Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Get felt here

Ha ha.  Yes, I made some more felt.  Some time ago I moved on from felting around stones to making flat felt, which was lovely and makes a good mat.  But it's two-dimensional and I need three dimensions!  Then a friend showed me some felt pods she'd been given, and I went straight home and looked up how to make them - I found this tutorial.  Here's a picture of one from the tutorial:

Felt pod by RosiePink

I dragged out my fleece and had a go, starting small in case things didn't work out quite as planned.  I cut a circle from some old bubble-wrappy-type packing (it had foam bonded to it so was quite stiff, which was good), and followed the tutorial step by step.  After the usual rubbing and rolling with warm water and olive oil soap, followed by cutting a hole (scary!), then more rubbing and hot water, I had my first felt pod!


I made it with green wool inside, and grey outside - I always like a pretty surprise inside a bag, so why not inside a felt pod.  My resist (the plastic inside) was a circle 10cm diameter, and the finished pod is about 8cm across and 5cm high. I cut the hole to one side, to make a little "nest" shape for keeping coins or jewellery in.  Later, I stitched some seed beads on for decoration.

The next pod had blue wool inside, and the third, pink wool.


The fourth pod is really the best so far.   I cut the hole centrally this time, and added more layers of grey wool before I began felting.  When fully felted, this one has turned out much more sturdy than the others, which feel a bit thin and may not hold their shape as well.  So for future pods I'm sticking to one layer of the inside colour, then two or even three layers of the outside colour.


Using more layers of wool seems to limit the shrinking that happens during felting, too, as the fourth pod is slightly bigger, even though it was made on the same resist.


Now these small pods are working out well, I'm going to try making a slightly bigger version.  Felty Christmas presents all round this year!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Tu-whit tu-whoo!

How about this bag with an owl looking after the front?


I sewed this one up just before I was taking my bags and purses to a Christmas sale, using Noodlehead's (free!!) trail tote pattern for Robert Kaufman.  I'd had the idea of a bag with an owl on the front flap for ages, then I saw this round-based bag pattern and thought it would work really well.


Of course, the Noodlehead pattern doesn't have a front flap, so I made my own pattern piece for that.  I also missed out the piping as I was working with velvet and fleecy interlining, so had enough bulk to contend with already! When I make the pattern with lighter weight fabric, I'll definitely use piping because it gives such a lovely finish.


I also did something different to sew my strap on than the pattern says.  I find it easier to stitch the strap to the outside seams of a bag, before the lining goes in - that way, there are fewer layers to get the machine to stitch through when you go around the top edge.  Also, when you open the bag the strap then falls away from the opening.


Finally, instead of using a magnetic snap to close the bag (I didn't have one handy), I added a small ribbon loop in the back seam with a big popper on.  That means the bag can be closed without the owl on the lid being pulled out of shape - it can just hang around being an owl!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sew Together bag

I really *heart* this bag! It's a great pattern, and works really well.  I chose linen for my bag outer, with some Liberty lawn scraps on the front, Liberty lawn binding, and for the inside pockets I've used a mixture of Kaffe Fasset shot cottons and more Liberty lawn.


The pattern does use a lot of zips, but to great effect.  If you're not sure about sewing zips in when you start, you will be by the end of this!  I really liked how the bag turns into a round-shaped thing when it's finished, even though it only uses straight seams, and the extra-long top zip lets the bag open really wide.


I chose to stitch the second edge of my binding down by hand, as I wasn't sure I could do it completely neatly by machine.


To me this bag turned out perfectly.  Liberty lawn makes anything look good, and mixed with linen it's divine!  Try some today!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Zippy trippy two

It was kind of inevitable - once one child had one, the other wanted one! So here's my second Zippy Trippy (based on Noodlehead's pattern).


This one has a denim outer, with (by request) a USB symbol on. Inside there's the same vinyl pocket as before, some pencil slots, and also some small pockets for memory sticks and calculator. The binding and pockets are made with some really cool circuit board fabric that I found.


Both Zippy Trippies are in regular use I'm pleased to say. They're a bit of a faff to make, especially sewing that last central piece in place once I've put cardboard in the front and back (I don't think the Noodlehead pattern uses this), but worth it. I'll never get tired of zipping that zip all the way round!


This might be the last one of these I make for a while. Seeing them being used makes it worth the effort of completing them, but they're still a whole lot of work! My next project is a pattern that's all my this space....

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Some vintage hexies

Here's my grandmother's quilt:



Well, really I think it's a coverlet, as it has no wadding, just the top layer and backing. It was made by my grandmother in the 1950s, entirely from hand-stitched English paper pieced hexagons. The fabrics are a mixture of furnishing fabrics and dress fabrics, with a yellow chintz back. Between the hexagon-flowers, there are pale yellow and blue background hexagons.


Each of the 132 flowers in the patchwork is made of seven hexagons, joined to its neighbours and the other rows with two of the background (yellow or blue) hexagons. So, not counting all the bits at the edges, that's at least 132 x 9 = 1,1188 hexagons. All cut from paper and fabric by hand. WOW!!


This coverlet is big enough for a double bed. It's very well preserved, with only a few frayed patches, so I'm not sure it was ever used very much.


Hexagons are my favourite shape of all time! They remind my of bees, and how industrious they are.
I have a hexagon quilt in progress, and another hexagon project in mind - but I'm afraid I don't have the patience to hand-stitch mine together! My quilt hexagons are made from half-hexagons joined into strips and then the strips stitched together. One day I might persuade myself to make a small piece of paper-pieced hexagon patchwork with Liberty scraps, but likely not this year!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Zippy trippy

If you've seen Noodlehead's road trip case, I bet you like it - I did. So I made one, and here it is!


Anna's pattern is for a case that will store craft bits, but I wanted mine (well, my daughter's, let's be honest I'm a bit old to be see with cute things like this!) to hold pens, pencils, scissors and notebook etc. So it needed a zip all the way round, so that when it's closed the notebook is enclosed in the middle and doesn't fall out.


To apply the zip (it was a VERY long one, about 80cm) I stitched it all the way around the edge with a small seam before I applied the binding to the edge. Then I stitched the binding on top, pressed, turned to the outside and hand-stitched down. To cover the ends of the zip in the centre of the case I machine stitched a rectanlge of linen along the centre fold (you can see it in grey in some of these photos).


I love the big vinyl pocket, I'd never sewn vinyl before but it was fine. I think I did use the walking foot for some bits to make sure it moved smoothly under the presser foot. This is such a great idea for a pencil case, to be able to see what's lurking in there! If you're in the UK, I got my vinyl from Dunelm, but I expect there are other places selling it too.


At the bottom I sewed eight slots for pens or pencils, and a larger pocket for a calculator or small cards etc! And on the front, I couldn't resist adding my current favourite birdy! (Originally seen on this mat I made).


Next on my list is a boy version, for Thomas (well, after I've finished a few other urgent jobs like a summer dress in denim, a Sew Together bag, etc). He wants to use some rather funky circuit board fabric I found him a while ago....

Monday, 7 July 2014

Summer Leaf on the cover!

Look what's on the cover of Quilty magazine's latest issue! Yes, it's Not Orange Peel! (cunningly re-named 'Summer Leaf' by Quilty magazine).

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Second kitchen mat

I love my fish kitchen mat so much, I made another one this time with a bird on. The bird motif came from an IKEA print that I love - hoping IKEA won't mind me hacking this!


As I didn't have thick red machine thread to make the outline of the bird, I used my sashiko thread and needle to make the outline in running stitch. Then I used fusible web and machine applique/embroidery to add the neck stripe, eye, spots and legs.


The front is some pale grey linen, and the back is Kona aqua. Inside are two layers of natural batting, with heavy quilting onto the back fabric.


And I'm so excited that my runner beans are growing (and the slugs haven't got to feast on them yet!!) that I'm sticking a picture of them in too!


Friday, 23 May 2014

Sewing a shirt

A long time ago, when I was about 18, I used to sew clothes all the time - I was the kind of square who preferred making things to buying them! The only thing that's changed since then is how much free time I have to make those things! So it's been a rare event, these last 20 years, for me to make any clothes (with the exception of my wedding dress and some dressing-up costumes for the kids). However I made another exception last year, and made my husband a shirt, probably inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee and their shirt-making task.


I ordered traditional cotton Oxford weave shirting from Acorn Fabrics, and the husband helped choose the print that would go inside the yoke, collar and cuffs (Hanky Panky in blue).


A man's shirt isn't a difficult thing to sew, if you have plenty of time. Fitting is usually straightforward, especially for a smart/casual shirt - as long as you get the chest size right and the arms the same length, it should fit fine as it's not a close-fitting garment. You can adjust arm and back length if necessary before cutting out the garment, but I don't see any need to make a toile (although if you've never applied a collar and collar band before, it may be worth cutting these out from scrap fabric for a little practice sew).


The pattern I used for this shirt was McCalls 2447. I wanted a pattern with a full back yoke - some very casual shirt patterns leave this out - a collar band, and sleeve plackets (that's the split that let's the cuff open wide). This pattern seems like one that will look great made up in many different fabrics and styles, so I intend to use it again and again.


Mike was very happy with his finished shirt, and it's had quite a few trips out of the wardrobe. The cotton Oxford is a lovely heavy weight, although it does need ironing! I finished all the seams as flat-felled, so there are no raw edges inside, and top-stitched everything to give the shirt a professional finish. Very enjoyable to make, and I love seeing Mike wearing something I've made him!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival: starry night

This is my second entry in the Bloggers Quilt Festival, organised by Amy's Creative Side (thanks Amy, love your festival!).  I finished this quilt about a year ago, and called it Starry Night because that's what it reminded me of. It's entered in the Modern Quilt category of the festival.


I really wanted to make a quilt for each of my children before they got too old, so they'd be able to grow up with them. This one, for Thomas, started with a pack of charm squares of Kaffe Fassett's shot cottons. The full story of how I decided on stars on a grey background can be found in the original post about the quilt here.


My favourite thing about this quilt is that Thomas asked me to put the moon on the back, because the moon and stars obviously go together! He also asked for orange for the back, which is his favourite colour.  To quilt this one, I used a mixture of hand and machine stitching. I hand quilted from the centre to the points of each star, and around each one in silver, all in DMC perle cotton.  Then between the stars I added shooting star "swooshes" by machine.


Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the whole quilt at the moment but I'll try and get one in before the end of the festival!  I now have some pictures of the whole quilt! Enjoy!




Starry night quilt
Category: Modern quilts
Machine pieced
Hand and machine quilted

Bloggers Quilt Festival - baby bunting quilt

Well this is the first time I've been organised enough to get anything entered into the Bloggers Quilt Festival which Amy's Creative Side is hosting. Such a great idea for a quilt festival I think!

I'm hoping to enter two quilts, and this is the first - a fairly small, hand-quilted one, in the Hand Quilted category. This quilt was made before I was a blogger, so this is also the first post about it. I did put photos of it on Flickr when it was finished, but took some new ones too for this festival.


Inspiration for this quilt came from a jelly roll I had never done anything with. I decided to put similar-colour strips together, then cut them into bunting. I did some rapid learning about how to sew triangles into straight rows too! I didn't have an overall plan to start with, so I made some bunting, joined it to white triangles, and stood back to have a look. To string the bunting I added Kona Sage strips - I pretty much made this quilt how I make most of my quilts, making them up as I go along, with no definite idea of how things will turn out!


Once the piecing was done and I'd chosen a backing, I hand quilted around the flags, along the top strips, and then in-between the flags with waves, to suggest them fluttering in the wind. All the quilting was done on a traditional frame with DMC perle cotton. The perle is lovely to work with, once you've found a needle which is fine and short enough to quilt with, but has a big enough eye to take the chunky thread.



Can't remember how long it took to quilt, but it was less time than the double-bed size one I'd hand quilted previously! Here's a picture of the entire front and back:



And one last picture for you showing the bunting, the quilting and the back. Enjoy the quilt festival!


Baby bunting quilt
Category: Hand quilted quilts
Machine pieced
Hand quilted with DMC perle thread

Friday, 18 April 2014

Nautical bunting

I made this a while ago, but for over a year I've been too lazy to iron it flat enough to photograph! It hangs in Thomas's room, as it was made for him.


These flags are exact replicas of those in the maritime International Code of Signals, and they spell his name, with his year of birth (2004) split either side - so in sequence, the flags are 2-0-T-H-O-M-A-S-0-4 (but actually are shown in a different order here!).


Each flag has a toggle at one side, and a loop of cord at the other, which is how the real ones are made. It means they can be joined in any order you like, to show any message you like. We don't often rearrange Thomas's, but for these photos I tried out a few different combinations.


The next photo shows two of the number flags, which rather than being square are more like pennants. All the flags are pieced from Kona cotton and have plain white backs. I'm thinking of making some for Kitty too, using the correct flag patterns but in non-traditional colours (to distinguish hers from her brothers) - I'm thinking pinks and greens, maybe with some prints.


Do look back soon to see if I've made any progress with Kitty's bunting!
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