Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Mini Bunting Tutorial

 With the excitement of getting my own Round Robin returned to me last week, I missed out telling you about the last one that I'd made for someone else.

My row is the one in the middle of this bright seaside themed quilt.  I pieced sandcastles, added a fused bucket and spade and finished it with some mini bunting (which I pinned on rather than sewing on - too hard to quilt around otherwise!
 So pleased was I with the mini bunting that I thought I'd share my quick and easy method with you.

This will give you a string of mini bunting of a yard or so - simply increase the number of flags and the length of the ribbon to suit what you'd like.

Narrow ribbon - 1 yard
Scraps - 12 x 1"x3"
Heat'n'bond' (or similar) - 6" square or equivalent.

1)  Cut your fusible.  You want to end up with 12 pieces of 1" x 3".

 2) Iron them onto the wrong sides of your chosen scraps.  I chose cool colours - but feel free to go as wild as you like!
 3) Cut around the fusible / fabric and peel the backing paper off the rectangles.
 4) Fold the rectangles in half, right sides out (so fusible sides together) and just touch an iron to the open ends to keep them together. 
 5) You will end up with 12 fabric 'loops' with the fusible on the inside.
 6) Time to shape them now.  I did mine by eye, but if you prefer you can measure and mark up the 1/2" point on what was the open end.  You need to cut from that centre point on the 'open' end to the edge of the closed end of the fabric loop.
7) Now do the same again on the other side of the loop.  You end up with a lovely sharp triangle and two waste triangles to throw away.

Finish the rest in the same way.
 8) Lay the flags out in a way that pleases you.
 9) Thread the ribbon through each flag 'bead'.  I spaced mine at 1 1/2" apart.  When you have the spacing that you like iron them onto the ribbon.  That's the joy of the fusible - you have just finished the bunting!

Of course, if you are really keen you could add a line of stitching (along the ribbon, or along the ribbon and around each flag).
 10) All you need to do now is to choose how to display your bunting!  Not bad for 20 minutes play!
Here's mine decorating a window.  Where is yours going to hang?

I love this little bunting!  The good news is that I have LOTS of scraps (but that's a subject for a whole other post!) - I could make enough of this to decorate the entire house!  I'm not sure that the rest of the family would stand for it though.

Have fun and let me know if you make your own!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Round Robin Reveal!

 I was very excited to see my Round Robin after it had been away for five months.  This was my starter piece.  My theme was the Military Wives song, "Wherever My Heart", with white and turquoise as my colours.
 This strip was made by Jane, who used alphabet white on white fabric to show communication and blue squares to represent the military mail - blueies, after the blue airmail paper that used to be used.  Triangles show the questions and answers flowing around the world.

Marjolyn made this strip.  Interlocked squares for the families, Stars of Destiny, and Delectable Mountains for lifes ups and downs.
Nerida used the purple squares in this strip to show a travelling solider, always part of a family, but not always in the same place. 
 Karen has a friend who is in South London Military Wives choir - what a coincidence!  She represented her friend with a Southern Belle block, and used chevrons to denote her husband who had just been promoted.  The purple here represents their three children.
 Benta used a high shot of the choir members, where she says their heads seemed to tessellate - so I've got some of her fabulous hexies representing that.
 She was also kind enough to make me an extra (she is so lovely, always keen to go the extra mile - thanks Benta!) and has embroidered two lines from the song onto some of the turquoise fabric.

So there you have it!  I'm thrilled that people put so much thought into making the strips (and explaining their thoughts).  I feel very lucky to have had so many talented people working on my Round Robin.

*All* I've got to do now is to decide how best to put them together, and construct the quilt!

I shall let it all mature on my design wall for the moment, whilst I consider the final purpose of the quilt (sofa throw? bed quilt? wall hanging?) which will help to determine its shape, size and the quilting that it will receive.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Oodles of Doodles!

 Over the last week or two I've been producing some Zentangle type doodles on Artists 'Tiles' - a new size card to me, cut at 3 1/2" square - so that I could share the idea with my gal pals (still trying that phrase out for size - I like the intention but it seems a bit ugly, somehow) at 'Girls Night In' - my regular kitchen table crafting outlet.

I REALLY wish that I'd made them line up the goodies that they produced - we had everything from mermaids through penguins to hearts and initials - wonderful!

So I'll just have to share some of what I've produced instead.

This is clearly an homage to Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors - we watched the film with the girls at the weekend.
 This is an initial card.  I used different cards from Poundland - obviously I'd recommend that you actually opened up any cards that you bought that had text on the front, just in case there was text inside too.  I had a range of both 'thank you' and 'invitation' cards that had text inside them - so we needed to do an extra step and cover the writing inside with an additional piece of card or paper.
 This was what I was originally thinking of - a Valentines card (and now I feel very smug being finished early!).  I cut out the 'tangled' heart and mounted it on a black 'tile'.

I bought three Zentangle books (one of them a childrens' book - as much for me as for my DD's - I like simple, fun instructions).  They are well worth it as they give you step by step instructions and ideas on different ways to build up patterns. 
These were others that I'd been trying out different tangles on too. 

Without realising, I'd also picked the week when we have 'National Doodle Day' in the UK.  Turns out that it happens in support of Epilepsy Action - and this year is on Friday, 6th February.

The money that I received last night will be donated to this excellent cause.  Perhaps you will be inspired to doodle on Friday and send in a pound too?

Happy doodling - hope that you produce oodles too!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

More Snowball thoughts and someone else sews....

 After last week's tutorial, I thought that you might like to see another couple of ideas that I'd put together when I was thinking about the design.

This is the one that made me think of butterflies first of all - obviously you need fewer red triangles and the setting of them is less rigid.

I'd love to see this in summer fabrics, something pale yellow and floral perhaps to tie in with the butterflies, quilted to match.  Not that I have that sort of fabric in my stash, but its just how I see it in my head!
 This one, although I've shown it plain (which is how I tend to plan my quilts on the software, not necessarily sew them in real life!) it would work really well as a scrappy style quilt, using darker fabrics for the star points (the small squares of the snowballs) and a mix of neutrals for the block centres and the plain blocks.

 I haven't managed any sewing this week (but the scrapbooking is coming on well!) but my DD2 was inspired by the arrival of her Young Embroiderers Guild membership card to create a sewing kit 'roll'.
 I gave her a little helping hand with the measuring and design (and some of my duplicate embroidery flosses), but the fabric choices and the majority of the sewing was hers - even adding fabric binding to the clear plastic that became the pockets, which is something that even experienced sewists might baulk at!
Didn't she do a great job?  She has her mini sewing kit, needle book, membership card, floss and a pencil all in one handy roll.

I'm so happy that she enjoys sewing!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Butterfly Star Quilt - Tutorial

 To make this quilt, which finishes 42" wide and 66" high (so you won't have to piece the backing unless you want to!), you will need the following:

* 2 1/4 yards of your main fabric (shown as white for my plan)
* 1/4 yd red fabric
* 3/4 yd blue fabric
* 2 yards of your backing fabric
* fabric for binding (total edges = 216" - the amount of fabric required will vary depending on your favourite way to bind!)
* Wadding - approx. 44" x 68"

Please remember that if you choose a fabric that has a right way up (like I did) that you need to pay particular attention to this when you are making the snowballs!

 First of all cut 77 x 6 1/2" squares of your main fabric.

Put 38 of them to one side - this is a quick quilt to make, so these are finished and ready to add to your layout when you've made the snowball blocks.

Next cut 3" squares from your red and blue fabrics.  You need 128 blue squares and 28 red squares to make the snowballs as I show you.  You could just save fabric and use triangles, of course.
I then set mine out with the appropriate number of main fabric squares, just to keep things straight in my head.

To follow the pattern above, you will need to make:
* 1 snowball with four red corners
* 6 snowballs with red at the top right / bottom left and blue at the top left and bottom right
* 6 snowballs with blue at the top right / bottom left and red at the top left and bottom right
* 26 blocks with four blue corners.
 I'm showing you my way of making snowballs - as I like to have the resulting leftover half-square triangles to play with later. 

Lay four of your coloured squares on top of one main square.  Draw a line (or stitch it straight away if you are confident!) from corner to corner, and another line 1/2" further out from the first line.

These are your stitching lines.  Go ahead and stitch them all.
Now you can cut between the stitching lines, leaving you the snowball block and four HSTs.
 Continue making all 39 snowball blocks - remember to make sure that you have the colours going to the way that you want them to!

Then press all the blocks (and the HSTs if you want to use them soon!).
 Refer to the plan and layout the pieced and plain blocks.  I set mine out half a quilt at a time as that was the space that I had near my machine.

Chain piece the blocks together, making sure that you keep the pattern.
Complete until you have the finished quilt top - well done!  That was fast, wasn't it?

Now layer up with the backing / wadding, baste, and quilt.  All you need to do now is to bind the quilt and add a label.

This is a fun and fast quilt to make - perfect for a beginner or a time-short more experienced quilter.  It would be great to see some more variations of this, so if you do make one feel free to share your finish too!

Have fun!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A new technique for me!

I started my adult textile play with cross stitch.  I had an excellent program, enjoyed using it to create my own patterns, enjoyed the stitching.

Then I got drawn into patchwork and quilting - and cross stitch has taken a back seat ever since.

When the latest 'Round Robin landed with me, a request to add a pear to a piece of text printed fabric to replicate a crate of pears wrapped for storage, I thought that I'd try a technique I'd never tried before - cross stitch with waste canvas.

My start point was finding out (inevitably!) that the software I'd used for several years didn't work with the operating system that I have on the current PC!
 I downloaded a free trial of PMST20T, selected a photo of a pear, and created my colour pattern.

Then I mentally simplified it a bit more, grabbed the green threads from the embroidery floss drawers (oh the bliss of having a thread stash!),  pinned my aida to the printed fabric, and off I went!
 Several hours, spread over several days, and I'd got a pear that I was happy with (and no time left to stitch the leaf - oops!).

Now came the bit that required a bit of courage - removing the canvas from between the cross stitches and the print fabric!  I knew the theory but had never actually tried it before - and this seemed quite a big piece to be trying it out on!
I trimmed it first, then started pulling all the canvas threads out.  It was quite hard work - tough on the fingers whether using tweezers or not!

I did briefly wonder about leaving the canvas in but fringed, as an extra layer around the pear....it would have been less work, but not quite the effect that I wanted!

I kept going and was pleased with the finished effect!  The cross stitch is neat and regular, as you'd expect, but with a more exciting background than the single colour canvas that would usually be seen.
Not as beautiful as some of the other pears that had been created in earlier months, but a fun way for me to try out this waste canvas technique.  I'd certainly consider using it again when I want another small hand project.

How would you use it?  I can remember books suggesting that it was used for monogramming items, but I don't think that we're a monogramming sort of family (!), so I'll just be using it to add small motifs onto items, I think.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Snowball Finish!

As I've more or less given up sewing for the first two months of the year (I know, I know, harsh, but I have to give myself time to catch up with my scrapbooking - I'm a third of a lifetime of my younger DD behind - that's over three years!) you should make the most of this quilty photo!

I'm really pleased with how the red diagonals cross - and quite proud that I managed to piece it all with the directional print (a Riley Blake that I've been unwilling to cut into!) actually heading in the right direction.

The quilting (hard to see, I know) was a freestyle approach to echo quilting starting with an 'on point' square in the red snowball block that marks where the diagonals cross over.  It created a nicely off centre focus for the quilting.

I might put a tutorial up for this quilt - despite it taking a long elapsed time for me, it is actually a quick one to make, as only half the blocks are pieced, and they are only snowball blocks, so not at all tricky!  This one is 66" x 42" - and originally I called it 'Butterfly stars' when I was planning the layout in Quilt Pro.

I like the secondary stars that appear when you make this.  Perhaps I'll cut up my scraps later in the year and make a scrappy version.  Another thing for the sewing list!

So this is my October quilt finished.  Only the November one still to make to complete my 'twelve to give away' set!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Go WILD for 2015!

 Following the instructions that I read on the ThreadAddict blog, I made a couple of little wild women - and I can see the appeal of making more!

These were 'quick and dirty' versions, with not much in the way of beading or embellishment.  Still, in 20 minutes plus time to sew on the face, eyes and a brooch back, they were spectacularly quick to make and a joy to give!
I'm happy to say that I have 'texture packs' in other colours too, so lots more options from the scrap basket available!

I think that going wild in 2015 is a jolly decent plan - but perhaps I'm a bit Christmas-holidayed out!

 I did manage two other quick makes before Christmas hit us.

Another anti-ouch pouch - this time in grey (how lucky that I'd impulse bought this grey chevron fabric and it arrived the day before the request for a grey version did - having a fabric stash is lovely !).
I also made my final fabric post card of the year - this one had the theme of 'fire'.  I would show you it the right way up if I could, but I'm having a bit of bother with some of the settings on my PC at the moment, which is slightly limiting my abilities in some of the programmes that I run.  I'm hoping to find time to look for the solution soon!

In the mean time, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I hope that you are looking forward to 2015 with peace in your hearts and a sense of impending renewal.

See you next year!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Happy Christmas!

Merry greetings of the season etc. etc.!

I hope that you have completed all your sewing of Christmas gifts, drawn close to your family and are settling down to enjoy a wonderful Christmas!

This is my latest Christmas offering - Santa fabric, felt, a Suffolk puff and a wire wreath frame.  Very simple to make.  You want to know how I did it? 

I measured the width of the frame, added an inch, and cut a width of fabric strip of that measurement (my frame was 2" deep, so I cut a strip 5" deep with a pinking cutter).

Then, fold the fabric in half around the frame and sew the long edges together with a running stitch - they will tend to self gather, which is handy!

Add a hanging ribbon and whatever decorations you like that you can create.  I did wonder about adding baubles instead of felt decorations, and perhaps hanging some into the centre of the wreath.  You could have a lot of fun making these to your own style.  Quick to make, easy to personalise.  Why stop at one?!?

Happy Christmas to one and all.  I hope that your Christmas Wishes come true!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Stocking Stunner!

 One VERY proud DD who at nine years old has managed to make a wonderful patchwork stocking!

She learnt to cut strips with a rotary cutter (not for the nervous of disposition!), sewed them together brilliantly with a 1/4" seam to make a stripy tube, cross cut them into 2 1/2" slices, and  unpicked the right short seams to make a diagonal pattern when she sewed them together.

Then she added a premade stripy toe and cuff, and, after the stocking shape was cut out, added a hanging loop as she sewed around the final seams!

What a fabulous job she's done!
I'd be proud of this too!

I'll just have to be proud of her!

Two more sleeps until it gets to see some action!