First up, the Manchester City Quilt for DH. Most of the blocks are pieced and I now have to stitch them together, which may take some time as there are many many points to get right, and any mistakes show up well and truly on this fabric.
However, my accuracy on this quilt has improved tremendously, thanks to following the techniques for cutting and piecing recommended in Harriet Hargrave's Quilter's Academy - a skill-building course in quiltmaking, Volume 1.
My blocks are nice and flat, they are, nearly all, the right size, and my points are getting pretty good, helped by accurate 1/4" seams all round.
Essentially this comes down to straightening your fabric so that it's on grain, starching it, cutting precisely, and ensuring you are sewing with an accurate 1/4". If using a 1/4" foot with a guide, because these feet aren't always exactly 1/4", Harriet suggests using Presencia 60/3 wt thread, which is finer than Aurifil 50 wt, which I also love to use for piecing, but just as strong. The fineness of the thread ensures a flatter seam. I sourced this in the U.K. on-line at The Cotton Patch.
Pressing is vital - set the seam first, then press to one side using a light misting of starch. From the bit of research I've done, quilters seem to be starchers or non-starchers, with Mary Ellen's Best Press a favourite with many. However, I found a home-made recipe using cornflour on Diane Gaudynski's blog - she has a link on the right side bar. This works a treat is is much cheaper!
I have been so impressed with my results that one of my challenges for 2014 is to begin to work through the projects in Harriet Hargrave's series of books. This fits perfectly with my philosophy of slow quilting, whether by hand or machine, working on the skills and craft of quilting, while enjoying the process and the learning. There is far too much emphasis out there on doing things fast and furious.
Also on a blue theme, a sashiko pin cushion made in a taster workshop last Saturday morning...sitting hand quilting these beautiful patterns was a delight.
And on a plainer note, a wool scarf for DH, knitted by yours truly from British Sheep Wool,
Have a wonderful Christmas everyone, and enjoy the art of slow stitchery.