Slow blankets

When it comes to my handmade business, I’ve never been very good about planning ahead.  It was already spring when I started to make sun hats, and now it is almost winter and my warm winter baby blankets are still not finished…

It’s partly because I am starting to yearn for slower handmade products.  I mean, all the things in my shops are handmade, but when I zip through canvas bags with my super-fast industrial sewing machine, I confess I sometimes don’t feel the love of handmade goodness in my finished products.  Even in my cosy sewing room in the cozy house in suburban Sydney, is what I’m doing all that different from the work of factory sewers in China?

Hence the yearning for slower work.  I don’t plan on hand sewing my canvas bags anytime soon, but at least when it comes to baby blankets, I believe it’s important to have a little genuine handmade touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These blankets are (unfortunately) machine pieced, but the handmade touch is in the binding.  You can sew a binding on with a machine of course, but I’ve never been happy with the look.  It just looks ugly.  Besides, working with double gauze is a tricky thing.  The fabric stretches and frays, and the grain lines never seem to lie straight.  Machine-sewing this double gauze binding is hence frustrating, and the result even less satisfying.

It takes hours stitching the binding on each blanket by hand, but it is satisfying for me, and all the more fitting because baby blankets deserve to be a little special.

I just hope it won’t be spring before I finish this trio of double gauze (with the warm, luxurious 100% organic cotton fleece backing) and update my shops….

Quilts I made

Today I am thinking about quilts.  Maybe it’s because I was attaching a binding to a quilt I was making for a little girl who lives next door last night.  Maybe it’s the crisp autumn air this morning that made me want to cuddle up in a nice warm quilt.

So just now I walked into to a  local fabric shop and on impulse, bought enough fabric to make my son a new quilt.  Because I have never made him a proper quilt before.

While I am contemplating the design for my son’s new quilt, I thought I’d share with you some of the quilts I had made before.

This is my very first quilt, a cot quilt for Miss M when she turned one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a modified version of Denyse Schmidt’s triangle quilt pattern.  Doesn’t it look simple? Well, it was really hard for me back then. I can’t remember how many of those triangles I had to unpick, so the points match up (more or less).  Probably close to half.  It took many months to complete, and for that reason is my all-time favourite quilt.  It is machined pieced and hand quilted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is a picnic-sized (about 1.5m square) quilt in bright bold colours, from one of Kaffe Fasset’s patterns using “S” blocks.  Also machine pieced and hand quilted.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the largest quilt I have made so far, in queen size, for our bedroom.  It’s a very simple pattern of blue rectangles on white background.  Machine pieced and machine quilted.  I realised then that I wasn’t a big fan of making huge quilts – too heavy and cumbersome to manage!  I nearly gave up, and had to have this one professionally quilted for me.  Since then I have only made baby-sized ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple baby play quilt in red, white and light blue – machine pieced and quilted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green pinwheel quilt – machine pieced and hand quilted.

See, I was too lazy to take new photos of my quilts, and I have never taken proper photos of my finished quilts.  So what you see here are glimpses of my quilts in action, so to speak.  I use these quilts everywhere – on beds, on the floor, outside on the lawn, on the coffee table (actually I don’t remember why this one ended up on the coffee table), absorbing drools, baby wee, and beverage spills.

There are actually more little quilts around my house, and I love them all.  They are all simple in design.  Not because I don’t like complicated designs, I do, but it seems that only simple ones end up as finished quilts.  The rest are sitting in my “unfinished” pile, looking very pretty… but unfinished.

This is the stack of navy batik print fabrics I bought today, along with some basic whites.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arn’t they pretty?  I have no idea what I will do with them, but probably something very simple.

Birthday party

My children’s birthdays are two days apart.  So this year, like last year, we decided to celebrate their birthdays together.  It wasn’t a big party, because most of their little friends were away on holidays (note for families planning for a baby – giving birth during the summer holiday is probably not the best idea).  But still we had friends, family, and some little ones who could make it, and it was great fun.  Naturally I took the opportunity to make more things.

I made colourful bunting flags.  There are 14 flags, because I initially had a plan to print “happy birthday” on them… but I ran out of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made little party favour bags and traffic-coloured play-doughs to go in them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made two cakes – banana chocolate pound cake for Mr. A, and strawberry mousse cake for Miss M.  Decorations were rather simple (because I ran out of time yet again), but I got many compliments on the taste.  Which, to me, is the main thing – many birthday cakes are stunning to look at but are overly sweet and disappointing in the substance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two days before the party, amid this buzz of preparation, I realized I didn’t have a present for my children.  At all!  Feeling ashamed, I quickly made this dolly quilt for Miss M – because she got a new doll for Christmas from her grandmother, and she’s playing with her all the time, often using my precious new fabrics she drags out of my sewing room as blankets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used Liberty of London fabrics in my stash.  They are such beautiful fabrics, and no matter how you arrange them, they go together really well.  Machine pieced and quilted, it came together in a few hours.  The most time-consuming part was the hand-stitched binding.  It is a detail most people would not even notice unless they are quilters, but it is a little handmade touch that makes any quilt – even a doll-sized one – much more special. Now I want to make a quilt for Mr. A’s new teddy bear — but since he’s a little too young to notice my tardiness, I’ve given myself a slack.

Overall the joint birthday party was a big success.

In the mood for quilting

It is officially winter in Sydney, though it feels like it’s been winter for months. It is the coldest winter I remember in the six years that I’ve lived here. And I am no longer the hardest worker in this household – it is our new Paloma gas heater, without which we’d all perish in this cold, cold house.

And what do I think as I curl up in front of our new heater friend? Quilts. I am yearning to make quilts again. Quilts in warm, cozy colours to snuggle up with at night, or to wrap around a shivering child after a bath… Actually I have a million quilts already at home, but it doesn’t matter.

Last weekend we went for a stroll to Auburn Botanical Gardens. It is such a magical place, with a large Japanese garden, a majestic reflection pool, rose gardens, ducks, geese, swans, and even kangaroos and wallabies. Its magic is doubled when you consider its unlikely location – Auburn, a working-class neighbourhood with a large Muslim population.

Yet while strolling through this wonderland, I kept my eyes on the ground and thought of quilts. I mean, look at these amazing bricks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I walked on these brick roads, I saw them in a myriad colours recreated as quilts. The brick designers and quilters must have similar minds. Maybe they are even the same people – brick layers by day and quilters by night? The middle two brick pattens would be particularly stunning as quilts, I thought.

I haven’t started on any brick quilt yet…. I have been busy. But I cannot stop thinking about them, so I will have to find the time soon.

I did manage to put together a simple cot quilt top in warm, autumn / winter colours though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I pinned it with pure wool batting for extra warmth and loftiness, with a beautiful vintage Amy Butler fabric as backing. It is ready to be quilted – by hand, I think. I suppose it is not a typical cot quilt of bright pastel or juvenile prints. But I could not resist. I hope, when it is finished, the quilt will find a good home where a precocious baby or toddler might appreciate the colours of falling leaves and golden autumn sun…. And if not, Miss M or I can always use another quilt.