Friday, November 15, 2013

Things going on...

 Life is pretty busy lately, but I managed to get a bit of sewing done last weekend - I used some scraps and made a medium sized open wide pouch. I had plans for a couple more (you might spot the scraps in the background), but it didn't happen.
It is a bright and colourful pouch, but I must admit I liked the smaller size better, so the next couple will be smaller. Nice Christmas presents anyway.
I have also cut fabric for another quilt.
Which will look something like this. All very well, the plans are there, but the fact is there will be very little sewing during the next couple of weeks. I packed my sewing machine away today. In fact, I have packed a lot of things away already and more will follow...

... because, after two years of searching, I'm happy to announce that I have bought a new flat and will be moving in less than a fortnight! Panic! I have lots and lots of stuff to pack! Will I manage in time? Panic some more! It will be all right in the end, I'm sure, but the sewing projects will have to wait as I pack, move and unpack, and paint my sewing room. Yes! I will be getting a sewing room - or shall we call it a studio? I can hardly wait!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Did I show you this?

It is so easy to get lost in Instagram these days, sharing photos of things along the way and forgetting thet you haven't blogged about them. So I mentioned that I cut the pieces for this quilt a way back, but there has been no proof of actual sewing on the blog. Things have been a bit chaotic lately and I had to come up with another solution than using my design wall (which is a grand name for a flannel sheet I hang on the wall...) so here is what I did. I had drawn the quilt design  - copied after an antique quilt I came across on Pinterest - in my quilt design software, EQ. After making all the blocks, I used the scanned fabrics in the blocks and decided on a random(ish) placement. I tend to get a bit muddled while assembling a quilt top where the blocks are set on point, so I needed a visual aid. The solution was to copy the quilt layout from EQ onto my iPad. I opened the picture in Skitch and used the drawing tool to mark each row after assembling. It worked like a dream and I didn't get muddled at all!
And so here it is. The line is 2wentyThr3e by Cosmo Cricket, with Sketch in Charcoal for contrast. I have to admit that I love the result, although I have been told by the Quilt Police that it is all wrong, as it isn't made in "my colours". Who cares? My colours are all the colours in the world, so there! I haven't decided how to quilt it yet, but that won't happen for a while anyway - I have boxes to pack...

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Stitching along...

These last weeks seem to have been flying along - is the world spinning faster, or is it just me? I have been working on several different projects and started a few more.

With new fabric and inspirational books arriving I feel the ideas are popping up constantly, so I should probably write them all down before I forget.
My mum's birthday was a fortnight ago and I got her a new digital radio, which she was very pleased about, but of course I had to add something hand made at the last minute. So I made her a shopping bag from some retro looking fabric I had intended for her and which has been lying in wait for a couple of years... ahem.

I snapped a few photos just before I left for the party and realized just now that they aren't all that great, but they will have to do. I had been considering using the fabric for an apron, and kind of regret that I didn't, because that's what she thought it was at first, and she seemed to be happy with that. But, never mind, she liked it as a bag, and it brought back memories of her childhood visiting her grandma in the country, as I had thought it would, so it wasn't that bad.

Talking of bags, I have been thinking of making Noodlehead's 241 tote for myself for ever, and recent sightings have put that idea at the front of my mind again - I think I know which fabric to use finally, and that means that half the job is done already! Picking fabric for those sorts of things is a main reason for procrastinating for me it seems.

With new fabric coming in, I decided it was about time I sorted out some new projects and set down to make myself some new quilt kits to have at the ready for when the stitching itch hits. I got the first one cut and decided to stitch just one block to see what it would look like, and before I knew it I had chain pieced all my pieces together - so much for kits for later! The seams are pressed and I'm ready to piece them into blocks, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

I'm still working on the hand stitching on my garden quilt and that's where I'm concentrating the effort this evening. If I finish, I have a witch to stitch for a new pillow - it never stops, does it? :-D

The next kit is also lying in wait - the fabrics are all picked out and the pattern sketched for a purple and turquoise quilt - a yummy bunch of fabrics that will be so great together with some yellow, grey and text fabric, I believe... Yes, I'll be happily stitching all through October, it seems...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dreaming of Italy

My Dreaming of Italy quilt is finally finished! Well, it has been for a while, but heavy rain clouds have made it difficult to get a good picture. These aren't ideal, but they will have to do for now.
The idea for this quilt started with some prints that have been in my stash for ever, it seems. The warm terracotta, mosaic, and vines all speak to me of holidays in Italy and that warm golden light of a Tuscan afternoon. I have been adding different fabric with an Italian vibe to my stash for ages and finally the time was right to get going. A simple layout of four-patches and rectangles seemed just right to show off the fabrics, while the black and white fourpatche tiles setting the colours off nicely, while adding some structure.
I used the remaining bits and pieces for the back, along with some Mediterranean azure and quilted with a peach rayon thread in loose flowery swirls. The result may not actually shout Italy to you, but to me, all the elements come together to remind me of happy times holidaying in Italy, and that should serve to fuel my dreams of warmer places for many a winter night.
I found a black fabric with teal, brown and olive stripes in my stash that was perfect for the binding, tying the whole concept together. And finally here it is: my Dreaming of Italy quilt!

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's a wrap

I've had the Marin pattern on my to-do-list on Ravelry for ages, and I even have some lovely grey/purple Skein set aside for it, but just before I went on holiday, my sister mentioned that she would like a grey shawl or wrap for her birthday. I needed something to do on a rainy day, and after going through the patterns on my ipad I went ahead and found some yarn and got down to work.
The yarn I ended up with was slightly thinner than the recommended yarn, so this is more of a wrap around your neck than around your shoulders thingy, but it is soft and lovely (a 50/50 silk/baby alpaca blend) to the touch and should keep sis snug and warm on a chilly day.
The pattern is rather elegant, I think, with just that swag-like pattern along the edge, but it took a while and a bit of unraveling before I got my head round the pattern as it was divided into a main pattern, and separate patterns for beginning, edge and finish that had to be worked simultaneously with the main pattern. But once I got my head around it all (reading through it all before you begin helps...), it proved to be a quick and easy knit, and I'm actually looking forward to making one for myself as well. Details on Ravelry.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pretty polaroid pillow present

Strictly speaking this is more of a cushion than a pillow, meant as decoration more than for sleeping on, but who can resist using a bit of alliteration... I am as ever late to the party - never got round to making polaroid blocks when everyone else seemed to be doing so, and a quilt using these tiny blocks seemed a bit overwhelming. A cushion though, that I could do. And as I needed a present for my sister's birthday I had just the right excuse.
There are some fun references to things we have talked about this summer among the fussy cut motifs - I can't count the number of shops I have visited with her to find the perfect parasol for her balcony. We never had any luck - they all seem to be dark blue or white this year - but at least she has this to remind her of our quest. The scooter is a reference to our niece who got her two-wheeled dream last spring and had us doting aunties all worried about how she'd fare in traffic. The moon refers to all our late-night phone calls, and so on. I had fun choosing fabrics that had some special meaning. I followed the instructions for cutting and piecing I found in one of the swap groups on Flickr, and didn't really stop to think. Had I done so, I might have stopped after the white borders of the blocks and used grey lattice strips between them, thus avoiding the seams down the middle in the gray areas. But with only six blocks to join, that doesn't really matter, it wasn't as if that extra work was too taxing...
I used a strip of one of the fabrics from the front to hide the zipper on the back, and added a little surprise underneath it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Just lucky, I guess

I'm just amazed by my luck recently. No sooner had I shared my lucky win the other day than I got a message from Kristin that I had also won a giveaway on her blog. And I usually don't win anything. This time I hadn't even realized that there was a giveaway, I had just commented on how great it was to see pictures from the yearly outdoor quilt show in Sisters, Oregon, and not noticed the giveaway information. And look at this lovely prize I received!
There are lots of lovely cards with pictures from some of Kristin's quilts, handcoloured yarn and fabric and a cute hand-stitched tag/ornament.
The fabric is just wonderful. Pieces of lots of different fabrics in three colourways: "leaf", "sky" and "blossom"
Look at all the different textures: cotton, silk, chiffon, and more. I've just been sitting here sorting through them and stroking them for a while now thinking of all the possibilities. Combining them all in one piece? adding bits here and there in different projects?
I don't know yet, but I think they deserve some loving hand-stitching, maybe some ruching and folding here and there? Yes, I need to let the ideas marinate for a bit, but these lovelies will be put to good use, I'm sure.
And this ornament is for now hanging from a shelf on my desk so I can admire all the different coloured stitches while I'm on the phone.
Thank you so much, Kristin!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

There be monsters

My littlest nephew is not so little anymore - 13 today! How is that possible? Being a big boy also means that he will transfer to a new school and new school supplies are called for. His modest wish was for a compass and set of rulers, but if you ask a quilty aunty for that sort of thing, she's bound to make something to keep it in as well, right?

So of course I had to make something, and of course I left it until the last minute, as one does. Ahem.
I had seen a picture of a "monster pouch", but there were no details about how it was made, so I had to wing it. The front with the zipper was easy enough - I just stitched front and lining pieces to either side of the zipper, and top-stitched close to the zipper. The challenge was working out how to attach the back pieces.  After a few attempts where the seam ripper also got plenty of use, I ended up stitching the outer backing piece to the outer front pieces from the zipper, down the side, along the bottom and up to the zipper. I did the same on the top piece and then on the lining pieces, leaving an opening for turning the pouch inside out. This meant a bit of handstitching along the sides where the zipper is, both inside and out. There might be an easier way of constructing it, but this was what my tired mind came up with last night, and at least it worked.

There was plenty of room for compass and rulers and a bit of birthday money and although the birthday boy  became a teenager today, he is still young enough to pronounce it "cool", and that's the best reaction a doting auntie can hope for, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Open wide

Ever late to the party I finally got round to making the Open Wide Pouch from Noodlehead's tutorial for the first time, but it won't be the last! I decided that I needed something to contain all those bits and bobs that end up lurking in the bottom of my handbag and never come to light when I need them, and this one came to mind. Seriously, I don't know what took me so long. It was so much fun to sew, and so easy! I have become more proficient about adding zippers to things lately, and that of course helps. And once that bit was done, the rest was plain sailing!
And it really is useful. With the wide opening you get a quick overview of everything that's in there and can grab whatever it is you need, whether it is your lipstick, bus token or whatever. I'm definitely making more of these, and in the larger sizes as well. I know what everyone is getting for Christmas this year ;-)

Monday, August 05, 2013


Will you look at this gorgeousness I picked up from the post office on Saturday! 24 fat quarters of lovely fabric in a rainbow of colours. And the most wonderful thing of all is that I won it! Yes! I entered a giveaway and to my shock and delight I actually won! Wonderful!
The giveaway was hosted by Katy @ I'm a Ginger Monkey and the fabric bundle was given by Pink Castle Fabrics. Thank you both!
The fabric line is Just Colors by Studio E and has soft tone on tone swirly lines. A very versatile fabric that I can definitely find good use for. If I can bear to remove the ribbon and separate this lovely bunch, that is ;-)

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Sew Together Bag

I seem to have instagrammed every step of the process while making this bag, so it's about time I share the finished object here, isn't it? I first came across this Sew Together bag on Pinterest and followed the link to Craftsy and purchased the downloadable pattern, but it remained on file for quite some time. I was fiddling about with some scraps one day, and started playing with the idea of stitching them together in a Kantha-quilting kind of way, but to what purpose? Then it dawned on me that I could use the result for the outside of a bag, and the Sew Together Bag came to mind. I cut a piece of home-dec weight fabric as a foundation and started layering. The scraps were basted down before I started stitching lines with big stitches, using perle cotton in different weights. After a few evenings of random stitching the resulting fabric had enough stitches to make it lie reasonably flat so I cut it to size and started stitching the bag.
I won't lie to you - making the bag was a lot of work, but not too difficult, so I persevered. I also realized halfway through the process that I was supposed to use a lightweight fusible stabilizer on all pieces. Without thinking I had grabbed the first stabilizer I found, a thin fusible batting. The result is a very compact, sturdy bag, but still very usable. It has three zippered compartments with extra compartments between and on either side - seven compartments in all. With a little pincushion on one side and a needle rest on the other, it will be very handy for all sorts of sewing projects. The bound zipper on top extends beyond the sides and fastens to the sides, forming handles.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The gardener's purse

For my sister's birthday I made a purse. I bought a bunch of these snap frames with big chunky balls on top a while back as I think they are rather sweet, giving the purses a kind of Minnie Mouse look. They were slightly bigger than the pattern I had and the curve was different, so I have been doing a bit of experimenting and I think I have come up with proportions that I like now. It seems that there are a lot of different frames out there, so it isn't easy to find a ready made pattern that will fit. Drawing the outside shape of the frame, adding seam allowance and combining this with my pattern made it all work, though. At least it all came together a lot easier than the previous one.
My sis is a keen gardener, so what better than using Sweetwater Sunkissed with words like "plant" and "grow" inside. Money for buying new plants and seeds can be stowed away here - or the seeds themselves, even. Or whatever she likes... I use the one I made for myself for my phone charger and earplugs, so who am I to say...
At least now I have a master pattern so I can go on and make more purses - they are quite addictive, you know!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Finish-A-Long Q2 report

I rather optimistically entered six quilts this time around, and that just didn't happen. I feel I have been working on a lot of stuff these past few months, but not so much on finishing stuff, it seems...
However, lets focus on the good stuff, right? I did finish two of them, almost finish the third and three tops are also ready, one even layered and basted and that all counts as progress, so I'm happy with what I have done. What I haven't done is blog about it all- in fact I just realized that I never blogged about my Numbers quilt at all - I'm such a bad blogger! This is a whole cloth quilt - part of a duvet cover from Ikea quilted with white echo(ish) quilting in the white areas. I must admit that I stole the idea from Malka Dubrawski at Stitch in Dye, only her quilting is much better than mine, so no competition there. But it can still warm a baby at some stage, no doubt.
Next is the one that I'm really proud of: my x and + quilt which is heavily quilted with parallel lines - I love the texture this gives, so definitely one for my own wall, this one.

Then there is the garden quilt, top right here - it's quilted and bound, but still needs some embroidery around the stitcheries. Not much left, though. The Italy quilt on the right was basted today, so any day now, I can start quilting there. I also got the backing and batting sorted for the other two, so I have enough quilting to do - enough entries for the next round, it seems!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Seeing friends off

There are a lot of goodbyes at work at the moment. Several people are retiring or moving on to other jobs and that is nothing new, but some are more special to me than others, and sometimes it's nice to send them off with a little personal memento. I made the mug rug above for a friend who has worked in teaching and school admin. She got it at her leaving party last friday and was quite moved by it, so it made me feel good having made the effort even though the idea only came to me on Thursday evening.  
 I am a bit better prepared with this one as it is finished a week in advance. It is for an ever optimistic guy who has been like a whirlwind through the office this past year, full of ideas and enthusiasm. I just know he will do well wherever he goes.
 The mug rug is inspired by this story.
And if you look closely you might just see the outline of the pony here.