Thursday, 10 April 2014

A Quilted Notebook Cover

A couple of weeks ago I was going to meet up with some online quilting Bee friends for the weekend. We were all very excited and we were going to give our completed quilts to their respective owners. Sadly the day before the shenanigans,  Jen  our dear and generous host fell over whilst buying the food for us. She badly broke her shoulder and has been in a lot of pain since. We will get together another time, but first we had to try and cheer Jen up!! We very swiftly made a small quilted wall hanging -  one block each, in her favourite colours.
Here is mine:

I also made her a little notebook cover. Probably not the smartest idea, as I guess she finds writing very difficult at the moment, but it will keep until she is better.
I quilted it very simply with straight lines on the bottom and zig zags on the top half.
It is so easy to quilt zig zags on polka dot fabric.You literally just join the dots!!

 I appliquéd her initial on the front.

Added the inner sleeves (sorry, forgot to photograph that bit) and the job was done!

I know Jen loved her presents, and we will still get to meet up and swap quilts one day when she is better. This was the first time I had joined a quilting Bee , and I'm so pleased I did. I have made a lot of wonderful friends and tried quilting techniques and block designs that I may not otherwise have tried. A big thanks to our Queen Bee  Maria who put the blocks together and quilted it.
You can see our finished wall hanging on her blog
We couldn't have done it without you Maria!

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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Sewing with Knits

 At the start of the year I said one of my goals for 2014 was to make more of my own clothes. I bought plenty of fabric the other week, so it was definitely time to make a start on my spring and summer wardrobe. The thing is though, 90% of what I wear is made with knitted fabric. So if this goal is to be achieved, I have to embrace sewing with knits!

I made my first foray into the world of knits last summer when I made a T shirt. I followed the Craftsy class Sewing with Knits. It's a great class, which I totally recommend, and I had no problems making my Tshirt at all. The problems were with the fit and my choice of fabric. I now know I don't like viscose jersey. I only like cotton jersey!! Also the scoop neck was too wide and low for my small frame and, to be honest, although I wore it a few times last year, I know it won't be part of my wardrobe this summer.

The fit issue is one I'm going to encounter regularly. I'm a have a very short waist and narrow shoulders  and always end up having to do considerable alteration to any pattern. I decided a few weeks ago that the solution was to learn how to draft my own patterns.
I purchased this book and with the help of my son's girlfriend, I took all the necessary measurements.

Add a roll of craft paper and a curvy roll and I was all set. The book gives very clear instructions on how to draft your own pattern and I soon had a basic T shirt front, back and sleeves.

I know I could have probably ended up at the same place by just drawing round a favourite shirt, but I want to understand the process so I can apply it to more complicated garments.

My first attempt at the sewing didn't go well. I used cheap jersey fabric and my overlocker. Apart from last summer's T shirt, I normally just use my overlocker to neaten seams. I don't really feel in control of it for tricky fabric or tight curves and I ended up getting fabric caught in the seam and chopped into by the blade! It is reparable, but for now it is sulking at the back of a cupboard.

So this is attempt no. 2 and all is going well so far.

I'm using a good quality jersey fabric. I'm also using the overlock stitch on my regular Bernina sewing machine rather than the overlocker. That way I can take it slow and it doesn't cut off the seam allowance, so I can unpick and re-sew if necessary.
It isn't finished yet, so there's plenty of time for more disasters, but Dolly is happy enough modelling it for me tonight. Yes, I've named my dress form Dolly, as in Dolly Daydream, because, you know what? that's all she does all day - day dream! She's been in my craft room about a month now, and she's not lifted a finger to help! - perhaps now she's got some clothes, she'll contribute to the proceedings a bit more
Here's hoping it's me wearing the T shirt soon, not her!

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Friday, 21 March 2014

Orange Peel Cushion Tutorial

Well, today is a very exciting day, as I'm guest blogger over at Simply Solids. I've never been a guest blogger before!!
Justine from Simply Solids sent me a lovely selection of fabrics and I came up with this cushion idea.
It's very easy to make. The orange peel shape leaves are machine appliquéd onto the cushion front, so no curved piecing involved! and it has an envelope back so no zips either!

Do pop over to Simply Solids blog to see the full post. 
You can also download the PDF with full instructions, orange peel template and photo tutorial here
It's a perfect size for using outdoors now the spring-like weather has arrived (along with a good book and a cup of tea, of course!) and as Justine so rightly says - it would make a great Mother's day gift.

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Thursday, 20 March 2014

A Little Paper Piecing

Much as I have really wanted to start some dressmaking with the fabrics I bought and showed you last week, I've been really good and finished off some other projects first.
I have been making paper-pieced birds.

It had seemed such a nice idea at the time, but I had forgotten how long paper piecing takes to do.
Both these birds are from patterns I bought on Craftsy. The songbird in the top photo and the one below, is from the very talented Kristy who blogs at Quiet Play You can find the patterns here and here

I made each pattern twice, one facing each way, and I'm really rather pleased with them! I did question my sanity when I embarked upon that tiny section with the beak in it, but it was actually a lot easier than I imagined. 
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with paper piecing. I love the precision of it all, and I love the process. You know it's going to work so you just sit back and enjoy it, but patterns as detailed as these can mean there is a lot of bulk at the back of some of the seams, and the back of the work just looks so untidy! And it always takes so much longer than regular piecing,…... which I always forget when I start it! I do think they were worth the time though, don't you? 

Once I'd finished them I embroidered a little eye on each bird.

Project done!

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Saturday, 15 March 2014

Springing into Action

Yes, all that gorgeous cherry blossom is in my garden. It's been in flower for the last week - Spring has definitely arrived!
Suddenly, there is so much to do.
I've swapped these

for these

I've been sowing (not sewing!)……..lots of seeds

Sweet peas are a must have flower in my garden each year, soI've been soaking seeds I saved from last years's flowers

and planting them in tall "pots" made from newspaper.

I've been buying potatoes tubers 

and moving the salad leaves that were in the greenhouse all winter to an outside spot.

It's so nice to see the garden swathed in sunshine.
I haven't completely forgotten my sewing though. I've made the quarter square triangles for my quilt.

And guess what! I bought an adjustable dressmaking model !

Sorry about the photo bombing by the cat…..she's yet to learn that life doesn't always revolve around her!
I have wanted one of these for so long, and as making more of my own clothes was one of my New Year resolutions, I decided now was the time to take the plunge. It was quite a long process adjusting it to my measurements, and it still doesn't accurately emulate my really short waist, but I'm hoping it will be a lot of help in getting an accurate fit.
Of course, once I had the model, I needed to buy some fabric to make some clothes with. I took a trip to Leamington Spa as there was supposed to be a very good fabric store there.Well, all I can say is, I was very disappointed. I stopped and bought some lunch and googled fabric shops on my phone. There were 2 more fabric shops in Leamington, so I went off exploring, and I'm so glad I did, as I found this little gem.

and I was thrilled. It has lots of nicely labelled fabric on easily accessible shelves. It has patterns to browse, all the needles, zips etc you could want, and the most friendly and knowledgeable staff I have ever come across. I will be going back!!

I bought some cotton jersey for T shirts and  tops

and some dress fabric.

I'm so thrilled with that top one. I didn't see it until the last minute when I was actually at the counter about to pay. It just happened to have a pink in it that I knew instantly would be a perfect match for a jacket I have.
As soon as I got home I draped it on my dress from, with the jacket on top.

See how good that match is?

I have a wedding to go to in May, and if I can just make a dress, that fits…., that I like……… then that wedding will be sorted!
It's a good job I got all those seeds sOwn, because I think it's back to the sEwing  now!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Block Buster Sunday #5 The X Block

The block I've been playing with today is nice and easy, and I've even allowed for trimming the quarter square units in my fabric measurements, so you don't even have to be that accurate whilst making them….. perfect for a quiet Sunday.
And yes, I've chosen some VERY pink fabric. Well, to be honest, it's not only quiet round here, it's also wet and very grey, so I had to bring some brightness into the day somehow!!
I've made a 12" block, as I have plans for this little baby, but as usual I've provided cutting instructions for other sizes too. Note that the cutting instructions are for TWO blocks, so you don't have any wastage

For two 6" finished blocks you need:
6     3 1/2" squares of  fabric A
6     3 1/2" squares of  fabric B
8     2 1/2" squares of  fabric C

For two 9" finished blocks you need:
6     4 1/2" squares of  fabric A
6     4 1/2" squares of  fabric B
8     3 1/2" squares of  fabric C

For two 12" finished blocks you need:
6     5 1/2" squares of  fabric A
6     5 1/2" squares of  fabric B
8     4 1/2" squares of  fabric C

Pair each colour A square with a colour B square.Place one on top of the other, right sides together and draw a diagonal line from one corner o the opposite corner. Sew a seam 1/4" away from the drawn line on either side.

Rotary cut along the pencil line to create 2 half square triangle units.

Press open with the seam allowance pressed to the dark side.

Place the 2 half square triangle units right sides together so that the dark right side of one is facing the light right side of the other. Draw a diagonal pencil line as you did before.
Sew 1/4" away from the line on either side.

Cut along the pencil line.

Press each unit open.

Trim each unit to the same size as the colour C squares. For accurate trimming make sure that the diagonal like on your ruler is aligned with the diagonal seam on your unit.

Lay out the sections of your block as shown.

Sew the pieces in each row together.

Press seams towards Fabric C

Sew the rows together to complete the block.

I hope you liked my choice of block for today.
I'm going to make a baby quilt using this block and I deliberately chose solids as I want to practice some free motion quilting on this design.
What fabric would you choose to make this block?

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Friday, 21 February 2014

Bunting for Baby Connie

Ten days ago a very precious baby was born into our family - Connie Hope. Her heart had not grown properly and her young parents knew there was a long road ahead of them. Despite being shifted from one hospital to another, and waiting a long time for the first operation, this little girl had her first major heart surgery yesterday, and all went as planned.
As soon as she was born, I set to work making some bunting for her. I pulled all my favourite organic fabrics and chose the colours I knew her Mum and Dad would love. Fortunately, when I saw them at Christmas, they had told me the colours of the nursery, so I knew which ones to pick. I didn't have the right organic solid for the lettering, so I had to choose some Sketch that went well. A little disappointing for me, I would have loved it to be entirely organic, but that will be the very last thing on their minds right now!
I had a fun day cutting and fusing the letters.

Sewing them in place with a zig zag stitch

and adding the tape.

I made two separate strings as Constance is so much longer than Hope, and it just wouldn't balance well if I joined it all together.

I also made the strings ridiculously long !!

They will spend the next month in a guest room provided by the hospital, whilst little Connie recovers in intensive care. I'm guessing it's not a very homely looking place, so this is something to brighten the room and remind them that she is not far away. When they get home, they can shorten the ties to suit wherever they hang it.
This little girl still has a long road ahead of her, but hopefully I'm going to be able to make a lot more items for her in the future.
I have a tutorial for making the bunting here


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