I love Sundays! My absolute favourite ones include a full house, chatter, laughter and good food. This wet Sunday was just that and it felt so much like home that once again I was reminded I am home; this too is home.
I have been busy preparing a big blog move - to Typepad. I have been very happy on Blogger; its service has been very good to me and I am thankful for it all, but the time has come when I want a bit more from my provider and I believe Typepad is the best choice for that.
I will keep you posted on progress! In the meantime, enjoy Spring and Sunday cake.
This is the final post in my Happy baby quilt series. I hope my musings help anyone wishing to venture in some quilting. You can read the first post here and the second post here.
It's amazing how you can be both excited and scared about a project from beginning to end! Quilting this baby quilt was one such project.
Once I had the top of the quilt ready, time has come to join it to the batting and backing, with a little bit of binding, that simple (not to me) technique!
I layered the backing, batting and quilt top as neatly as I could and began the long and slow process that is pinning it all together. With what felt like the greatest of cares to me, I moved the whole 'sandwich' to my sewing machine and slowly quilted the three layers together. I did a straight line to the left of the columns and the same on the top of the rows, using yellow thread and a walking foot (great little thing!).
I then made my binding from yellow fabric. Binding really makes or breaks a quilt and I believe the yellow binding was the final push for my happy quilt. I cut 2.5" strips and used this tutorial to make my bias tape.
I knew I wanted to machine bind my quilt from the word go, for two reasons: 1. I wanted to be 100% sure the quilt would survive heavy use (I'm hoping it gets so heavily used the fabric goes thin!); and 2. it is a much quicker way of binding and time was (is?) precious.
I looked around for machine binding tutorials; you can tell I put a lot of emphasis on this. For me, the binding really is key to the whole process and I wanted to do it properly. I found a very good tutorial for machine binding which added the stitching as a feature rather than trying to hide it by doing it absolutely perfectly. I love how it turned out and will definitely use this method again!
Hope you've found this short quilting series helpful and... happy :)
You can read Part 1 of my Happy quilt serieshere and Part 2 here.
Last week, I started a short series on how I made a happy baby quilt. I hope my musings help anyone wishing to venture in some quilting. You can read the first post here.
When I got home with my cute fabrics, I was both excited and scared; more excited than scared, to be fair, but still! I prepared my sewing room for the task in hand and refused to think of the mammoth (ok, not really, just to me) ahead. Why bother myself with all the unknowns, right? The best thing to do in these situations is to go for it. So I did.
Prepare the fabric
Rosie said I didn't need to wash any of the fabrics as I was buying it all together and they were all the same. I wish I had followed her advice... But I didn't. Too many years of washing every single little piece of fabric I use could only lead to a certain resistance to said advice. It was fine, of course, but the cut edges of my fabrics frayed a bit; it was mildly annoying and I could have spared myself from it. Oh well! I also washed the batting. You either wash it all or wash nothing, can't pick and choose with this one.
Then I ironed it all... Oh the pain!
Cutting the fabric
I needed 6" squares, with 1/2" seam allowance. Seven columns in eight rows of 6" squares. Thanks to my good quilting tools, this was easy to do. I just lay my fabric strips neatly onto my cutting mat, got my see-through ruler on top and went for it. It took a while and it required concentration, but it was easy as I was just cutting squares, and large squares.
For my next quilt, with triangles, I may need a tip or two on the best way to cut them quickly and neatly. I may just need to call Rosie!
Sewing the quilt top
I had a diagram of how to distribute my squares so they were evenly spread, thanks to Rosie. I then colour-coded and animal-coded my diagram so I could see it at a glance. I really enjoyed doing it and REALLY think this was an amazing time saver throughout the process.
I organised my squares in rows. I'm not sure this is the best way to start, in comparison to doing the columns first, but there you go, I started with rows. A tip I've picked up along the way is to sew the squares in batches. How? I prepared all my squares in pairs (right sides together) and had them ready to go on the machine. Starting with the first pair, I kept sewing past the edge of the fabric for a little bit (I left about 2") and got the second pair onto the machine; I kept going until all the pairs were seen together. Then I cut the thread linking each pair and voila, I had all my first pairs ready to go.
Once I had all my squares into pairs, I joined them to make the first four squares of each row and repeated the method above. Eventually, I had all my squares in their respective place in a row. I pressed my seams all to one side, alternating sides with each row (ie row one has seams to the left, row two to the right, and so on). Time to attach the rows to each other.
Joining the rows required a little bit of patience to make sure the squares that would form the columns aligned the best way possible. Once down together, it also required me to let go of perfection and embrace the bigger picture! In the grand scheme of things, who will notice if two squares don't match exactly? Nobody!
Next week, I'll go through getting the quilt layers ready and adding the bias tape. And voilà, a quilt will be done!
Oh my, the amount of times I've heard this... And now, finally I know it to be true. So very true!
I've recently become a godmother to a baby girl and I wanted to give her something special. Something made by me, especially for her. Something that would be happy and telling of how much I love her already. A baby quilt was just the thing!
This was my first ever quilt; I had done a little patchwork blanket before, but that was about it. I learned loads! It was mostly a fun journey, with a bit of head scratching with the binding, but nothing too overwhelming. My experience was made much smoother thanks to the loveliest, most knowledgeable fabric shop lady ever, Rosie of Village Fabrics (don't let the website put you off, that shop is quilting heaven!!).
In case you're interested in doing your first ever quilt, or you'd just like to know more about what I thought of it all, I'm writing a series on my process, from fabric selection to finished quilt. Here is part one.
I would strongly recommend going to a quilting fabric shop near you, if you possibly can. There may not be a Rosie there, but there will be someone a bit less lovely but hopefully just as friendly who can help you and advise you. I now think of myself as an experienced sewer but I don't need to reinvent the wheel; quilting is a different sewing game and experienced quilters can give you precious tips on how to tackle your project.
Rosie taught me to calculate how much fabric I'd need and how I could lay it out to keep it varied and fun. She helped me find the solid colours that best matched the animal fabrics I had chosen. She found the backing (I love that backing!!) and for that I am so very grateful to her. She told me what threads to get and how to use them. She also held my hand when I said "I really love these fabrics but they're not pastel like the other baby quilts I see... But I love these best!". "Your quilt will be just great!"; sometimes us novices need a bit of support like that.
How did I choose the fabrics? Well, I wanted something with animals, that was mandatory. I wanted yellow as a unifying element and knew all along my binding would be yellow. I thought I'd find some baby fabrics, with a few animals in pastel-y colours; I didn't. Instead, I fell in love with these strong coloured oh so very happy animal prints and that was that. Once I had those, I needed to pick some solid fabrics to bring it all together; Rosie was essential in this and after a bit of trial and error, we nailed it! Originally, I wanted the backing to be yellow but once I saw those cute little owls I knew I had THE quilt for me.
I have a cutting mat, a see-through quilting ruler and a rotary cutter. I found them essential.
I also used my thread-picker quite a lot with the binding; it's the cheapest and best little thing I ever got!
I have a quilting foot for my sewing machine, which was excellent as all this quilt was done by machine. It's a bit too early in my quilting obsession to do it by hand... Maybe something for the future?
Copious supplies of tea, leafy red fruits.
Good music or light comedies are also helpful to have in the background.
Next week, I'll go through the cutting and sewing. In the meantime, I'll be hanging out on Pinterest looking for inspiration for my next quilt! It will be with triangles, that's all I know for now :)
Tomorrow, I will be running a half-marathon, my first but hopefully not my last. So far, my journey has been most enjoyable, possibly because this is something I really (really!) want to do.
If you read this post, you know that I'm kinda new to running and I'm not a natural born runner. No matter how much effort and training I put into it, it's very unlikely I could ever do a sub 2:00 half-marathon. But I can do one, in whatever time it takes me. As Dad collected me from my 16K run last time I was over and asked me how it'd gone, I complained I was too slow. "You are doing it and that's all that matters", he said to me; you're so right, Dad, so right.
So, what's been making my training so enjoyable? In addition to the I-REALLY-want-this factor, there are a few little (BIG) things which make the pain seem like a short jolly to the park.
A running partner
Right now, I don't think I could do this without the best running partner ever - my friend Nicky. And maybe I could, maybe, but it wouldn't be the same. At all. He plans routes for us, making the long runs that bit more interesting; he checks up on me if we're not in the same place and I need to go out by myself; he pushes me and motivates me whenever I think I'm just gonna fall head straight to the pavement; he soothes my moods and ensures me the only thing that matters is doing it at my pace; and he paces me when I think I can do it all too fast to last. Sadly to you reading this, he's not available for loan, but if you can find such a friend who runs with you, consider yourself INCREDIBLY lucky!
A running programme
It's very useful to have a running programme, especially if you're new to running or lazy. You look at it and there it is, all you need to do, and when, to get that mileage under your belt; so simple and hassle free. We've been using this one and I really like it. We don't follow it religiously during the week days but have been pretty good with the long runs at weekends.
Good running gear
I have good running shoes, which I bought at Up & Running after a fitting session. I'm a firm believer in looking after my body, seeing that I only have this one!
I also have fairly decent running clothes, things I'm comfortable in and which dry quickly. Being that I am a girl, a very good bra is also a must!
I have been fortunate enough to get my feet massaged after every single run. This is not only enjoyable but awesome for my recovery. Michael has been a star in making sure my feet are well looked after! And I have had two leg massages which were key to recover from the long runs.
A cheery crowd
Having supporting friends and family makes all the difference. To me it does, anyway.
For my first ever 16K run in Porto, Dad picked me up at the end so I could run to and by the beach; he brought dry clothes (yep, it rained throughout my run, what are the odds??) and bought my favourite bread (regueifa, here and here) on the way home. Dad also reinforced the idea I seem to forget on occasion - you are doing it and it is amazing you are! Warms my heart every time, that Dad thinks something I do is amazing; even when it's not, it kinda becomes amazing it because he thinks so.
Tomorrow, I have a few dedicated friends coming to support me. I will be forever grateful to them for making those 21K way more interesting and ensuring I don't forget to smile every so often along the way. And once again.... I'll have Nicky running it with me, every step of the way!
I have setup a Just Giving page for Cancer Research UK, if you're kind enough to sponsor this adventure for an excellent cause! Thank you! http://www.justgiving.com/Jo-Silva
The sun was shining this morning and Michael and I had a long slow breakfast sipping coffee and chatting away. Such pleasure, usually reserved for the weekend, could only happen on a Monday... the week is just starting, we're bright and fresh, and filled with that sweet touch of promise that a new week brings.
We had a good weekend. We had long slow breakfasts, which are a mark of good weekends. We had gardening and curling up on the sofa under a blankie and a long run and cheese platter for Saturday dinner, with my favourite Portuguese wine (Planalto, if you're interested; available at Majestic Wine in the UK).
The #nomakeup selfie* above is to raise awareness for cancer. The initiative has already raised a fair bit of money, but the more the better when beating such a horrid disease is the end goal. Text BEAT to 70099 if you're in the UK and join the movement.
:: my friends. I cannot begin to explain how much better my life is to have such supportive and true friends.
:: crisp early spring mornings in our cute cottage.
:: my running buddy, Nicky.
:: our garden, ivy and all.
:: yellow roses. I so want yellow roses!
I hope you had a lovely sunny Monday, filled with good news. And yellow roses, if possible :)
*as my dear brother pointed out, I very rarely wear make up anyway, so I should add the disclaimer that this is a normal face day for me.