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.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Sew very tidy

I'm so happy. I actually made something without a pattern! My crafting friends made these "sewing tidy mats" and I have to admit at first I wasn't too sure I'd want one. Theirs were beautiful, but it's not something I ever felt I needed.... until now. All my sewing supplies are in my wonderful Prym snap-on trays, which I love, but it meant opening them up every time I wanted something out of a tray. So I started looking on the Internet for a pattern. I found LOTS of pictures but no patterns except about two that looked incredibly complicated, so I just thought about it for awhile, then did some measurements, then boldly started cutting out. Here's what I ended up with:

I've had this sewing-themed fabric forever but never knew quite what to do with it and this seemed like the perfect project. It's a bright cotton, same fabric front and back and a layer of wadding in between. In case you haven't seen these, there are lots on Pinterest but few have any kind of dimensions or instructions, so I did my own thing. It turned out fine, but if I had to make another one, I'd measure better (especially the wadding or stuffing) and I'd be much more careful when sewing it. If someone looked at this one closely they'd find all kinds of craziness. The bottom line, however, is that it works:
And here's a hint... I wanted somewhere to put bent pins, broken needles, or small items like buttons, snaps, etc. and didn't want to just drop them into one of the pockets. So I took a plastic cup and stuck it into the pocket. That way, when I'm finished, I can pull out the cup and dispose safely of the pins and needles or find easily the small buttons, etc. It looks like this:

Of course, inevitably, my sewing room is now a mess! I sew in my little garden cabin but there's NEVER enough room, even if I sewed in a palace. 

I still have my blouse to sew. It's cut out but I can't find the kind of lace I want. I've bought some blue ribbon and green ribbon, but neither are "just right"!

This is the fabric and the trims I've found. Below is the blouse I'm making with it all. Sigh.... the world moves on!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A Little Something

Once again, like the pincushion, I have a (very) little project. This one is a case for my iPod Touch. First, a little background: for some time I’ve been searching everywhere for a case that also has storage for the headphones. What good is an iPod case without headphones, after all?! But nowhere could I find anything suitable.Someone suggested I make one, so off I went in search of a pattern (first mistake). I always think I can’t do anything without a pattern….. anyway, I found a very  promising project on YouTube so I followed the instructions for that, thinking it wouldn’t be too far off (second mistake). It looked easy enough also. Well, it was easy, but the finished product was too wide and not long enough to be perfect, but then perfection has never been my “thing” anyway.

So I cut it out from some fabric I’d been hoarding, bought the fusible fleece for a lining (a bit too heavyweight, but useable), and took it to our monthly craft get-together. I’ve mentioned our group many times in past posts. We used to be scrapbookers and cardmakers, but now ALL of us bring our sewing machines and have a right old-fashioned “sewing bee”. Here’s my finished case:


As you can see, I barely got my iPod into the case and it’s much too wide. I think I may attempt another one, as this WAS basically easy, but I’ll narrow it and lengthen it. I also changed the strap to close on the same side as the earphone pocket. It just makes more sense to me.

On the day of our “bee”, we all went to visit a new shop in Birchington called Daisy Buds. If you’re local, they’re well worth checking out! Most of their stock is for quilters, as it’s colourful cottons and cotton blends, but it’s such good quality that it will make fine tops for summer. If I had a little girl to sew for, I could make LOTS of pretty little cotton dresses and playsuits, too. They also carry patterns (Simplicity, McCall’s, and New Look) and lots of pretty ribbons and trims. The prices are reasonable, so I did buy a couple metres of some gorgeous red print for making a peasant top.

I now have plenty of patterns, plenty of fabric, plenty of supplies and tools, so just now need to find plenty of TIME to get it done. I’m not going to go overboard too quickly, however, as I’m still struggling with Slimming World to lose more weight.

Speaking of Slimming World, I just this morning got the newest cookbook, “Mediterranean Magic” and it looks like the best one yet:

Slimming World's Mediterranean Magic

I love the food of Italy, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, and the Middle East in general. This cookbook has ALL my favourites: spanokopita, stifado, moussaka (all from Greece); lamb stew with aubergine, baba ghanoush (aubergine dip), falafel with houmus (all from Turkey and the Middle East), as well as lots of others. I’m now all enthused about Slimming World again!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

New Friend

This is a quick post, just to introduce my new friend, Rosie! She arrived in a box  with a label that said "New Rose" (her model name) so that's why I named her Rosie.

I've never had a dress form before but there have been more than a few occasions when I could definitely have used one! She has lots of dials so I can adjust her measurements in several ways, including around   (bust, waist, hips) but also the length from back to waist, etc.

She's covered in a nice soft foam with a beautiful rose print (see photo below).

She also has a hem measuring thing. I haven't actually used her yet but have big plans! I have the patterns, the fabric, the thread, the sewing space, etc. but now just need to find the TIME! Sewing is not something I can do in short blocks of time (10 minutes here, 20 minutes there...). I need a whole morning or whole afternoon, or better yet a whole DAY!

And speaking of days, the past week has been the most beautiful ever. Today was warm, sunny, and only a light breeze. I threw open the door to the cabin, even a window, and turned up the CD player. It was heavenly! I know it won't last but it's great while it does.

We're also having much longer daylight hours now, which helps my mood considerably. I have more energy and feel much more positive. I never realized before how much the deep, dark winter months affect my mood. Onwards and upwards now!