Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Denim tucks

Still playing with this thing. A spiral flower of frayed fabric, some random tucks to even out the hills and valleys made by the previous ones...

...and some woven fabric strips attached with French knots. I'm working on this from time to time, when I only feel like cuddling up under a quilt on the sofa, listening to winter storms raging outside.

But don't worry - I am working on the journal covers too - I need to get some more quilting thread tomorrow!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Journal cover tutorial

I have been having fun working on these journal covers now, and have found easier ways of doing things along the way. As I took photos and wrote everything down for my own benefit, I realized I had the makings of a tutorial here, so here goes - hope you find it useful!

You need:
Three different fabrics (A B and C)
Journal is 7 ½ x 8 ½ ”
Cut two pieces 9 ½” x 21” outside (A) and inside (B)
Batting 9 ½ x 16 ½”
1 zipper 8 ½ - 10”
2 pieces (A) 2 ½ x 2 ½ ”
Pocket for book (C/A) 18 ½ x 6"
Side pocket (A )9 ½ x 9 ½"
Flap (C) 9 x 6"
Lining for pencil case 2 pieces (B) 9 ½ “ x 4 “
Tie 2” x 44” (full width of fabric) (C)
Interfacing 3 pieces, 9 ½” x 6, 4 ½” and 3” respectively.

This is a great method for lengthening a zipper that is too short for your cover. Just remember that your zipper has to be long enough to get the pencils in and out. Fold the two lengthening pieces in half, right side facing, and stitch a seam ¼” from one edge, forming two small tubes. Press seams open. Slip one piece over the end of your zipper with the opened seam on the underside of the zipper and so that it alignes with the metallic part of the zipper, this is to make sure that you don't stitch through the metal. Stitch a seam across ¼ ” from edge of tube and turn tube inside out. Repeat on other end of zipper. Press. You should now have a zipper piece long enough for the edge of your cover.
Place the short end of your cover fabric right side along the right hand edge of the zipper, place a lining piece on the other side, so the edge of the zipper is sandwiched between the fabrics and stitch a seam about ¼” from the edge, using the zipper foot on your machine. Do the same with the inside fabric and the other lining piece on the other side of the zipper. Fold right side out and press. Cut of the excess on the lengthening pieces of the zipper.
You should now have a long narrow piece of fabric with a zipper in the middle and the two flaps that will become the lining for your pocket underneath.
Open the zipper and fold inside out along the zipper and align your front and back pieces along the opposite short end and the long sides, while aligning the two lining pieces in the same way on the other side of the zipper.

Fold the piece at the end of the zipper in half, edges toward the lining (the picture above was taken when I made the first one, without lining, but it shows the folding better). Place your batting on top starting from the opposite side of where the zipper is and pin in place. This should leave about 4 ½ “ on the zipper side without batting. This will be the pencil case.

Stitch all the way around leaving a 2-3” opening at the bottom of the lining. To get nice sharp corners, take one or two stitches on the diagonal at each corner.

Snip off corners outside seam allowance, taking care not to cut into the seam, and cut at a slanted edge from the corner and along the sides to remove some bulk before turning. Turn the piece inside out through the bottom of the lining and the open zipper, push the corners out with a knitting needle, chopstick or similar and press. Pull the lining outside the zipper so you don’t catch it in the next seam.
Stitch a seam across the piece just where the batting ends, and quilt the rest as desired, taking care not to stitch past the seam (like I did on my first one...).
Fold the raw edges of the pocket lining inside and stitch a narrow seam to close it before tucking the lining into the pencil
Make the ribbon tie: Fold strip in half right sides out and press. Open, and fold one long edge towards middle fold and press. Do the same for the other side.
Turn the short edges in and topstitch around the ribbon to close. Place to one side for now.
Iron interfacing on one half of each pocket and on one half of the flap. Fold the two pocket pieces in half, right sides together and stitch around, leaving an opening on one long edge for turning. Snip corners and turn inside out. Press flat and topstitch along one long edge, closing the opening at the same time.

Place your quilted cover on the table, lining side up and zipper to the right. Place the small pocket on the left matching it to the edges of the cover, topstitched edge on the right. Pin in place.
Place the large pocket about 8 ½ ” from the left edge (there should be about 1" between the opposite edge and the seam marking the bottom of the pencil case) and pin in place, topstitched side on the left. Put a pin approximately half way down, just outside and in the same direction as the right hand edge and flip the piece over. Place your ribbon tie across the middle and pin on both sides of the marking pin. The left end should be about 4 “ longer than the right. Flip piece over again and remove the marking pin. Stitch a seam along the right hand side of this pocket, catching the ribbon in the seam, but take care to keep it out of the way so you don’t stitch into it in more places than one!

Now topstitch along the edge of your cover from the bottom of the pencil case on one side to the bottom on the other side, stitching the pockets down at the same time. Remember to keep the ribbon out of the way!
Now for the flap: Fold in half like you did with the pockets, but place a mark about ¾ ” in from each side on the fold and ¼ “ in from the sides on the opposite end and mark lines between these points. Stitch on these lines, and trim excess material, leaving about a ¼”. Snip corners as before and turn inside out. Press, turning the raw edges of the opening in at the same time. Topstitch along short sides and on the narrowest of the long edges.
Place flap with long edge towards the side pocket, about ½” away and stitch a seam through all layers along the long edge of the flap. Fold flap over the pocket and press. I found that the flap was sturdy enough to keep in place, but you could add a snap or a button and buttonhole if you like.
Place your journal inside, sliding back cover into the big pocket.
Fold left side over journal.
Fold right side, with pencil case over (the zipper pull will be at the top - as I mentioned, I made a mistake on my first one...)
Fill your pencil case with pencils or crayons, wrap ribbon around, tie and you are done! I have chosen to make mine with just one fabric on the cover, but there are of course endless ways of decorating your cover: patchwork, applique, collage, it's all up to you!
So there you are - ready to write your Christmas list! I hope somebody wants to give this a go - please let me know if you have any problems with it, and I'd love to see what you make!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Marie Claire has done it again!

After Vicky's glowing review the other day, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of the latest issue of Marie Claire Idées, and lo and behold - here it is! And it is chock-full of inspiration! I was a bit disappointed with the autumn issue, so my expectations weren't as high as before. But after seeing Vicky's photos I knew I was in for a treat, and I was. Apart from the lovely things she presented there are lots more: This lovely teddy made from different scraps of fabric, for one. There's lots of teddy-stuff to make, but I fell for this jolly face - teddies are usually bit sad or wistful looking, and that is part of their charm, but it was fun to see a smiling one for once.

A Christmas wreath wrapped in white fabric and adorned with yo-yos, some of them stuffed and some flat looks really nice.
And what about this quilt? I love the combination of old photos transferred to fabric and appliqued skiers in wintry hues with just a scattering of red.
And all this gardening inspiration - knitted radishes, fabric strawberries and a sweet little produce quilt which reminds me of a pepper quilt I made once for a friend's 30th birthday - I should get a picture of that one!
And I absolutely adore these pins. I believe their heads are made of polymer clay - maybe something to make for my friends for Christmas? It's a pity I have let my schoolgirl French slip away - who knew I'd need it to read Marie Claire...
Still, I get the gist of the articles, and what I don't understand I make up, so I will probably end up with something entirely different, but that's half the fun, though - isn't it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More journals

I had the day off today, and have spent the better half of the day assembling kits for my next seven journal covers. I think most of the time has been spent on picking out the fabrics - once I got into the swing of things at the cutting table, the rest went fast. I have a whole bunch of zippers in different colours - a friend of mine had a lucky find in an old haberdashery in Spain and bought a bagful so she could share with the rest of us when she came home. After

moving them about a bit, I have come up with one for each of the covers, so I won't have to buy anything for this project at all. Except the journals.
I wrote everything down while I was making the first cover, so now it's back to the sewing room, to see if I can follow my own instructions...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One down and seven to go...

My first journal cover is finished. Not that it was such a big job, it was more a matter of finding the time (not to hard) and actually sitting down to do it (much harder). Now that I have made the first one, I expect the next 7 will come together just like that...
At least I know some areas where I might go wrong, so I can improve on my design. The feature that made me want to try my hand at this in the first place, was the built-in pencil case. Especially if you were to use it as a sketchbook, the possibility of having lots of pencils or crayons at hand would come in handy, I thought. As I mentioned before, I got the idea from a store bought journal cover a friend of mine had, but I have made so many changes from the original that I have made it my own.
On the next one I'll even put the zipper in the right direction, so that it opens from the top. I noticed what I had done when I first stitched it in, ripped it out and restitched, only to find later that I had done the same mistake twice! Never mind, I'll make sure next time. I'm thinking that the pencil case would be even better if it were lined, but I'll have to think a bit about how to do that. A button or snap on the pocket flap might also come in handy, but the flap is so stiff that I don't really think it is necessary.
So what do you think? A handy gift for budding artists and good friends?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

So there it is, my Haunted House Quilt up on the wall, and I'm not going to mention it again ;-) I think I've said so earlier, that this was a kit from Keepsake Quilting, so this has been more like painting by numbers - or cutting by numbers, rather. For once I didn't change a thing about the pattern or any of the fabrics (although I did have a go with some bleach and ended up with some pink fabric for another project...). But it was fun to do. I love the fabric used for the background - such a wild and wonderful autumn sky, you can almost smell the bonfires and see dead leaves swirling about in the crisp night air. There isn't a lot of stitching on it - the blue/black is cut in one piece (apart from the witch and bats, of course) and that was the main job. The outline quilting was quick and easy to do, and then it just had some marinating to do before I added the binding...
So, that's one down and on to another - I stitched the triangles for my little floral quilt together today, and now I need to add some appliqué hearts before I stitch the rows into a quilt. Indiana Jones is going to keep me company tonight while I do that - it has been one film after another today, so I have managed to get a lot of hand stitching done - re-basting my Sunflower quilt is one of them. I had cut the batting too small and had such a hard time getting it all together that there was no way around it - the stitches had to be pulled and the batting extended so I could smooth the top out all the way to the edges. Much happier with it now!
That brings me back to my ever recurring problem of going from finished top to finished quilt. I came across a quote from a Himalayan Sherpa the other day. I forget his name, but it went something like this: "When you get to the top, you are only halfway". That's an apt reminder for us quilters too, I think, only slightly re-frazed: "When you have made the top, you are only halfway". I must keep reminding myself, it's so easy to get distracted by another idea once the top is done.
But then that's half the fun, though, isn't it?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Golden opportunity

I just had to buy this little dress from the thrift shop. I might be depriving some little girl of the chance to be a princess, but it has been hanging in the shop window for ages without takers and I honestly think it is too dark and sombre for a little girl: It is in a coppery, greenish shade that wouldn't be flattering at all. At least that's my excuse. Because, dare I say it: I'm going to cut it apart! I thought the fabric would be great to play with in a quilt, adding that shiny holiday feel without the problems of working with metallics.There are two different fabrics (real polyester - 100%!), one smooth and shiny and one matte and wrinkly, so I can see several uses for it. There is enough fabric so that I can share with friends as well :-)

I have been away for a few days, so things have been rather quiet here, but I'm proud to say I finished my Haunted House quilt for Halloween and tomorrow I have made time for sewing, so I will be back!