Sunday, 29 May 2011

Pay It Forward

Have you seen the Pay It Forward for handmade goodies on other blogs out there?

A couple of weeks back I signed up to Judith's Pay It Forward and am only now getting around to offering my side of the bargain. Sorry for the delay. Anyway, here's how it works.  The lovely Judith has offered to make a little handmade something for three lucky recipients (and they will be lucky, 'cos she's fab at making beautiful things).  In turn each of her volunteer recipients agree to pay forward the generosity to three others, and so the handmade loveliness gets shared around.

So here are the rules a little more succinctly...

  1. I will make a little something for the first 3 people who comment on this post.  It will be a surprise and it will arrive when you least expect it.
  2. I will have 365 days to do it in.  What's the catch? To get a handmade present from me, you have to play too! This means YOU pledge to send a little handmade something to 3 readers of your blog. It doesn't have to be quilty - just handmade.
  3. You must have a blog.
  4. Once you receive your "little something", you must post about your Pay It Forward on your blog to keep the fun going - be sure to use the Pay It Forward badge.

So, would you like to play and receive a little something from me, and in turn Pay It Forward to others? Be one of the first three to comment here and you can be on my PIF list!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Brit Quilt Swap - Progress Report 1

So here's how my Brit Quilt Swap mini-quilt is going -

There's been...

... a bit of this

... lots of this


... oodles of this

... yes, a little bit of this (not too much though)


... buckets of this


... gazillions of this


and eventually, three of these


Still loads more to do, and I am now thankful that a) I started early and b) posting date isn't 'til end of June!

If you're peeking in partner, I really hope you like what you see so far!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Pressie all ready to go!

I'm impressed with myself for having the foresight to make a pressie well ahead of time.  The bag and purse from class won't be gifted to mum until late June and here I am feeling all smug that it's ready and waiting for the wrapping paper!

the finished bag

lining, pocket and the detachable purse

detached purse

Actually, it's probably unfair of me to take credit for foresight when in reality the reason this bag is ready on time is largely due to some nifty class scheduling by my amazing friend Judith of Rags to Bags. Still, I'll revel in the fact that I won't be scouring M&S for something suitable the week before mum's big day!  Hope she likes the finished article!

(Keep a wee eye on the Rags to Bags blog to see Marion's bag which was made from the most beautiful summer fabics! I'm sure J will post it soon.)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Flash the stash

I am gathering up some fabrics for a class project in June and little by little they are arriving courtesy of Royal Mail.  These are from Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane range.  It's exciting to see this little bundle growing - I just hope that I can do these fabrics justice in a few weeks time.

Aren't they yummy?

All being well, these will make another appearance in a few weeks time -  I'm so loving them!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Birthday Bag Update

Well, progress continues on the bag I'm making at class for mum's birthday. How I've managed to get this far with all the giggling we've been doing in class for the last couple of weeks, I'm not sure. But now I have:

two straps and a front with pocket, flap and closure

a back (with a pocket too)

 a lining piece

and the pieces for the little co-ordinating purse.

So assuming I behave myself at class this week I hope to be able to show you the finished article towards the weekend.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Dear BQS Partner

Dear BQS Partner,

Here's what I'd like you to know:

I want to stitch you a little quilt that will make you smile when you receive your parcel in early July.  I hope it will make you glad you joined up for the BQ Swap and that you'll want to swap even more because it was a good experience for you.

To (hopefully) achieve these aims I have puzzled my puzzler trying to figure out what you really like - shapes, style, design, colours the lot and I have fingers, toes and everything crossed that I'm not too far off the mark with the mini-quilt design.  And, if it's not quite right, I hope you'll forgive a trier!

Starting slowly...
I should confess that this is my first ever swap and it is quite a daunting prospect to make something for a complete stranger by means of sleuthing and to perhaps challenge my own skills in order to grow a little along the way.  This little quilt will push me a little further than I have yet been pushed and I hope that in the end that will be to both of our benefits and that you won't be disappointed.  Rest assured, partner, that I will do everything I can to complete this quilt with love and care.  I've already started a little trial run of the paper piecing, see?

Bad lighting in this pic, sorry!
And, these are not the real fabrics, just test ones.

So, on the basis that practice makes perfect, I will practice, practice, practice to make sure your little quilt has a better chance of raising that smile I'm hoping for!  

Best wishes, 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Brit Quilt Swap - kick off

Well, I've made a start on the design for the quilt for my Brit Quilt Swap partner.  I did my homework (ie spying), made some notes, scanned the internet and then got out my colouring pencils!  (Actually, I also had a small panic attack in the middle of all that somewhere but it seems to have passed.)

I posted this little teaser to start with over at the flickr group

and clever clogs Lynz guessed what it is.

So now I've drafted up the whole plan and it looks like this

I have really tried to incorporate my partner's likes on several levels, so I hope I won't disappoint her.

Now I'm off to make some fabric choices

and do some maths!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Brit Quilt Mini-Quilt Swap

What have I let myself in for?

What has my partner left herself in for?

Brit Quilts Swap button 1 by flamingstitches

The lovely folk at Brit Quilt suggested a swap and I've been sucked in!  I've never had the courage to join a swap or a bee before, but then along came Brit Quilt Swap and their Mini-Quilt Swap plans and somehow in the midst of all the flickr conversations I really, really wanted to give it a go.  I can sit and watch from the sidelines forever and miss out on all the fun (and nervous energy on my part, no doubt) or I can pitch in, have a go and challenge myself too.  So here goes!

The Swap Mamas are busy organising us into groups and this weekend there will be the excitement of receiving an email with our secret partner's name. I'm quaking in my boots!  There is some serious skill and talent out there and sadly, my lovely partner will have to make do with me.  Hope I don't let you down, whoever you may be.

So, no more waffling, I'm waiting for my email and then let the sleuthing begin!

Monday, 9 May 2011

New Class Project

At class we have started a new project - a lovely handbag and purse.  I am hoping that mine will be presentable enough to gift it to mum for her birthday next month (not a secret since I had her choose the fabric to avoid any faux pas on my part).  So here's the beginning -

Mum chose a soft green stripe
 and co-ordinating toile de jouy print 
Although not part of the original pattern, I have added a little divided pocket to the lining of the bag so mum can keep her little things and her mobile phone handy.  There's also a little D-ring tab to the side of the pocket which might be handy to hang the little coin purse from when it's all finished.

Bag lining pieces cut and ready to stitch
Looking forward to showing you more as it takes shape.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Footstool Slipcover and a Wee Tutorial

Firstly, let me share a special wee pressie my lovely son made for me -

Can you see the resemblance?  Yep, it's a Hama bead sewing machine.  It's now proudly displayed in my sewing room - wasn't that thoughtful?

 Here's what I've been up to in the sewing room today.  Transforming this...

IKEA footstool £12.99 -
 bought because I couldn't afford the £200 one I really liked.  

It was always my intention to recover the footstool
but my plans got delayed a little (like a year)!
to this ...

And, just in case you're interested, here's how I did it.  Not a very polished tutorial - it's a bit more rough and ready, but hopefully you'll get the idea if you fancy having a go yourself.

This footstool is 15" x15" square on the top and all four sides.
I bought 1m of the floral fabric to use for the top and 2 sides, and 0.5m of the stripe to use for the remaining two sides.

Cut 5 x 15.5" squares (3 floral, 2 striped).
Cut 5 squares of wadding just a little bit bigger than the fabric.
Pin 1 fabric square to each wadding square and quilt as desired.  (I quilted a cross on the floral fabrics and 3 straight lines on each of the striped fabrics.)
Then trim the excess wadding around the squares.

(Sorry I forgot some photos of these first steps above.)

Sew the side squares to the top square taking care to make sure that you position your fabrics correctly so they won't end up upside down once assembled.  You will now have a big plus shaped piece like this:

Now fold your plus shape in half diagonally across the centre right sides together.  Pin and sew quarter inch seams along each of the two outer straight edges (the ones that meet the diagonal fold, NOT the ones that meet at right angles).

Once this is done, fold your piece across the other diagonal of the top piece (it won't lie flat this time), match the remaining open seams and stitch closed with a quarter inch seam.

When all four of the side seams have been stitched turn the slipcover the right way out and check all the seams to ensure you've caught in the fabric on all seams (I advise this because I missed a little bit and had to re-do a seam at this point).

The next step is to make the lining for your slip cover.  If I was doing this the proper way, I would have cut another 5 x 15.5" squares from lining fabric and made them up into the cube shape in the same way as with the top pieces. This was my plan but I was then smitten by resourceful inspiration (you may call it cheating if you like), and used the original IKEA cover as my pre-made liner.

Slip the lining cube over the slipcover making sure you have them right sides together.  Pin the side seams and edges level. 

 Now stitch all the way around with a quarter inch seam.

Open one of the lining side seams about 3 inches long ...

...  to allow you to pull the whole thing right way out through the gap.

Slip stitch the gap in the lining closed.

Now push lining into the slipcover cube and then press the slipcover. Stitch a finishing seam all the way around the bottom.  My seam was a little bit wider than a quarter of an inch just because of the thickness at the fold caused by my having used the pre-made liner which had its own folded seams already and therefore slightly more fabric layers than you might if you make it from fresh lining fabric.

Pull the slipcover over your footstool and admire.

And finally, put it to good use!

Hope this all makes sense!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Practice = pincushion

I know it's not rocket science, but here's a quick wee pincushion I stitched up yesterday.

I was practicing with a new clearview quarter inch foot I ordered for my Janome in the hope of achieving better seams than the quarter inch foot it came with.  For whatever reason, the original foot seemed to give perfect seams but when all pressed out each final seam appeared to lose about an eighth of an inch.  Multiplied over a number of seams in a block you could end up with quite varied block sizes if you are trying to make something with different styles of blocks.  Anyway, the new foot and I seem to be getting along much better and the pincushion is just a little byproduct of my practicing.

I also had my first practice at free motion quilting.  That was scarey!  I tried to take a picture of my first efforts to give you a chuckle, but sadly I can't get the camera to pick up the stitching on my practice scraps - let's just say that those of you who worry about the quality of your fmq-ing would suddenly feel better because you're no longer bottom of the class.  MUCH more practice required, methinks!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Easter Update

Over the double bank holiday weekend I downed tools for a while to catch up with my little family and our extended relations.  So, with the sewing machine silent we decided to make the most of the glorious weather and headed out and about for walks in the forest, along the towpath and to the beach.  (NB This is also a great way to avoid chocolate!)

My two gorgeous ones!

As "real life" approaches again I feel as if I wasn't quite as productive as I could have been or should have been over the hols but I also realise just how much we all have needed the break from the normal madness of the school/work/family routine.  Never fear, I wasn't a complete sewing slob and did pick up a needle and thread in the evenings to try and extend my hexagon quilt top a bit further ...

I promise it really is bigger than the last time I pictured it.

... and yes, I did succumb to another Birdie Stitches block which I am supposed to keeping as my summer hols project (oh well!).
This one's February
in case you didn't guess with its profusion of love!
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