6 scary chicks

I began making these chicks last December and until yesterday, I still only had two completely finished. I deviated from the original pattern after the first two were made (can’t remember now why) so I have two as per the pattern, and four with varying body shapes and skinny heads, as well as long legs. Let us just refer to them as ‘designer’ chicks and leave it at that. My original idea was to make a couple of dozen of these little birds but I couldn’t shape the wire into a consistent size and shape for the feet/claws even though I’ve made lots of samples. I solved the problem yesterday by making a jig from thick cardboard and pushpins, which I clamped to the edge of the worksurface. The jig turned a chore into a pleasure (almost) and as I had always planned to make a dozen or more of these chicks I now have no excuse not to have them made before Easter – this year.


This image shows the underside of my little jig. I didn’t need four pins in the end but I did add a few more at the other end so that the cardboard wouldn’t crumple at the other end under the pressure of the clamp.


quilted applique

For starters, furnishing fabric samples are probably not the best choice for a quilt top. Not being able to easily remove the paper border that was stuck to each sample didn’t help and having to reduce them in size as a result was another factor that should have rung warning bells loudly in my brain. On the other hand, I really liked the fabric texture and the colours available, had no other use for the samples and nothing better to do this week.

I appliqued the pieces to the blue top fabric and used repositionable mounting spray to baste all the layers together since I don’t possess quilting safety pins, have no intention of buying them and was too lazy to baste by hand. Once the applique was done, I took photographs and used Photoshop Elements to try out various free-motion quilting designs. The one I finally chose looked fine in the 12 x 12″ test quilt I made but the actual quilt was surprisingly heavy and difficult to maneuver when free-motion stitching and this resulted in inconsistent stitch length. I constructed a temporary working area to hold the quilt when ripping out the large area that I’d just sewn and subsequently moved my sewing machine there to better support the quilt when stitching the simple diagonal lines which were my final choice for securing the layers together.

This quilt is only approximately 34 x 44 inches so not large but is an ideal lap quilt size and I’m glad I made it – something else ticked off my list of ‘things I haven’t sewn yet’ list and although JP liked it and admired the work that went into to it, when I suggested to him that I could hang it on a wall, he suggested an outside one. I’m sure he was just joking. If I make any more quilts in future I think I’ll stick to small ones. I admire those quilters who sew bed-sized quilts on a domestic sewing machine but I imagine that it is actually more of a struggle than they care to admit!

blue quilt

quilt table





random quilting

I found a blog the other day which showed a random quilting method, so with a number of fabric scraps to hand, I made a little quilt for myself. The smaller one (first image) was done as a sample to test various free-motion quilting ideas but when it came to the actual quilt I decided that just straight-stitching in the ditch around the fabric pieces was best. I used two different thickish fabrics as the batting which has resulted in it being too stiff for its original intended use as a lap quilt but it will do as a topping for my sewing chair seat.

sample quilt

random quilt

seat quilt

portrait quilt 2nd stage

I stitched all the fused appliqué pieces to the background with a straight stitch and I free motion stitched over the main face pieces a few days later but this additional stitching made Mum look extremely old and wrinkly (which she certainly wasn’t at aged 21!), so next day I unpicked all the unintended wrinkles, pressed out all the needle holes and left it for a day or two.

Yesterday I added a little hand stitching to highlight the eyes. Today I didn’t like the amount of fraying that was increasing each time I worked on this quilt so I went round each piece with a small zig-zag stitch and I think that was a better choice.

My quandry now is what kind of free motion stitching to use on the background fabric. I think it needs to be something smallish or possibly nothing at all. Grateful for any suggestions from any quilters out there.



stage 2-2


portrait quilt 1st stage

Big sis brought me some family photographs on her last visit here and amongst them was one of my favourites – my mother aged 21. It took me several days to work out the best method of making an appliquéd portrait quilt of the photograph and what fabrics to use and so on. On Saturday I numbered all the individual pieces on my master drawing and then traced them before copying them onto fusible web. Yesterday I ironed the fusible web to my fabric selections and then cut out all the pieces. Most of this afternoon has been spent assembling and layering the pieces into a recognisable picture and then fusing everything to the background. The next stage will be done on my sewing machine and by hand but just for a change I’m going to think carefully about how I do those, and not rush. The actual colours in the quilt are not quite as washed out as they appear in the image below – I don’t know what went wrong with that!

stage 1

did I need an extra potholder?

No, but I’ve got one now. The appliqué leaf from the previous post was lost in a sea of black, and quilting a substantial amount of fabric around it did not help. There was too much stitching to unpick so I chopped off the quilted surround, gave the leaf a bias binding edge, and a hanging loop to turn it into something useful.

pot holder

fast piece applique

Ever on the lookout for something new to try, I was browsing through my Quilting Arts book and found Rose Hughes writing on how to fast piece appliqué a landscape quilt and realised that I had watched her YouTube video on the technique a while ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTsSR6efCks. Her method looked fairly easy so with the the book to hand yesterday, I gave it a go.

quilted leaf

Rose recommends that the shapes are simplified but obviously I didn’t heed her advice since there isn’t a simple shape to be seen in my leaf. Freezer paper is used for the shapes template and this remains on the pieces even when overlapping one piece to another and also when stitching them together. My iron was certainly well used yesterday! The raw edges are trimmed back on the top only and once all the pieces are stitched together, the stitching lines are couched over with fancy yarns to hide the raw edges. Still with me? The video makes more sense! I don’t do fancy yarns so I just pinned my trimmed and stitched leaf to the background and then free machine stitched along each join, followed by double thread satin stitching to cover the mess I made of the first stitching.

Not having pieced a quilt in the traditional way I’m in no postion to critique Rose Hughes’ method but I’m glad I tried it and particularly glad that my leaf ( approximately 12″ x7″) wasn’t any smaller but I’m not sure that I’d use this method again. My first go-to these days tends to be fusible web which leaves a neater edge for satin stitching over if I want to.