…and the results are in…..

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my previous post, where I talked about the possibility of either expanding this blog from being only about embroidery to including posts about my three doll’s houses as well, or whether to start a second blog to write about them. That post became my ‘personal best so far’ as to comments – over four dozen of you commented, and it was really interesting to read all of your opinions.

It became quite clear, from reading them all, that the vast majority of those who commented would like me to combine the two themes – embroidery and the miniatures hobby – into this blog, rather than start a new blog for the minis. To be honest, I had set up a second blog, and written a couple of posts already (just not publicised it), but it wasn’t working for me, somehow.

This blog has been going since 2009, and I have a very large, regular readership now. I was a bit torn as to what to do, as I know that some of you are purely ‘stitchers’, and many of you do both hobbies. But as several of you said, to have two blogs would not only be more fiddly for you all to keep up with, but it would also be more work for me to maintain.

A couple of people also said that they like the idea that whatever I write about would be showing what I *as a person* am interested in at any one time, and I think that is what has been the most persuasive factor in my deciding to stick with the one blog.

This is the first mini-quilt that I made - it measures about 20 inches by 16
This is the first mini-quilt that I made – it measures about 20 inches by 16

For instance, in the past I have written a few times about patchwork and quilting, as I ‘dabbled’ a couple of years ago with that hobby (I still have three mini quilts kitted up, ready to make). And a couple of times I’ve talked about things that are completely ‘non-craftlike’, depending what occurs to me. So, to blend the blog’s usual topic of embroidery with other topics isn’t completely new, but I am definitely planning to do some different things in the coming months.

My Georgian style doll's house
My Georgian style doll’s house

I own three doll’s houses now – one was bought fully built and painted on the outside – I’ve had that one for 34 years, now! The other two have been bought in the past couple of years as flat-pack kits, so I intend to share my decorating and collecting stories with you. I have many doll’s house scale kits of various types (miniature flowers, furniture kits, dolls, etc.), which I will be doing kit reviews of, too.

But the blog posts to do with embroidery will still continue – my stash isn’t getting any smaller, despite me always making stuff – while I make one thing, I seem to buy two more projects, so there’s always lots of gorgeous things to create and then write about!

I’m aware that a few of you said that if the focus of the blog changed from being almost exclusively embroidery-based to being less focussed on stitching, then you might not follow it any more, but although that is your choice, I think that would be a shame, although I know I can’t please everyone all the time. But I’ve always found that the hobby of miniatures can appeal to lots of people, even if they don’t make things themselves – the attraction of the tiny just draws people in! So hopefully most of you will stay, and see what I write about….

A tiny doll's doll that I made from a kit from Tower House Dolls, which is only an inch and three-quarters tall
A tiny doll’s doll that I made from a kit from Tower House Dolls, which is only an inch and three-quarters tall

Thanks again for all the feedback, it really did help to clarify things for me.

 

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Starting my first mini quilt

This is the first mini quilt that I’ve decided to make – it’s the design in the top right hand corner of the pattern pack shown below – the one with the red floral border.

4 Fabrics 1

It’s a design by Lori Smith, of From My Heart to Your Hands, in the USA. She sells loads of pattern packs for all kinds of quilts. This pack, for nine quilts, cost $12, plus $4 shipping to the UK. Many of her designs are small (this pattern pack features designs that are all 16 x 20 inches each when finished). That’s exactly the kind of sized quilt that I want to make. Much bigger than that, and I’m going to run out of house space really fast!

I want to change the colours slightly – partly because it’s just impossible to get the same fabrics that any designers feature in their photos, but also because I fancy using a more subdued palette. I bought two fat quarter packs of reproduction design fabrics from the Fat Quarter Shop in the USA to begin with. These are in beautiful shades of maroon, red, stone, plum, olive and the odd highlight of orange.

4 Fabrics 2

I washed all the fabrics before I started to use them, in case they might shrink later, or the colours might run.

4 Fabrics 3

4 Fabrics 4

Lori’s patttern packs assume you have a basic knowledge of doing patchwork (nope, not really, but I have a beginner’s book called ‘Start Quilting’ by Alex Anderson, which helped fill the gaps). Lori’s instructions are  clear, though.

4 Fabrics 6

I had a good hour or so cutting up the fabrics I’d chosen into squares and rectangles, but now I’ve got the rather scary prospect of stitching them all together to make something worthwhile.

Hmm, I think it’s time for some chocolate….

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Starting out in my new quilting hobby

Well, as usual, once I decide I want to do something, I want to do it NOW!!

I spent hours surfing the internet for information about patchwork and quilting, and found some wonderful fabrics, but somehow I felt I needed to actually TALK to someone before getting some basic supplies in (other than my recent impulse purchases of some fat quarter packs from the USA). But I don’t know anybody who does patchwork. In the USA, patchwork and quilting is a huge hobby, with fabric shops just for patchwork fabric in every town, it seems. Not so in the UK.

However, I struck lucky. Each month, I go from Staffordshire, where I live, to Birmingham (about 50 miles), in order to do Dances of Universal Peace with a lovely group of people. I’ve been going for nearly four years, now. As I was surfing for patchwork fabric shops, I came across a really good one called The Cotton Patch, which also has a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop in Birmingham. Just out of interest, I checked on Google Maps to see if it would be possible to make a detour on the day I was in Birmingham for the dancing, to visit the shop. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I realised that the Cotton Patch shop is literally a hundred yards from the hall where I go for the dancing. I actually go past the door every month, but I’ve never noticed it before. Doh!!

So, last ‘dancing day’, I went armed with a list (I always have a list). In the lunch break, I sneaked off and had a wonderful 45 minutes in the shop, doing the equivalent of a trolley dash (except I had to pay for what I chose!). The woman on the till in the shop was really helpful, and advised me which books to get to start me off, which rulers would be good, which thread and wadding, etc. I had a great time.

This is the book she recommended:

Starting 1

It’s called Start Quilting with Alex Anderson, and it’s got all the information I need to get started, and eight beginners’ projects. They’re not really my style (especially the bright colourways), but I can see that they carefully teach the basics in a planned way. Rotary cutting is dealt with, and how to piece the quilt so that it lays flat. Both hand and machine quilting are covered (I want to do hand quilting). Each project builds on the skills from the one before. The final project in the book is a sampler quilt, using blocks from all of the previous seven projects. It’s a great book to start out with – 48 pages for £10.95.

There's lots of info on rotary cutting the fabric for your quilt
There’s lots of info on rotary cutting the fabric for your quilt
All the projects are suitable for beginners
All the projects are suitable for beginners
The final project is for a quilt which contains all the blocks taught earlier in the book
The final project is for a quilt which contains all the blocks taught earlier in the book

Now I’m back to surfing the internet for the perfect fabric…..

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I think I’m in love….

I’ve found a lovely new hobby. Well, not exactly new. I’ve decided I want to do some patchwork, which I haven’t done since I was 15 (shockingly, I realised that’s 35 years ago). Back then, there were no such things as rotary cutters and self-healing mats. So, the quilt I made for my bed during one winter was all hand cut, hand pieced, hand quilted…it took me six months, and by the time it was finished, I was sick of the sight of it, so I gave it away!

But recently, I was drawn in to the ‘modern’ way of quiltmaking, and I’m desperate to have a go, now! I’d been Googling websites to do with the Amish way of life – from there, I came across images of their quilts (which use plain colours, mainly dark blues/purples/browns). Then I found American Civil War quilt designs, using reproduction fabrics in muted shades, and small scale patterns.

AND THEN, I found a couple of websites where people were selling design packs for making mini quilts in these Civil War type designs. That’s when I got hooked. They’re small, you see, and I love all things small.  And as they’re small, they don’t take up much room when they’re finished. This last bit is vital, as my house is already full, so anything else that I make has to be small to be squeezed in  🙂

All these websites that I found, by the way, are in America. I tried to find something suitable in the UK, but quilting and patchwork in the UK has gone off at a tangent – the designs are cutesy, often using hot pastels or 1950’s retro fabrics, and with many designs being for children. Not my kind of thing at all.

So, once I found what I wanted, I had to get things shipped to the UK – not an easy (or cheap) task – some US websites won’t ship outside America, which is very frustrating. But I did find a few really good websites to help me get started, with shipping at a reasonable cost.

This is the pattern pack I have bought - each mini quilt only uses four fabrics
This is the pattern pack I have bought – each mini quilt only uses four fabrics

The first website with gorgeous small patterns was From my Heart to Your Hands, run by Lori Smith. I bought a pattern pack for 9 quilt designs, each measuring 16 x 20 inches when finished, for $12 plus very affordable shipping of $4 (other US website owners please take note – international airmail shipping doesn’t HAVE to start at $16!!!).

Lori has also written a book, which has many of her small designs in:

Fat Quarter Quilting by Lori Smith

A pack of fat quarters from The Fat Quarter Shop
A pack of fat quarters from The Fat Quarter Shop

I ordered some fat quarters from The Fat Quarter Shop. This website is enormous, and I could have bought dozens of their fat quarter packs, which are really well displayed, with mouth-watering colour selections…just yummy!

This is the Pincushion Stars pattern for a tiny quilt 12 x 14 inches from Primitive Gatherings
This is the Pincushion Stars pattern for a tiny quilt 12 x 14 inches from Primitive Gatherings

Then I was tempted to get another pattern from Primitive Gatherings, even though I suspect this one will be a killer to do, as the triangles are tiny (the finished quilt is only 12 x 14 inches).

My wishlist on Amazon has grown hugely in the past few weeks, as I add books on quilting and patchwork as if they are going out of fashion (which they probably are). This one looks really good:

Civil War Legacies

So, expect to see my attempt at quilting and patchwork soon.

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