It’s a great British tradition to complain about the weather and in January and February this year there was plenty to complain about. One of my favourite ways to keep reasonably fit is to walk in the glorious countryside around here. This January I regularly found myself paddling or sinking to my ankles in mud. In February it was the turn ‘The Beast from the East’ and storm Emma and general biting cold winds that upset us so much.
But – and it’s a very positive but – there was no golf, no gardening and so – there was a lot of sewing time.
Enough time to finish Olivia’s just-about-begun quilt, a story cushion for her birthday and a story cushion for Heidi just so that she didn’t feel left out.
And enough time for a few little projects along the way. The red scraps made their annual appearance just before Valentine’s day.
Olivia’s quilt had been an embarrassingly long time in the making. I was in the middle of making Dougie’s Quilt when we went on one of our long trips to Spain and I decided that while we were away I would hand appliqué the elephant patches. So far so good.
Well when we got back it was summer. Summer = golf + gardening = very little sewing. Then of course came the autumn and it was all stops out to finish Dougie’s quilt in time for Christmas. So the little elephant quilt was the no.1 priority for January. It was easy to piece together with yellow, grey and white patches to match her bedroom.
It needed a little bit of planning to get the balance right before piecing and once that was done
the next step was simple and speedy and I soon had the batting and the yellow and white pin-spot backing together and ready to quilt.
I wanted a quilting design to fit in the yellow, white and grey squares, the elephant squares would just have simple outlines. Here’s what I call ‘the pink claw of quilting’. My quilting gloves are actually cotton gardening gloves that have a fantastic bobbly surface perfect for ‘getting a grip’!
Now the next bit is worth posting, I’ll know where to find it rather than having to think really hard to remember it. I don’t have any idea why, but the sequence for binding around the corners just won’t lodge itself in my brain. So here it is – in pictures.
and in words:
having pressed a diagonal fold at the beginning of the binding (see last photo) sew the double thickness binding strip leaving a 5cm tail at the start, using a quarter-inch seam
stop a quarter-inch from the corner, secure and break thread
fold the binding strip 90º to the right
fold the binding strip back on itself level with the edge of the quilt.
sew across the folded edge stopping and turning the corner a quarter-inch from the edge. Do this on all corners
trim and tuck the end of the binding inside the folded tail before sewing the last 5 cms.
The corners turn back really nicely and it’s on to my favourite bit, sitting quietly folding the binding over and hand stitching to finish the quilt.
I hope Olivia enjoys her quilt, if she’s like Dougie and Heidi it will become her relaxing quilt probably becoming part of the soft furnishings of the teepee we gave her for Christmas – which leads nicely on to the next project … Story cushions’ But that’s for another day.
In SeptemberDougie started school, we did feel lucky to be involved in his first few days. With staggered starts to school there were days at the very beginning of term when we had him to ourselves and went off to visit gardens and farms and be given the ‘Dougie’s guided tour of Bristol Zoo’. He was a very bossy guide! We took him into his fabulous, ultra-modern, beautifully equipped ‘learning zone’ (previously known as a classroom) at the start of sessions and picked him up at the end.
At the beginning of December he turned five.
That’s FIVE years old. Five birthdays.
Five parties, five photographs!
It was high time that I finished the quilt I had begun in January and that I should give it to him at Christmas. The idea and materials for the quilt went back to a visit to the annual, autumn West of England Quilt Show with my daughter. We spotted this pattern and as it was going to be my first big appliqué project I was more than happy for some help. This was going to be quite an undertaking.
I was keen to get started but there was Christmas sewing in the pipeline so it wasn’t until January that I tentatively began cutting the pieces for the vehicles. My plan was cut and prep in the evenings while watching TV. So I began to trace shapes on to the freezer paper and rough cut them and I could very quickly have been drowning in tiny pieces of paper. The easy solution was an envelope for each vehicle. I have to admit that I still struggle with the orientation when I’m doing this job and it didn’t help that each row of vehicles changed direction.
Eventually I had chosen and cut the fabric pieces for the first two vehicles and a set of traffic lights and had wisely made the decision
to raw edge appliqué the pieces. The fabric edges should rough up quite nicely with wear.
I was immediately pleased that I had invested in this ‘Steam-A-Seam’ freezer paper. Pieces can be moved around, after the backing has been removed, which made life a lot easier and meant less likelihood of multiple annoying and time-consuming mistakes! I’d definitely use it again for a similar project. Bit more expensive but well worth it.
It was really enjoyable seeing each vehicle coming together and every bit of progress was very satisfying but there were things about my organisation that would make working easier.
There were a lot of fabrics lying around and I seemed to spend a lot of time sorting through them making sure I had a good variety of colours and patterns so eventually I made a washing line of fabrics to choose from. It did make that part easier and speedier.
Since this was my first big appliqué project I decided to match my thread to the fabric (less obvious wobbly sewing of tiny parts was called for) so this meant numerous reels and matching spools. There were a lot of them and they were messy and easily knocked off the table to roll around the floor and come undone.
Another of my pastimes came in handy here. Golf tees are now my way of keeping cotton reels and spools together, it works really well!
Dougie’s first visit during the early stages of making threw up a glaring omission to the range of vehicles. There was NO fire engine. Not a fire truck, nothing with a tower ladder, a turntable ladder, with a hydraulic platform or stabilisers, no airport crash tender. No fire fighting apparatus what-so-ever. This was a BIG omission and had to be rectified. A fire engine was quickly designed in the style of the other vehicles, simple it may be, but Dougie, a four year old expert in rescue vehicles was satisfied!
There were times when progress was painfully slow, there were other, smaller projects to fit in sometimes. We, as usual, went off on our travels on occasion, Spain, Turkey, New York and Anglesey were somehow fitted into the itinerary in 2017. The garden, my other passion, could not be put on hold. So there were times when it was not just slow.
On one of our visits to Bristol Dougie asked: ‘Nain, how’s my chillax quilt getting on?’ Chillax quilt! He cracks me up, he loves to have a quilt when he has a relaxing time watching TV or just chilling on the couch, hence the ‘chillax’, he’s been using one that me and my daughter made together a few years ago but couldn’t wait to have one of his own.
On one of their visits here Dougie asked; ‘Nain, how’s my quilt coming on? Would you like me to help you?’ We did some cutting out together but he soon decided I could manage without him! Shame it wasn’t more straightforward really.
Inevitablely mistakes were made. Some were easily put right possible to adjust. But then there were others that had just gone too far and just had to be left as they were.
A car going in the wrong direction, for example, just has to become ‘Spot the silly driver!’.
At long last, some time in November the quilt top was finished, 72 vehicles, at least 6 pieces each, signage and an additional two rows of traffic light spots trimmed and ready to sandwich.
I have to say here that I am so pleased to have Aberdashery back, under new management and with quality stock growing back to capacity. I’ll always miss Jane for her good advice and easy manner but it is a consolation that the business survives. The town somehow didn’t seem complete to me, and many others, without that very special shop.
So I was able to just go into town and buy wadding and backing quickly and easily, no driving anywhere or waiting for delivery. Simples.
On to the quilting. Most of all it had to be quick and by definition, simple, I had just a couple of weeks for quilting and binding, while also continuing with all of the other million Christmas preparations that don’t seem to come to an end until the mince pie, carrot and Santa’s sherry are put ready on Christmas Eve.
So it was straight lines with squared looping that really didn’t take very long at all. My only worry now was the red and white striped fabric I had chosen for the backing. I had pre-washed it and the water was a bit pink. Would it run on to the white quilt top? I think I put about 5 colour catchers into the washing machine, just in case the colour ran. It didn’t, phew!
We had a lovely Christmas with our Aberystwyth family but it was the in-laws turn to have the Bristol family, so on the day after Boxing day we set off to have a toned-down second Christmas in Bristol. The present opening was as exciting as ever and I decided to leave the quilt until late in the day.
Every moment spent on that quilt was worth it when Dougie opened it up. his face was a picture and he lay down and hugged it. He had known it was coming sometime but he loved the surprise of actually having it.
It was a little while before he got up and began to examine the quilt and look at the vehicles and comment. He loved it and he said ‘I didn’t know Nain, I didn’t know.’
He examined it carefully and got wrapped up in his old favourite blanket and his new quilt before going off to enjoy playing with all the new toys with his sister and cousin.
When bedtime came, with a full house and a necessary sleepover in his sister’s room Dougie hunkered down with his makeshift bed half in and half out of Heidi’s teepee (last year’s Christmas present), snug and comfy, and with his Furby, under his new quilt.
Over the next couple of days I tried unsuccessfully to get a picture of the cousins together and all looking at the camera at the same time! Unfortunately it turned out to be a bit like herding cats!
But we had a great time together. Oh and by the way, it was ‘year of the dolls house’ for the girls.
Kits have never really been a choice for my sewing projects. I suppose somewhere deep in my psyche using a kit is ‘cheating’. I certainly have always gone through the agony and ecstasy that is the whole process of design, make, review.
Until November 2015 that is. The West of England Quilting and Textile Show was held in the University of the West of England; the University where my daughter studied and now lives a stones throw away from. It would have been rude to ignore it!
There were some fabulous quilts on show
and the stalls were just too tempting by far! Shows like this can make a serious dent in my bank account.
I bought some kits.
First up were the Advent Calendars. We had been thinking about them. Thinking about them; looking at them on Pinterest; imagining how they would fit into our Christmas decor and just how we wanted them to be used. There certainly were plenty of kits on offer at the show and after walking around looking, eating lunch, discussing the pros and cons we decided that we would indeed go with the kit option. One for each of the three little ones in the family.
We chose two panel calendars with pockets, a decorated tree and a Christmas village scene. The third one would be a set of 24 Scandi style mini Christmas stockings. All of the kits we chose were from Makower, they have a huge choice.
We knew that the calendars would have to wait for Christmas 2016 to make their debut, there were other projects in the pipeline for 2015.
Christmas came and went 2016 just whizzed by and suddenly I had a very small window of time slotted in between returning from Spain at the beginning of November and the long-awaited and hugely anticipated trip to New York on November 22nd.
I’d made a promise so the pressure was on. The cutting began, the little pockets were soon made up and sewn on to the background, the sandwich was made up and backed with Christmas fabric from Aberdashery. Oh, and there were loops to add along the top edge to hang the calendars on a length of dowel.
I decided a little bit of quilting was needed and just outlined some of the shapes on the panels. The final job was to add a little bit of Christmas sparkle.This came in the form of Pinflair Glitter Wands in gold, red and green. They are available in good craft shops or from numerous online outlets.
Once the panel advent calendars were complete it was on to the Christmas stockings. These were really simple. cut them out, sew them together, snip the curves, turn and press, make a loop for hanging from red ribbon and sew that into a top seam. Done!
I chose a red satin cord to hang the Advent stockings.
All that remained was to pass on the two panel calendars to my daughter and the stockings to my son … and just for this year I added the gifts to put inside. I like to think of them becoming part of the Christmas tradition and excitement in both houses as the children grow.
All in all I was fairly impressed by these kits they are quick and easy, there were printed instructions on the panels and I have since found there a You Tube videos if you should need them. And I still felt a creative buzz making them.
I was also taken by some of the small quilt kits at the show and I came away with two of those as well. I’ve just started on one of them so watch this space!
With just a week’s notice my son invited me to go to his partner’s baby shower. The second thought to cross my mind (the first, ‘Ooh, lovely’) was to wish I hadn’t rushed to give them the Retro Orchard Puff Quilt!
But it was only a fleeting thought and based only on the time remaining to complete a gift to give on the day. I had a few ideas, one of them being the Nappy Stack I’d seen on Pinterest. So I set about searching. I found lots of lovely possible gifts but no sign of the very one I wanted.
It took just a little while for the light to dawn and for me to realise the language barrier issue! For Nappy Stack read Diaper Stack. Of course! As soon as I re-worded my search there it was. And, hey presto one click and I was on the Sew 4 Home site. You can sign up for a weekly email from Sew 4 Home and I remembered that was where I actually first saw this. There are some great projects on the site and you can pin direct from the email link so it’s easy to keep the projects you like the look of.
This one caught my eye initially because grey and yellow are the nursery colours. As it happens I’ve been stashing away a little collection of yellows and greys ready for a quilt. I chose some Michael Miller ‘Here Kitty Cat’ fabric and some Riley Blake grey and white chevrons. I also think it’a a pretty nifty idea and much nicer than just having packs of nappies hanging around the nursery. I’m a sucker for idiosyncratic storage.
So, here is all the fabric cut and ready to sew. The instructions on the Sew 4 Home tutorial are really clear and every step is accompanied by a clear photograph. Excellent! They also add links to technique tutorials like sewing curves and making piping. Useful if you come across things you haven’t done before.
Basically the stack is made in two parts: the top hanger cover and the bottom sack. There are some fiddly bits, like the opening for the hanger hook in the top section, and of course, that piping.
The binding might have been a bit of a fiddle too but for my recently purchased Estone biased binding makers. This was the first chance I’d had to have a go with one of these and although the pattern didn’t call for bias it was magic for folding the binding evenly. Cheap as chips at £4.20 for a set of 4 sizes! You push your binding strip through and press it as it comes out folded at the other end. No more burned fingers!Here’s the main body part with the binding sewn on and the pockets in place.And here’s the top part with the hanger inside.And here’s the nappy stack complete with nappies, wipes and creams in the pockets.
Oh! Just one other thing. You will need a child’s, preferably wooden, coathanger. I didn’t have any so it was a case of thank goodness for Amazon and next day delivery, we have a handy family subscription to Prime. Living out in the sticks brings shopping challenges so it’s worth having. Who would ever have imagined there is somewhere called ‘Hangerworld‘?
Nonnie had organised a lovely baby shower for her sister. And there was an amazing cake made by her sister-in -law. It made me giggle.
Here is the link to the tutorial on Sew 4 Home.I know now exactly where to find it. I’m going to need it, I’ve already started a second one at the request of my daughter.
Here is the second Nappy Stack. Made with two fabrics from the lovely Nature Trail collection by Bethan Janine for
Dashwood Studios. They consistently come up with fabrics I adore, in colours that just make my mouth water.
And a pic of the binding in the making. Next time I do it I’ll add a decent sequence.
Please leave a comment, it’s good to know there’s someone out there!
The first ever Puff quilt I made was for my own first baby well over
30 years ago. We had a crib that had been in the family for many years and I wanted to update it. I have no idea now where the original idea came from but I obviously liked the look of it. I still do. The quilt was used for both of my children and for my nephew and niece when they took up the family crib.
Then when my daughter was expecting her first baby a puff quilt was the first thing she asked me to make and we chose fabrics to match the colours of his nursery. It was one of the first things I made on my return to sewing. Very fitting I think!
Well now that my son and his partner are expecting their first baby, our third grandchild, I thought I would make this a bit of a tradition. I’m sure I can rely on my daughter to carry it on! This time we know we’re waiting for a little girl and I chose a favourite fabric from my stash. I’m often inspired designs from Dashwood Studiosand like all ‘fabricologists’ I just occasionally,sometimes buy fabric and wait for the right project. That was the case with Retro Orchard by Wendy Kendall, it was a 2014 collection so I’ve had it a while.
I added a hot pink pin spot for my backing fabric to the collection..
There are so many great tutorials on Pinterest, (here’s a link)I’m not going to add to them, but I’ll just share the general process.
I’m in the habit of keeping a (very scrappy) journal of my makes so it was easy to decide on the size. 8 x 12 puffs, with each puff being cut to 3.5 inches. I used an old white cotton sheet for the back of the puffs, making each backing square 0.5 inch smaller than the tops. I am still cutting my way through sheets inherited from my mum and mum-in-law, it will be the end of an era when I’ve used them all up, maybe some of mine will be ready for recycling by the time they are. Never throw away a cotton sheet.
So I started my 96 puffs, sewing by day and stuffing and pinning watching TV in the evenings. Some was done in Mel’s sewing class and some at home.
The pile grew quickly and soon I had a bag-full waiting to have their fourth side sewn and be joined together. I had to keep reminding myself to make the seam less than a quarter-inch.
I decided the design should have the four prints running in diagonal lines and began sewing the puffs together in four squares using a quarter-inch seam. This should have meant that the original seams wouldn’t show but the puffiness makes it difficult and many a seam had to be re-done and I had a few broken fingernails – don’t ask!
Pretty soon there were 12 rows and 8 columns all sewn together and then there was a bit more tidying up of seams before cutting the backing and making the binding. For my last puff quilt I wrapped the backing round to self bind but this time I decided on a separate binding. I used the recently learned method of turning the corner.
Now this is worth a tutorial so next time I do it I’ll make one. It’s a method that makes a lovely neat mitre easily!
I wanted to secure the puffs to the backing but I’ve never found a way to keep the joined puffs perfectly square so stitching the ditch would be a hideous messy, lumpy, bumpy business so I hand sewed them together by just catching through the layers in between alternating puffs and making little four -petaled daisy shapes.It’s a great size for a crib, pram or pushchair and is comfy enough for a newborn to lie on for floor time. Here’s a very new Dougie on his.
I could think of uses for it rolled too.
It’s an easy make, comfy and cosy, and could be any size. I hope I get the opportunity to make more!
Exactly a year ago last week, February half term, me and my sister and our sisters-in-law met up for a girls day out in the lovely little seaside town of Aberdovey.
We drank coffee and talked; we
walked along the sea front and talked; we ate lunch in one of the pubs along the sea front …
and talked and browsed every one of the little shops and talked!
In one shop we talked about peg bags, well the conversation had to have a few mmmm….. exciting topics, didn’t it? There were some pretty ones there and my sister-in-law commented that she needed a new peg bag. Well you can probably imagine the outcome. I, of course, said ‘Don’t buy one, I’ll make one’. Sister-in-law 2 says ‘I’d like one too.’ Not a problem. Well, such an easy thing to make! I knew I’d be making at least 3. And thinking about it I needed one as well. Make that two, our caravan peg bag has seen better days.
I love the vintage shoulder bag one from Marmalade Rose blogspot; the washing line appliqué from ‘Aiming for swan like’ really appealed to me and the button hanging idea from ‘Love me sew’ got me thinking about alternatives to coat hangers.The Cath Kidston bird house was one of the commercial ones I thought was fun.
I was very dedicated to the idea of making them; I sourced the right sized hangers but never quite got around to ordering them; I became extraordinarily interested in examining them whenever I saw one in a shop and I contemplated how I wanted them to hang.
Well I’m pleased to say that the planning was worth it and at last I have a design that I really like and that is easy to make and that has a hanging system that I’m really pleased with. The trigger hook means that the bag doesn’t come off the washing line no matter how hard the wind blows, and it can blow here on the West Wales coast!
I bought two different types of hooks, the round ended ones are the best.
The Prototype:Making the front. The opening is just the right size and in just the right place.
Making the front.
I bought a broom handle and found trigger hooks in the farmers stores, there were no eyelets there so I turned to trusty Charlie’s Stores. I did get Jeff to cut the broom handle into sections for ease and speed and when the sewing was done to help screw the eyelets in. The compressed wooden broom handles are extraordinarily tough!
Here is the first finished peg bag.
The only adjustment to the design was to shave a quarter of an inch off the dowel. I’ve made all the bags I’d planned and they have been quick and easy.
If you are in need of a new peg bag and would like to make this one I’ve added a tutorial here.
I do love our golf course, it’s a great course and the views are stunning. I really am still determined to get to grips with this challenging, frustrating and totally stimulating game but at this time of year with the north wind blowing straight off Cardigan Bay sewing is definitely my preferred option.
Jeff, on the other hand only needs a gap in the clouds and a slight lull in the wind and he heads off kitted out in thermals and with waterproofs at the ready.
And now with the latest little creation from my sewing machine.
Jeff had the idea for a micro fibre ball cleaner but I knew there would be some golf themed fabric out there. There is!
Our first attempt was a pocket with a sealed end, but one muddy outing on the course highlighted a fault. The pocket quickly became a pocketful of mud! Type 2 is open ended and it works perfectly well.
Easy to make just a tube of micro fibre inside a tube of golf-themed cotton (so far I have two designs) with tidily bound ends.
Quick to make with micro fibre fluff being the only problem, it was everywhere; all over my clothes and my sewing table and under the plate on my machine needed careful brushing.
But on the course it’s great, fits in your pocket and is much easier than the traditional towel hanging from the bag and getting in the way.
That’s my Clover mini iron in the first pic. A thoughtful present from my son (prompted, I’m sure my my equally thoughtful, quilting, daughter. I love it and recommend its time-saving simplicity.
Or so I’m told….. I’m sure I’ll get to try it out soon.
Whenever I set out to realise one of my ideas I find myself thinking back to Design Technology staff meetings at school! Our talented curriculum leader, Martha, put us through our paces thinking through the design, make, review process. Well, whenever I make my ‘prototype’ there is always plenty to think about in the review part of the proceedings! There certainly was for this little fabric container … or pot …. or box. I’m not really sure what to call it. Ideas on a postcard (or a comment here) please.
When I saw ‘Chicken and Egg’ in Aberdashery I knew what I wanted to make with it right away. I’d been planning some little round containers for a while. Initially the containers in my mind’s eye had turn down tops not lids but then the lid popped into my thoughts. I think I’ll still make a lidless round one, the rectangular ones I made are very versatile and I like them a lot.
Here are my choices from ‘Chicken and Egg’ in the Henley Studio Collection by Makower, lots more lovelies in the collection. Take a peek. These three were obvious choices for me, I’m besotted by the aqua and red combination and have to stop myself choosing it for everything I make. I love the fabric design and I thought the quilting should be kept simple and just let the design speak for itself. So my straight line practise came in useful.
I hope that I can get around to making the improved version soon but at this time of year, well gardening, golfing and galivanting around the countryside seem to be higher on the agenda. Among my improvements will be making the lid slightly larger. I did make the diameter slightly bigger but not quite enough for the lid to just drop on.
There are other modifications too and as I make the new improved model I’ll have another go at writing a tutorial. All I need is a horrible wet useful rainy sewingday. Shouldn’t be too long before one of those here in West Wales!
Eric Carle what did you do? Well apart from inspiring generations of children to read and thousands of art projects in infant and nursery classes everywhere that is. I particularly enjoyed entertaining and teaching my classes and my own children with what is probably the most popular of his books ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ The deceptively simple illustrations are charming as well as educational and the book always contributed to mini-beast science projects.
Well this particular version of Eric Carle’s iconic illustration started me on a journey that is still in its very early stages. When the caterpillar and butterfly panels first caught my eye I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I saw a cushion with a pocket for a story book. The butterfly would be stitched with coloured thread that would raise areas and make it tactile as well as visual.
There was only one problem and it was quite a big one! I’d never done anything like it and I didn’t really know where to start. I really had no idea how over ambitious all this was! The next part is a bit of a blur really. I know I had visited Yarnia and I know that Trish had told me about their classes. I had a look at them on the web. I saw Kate’s ‘Free Motion Quilting’ workshop. I’d never heard of ‘free motion quilting’ so back onto the internet. WOW! This was just it!
It didn’t take me long to sign up for the course and although that first day was a total mystery (see here) to me I have persevered through many trials and tribulations; a new and rather splendid sewing machine; an online course (sadly I have moved too far away from Kate to continue under her tutelage) and lots of other sewing projects; classes with Mel since our move to Aberystwyth and finally I felt ready to have a go at my story cushion.
So I bought some extra small caterpillar fabric from Little Fabric Bazaar and this just-right multicoloured quilting thread from Aberdashery I quilted the butterfly and the caterpillar and used the original polyester wadding since I’m an expert quite a bit better now. It does give a bit more ‘oomph’ and should be used for baby items because it is more breathable.
I sliced the caterpillar side in half – eek – and added the fabric for the pocket.
Next I quilted the surrounding white fabric. I have to give some credit now to Lori Kennedy at the Inbox Jaunt whose amazingly generous blog has inspired me. Every single week she posts an FMQ tutorial. Her designs are fun, non-traditional in many ways and really appeal to me. I have watched and learned (and will continue to) and have finally felt confident enough to have a go at my own.
So quilted caterpillars for the caterpillar sideAnd in collaboration with my daughter, Bethan, butterflies for the butterfly sideThis has been a long time as a WIP (work in progress) in my cupboard but it has been so much more. It has driven my progress for the past year, nagging at me quietly to keep on. The first class I did with Kate took me back to work with her on my first attempts at patchwork which in its turn grew my fabric obsession and reignited the interest I had in sewing in my younger years.
Stemming from all that has been this blog and so a wealth of things to do with the time I gained from retirement.
So thank you Eric Carle and thank you Hungry Caterpillar and thank you all the people in-between. I’m enjoying every moment of it. I hope Dougie will enjoy many a story comfy with his cushion!
When I made my much needed new knitting needle roll (original post here)
I did say I didn’t think it would be the only one I made. I didn’t have to be psychic to know that my daughter would be a very willing recipient of her own ‘nice needle’ roll but when my sister also put in a subtle request I thought it was time I got sewing. Well that was back at the beginning of February and my daughter has been waiting a while so I thought I’d crack on before the weather (hopefully) warms up.
I went into Aberdashery with a particular range of fabrics in mind but, not unusually, something else caught my eye. These fabrics
from Hantex Art Gallery ‘Indian Summer’ range by Sarah Watson are beautiful and such great quality. I took a look at the whole range on the Hantex website (take a peek) and fabric love kicked in and sent my brain into overdrive thinking of all the possibilities.
Back to ‘Nice Needles’ I added a couple of pieces from my stash, including a favourite Kaffe Fassett that echoes my sisters birthday quilt, and got stuck in. I hadn’t written any notes when I made the original so the process was down to measuring up, making it up and tweaking it up, but this time I did make notes and have a tutorial here.
I thought my original was a bit too bulky so this time I chose cotton domette (recommended by Jane at Aberdashery) as a wadding and it is just the right weight. I’d choose it again for cushions, bags etc.
I quilted using the eggy loopy and the heart border stitches from my Pfaff machine quilting stitch menu for ease and speed and then free stitched ‘love knitting’ along the outer flap edge.
I used almost the same pocket layout as for the first ‘Nice Needles’ with three levels of pockets. The top layer has equal sized pockets for pairs of needles; the second has one wider pocket in the centre and the third and shortest row has mainly wider pockets to fit a variety of tools. The only difference is two slightly wider pockets in the top level to accommodate the really fat sized needles.
I debated lots of options for fastenings but my abiding love of buttons and my new-found love of making buttonholes won out.
When we moved house I found a collection of earrings from Bethan’s teenage years so I decided to incorporate some in decorating her needle roll. I can only hope she had no plans to return to wearing them!
buttons and more
I stitched a length of the tape measure ribbon along the inside.
It’s in 10 centimetre repeats so that it can be a useful tape measure.
I loved the balconette bra design when I first saw it but didn’t buy it right away, when I did finally buy (from the Little Fabric Bazaar) it I had no immediate plans for it then when I was planning a trip I decided to make some lingerie bags.
I decided on three designs for the bags, first of all the tried and trusted little caddy bag, then an easy drawstring bag. Lastly I decided to design an envelope style bag.
I’ve made so many of the caddy bags and I’m sure I’ll make many more. This time I made the side pockets a bit deeper and added a button to the top of each pocket.
The drawstring bag is simple and straight forward with the balconette fabric as the main with the cream floral as a border and an aqua solid from my stash as the drawstring pocket (much the easiest way to add the drawstring).
The envelope style bag was just an idea that I enjoyed working out. I was happy with the result and can see it working in different sizes for a number of uses.
It’s lined with the floral and padded with a thin wadding so it feels lovely. With my old machine I would think hard about making buttonholes but with my lovely new Pfaff it’s so easy I don’t have to think about it at all. Buttons are no longer just for decoration.
I think I’ll be making lots more of this style too so I’ve written out the how to here.
So a nice little set of bags and an appropriate post for this week!
This week Jenna sent me a picture of her envelope bag made using the tutorial. Here it is. I’m thrilled to have one of my tutorials tried and tested.I love the fabric choices and it’s beautifully made. I know Jenna is giving it to a friend. I’d love it as a gift, hope she does too!
I love things to be organised and right now I’m on a bit of a mission to create customised organisation around the house. This week I turned my attention to the little drawer beside my bed. In there are lotions and potions, some bedside necessities; earphones and little book light for sleepless nights; a little supply of very rarely needed night-time medication for just in case (just in case of indigestion, allergy, headache or backache, just in case I don’t want to get out of bed to go looking), and lastly the velux blind remote control so that when I eventually decide morning has arrived I can let the light in without actually getting up. I know exactly what’s in there but I always seem to be scrabbling about to find the very thing I want. So I decided to divide it up and make it easy to lift sections out.
I could have searched around and maybe found some plastic boxes or trays but what fun would that be? What better than to indulge my fabric passion than to sew some made to measure little fabric baskets. A little bit of mathematics and I’d worked out that five 6″ x 4″ baskets would fit to perfection.
I love this Makower Henna collection by Beth Studely, I’d seen it here and there and the colours really appealed to me and seeing it in the Little Fabric Bazaar on Facebook was a sign that it was meant to be mine.
Here’s how I made them.
For each basket choose an inner and an outer fabric. From each fabric cut:
* One 6.5″ x 4.5″ rectangle (base)
* Two 4.5″ x 3′ and Two 6.5″ x 3″ rectangles (sides)
* Cut the same from your chosen wadding
* One 20.5″ x 2″ strip for binding
Work first with the fabric for the inside. Using quarter inch seams throughout sew the four sides edge to edge, alternate long and short pieces, and then join them end to end to make the four sides. Sew the base in place manipulating the turns carefully with the needle down and the presser foot up to get perfect corners. Check that the corners before trimming the points. For the out outside of the basket lay the wadding on the fabric and sew together in the same way.
Place the inner basket inside the outer basket.
Prepare the binding by pressing a quarter inch turnover at one end of the strip and then pressing in half lengthwise.
With the open edge of the strip edge to edge along the top of the basket sew in place making sure to tuck the unpressed end inside the pressed end.
Turn the binding over the top edge and pin in place. You can hand sew this in place but I wanted to have a go at invisibly stitching the outside edge so I stitched in the ditch between the binding and the main fabric and I was pleased with the result. The inside seam looks tidy and it was very much quicker than hand stitching. Very useful on some things but I would definitely still hand finish something like a quilt.
So a very quick make and I soon had the five to fit perfectly in my drawer and it is so tidy and organised, I think I’ll be able to find everything easily and it looks so much more attractive than plastic boxes.
Oh! I did find the edges are much sharper for a quick press in place once the basket is finished. You could use a plastic stiffener instead of wadding for a firmer shape.
As an extra I made two more but made the sides of the baskets 1.5″ higher and turned the tops over. I like these very much and will definitely be making some bigger ones in my quest for organisation perfection!
Since making my very first Little Caddy Bag with Mel I’ve made lots of them. She said I would. I had a grand plan of making a stock to have to give as presents but I keep giving them to friends and family as soon as they are finished! Love making them, love giving gifts so win, win really!
Well they are easy to make and I want to have a go at writing a proper tutorial on here, so here’s my first try. I’ve played around with writing little instructions for blocks and the like but nothing really serious. Many thanks to Mel. So here goes. If anyone does read and use the tutorial please leave a comment so that I know. Thanks.
Little Caddy Bag Tutorial
Materials Main Fabric A for the sides and the base and pocket linings.
Fabric B for the pockets .
Binding fabric, can be different or fabric A or B.
1.5 metres of cord
Fabric A Four 6.5″ x 11.5″ rectangles for the sides. Five 6.5″ squares for the pocket linings.
Fabric B Four 6.5″squares for the pocket fronts
Lining Four 6.5″ x 11.5″ rectangles. One 6.5″ square
Binding Two 2″ x 12.5″ strips Two 2″ x 6.5″ strips
Wadding Five 6.5″ squares
FirstMake up the pockets
Use a quarter-inch seam throughout unless stated otherwise.
Click on the photos for a larger view First make four sandwiches with squares of fabric A, fabric B and wadding. Sew as close to the edge as you can. Take the four shorter binding strips and fold and press in half lengthwise with the right side showing. Sew the open sides of the folded strip to the top of pocket. Fold the binding strip over the top of the pocket and hand sew in place. You can choose to machine sew the binding but I prefer the invisible look and it only takes minutes.
Next sew the four pockets to the bottom of each of the fabric A rectangles. The next step is the most important of the whole bag.
When preparing to join the four side make sure that the bindings of the pockets line up perfectly and pin in place. You need to have a clear line around the top of the pockets for a professional finish. If the tops or bottoms don’t line up just don’t worry about it, you can adjust later. Once you have joined all four sides sew into a tube.
Make the base of the bag with just a square each of fabric A and wadding.
Sewing the bottom into the tube is tricky but just go for it. Turn the tube inside out, align one side of the base square with one side of the tube making sure that the needle is down as you finish. Lift your presser foot and manipulate into place for the second side. Do this for each of the four sides. When you’ve done that turn to the right side and check that you have caught the corners and none of the pocket seams are showing. Don’t worry if they are just go over them again – this will be hidden under the lining!
Make the lining by joining the rectangles and sewing the base in place in the same way.
Before dropping the lining into the bag I’ve found it easiest to press the seam around the top of each section. Pin the lining and bag together around the top before sewing as close to the edge as possible.
Now you need to make the pocket for the drawstring to run through. Take the two 12.5″ strips and press a quarter-inch hem along all four edges then pin each strip about an inch from the top of the bag and leaving gaps in between for threading and drawing the cord. Sew around, again as close to the edge as you can and taking care not to sew through any other parts of the bag.
The only thing left to do is to thread the drawstring through. A tip for anyone who hasn’t worked with twisted cord before is to beware that it can unravel with unexpected ease. Before cutting wrap tape around the cord and cut through the centre of the taped area to avoid this. Cut your cord in half and thread the two pieces in opposite directions. Knot the cords tightly.
Now that you have made one you can see how easy it is to adapt the size of the bag. I know I’ll be making quite a few more and I think I just might try a waterproof one next. Here they are in yet another colour! Thank you Mel!
This week is my little sister’s 50th birthday, she is a very special ‘little sister’ to all of us, including my husband. I think we practised our parenting skills with her when we were a very young couple. It was very much the on ‘up-side’ of parenting with holiday days out and visits but I hope she thinks we did a good job. However well we did I think that it made our relationship a very close one. When I set about choosing a birthday present it had to be very personal and (at the risk of getting a little soppy) a real expression of sisterly love. It made most sense for me to spend time planning and making my gift and so it had to be a quilt.
I wanted the quilt to have a really modern look and, of course, I wanted it to look spectacular. Just having moved and with a birthday close to Christmas time came fairly high in my thinking. So it was serendipitous that I fell upon a free pattern from McCalls. It was the Urban Neighbourhood Quilt and you can find it here. It is designed by Konda Luckau of Moose on the Porch quilts whose blog I just happen to follow! I just loved the design and the colours immediately struck a chord as my sister loves grey.
I was going to choose two shades of grey for the main colours but when I went off to Lampeter shopping for fabrics and looked at the range of solids I loved the aqua and with one of the Kaffe Fasset fabrics I’d chosen I thought that the grey, white and aqua would just sing combined with the patterned centres of the blocks (a random selection but incorporating another favourite designer, Kate Spain). As it turns out I’m thrilled with the colours.
The McCall’s blog sub-title was ‘Quick Quilts’ and it did live up to that.
Cutting took a while but doing it all first and laying out the pieces made for very speedy piecing. Being able to leave everything just where I was the best. I love my new craft space.
Chain-piecing was easy and the blocks grew so quickly.
The blocks were bordered in white to finish them off. It gave them a crisp clean look.
Next laying out the blocks to get a balanced look. I still haven’t ever managed to sew my blocks together in my chosen layout though, no matter how careful I am there seems to be a quilt gremlin who comes along and moves something!
The landing at the new house is a great space for working on the floor. Spacious and with great light from the long window, its comfortable for crawling around on the floor too.
The next step was to piece together each strip then, of course add the sashing to create the whole quilt top.
Now, in the few projects I have done, this is usually where I stop; go on to other projects; deliberate about the backing and generally faff about avoiding backing the quilt. This time this was definitely not an option. Time was of the essence and I just had to get on with it. Urban Neighbourhood is not a small quilt and I was really pleased when I went down to Aberdashery to find that an extra wide roll of batting had just arrived. I had a piece of light teal sheeting I was going to use for the backing and I had incorporated a label block to the corner of this so I set about pinning the sandwich together.
The size also meant I needed a little assistance getting straight lines for the quilting. I used the tape method with numerous rolls of masking tape from Poundland. All that remained was the binding and I was very grateful for Melanie Hughes’ tip on the binding I did find it easier. I even managed the hand stitching in one sitting; one very long sitting!
Well I’m pleased to say I finished comfortably in time and we had a lovely weekend, beginning with going into town for the lantern parade and turning on the Christmas lights on Friday evening. Jeff made fabulous food for us all weekend and a few memories were shared over the wine.
I’m sure Jane will enjoy the rest of her birthday celebrations but I know that the best event of all will be her son James arriving home from Australia for the holidays. She is so excited to be seeing him after two years away. We all are!