Monday, July 28, 2014

Social tote

The last few posts have been about quick finishes. A not so quick fix was this one: Carolyn Friedlander’s Social Tote. It seemed very complicated to begin with, but it was just a matter of following the steps and reading everything properly. The pattern is well made and everything is explained properly. There's also a very helpful page on her site illustrating the crucial steps.

Now that I have made one, I expect the next one to come together quickly. And there will be more – this will be a great gift for sewing friends, I think and I can already see them in lots of different fabric combinations. 

I didn’t have the right kind of stabilizer, so I think mine is a bit more floppy than it’s supposed to be - room for improvement with the next one!
Fabric used is Elementals by Tim Holtz and the green dotty one is an Amy Butler design.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recycling bin

My new kitchen has more cupboards than where I lived before, but not enough room to store bottles for the bottle bank and glass for recycling. Floppy plastic bags in the corners aren’t exactly an elegant solution, so something else was called for. I had a piece of very thick stabilizer, which got put to good use. I just made it up as I went along, using the width of fabric as the circumference of the basket. Then it was just a matter of dividing the circumference by π (pi or 3,14) to work out the diameter of the bottom (yes, I'm such a geek - but try it, it works!). The lining was just made like a bag with boxed corners.

A bit of heavy going working this huge thing through the sewing machine, but other than that it all came together quite easily, and it makes for a much prettier form of storage than a plastic bag, right?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

241 tote

Before starting on all those quilts that need to be layered, I wanted a quick fix, so I made a tote. I found the stamp fabric at the Knitting and Stitching show in London last spring and just had to have it. It’s a home dec weight which makes it great for a tote. Combined with a cotton/linen blend for the pockets, it got a bit of extra body to it which I quite liked. The side panels are a Sweetwater Hometown print. The pattern is of course the popular 241tote by Noodlehead. A great pattern to work with, with everything so well explained it’s a dream to sew.

I lined it with a fabric I found on Spoonflower a while back, adding a pocket and a loop with a D-ring so I can hook my phone pouch securely in there. There’s a magnet closure in the top. I used sew-in-magnet that I attached to fabric strips and sewed in the top seam while joining bag and lining. A piece of stabilizer ironed to the back keeps it in place and makes it invisible from the outside, you just get to hear a satisfying ‘click’ as the bag magically snaps shut.
 And in case those big stamps make you think the tote is tiny, here's a shot of it hanging on a door.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quilt garden

This quilt has a long history. It started out at least 12 years ago. I had seen a quilt called “Leanne’s House” on an Australian site and thought it was lovely, with a combination of embroidery, appliqué and pieced blocks, but the colours weren’t quite “me”. Then I came across a booklet of garden themed embroidery patterns and decided to make my own. 

For years my take-along sewing to quilt meetings and such were these little patches backed with a thin layer of batting and embroidery floss in bright pastels. I was teased relentlessly about my never-ending work, but was determined to enjoy the process and not rush anything.

At the same time I was plotting and planning the layout of the quilt itself. I had originally planned on making 12 20” blocks, but after lots of revising and redrafting I ended up with a 9-block layout, making it a 60x60” square quilt. Once the embroidery blocks were finished I started on the appliqué and the same teasing ensued – what never ending quilt was I working on now? – nobody realized it was the same one! I plodded on and went along with the jokes on my behalf, but eventually I got to the point where all the appliqué was done and the piecing could begin. 

That part didn’t take that long, and using a drawing app on my iPad as a tool to keep track of what I had finished and what needed to be sewn next, I finished my nine blocks and put them together. I used fabric to match the floss I had used in the stitched blocks. 

The leftovers were pieced for the backing. I did a lot of freehand quilting in green rayon thread, making up patterns as I went along. After finishing it with a dark green binding I should have been done, but no, I wasn’t quite there yet.

Now on most of the quilts I have seen with stitchery on them, the stitchery-blocks have been left unquilted, but with my dense quilting on the rest of the quilt, this didn’t seem right, so I ended up adding some more stitches by hand. A scattering of seed stitches in cream floss on the cream coloured background gave just the effect I wanted, and I got there in the end. 

When I started this quilt I had my middle sister in mind. She’s a keen gardener and the theme seemed just right for her. However, her decorating style changed along the way, going into the gray and neutral spectrum and I began thinking that her tastes had changed so much that she wouldn’t like it. I needn’t have worried though: when she happened to see it while I was working on it this spring she jokingly said: “I hope that one’s for me!” Bingo! The surprise and joy when she opened her birthday present from me was really worth all the effort. It was hard to give away such a labour of love, but I know it has gone to the right home!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Some finishes

In between all the other stuff I have going I have grabbed some time here and there to make a few things, like these little mug rugs from my scrap bag. 

And for a 75th birthday I made a table runner. It is a very simple designs, but I got to show off this lovely leaf fabric which I knew would be perfect for the room it would be in. It was very well received.

One thing about being busy during the day is that it can be quite relaxing to sink down in front of the TV and grab a piece of embroidery or some knitting, and as evidence I have a new shawl and a tapestry cushion to show you. The shawl is Bitterroot from Knitty, made up in a really soft and lovely Malabrigo Yarn Lace – it’s so light and fluffy that you want to immerse yourself in it, but alas it’s just the small version to go round my neck. I’ll remember to look out for that yarn though – lovely! There should have been some glass beads knitted into it, but I didn't find any locally and was eager to finish it, so I managed without. Maybe next time.

The cushion is from a pattern by Emily Peacock and has been in the works for a while, but a bit of friendly pushing among other peacock-stitchers on IG spurred me on to actually finish it. Yay!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Backing up

I’m still working on getting back into the groove with sewing, but there always seem to be so many other things I need to do, like hanging pictures, sorting fabric, organizing bookshelves and what have you… I made this quilt top a while back, but was not at all happy with it. It was from a bundle I bought on a trip a while back and the fabric looked so lovely together. I chose some Kona Snow to go with it and didn’t realize until I’d finished the top that the lovely light blue and pink polka dot would blend so much into the background. 

Eventually I ripped out those four blocks and made new ones, substituting a shocking pink for the polka dot. Ah, much better!

While I was at it I took the time to prepare a backing for this and for the two other tops I have lying on the table, so now it’s just a matter of sorting some batting and the quilting can begin – or I could start something new…

Sunday, July 20, 2014


When I was packing to move house, I crammed a lot of extra fabric into the fabric crates willy-nilly and the crates were hurled into a closet in my new place. Once I had settled in it was time to take charge of the stash.

It took me a couple of days to fold and sort everything and place the crates neatly in the new shelves in my studio. Well, I have to admit this is not everything - I have a few larger crates for backing fabric and solids in the closet still, but at least I have things sorted so I know where to find what I want. And it looks kind of neat too, doesn’t it?