Saturday, September 22, 2012


 Sometimes fabric shopping can't be helped... Just look at these lovely ovals by Pat Bravo. This line had completely eluded me, but when I came across it in a blog-giveway (I forget where) and didn't win, I knew I just had to find my own set. I eventually found them at Fat quarter shop, and of course once you start putting things in your shopping basket, it is oh so easy to add a little something... these from Bella by Lotta Jansdotter. I was trying to resist this line, having just finished a quilt top from her previous line, Echo (even as I'm writing, I see that there is something warped about my sense of logic- I loved the previous line, why shouldn't I buy this one? Duh.). I settled for these five, and I have some matching solids making their way across the Atlantic to my door as we speak. Oh joy!
Now what will I make from these? A set of new placemats for myself, perhaps? That will give me lots of scraps to play with later... Or another lap quilt with some text fabric and lovely polka dots perhaps? Or maybe both? Sometimes it's hard to decide...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Memory quilt

Meet my new quilt, Memory. The idea for this quilt came from a stock photo of computer disks which came with my previous computer (remember those?). All the squares and rectangles immediately screamed "quilt" to me, and I had the idea in the back of my mind for quite a while before doing anything about it. Eventually I unearthed an old disk and took some measurements before constructing my disk block in EQ. I decided to stick to just a few colours to keep it slightly abstract. If I had made all the disks grey, you probably wouldn't have seen them as disks at all, but the red, green and blue ones help the eye a little.
The quilt top came together in a couple of days, but it has been languishing in a pile of fabrics on my table for ages, because I couldn't quite make up my mind about how to quilt it. Eventually I decided on straight lines and got to work. Well, I say s t r a i g h t lines, I should say straightish... I seem to find it very difficult to sew straight lines on big quilts. I mean, the first one goes great, but then the next one goes a bit wobbly, the next one will weer away a bit on it's own, and before you know it, the whole thing is a bit askew. I did about a fourth of the quilt, decided I hated the whole thing, and put it away for a while. A couple of weeks ago I dug it out again and had a look, and decided that I quite liked the quilting anyway - it was either that or unpicking everything...
No, seriously, I did like it, so I continued in the same manner, going a bit more wobbly so that it looked intentional. That's the trick, you know - pretend that's what you intended to happen all along!
I backed it with a favourite IKEA print - I've got almost a whole bolt of it, so you'll probably see this one a lot... So, there you have it: a 40 x 40" wall quilt, named Memory, both because that's what computer disks were, and because in our busy digital world, this way of storing data has become a mere memory.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More purses

I had a go at making purses again - practise makes perfect, right? A friend's birthday is coming up, and my mother wanted a coin purse for her next trip abroad, so I set to it. I made a pattern based on this tutorial the last time, but just couldn't find it anywhere, so I had to have a new go.
 Without checking the details of the tutorial I winged it and ended up with two quite small purses. The ones I made earlier are much wider at the base, but these two are quite sweet, and why carry so much small change around anyway? ;-)
I actually find it much easier to make this kind where you glue the fabric into the frame than the kind where you stitch the purse to the frame, but again, that might improve with practise. I used Guterman glue and found that by following the instructions, waiting five minuted after adding the glue to the frame, it was quite easy to attach the fabric to the frame, and any excess glue on the frame rubbed off easily.
And I found my first pattern eventually: it was neatly folded into the glue box. It must have made perfect sense at the time...

Monday, September 17, 2012



I remember coveting my cousin's disco purse when I was a young teenager. It looked a bit like the one in the picture above, except this one is an antique. Hers was a bit more glitzy and shiny and I was so intrigued by the closing mechanism and thought this was the coolest thing ever. That's why I just had to get this expandable frame while I was shopping for purse frames online a while ago and came across it.
I looked for patterns and tutorials online, but couldn't find one, so there was nothing for it but to work it out on my own. I somehow got the idea that I should make it from a circle of fabric (this was before I had googled the one in the first picture). So I cut the largest circle I could on my circle-ruler, 10", in two different fabrics and stitched them together right sides facing, leaving an opening to turn them inside out.
After turning and closing the opening and pressing the circle, I pinned folds along the edge, gathering the opening to fit the opening of the frame fully extended. It took a bit of trial and error - 14 wasn't the easiest number to work with, trying to make even folds.
I got there eventually, though, and stitched the fabric to the frame all the way around, before adding a piece of ribbon  to the two loops on the outside, to make a handle.
This didn't make the best result, I think. I mean, the purse looks quite pretty in all it's polka dot goodness, but the fabric is rather stiff, there is a bit too much fabric gathered at the top and the purse sits quite flat when I close it, making it look like those ice packs you see creatures having on their heads after they have hit themselves in old cartoons. There isn't all that much room inside either, so it's not the most useful item I have made.
I really should have made a more square bag, instead of starting with a circle, to make it roomier, or at least made it from a softer fabric. But that's just something to chalk down to experience, I suppose. It is what it is, for now at least. I might rip it apart and change it later, though - we'll see...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Even the gulls are staying indoors...

Well, I can't really blame the weather - these two will not be going out when it clears up!
I found the pattern in Marie Clare Idees and just had to make them to show I could. Let's face it, a couple of knitted seagulls aren't the most useful thing to have around, but a bit sweet all the same. And the thing is, if the pattern hadn't been in French, and if a friend hadn't said that she thought I couldn't make head or tails of it, they would never have seen the light of day. But I'm all for a challenge, so off I went!
With the help of Google Translate, where I was told I'd need an apothecary's son and a sperm whale among other things, and with the help of the charts, I managed to work out most of it, and what I didn't get, I made up.
So here they are my two new friends. They've brought their own food, so they can stay...

The pattern is here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Appy times

I resisted the lure for a long time, thinking I should make do with the old cell phone I had. Well, maybe not that old - I must have been the last person among my friends to even get a cell phone. “Who needs to be that available?” I would ask, and cite all the reasons why they were a nuisance, like people including everybody else in their private conversations on the bus, or guests spending most of their time on the phone with others during a visit. Now I must confess that I stubbornly make myself unavailable in such situations by switching off the sound of my phone, but about six months ago I finally caved in and got that iPhone I was so fascinated by. And how that has changed things!

I had heard of apps that would let you visit Twitter and Facebook, plan your dinners and shopping lists, but what my friends at work didn't tell me, not being crafters themselves, poor dears, was what a great companion a phone loaded with lots of crafty apps could be.

I started out by looking for free quilting apps, and found quite a lot, most of which I tried a few times and then forgot about. But there are a few that I use a lot - RK QuiltCalc is great for working out how much fabric I need for borders, backing, or pieces. A great tool when you come across a fabric bargain and want to make sure you buy enough. But my favourite quilting app is ProjectQuilt. I use it for keeping track of my quilting plans. You can describe your projects, adding deadlines, when you started, who it's for, prority and even calculate costs, if you must... You can add photos to identify each project - I usually snap a photo of the fabrics I want to use or a screenshot from EQ of a quilt I have planned. Recently I came up with the idea of using it to store information about all the backing fabric I have in my stash. I do this by snapping a picture and adding length and width of the fabric. It took a little effort to get them all out and measure them, but the beauty of it is that now I can quickly scroll through to check if I have the right fabric for backing a new quilt and if it is big enough without rummaging through it all.

Once I had my quilting sorted out, I went in search of knitting apps. I found Needles which is good for keeping track of all your knitting needles by size and type. Another great help if you want to shop for a new project and wonder if you have the right size needles at home. There are several apps that help you count your rows and repeats while you are knitting, but my absolute favourite helpmate is Knit Companion. In this app you can use a pdf file of yor knitting pattern and set it up, with written guides and charts separately. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you get text and charts where you can slide markers to where you are in the pattern, so you easily keep track of where you are. There are also counters to keep track of rows and repeats. The beauty of it is that you can close the app, put your knitting away and the next time you pull it out you can go right back where you left off; no counting to find out where you are in the pattern. You can have several projects on the go at the same time and keep track of them all.

Another great little app is Gaugefy, where you can work out sizes of knit pieces if the gauge is altered.

My embroidery has been left on the shelf for a while now, but with the recent smell of autumn in the air, I was inspired to have a look at my stash. There don't seem to be that many cross stitching apps yet, but I found Xfloss where I can make an inventory of all my floss. It is basically an illustrated list of all DMC colours arranged by numbers. You can add how many skeins you have of each colour, and whether you need to buy more, by tapping the shopping cart. You can also enter projects you are working on or planning, and once you have done that you can assign the different colours you need to their respective projects, giving you a great shopping list.

Now these are just a few of the apps I have come across so far – I’d love to hear about any you have found useful! Yes my phone has become a great little helper. Sometimes it even makes a ringing sound – I wonder what that is about… ;-)