My 2015 makes

Here’s what I got up to in 2015 …

January saw me complete my 2nd commissioned memory quilt, for a friend’s little girl’s 3rd birthday. It was made up of her baby clothes.

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In February, I made my niece some teddy bear/doll’s sleeping bags for her 3rd birthday.

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In March, I finally completed my cross stitch of a West Highland terrier. I made some felt chicks and a mouse as part of the first ever Comic Relief Crafternoon; these were sold at my workplace along with other crafty contributions to make money for Comic Relief. March was a productive month, as I also made another niece a pirate doll for her 3rd birthday.

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In April, I had somewhat of a baking disaster. Attempting to make Waitrose’s ‘bunny scones’, mine ended up rather scary looking – very much like they were modelled on Donnie Darko! However, I did have a baking success too, a car-themed birthday cake for my nephew’s 2nd birthday. I also did an embroidery hoop for a friend’s birthday.

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In May, I finished my nephew’s memory bear, made from his baby clothes. This was also for his 2nd birthday (the one I made the car-themed cake for). I also made a ballerina doll for a friend’s little girl’s 2nd birthday. The memory bear was probably my favourite make of 2015, it came out really well.

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June and July were fairly quiet months on the crafting front, no finished objects to show. But I did begin knitting a baby cardigan and I’d also begun the bunting for my friend’s wedding. In July, a summer crafternoon was had by myself and some colleagues.

August was the culmination of my months of work making things for my friend’s wedding, at which I was also a bridesmaid. I made about 90 metres of bunting, hay bale covers and heart-shaped decorations, all for the wedding reception. All the hard work was worth it on the big day when it all came together and fitted the colour scheme and festival theme perfectly.

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September was another quiet month, perhaps as a result of working myself so hard finishing all the wedding bits in August.

In October, my son turned 2. I made two birthday cakes, one for a joint party with his friends – a chocolate finger and Smarties decorated cake. For my son’s party, I recreated my nephew’s car-themed cake as my son is also car-mad. I also finally finished knitting the baby cardigan I started in June. A little crochet was even involved, to do the edging and buttonholes on the front.

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In November, again with work colleagues, we had our annual Christmas crafternoon. I didn’t get any good photos of this, otherwise I would have done a blog post about it. I moved house at this point, so crafting very much took a back seat.

Onto December, and settled into our new house, I made a last-minute sheep costume for my son’s pre-school nativity play. I also did a wreath-making workshop with my Mum – a lovely Christmassy way to spend an afternoon. And, very recently, I finished my second baby cardigan. Unfortunately, like the first one I knitted, this one is also too small for the intended recipient. So, I’ve started a third one and have kept the second one for myself as I’m due to have a baby any day and I’m convinced it’s another boy!

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So that’s my round-up of my 2015 makes. Lots of things made for children! This is obviously where my interest lies. This year, I’m hoping to get some sort of craft business going, in the hope that I may not have to return to work from maternity leave in Jan 2017, or at least it’s something I could run alongside work. That’s the dream, anyway! Whether it happens as a mum of two, I’m somewhat doubtful …

My ‘to do’ list for 2016 currently looks as follows:

  • two memory cushions – one to match each memory quilt I made
  • make the hay bale covers from my friend’s wedding into a quilt
  • a memory lion, commissioned
  • poppy tapestry for my mum
  • froggy cross stitch
  • baby cardigan no.3, 3rd time lucky, hopefully this one will fit my friend’s not-so-new-anymore baby

 

What makes do you have planned for the year ahead? I’d love to hear about them. Wishing you a happy and crafty new year!

Kate

 

 

 

 

Summer crafternoon

Apologies for my quietness of late. I’ve not had much to report as I’ve been busy beavering away on my friend’s wedding bunting, which hasn’t left time for anything else crafty! But, the end is in sight. Sort of.

On Sunday, a few colleagues (old and current) got together for a crafternoon. We usually only manage about two a year due to everyone’s busy schedules. But this year, there have been two already. The previous one was in March, a Comic Relief Crafternoon (which I missed, sob sob).

Our numbers dwindled from six to four, so there was lots of leftover cake and snacks, which got taken into work on Monday. As usual, we were all working on completely different things.

Emily, pro-crocheter, fixed my little man’s blanket (which had suffered from a run in with a peg and a toddler, no names mentioned …) and worked on her latest commission, a rainbow blanket.

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Maddy made some bracelets. Look at all her lovely beads!

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Lucy worked on a Pocahontas cross stitch, a birthday present for a friend.

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And can you guess what I did? Yes, my trusty sewing machine came along so I could carry on with the bunting. First, I had to sort out this horrid tangle of binding though.

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I really have lost the love for this bunting now. It’s become a real chore. But with 120 metres to do, I suppose that’s bound to happen. (For anyone interested, 120 metres equates to nine and a bit double-decker buses lined up in a row.) I’m going for the little and often approach as it’s so dull, but that means it’s taking aaaaaaages. So, it was nice on Sunday to whizz through some whilst having conversation, company and cake.

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At last count, I had about 130 flags (of 420) left to sew. For my own sanity – and because there’s a few other bits I’d like to make for the wedding (hay bale covers, anyone?) – I’m aiming to have it finished by the end of July. Which doesn’t give me long!

Oh, and for those who’ve hung in there til the bitter end of this post, I have an announcement. My craft time is going to dwindle even less as I’m expecting a baby in January. With a toddler and a newborn, I suspect my ‘me’ AKA ‘craft’ time will be somewhat limited! So I better get cracking, while I still have a little free time.

One year on …

Today marks a year since I started this blog. Happy blogday/blogiversary/whatever you call it to me! I’m pleased I’ve stuck at it. And I thank you for reading. At the end of last year, when everyone was doing ‘end of year’ reviews, I said I’d save mine for when I’d been blogging a year. So, here goes.

I kicked off with two lots of bunting and refashioning an old pair of my husband’s jeans into a toolbelt. 
Meanwhile, I’d continued work on the giraffe cot quilt I’d begun in January 2013 and finally finished it in August. Plus I hosted the first Crafternoon of the year, where I made some baby booties.  
In September, I received my first commission: a boy’s memory quilt. A mishap with my rotary cutter cost me the tip of a finger. But, do not be alarmed, it did grow back!  

Finished the memory quilt and made a Waybuloo-themed birthday card for my son. It didn’t make it on to children’s TV 😦

Started my next commission, a girl’s memory quilt.  
Turned an old babygro into a Chrismas stocking and had our Christmas Crafternoon. 
Finished my second memory quilt and made a calorific salted caramel chocolate torte.  
Back on to birthday presents, this time for my niece’s 3rd birthday.  
March was a productive month (by my standards)!  
As was April …  
And, back to the present:

 

Not too bad for a mum of a toddler who doesn’t have much free time. This blog – and reading others’ – has certainly motivated me to try new things. Perhaps at the expense of not finishing some of my existing UFOs/WIPs …

Looking back, my favourite makes were the giraffe quilt – a labour of love – and the memory bear. I’m particularly proud of those two.

 Thank you for sharing in the past year with me!

Betsy the Ballerina

Super-quick post before we head off to meet a friend at Bluewater (a shopping mall for non-UK readers). Last time I met this particular friend at a shopping centre, we were both heavily pregnant and I went into labour that night! This time, we’ll have two toddlers In tow. Not much shopping will be done. But she lives in Suffolk and I live in Surrey, so it’s a good halfway point.

I’ve finished the rag doll I’ve made for a friend’s little girl’s 2nd birthday. I decided to make a ballerina in the end. As with my Polly the Pirate doll, I adapted Laura Hunter’s Mollie the dolly pattern from The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon magazine.

I had to visit three fabric shops to find some pale pink and white polka dot fabric as I didn’t have quite enough left over from the bunting I made for the same little girl last year.

  
Betsy Ballerina had her photoshoot this morning, following the completion of her tutu which I made by following a tutorial from thetiptoefairy.com. It was really easy to make.

  

 
  

I think I will trim the tutu a bit, as its a bit ‘gypsy wedding’ at the moment. I’m pleased with the ric rac I added above the shoes to give the effect of ribbon laces.

 
Her collar is a bit wonky, which is a shame. I couldn’t face unpicking it a third time though.

  

I’m a little worried she looks a bit like an alien. Can’t help but feel a bit disappointed with the end result. Hopefully little Ava won’t notice this. What it is to be a perfectionist!?

Stars and Stripes bear

I’ve been holding off from posting til I finished my nephew’s memory bear. Finally, he is finished. 

Originally, I was going to make him out of these:

I planned it out like this:  

But, I just wasn’t feeling the colour combinations. I had a flash of inspiration that some of my nephew’s babygros had been passed on to my little boy. As luck would have it, they were too small for him. So, I changed tack and went for these: 

I added in a complimentary polo shirt and wanted to keep the teddy saying ‘Hi Mum’. I felt this looked much better:  

 

I struggled with how to transfer the pattern markings, however, I hope to remedy this for future projects with some recent Amazon purchases …

I made the same mistake as with my last (as yet unfinished) bear, in that I didn’t transfer the pattern notches properly. Rookie error! I’m very much a learn by making mistakes person! That said – apologies if this offends some out there – I’m not sure I see the need for matching notches on a project like this. Seems a hassle, when you can match up pretty accurately without them …

New stitches learnt as part of this project:

  • Ladder stitch – for sewing up the openings left for stuffing. Actually another name for slip stitch, as it turns out. 
  • Satin stitch – for the nose. Did not go too well. I was satin-stitching over a piece of felt stuck on with fabric glue. The middle bit of the nose was fine to satin stitch, but the ends were somewhat troublesome. I went for my favourite ‘It’ll do’ approach.

I raided my button jar for the eyes. I knew there was a reason I’d kept all these ‘spare’ buttons.

 

All that remained was to wash off my washable fabric pen. Every time, I curse myself for using it, as it never seems to come off as easily as I think. It’s just much easier to work with than chalk. For me, anyway. I was reluctant to put the teddy in the washing machine, as I wasn’t convinced my slip stitching would survive. So I went for the dampening option. Three separate attempts and two short stays in solitary confinement the airing cupboard later, there was still blue ink, so into the washing machine he went. Followed by a third stint in the airing cupboard.

   
   

Here’s the finished bear. Of all the things I’ve made over the past year, he’s one of my favourites. And reasonably quick to assemble too.

 
   

  

 

It was my birthday on Tuesday, and, for the first time, I created an Amazon wish list and sent it to my parents and my husband. All craft-based items. I’m not a lover of Amazon wish lists being thrust upon people; I don’t like being told what to buy someone. Unless I’ve asked for suggestions that is. But, being sent a wish list when I haven’t asked what someone would like? Well, I think that’s rude. Anyway, disappointingly, I got absolutely nothing from my wish list. But, I can’t complain as I was taken on a spa break to the lovely Ragdale Hall and treated to several lovely treatments. I did receive a couple of Amazon vouchers though, so I used them to treat myself to my wish list. Quite a few arrived today. Here’s the haul so far:  

Excitingly, this week I also purchased the fabric to make bunting for my friend’s wedding in August. The colour scheme is ‘sunset’: pinks, yellows and oranges. Whilst debating the best way to cut out the flags with my friend, she wondered if you could get a pinking rotary cutter. And you can! So, I’ve ordered one. Excited to get started on this. I’m going to aim for 100 metres of bunting. Am I mad?!

 

The chicks that were and the mouse that nearly wasn’t – Comic Relief Crafternoon

True to form, I was crafting against the clock this week to have some items ready in time to sell at our office craft stall raising funds for Comic Relief yesterday.  

Having purchased ‘The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon’ magazine, I shortlisted a few crafty ideas. My deciding criteria was things which I could make from what I already had. First up, I decided to have a go at making a mouse or two.



I dutifully interfaced my fabric and cut out my pattern pieces.



I assumed this was a sewing machine job, so started assembling the mouse using my machine. This soon became quite fiddly and I had to do some bits by hand. Shame my hand-stitching skills are very poor. To do the seams, I had a go at back stitching by hand. Whilst in my Sewing Bee book, it says that back stitching doesn’t look as neat on one side as the other, mine was really messy on the back. Need more practice, although sewing machines are for seams, in my book. 

After two evenings’ work, by close of play on Wednesday, I had a mouse with no eyes, nose or mouth and no clothes either. This left me Thursday afternoon’s nap time and Thursday evening to make some felt chicks, finish my mouse and make it some clothes. 

I prioritised making the felt chicks, as these would be much quicker to make. 



More hand stitching required. This time, I had to master blanket stitch, which, fortunately, I picked up quickly. Having made two chicks during my little man’s nap, I decided we should take a trip to B&Q to get some wire and wire cutters to make the legs. The jewellery wire I’d bought for the legs was much too thin. I then managed to whip up another two chicks while he was playing/getting every single toy he owns out and throwing them all around the room.

Once my little man was tucked up in bed for the night, I spent wasted an hour attempting to make a dress for the mouse. It didn’t fit, was mostly too fiddly to do by machine which meant it took me eons to sew by hand. An hour later, I was ready to throw the mouse  out the window or in the bin. Once I set my mind on doing something, I don’t like being defeated! Anyway, I decided to refocus my attention on the chicks, first having a go at making some legs for the ones I’d made earlier. They didn’t take long to make, so I decided having legs was a goer. I sewed up another 4 chicks and added legs to 8 of my 10 chicks, leaving two without wire in case anyone wanted them for little ones. 

Friday morning, still reluctant to give her up for good, I thought I’d try finishing the mouse. I added a bead for her nose and stitched on two eyes and a mouth. Then I tried making a different dress for her. Despite taking far more than the ‘few minutes’ promised in the magazine, this worked out better than the last dress. Not having any poppers, I went for the Elizabeth Hurley look – safety pins!!

Here’s how she looked before clothes. Avert your eyes if easily offended. She’s not shy.



And here’s her modelling ‘that’ Elizabeth-Hurley style dress.





Off we drove to my office in Reading, where we dropped the chicks and mouse off to join the other crafty goodies on sale. 



Being photobombed by our Design team.



Note: These photos were taken about 11:30 so don’t show everything that was available in the beginning. 

These decorations were made at our Christmas Crafternoon by the talented Maddy. I bought a squirrel and a rabbit/hare, which are now adorning my Welsh dresser. I don’t think they’re too Christmassy so can get away with it.



Our Marketing Manager and family welcomed a baby girl this week, so everyone clubbed together to buy a crochet blanket for the new arrival. What a lucky girl to receive this beautiful creation!





And the grand total raised for Comic Relief is £150, with more still to come! We are blown away as we were only expecting to raise a fraction of that. Having blubbed my way through the Comic Relief TV coverage last night, it’s nice to know that our crafting has contributed towards such a good cause. 



The three bears and their sleeping bags

I completed the Mummy Bear and Daddy Bear sleeping bags this week, so the set is now complete. All three sleeping bags went through the wash before being tested out by some willing participants.

The pattern, by Flossie Teacake, costs £5. I mostly used scraps, except for the Daddy Bear’s sleeping bag, for which I used a reversible duvet cover I picked up in a charity shop for £3.50. Obviously, I have plenty of leftover fabric from that to play with. Just as well, as I suspect I may be making a few more of these.

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Here’s Baby Bear’s sleeping bag, which I made last weekend.

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Mummy Bear’s

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And, last but not least, Daddy Bear’s.

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I think this one is my favourite.

The edges of the sleeping bags are a bit wobbly. I think, in part, due to me overstuffing the pillows. But, I like to have two pillows, so I was trying to ensure their comfort. And they do look cosy, don’t you think?

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All that remains is to wrap them up ready for the birthday girl next week. Meanwhile, I have another blog post to write. Very excitingly – for me – this week I’ve been nominated for the Liebster by Jana at meandmyveritas. I’ve now got to do my post and choose some blogs to pass it on to. I’m a bit late to this party, so I may struggle to find blogs that haven’t received this award. But I have a few in mind 😉

Where do tired teddies sleep?

In sleeping bags, of course! But more about that later.

New-project-itis struck again this week. Firstly, when I purchased a copy of The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon magazine on Thursday. As you know, I like a Crafternoon, so my Crafternoon buddies and I were very excited when we heard about this. Fortunately, Thursday isn’t a working day for me, so Little Man and I headed over to Sainsburys to get our copies (one for me, one for my Mum). Both of us are suffering with colds. So when LM went for his nap, I snuggled up in bed with my magazine. Perfect!

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I was feeling very inspired after flicking through. However, I have my usual problem: too many things I want to make and not enough time. I’m tempted to change my name to The Impatient Crafter. Anyway, we’ve set a Crafternoon date, so I’ll have to decide on what to make by the time that rolls round.

Meanwhile, one of my many nieces turns 3 a week tomorrow. Naturally, I thought I’d make her something. Not forgetting I still haven’t made what I was supposed to be making for her birthday last year. Unfinished project no.3. Anyway, I offered my sister-in-law two options: a teepee or dolls’ bedding. She opted for the latter, as it’ll take up less space.

Daisy, my niece, is at that age where she’s really into dolls and looking after them. I was really excited to make some dolls’ bedding for her to play with. Having drawn a bit of a blank on a Google search, I scoured Pinterest for ideas. Amongst many other lovely things, I stumbled across Flossie Teacake’s three bears’ sleeping bags.

Yesterday morning, I had a few hours to myself so – having purchased the pattern – I cut out the pattern pieces and then selected the fabrics to use. All leftovers from my giraffe cot quilt, apart from Daddy Bear’s quilt, which comes from a duvet cover I picked up for £3.50 in a charity shop. Also, whilst charity-shop-hunting, I couldn’t resist this.

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Perfect Mother’s Day present for my Mum, who loves poppies. If I get round to making it in time!

Back to the sleeping bags. After two hours, I had all the pieces cut out ready to begin. For each sleeping bag, there were three components – mattress, quilt cover and pillow.

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I decided to start with the smallest sleeping bag – Baby Bear’s – as a practice. The first step was to quilt the quilt cover.

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Next, I had to make some bias binding. More leftover fabric used up. The first bit of binding went on the quilt cover and then the quilt cover was sewn on to the mattress. The pillow had been sewn on at an earlier stage – leaving an opening for stuffing.

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Then I added binding round the edge of the mattress. By machine, then finishing by hand whilst catching up on this week’s Great British Sewing Bee.

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This is the finished sleeping bag.

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All it needed was a bear.

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Mummy Bear and Daddy Bear’s sleeping bags to go. I should be able to finish them for the weekend.

Speaking of bears, when putting Little Man to bed, I found another candidate for the teddy bear’s hospital.

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That’s the second animal to have its arm partly ripped off. We need to put a sign up: ‘Stuffed animals: enter at your peril’!

Bits and piecing

I’ve had a tired little man this week. Which means long naps for him and a spurt on the memory quilt for me.

Since my last post, I’ve spent several hours piecing the quilt top.

My aim was to have fewer smaller squares than my last memory quilt. Mainly because they are such a pain to join together – matching seams. This was my starting point of piecing.

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It wasn’t as symmetrical as I’d like. Having shown it to the friend that commissioned it, she said (with trepidation) she liked the smaller squares. I was inclined to agree. So I set about finding a way to incorporate more smaller squares, but without as many in my last quilt for her. Which looked like this:

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First, I played around with colour combinations of smaller squares.

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Then I dug out a notebook and sketched some ideas. My favoured one being this:

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Then it was time to try it with my squares. First the smaller squares:

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Then incorporating these blocks into the rest of the quilt:

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Not bad for a day’s nap times.

Meanwhile, I’m also ticking along with my cross stitch. There are some perks to being back at work part time:
1) lots of chatting with other adults
2) getting an hour’s lunch break – being able to shop on my own, or go to the pub and craft over a Coke and crisps with ThePolkaDotGiraffe
3) reading the Metro/my book/doing some cross stitch on the train
4) earning some money (albeit not a lot)

This afternoon, whilst catching up with last night’s Strictly while little man napped and my husband played hockey, I cross stitched.

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Little man was still asleep, so I dusted off my sewing machine, changed the walking foot back to my 1/4″ foot, threaded it and began sewing the squares of my quilt.

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I’ve done the washing up, emptied the washing machine, put the bins out, written this blog post. And he’s still asleep! 3 hours and counting.

I’m going to set myself a challenge and see if I can get the quilt top sewn by the end of next week. Here goes!

The completed memory quilt and the many lessons learnt from it

Still on the high you get from a finished project – woohoo!

Picking up from my last post, this is how I got to my finished quilt.

I decided to just quilt the top of my quilt, and not the backing. So Friday morning, as soon as my little man was napping, the sewing machine was out. I ‘stitched in the ditch’ round the edge of the border, where it bordered the patchwork. I need much more practice stitching in the ditch. I’m still very much straddling it at times.

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And then I quilted star shapes on to the plain squares.

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Squared up the quilt top and wadding.

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Saturday morning, another nap time. I pinned on the backing. Then hubby took little man out for a walk so I could finish off.

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Sewed a 1/4 in seam round the edge, leaving about 12″ open at the bottom for turning out.

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Cut the corners and turned out, hoping for the best.

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Then all that was left to do was to close the opening with a slip stitch. Not easy for me as I’m ridiculously bad at slip stitch. Ideal opportunity to catch up on the Children in Need Sewing Bee.

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Then it was into the washing machine on a hand wash setting followed by a gentle spin. Little man was asleep again at this point, so I rewarded myself by sitting in the sun and reading my book.

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Once the spin cycle was done, it got an airing on the washing line, then was left to dry inside overnight. Some repair work was going to be necessary the following morning …

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One of the seams had come apart ever so slightly and my rubbish slip-stitching looked awful, so that had to be done again. On the plus side, I got to catch up on more tv, watching Strictly from the night before. I was determined to have it finished Sunday morning, ready to hand over on Sunday afternoon. Mission accomplished. I even had time to get out our posh camera to take some photos of it.

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And here is the blanket, being enjoyed later that afternoon.

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Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

While I’m enjoying the comedown from finishing this memory quilt, I’m also getting itchy fingers to get onto the next one. Even better, it’s a girly one for the big sister of this little boy. I find girls clothes so much nicer. I’ve also had some orders come in off the back of this one so my (imaginary) order book now contains three more quilts/blankets, a Christmas stocking (made from last year’s Christmas outfit), matching cushions for my first two memory quilts, a memory bear and, finally, a teepee! Think I could be quite busy over the coming months!

Anyway, to wrap up, here’s what I learnt from doing my first memory quilt:

  • cutting up the baby clothes takes a lot longer than I anticipated, especially once you factor in adding the interfacing
  • it’s better to have lots of bigger squares, as lots of smaller squares looks too busy
  • backing fabric is expensive!
  • so is wadding
  • ALWAYS to check the colour-fastness of unwashed fabric before sewing with it
  • I need to improve my stitching in the ditch
  • I need to seriously improve my slip stitching

I’m hoping the next one will be a lot quicker, now that I know what I’m doing. In theory.