Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Family Tree Wallhanging

I did it!  I finished the Family Tree Wallhanging quilt earlier in December but can only reveal it here now because occasionally mum peeps into the blog and I didn't want her to know this would be her and dad's Christmas gift.

This quilt has been in my head for about two years (you can read more here) and I am thrilled with how it turned out.  Actually, I'm thrilled it got finished at all.  Thought it might hang around in my head forever!

The names of my parents, my brother and his family and me and my family are all embroidered on the leaves.  From a distance, the names aren't obvious which allows the fabrics to dominate the quilt rather than the embroidery. And, mum and dad will know the names of all of us are there.

Raw edge applique and sketch stitching is definitely not my forte, but I think I pulled it off.  You can see my name on that upside down yellow leaf - isn't that a pretty fabric?

As you can see, I quilted the background with a diagonal grid before stitching down the tree trunk and leaves.

Just for a wee change I cut curved edges on my quilt (inspired by Judith's autumnal wallhanging from Pretty Patches magazine).  It wasn't as difficult as I imagined and makes a nice change, softening the whole quilt while it hangs above mum and dad's bed. (It co-ordinates with their bedlinens better than it does with ours in the top pic.)

My folks have been amazing support in the past two years and I wanted to thank them with a quilt that reminds them of the family they started together.  Thank you more than you can know, I love you two! xx

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Flowerpot Pincushion Tutorial

Do you use row marker pins?  I love mine and they are ever so handy when you've laid all your gorgeous blocks out on the floor but need to gather them in without losing the order before sewing.  For a while now I've been thinking I should make a new home for my row marker pins, just because they are kind of in the way on my normal pincushion.  The size of their flower heads means that, when I'm pinning, my hands tend to find them first when I reach over without looking and they don't really do for normal pinning.  So, a wee space of their own where I can get at them easily when it's time for the purpose is required.  What better place to plant my flowers than in a flowerpot pincushion?!

I thought I might share with you a quick little "how to" in case you have a similar little flowerpot or container you'd like to make a pincushion from.  If you follow Lori Holt's blog, you'll have seen that she makes her pincushions from mini loaf tins and vintage toy trucks and other clever items.  Whilst they may not all be circular like mine, I'm guessing the principles will be the same, so go ahead, find your container and get sewing and stuffing!

(I apologise in advance for the horrid shadows on my photos but my sewing now happens late at night in the shadowy sewing nook.  Hopefully it won't detract too much from the clarity.)

You will need:
(remember the measurements given are specifically for the little pot I used, but I've explained how to get your own measurements in brackets)

  • mini flowerpot, about 3" high (mine is an old Ikea cactus pot)
  • all purpose glue
  • 2.5" cardboard circle  (you will want to measure the diameter of the depth at which you want your pincushion to sit inside your container)
  • 7.5" fabric circle  (cut yours allowing enough fabric to cover the depth you want to wedge into your container and the height you want it to sit above the container when stuffed. For the flowerpot I found that 2.5 or 3 times bigger than the diameter of your cardboard circle was enough)
  • small scissors
  • toy stuffing
  • needle and thread

1.  Tie a secure triple knot in the thread end and stitch a running stitch around your fabric circle.  Make sure those knots are secure enough to withstand being pulled in to gather the pincushion in the next step.  You can do this on your machine if you prefer, securing thread with backstitches to begin and pulling one of the threads to gather your fabric afterwards.

2.  Pull the end of your thread to gather the fabric into a round. Don't pull all the way just yet.

3.  Stuff the fabric as tightly as you can with the stuffing.

4.  Just before you pull your thread to tighten it all up, pop in your cardboard circle to act as the base of your pincushion.

5.  Now pull the thread tight to gather in the circle as much as you can and secure the closure with backstitches and a good secure knot.

6.  At this point just test your pincushion to see that it does fit into your container as you'd like.

7.  Like me, you may want to adjust the curves and corners and squish the stuffing around a bit to get a nice shape on it.

8.  When you are happy with it, put a line of glue on the side of your flowerpot/container just a little bit higher than your pincushion will rest in it.  The act of pushing the fabric pinnie in will squish the glue down the sides and creat extra sticking surface area.  A wee run of glue around the base of your fabric stuffed pincushion part also helps.  Hope you can see mine in the photo - not too much or it can get messy.

 9. Then "squoosh" it back in just like you did at point 6 and by golly, you have a flowerpot pincushion!

Well, I hope that all makes sense and that if you try it with something other than a flowerpot you will have equal success.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Teen gifts on a theme

After a little flurry of stitching thanks to #saturdaynightcraftalong with Lucy on IG I can now tick my Christmas pressies makes of the list for this year (well, except for the Family Tree wallhanging, but I'm not promising it for Christmas anyway).

My teenage son has recently had a little re-vamp of his room (which he heartbreakingly advises will be his last re-do before university!!!!) and he's gone for a grey and teal/aqua colour scheme.  It's all very tasteful and if I could ever see the room tidy I might show you a picture, but for now you'll have to imagine it.  He asked if I would make him some bits and pieces to protect his new furniture (mug rug and coaster) and a new cushion cover and bed quilt for the summer months.  He was thinking colours to match the new decor plus an accent or two of orange.  Nice choice, my boy!

Not wanting to refuse an actual request for sewing, I thought I'd make up the smaller items for his Christmas stocking.  So it was out with the hot water bottle to make a new cover (an extra, unexpected make for him).  I found a pair of his old brushed cotton pjs in my stash in just the perfect colours.  Can you see they even have a little orange thread running through them?  

The width of the pj legs just about gave me enough fabric to get the cover out of them and I added a little orange paperclip trim after quoting the panels.  It's soft and snuggly and if I'm honest, a wee bit of a close fit, but hopefully it will do the job.  

Moving on to the requested mug rug and coaster. I really wanted to incorporate something sciencey/mathematical for him.  So a little bit of embroidery for Einstein's theory of special relativity (correct me if I'm wrong) sorted out a coaster for his bedside unit and some technical looking, scientific sort of mathsy fabric suited the mug rug.  For the mug rug I wanted to quilt his initial into the fabric, or rather quilt the background so that the initial in in relief to the quilting.  I've watched Jacqui Guering's Craftsy class on this and she makes it look so easy that I've been dying to give it a go.  Well, it's a great technique, but I am glad I started small and not with a whole quilt!  I found it a bit tricky to get a nice shape to the edges of the letter A and will admit that when I had finished I wasn't entirely happy so I stitched all the way around the letter just to tidy it up.  You aren't supposed to with this technique but DS doesn't know that, does he?

Spurred on by three successful, if rather late night, makes on Saturday I decided to crack the cushion cover on Sunday.  When I made my brother his 40th birthday quilt earlier this year, there were bonus HSTs created from the Layers of Charm pattern.  These worked out brilliantly for the cushion and even had the requisite orange accent.  I used 16 of the bonus HSTs, fiddled with a layout to see what kind of design I could get and stopped at the one above.  Then, though I decided it needed a weeny bit of teal to bring it all in line with the bedroom so I added the little oblique pieces of Lecien, with silver sparkle no less, to create that centre star effect.  Happy, happy!

More Lecien to border the block, some outline quilting which you can see better in the first photo of this post and voila! One cushion cover for the new pre-uni boy's room.  Looks nice, even if I do say so myself.

I made the backing from some charcoal linea sketch and trimmed the covered zip opening (using Just Jude's tutorial) with the rest of the Lecien fq.  Just the business!

It feels good to tick off some boxes and wonderful to make for my boy.  What are you making for Christmas gifts, then?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Family Tree Leaves

My Family Tree needs some embroidered leaves to get me going on this project.  I dipped into my 30's fabric stash (the one I'm supposed to be using for my Dear Jane quilt) and chose some pretties to work with the palette I need.

After choosing a font that meant I could fit the long names of the family on leaves as well as the short ones, I embroidered in several different stitches before unpicking them all and going back to simple backstitch.

The others looked a bit too clumsy and clunky on the little leaves and while it needs to be worth stitching them, I want the names to be quite subtle.  So, hopefully this works without the names getting too lost in the overall picture.  We'll see.

This pic shows 9 of the 12 family name leaves, and the other three are finished too now (just no pic).  Now, I need to get rid of the blue shadow from the erasable pen, but I'm making progress folks!

Come on, Sarah, you can do it!  Might make Christmas finish after all ;-)

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Bee Blessed Wonky Log Cabins for December

Bee Blessed are going to work more of their quilty magic with Wonky log cabin blocks in the New Year.

These blocks are so pretty, so easy and heaps of fun to make.  If you'd like to know that your stitching is contributing to bringing a quilty hug to someone who needs it, maybe you'd think of sending them a block or two.  All the details are on their blog post here.  Blocks are requested to arrive by 6 Jan 2017 so there's lots of time between now and then, or maybe after your turkey, to whizz a few scrappy strips together and boost the block donations for this great group!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Cosy Christmas Quilt

Did you think I'd forgotten the Lori Holt Christmas quilt?  It feels like a long time since I posted the first three blocks.  In the interim, I have been choosing fabric and tracing templates here and there and generally getting the remaining nine appliqué sections ready to stitch down.  Aren't they sweet?  Well, Lori Holt projects are, aren't they?

Which is your favourite?  I'm torn between the mug of hot chocolate and those pressies with the big yellow bow.  Maybe because I'd quite like both to be real!!  Now, if that were true what would I like to be in those little packages? ....

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Quick fix - needle minders

You know how it is when you see a handy little gizmo and think, "oh, must have one of those"?  Well, that's what I thought when I spotted some needle minders appearing on blogs and IG pics.  Very useful for your hand stitching.

These clever little pretties couldn't be that hard to make, could they?  So, for last weekend's IG #saturdaynightcraftalong I pulled my supplies and started covering buttons and gluing magnets.  It really was that easy (if a little sticky).

All you need is a metal self-cover button, a circle of fabric (and a lining fabric), two magnets and some glue.  

To make:

1.  Cover the metal button as per pack instructions. I used a 29mm button which had a shank. I just removed the shank with a pair of pliers, but I believe you can buy flat backed metal self-cover buttons if you prefer.  I also added a little fine fabric as a lining layer because sometimes the metal shines through with just a single layer of fabric.

2.  Then, glue a small magnet to the back of your button and have a second magnet ready to pair up when the glue dries.

When I posted this on IG I had a few questions from folks who, like me, hadn't really known how to use a needle minder. So here's how it works:

Pics left - right, top - bottom:
1.  The needle minder has two magnets, one glued on and one that separates.
2.  Place the button part on top of your stitching fabric.
3. Secure it in place by popping the other magnet underneath, it will hold the minder on your fabric.
4.  Your needle can rest on the pull of the magnet through your button when you break from working and not get lost or poke you in the arm because you stuck it on the side of the sofa and forgot!

If you only made one it would take all of 5 mins, but I bet if you make any at all, you won't be able to stop at one!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Distraction or prep?

Next week is a big week for us.

Our mischievous, smiling dynamo of a girl will have her open heart surgery in London.  We've known since she was born that this surgery was likely, but it doesn't make it easy to anticipate.  So, amid the planning and packing lists, I did what I least needed to do and stitched something I hadn't really planned to.

Really late one sleepless night, I decided on a whim that I would make some hospital kimono pjs for CT.  They were mentioned by one of the nurses who has been helping us with our arrangements as a good option for post-surgery wear.  Let's just say it wasn't one of my smarter moves.  I'm not a dressmaker, I'm a quilter and I plan to stick to what I'm good at from here on in.  Poor child could have ended up in a right tangle of all those ties if the light hadn't finally dawned and I hadn't fixed my rookie errors!  And those pj bottoms are taking wide leg pants to the extreme!  I was using a pattern but my CT isn't really a standard size - she's just a little 18lb whirling dervish - and my alteration skills are fairly non-existent.  Verdict is, they fit (ish) and are actually quite cute on her, but I won't be making more for Christmas gifts.  I think I just needed to feel like I was doing something for her because this is a funny time when I feel a bit helpless actually.

I snuck in a quick hour and a half's stitching on Friday afternoon to make a pretty, scrappy wash bag for taking just the essentials with me when I stay with CT on the ward.  Last year, my gorgeous and generous friend Di made me a beautiful drawstring travel bag for our trip to the op when it should come around, so I thought it would be nice to make a little co-ordinating wash bag.  (Of course, I really hope to be using these for fun travel in the future.)

I used Jeni's pattern from In Color Order which is a really lovely tutorial to work from.  I did adjust the sizes a wee bit just to fit the 2.5" squares I used up from my pre-cut scrap box.  I lined it with a piece of shower curtain, admittedly melting the first one I used, but finding a better quality non-melting curtain to replace it with.  The shower curtain should provide protection from leaky bottles and toothpaste.

My snatched stitching time was during CT's afternoon nap, but she was soon awake again to inspect the end result.  She seems to have approved, and can confirm that the drawstrings taste great ;-)

So, there you go, some random stitching and a rambling post from my wee head that's all everywhere just now.  But, I hope you'll understand.  She's so precious and it's scary and I am not a machine, I'm a mummy.

Stay safe my little one.  We need your smile in our lives. xx


Thursday, 10 November 2016

Family Tree Plans

I'm planning again. 

This will be my last start of 2016, honest Guv! Well it will be, assuming I actually make a start on it now that I have extracted the ideas that have been floating about my head for the past couple of years and found the "design" I'm after.

Once upon a time, I thought it would be a great idea to make a Family Tree quilt but I didn't get much further than that. Then, there were a number of family changes followed by the arrival of two new little "leaves" and, because I wanted this Family Tree to record everybody's names (embroidered) I needed to wait and see what said new little leaves might be called.  So, the idea floated and flittered around in my ever decreasing brain capacity until lack of time and a wee bit of fear meant I kept putting off and off bringing it to reality.  A few weeks back, prompted by a gorgeous autumnal wallhanging of Judith's in Pretty Patches magazine I knew I needed to make my Family Tree happen.  You should take a peek at Judith's beauty here.

My tree is a completely different shape from Judith's and coincidentally, very similar to the Mulberry brand tree as has been pointed out by some lovely IG peeps.  I am a bit ignorant of such things, so please don't be cross Mr Mulberry.  I was actually going for something similar in design to this block I made for Colette in hipBees some time back.

Where Judith's magazine pattern has really helped is giving the construction information which helped me to simplify an idea I was making unnecessarily complicated.  So, embroidering leaves, bondawebbing and quilting a background fabric - here I come!

With any luck it won't take me another two years to choose the fabrics and I can have a wee portable embroidery pack on the go very soon!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Playing with crochet

For scale this is about 20cm/8" in diameter at this point.

Back in the middle of August I shared with you my French Knitting experiment.  That's a rather grand way of saying I was indulging my childhood curiosity about French knitting and trying to work out what I could do with the resulting scrappy "yarn" length.

As the length coming through the knitting dolly grows I wanted to keep it tidy and untangled by working it up as I go.  This will avoid having to join "yarn" if it runs out because this way, I will just keep knitting the yarn I need until I don't need any more - make sense?  So, I scoured my Pinterest board where I've been pinning mandala and rug and daily patterns for ages, found one to use and then I made a start.  It's only a small start, mind you.  This is Round 1 and a few stitches of Round 2 and those trebles are eating my yarn faster than I can knit it up!  

This is really fun though and the chunky stitch texture is perfect for a decorative floor rug perhaps for CT's bedroom where the foot traffic will be minimal.  If only I was faster at the knitting dolly bit just because I'm impatient to see how it will work out ;-)

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Finished - Christmas Sew Along Mini Quilt

Yay!  I did it!  I kept up with a sew along!  Admittedly, it's only been a wee one, but I kept up and it's finished.

Isn't it sweet?  This is Pretty Fabric and Trim's A Little Happy Sew-a-long project all stitched bound and on an expectant hanger.

Since my hanger didn't have clips like the one Sarah used, I just made skinny tabs and stitched them on before my binding so I could slide my wires through.  Worked a treat!

This little sew along took place over five Fridays and provided me with a focus for about an hour's sewing each weekend (maybe a tiny bit more on this last week).  These bit size pieces were just perfect for me at this time and I can now appreciate the feeling of having a finish.  Truthfully, I enjoyed every stitchy second of this project!

It's not too late for you to make one of your own.  The blog posts are all up on the Pretty Little Fabric and Trims blog, starting 30 September 2016.

Oh, and not that I want to be an enabler, but I did spot on IG just a day or to ago a little peek of a Christmas BOM that is in the planning.  If you like the look of it make sure you are watching Sarah & Penny's blog and IG for the reveal, whenever that might be. - I have to pretend I never saw this ;-)

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