Category Archives: Sewing

Be my Valentine

Another Year, Another Valentine

It was that time of year again. The eve of Saint Valentines day. Time to shut the door of my workroom   and rummage through the bits and bobs. Especially the red bits and bobs.

I’m usually drawn to hearts and this year was no exception. I love using buttons  and the button box (who am I kidding, I do mean button boxes, jars, the odd drawer, oh – and an old leather collar box) is often the first place I turn to.

This year I started by making a stuffed white cotton heart then, from the above mentioned collection I chose a whole variety of white buttons. The only thing they had in common was that they all had four holes so that I could make the  KISSES.        Then at some point I decided it needed one red button. I attached it to the card with yet another button.

There was an unexpected design fault this year! The card was just a little bit unbalanced. It collapsed on to its front no matter how I tried to stand it up. No time to make an improved version though, as usual it was a last-minute make.

Here are a couple of  previous years’ makes.

Christmas Sewing 2016 Two

Countdown to Christmas

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!

 

Nappy Stack

IMG_0070_2With 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!IMG_0037

 

 

 

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,1827-Diaper_Stacker-1 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.

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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.

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Opening for the hanger hook.

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. imagesThis 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!IMG_0064_2Here’s the main body part with the binding sewn on and the pockets in place.IMG_0066_2And here’s the top part with the hanger inside.IMG_0068_2And here’s the nappy stack complete with nappies, wipes and creams in the pockets.

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Wooden hangers from ‘Hangerworld’!

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.IMG_0071

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.

Update

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Here is the second Nappy Stack. Made with two fabrics from the lovely Nature Trail collection by Bethan Janine for

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Dashwood Studios. They consistently come up with fabrics I adore, in colours that just make my mouth water.

 

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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!

Upcycling

Have you ever completely ruined a perfectly good woollen jumper? I’ve done it once or twice! When Jeff first retired and took over the laundry he did. I remember one of my jumpers and one of his. I wish I’d kept them.IMG_0043Here’s my latest shrinker. This time it was deliberate! You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to really shrink something when you’re trying. Easy-peasy when you are doing the laundry in a hurry and in goes your woolly  then you take it out and aargh, dolly sized!

Reading about felting I found that the garment should be at least 80% wool. When I decided this cardie was past it’s best I checked it out and it was 70% wool.  Mmm? I gave it a go anyway and it actually felted up really well with a hot wash in the machine. Apparently you can improve the felting by taking it out and putting it in cold water and then back into a hot wash. The temperature changes enhance the process.

I cut it up like this

And sewed it together like this

I found the felt really easy to manipulate when I was sewing the strip to the circle, being used to working with cotton which is quite unforgiving.  To get the rib and collar to the right shape I pinned it first and cut it when it was in place to get the tapering right and to place the buttonholes. I thought the fabric was quite thick but the lovely Pfaff managed perfectly.

I turned the brim out and pressed it into shape then sewed the original buttons on with a little bit of contrast. And there was my new hat.

I was meant to be quilting my juicy jelly quilt this afternoon, this was  a bit of a spur of the moment whim. It was great fun.  Now am I going to wear it or use it for storage?

Retro Orchard Puff Quilt

IMG_0036The first ever Puff quilt I made was for my own first baby well over

How home photography has changed in the digital age!
How home photography has changed in the digital age!

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!

Dougie's Puff Quilt
Dougie’s Puff Quilt

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 Studios and 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.IMG_5457IMG_5453

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. IMG_5459I 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.

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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.

IMG_2239I 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!

IMG_2245Pretty 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. IMG_0038

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 IMG_0039way 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.IMG_0037It’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.IMG_0157

IMG_0042I could think of uses for it rolled too.IMG_0040

It’s an easy make, comfy and cosy, and could be any size.  I hope I get the opportunity to make more!

Heidi’s Quilt

IMG_5422I’ve been missing from here for such a long time. Nothing blogged since the spring and we’re almost into a new year! It isn’t that I haven’t been busy making, more that I’ve been even more busy with other things.

Since my last blog I spent two months in Spain and survived the annual walking holiday with my sister – this year in the wonderful north Lake District. I’ve added new beds to the garden and visited gardens up and down the land. But most of the ‘busy’ was being in Bristol in the first few weeks after our lovely new granddaughter  was born. We felt so blessed to be able to spend so much time with our family at such a special time and we were more than willing to make ourselves useful helping. And of course totally smitten by our latest little addition.

I have been making, but just not blogging. Most of the makes were little ones, squeezed in-between travels and the intention to record them just never became a reality.

Just as we arrived back in the country in November I lost my mum which stopped me in my tracks for a while and nothing much happened around here, I found myself spending a good deal of time with family, quite rightly. But I had promised Heidi a quilt and I had begun back in the summer and I found it a solace to return to finishing it.

Bethan had decided IMG_1950on a fab, subtle colour scheme and we set about finding fabrics in grey, coral and mint. Nothing could have filled the brief better than Bonnie Christine’s ‘Hello Bear’ for Art Gallery Fabrics.  The bears are gorgeous! I love the quality of AGF cottons, they are just lovely to work with and appear to go on looking like new for many years. The range is a large one and we narrowed it down to eight designs with the addition of a solid grey.

imagesNext was the search for a pattern. I’d bought Allison Harris’ ‘Growing Up Modern’ some time before and liked the look of a number of the quilts. We settled on ‘Sparkle’. We loved the design and the  classic hourglass blocks suited our fabric choices.                                                       Allison’s directions are spot on and the book starts with  some really good tips for novice and experienced quilters alike.

Cutting and peicing the top went along quite speedily, there were opportunities for chain piecing the half square triangles, which helped move things along nicely.

The clear instructions and accurate measurements meant that the top was soon done.IMG_1957

And then I added a border in the peachy coloured ‘follow me’.

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So, top done but no plan for the quilt back so there was an opportunity for a little diversion. We were having a little nursery chair reupholstered and it seemed to calling out for a cushion! Enter a template for a huge dresden plate borrowed from my sewing class.

Now, I have made a dresden plate block before but it was small and not brilliantly executed. However, as usual, once a plan has entered my head I have to make it come to fruition. So pleased I did. I love the cushion!

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Randomly ordered piecing for the dresden plate.

 

 

 

 


On both sides

 

 

Next to add the centre and a backing. my favourite for cushions is a lightweight cotton domette. Not too thick or heavy, just enough to give a little bit of substance to a cushion.

IMG_1990I used one of my favourite stitches, a running cross stitch, to quilt the fabrics.

A little bit of piping around the cushion top was all that was needed to finish it off.

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The colours  are perfect against the silver grey of the chair, just what we wanted.

 

Back to the quilt back. I decided I had enough of the fabric left to make square patches and enough of the ‘follow me’ for a border. Simple.  I just about got it done before we headed of on our travels so I had to leave putting the quilt together until our return.

I free motion quilted with a simple loopy line, or rather two simple loopy lines. One in mint and one in coral.IMG_5426

And made a labelIMG_5423

So Heidi’s quilt was finished before Christmas and very nearly coincided with her moving into her big cot in her own room.IMG_5420IMG_5428

Unfortunately I don’t think that the photographs of the finished quilt do the colours justice. It was grey and raining here what felt like every day throughout November and December and the photographs had to be take indoors in poor light. I didn’t do a great job. Maybe I can add a few more when the I’m in Bristol in the sunshine    –   In the meantime I’ve begun the planning for my next baby quilt.   A Nains’ life is a busy life – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

Pedal Pushers Beach Bag

From Capel Bangor to Aguadulce

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We didn’t spend a lot of time on the beach on our most recent trip to Spain and we didn’t ride our bikes down to the sea as often as usual either, but I did carry everything I needed to the beach in Aguadulce in the bag that I made  in Mel’s class in Capel Bangor.

Back in Capel Bangor in pale and watery March it looked almost too shockingly bright but on a sunny Spanish beach it wasn’t a bit out of place.

Well, the connection is not about cycling at all but the lovely Moda ‘Pedal Pushers’ fabric designed  by the mother and daughters Jung that caught my eye in the days before we started making Mel’s brilliantly designed, multi-pocketed bag.

Here’s the whole 1950’s inspired ‘Pedal Pushers’ range:product-collageIt was, of course, the red and aqua end of the range that caught my attention. A combination that always draws my eye.

The mini-patch, quilted back pocket shows all of my selection with raspberry ‘Wicker’ and sky ‘Floral Crest’ as my main fabrics.

I had a real sense of satisfaction putting the bag together, putting a range of skills to use, getting the inner and outer pockets in place and finding that everything fitted perfectly – thanks to Mel’s clear instructions and direction of course. Left to my own devices it probably would have been assembled and reassembled numerous times!

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And as always our group worked happily and supportively; having lots of fun and, on occasion, really getting down to some serious work!

 

And when it came to going downIMG_1905 2 to the beach in sunny Almeria with all the necessary paraphernalia my bag was light and easy to carry and not just a brightly coloured beach bag but a practical, organised super-bag. Oh! And the soft padding meant it also served as a soft place to lay my head!

I think my beach dress just serves to prove a point about my current colour preferences!

And just look at all these pockets -perfect!

Thanks Mel!

Peg Bags

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.

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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 …

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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.

But even I didn’t think it would take me a year! I thought about it. I thought about it a lot. I planned and I looked at them on Pinterest, I even made a dedicated peg bag board!                                                                   From my Pinterest board (click through to take a look at them all):

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!

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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.

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.IMG_1762 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!

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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.

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If you are in need of a new peg bag and  would like to make this one I’ve added a tutorial here.

 

 

Tee Time

AberystwythGC3I 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 IMG_1725the 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.

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Or so I’m told….. I’m sure I’ll get to try it out soon.

 

Scandi Christmas Table Runner

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Enough doodling and gardening. I was itching to get back to some serious sewing. The perfect project for getting back in the groove was the promise of  a festive table runner that I’d made my sister back in the summer. With Christmas creeping up it was time to get going.

Christmas fabric spotting begins IMG_1623in the summer so my sister was wise to mention it back then.                        I spotted this on one of my regular drop-ins at Aberdashery well before our departure for our travels in September. Scandi is such a trend at the moment and the Makower Christmas collection really appealed to me, I love reindeer right now. I chose my reds and greens and liked the idea of adding in a couple of the neutrals from the range.

I had the seeds of a plan in mind, it involved irregular strips across the width of the runner. I was slightly undecided about having white sashing between each coloured stripe but of course I decided for. I love the crisp, clean, modern look that it gives.

Once decided all that was left to do was get on with sewing strips together, as they were to be random there was very little planning to do and I just chose whichever fabric I thought should come next.

I’d also chosen a red and a very dark green solid to make it a little less busy. Joining the random strips was quick and easy and then all that remained to be done to the front was to trim the sides.IMG_1642

The back was to be plain red. Briefly. I started to think it needed something more so I sewed together some two and a half inch wide strips and cut them into two and a half inch strips then cut the red backing to create a patterned reverse. IMG_1637IMG_1644

I decided on a horizontal strip l strip at each end. Once I had put it all together it made the runner pretty much reversible.

I used cotton domette as wadding. I find it a good weight for table runners, mats and such like. Not too bulky or puffy.

My quilting plan was to have strings of stars and after a bit of doodling decided on this design . The stars are irregular in six, shape and spacing. Simple.IMG_4862      Lastly I gave the runner a solid red binding and it was ready to join my sister’s Christmas scheme, she has some lovely decorations. I hope it comes to to scratch!

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Flurry Hurry

A Summery Table Runner

IMG_4487When the ‘Flurry’ collection arrived I knew it wouldn’t be long before  I put it to use and when I began making the table runner I wasn’t really in a hurry, it just turned out that way! The design was uncomplicated;  putting it together was effortless and I thought the clean lines need plain quilting, which took no time at all.IMG_4494

 

IMG_4408I began with one and a half inch strips of the whole range of flurry colours, sewed them in groups of five then cut them into blocks. It was so quick!

I wanted a grey to set off the colour range (always a favourite) and went to look for something in Aberdashery and as usual found just the thing. A simple grey and white mini-stripe and to complement it perfectly another of the multi-coloured threads that just lift the quilting beautifully.

The checkerboard design was swiftly pieced

and in no time I had a sandwich and was ready to quilt the snappy, wavy lines. So simple.IMG_1341I cut more strips and cut them into randomly sized lengths to make the binding and there it was, complete in only a couple of hours over a few early evening, pre-dinner sewing sessions. Never was anything (made by me) so speedily done!IMG_4492IMG_4493

And what’s more I have plenty of ‘Flurry’ left!

Chicken and Egg.

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.

What to call it? Any ideas?
What to call it? Any ideas?

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 sewing day. Shouldn’t be too long before one of those here in West Wales!

Storytime

IMG_4358Eric 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.

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Here's the fabric panel that started it all!
Here’s the fabric panel that started it all!

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.

Inside the pocket
Inside the pocket
small caterpillar fabric
small caterpillar fabric

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 AberdasheryIMG_1224IMG_4361 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 sideIMG_4365IMG_4366And in collaboration with my daughter, Bethan, butterflies for the butterfly sideIMG_4363IMG_4362This 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!

 

 

 

Nice Needles Part II

 

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.

IMG_1200I 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.

loveI 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.

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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.

IMG_1208When 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!

I stitched a length of the tape measure ribbon along the inside.

It’s in 10 IMG_4222centimetre repeats so that it can be a useful tape measure.

 

 

labelI remembered to add my label this time too.

 

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Think Pink

IMG_4195This has been the week of the ‘Barefaced Selfie’ on Facebook and millions of pounds have been raised for breast cancer charities. The very best of social media networking!

It all prompted me to blog my ‘Think Pink’ makes. Riley Blake Designs created the ‘Think Pink’ range to support breast cancer sufferers and a proportion of the profits have been donated to charity.

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.

IMG_4185I 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.

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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.

IMG_4198The 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).

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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.

IMG_4190It’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!

Feeling chuffed!

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.IMG_1215I 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!