Friday 27 June 2014

Seriously excited!

Just couldn't wait to show you my churn dashes all stitched together.


All my Ruby fabrics mixed with some Marmalade and Vintage Modern. Love it SO much!


Wednesday 25 June 2014

Crocheted Rag Rug - Beginning of a journey

You may recall that back at the end of August I posted my fabric scrap rolls which I said were destined to become a crocheted rag rug just because I've always fancied having a go at one really, and it would use up those skinny strips I otherwise don't have a scrappy purpose for.

I would really like my rug to be oval (or probably more correctly a rectangle with rounded ends) but it is surprisingly difficult to track down a tutorial for one online.  The one I did find started out well -

I posted my late night pic on IG and had lots of kind admirers.  I think the random scrappiness of the fabrics caught folks' attention.  Then about 2 rounds later none of the counting seemed to be right, the increases for the rounded end were coming in the middle of the straight side and I just didn't know where I'd gone wrong.  I took a few rounds out and was meticulous this time but same issue repeated.  Clearly this pattern and I were having communication issues.

So, I ripped it back and tried another pattern for oval crochet and ended up with this wavy thing.  A little online research suggested that the waviness was due to too many increases for the curved ends, so continuing with this pattern was only going to compound the problem round by round.  Needed a different approach, so I left this one aside and picked up a new fabric roll.

Attempt no 3 is looking much better!  Basically, I am now working it out as I go along.  I've been a diligent little bunny and am painstakingly applying the principles I noticed in the original patterns to my own counting and it seems to be working so far.  I've used basting pins to mark the beginnings of the each curved section and each straight section (helps a lot with all the counting involved) and a basting pin with wool tail over there in the curved pink gingham end to help me identify the slip stitch at the end of each row which I am NOT supposed to work into (but did several times).  I seem to be getting there, though oval crochet advice hereforward suggests I need to start randomising the placement of the increase around the curved ends to avoid a half hexagon look.  Not sure how good I'll be at "randomising" but I'll give it a go in the name of crocheted rag rug happiness!!

I've had a few questions about my fabric rolls on IG, so thought I'd just quickly recap here.  My strips are all 1" wide lengths of leftovers that were too small for any other scrappy purpose.  From my reading I know folks have used strips as small as 0.5" wide too.  Not sure how wide they've gone but I wouldn't really like to be much wider than the 1" myself.

Making up the rolls is fairly mindless.  I simply stitched the strips together with a straight 0.25" seam allowance.  My advice is just to make sure you backstitch the whole 1" seam for a little security when working the crochet stitches.

Initially, I did try joining them at an angle like you do with binding, but this rug isn't a precision thing, so straight seams aren't going to be an issue, and they're much quicker than the angled ones!   When I'm coming to the end of a roll while crocheting, I can just stitch the end of the last strip to the starter strip of a new roll (unless I want to join as you would normal yarn and bury the tail ends as I go).  Not much to it all really.

Back in April I had a whole bin full of 1" strips to work through which suited that time but I wouldn't necessarily want to face them in this marathon way again.  If I trim the strips to 1" as I am tidying away other projects and sew them together a few every now and then my rolls could gather gradually.

So, there you have it, the beginning of my rag rug adventure.  Wish me well with the continuation of the pattern, I REALLY want this to work.

Sunday 22 June 2014

New Bag for the Summer

I do love to have a new bag for the summer, don't you?  With a man-free zone chez Sew Me this weekend, I planned to tackle such a new bag as a diversion from all the FAL finishes and quilts of late.  Yes, I know I have still got two unfinished items on my FAL list and that time is running out, but I won't tell Katy that I wandered off track this weekend if you don't ;-)

Getting prepared, I started to stitch up my QAYG panels last week.  Round and round and round with lines and lines of stitching (in spite of an errant walking foot!) all in my favourite Bonnie and Camille scraps.  Yum!

I mentioned in a previous post that I had already decided to make Judith's Quilt As You Go Handbag/Shopper Pattern as one of my bags this summer.  It's a very generously proportioned QAYG tote, ideal for summer days out (tons of room for a beach towel, sunnies, some high spf, a good book and bottle of water) or in my case for long car journeys and ferry trips where all sorts of distractions (my book, a little crochet, the ipad, bags of jelly babies and raspberry ruffles for the car journey ...) can be stowed away to occupy a few hours and take my mind off feeling seasick.  It also occurred to me that this would be a very useful number for, say, a soon to happen quilting retreat in the big smoke - imagine all that QAYG in your fave designers' fabric scrappy strips.  Just sayin'. . .

Pic with sewing machine for scale
See how big it is?

QAYG was a technique I've never really had a go at before and I do like how much structure it helps to give your bag.

One of the reasons I wanted to make this bag was to learn how to make a recessed zippered opening.  Judith's pattern instructions really demystified this process for me making it all very straightforward actually.  I do love my pretty lining fabric (from Scrumptious) and it was a toss up between an orange and a red zip for contrast.  As you can see, red won this time.

See all that room inside?
 Pockets are not included on the bag pattern but adding a wee slip pocket is a very simple thing to do.

Never having made an internal zippered pocket for a bag, I was keen to include one on this bag and add another new skill to my repertoire.

With the help of this free Craftsy tutorial I succeeded in creating a useful zippy pocket for my essentials - keys, phone, chocolate ...

So, there you have it, my super scrappy summer tote.  I'm off to stroke my lovely fabric bag and work out how many choccy bars fit in that pocket!

Check out more fab versions of Judith's bag if you need further convincing that this is one worth making.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Retro Butterflies Quilt

Today was too beautiful a day to miss a photo opp in the garden with my newly completed Retro Butterflies quilt.  Woohoo!

This quilt was a class project with original design by She Can Quilt's Leanne and taught in Belfast by Judith.  I have been so enjoying the new skills of curved piecing to achieve these butterfly quilts, and I even did it the hard way with templates.  Not a die cutter in sight for this dinosaur!!

This quilt really started with the backing fabric which is a lightweight curtain which my gorgeous friend Di charmed from some charity shop.  Being rather taken by the vintage feel of it but the freshness and softness of the colours, I knew immediately that one day it would be the perfect backing for an aqua and grey quilt top.  So I raided my stash back then and set aside any fabrics that might work with it and over time I added a sale fq here or half metre there until the stack was big enough to stretch to a reasonable sized quilt.

When Judith advertised this class for her summer term programme, I wasn't the only one to rush to enrol.  And, I am so glad I did!  I love the calmness of the colours in this quilt, the soft dove greys and the splashes of clear water aquas.  It's definitely a summer quilt, so I used some very low loft cotton wadding from Quilter's Dream and added a few echo quilting lines inside and outside each butterfly.

This gloriously over-exposed shot shows off the quilting beautifully.  It reminds me of simple celtic knots almost when you see it from a distance or from the back.

I'm calling this quilt "Flutters of Friendship" because it will always remind me of the other friends who've had a little share in its bringing into being - Judith for her class tuition, Leanne for her original design and brilliant curves piecing video tutorial and Di for her generosity and thoughtfulness in gifting the inspirational backing fabric.  Thank you, lovely ladies!

In my attempts to ensure that this quilt did not add to the WIPs list that I have so diligently been trying to diminish since the beginning of the year, I actually managed to finish up a few weeks before the end of the class session.  But never fear!  Trusty WIP/UFO list to the rescue -

these 49 churn dash blocks have been laid out and are being packed for a piece-a-thon at tomorrow night's class!

Friday 13 June 2014

June Bee Blocks

When I can, I like to take care of my Bee blocks at the first opportunity each month.  This month I wasn't quite as on the ball as usual - combination of having a little less available time and having to think about some of these blocks a little more.

The easy peasy one was the Bee Blessed block that Judith chose to be our BOM for June - Scrappy but Classy block by Anne Marie at Gen X quilters.  This one took more time choosing fabrics than stitching up and I think it'll make a great scrappy quilt for Bee Blessed.

Queen Bee of Modern Stitching Bee, Anneliese, plotted to keep us busy with HSTs for an afternoon but I think you'll agree the results are very pretty.  Her daughter should have an amazing pieced quilt 
when these lovelies all make it home.

As you can see low volume strikes again for the MSBees!

In HipBees, Rachel asked for floral applique blocks in a variety of sizes.  This one made me scratch my head a little lot as applique isn't my favourite stitching style and I didn't want to mess these up on Rachel.

With much thanks to Google Images for helping me find starting points I have made:

a raw-edged sketchy applique 6.5" square with an orange morning glory (you know I never knew they could be orange but they can);

a little bunch of yellow tulips, satin stitch appliqued as best I could (this block is 12.5" square);

and a 6.5" x 12.5" rectangular block with a little flutter of blossoms and leaves of the "Sarah-made-them-up" variety (sketchy raw-edge applique again). 

A trio of floral applique challenges!!

So, there you have it.  All squared up on the Bee Block commitments for another month and next month I get to play Queen ....

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Mystery Medallion - the big reveal!

The Mystery Medallion quilt was finished up last week but I only had a chance to get out today to take proper pics of it.

Ta Da!

I am so pleased to have made my very own medallion quilt and that a design which only took shape as I went along has worked out so well.  (The journey of the medallion is in the Mystery Medallion Quilt tab above, along with the "how to" details if you are interested.)

Those of you following my progress with this quilt will know that I had some dramas quilting her.  I'm pleased to say that those hours of unpicking my first two attempts were not in vain, even though they were very painful.  Thank you to those of you who cheered loud encouragement from the sidelines of the blog and IG as I crossed that slough of despond! The awful distortion has been rectified, although the quilting is now much more discrete than I had intended with some simple echoing in places and stitch in the ditch (-ish) in most others.

Being brutally honest, I was more than a little disappointed that the quilting is now just so ordinary.  It took a while for me to adjust the vision I had of the quilting on this quilt being a real feature but I think now I am accepting that the medallion design is the feature in itself (esp given my limited quilting capabilities).

So, one last pic before I consign this Mystery Medallion journey to my quilting history annals.  I am looking forward to using this quilt a lot!

Oh, and I forgot to add this is also a finish from my FAL Quarter 2 list.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Something new

There has been so much "old" stitching (ie catching up on WIPs and UFOs) going on here that it feels rather lovely to have sussed out a whole new project in the past week or so.

Colours are much nicer in real life.
With my crocheted chevron throw finished and no embroidery hiding in my sofa-side basket I am devoid of hand-stitching projects.  Well, I was, until I rooted out some yarn and started playing with colours.

I'm using the Attic 24 pattern for hexagons which works up pretty quickly for those centre circles and then just needs a little bit of forethought on colour combinations if you are going to use the join as you go method she refers to.  So far so good -

Of course, there are a ton of yarn ends to deal with (hiding behind there for purposes of a quick pic) but it will be worth it if it stays as pretty as this!

Not sure how big I'm going with this one.  No doubt it'll be a much longer term project, though I am hoping it might not be years!!

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Bit of a Dilemma!

I mentioned yesterday that my recent fabric purchases have presented me with a bit of a dilemma.  So here's why -

I've been thinking for a few weeks that I haven't made any bags for a little while and that I would really like to make a couple for this summer - one larger bag for air travel hand luggage and another large tote for taking all my junk on hols.

I've been tempted by so many bag patterns but have settled, I think, on making an Aeroplane Bag (to make the most of cabin baggage allowance) and on Judith's Quilt As You Go Bag (so many lovelies have appeared on her blog lately, not least Shannon's GORGEOUS version).

It will be a little while before I can clear some of my continuing projects and make a start on the bags but for now I am contenting myself with making some fabric choices.  For the QAYG bag I'm thinking lots of Bonnie and Camille strippy scrap left overs - no brainer for me really.  However, making my mind up on the aeroplane bag is not so easy.

First of all, I ordered some Kate Spain fabrics from the Super Sale at Pink Castle Fabrics

and I really thought these would become my aeroplane bag in due course.  I love orange and these prints make me smile!

But then, before the Pink Castle order arrived, I bought a little bit of teal square stitch fabric and when I was putting it away in my stash drawer I noticed how yummy it was with an Amy Butler print that I've held on to for a long time. It started shouting "aeroplane bag" at me, see?

So, I picked up a wee piece of contrasting lining fabric and sighed a happy sigh that I'd got my fabrics together.

However, now that the Kate Spain Sunnysides have arrived, I am soooooo torn.  I love both options and don't know how to choose!


Guess I can mull it over while I handstitch the binding to my medallion quilt ...

Monday 2 June 2014

Busy Mail Day

I certainly kept the Postie busy today with these deliveries.

The first envelope I opened had a snazzy little leopard print tissue paper wrapped surprise inside.  It was my mini quilt win from Reene at Nellie's Niceties.  As part of the recent Sew Mama Sew Giveaway day, Reene designed a fantastic paper pieced pattern made and made it up as her giveaway prize.  I wasn't expecting to win when I saw that Catrin had been lucky enough to bag the gorgeous cushion/mini quilt panel Reene had stitched up.  But then Reene surprised me with a prize for naming her new block pattern - Nellie's Knots.   I am chuffed to pieces that she liked the name I suggested and even more chuffed to receive this mini quilt which arrived today along with some pretty scraps.  Thank you for your generosity Reene!

It's hard to stop people being generous to me lately, in lots of areas of my life, and this second little parcel is another example.  This time the lovely Di picked me up some tape for bag handle linings.  It's like having a personal shopper on the loose!  Thank you, Di!

The last parcel today is kind of courtesy of myself and the very generous 40% Super Sale hosted by Pink Castle Fabrics a little while ago.  Sadly, not all of my choices were available but that's just proof of the popularity of the fabulous discount on offer.  It's been a long time since I indulged in a fabric spree but the Super Sale was too good to pass up.  Must confess this is not my only fabric purchase this week, but more on that and the dilemma I'm in tomorrow.

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