Friday, December 05, 2014

Advent calendar complete


Here it is! Not the best picture, but it's been so gloomy recently, its hard to get enough light. I think it looks very Christmassy and jolly, a success! I bought some simple cream cotton twill for the backing, and some cheap poly cotton for the back. I bonded scraps of mum's wadding as I thought wadding would help stiffen it. I hope I never have to wash it.


I really enjoyed making each number. It was nice to have little mini sofa projects. I did have to invest in a few sequins but all the beads came from my childhood collection. They must be 30 years old! And all the felt was either bits I had myself or from a big bumper stash my sister gave me years a go.


I used prick and pounce to transfer the shapes of my letters and numbers onto felt. You push holes into your template with a thick pin then dab ground chalk through the holes. I made a dabber out of some rolled up wadding, it works like a treat. You are left with a perfect outline of dots on your felt which you then cut out. They were all perfect until I sewed them on. Now they are pretty wonky, but I kind of like that. Or do I? I might have to unpick the worst ones if they get on my nerves. Maybe my pinning was a bit weak.

These are a few of my favourite numbers:






It was a bit of a tight fit fitting in all the presents but it all worked out. I'm not sure I will have the energy to fill it every year, but lets face it, once she discovers chocolate, it's probably all over. It's mainly full of stickers which are the BEST.


See my earlier post for the pattern I followed and Jess' original

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Making up something


I have been fiddling with the idea of making a small sampler quilt of some of the blocks I keep seeing around the place. I've never really designed a quilt before. I am not sure if it will look nice or not or how big to make it. Here is my rough pattern I drew up.

It's either:

1.0" squares making it 27" x 18"
1.5" squares making it 40.5" x 27"

I'd like to do it with these kinds of bright colours and a neutral grey background like this or with my low volume backgrounds.

There are 13 different blocks. From top left to right

1. Goose Tracks
2. Bear's Paw
3. Father's Choice
4. Memory
5. Hour Glass II
6. Contrary Wife
7. Ribbon Star
8. Sawtooth
9. Hearth and Home
10. Bear's Paw
11. Four Patch
12. Weathervane
13. Wagon Tracks

I might add a Carpenter's wheel or scale up some of the blocks. I am still playing

They are all to be found in Judy Hopkins' book: 501 Rotary-cut Quilt Blocks. It lists every block in lots of different finished sizes. I wouldn't be able to work it out otherwise.

There are so many to choose from, many are very similar to each other, making it hard to choose. Here is an example.


I have toyed with the idea of making the Moda Modern Building Block pattern as I like the idea of all the different sized blocks and the swatch like pattern layout. The only thing that puts me off is that it's a big quilt and I am sworn off them. I still like it though.

Here are some other people's which I like

After having a think and a play I decided that maybe it needed a bit of sashing. Otherwise it might just look too busy. I also changed some of the blocks.


Then I added some. Maybe it's all too much now.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Quilt Inventory


Recently I took part in the Soak Instagram photo challenge. I've never done one before and I thought it might be fun. It's a little bit twee posting up so much craft stuff in a space that really isn't about that so I felt a little stupid, but hey ho, I am kind of tired about how the internet forces you to 'portray' yourself as you want others to see you so I just went for it.


The best thing about it was looking through everyone else's pictures. I really enjoyed it. I'll be sad when it's over. The last day's challenge which is today is called 'soakworthy'. So you have to show a picture of something you think needs this special quilt washing detergent. I decided that everything needs it so I took a picture of every quilt in the house (apart from the tiny ones and one I forgot).


So for posterity here is my list of quilts. 24 in total. That seems way to many to my mind. It also made me see why mum names her quilts. I always thought that was a bit twee and overkill, like you are giving a quilt airs and graces but I do think it helps you describe them. My mental names are so boring in comparison. I haven't named them after the patterns they are from purely because I forget those names so it doesn't help me call them up in my minds eye.


Here goes!
1. Christmas Joy - 2000 - Mum
2. Baskets or Butterflies - 2002 - Mum
3. On-point nine strip - 2004 - Mum
4. Conran half squares - 2008 - Me
5. Seaside Rose - 2008 - Mum
6. Country Album - 2010 - Mum
7. Broken Dishes - 2010 - Me
8. Hearts and Flowers - 2010 - Mum
9. Spring Bouquet - 2010 - Mum
10. The Country Quilt - 2010 - Me
11. Stars - 2010 - Mum
12. Wild Things - 2010 Mum
13. Yellow squares - 2011 - Me
14. Grandad's sheet - 2011 - Me
15. Material Obsessions crazy quilt - 2011 - Me
16. Always Believe - 2012 - Mum
17. Rosie Rabbit - 2012 - Mum
18. Penelope's Hexagons - 2012 - Me
19. Penelope's Chevrons - 2012 - Rachel
20. Nighty Night Owl - 2012 - Mum
21. Swoon - 2012 - Me
22. Swoon offcuts - 2013 - Me
23. MapleO - 2014 - Me
24. Batik Buck-eye - 2014 - Mum

Broken Dishes is the only one which escaped the photo as it was in a box. D'oh. (Update! I have since found two more quilts by mum in a cupboard). And of course it doesn't include any that I gave away or are two small to be folded. It's still quite a haul.

13 made by mum the machine
1 made by Rachel
10 made by me
(Plus the ones I missed out. 1 by me, 2 by mum)


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Postage Stamp Complete!


Gold star. Finally. After starting my postage stamp quilt project in October 2011… then putting to down. Picking it up again in Jan 2012… then putting it down, picking it up once again in July 2014… yeah yeah yeah. Finally, today, I have finished making the quit top. I have sewn my last 3/4” block. Phew. I almost ran out of the calico mum had given me. It really was touch and go and some of the Liberty fabric is all but gone. Small slivers remaining.


I really can’t believe I have finished it. I have spent some concentrated time on it over the past few weeks as I really would like to move on. I want to use all the precious leftovers in my scrappy Posie improv quilt. I feel that I have finally ferreted away enough nice bits of fabric in order to start this. I'm really pleased with the borders. I nearly didn't have enough strips of squares to do this. I had to cobble together a few emergency ones at the end. Of course I worked out the maths wrong so that the squares don't join up in the corners, but I just decided I didn't care.


All my planning was basically in vain. I predicted 4.5" blocks; they were 5 1/8". I thought the final size would be 36 x 52: it is in fact it's 47 x 66". I am not sure how this happened but it's all fine.


In the end I sewed each block into groups of 4, then groups of four into four (16 blocks) then sewed two 16 blocks together three times. So it all made for an even quilt. 8 x 12 blocks. All the blocks line up pretty neatly which is amazing. There was a lot of tugging fabric going on to achieve this.

I'm really pleased with the finished top. It feels very tasteful. I spent a long time choosing the fabrics so that I had a slightly purple colour bent. It really appeals to my 'little house on the praire' traditional quilt feel. Time for something really modern after this.

Now I just need to go to my mum's to beg some of her wadding from her enormous roll in the cupboard and piece my backing together from the discounted Liberty fabric I got at Birmingham. Oh and then hand quilt all the plain blocks like this 

Next projects:
Penelope's advent calendar - I really need to get cracking!
Sawtooth star quilt - so nearly complete
Hex purse - just missing a bit!
Fat quarter repro quilt - lost the pattern!

Why does my list never seem to go down?

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Advent Calendar

I have been thinking about Christmas. Is this the year of the advent calendar or can I put it off another year. I could not bother at all, but if I am honest, the one my mum used to do for me was better than the actual day itself so I feel mean denying her of the same pleasure. The other thing holding me back has been the absence of nicely designed Christmas fabric. I find it all really traditional and boring usually. Lots of dark green and red which is not really my thing.

I ummed and ahhed with making something without pockets like this great felt number from Purl Bee. It does have pockets, but what are you going to fit in them? It is really nice though. I worry Penelope will chew/eat/lose the bits though and it will get moth lying formant in the cellar. I am considering it though.

Then Katie posted this bundle from Elephant in my Handbag in her fabric roundup and I thought 'Yes! this could either be gross or great!'

The fabric arrived and I am pleased to report I think it might turn out great! It's really crisp and vivid which I like and the pink and green colour scheme is much more my thing. I hoiked out some offcuts for the pocket linings. The colour scheme from the giant hexagon quilt seems to match perfectly so it will be a good scrap buster.

Advent Calendar

As for the design, well I am going to just copy the great one that Jess made for Mabel. I have no idea what the real sizes are so I am just making it up based on my smallest pocket being 3". That's big enough for some small plastic trash right? I really like Jess'. I hope mine doesn't end up looking like a disco traincrash. I have drawn up a grand pattern. I wanted it to remain as faithful to Jess' as possible. Did I get it right? Who knows!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

State of Play

Postage stamp block
There is no one project to talk about here, rather a whole heap of half started ones or ones on the boiler, such is life. It seems to just be the way I roll. I was trying to do things in order, one project at a time... The mini purse being my current squeeze. I have my mini hexagons all ready to back with vilene. I even cut out the vilene, I just need to iron it on. I have lost the vilene. I am loathe to cut more as it must be somewhere so that project is on hold. So I am floundering around with other bits.

I did find a nice offcut of linen (Ikea stuff from Sam's pencil roll) in the cellar though (where the stash currently lives) for the purse. So that was a result. I do have a whole metre of linen from the local cheap craft shop £4.50! But actually, it's not very nice. Sigh. This is very annoying. Just look at it! The one on top was from Ikea. It wasn't that cheap which is annoying as you've gone all the way to Ikea under the impression that everything is cheap.

So I jumped on the new linen when I saw it in the local craft shop. I never stopped to think it might not be the same. It's got these streaks in it that just look a bit like a regular pattern and it's not soft like the Ikea one is. They are just weird. I need to use it for something that will never see the light of day like a cushion lining or something.

Anyway back to the next project.

The big thing is the postage stamp project. I have moved on loads with it thanks to a full day off working on it. Here are the last 4 blocks all ready to trim down. When I first had Penelope, i tried to do a block and I totally ballsed it up. I thought I would never be able to get it right, but I am glad to report that once I wasn't in a rush, it all went swimmingly. The final blocks are all 5 1/8" square though instead of 5" which slightly confuses me. What an odd number?

I have made up the larger blocks almost. Just two more to make and the main part is done. Then I just need to construct the borders. I really hope I have enough precut strips of postage stamps left as they are time consuming to make. I am really keen to get this finished now that Penelope is in her single bed.


Monday, September 01, 2014

One inch Hexagon Purse


Another day, another piecing project to keep me occupied on the sofa. I am mad for it. Rachel and I decided to make mini hexagon purses. There are two that inspired me. This one by Jessie or this one by Leila. The second comes with a tutorial so I went for that. I finally went through all the dusty bags of Liberty fabric that mum gave me and separated it into tiny scraps and folded pieces which are now in their own special box. Some of them smell of my aunt, which I know is an odd thing to say, but she was infested with moth and was always using various moth deterrents which stank. Whenever I smell that same caustic, musty smell I think of her. One bag smells of that so I am afeared it will have moth, but I just stuffed it all in together so it's too late now!


My hexagons are going to be 1" as I got a bit scared when I saw how small the 1/2" templates were. They seem tiny at 1". I got my templates from Totally Patchwork. They don't seem to show any templates less than 1 1/4" on their website, but the man on the stall at Birmingham assured me you could just ring up and buy more. Maybe I'll make the proper smaller version if I feel bold.


My flex band is 5" though instead of 3 1/2", probably because I wasn't thinking when I saw it at Birmingham.


I've been using my wonder clips a bit to secure my fabric but you don't really need to. I find little appliqué pins a bit easier to be honest. but mostly I just use my fingers. It makes me think that 1/2" wouldn't be too bad after all. I stopped using the fabric glue as I find it hard to get the papers out afterwards and you don't get that satisfactory bump in the fabric edge to sew into. I am probably not gluing well, but I just thought it easier to sit their mindlessly sewing.


I didn't even cut my shapes very accurately but the more I do this kind of work, the more I realise you don't really have to. You can keep them square if you like. I just try not to waste fabric. So you can imagine me just dipping into my scrap bag, sniffing moth smell and watching the Bake Off. That's my rock n roll lifestyle.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ikea Teddy Bed

So I bought the Ikea Doll Bed. I had been thinking about it for some time. I thought that the pillow, mattress and blanket which come with it were pretty basic though. The pillow isn't even a pillow. It just wasn't cutting it. So I set about improving it. First I stained the pieces of wood with dark oak wood stain 3 times. Then I varnished them with matt varnish twice. All before construction. Then I set about making some new bedding with the stash of cheap fabric I bought from Birmingham at Fabrics Galore.

Firstly a new mattress
I just cut two layers of scrap wadding and covered it with grey stripe on one side and the grey dots on the other. It's not like a teddy is going to complain about it being hard. I bound it with some neon yellow ribbon I had so it matched the neon yellow thread I used to glam it up a bit. The Paul Smith grey stripe material worked really well but snapped my needle as the fabric was so fine.

Here is the other side. Simply flip it over and you have a new bed!

Secondly, a pillow
The pillow form itself I made using the white percale offcuts from Empress Mills which I got for £3.50. It's lovely soft fabric, a really great bargain. Now I want to go back and buy a whole load of it. The only purchase other than the bed that I had to make was the hollow fibre to fill the pillow form which was only £1.85 from my local craft shop. Then I made a matching removable pillowcase which I am pleased about.

20140831-P1370047 Thirdly, a duvet
What can I say? I had all the stuffing and plenty of the percale left so I just went for it and even sewed it into sections like a proper duvet. Then I made a matching duvet cover. It's a little baggy but aren't they all?

20140831-P1370060 Fourthly, a quilt!
I managed to finally finish off the jacob's coat quilt. I took it away on holiday and just went for it. It was really enjoyable. It used 100 petal shapes so I really needed two sets of Kim's precut petal shapes which I spoke about here. It was really nice to have such a variety of patterns. It made it look really antique. I had to make up the second lot myself which is a bit of a shame as it means there are some repeats in there, but I had all of mums dressmaking scraps and my own considerable stash.

I think Rachel's cat looks very cosy here.

I backed it with my precious fat quarter of Betsy fabric which I thought I was never going to use. So I am happy with myself for not hoarding fabric. It's really time to let go. I hate that I hang on to fabric, not wanting to use it as it's too nice. How silly is that?

If you look closely you can see that it's not very neat, but it does look very homemade. I didn't use a quilting frame and I did a lot of it in subdued lighting so it's not very crisp. You can also see how I quilted inbetween the shapes. It didn't take very long. And also I changed my original pattern by doing some blocks 1 1/2" and some 3 1/2, just to make it seem a bit more higgldypiggldy. It's all finished off with my cheap £1.65 bias binding. Done. I just wanted it to look old and a bit careworn which I think it does. Here is one last flat on view of the whole thing.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What I bought

As I said in my last post, I managed to buy quite a lot. I thought I was doing quite well, but I ended up spending every penny of my cash and £2 of rachel's. I did not use my card this year which was a breakthrough. A debit card is a dangerous thing at a quilt show.

We really tried to only buy things for projects we had in mind, as we thought this would save money and stop us splurging. Hmmm. Usually we are not so organised. I was on the hunt for material to make the Noodlehead bag with but nothing sang out to me so that project is on hold. It's very hard to imagine what you would actually carry about with you as a fashion item. I think it requires careful consideration. Saying that, the hexagon bags Rachel and I made turned out to be pretty useful after all my slagging them off as useless. We even got a comment from the lovely people on The Eternal Maker stall. So chuffed.

So first off we went to the usual suspects. Worn and Washed, Sunflower Fabrics, Petra Prins and Fabrics Galore. I managed to NOT buy anything from any of them except Fabrics Galore. I bought some teddy bed sheeting fabric which was only £6 a metre so £3 for a half metre. £9 in total, not bad at all! It's all going to used straight away so it's perfect. The grey spots are lovely, just what I had been looking for. They are going to be the underside of the teddy duvet! And the grey stripes will cover the thin padded mattress. The yellow spots are actually going to be binding on another project. I think I am a bit more excited about this bed than Penelope but I think she just needs lots of bits so she can make and unmake the bed.

I also bought some plain white sheeting offcuts from Empress Mills. They were selling two bundles for £7 so me and Rachel got one each for £3.50. A bargain! It's lovely thin Percale. Perfect to go with Liberty fabric and great for teddy bedding. I need to make my inner duvet and pillow. I just need some stuffing and I am all systems go! The bed has been stained and varnished three times and constructed. I had better get my skates on with the rest.

I also bought some binding for the teddy quilt for £1.65 which is far cheaper than cutting up a fat quarter. Well it probably isn't actually but it's all ready to go! The great thing about all these small projects is that you don't need very much of anything.

So other projects in the pipeline... Rachel and I are going to make the quilt on the cover of the Layer Cake book, we have been thinking about doing it for years. We even bought small Jelly rolls from Birmingham about two years a go. I wanted to buy a few more vintage fat quarters as I really think our rolls are a tad thin. I think I need to lay out everything I have and work out if it is enough. I just need to find the book in the mountain of boxes which are in the cellar curling in the damp. The spots from Fabrics Galore will be the binding. I was inspired by the yellow chevron quilt that Rachel made Penelope. I love the binding on that so much.

The hunt for the Posie gets Cozy improv quilt continues. The fabric is the most important thing. It has to be JUST RIGHT like this or it won't have the same feel. Anyway, now that I have finished all the postage stamp blocks, I am ready to start putting fabric aside for this project and getting started on it. I might have to do it in fits and starts so it doesn't overwhelm me. I love this textured white fabric, it's perfect. And only £2! I was pretty chuffed at my thriftiness at this point. 1/4 of the way round and I was feeling like I might just avoid the quilt show panic splurge after all... I did also buy some stash staples from this stall. Two stripes - see the main pic. They aren't for any kind of project but you have to have a few stripes or spots. I love the deep purple. I am really into purple. I was going to use them as teddy sheeting, but I love them too much! They would make great linings for small purses though. I'll probably just hoard them. I am really trying not to hoard fabric mostly because eventually I stop liking it, what a waste!

Then I did something bad. I committed the crime of buying something I already had for no other purpose than I still liked it and had been unable to use it as I worried that it would all be gone. So I bought another lot! Pointless, but suddenly I was Sméagol and I hads to have it. I probably won't even unwrap them. I love them too much. This also marked a splurge. The Eternal Maker got me. £7 is really not a bargain! Premium fabric alert! It seems like there is a lot of fabric around that is over £10 a metre. It's so lovely, but it's just all getting a bit out of my price league. You think about making a duvet cover and buying three metres of that fabric and suddenly it's £42 investment which is way out of my league. A shame really as the fabric is so soft. So the rule is to avoid the expensive stuff if I can. Ooopps

I love them. Heather Ross's series totally passed me by the first time it came out on gauze but now I am definitely up for it. I think some more zip practice is called for. I decided to make Amanda's star purse as I love it so much.

And as luck would have it, the Kaffe Fasset solids which I have been in search of for a long time were all at The Cotton Patch so I could leaf through them all and twist them in the light looking at the shot effect. I am really into purples and mauves at the moment so I chose two of those to use instead of Amanda's warm greys.

I also bought the zip. I have never seen these zips before but they were so amazing that I had to buy more than one! Splurge! You can buy separate zips any colour you like! I wanted all of them. What a great idea! So although they were all things for a project, I felt like I had hit double figures in the cash department and the flood gates were opening! Gulp.

On the Sunday I felt a little crazed and decided to treat myself to an applique glue pen. I have never used one before. Mum doesn't believe in them. She's all for the old fashioned tacking which is what I have always done until now, but I thought I would splash out and just see how the other half live. I am pretty excited about it. I have been meaning to make this Liberty snap purse by Leila from Where Orchids Grow so now I have some pre cut hexagons (another luxury!) and the pen and the snap. I am all ready! A great sofa project and a pretty thorough tutorial from Leila. I can use my linen fat quarter from The Eternal Maker.

Another thing I have been looking for for a long time is filling for pin cushions. Emery or sharp sand or ground shells gives the cushion a good heaviness and is supposed to sharpen pins not dull them. I've never bought any because the weight makes postage really expensive so I saw this and just bought it. I thought it was pretty expensive considering it is just shells but they look nice and fine and after my lumpy pin cushions I am going to appreciate a good filling. Another luxury like the gluepen really though. Again another Sunday purchase. I was going crazy! Stop stop Stop!

The Shuttle had a great offer going on. 6 solid fat quarters for £5. That is so cheap that I just had to buy two lots! They are perfect stash busters. No particular project in mind but I do use them all the time. So I got some neutrals and some bright pinks and purples.

Oooh, they make me want to make something like this for Penelope's room. They are not quite the same colours as the one Elise made, but I think they would look lovely with a few of the neutrals. I am trying no to create projects which aren't on my projects to do Pinterest board though so it's just a pipe dream.

Mum bought me some patterns for my birthday present which I am pretty excited about. They are both small. One is an intricate star quilt Maria created for a tea tray. What a waste! I am not having tea stains on my beautiful quilt. It is going to be a teddy quilt instead and I shall use Liberty scraps and my neutrals. I am very excited. The other pattern is a sewing case and pin cushion. A tiny intricate log cabin one. I love it. I am going to use Liberty scraps for this. Mumple has given me a whole nag of her dressmaking offcuts so I am all ready to go! Two ace sofa projects which require no thought from me. The quilt is foundation piecing though which I have never done so I will need a lesson from mum as I don't get it at all. I have a feeling I am going to love it though.

And last but not least! A bias binder maker. Another thing I do not need! I have never used one though and I thought I would just buy it without thinking too hard. Jeeez. I went crazy. I feel really guilty, but a little happy that everything is for a project on my project pinboard so I am stocked up for a long time with things to do that don't require any more spending.

Then literally my last mad dash purchase was a real splurge. I decided that if I bought a nice fat 1/4 or 16th of Liberty fabric from every show then I would be expanding on my ever increasing stash of Liberty bits for small projects. I have many ickle projects lined up. If I buy bits then it's not too expensive. Plus I can't buy metres from Liberty as they're £22! Of course I ran into this amazing discount Liberty fabric stall. I mean crazy, amazing. Fabric for £12 a metre! And some stuff that you can't get in many places anymore. They had my all time favourite! I already have two metres of this but I just can't use it. I really want to make Penelope a Maggie Rabbit using it but I couldn't cut into my two metres. So I bought some more! And a few other bits. 3 for £10! I went crazy. I couldn't stop. I felt so guilty afterwards. I LOVE IT. LOVE IT LOVE IT.

That is all, I will now go hide it all and try not to look at it until the guilt settles. Birmingham was ACE.