My beautiful baby turned one a few days ago and graduated into toddlerhood (excuse me while I shed a tear!). She had so many fabulous gifts from friends and family – toys, clothes, cakes – she is a very lucky and loved little girl. From me, she received a quilt to keep her warm in her pram this winter.
Made with a combination of ‘Itsy Bitsy’ fabric by Heather Ross for Kokka, Essex Linen by Kauffman and Kona Cotton fat quarters, it features appliqué sun, spider and rain cloud. It’s then hand quilted and embroidered with perle cotton, with ribbon ‘taggies’ machined into the edges (box stitched to tge backing for safety) and buttons for eyes.
It was an improvised design. I did consider writing it up but given the kokka fabric won’t be around much longer, I decided it would probably have limited appeal! Sibella seems to like it, though – it’s perfect for her current favourite game, peekaboo!
I’ve been working on this in snatched moments since May, but it’s finally finished. PHEW!
The backing is done too, I just need to find a chunk of time to sandwich it around the batting and baste it – easier said than done with a crawling, sleep-refusing baby…
The curved piecing continues – slowly, since the rare hot British summer has disturbed Sibella’s sleep (and therefore my sewing time). Sibella seems pleased with how it’s going, though.
It’s taken a few weeks to find just the right shade of yellow to coordinate with my Storyboek fabrics. In the end I opted for Bella Solids’ 30′s yellow. I tell you this so that you, unlike me, won’t need to order four shades of Kona and three shades of Bella before you find the right one. You’re welcome.
So I’m ploughing on with Sibella’s ‘Under the Sea’ quilt, and I’m hand quilting her cot quilt in the periphery. Do you want to know the worst thing about this stage of the quilt – about curved piecing? It’s not that it’s fiddly (I enjoy the challenge), it’s when you get to the end of the strip that you’ve been concentrating on really hard, you’re really pleased with how well you stuck to the seam allowance, and realise you ran out of thread about ten minutes ago. D’oh!
It’s taken me a year to make this bunting. A year. Did I grow the cotton myself, you ask? Harvest, spin, dye and weave it? No, I don’t even have that excuse. I sewed the pennants in the sunset of my pregnancy, dawdled whilst pinning it together, procrastinated sewing it, and then Sibella was born and I never quite found the time (or oomph) to complete it. Until today. I’m ashamed to say it took me all of twenty minutes, though listening to Tom’s iPod helped – I seem to sew faster, if more haphazardly, whilst listening to rave music!
This week has been spent mostly cutting and basting a cot-sized quilt for my daughter while I’m waiting not-so-patiently for the sashing fabric for the Storyboek quilt to arrive all the way from the USA. (In my head, I see it travelling by way of a red line crossing the globe to the sound of the Indiana Jones theme tune, possibly with the help of a 50s propeller plane and a motorbike with a rusty sidecar. I expect reality isn’t nearly so frivolous.)
The quilt is a small cot-sized * whole-cloth flanelette quilt which I intend to hand quilt with simple stripes, based on one of my favourite pins on Pinterest. As a bonus, it’s turning out to be a very cheap quilt made using batting I had left over from my last quilt which is around the right size and, rather than using expensive quilting fabric, I’ve upcycled some brushed cotton bed sheets that were marked down in Tesco. I even had the thread already, though I’ve had to buy a skein extra in each colour.
* I say “small cot-sized quilt” because it’s a bit small even for a cot. I cut the fabric and batting to size and even basted it before reading that, unlike regular quilting cottons, flanelette is prone to quite severe rates of shrinkage. I unpinned it and washed it, and the before and after measurements really did flabber my ghast: it shrank by almost 10%, from 42in width to a rather scant 39in! It’s a good job Sibella’s little…
I don’t think she minds, though!
As much as I adore my daughter, adjusting to having absolutely no time to myself has been tough! But at eight months, she’s suddenly going to sleep without the usual epic struggle and I’ve leapt on the chance of doing some craft on an evening. I’ve started sewing a quilt for her bed – I figure if I start now, it might just be done by the time she’s sleeping in it! It’s been so good for my mental health; doing something for “me” (whilst ironically also being for her!).
I ordered some Storyboek II organic cotton fat quarter bundles and the By Sea or Land quilt pattern by Melissa Lunden. I opened the parcel of fabric and two thoughts flashed across my mind: the first was that the pattern was gorgeous; the second was that the pattern repeats were huge, and it would be a nightmare to pattern match whilst piecing. I was right.
In the end, I ordered yardage for several prints, which makes it expensive, and even then there’s a lot of waste.
I’ve also adapted the cot-sized design to fit a single bed (and therein lies the headache with pattern-matching, I suspect), and I’ve matched, sewn and cut out all the pattern pieces. I’m waiting on the sashing fabric before I can do any more….
I’ve been going to craft fairs at Chipping Sodbury Town Hall for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, Dad would lead me round on a sunny Saturday morning to peruse the stalls of crunchy pastel-hued acrylic hand knits, cross stitched hankies and dried flowers encased in lumps of resin. At the end if it all (usually leaving empty-handed – there are only so many hand-turned wooden door knobs a girl needs, after all) we’d walk home via a little back-road path, fill our pockets with shiny auburn conkers and, if we were really lucky, see some mallards float by on the stream that winds between the grey stone cottages.
A few weeks ago I decided to continue this tradition, and I took Sherbet to her first craft fair. These days, it’s a slightly more upmarket affair – the Vintage & Handmade Fair is a great little market that takes place 3-4 times a year, still in Sodbury Town Hall. it’s chock full of handmade and vintage toys, jewellery, quilts, haberdashery and home wares. It’s mostly out of my budget, but I inevitably come home with some buttons or fabric scraps that I squirrel away in my black-hole-I-mean-stash.
Taking Sherbet was a challenge – eight months is perhaps not old enough to appreciate vintage hand-pieced quilts – and, once my arms were burning from carrying her one-handed while pushing an empty pram in the other, and I felt I’d apologised enough for her reaching over my shoulder and pulling people’s hair in the cramped aisles, we made a swift exit. We walked back to my sister in law’s via a different but equally beautiful path that wound beside the other end of the same stream, and collapsed in a heap.
I didn’t come away entirely empty-handed, of course! I snaffled this reclaimed basket that had been sprayed a sunny yellow. It sits beside my willow crochet basket and is perfect for holding my current sewing project.
I’ve been avoiding wheat, gluten, dairy and soy while I’ve been breastfeeding Sibella to see if it makes any difference with her reflux and colic. The hardest thing has been avoiding commercially-baked cake and cookies, all of which contain wheat and dairy – this recipe has kept me sane!
Gluten and Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipe makes 18 cookies. Cooking time 12 minutes, preparation time 30 minutes.
- 115g dairy-free “butter” (stork block-butter is dairy free)
- 115g crunchy peanut butter
- 170g golden caster sugar
- 60g soft, dark brown sugar
- 1 egg (or egg substitute), beaten
- 1/2tsp vanilla extract
- 85g plain flour (I use Doves Farm wheat-free)
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 115g rolled oats (oats are generally considered gluten-free, but you can buy so-called “gluten-free” oats that have been made in gluten-free factories from most supermarkets)
- 100g chopped dark cooking chocolate (I use lindt or Green and Blacks dark cooking chocolare, both of which are dairy free but “may contain traces of milk”. For a vegan alternative, Lindt’s 70% cocoa dark eating chocolate can be used instead)
- Preheat oven to 180c/350F.
- Beat together peanut butter and butter.
- Add sugars and beat.
- Gradually add egg and vanilla, beating the mix as you go.
- Sift in flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Add salt, chocolate and oats, and stir the mixture.
- Grease or line 3 baking trays with baking parchment. Spoon the mixture onto trays – they really spread, so I use a tablespoon and just dollop it on, no need to flatten it out. Make sure you leave plenty of room between the cookies; I usually get 6 to a tray.
- Bake 12 minutes. Leave to cool, and transfer to a wire rack til totally cool.