Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Down my street.

First of all, here is my finished 'Bathers' quilt.  I'm quite pleased with how it has turned out.  It is A3 sized and a little brighter than this photo shows.

Of course, it was only after I'd put some guide lines for the quilting on to it with water erasable pen that I remembered that my hand dyed fabrics wouldn't necessarily be colour fast - oops!

I'm happy to say that I have given it a light spray and it seems to be fine.  Perhaps it's just the cerise based fabrics challenging me!
Aren't these lovely?

Shamelessly using the lovely, simple pattern from Janet Clare's Home Quilt Home book, last night some friends and I enjoyed a kitchen table crafting night.

As one guest commented, more Balamory* than understated chic (I got  to choose the colours of the felt provided) we all had fun making these little houses.

I'm so lucky to have friends who will indulge me by coming round to join in with small crafting projects - my life is richer for the friendship that all of them offer me.  Thanks, girls!

This week I've also been lucky enough to go to my quilt group where Liz Trenow, author of 'The Last Seamstress' was giving a talk.  She was an entertaining speaker and I was interested to learn 1) that the last silk weavers in the UK are still based in Sudbury, 2) some of the constraints of producing parachute silk (relevant to her first novel) and 3) that her next book is called 'The Poppy Factory' - so has some local interest to me, as it's just five minutes away in Richmond.  I haven't visited it, but DD1 went there on a school trip and was fascinated by it.  I enjoyed The Last Seamstress (which is a story based around a quilt - you can download the pattern from her website) so have ordered the other two books too for some more 'easy reading' for the summer.

Finally, the outcome from last week's giveaway.  The randomiser chose number 3 - so congratulations to Gill - I'll be in touch to get your snail mail address.  Thank you to those who played along!

I hope that you are planning a week of sewing or crafting.  I'm hoping to finish my next Bather's based quilt - very different from the first one, but the same size.

* Balamory was a children's TV series, shown on CBeebies that my DD's used to enjoy.  It was shot in Tobamory on the Isle of Mull where there are some brightly coloured buildings, and used technical wizardry to colour some other buildings too.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Summer Give Away!

Not yet our summer holidays, but  time to celebrate long hours of day light and the possibility of ice cream eating with bare feet feeling grass rather than mud!

I made an extra campervan print 'tea wallet' - and I've added some other summer goodies: a key tag to make, some stickers, a little of two types of ice cream fabric.

Want to win?  Leave me a comment, perhaps sharing your ideal one word for summer!  Name out of a hat in a week's time.....
 The quilts that I'd finished previously have now been labelled (so properly finished now!). In addition to my usual printed labels, DD1 made her own 'thank you' additions.  I feel that we may need to work on 'setting out your space', but the sentiment is heartfelt!
As promised, this is the cushion cover part of the quillow.  I can't think of a better place to use a 'friendship star' as Georgie's TA has been a true friend to her as well as a fabulous teacher.  We have been very lucky to have the wonderful Mrs Power as well as the lovely Miss Stout.  If we ever get even half as lucky again, we will have a lot to thank the education system for!

Aside from labelling, I've made reasonable progress on my Bathers tribute quilt.  The challenge from my quilting group was to make an A3 quilt, based on or inspired by an art postcard.  Mine is based on the block that I designed based on 'The Bathers' by Georges Sueurat.  I'm having fun making it.

Hope you are enjoying sewing too! Don't forget to leave a comment if you want some summer goodies for your stash!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A Pleasure of Small Things

 I'm not sure that I know what a good collective noun for a group of lovely small things might be, so 'a pleasure' would surely fit as well as anything else?  Here's a round up of my week, anyway.  Odd layout as I appear to be falling out with Blogger today.....

 This was my attempt at a campervan cake.

It seemed to go down well.....
These were the 36, oh no, 35 fairy cakes to go along with the large cake (cake making is clearly hungry business!).
Campervan 'tea bag' wallets for helpers / party girl.
These are the campervans that the party goers decorated - aren't they amazing?  Finally, below, some 'use it up' pieces - cushions for a pair of girls who had watched my stitching at ballet lesson time (including the Love Entwined compass centre that I didn't use), finishing up book covers from other samples to go with the specific school one.

Just one more book cover and I'll have finished the school presents for DD1 leaving - it's all going well at the moment! 

Hope you are having a fun crafty summer time so far too!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

What a week!

 Hurrah - another quillow finished (although this time I've neglected to take a photo of it folded into its cushion shape - perhaps I'll remember next week!

I can see why this pattern is so popular (thank you Benta for reminding me!) - it is fearsomely fast to put together!  The final quilt is a shade under 60" square.  I quilted with straw coloured Auriful in the background and a variegated purple in the star.
 The other sewing this week was on a smaller scale.  DD2 turned nine, and for her 'not a party, just three friends for a birthday playdate' (code for 'party warm up, next week there will be hordes of small girls rampaging around the house') we made sleeping bags and outfits for the toy dogs that I bought them.
 I neglected to get photos of their excellent projects, so here are my example pieces.

I made the samples, transferred basic shapes onto cereal box card for them to use, and then pretty much stood back to let the mayhem begin!
 Of course, it wasn't quite as simple as that.  After all, three of them claimed never to have used a sewing machine before....although within minutes they were all sewing away.  I had only designed things that had short straight lines, so it all worked out OK!

Quite how we got to making lacy black undies for them I can't remember, but it's likely to have something to do with the bear / no underwear rhyme that one girl made up!  Lucky I had some wide lace lying around..... oh the joys of having a good crafting stash!
This was the cake for the birthday.  Just a couple of days until the birthday party with a whole new cake and a whole tribe of girls round to craft and play!

Children's birthdays are magical, but awfully tiring, aren't they?

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Triple 'Yay'!

 My first 'yay' was hearing that I'd won this lovely book from Janet Clare - her new book which has some lovely projects in it.

It was even better when she posted the book so quickly that it arrived the next day - I felt very lucky!

I can reveal to you that the style is 'classic' Janet Clare.  Muted tones and colours that make you relax just reading through it.  If you aren't already familiar with her work then I suggest you pop over to her blog or get hold of one of her other books.  I particularly like the fact that although there are quilts to be made, there are other 'little projects' - sewn and non-sewn - which can all too easily cause one to drop what one is already doing in order to start (and perhaps finish!) another little item!
 Look!  Janet even personalised the title page for me!

Can you tell that I'm excited?
My second 'yay' was for my girls.  I am excited that my DDs took part (with 17 of their friends and some of the mums) in the local Race for Life.  They managed the 5Km with aplomb - and I'm very proud of my girls, the rest of the team, and of everyone who has supported them with either encouragement, praise or cold, hard cash!

Its not too late to donate if you'd like to help celebrate their achievements.  My girls ran partly in memory of a friends mum and partly in support of their grandpa.  They are part of the team on this JustGiving page

And the third 'yay'?  This one has been a little longer in the coming - I've been studying part time for nearly three years in order to complete my City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Patchwork and Quilting (through the School of Stitched Textiles - distance learning, working to my own timetable).  Today I heard that I have passed it!

There will celebrating in the streets of Twickenham tonight (well, ok, maybe a glass of sparkling Elderflower cordial later, if I can persuade someone to go to the supermarket for me!).

Hope that you are having a good week too and finding reasons to celebrate.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Quillow Finished!

 A quilt on legs!  When you have stopped admiring my admirable quilt stand (otherwise known as DH) I'll allow you to admire the quilt instead - as I'm quite pleased with how its turned out!

Cobblestones (with halved cobblestone border) on the front.
 IKEA's 'numbers in text' for the back - extended with some lovely pink batik.
With one of my favourite ever stripy fabrics for the binding.  Chosen as it's on DD1's camp blanket, so we thought it would be nice to have it on this quilt for her teacher.

The backing is also appropriate, as this teacher (The Lovely Miss Stout, as she is ALWAYS called in our house) has championed DD1 right the way through school, and was instrumental in getting her dyslexia diagnosed, amongst other issues, as well as helping to get her additional help for school.
 This shot is where I'm trying to show you some of the quilting - I made an 'X' with feathers - partly as the idea of a great big kiss appealed to me, partly because that is what the quilt was asking for.

As planned, the rest of it was stippled.  I worked hard at trying to keep the scale of the stipple even, and I just about succeeded.
 You will have guessed from the title of this post that this quilt is hiding a secret - that it is also a cushion (or pillow, as my USA friends would have it).

The front used up lots of the scraps from the quilt - wish that I'd had a few more useful sized bits of paler pink too!

This shows it with the quilt all tucked away.
 On the back you can see the cushion cover / toe cosy when the quilt is unfolded.
 So, one quilt finished, it must be time to start another.  This is my fabric pull for one of those oh-so-fashionable (or maybe that was a while ago?) giant star quilts.  Perfect as my next project (another quilt heading for school!).
Lastly, following news that a member of my quilting group has been diagnosed with breast cancer, I made a quick 'ouch pouch' - or comfort cushion, if you prefer that term.  There are a number of different patterns on the Internet - crescents, hearts, plain rectangles - they are all trying to cushion the area between your torso and arm, particularly 'post op'.

I picked up the pattern (there is a full tutorial too) from emlibrary here - I like the idea of the bow / elastic to fasten it around your shoulder, if you so choose.

Perhaps if you don't want to quilt you might consider making a few of these instead?  Quite fast to make, and I'm sure that they would be well received at your local cancer treatment centre.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Decisions, Decisions!

 Progress on the quilt has been quite good.

I production lined the making of the blocks, and then laid them out on my table to try and decide on a layout.

Of course, I should have remembered that I generally prefer an odd number of rows and columns if I'm using alternate colours for blocks.  I still wanted to use all the blocks, so cut the extras in half (one of them in quarters) and made a border from them.
This is the finished layout - shown here basted and ready for quilting.

I have even managed to start quilting.  I've started with freehand feathers out to each corner from the middle, but the rest of it will be tight stippling.

But what of the decisions?  Most of them (for example the layout) have been made. Well, I'm trying to decide whether to leave this as a quilt, or whether to turn it into a quillow.  A quilt means a faster finish, a quillow might mean that it is better used / more useful for the intended recipient.  Hmmmm.  Time for more pondering whilst I do a little more meditative quilting!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A Start!

 I'm pleased to say that my final module has passed the internal verifier - just a month to wait for the external verifier.  It was good to get everything organised and sent last week!

Now I'm playing Katy-Catch-Up and trying to make my 'May' quilt.

I pulled this stack of fabrics, then took out one of them so that I had four blues, four pinks, and a multicolour potential binding fabric.
This is the pattern I shall be making - obviously a slightly scrappier version, but I like to use Quilt Pro to work out sizes / fabric requirements.

I'm planning for this to be 64" square, which will take 4 yards of fabric. I may add a border too - I'll decide one I've got all the blocks together and seen which backing I'm going to use.

It's nice to have a plan to do some 'real' sewing on the machine.  Of course, even better might be a plan to tidy the craft room, or even to tidy some of the rest of the house!  Maybe that could all wait until after half term?

Happy sewing and I hope that you find extra stitching time over the Bank Holiday if you are a UK stitcher.

Thursday, 15 May 2014


Eek!  Is this all the sewing I've done this week?  I'm afraid so!

I'm in my last 'push' to try and complete my C&G patchwork and quilting course.  I'd love to get my work submitted in time for external verification this year - which means that it all has to be with my tutor by Friday.

Its been nip and tuck, but I think that I'm just going to scrape in by the skin of my teeth (mixed metaphors?  Me?).

So this has been a week of  finishing notes, reviewing samples (and adding the odd missing one, hence this blob with lots of curves to show off 'curved edges with bias binding'), and generally trying to dot the 'i's and cross the 't's (although for part of the week I seem to have been dotting the 't's and crossing the 'i's - you know how it goes sometimes!).

Perhaps I'll manage some 'real' sewing again after this.  I've still got a couple of quilts that I'd like to get made in good time for the end of the school year, as well as some projects that I'd like to do as part of my quilting group challenges.  As usual, a head full of ideas, a cupboard full (and overflowing) with fabric, but still time and energy challenges!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Tutorial: Book Cover

I know that there are dozens of other book cover tutorials out there, but I've finally found a method that I'm happy with, so I want to record it here and share it with you!

1) Start off with the notebook of your choice and measure it.
You need four pieces of fabric in total:
Sleeves: 2 x (height of the book plus 1/2") x (width of book + 1")
Cover / lining: 2 x (height of the book plus 1/2") x  (2 x width of book plus depth of the book plus 1").
 Did that bit of maths put you off?  As an example, a book that is 6" x 4" and 1/2" deep, needed 2 bits of fabric that were 6 1/2" x 5" and 2 bits of fabric that were 6 1/2" x 9 1/2".

2) If you want to quilt or decorate your outside cover now is the time to do it.

3) Fold your sleeves in half longways (tall ways!) and iron the crease in place.

 4) Put the cover face up on the table and add the sleeves on top, lining them up carefully with the folded sides towards the middle.

5) Put your lining piece face down on the top of this pile and pin carefully.
 6) Starting in the gap between the sleeves at the bottom of the pinned fabrics, sew around the rectangle using a scant 1/4" seam.

7) Stop sewing when you have a gap of 2 - 3" left (you can just see it here if you look carefully).

8)  Clip the corners to make it easier to neaten them when they are turned through.

 9) Turn the cover through. 

10) Slip stitch the opening closed, and iron if wished.
11) You are now the proud owner / maker of a notebook cover with NO RAW EDGES LEFT ANYWHERE!  This is why I love this method so much!

I can't believe that it's taken me so many years to finalise a method that actually leaves me completely happy with the result!

Of course, when I say completely happy, you may wish to twiddle with the measurements slightly - I'm probably going to add another 1/4" to the width of the cover in the future, as even with a scant 1/4" seam it feels *almost* too snug.

I shall leave you to make your own choices, of course!

This is a quick make (20 mins start to finish for this one), but would be much nicer if personalised or made with a lovely quilted or embroidered piece, of course!


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Slightly late for April!

 It is slightly late, as although I'd almost finished this little quilt in April I didn't manage to finish hand stitching the binding down until this week.

I took the opportunity to use some of my 'leaders and enders' scrappy nine patches to make this little quilt.  The nine patch squares finish at 1" square - so 3" square for each nine patch.  I added some jelly roll strips to bring them up to a useful size before joining them to make the central panel.

I then added two strips of 'dancing hen' fabric - I'm working through my novelty fabric stash.  I hadn't realised that the fabric had such  pronounced dark sections in it.
 It hasn't come out too badly, as it looks like the fabric is also patched (from a distance!).

Backed with my Ikea choice, bound with something lively from stash.  It's finished at 39" square.

I also spent about a minute putting together my version of a cuff book, inspired by SweetiePie50.  Of course mine will never be as beautiful as hers, but I thought that it would be a nice casual hand stitching project for when I am on the train (more train journeys than usual at the moment as my dad isn't well.  To get to him is three train journeys and a taxi - and the same to get home - I do sometimes miss the ability to drive!  hard to believe that it's 15 years since I last took the wheel).  Unfortunately, I've found that it's almost impossible for me to stitch on the train!  Before getting ME I didn't get travel sick, now, not so great.  Heigh ho!  Even if my cuff isn't being stitched (or anything else!) I am catching up on some Radio 4 pod casts, so things aren't all bad.

At least I have my cuff book ready and waiting in my bag for when I'm waiting at ballet / swimming / the adventure playground.  Always good to have a portable project set up and ready to be grabbed.

I hope that you are managing some early summer crafting.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

More little sewn things

Another few minutes of machine sewing!

Take eight pieces of fabric (mine were 5" x 7" - four plain, four print), some thread, some time, two hair elastics, two buttons and these instructions from Listen to the Birds Sing, and you too could make two little 'tea wallets' in a matter of minutes, with the very straightforward tutorial.

Of course, I'd no sooner made them than I was already thinking of other ways that they could be used.  Not for me four fancy tea bags, oh no!  I have visions of needles and pins through one of the bottom pockets, three of those flat cardboard thread spool shaped thingys (I'm sure that someone knows the name of what I'm trying to describe!) with some lovely threads, and a piece of fabric folded into the last pocket.  All I'd need is a thread cutter gadget (or a dental floss box, or some tiny thread snips or scissors) and I'd have a handbag sized portable sewing project kit). 

Or some sewing cotton, some paper hexies and some fabric squares, all ready for basting and sewing them together.

Or I could sew one of the pockets into tubes for small coloured pencils, stick a little pad in another pocket, and have a portable quilt design kit.

So many ideas!  I may just have to sit down and make a few more.  I can see them being popular with small people who will probably have as many ideas as I have, and even more requirements for specific sized pockets for Play mobil / jewellery / cosmetics / favourite pebbles........  I'd better get very good at that 1/8th of an inch top stitching, and stock up with hair bobbles!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Tiddly Bits

Do you remember that I made a 'fabric' background a few weeks (or was it months?) ago?

It was felt / fusible / scraps, which I sliced into six pieces so that I could hand sew using thread 'scraps' as mindless sewing.

I've finally finished them!  They are now ready to be used as card 'toppers' whenever I need them. 

Time to devise some more mindless and portable sewing, ready for a summer of sitting somewhere whilst the girls race around!
 I have also been working on my Love Entwined (but haven't taken any pics yet) - it's been a week for hand sewing!

Although I thought that I'd hand sew these applique cards, in the end I ran out of 'hand power' so got the machine to help.  They aren't the most complex of cards, but I enjoyed making them.

 Do you recognise the birds from the spring time ornaments I was making?  I can see that I might use these for more cards, although I should try and get a bit more imaginative with the background stitching!
So no big projects, all tiddly bits of this and that.  Enough to keep me ticking over whilst I plan other quilts in my head, and plan to set time aside for a bit of C&G work too.