Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Small items of Loveliness and a Shadow Quilting Card Tutorial

 First of all, here is the curly tree quilt again - this time showing you the buttons on it. My label is printed and ready to sew on the back, so it's nearly ready to go onto the wall!
 My first item of loveliness is this pincushion - made from the pattern that Benta shared here.

Very quick to make - the longest part seemed to be filling the bobbins to add into the petals!  I'm pleased with it and hope that my crafty friend will be happy with it when she receives it!
 Now, if you are short of an idea for a valentines day card, here is a fun idea that you'll be able to whip up in no time!

First of all transfer a simple design onto a small piece of fusible (my designs were approx. 2" square or 1 1/2" x 3".

Iron it (carefully!) onto a piece of craft felt.
 Cut out the design carefully, and iron it onto a background fabric (mine was just over 4" x 6").

Now choose a bit of organza - bright, subtle, the choice is yours.  Try it out over your felt and background fabric.  When you're happy with it, cut out a piece slightly larger than the background fabric.

When you are happy with your choice use a couple of pins to anchor it over the background fabric.
 Now choose a thread to contrast with the background - either an embroidery floss or a perle thread - and stitch a running stitch just outside the felt outline.

When you have finished, choose how to finish your card topper.

Mostly I choose to cut the organza and background to the size of the card, then turn back the edges of the organza and trim 1/4" from the background fabric.

My other idea was to trim the organza around the motif with a soldering iron.

 Of course, once you have the soldering iron to hand, its very tempting to add a little more decoration - too small to see, but I added some dots to the central card here.

Finally, grab your glue stick and stick the topper to the card.

A fun way to make a card for your sweetheart!
Of course, I've also been making  these 3 1/2" blocks for my 365 challenge.  These are the blocks for week 4.  I'm still playing Katy Catchup with this, but happily!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Taking up a Challenge

 Have you heard of the 365 Challenge Quilt?

It does what it says and is going to provide instructions for making a block every day for a year.  At the end of the year, if you've kept up, you will have sufficient blocks for a 90" square quilt top.

Not that I have any need for a 90" quilt top, you understand, but despite not coming across the challenge until late January, I thought that I'd like to join in.

The first blocks are fairly simple.  I have made the first 21 in a total of 3 3/4 hours.  I may be

 playing catch up for a while, as I suspect that as soon as I catch up I'll get tripped over by holidays and the like - but I'm enjoying the little (3 1/2") blocks so far!

And this is my mainly batik fabric pull for the quilt.  These early blocks are all in dark fabrics, for me, that's blues.  I'm looking forward to making some blocks with the brighter colours later in the year.
 You could join in too, if you wanted to!

365 - The Ultimate Sampler

I'm sure that it's going to be fun!

I have also managed a finish too.  This curly tree wall hanging is now complete.

This week I finished the hand sewn decoration (not quilting - I did it before I layered the quilt), machine quilted around the tree, bound it, adding corner triangles for hanging, and added some buttons.  Phew!

I forgot to take photos once I'd added the buttons on to it, though, so you'll have to wait for another day to see those.

I'm really pleased to use the fabric that DD1 gave me and some of the buttons that DD2 gave me for Christmas in this little project.  Now I need to find somewhere to hang it!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Self Improvement?

 It appears that it's a while since I last did much in the way of FMQ - and in particular feathers.

I decided to add a gently meandering feather wreath - but it took me most of the two laps required (one lap for each side of the spine) to feel that I'd got my rhythm back!  Still, better to have improved with that, rather than not to have given it a go at all!
 I also went ahead and added the circle to my Little Hazel.  I think that this might need a re-visit too, as one or two of the green segments are just slightly 'off'.  I'm sure that it would be better to greet the next stage with an actual circle!
 Two WIPS above, but this is a chance to show off my finish.  Not truly a quilt (fabric applied to a fleece, so only two layers, not three) I've made this as a camp blanket for one of my DD2's friends.
It started from the 'cut out' that was left after I made my curly tree for the mini tumblers quilt that I'm making.

I applied that (fused then machine sewed) to a contrast fabric then added further WOF strips in a quilt-as-you-go fashion until I'd covered the bulk of the fleece.

Then I added a 3" border to cover all the raw edges and frame the design.

Finally I added a fused name to personalise the blanket.  All made in plenty of time for a birthday next week!  I hope that she will like it.

Hope that you are enjoying some hobby time too!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Happy Sewing!

 This week has been a good week for small finishes - well, tiny finishes, really!
I've made cards for a couple of swaps and for a friend.
These homes on the fill are all made without fusible - just hope holding the bits of fabric into place until I stitched them down.
 These ones were made differently. Fused fabrics for the red and blue, then freezer paper leaves added on top to give a bit of depth.  Then the background was machine quilted.
 Another non-fusible piece.
 My last card - fusible applique with very dense quilting.

Lots of satisfaction from these makes!
 I also made a cushion (and, indeed, the cushion pad - the silver lining from finding the large bag of stuffing last week!). for my BiL.   I wanted to include green and gold with a bit of brighter stuff, so came up with this simple pattern which I then quilting in way that was trying to bring out the diagonal pattern.
 Naturally, I couldn't have a week with finishes and no starts, and as the first part of Little Hazel was released by Esther Aliu I decided to start that using some spotty fabric.

Of course, what you shouldn't do is decide that you will invest a very few minutes in starting it, when you are on a deadline to go out to the theatre.

You may find, ahem, that you leave off a crucial marking (in my case, which end of the template was the centre) and end up with more of a flower pixie hat than a flat quilt centre!
Of course, I then had to reinvest extra time to unpick those little seams and to make a properly flat version of it.  This looks much better!

Later today I'll add in the rest of the circle to complete the first step.

Thank you, Esther!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Stand out!

 I've made progress on my 'stand out from the crowd' quilt top.

I had hoped to be quilting it today, but when I went to the place where I *knew* I had a piece of wadding large enough (the quilt top is about 44" square, now that I've put the borders on) I discovered instead a bag of soft toy stuffing!  Doh!

Wadding on order...... but I've started some hand sewing on my applique tree mini quilt instead.
I did go ahead and make the warmers that I planned last week, though.  The rice was the right amount for three warmers with a handful of rice left over for the hens to eat!

I've been working on some fabric postcards too - I hope to finish and photograph them for next week!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Recycling Rice

Anyone else got bowls of raw rice now that the decorations are down?  I'm thinking that anyone who made sock snowmen but wants to store them without attracting mice will be in the same boat as me - with lots of rice on hand!
I think that I'll recycle mine into microwave heat bags.  I don't know if you have a favourite size / weight, but I do!  I make mine with 750g of dry rice, split into three equal 'bays'.  My starting size of fabric is 17" x 11", which I fold in half lengthways and stitch around two sides, before filling in thirds, sewing the top of each 'bay' as I go.
That will keep me out of mischief for a little while - longer if I add a proper covers for them too.  I heat mine for 2 mins 20 seconds in an 800w microwave.  Great for soothing sore joints or warming chilly feet!
My other mini project is a tumblers mini quilt, inspired by my new book and using some of my Christmas present fabric.
I made  this background - tumblers are 2" tall - and eventually ironed it.
Next I sketched a curly tree onto some heat 'n' bond, and ironed it to some pale pink fabric.
Then I had to cut it out.  Time consuming, as I had to do it over a couple of days. 
Now it's ironed onto the background ready to sew.  Hand or machine?  I'm not sure yet!
Hope that you have fun projects to start your new year with!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

They know me so well!

From my sister, a book of little quilts to admire and perhaps emulate, from DD1, a piece of beautiful fabric, from DD2 a packet of bright buttons and from Benta a wonderful zippy pouch!

Thank you, everyone!  Wonderful sewing related gifts - just what I love best!
 And here are a couple of pillowcases that an elf slipped into the stockings this year, at DD1's particular request.
So rather than the cat being out of the bag, the unicorn and penguin are out of the stocking!

Hope that Santa brought you whatever it was you wished for too!

All good wishes, one and all, for a happy and healthy 2016!  See you next year!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Applique all round!

 Always good when I can show someone else's sewing from within the household!

This is the start of an applique cushion cover that DD1 is making at school, but with some homework requirements over the holidays.

So that she could practice sewing round all those curves, I made a companion piece that could also be a cushion front if we wanted it to be.  These circles range from about 3 1/2" diameter to about 1".  I think that they'd be tough to sew around with a zig zag, but at the moment that's what DD1 is planning to do.  I may demonstrate some different ways of finishing them with stitching (like FMQ, which I think would be much easier on those tight curves!).

Of course, DD1 being how she is, we've dived straight in to stitching on her piece - although so far only zig zagging along the straight edges!  I'll just have to see what happens next!

My applique circles?  CD size, so a bit larger, and without bondaweb to stiffen them.  I have made a little progress since last week, but it's not going to be finished by Christmas as I'd expected.  Ten more circles to add before I can start on the quilting.  Too much other life getting in the way!  Still, I have made progress on it. 

Nothing more to say here before the festivities start in earnest, so HAPPY CHRISTMAS and BEST WISHES FOR A FABULOUS 2016!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Small Sewing (and a gripe!)

 This week I've sewn more than I can show - isn't that always the way at Christmas?

As well as this little set of pouch / notebook cover and tissue holder for one of DD1's class mates, I made another 6 'wild women' brooches as teacher presents (and forgot to take a photo before wrapping them up and sending them off - doh!).

I've also been sewing secretly for the family - so no pics until after Christmas!  All good fun, but time consuming.  I'm ready to get stuck into a quilt again now!

My gripe?  Having ordered sprung scissors (yes, thank you for asking, I've found that they are much more comfortable than regular scissors for me) I was somewhat put out that the only way of getting the smaller scissors out of the protective wrapping was by cutting the orange grip loop.  Don't they have any idea who the audience for these scissors are?  It's a bit chicken and egg to say the least.  I'm lucky (DH happy to be my strong hands when I can't do something) but not everyone can rely on there being someone else around to help them.

Come on Fiskars, you can do better than that!

Right, back to festive cheeriness now!  I'm going to do a little work on this 'stand out from the crowd' quilt.  I just need to applique another 21 red circles onto this piece and then decide what borders to add, given that I don't have any more of this fabric available!

The yellow square is the 'stand out from the crowd' focus, of course.

Hope that you have some fun sewing lined up too!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Quick-to-Make Bird Brooch Tutorial

 I have to admit that this is a variation on an idea that I saw in Quilting Arts Magazine last year - but sufficiently different that I feel that I can share it with you!

It's a continuation of a the photos of fabric playing that I've been doing recently - using a leftover 1/2 sheet of printable fabric that I had lying on top of my printer! (Top tip, if you project doesn't take up a whole page of printable fabric, just peel off the part that you've printed on and cut it off, leaving the backing paper complete, and you'll be able to run it through the printer again when you are ready with another idea).

1) Start off with a photo of a bird.  I turned mine into a grey tone photo, and added a coloured border to it, and printed them out at 2" x 3" or so.
 2)  Next add colour back in with Inktense pencils - I had fun inventing my own bird plumage.
 3) Lay the printed sheet onto a piece of felt.  It will only just be visible when you finish, so don't worry too much about the colour, but choose something that won't clash with the next border fabric you choose if possible.

4) Start adding colour and texture with machine stitching - or hand stitching if you prefer.
 5) Carry on building up your stitching.
 6) Keep going until you are happy with the effects!
 7) Now cut the picture apart.  I like the pinking rotary cutter for this as it makes them look like postage stamps.
 8) Lay the pictures onto another piece of backing fabric and cut out with an 1/8" border.  (I put each piece on the fabric with the bottom and left hand sides aligned with fabric edge, and then cut with an extra 1/4" along the top and right hand edges.  Then I can line the piece up in the centre to get the narrow border that I want).
 9) Now lay these pieces onto a piece of coordinating felt and cut the final 1/8" border.  You may choose between straight and wavy cutting on all these edges!
10) Using either a straight stitch or a tiny zig zag stitch, stitch through all the layers near the edge of the printed layer.  It makes an internal 'frame' and attaches all the layers together neatly.

11) Finally, hand sew a brooch back to the backing felt.

12) Admire your finished brooches (probably before wrapping them up as delightful presents for friends and family)!

You could make Christmas themed brooches with robins or reindeer, you can add beads and bling, you can ring the changes to suit what yourself.

Have fun with them!

If you have a few more minutes spare, you might like to make sock snowmen like me and a couple of my gal pals.
Tutorial here - very quick and easy, needing just one sock, three elastic bands, some rice and some felt scraps.