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!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Too Busy and Not Too Busy

 You thought I was talking about me?  Well, actually, yes, I have been rather busy - panto, festive films at the cinema, Christingle, school carol service, gymnastics display...... it's a busy time of year, isn't it?!?

What I was really talking about, though, was this quilt.  You can see what happened with those lovely Bali batik charm squares - but I really needed to find a background that wasn't going to overtake them quite so comprehensively!  The eye doesn't have anywhere to rest, which isn't what I'd really want.

Cheerful, but too busy!  The back is much more restful!
Whilst I have been busy, I haven't been too busy to make another 'anti-ouch pouch'.   A friend has been 'under the knife'  for a breast cancer op and this may help her to be a little more comfortable.

If you didn't make a note (or make one to give away!) earlier in the year when I linked to this pattern, consider making one now.  Just a little time and a little love could make someone more comfortable.  Go on, I bet that you could find 45 minutes to make one sometime over Christmas and the New Year!

This site has both a pattern and a full tutorial.

So, my 'November Quilt' has been started and finished before the binding on my October Snowball quilt has been stitched down.  Not a bad outcome (after all, I didn't think that I'd manage to make a November quilt until next year!) but I'd still like to get the Snowball quilt finished before Christmas!  I'm off to do some more stitching down now!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Teeny Sewing

 Isn't he cute?  I wish I could remember which blogger showed her one, that made me jump on to Craftsy and buy the pattern instantly - coz although not sophisticated, Stu the Penguin  (and no, that isn't a command, "Stew the penguin" although possibly the designer enjoys a pun!) is bang on trend but teeny enough to take hardly any time to sew!  Want one too?  Then go over to my little mochi and buy your own.  Comes with printables, puzzles and other accessories to sew.

So how big is Stu?  That's the joy of him.  He and his fish fit inside an Altoids tin.  Got no Altoids to hand?  Don't worry, turns out that there is a thriving market in the empty tins on Ebay - who knew?  Gotta love an auction site that lets me buy empty sweet tins.  Turns out that I could have wanted one to house a Raspberry Pi, but I didn't!
 So later this week Stu will have some igloo papers printed out for him and stuck onto on the tins.  Another project that isn't quite finished yet, but the sewing part is done!

I was glad that Stu was a success - this is a photo of the hand sewing that I'd tried about a month ago.

I know.  Criminal waste of fabric and sequins!  Even my lovely DDs looked at and couldn't think of anything supportive to say! 

Proof, if I should need it, that if the hands and mind aren't ready for sewing it's best to leave the scissors and needles out of reach until the planets are correctly aligned, or whatever it is that makes a difference to my sewing.
This week I'm pleased to say that I've managed a bit of machine sewing.

The obvious project to work on would be the one with the blocks already sewn and ready to make into a flimsy.  Who wants to stick with obvious?  I decided that the arrival of a charm pack and a new ruler in the same post must be an omen - so broke them both open and decided to try and make just one more little quilt before school breaks up for Christmas!

Wish me luck!

Happy winter stitching, one and all, and I hope that you are at the 'success' end of the scale!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


 Only small bits of sewing and crafting to show this week - and all for deadlines (or at least, scheduled!) in one way or another!

The first item is the quilted postcard I made for Avril's birthday.  I used a thicker than usual thread in the bobbin and tried to stitch the feather from the reverse.....a fun experiment, and one that I'll try again.

Learning point: slow down on the wide open curves to avoid 'eye lashes' on them.
 Next item to show is a slip cover for a scrapbooking album.  A winter wedding is soon to take place, so this has the bride and groom's names as well as the date and year on them.  Not a desperately complicated design, but made with love!
 My girls and their friends had a bit of a Hama bead session on Friday.  I'd pinned a few ideas from Pinterest  which I showed to them, and they set to.
I was so impressed with the snowflake that I  took it so that you could see it properly against a darker background - isn't it a great idea?  I confess to having made a couple myself, now!

The weather has turned chilly which is just setting the mood for writing Christmas cards  so there may not be much sewing to show next week either!

Hope that the start of December is letting you find a little time for crafting and sewing too!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Love Entwined Progress

 I finished the stalks on the final vase of this panel a couple of weeks ago.

It was, we are told, a coverlet.  That means just two layers.

I want mine to be a quilt, so I've had it up on the wall whilst I tried to decide how to quilt it.

I think that I'd like to try and hand quilt it - but at almost 3 feet square it will be the biggest hand quilting project that I'll have undertaken.

If I'm hand quilting it (which feels right, as it is pretty much all hand work apart from the compass piecing) then I want to choose something easy to stitch through.
 I'm wondering about wool.  It's not the obvious choice for something that I know will be wall hanging, but my hands get sore quite easily, so I need to think about that first and foremost, rather than how flat and straight it might hang on the wall.

I think that I've decided on a variegated King Tut thread (nice fast colour changes for hand stitching, as recommended by Jacqui Harvey at a workshop some time ago).

Now I just need to baste it and start sewing, rather than wondering about it!
Aside from the thinking time, I've spent a couple of happy hours at the sewing machine making scrappy stars for my latest Round Robin offering.

The little stars work out at 2" finished, so each of the 16 squares within it at just 1/2" each.  They are reasonably accurate, but not perfect, if I'm honest.  Nicely scrappy, though!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Off the Cuff

 Or, perhaps, ON the cuff?

I made a cuff book  earlier in the year, from a frayed shirt and part of the sleeve fabric.  To my shame I can't remember which blog I picked up this idea from, but it's not an original idea from me, I'm afraid.

This is the outside when it's buttoned up.
 This is how it looks when you open it.  I made the pages different lengths.
 My 'title page'.
 The early part of the year.  It rained (a lot!) then the grass grew......  Okay, okay, I never said that it was going to be an interesting book!
 Later in the year we went to Barcelona and I started stitching this sat outside the Aquarium there whilst the rest of the family went in.
This page represents the journey that I made down to see my Dad every week after he was admitted first to a Hospice, then to a nursing home.

It shows the train tracks, the lavender farm I went past, the orchards, the other fields, and a river.  There were two main routes.  Both of them took me past parts of the Medway and the Thames.
This shows the Thames again - running through the Borough where we live and where the girls both go to school.  DD2 is still at St Marys, DD1 moved to Waldegrave school with a swan logo this year.  They both love to read, but DD1 finds it hard with her dyslexia.

It's been fun to stitch this over the year, although I had hoped that I'd be able to manage this simple stitching on the train journeys, which wasn't the case!  never mind, I kept up to date with Radio 4 comedies, dramas and some other podcasts that I might not otherwise have made time to listen to.

If you've got an old shirt ready for recycling, maybe you'd like to make a cuff book too?  I can recommend them as a splendidly portable project!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

In case you wanted to know......

 I haven't done much sewing over the last few weeks, but this was one thing that I did make - a fully lined eye wateringly bright fabric case (with shoulder strap robbed from another bag).

DD2 is currently trying out the trumpet (sorry, neighbours!).  The case that she's been given has no shoulder strap and is awfully heavy.

I bought a smaller, lighter case, but the music teacher wasn't a fan (and the trumpet is only borrowed at the moment, so he's allowed to have some say in the matter!).

This was my next suggestion, with DD2's choice of Cloth Kits fabric.

Not sure that it's the total answer - after all, it doesn't magically take the weight away!

 My other sewing has been on our local quilt group's Round Robin.  My challenge this month (thank you Avril!) was to make a flag for what would be left of the UK if Scotland had left us.

Excellent theme!  Here is just a glimpse of part of the flag that I made.

I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge!
Finally, I thought that it would be nice to share with you a picture that my Dad had on his bedroom wall for almost 50 years.
Painted by his friend, David John, in 1966, it shows Sonning Lock.  This photo really doesn't do the saturated colours justice!

I can only hope that anything that I've created lasts that long and is appreciated even half so much.

It's off to a new home with my brother now, where it will continue to be appreciated.  Nice that it's going to be with a 'Thames boy' - his first home was in a houseboat on the Thames with our mum and dad.