Monday, 21 March 2016

Crop Day to Craft Day: an evolution

Back when I was doing papercrafts, my friends and I got together once per month to do scrapbooks, cards, art journals, etc. The group started a year or two before I joined, which was in 2007. So I've been with this wonderful group of women for NINE years now! We lost one member who moved away and another member moved but not so far, so still joins us very occasionally. We're down now to six, which is really a manageable number since we meet in each others' homes.

The change however is that we no longer do papercrafts. We're all into sewing now: bags, placemats, fabric boxes, mug rugs, wall hangings, or other sewing projects. A couple of us are eager to start sewing clothes, but for now are content to just do our "projects". We're no longer meeting for "crops" (a papercraft term) but now meet for "Craft Day"!

Someone asked what we take for our Craft Day. I can show you what I take:

First, of course, is my sewing machine. Currently, it's a Brother Innovis 600, which they don't even make anymore. As far as I can tell, it's almost identical to the Brother Innovis 350SE. I have no plans to upgrade at the moment as I really love my 600.

The husband of one of my crafter buddies said we look like the sewing room in the show "Mr. Selfridge" when we all start sewing on our machines! That or some kind of backstreet sweatshop, I suppose.  And we all use different machines!

Then of course, we all bring our various "tools of the trade". Some of us use an assortment of bags, but I have a plastic storage caddy. I leave my supplies in it all the time, even when working at home. That way I know where everything is and don't have to go rifling through drawers and boxes to find something.... just pick it up and go.  The photos are in reverse order: bottom layer to top layer.

The contents of the bottom tray change, depending on the project at hand. For example, for the last craft day I made something out of Debbie Shore's "Sew Inspired" magazine. I cut the fabric out before I went, so that saved time and space.

The second (middle) tray always holds my scissors, rotary cutters, bobbin case,
fabric clips, and various other odds and ends. These are too large or too odd-shaped to go into the top tray. It may look a little chaotic, but I know exactly what I have.

The top tray has movable compartments. I keep small items in here, sorted by the type of item. For example, all machine needles are together, tape measures, etc.
It really is a very workable system.

The only problem with the plastic caddy is that the little snaps break very easily. Mine have broken in a couple of places, so I have to be very careful when all three trays are snapped together and I need to carry it. I can replace or add to the trays, although they aren't particularly cheap!

It looks like this when it's all ready to transport:


I usually have to also carry a tote bag for large items, such as a very long ruler, a bag of poly stuffing, magazines/books, and my lunch. I think everyone ought to have some friends to craft with. We learn so much from each other and get so much help from each other, too. To see what kinds of projects we do, you can scroll back through this blog. I haven't put everything here but a good sample.

I would love to hear how you craft: where, when, with whom, and with what kinds of tools. Please leave some comments if you want to share. Thanks.


Monday, 1 February 2016

Some changes.....

You may notice some changes. I kept the blog address but now want to rename my blog as Scrappy Crafts, because ... well... I just like it better. The thing about "scrappy" is that it applies to paper (scrapbooks, cards made with scraps of paper and whatever else) as well as scraps of fabric (patchwork, quilting, and more).

I've also changed the background to a patchwork theme, but that will change over time, too.

And in keeping with the them of "change", I've reorganized (yes, I'm doing American spelling...it's easier for me) my craft room (a cabin actually). I took out the long table in the middle of the room so I now have room to move around.
Sewing section is enlarged and stamping section reduced now.




























The area to the left is all sewing now. Even the first column in the white Ikea sections is all sewing. A few months ago a man contacted me with a request to take his late mother's craft supplies and distribute them to my local Women's Institute. I had a whole estate-car full of boxes and bags, which I took to our WI meeting and offered them for free. Few takers, however, so I had about half left. Some things went to a charity shop and I kept some. Most of her things were for sewing: boxes of lace, buttons, ribbons, remnants, etc. Then of course, I've been adding "a few things" here and there as well, so now have quite a stash.

My sewing work center (machine is under the dust cover)




























Sewing is still my primary craft now. Although I belong to a Facebook group called UK Quilters, my quilting is really more small projects and patchwork, such as the sewing machine cover and tidy-mat, along with the wall hanging shown here.

In the process of the reorg, I gave away tons of stamps, patterned paper, embellishments, ink pads, and more. As I went through things, however, it awakened a little spark of enthusiasm to get back into some of my papercrafting, so I'm glad I didn't just chuck it all out. I still have all my Stampin' Up stamps, a good bit of paper, and a few ink pads and art supplies.
Still a few stamps, inks, dies, etc. left to play with!
So, the crafting bug still lives and so does my blog, for now. Although I didn't get any comments after my last post, according to the statistics there were lots of views. For that reason, I'll carry on for a little longer.

It's not yellow...the sun was shining in the window and the light was on!

I even have a nice comfy rocking chair in my room now! I can sit and read my craft books and magazines undisturbed with a cup of coffee!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Catch Up for 2015

I'm afraid this little blog has been sorely neglected, but I'm wondering if anyone would miss it if it went away....if you would, then please leave a comment. Otherwise it's on the way out....forever.

Blogs are strange things. For awhile they were really fun ways for everyone to keep up to date with friends and their "doings". It seemed especially great for crafters to share projects, for photographers to showcase photos, cooks to offer recipes, etc. but now it's become a really big business and I'm afraid that we mere amateurs are a dying breed. Some enterprising individuals are even making a living being a blogger! That may work for some, but it's very time-consuming to keep fresh and to blog often, that is unless it really IS a full-time occupation. For those kinds of blogs, you get company endorsements, free products to try, and lots of feedback. It hasn't worked that way for me, but because I simply don't have the time to devote to it.

Here's what I've been up to since the last post. First I made a sewing machine cover to match my "sewing tidy". I didn't have a pattern, I just measured my machine, then threw myself into it. I'm happy with the way it turned out.

I used some scraps of the same fabric as the sewing tidy  (shown here with the machine sitting on it) and plain muslin (or calico). 
I wasn't really satisfied with it until I ran a top stitch around the top, however, as it needed more "definition". Now it seems to sit better.

Next is a patchwork tote bag. I didn't really have a pattern for this either, but followed (loosely) a video on YouTube from the Missouri Quilt Company and Crafty Gemini. The first photo is the front, the second is the back.



The bag is made from less than a half-jelly-roll and a base of Bosal-In-R-Form Plus, a kind of fusible foam fabric. It keeps its shape almost perfectly so it's perfect for making bags and anything with a shape. It's really easy to use but I found it a little fiddly due to the fusible feature. It's too easy to get it wrinkled. You could make covers for iPads, laptops, smartphones, etc. and the video is very easy to follow.

Next I made a little fabric box for trinkets, pins, cotton balls, jewelry, or whatever you need it for.

These also are easy-peasy. They're made from two 10" square pieces of fabric and a little wadding (UK) or batting (USA). I found this tutorial online also, at http://seaside-stitches.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/fabric-box-tutorial.html. I made a different one for each of my craft group friends for our Christmas meeting.

For crafty things, that about sums it up. I had some foot surgery that has really knocked me back about two months...and counting. I'm looking forward to a new year for 2016. I just want life to get back to normal.

For anyone reading this, I hope you have a wonderful and happy Christmas and a great new year. I don't think I'll keep the blog open unless I hear from someone, anyone, so I know it's being read.





Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Little things

I've decided I may never make a full-sized quilt. It's not that I've decided consciously to not attempt it, but I just find I love doing small projects far more.

First, as an update from my last post, I've abandoned the quilt-along group. They are doing absolutely beautiful work but I fell flat on my face with the first block. First attempt was a disaster.
First attempt at "Addie" block
You can see from the lower panel that already it's out of sync....the triangles don't match the same way. Believe me it got much worse than this..... so I started over. This time I made certain that all my pieces were accurately and uniformly cut, then I laid them out before sewing just to orient myself as to what goes where.
Second attempt at "Addie" with different fabrics.
So far, so good. But when I actually sewed it, it was as much a disaster as the first one! I love the book, The Farmer's Wife 1930 Quilt Sampler and the writing, but IF I ever try one again, then next time I'll pick an easier block! 

My mug rugs, however (see previous blog entry) turned out very well. No pattern-- I just winged it.
Four mug rugs finished with burgundy backs
They were fun to make and not at all fussy or difficult. It probably was too easy and I chose the lazy option, but at least they're done now. First I used some heat bondable material to bond the cat silhouette to the front piece. Then I sewed a blanket stitch around the silhouette with my machine. 
The blanket stitch on my machine
Once that was done, I assembled the sandwich, using a fairly lightweight batting. After I turned the back lining inside out, I ran some quilt lines from top to bottom. If I made more mug rugs I think I would also have run horizontal lines and perhaps a contrasting binding, but for these I decided this was enough.

One more little thing is the new magazine, Simply Moderne. I just happened across it at WH Smith's and fell in love with some of the quilts, described as "modern" quilts, and other projects. No blocks or at least not many, lots of applique and just very different. This is the first ever issue so I'm looking forward to the second one. It's published by the same publisher as the magazine Quiltmania. This issue had articles about USA quilters and shops, but I suspect that this will change as it is geared toward UK readers. If you go to their website, you can browse some of the pages electronically. The magazine is a bit pricey at £11.99 but it's 128 pages where other quilt magazines are only 98 pages.

And the last little thing is that I went to a local quilt show here in Whitstable and met the nicest women, I believe most were from Abbey Patchers and Thanet Quilters. There were some lovely quilts on display, at least three different trader tables (I think I bought something from each of them!) and a tombola. I won the tombola (TWO prizes!) for the first time in my life -- two beautiful patchwork cushions.
My tombola prizes
Here are a few quilts that caught my eye, though they were all beautiful:



There is another quilt show in Deal, Kent this weekend. I hope to go to that one, too.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Pitter Patcher

A little of this, a little of that, a lot of nothing, really! My head is absolutely FULL of ideas these days, but as usual there's little action. I managed to cut out some mug rugs. No pattern for these, just playing with them, so far.
For the cat silhouette, I cut out triangles, then drew (free-hand) and cut the heads and tails. The plan is to use fusible webbing to attach them to the mug rug, then  quilt (the wadding is cut to the size of the mug rug), then bind with the red fabric at the top of the photo. 

Two more projects already in the pile are a sewing machine cover and a bread basket. Oh, and my In-R-Form Plus arrived from the U.S. so I'll also be making the tote bag shown here with my jelly roll. See what I mean about no lack of projects?!

On top of that, I just joined a quilt group online. It's at The Quilting Board in the "Blocks of the Month" sub-forum. We're using a book titled The Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt Sampler, which just arrived this morning from Amazon. It has instructions and a CD for making 99 blocks for a quilt.

I've wanted to tackle a full-size quilt for some time, but all the ones I see are just plain intimidating. Beautiful, but involves lots of coordinated fabrics and skills that are probably a bit beyond me.  These blocks are only 6" square and seem do-able. The finished quilt will look similar to the one on the front of the book and are obviously just made from scraps, not necessarily coordinated fabrics. The project begins 4 August, so I'm away and running.

I really wanted to go to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in August, but after our holiday in Wales last week, I've decided it's too far and I'm frankly too much of a newbie to get enough out of it. Maybe next year... and I hope that by then my knees and ankles will be better. Our Wales holiday has just about put me out of commission and into a wheelchair. Our cottage was unbelievably uncomfortable and full of steep stairs, suitable for a mountain goat.

So watch this space for some updates on my projects.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

A Bit of a Panel

As the reorg of my craft cabin continues, I've still managed to do a bit of sewing. In January at the Make-It Show in Farnborough, I bought a panel for my sewing area.

I wasn't sure if I would cut it up and make cushions or use the cut pieces as appliques for tote bags, etc. but in the end I decided to leave it whole and quilt it. Well, quilting is probably a rather loose term here, but that's what *I* would call it.

This is just propped against the bookcase but it will be hung on the wall. Here's how I did it:

First, I tacked on some wadding (UK)/batting (USA), then I machine stitched around each panel. So far, so good. Then I attached a solid colour piece as the back, but realized it would look much better if I stitched around some of the elements within the panels. Doh! Unless I took the back off, there was no way to do that. Instead I hand-stitched some of the bigger bits without catching the back. That was a little tricky and  I soon decided I'd had enough of that, so not all of the panels have hand-stitching.




I'm lazy, I suppose, but it was my first attempt and now I know what to do for the next panel project. I have a Christmas panel I bought a couple of years ago that I'm going to do this year. But here's what I've learned:

1) To make the sandwich first: panel, wadding, and a plain muslin or cotton backing.

2) Once the panel sandwich is done, THEN start stitching. Machine stitch as much as possible, then hand stitch.

3) Once ALL the stitching is done, then attach the back fabric.

That way, the inside cotton/muslin holds it together better. It doesn't matter that stitching shows on this back as it will all be covered by the back fabric.

So, I've managed to get rid of a lot of magazines but still have a few boxes of scrapbooking and card making stash to go, including lots of stamps. The problem is that my local craft friends have also gone away from scrapbooking and cardmaking to sewing, so no takers there! I need to have a garage sale, I think. I'm sure that as soon as do, however, I'll decide to scrapbook again.

Meanwhile, I think I'd like to find a local quilting, applique, or patchwork class. I'm looking at the residence-type courses at Denman College (the Women's Institute college), but they're expensive. None of the local fabric shops (there are only a couple of them anyway) offer courses and I don't have the time to do the 10-week courses offered by the Kent County Council. Ah well....!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Odds and Ends

I didn't realize that it's almost been a month since the last post! Honestly, I have NOT been just twiddling my thumbs. Just after my last post we went on a short visit to the Black Forest in Germany. It was gorgeous and the people were just so warm and friendly. I didn't want to leave.

View from the house where we stayed in Stockmatt.
Since, I've been back, however, I've actually been doing a little sewing and a lot of organizing and clearing out. I got rid of most all my scrapbooking and cardmaking magazines, some of which were really dear to me (and expensive, like the Somerset Studio, Stampington, and vintage scrapbooking ones that no longer publish). There were stacks of them, but I advertised them on Streetlife.com and someone has given them a very good home. I need to clear out a lot of my supplies, too, but can't bring myself to do much of that just yet. I keep thinking that maybe, just perhaps, just someday, I might want to use a stamp, a Tim Holtz die, a scrapbook paper, etc. You never know...and I'd sure hate to have to replace something I'd given away!
Just one of several piles of magazines!
So my sewing pile is growing. I haven't bought any new fabric, but just found some Butterick patterns for half price and couldn't resist that!
My just-received goodies from Weaver Dee
One of my latest sewing projects has been a tote bag. I love the fabric and the bag is certainly usable, but I wouldn't want anyone to look too closely at the construction. I still haven't mastered a STRAIGHT seam. Mine wobble all over the place. And for this bag, I followed a free online tutorial but I think I misread the instructions as the shape and size is nothing like the bag in the tutorial! Oh well, as my friend Hazel always says: "It's a prototype!" Next time I'll do it differently.

Actually a bag is the last thing I need since I have about a dozen purchased and freebies, but I just wanted to make one myself. I found this gorgeous fabric -- it's heavy and bag-perfect, though it frays like crazy.

Good news: My overlocker (USA "serger") is now out of its box. I bought it at a craft show in February 2012 and just this week opened the box! After reading about the threading problems, I was scared stiff to use it.
Silly me....choke! The truth is, I still haven't used it! I have, however, signed up for an online overlocker/serger course on Craftsy, but haven't had time to start that yet, either.