blaming tiredness and pregnancy hormones) so my fabric was no longer long enough to stretch across the whole quilt for the solid border I had planned to start with. I was going to do a plain border with appliqued snowflakes all around but it didn't go to plan. So I rattled my brains and decided to paper piece the main border with "mountains" in the middle to make my mistakenly cut fabric stretch far enough for the border.

(photo pinched from Emma's blog as I had no time to photograph before the playschool concert where we did the hand over)

But even that wasn't without issues - every time I tried to create one of the 8 paper pieced blocks (which I later realised could have been done in 4!) I'd cut my pieces slightly too small so that once sewn they didn't quite cover the space! I put it away with a week to go, and concentrated on getting Madelyn's play quilt finished (which I was still binding in the hospital waiting for my induction to start). Then when Maddy came, there was the first weeks of colic when she cried ost of the night and left me little time for sleep. Then there was Austy's bad behaviour for a bit that took some energy to curb, then our trip, then Maddy's string of illness... It seemed I was never going to finish just one little border! After several mistakes with Emma's quilt early on, I didn't want to touch it while my head was foggy. It just took this long for me to get back into the swing of things. But I did. And she has it. My border is the final one from the thin light blue strip outwards. I recommended Emma do a plain wide border using the same dark navy leaves that are used throughout the quilt as I think it would finish it nicely. I's up to her though - she may have some other spectacular idea - she always does!

The snowflakes are machine appliqued with metallic silver gutterman thread. I finally worked out that the buttonhole stitch on my machine can be adjusted to my liking and I am really enjoying machine applique now. I wish I could show you a close up of one of the snowflakes, but unfortunately I didn't get one photo before hand-over. The thread was easy to work with it didn't snap once, and all I had to do was adjust the tension slightly so that there was no chance the white bottom thread would show at the top.

And I can't wait to show you hat's in this little parcel - just waiting for the recipient to get home from her holiday and pick it up from the post office.

As an added blogging question: Does anyone know how I can stop blogger from adding in a thousand empty lines between my paragraphs every time a picture is inserted? If I knew how to stop this, blogging with pictures would be so much easier and I'd be inclined to put more in, but at the moment i takes almost as long to move pictures and delete empty lines as it does to write the blog entry.


Emma said...

Maddy's quilt is going to be lovely! I pressed the RR top this afternoon and took some detail photos, incuding some close-ups of your snowflakes; I'll send you them when I get a chance.

Car said...

Looking forward to seeing Maddy's Quilt :)

If you are using PC/windows, you can download a program called windows live writer, you write your posts through it and copy and paste your photos over - no more having to post thru blogger and have those annoying lines ;)

AJ said...

The love the start of Maddy's quilt...can't wait to see it finished!