Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Some finishes

I haven't felt much like blogging lately and I haven't been doing as much sewing as I did a few months ago, so there hasn't been that much to blog.

I have finished a few things recently though, including the quilt I was making for my friend.
I had intended to do the white quilting by hand and the rest by machine, but my piecing and sandwiching wasn't great so, after outlining each of the flower blocks in white, I was worried that machine quilting would produce puckers.  Plus I was enjoying sitting on the couch in the evenings with my husband watching TV, so I decided to hand quilt through all the squares.  It was a lot quicker than I had expected!  I machine quilted the border and hand sewed sashiko style flowers on the corners.
All in all I'm very pleased, even though it was a bit of a rush job and not my finest work, and the recipient appreciated it greatly, which was the main point!

Next I think I should finish my Birdie Stitches quilt and work out what I'm going to do with my Civil War blocks before I embark on any new quilts.

Also in the week since I finished that quilt, I have caught up on my (very late) January and February hexagons.

Back in January I received some more hexagons too, but appear to have forgotten to post about them

My current sewing project is going back to garment making for a little while.  We're having a birthday party next month and the theme is Steampunk so some costumes have to be made.  My husband's and my birthdays are a few weeks apart and this year is a divisible-by-five-year (I don't know that I'd call it a milestone, and I can't call it a round number) so we decided to do something a bit fun!  Of course I have to go all out so I need to make a jacket, skirt and bustier.  My husband is a bit more willing to work with what he's got so he only needs a pair of trousers.  I've left it up to him to make all the 'gadgets'.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A job half done

I have been so slack with my blog writing.  My life feels like a bit of a blur the last month.  Just this last week I've signed up to be a consultant for The Body Shop at Home.  It feels a bit crazy to do that before I can drive, but I discussed it with hubby and he's happy to drive me around for a while.  Plus it means that I'll actually be able to afford driving lessons!  Learning to drive actually isn't too far away (I hope).  I was driving a few years ago and nearly got my license, but haven't driven for two years.  We have an auto now which makes it sooo much easier!

As for the sewing, since this is a craft blog....

I had decided I wanted to make a quilt for a friend, then whilst cleaning up my sewing room in preparation for the guests earlier this month, I found this pattern I'd bought a good while ago at a craft show.
It's called Le Fleur Rouge, but I can't link to them because their website doesn't appear to work any more.

I wanted to make it more black and less white, which an asian feel.  I headed to Patchwork with Gail B in Bayswater, and with the help of a friend, selected all my fabrics.

I set to work straight away and was able to finish the embroidery in record time because my mum bought me a 'headlight' to do my sewing by night.  I have been dreaming of a 'daylight' lamp for night sewing, but my mum's solution was a lot cheaper.  She got me a camping headlight, which she uses all the time when they go camping.
This particular model isn't the best for hand sewing, as the smallest angle you can tilt the light down is still too far away from my body, but we fixed that with an off-cut of quilt batting wedged behind the strap.

So once the embroidery was done, I cut up all my squares and over a night and a day sewing sessions, I did this:
When I was cutting out my little squares, I started to feel unsure about my fabric choice.  The patterns seemed too busy, the colours weren't quite right, the asian feel got lost (one of the fabrics is red with asian writing in black).  Luckily, now that I step back and see it as a whole, I'm happy with it.  I do suffer a lot of 'can't see the forest for the trees'.

Since taking that photo yesterday, I have tonight attached the borders, which are mostly black.  Tomorrow I'm heading out to buy the batting, and to find something for the backing.  Not quite sure what I want to do yet, and it will depend on what is available since I want to buy it tomorrow and am only going to one store.  I was considering using something 'cosy' like flannel or even polar fleece, but not sure how the quality of the fabric will mix with the batting and quilting cotton.  Guess I'll see what takes my fancy tomorrow.

I'm hoping to have it finished in the next week or two.  And of course I have yet to decide how to quilt it.  I am considering some sashiko-style quilting in white crochet cotton, since it is an asian-inspired quilt, but I guess we'll see how I feel about it once it's sandwiched.

Other than the above, I haven't done any other sewing.  I'm behind in my Hexie flowers, and I haven't made any more progress on Birdie Stitches of Civil War blocks, but once this is finished I'll get back on that path.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Catching up on Civil War

Now that I have finished Birdie Stitches I've tried to focus a bit on my Civil War blocks.  I'm not working through them in order any more, just working on them as I work out fabric, and then putting some aside half done because I've cut something wrong and have to go cut more fabric.

Here is what I've done recently:

45 - Port and Starboard
Fabrics for this block are from hexagons and a solid from my Terrain quilt

42 - H is for Hospital
Fabrics here are the backing from my TV Squares quilt and the fabrics I used for my Halloween Mug Rug (that's how far back this block dates!!)

46 - Apple Tree
All the prints in this block are left overs from my Terrain charm pack, which I used for my as-yet-unfinished Terrain quilt.  The white fabric was used for my husband's waistcoat and the brown/blue pieces were just from my stash since I needed a brown for the trunk.  It was supposed to be an apple tree but the Terrain fabric range doesn't have red really so I made a cherry tree instead.

44 - Union
These fabrics are all solids from my Terrain quilt, as that week I had been trying to match solids to the prints for my quilt.

39 - Hovering Hawks
And these fabrics all came from the second Clucky that I made
The rest of the outstanding blocks have become a bit of a challenge for me.  The idea of this quilt was to make each weekly block out of fabric from the project(s) I was working on that week.  During November and December I would sometimes go a whole week without entering the sewing room.   This means that I don't have any fabric to use for that week.

I'm thinking I'm now going to lay out all the blocks that I have and see what other colours I might need to make it look 'whole'.  I might need more light colours or more dark etc, and then select fabrics which I have used any time this year to complete them.  It then still fits in with the idea of being an album quilt for the year.

I also have to start thinking about setting.  There are 53 blocks for the year, which doesn't make a nice even layout on it's own.  The two obvious options are to leave out 4 blocks and do a 7x7 grid, or as suggested by Barbara, select your favourite block, make three more of it, use these as corner blocks and then you have 56 blocks to do a 7x8 grid.  I want to put sashings between the blocks, so some of the decision will come down to finished size, and finished size will really depend on what I want to use the quilt for, which I haven't decided yet.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Little Birdie Pirates

I have finally finished all the blocks for the Birdie Stitches quilt.  Aside from falling behind because I was too busy doing other things, I also hit a snag in November.  

Most of the block designs centred around the seasons or holidays/celebrations in the U.S.  This was okay, I'd just decided that I'd do a bit of a re-arrange when I made my quilt, make the seasons match the southern hemisphere etc.  Until I got to November... the block was about Thanksgiving.  We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia so it had no significance to me.

After finishing all the other blocks, I laid them out to see which designs could go in which month.  Hubby and I decided to leave the 'blank' month in September, which is my daughter's birthday month (this is destined to be her 'big girl bed' quilt).  She is also born on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so that settled it and we had to have a pirate birdie.  In the end it was a pirate birdie opening a treasure chest which is a present.

So now I have to get too and put the quilt top together.  I have all the fabric ready, but it might have to wait till my house guests leave.

My mum and 10 year old niece are visiting for a little over a week so there is lots of time spent in the sewing room after baby has gone to bed.  Tonight we are working on making a cushion cover.

My niece has selected fabrics and sewn squares together, now she is attaching ribbons and braids to decorate it. She has done all the sewing herself which is great.  It was fun watching her work through the design process, selecting fabrics she liked but then discovering they don't go together and having to find new ones.  She is currently looking for fabrics to make a cushion cover for her younger brother.  Hopefully I can share some pictures with you when she's finished.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hexagon flowers everywhere!

After posting yesterday that I had received my December Hexie Flowers, I found an envelope on the kitchen table today and discovered THEY were my December flowers, and the others where November.

So here are my lovely DECEMBER flowers to add to my garden

I've finally decided on a colour theme for my flowers and that pink one will go perfectly with the idea I have!  All the other flowers will come in handy somewhere I'm sure....

Challenge Yourself - A New Year

You may, or may not, have noticed that I quietly skipped over Challenge Yourself December.  I reached my November goal, but then my life took a different focus for next few weeks and I haven't done much in the sewing of late. So much so that the doorway is now rather blocked off my boxes of books where we were sorting out the study!

Next week my mother and niece are coming to visit, so I have to clean up the sewing room so we can all fit in there.  I know there is a cutting table in there under everything!  This, combined with the hand sewing I've been doing in the last week is starting to bring my sewing mojo back, so what a good time to set some goals.

So for January, these are year long goals.

My specific, measurable goals are:
  • Finish the Birdie Stitches quilt top (and maybe see about quilting it or having it quilted)
  • Finish all my Civil War blocks
  • Make a quilt top out of the Civil War blocks
  • Complete the Free Motion Quilting Challenge
  • NOT take on any block of the month type projects which last the whole year
  • Complete all my Inchy Hexagon Flowers for the swap on time
  • Make a charity quilt (I've had an idea lurking for years and it's finally reach a practical solution)
  • Start working on my Tail Feathers quilt

My more vague and not quite so measurable goals are:
  • Use up more of my stash (isn't this everyone's goal?)
  • Make some more of the Desperate Housewife's blocks
  • Do more dressmaking
  • Use my industrial sewing machine more.  The Monster is not feeling the love at the moment

I would also like to run a block of the month/quilt-a-long type project but I'm not going to set that as a specific goal because it's waiting for creativity to strike first and you can't always rush that.

So that's my list of crafty goals for the year.  VERY achievable I believe.  I should print it out and stick it on a wall in my sewing room to remind me, especially for the non-measurable goals.

What goals are you setting for yourself this New Year?  Link up below and share your goal to inspire others, or to get some support yourself!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Two birds with one stone (or needle?)

Thanks to my bright idea of moving my floor lamp into the front lounge room, I've been able to enjoy my recent habit of watching TV with hubby AND make progress on some of my hand sewing.  That's how I caught up with my hexagons the other week.

So the last few days I've been concentrating on my Birdie Stitches blocks.  I've now finished October and December.
I haven't done November as it is based around Thanksgiving, and being an Australian, this means nothing to me.  I've also rearranged the block order because a lot of them match up with the Northern Hemisphere seasons and I want them to match ours.  This means that my 'missing' month may not be November.  Hoping that I can work with hubby to design an extra block and then it will be all ready to put together.  I had decided that I wanted to finish these blocks (minus November) this year, and I put the star on the tree last night!

I'm not planning on starting any BOMs next year, but I have signed up for the Free Motion Quilt Challenge, which is a once a month task, so that should be enough to keep me busy.  I've still got all those Civil War blocks to catch up on too!!!

Last week I received my December hexies, I just kept forgetting to photograph them.  I love the cute little owls, and the sunflowers actually remind me of some underwear I used to own, would you believe!!  LOL

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm not dead

I promise.

I just haven't done much crafting of late.  I seem to be spending my evenings sitting on the couch watching TV with my hubby.  Which is great for relaxation and togetherness, but not so good for sewing projects!

It does mean that I have managed to finish my overdue November hexies and December hexies for the Inchy Hexagon Flower Swap.  Here is a sneak peak since I know some of the recipients follow my blog.  Hopefully they will be in the post tomorrow.
I also received my November hexies but I forgot to take a photo of them tonight, so that gives me something else to do in the next few days!

This week I received my order of Woodland fabric by Natalie of Cinderberry Stitches.  I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, but I love her work so much I just had to have some.

And I've done a little bit of cutting out of Civil War blocks.  Trying to catch up!

I don't really get a 'break' over Christmas so I can't say that I'll have more time to catch up, but here's hoping.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quick Santa Sack - Tutorial

As promised, here is a tutorial for the Santa Sack I made on the weekend.
Mine came out about the size of a regular pillow case, but you can of course make it any size you want.  The sack has french seams so there are no raw edges and you don't need an overlocker/serger to create a nice finish.

It might seem like a lot of steps, but they're all very simple and quick.  All the images can be clicked to see a larger version.

Materials needed to make the same size as mine:
1/2 yard of main fabric
fat 1/4 of trim fabric

1.  Cut your half yard of fabric (if it isn't already cut) and trim the selvedges.  Lay it on the table folded in half with WRONG sides together.  In the photo below, the fold is on the left side and the edges where the selvedges were are on the right.

2. Cut two pieces of your trim fabric to be the same width as the main fabric and as deep as you'd like, plus 1" for seam allowance.  My rectangles were 18" x 6-1/2".

3. Sew the long side seams of your main fabric with a 1/4" seam.

4. Turn your sack inside out and push out your corners.  Press the seam flat ensuring the stitches are rolled out as far as they go. You should be able to see the stitches in between the two layers of fabric.

5. Stitch the side seam again, this time using a seam allowance large enough to enclose the previous seam allowance.  In my case this was 3/8" but you can make it bigger if you need.  Do not turn your bag inside out again.  It should now be right-side on the inside.

6. Join the two rectangles of your trim fabric together.  To work out the seam allowance you need to add together your seam allowance from step 3 and step 5, then add a tiny bit.  In my case this is 5/8" and I lined my fabric up just over the 5/8" mark on my machine to add the tiny bit.

7.  Press the seams open and press under 1/2" along the bottom edge.

8. Pin the trim fabric to the outside of the sack at the top.  This means that you are matching the RIGHT side of the trim fabric with the WRONG side of the sack.  Match up the side seams and pin in place then stitch around with a 1/2" seam allowance.

9. Pull up the trim fabric, and press the seam allowance down into your sack.

10. On what is currently the outside of the sack, do a row of understitching along the sack edge, close to the join with the trim fabric.  This should be sewn through all layers (including the seam allowance at the back).

11. Turn your sack out the right way and fold the trim fabric over the top.  Press well to make a neat edge.

12. Topstitch down the trim fabric along the bottom edge, close to the fold.  (I actually turned my sack inside-out again to do this step as I couldn't be bothered to set up the free-arm)

13. Give it all a good press, and you have a Santa Sack ready to be filled with surprises.

Let me know if you make one, I'd love to see the finished products!

Finally some Christmas sewing

Following on from my November Challenge.... I did none of the things on my list last month.  You may have noticed that I didn't even bother setting a December Challenge.  Well this weekend I found a small hint of my sewing mojo and made the santa sack I've been wanting to do for my daughter.
It's about the size of a regular pillow slip, uses half a yard of fabric plus a fat quarter and was made up one night after dinner.

I had originally thought about putting her name on it but then decided I didn't want to spend the time at the moment.  To save confusion with later children, I'll just make them in different colours.

Stay tuned for a tutorial on how to make one, hopefully I'll post it this evening.


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