Saturday, January 31, 2015

Jitterbug Part 5

So I managed to make all the four patch blocks this week. It was slow going as I thought I had cut enough material so I folded it all and put it all away, only to come up 6 short in the end so I had to get it all out again.

Here's the production line showing how I iron all my seams flat. I don't bother doing this unless there are lots of points meeting up, I find it helps when trying to pass bulky parts through the sewing machine. Otherwise they pull and the pieces start not to line up.

Then I started on the flying geese but I forgot that I had cut all my blocks slightly too big, and some of my squares too big and suddenly everything was overlapping and not lining up. I made a right dogs dinner of it all and so there is some serious unpicking to do. My maths was good, I just had too many numbers scribbled down and circled.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Zakka Sewing Case

IMG_0146 I've been wanting to make this for years ever since I first joined Pinterest and pinned this sewing case. I put the Zakka Style book on my Amazon wishlist and a few years later it was given to me by my inlaws. Of course it went into a box when we moved and has remaining in its box in the cellar for the past 2 years.

IMG_0147 The final push was Isabel who sits next me, showing me her pinterest board with the sewing case pinned. I went home, dug the book out and brought it in for her. We then went to a fabric shop to buy some fabric for it as she didn't know what to buy. She ended up making a bag instead in the end but I couldn't leave Raystitch empty handed and decided that if Isabel wasn't going to make the sewing case then I would! They had all those lovely linen Japanese fabrics so I chose Muddy Works Mauve: perfect.

IMG_0149 Nothing I already had felt quite right. I don't buy those trendy linen fabrics much, I guess they are a little thick for my sorts of projects. So it was nice to have just the right project for it. I have avoided the project because I never have anything in my stash for it and these days it's all about stash busting. So it felt very lavish and organised to go in knowing what I was going to make and buy just the right fabric.
IMG_0150 I already had the linen from The Eternal Maker which I bought at Birmingham for no particular reason. It was a perfect fit. Very nice linen. I appreciate that after dealing with the rubbish linen from my local craft shop.
IMG_0152 I went home and immediately cut the bits out whilst watching The Apprentice. Then left it for ages...

So this Sunday I launched into action and it came together really quickly. I used the flouro binding because I lacked a leather thong and I used my John Bull printing kit because I didn't have the time to cut out anything else. I'm a bit sad about that as I have all the stuff somewhere to make a block print. Another time!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sew Together Bag Beginings

I was looking at Blue Elephant Stitches blog and saw these great Sew Together Bags. I decided this would be a good zip progression for me so I bought the pattern from Sew Demented. I had been looking at Flock in navy, by Micheal Miller over at M is for Make for ages. This pattern tipped me over the edge and I splashed out on a fat quarter. I know I said I wouldn't buy and fabric. Failed and it's only January.

All the other fabric is from the scrap bag. I might make a second one out of some of my Lizzy House Catnap fabric if this goes well. Now I just need to find a long zip and I am ready to go.

Here are Blue Elephant Stitches ones. I love the colours. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Jitterbug part 4

Today was a day of measuring and cutting. I decided to set up camp in the kitchen so I wouldn't have to crouch on the floor like I usually do. There was a nice light coming in through the windows; crisp and wintery. A lot of hot tea was consumed in a grand effort to keep warm.

I made piles. I did sums. I cut out en masses. I got it all wrong. There were never quite enough of anything. Sigh.

I give up with the maths in the end. I just decided to create 12 bags and fill them with enough bits. I just keep cranking them out and stuffing my Ikea plastic bags. All the half square triangles are made. All the geese are ready to trim, some are made.

The sashing bits are done. And now it's just a case of creating all the four squares out of scraps. I hope there are enough.

I haven't worked it out. It is probably a vain hope. But you never know. I am quite done with cutting. Maybe it's time for a small side project, so I can come back to it refreshed.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Foundation Piecing update!

I decided to try and finish my block. It was a lovely bright day and it came together perfectly. The inspiration for all this came from wanting to make a kit that mum bought me which uses foundation piecing. I knew I wanted a mini practice before starting it. Then I saw Pink Caramel's blog and her lovely mini Goose Tracks block. Such lovely colours and I love the narrower centre. I really wanted my colour palette to be as nice as hers. Subdued and tasteful with a pink/peach mix.

So off I went, found this excellent tutorial. I laid out the blocks at the end and decided that yes, I too wanted narrower centres.

Ta da! I am so pleased with it. It is so perfect! Who knew foundation piecing could be so amazing? Well actually, I remember Claire telling me it was her favourite thing. Claire, you were so right!

Here it is in context next to the excellent pin cushion that Claire bought me for my birthday which I still haven't rung up and thanked her for. It is beautiful and my block is beautiful. I am going to make the other colour ways that Pink Caramel has created as I am rubbish with colour. It's also made me love these fabrics again. They are so old. All from Sunflower fabrics years and years a go. The dash of peach though is from The village Haberdashery. It is a lovely soft Robert Kaufman Cambridge Lawn. I think this is mango. I wish I had bought more now. I really want to buy some Cookoo's Calling from there, And the flourescent sun print and the Cotton and Steel sparkle. Arrrrggh. I wish I had money!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Foundation Piecing

I decided to have a little foundation piecing lesson. I really was not getting it from people's explanations. It just felt like gobble-de-gook. So I decided to give it a go, fully prepared to mess it up.

I probably should have ironed my fabric, but it was just small offcuts from the scrapbag.

Should I be cutting my threads as I go along? I also wonder if you could do it in a different order?

Wow! It really works! I am kind of sort of amazed. But this stuff actually works.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Jitterbug part 3


So next I made up some flying geese. I decided to use the technique that makes four geese at once as it's less wasteful than the single way. After all the wastage making the Swoon quilt, I am set on saving as much fabric as possible.  

I used this method. I've made two of the 12 sets so I need to make 10 more. 48 geese in total. I have all the measurements down pat now though so I am ready to go.

Since I had all the units though, I made up a test block and ta-da it all seems to fit.

Now I just need to make 11 more... I've made a start. Look at all the trimming I have got to do!


Monday, January 05, 2015

Jitterbug part 2


Here is the block we are making on the left. It breaks down into three parts really. Making the central 4 patch, the flying geese and the half square triangles.

I suppose that step two would be to cut all the units out as per the book instructions. That's 192 half square triangles. Jeez. I can't face doing it all at once. It would kill my spirit. Plus I am a bit worried I might cut it out wrong so I thought I might make a block and make sure it all fits. So that's my step two! I have decided to try and do an hour of sewing a night in the week instead of watching TV in the evenings so sorry for the dark pictures, but it works nicely doing this in small chunks. My attention wanders after a while as it is really a very big quilt compared to what I have been used to. It's a bit overwhelming if I think too much about it.

One route would be to just cut all my 2 1/2" strips and follow the instructions but I thought I might create my hsts in a different way with the fabric in fat quarters - instead of using the Omnigrid ruler they suggest. I have decided to cut bigger squares that will allow me to create eight hsts at once!

Here's the method (see picture on the right)

Add 7/8" to your desired finished size (in my case 2 1/2") = 3 1/4
Multiply by 2 = 6 1/2
That's the measurement of your square you need to cut!
Then just sew along the dotted lines and cut the others. Done.


Well I did that and they were a bit big so I tried a 6" version and it was perfect. I sew just inside 1/4" so that I have a sliver of room to trim them exactly to size. There's nothing worse than a square that's too small. I also ironed my seams flat in the middle as it will make some of the bulky points easier to sew, otherwise I find the fabric moves and bunches and things start to not line up. I also used a plain old pencil to mark my fabric. Sometimes simple is best.


So I'll be cutting 25 x 6 squares in total which will give me 200 hst. Right. Got it. Here are my test ones above. Plus a few Christmas gifts from my mum! A new blade and a 2 1/2" square. I have no idea if it will be useful or not. Only one way to find out!

Friday, January 02, 2015

Jitterbug part 1

So the quilt along begins! If you want to join in then you need the Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts book by Pam and Nicky Lintott. We are making the Jitterbug quilt featured on the cover. Sorry for the bad pictures, I broke my memory card so my phone is stepping in. 

It's a pretty big beast 56" x 72". Gulp. But why not? It's only 12 x 12" blocks, can it be that bad? Famous last words.

All you need is a fat jellyroll...

Jitterbug repro fabric

Oh dear, first problem. I bought a John Louden vintage jelly roll years a go with Rachel at Chilford. It might have even been the first Chilford she went to. They were on special. I put it away and never looked at it again. It's actually only 25 strips. You need 40. D'oh. So for the past year of two I have been collecting the odd repro fat quarter. So now I have 25 fabrics plus the roll. I might not use all of them.

For the white background fabric I intend to use the Egyptian cotton sheeting scraps I picked up from Empress Mills at Birmingham. I have no idea if I have enough but luckily they sell it online! It's lovely and soft, thinner than quilting cotton but lovely to use. I'm not even going to wash it first. I am done with washing fabric. I want my quilts more scrunchy not flat.

Fabric sorted. Part one complete. Are you ready for part two?

Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Year Review


This year I made...
1. iPad case
2. Catnap dress contest
3. Square Toddler Floor Cushion
4. Pillowcase Dress
5. Purse
6. Cushion
7. Hexagon bag
8. Project bag
9. iPad mini case
10. Skinny Pincushion
11. MapleO
12. Teddy Bed Mini quilt
14. Wedding Quilt
15. Advent calendar

Not bad! Fifteen things! I am amazed at myself. The year of the small project has been a success. I have really enjoyed it, especially as some things only took a few hours to make. The cushions and the wand were probably the quickest. Makes me realise I could have gone that extra mile and finished them off a bit more professionally. Next time...

So 2014 has been a good year for making things. Mostly I've kept to my resolution of making small things - no big quilts. On reflection I think I won't be making many more clothes for Penelope. It's just very expensive and they are too short lived. I prefer things which last forever. Plus she's really not girlie enough for most of the dresses. She needs maximum manoeuvrability. She is basically a cross between a dog and a monkey, either running or climbing. I might make her some legging type things when I see cheap jersey but that's all I have planned. The other dresses on my project list are on hold.

I think the big success for Penelope was the simple cushion. It is now Penelope's chill out cushion, she will accept no other. Occaisonally she will now lie on the sofa and submit to watching the TV, usually the first 10 minutes of Frozen or The Wiggles, that's about it. It is a glorious 10 minutes though. 

The MapleO is my biggest endeavour and most favourite thing. I love looking at it. I love the fabric combinations. I want to make another even though I already have one. I would like to make something else with the same fabrics. I don't have much left though so it would be pretty small. I realise I am a bit rubbish at generating my own ideas, I just copy other people's. Sorry guys. I just fall in love with things and when I try and make my own I fail somehow and they just aren't very nice in the end. I need to take some risks though and give it a go. 

New projects for 2015
Jay/Ray/Annie quiltalong - Roll up roll up! If you fancy joining us as we make the Jitterbug quilt from this book then check out my next post all about the quilt we are going to make. It's a biggun as well. You just need to buy the book so you have the pattern and we can all get going.
Miniquilts - I want to make some small ones for ipads and phones to rest on.
Posie improv quilt - another big project I have been putting off so we'll see if it comes up this year. I'd like to do it though as I don't think it will take too long and I have so much fabric set aside for it that I can't use it for anything else. So even if I just make the top, that would be something.
Triangle quilt - I'd like to make something from my own design. This is me giving it a go! A kind of sampler quilt of different sized blocks. I am thinking about it. I need to be brave!
Liberty ninepatch - A good use of my Liberty bits and I have some nice grey or green fabric for the skip blocks. I have the book 'Liberty Love' so I am all ready to go.
Maggie Rabbit - Penelope loves the one Rachel made her. My pieces are all cut and just sitting around so I just need to sort them out and get going.
More purses with zips - I love project bags. This is my next one.
Tova tunic - I just need to find the perfect fabric that I will wear. It also needs to fit well and not look like a sack. Rachel has bought the pattern but it only goes up to a size 12 so I need to get down to a size 12 first! I like this fabric or something plain and soft like Chambray with neon pockets like these

Projects for some time this decade
Clam shell quilt - I bought some mini templates from Birmingham. I might make a small bag. It's all a bit vague though, so maybe not this year.
Knitted handwarmers - I got given a book of patterns at Christmas and they look small enough for my attention span. I got given some tokens for my 40th which I plan to buy some Hiya Hiya sharp circular  needles with so I might make a pair of wristwarmers my first project. More in a later post.
Hunter's star mini quilt - Mum bought me this pattern from Birmingham.
Log cabin sewing kit - Another present from mum. She needs to teach me foundation piecing first.
Supertote - I am still hunting for the perfect fabric so maybe not this year.
Irish chain quilt - Another use for all my Liberty bits. I just love it. But maybe not for this year.

Projects which need completing
One inch Hexagon Purse - I just need to line and finish this but now I have lost the snap opener. I need to do a bit of a tidy up first
Postage Stamp - This is my first project of the year to attack. I am going to lay it out and baste it in Penelope's room this Friday hopefully. Then I can sit on the sofa hand quilting it in the evenings. Perfect. Mumple gave me lots of new Wonderclips so I am all ready to go!
Sawtooth Star Quilt - It's still too big to think about.

Resolutions from last year
To use up scraps
To not buy new fabric unless it's for something specific
To make time for sewing
To do more knitting specially a pair of socks!


I failed on the knitting but otherwise I did pretty well. I'm really getting into using scraps so I'd like to keep this up. I also did really well with my project notebook, making five of the thirty projects listed. It's been a really useful tool for seeing what I have and what I need in order to start a project. It means I can amass things slowly as I see them. So hopefully I can do more of them this year as most are very small and don't take long at all. There are a few big ones in there though which I should probably shelve for a while as I lack the funds to complete them. I did buy quite a lot from Birmingham this year with the last of my savings so with this in mind...

Resolutions for 2015
Use up all the fabric I bought from Birmingham
Use scraps
Make small things from my project notebook
To finish things and not have piles of projects lying around
Make more time for sewing (luckily Penelope hates homemade food at the moment so there is more time these days)
Try to knit a bit
Try to crochet a bit
Learn to foundation piece