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The Birthday Quilt

You may have noticed, if you follow me on Instagram, that there has been a rather special birthday round here recently.  My gran turned 90 on Tuesday, and so to celebrate I made her a quilt for her to actually use.  This will distinguish it from the first quilt I gave her (my first ever one 3 years ago), because that one sits on top of the spare room bed.  Waiting for best.  Or something.

I had a fat 1/8th bundle of Sweetwater's Reunion that I'd bought around the time I started quilting and which I was keeping for no good reason, but seemed like the perfect option for this quilt.  I paired it up with some Klona navy and got cutting so that I had 480 squares. half of which were destined to become HSTs.

The idea behind the pattern was to have interlocking stars, and I'm sure I saw something along the same lines somewhere, but alas can't remember where or when (I searched through all my Pins to no avail!)  Anyway, I worked out how many squares of the 2 sizes I needed I could get out of the fat 1/8ths and went from there, then I scoured the interwebs to find a few fat quarters to make it up to the size I wanted.

I started by laying out the squares:

Running out of design wall length in the process:

Then it was on to the HSTs:

And filling in the blanks on the wall, before stacking and stacking and stacking, then sewing and sewing and sewing:

There's 30 blocks in total, 5 in each of 6 strips, and here's the first half of the top completed (I spaced on taking a photo of the finished top)

Then it was on to the quilting, which I did in diagonal lines, which I totally eyeballed, thanks to Sue's suggestion, which saved my knees and sanity from trying to mark them out!

Until finally I had a finished quilt.  Here's a photo of it in my gran's garden - sorry the right hand side is a bit rumpled up, my mum was standing on a stool and she still wasn't quite tall enough!

And here's the label I did for the back:

Thankfully she loved it, although it's still hanging over her (unused) zimmer frame in the living room.  The jury is out on whether it will actually be used, or just shown off in its folded up state to the neighbours and multitude of other visitors ;o)
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Thanks to everyone for their support last week, working on me is still very much a work in progress, but I did get some sewing done, as there was a very special birthday this week, and the present needed to be finished.

Finishes This Week:

The 90th birthday quilt for my gran.  I'll do a proper post for this, just as soon as my dad gives me the proper photos ;o)  In the meantime, here's the IG one.

In Progress This Week:

I started work on my IG mini swap quilt this week too.  I pulled some fabrics, sewed a wee bit together and cut out some templates, whilst quietly winding up my partner by not showing her what it's actually going to be.  Hey, when you're this down, you have to get your kicks somewhere!

To Be Worked On This Week:

IG Mini

Linking up with Lee and the gang:

Finish Along Sponsor Highlight Post - Imagine Gnats

It's Tuesday once more, and once again we're highlighting one of our fabulous Finish Along Sponsors, who this week is Rachael from Imagine Gnats:

Rachael has a great eye for fun and quirky prints, which she often uses to dress her fun and quirky kids, so this quarter I thought I'd show you around the fun stuff:

For instance, who wouldn't need some of these Bitty Boars double gauze?

Or these fun wee baby knit ellies?

Maybe you need some Boston Terrier Canvas?

Who says JCBs and dumper trucks should only be for boys?  They also look pretty in pink double gauze:

And finally, for all the cat lovers amongst you, gold metallic kitties!

Head on over to Rachael's shop and see what other delights lie in store...
Quilt Now Issue 4

So in amongst all the other things that have been going on lately, I have been regularly producing things for Quilt Now magazine.  Issue 4 has been out for a wee while now, but there was a bit of an issue converting some people from the 3 reduced price to full price Direct Debits, so I was only just able to get hold of a copy.

Anyway, this is the Christmas themed one, where you can get your craft on in time for the big day with everything from advent calendars to a wreath quilt, but I made what everybody, big and small, looks forward to on the big day:

Using some fun Robert Kaufman Merry Moustaches fabric, I made a pocket Christmas stocking.  Now there was a reason for the pocket - round here Santa always leaves some shiny coins, which always, without fail, end up jumbled up in the oranges and apples he also leaves at the bottom of the stocking, so there's always that challenge to get them all out without half your coins rolling irretrievably under the sofa ;o)  I figured other people would also have some wee gifts they didn't want to get lost, so there you go, a pocket Christmas stocking.
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For those of you that don't follow me on IG, I owe you a bit of an explanation.  Last Friday I had a bit of a breakdown at work, and on Monday, after a meeting with HR, from which I went to the doctors, I got signed off with stress and high blood pressure for at least the next 3 weeks.  I apologise for absences both here and elsewhere of late, but I'm afraid my mental capacity was just not up to it.  Over the new few weeks there will be some changes I hope, but it may take a wee while to get things in some semblance of order, so please bear with me a while yet.

In the meantime, I continued with the Reunion quilt sewing, and a whole other project entirely...

Finishes This Week:

So I got this done.  Yep, I know it's not sewing, but I just needed a bit of mindless escape.  I now feel an urge to make the Mini.  Or perhaps raid mum and dad's loft for all my old Lego...

In Progress This Week:

Half a quilt top done.  The other blocks are sewn, just need to be put into their rows and sewn together.  It needs to be finished, including quilting, but next Tuesday, any suggestions?

To Be Worked On This Week:

The Reunion quilt
Sorting out my mind

Linking up with Lee and the gang:

FInish Along Sponsor Highlight - Sew Bittersweet Designs

It being Tuesday, it's time for our weekly thank you to one of our lovely Finish Along Sponsors, and this week it's Melissa at Sew Bittersweet Designs:


Melissa has a range of quilt patterns, all of which are beginner or advance beginner friendly.  This time I thought I'd show you the rest of the patterns which I missed in last quarter.

Beginner friendly Twirling Around is a jelly roll pattern designed for charity.  This is a great way of using up jelly rolls that you buy because they're pretty and never quite find a use for (that might just be me!):

I know you all know of my dislike of geese, but I do love a good bit of paper piecing, so I could actually get on board with these Jeweled Geese :

And finally, are you looking for a good way to used up a stack of fabric you've been hoarding?  This Eyes Cross Spied pattern might be just the thing:

Pop on over and check out Melissa's store to see what else is available!
How Do You Use Patterns?

Following a couple of discussions I had with a friend recently, and reading some recent reviews on the wonderful Purse Pallooza over at Sew Sweetness, I've been pondering patterns of late.

The conversation I was having started with the idea of following patterns.  When I thought about it, I realised that I've not made a pattern in years that I haven't altered in some way, whereas my conversant was merrily following her chosen pattern to the letter.  After that conversation I was looking at the Purse Pallooza reviews, and I had a real giggle counting up the number of reviews that said something along the lines of:

'I really loved this pattern, it was perfect, it's just that when I made it I added a pocket/ removed a pocket/ lengthened the strap/ shortened the strap/ made it bigger/ made it smaller etc'

I thought upon this a bit more, and realised that as a pattern writer I tend to write a pattern for something that would suit me at the time, whether it's the size, shape, strap length, number of pockets and so on.  The same applies for quilt patterns that I create for myself, they are made to be a size that suits the recipient of the quilt.  I imagine I am not unique in this, but feel free to tell me otherwise if any of you are pattern writers.

Possibly writing patterns to suit oneself is somewhat short sighted (although the Whole Lotta Bag contained every technique that you, my dear readers, requested, and that might have been a little mad!) but should I put out a survey every time I write a pattern on what people want instead?  I can only imagine that I'd end up with a technique laden pattern every time that would scare the bejaysus out of my prospective makers if I tried to suit everybody, and really, everyone has their own very different idea of the perfect bag/quilt/clothing etc.

I have absolutely nothing against people altering my patterns - add a bit, remove a bit, make it bigger/smaller, I really don't mind, you bought the pattern, do as you wish with it when you come to make the thing (although if you switch out the interfacings hell mend you ;o) ), but if you write patterns do you get annoyed if people alter them?  I mean presumably at the time you wrote it you thought it was perfect, so does it bother you?

If you are a maker, do you religiously stick to a pattern, or do you deviate to suit your needs?  As a quilt maker I've used a block shape and then made my own sized quilt off the back of that, with whatever sashing I had to hand, the Retro Flowers both big and small spring to mind:

And then there was my fleet of Aeroplanes:

Do you like pattern writers to show you various options?  This is most common in clothing patterns, where there are often different 'views' where a skirt might be longer, or the fastening different, a dress may have a variety of necklines and so on.  Some quilt patterns do come with different sized options, but for quilt and bag patterns you tend not to see many variations (the 241 tote in my picture above being a notable exception with its different outer pocket options).  When I did the Whole Lotta Bag Along I showed options, but would you rather have worked that out for yourself?

Answers on a postcard in the comments box please :o)