A quilting Christmas

Happy 2015 everyone, didn’t realise how long it had been since I last posted about my creative exploits. It wasn’t due to a lack of crafting just a lack of time to write and the fact that I was busy making gifts and I didn’t want to ruin any surprises.

This post is about my quilting experiences. After finally finishing a quilt which I started cutting the squares for back in 2013, when my masters degree took over my time, I decided that it would be a good idea to make quilts for my grandparents for Christmas.  The first quilt was small and basic so I thought I could achieve anything. Although I did learn that hand finishing would not be an option for a larger quilt after I stuck the needle in my finger multiple times!

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My first quilt

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I decided to still keep the quilt design fairly simple for the quilts as I wanted to be able to make them fairly quickly as it was June and I knew it will soon be Christmas! I consulted my quilting book (Learn to Quilt by Sharon-Chambers) and picked the ‘economy 16 patch’ quilt. I decided to do one quilt in autumnal colours and the other in spring colours to tie in with the respective colours of my grandparent’s bedrooms.

So naturally a trip to Abakhan’s in Manchester was needed (if ever I need an excuse to buy fabric) and I was ready to start quilting.  Once I got into a system of cutting and sewing the patches together the top of the first quilt was soon finished (although slightly wonky in places but we call that handmade).

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Since I had managed to over buy on fabric I decided to make the back using the four fabrics which made up the green and purple squares.  I kept it simple and simply sewed four large squares together and the back was done.

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Then came the quilting……I decided the sew the layers together on the machine using a long straight stitch and creating diamonds in the 16 patches.  This seemed to work well considering that I have not got a walking foot for my machine.  There were only a few areas where the fabric bunched on the back (and only slightly).  The scariest bit was probably the binding, but this was made less scary by following the instructions in this blog, http://www.cluckclucksew.com/2013/01/machine-binding-tutorial.html. I also used the pale fabric from the patches to make the binding. Some of my stitching went a bit wonky but I was happy with the result.

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The second quilt was a lot easier and I managed to complete it a lot quicker (although it wasn’t ready for Christmas but I wasn’t seeing my nan until January so it gave me an excuse to deliver it in person) I was even a bit braver with the back.

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Back of the quilt

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Top of the quilt

The quilts were both well received and it was nice to give homemade presents. I am now working on a quilt of my own design based on 8-bit game art. I am really excited about it and will post about it later this year.

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Christmas 2013

I know Christmas is long gone, but I still want to write this post about my Christmas of baking.  I decided that I would bake presents for friends and family instead of buying all my gifts. Thus making it the year of the Christmas bake box.

I started practicing my bakes back in November, which Phil enjoyed as he got to taste test everything.

I decided to bake things that could be frozen first to stock up the freezer and stop all the bakes being left to the last minute. So I started with stollen cake ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/mini_stollen_10408) and festive brownies ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmas_brownies_41164). The picture is of some practice stollen cakes, I decided not to ice the ones for the boxes as they went sticky over night. I did put some icing sugar in the boxes.

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Nearer to christmas I made two batches each of gingerbread ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmas_gingerbread_84244) and shortbread ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmasbiscuits_93733), which I decorated with a mixture of icing and melted plain chocolate.

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The bags of cakes and biscuits were then packed into gift boxes ready for Christmas.

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The feedback I received was positive and it felt good to get such good reactions to things that made. It was definitely worth the effort and made for a merry Christmas all round.