Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I need a green beanie Mum, because green is my favourite colour..

Certainly son, your wish is my command... (just don't go getting used to it).

Made from the free Basic Winter Hat pattern from Ravelry. I used Carnival Fair Isle Effects acrylic yarn from Big W because it was easy to grab while shopping, circular needles and then finished it off on double-pint needles. My first effort at knitting in the round, and I really enjoyed making this little hat.

Notice the cool spiral rib pattern on the brim? Don't tell anyone, but that occured because I cast on an extra stitch. I realised there was something unusual happening about 3 rows in but decided that I really liked the effect and kept on going. Much better than boring old rib stitch!

Advent countdown

Friday, December 2, 2011

Snakes and ladders - EB doll quilt swap

We opened our parcel this morning and were very excited to find an amazing snakes and ladders game made by the very talented Carmel - and I'm sure her boys were very sad to see it go.

Jack wanted to play straight away (big snakes and ladders fan), and this is so much better than the cheap dodgy cardboard game we have been using.

 Carmel even included a little drawstring bag with dice (die?), buttons for counters and some lollies that Jack decided were prizes for the winner. Photo credit to Jack who took about six variations of the shot above.

There are clever curved bits at the end of each row to show you where to go, and arrows scattered around to remind you as well. And look how cute these snakes are...

The back shows the quilting, and there are hanging corners so we can display it when it isn't being used. Somehow I think it will be a permanent fixture on the coffee table and may never make it to the wall.

The label on the back has a matching snake - perfect!

This is one very lovely, very clever quilt and I am feeling rather pleased and special that someone put so much time, care and effort into something for us.

Thankyou Carmel, it will be loved, used and well looked after.

It bloomed!

It took two packets of seed but I finally got one to flowering stage...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Doll quilt sneak peek - or why quilters are insane

The doll quilt swap is on again and here is a little sneak peek for my partner.

It has been a drama filled few months trying to get this quilt created.

Plan A would have been easy, there was plenty of fabrics in the stash that would have worked. But Plan A got pushed aside by Plan B when I uncovered a special fabric in the stash.

Plan B required a few more special fabrics. I found the border and background fabrics at a local quilt store, and the perfect backing and 'extra' fabrics on Ebay. The design was all worked out.
Then the fabric went missing in the post.

There was no way I could go back to Plan A after spending weeks thinking of Plan B, and I couldn't get substitute fabric in time to complete Plan B, so it was time to come up with Plan C.

Plan C required another search through the sewing cupboards and led me in a totally different direction.
Out came the 1930's fabrics I used for last year's swap and I unearthed some perfect neutral co-ordinates as well, so this will be totally made from the stash (yay me).

Plan C became Plan D and then has probably moved on to Plan E or even F, but I've given up trying to keep track. So much for a quick and simple doll quilt!

(As a post-script, the fabric for Plan B has been replaced by the seller and will probably turn up here before I finish this one. It will be hard to remain focused.)

And this is why quilters are insane - see those big squares in the top left corner?
They are 4 inch squares. Take two of those, sew them together, cut them apart, sew them together, cut them apart, sew them together and cut them apart again (give or take a few repetitions) and you (hopefully) end up with two 2-ish inch squares like those purple pin-wheels on the centre-left.
And see those tiny triangle off-cuts in the bottom right corner? I'm finding it hard to throw them out!


Spring sewing

 Back in August I was intending to make these little zippered pouches for a spring-themed sew-along. August, September, October all came and went, but they were finally finished off in November.
Last I heard November was still in Spring, so guess it still counts :)

Perfect stash-busting sewing. The fabric was from a Spotlight quilters-cotton jelly roll out of the stash. The orange ribbon was tied around the jelly roll. The zipper was from the zipper box, and the lime green lining was a remenent from a garage sale job-lot that has been in the stash for years.

Despite the length of time it took to reach the finished project stage, these were remarkably quick, easy and satisfying to make.

Do you like the pretty calendulas from the garden? So sweet in the little brass vase picked up at the same garage sale and recently polished up during a bout of spring cleaning fever.

Here they are - two little pouches for two not-so-little birthday girls, and only a month or two late for their birthdays.
And if you look closely you can see a freshly picked cucumber snuggled into the fruit bowl.
Spring sewing, spring gardening and spring cleaning all in one post :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Star quilt - on the bed

Exactly two years after blogging that I'd completed this quilt top I managed to finnally attach the binding. It took a few days of hand sewing to get it all done but now it is complete and in use:

That blue valance does not do it any justice, a quick trip to the shops will fix that. I'm very happy with my stars. The quilt needs a name and a label - any ideas?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Getting closer to a completed quilt

I've been busy quilting away amd look how much I've completed!
Just need to do the borders now.

And here is a shot of the back with the light shining through.

It is very hard to get a shot that shows up the quilting. I'll try again when it is bound.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 23 - Cars 2!

This was a 'Nuffnang' post - only posted because I expected to recieve free movie tickets.

Be warned, if you go to the effort of doing as they ask expecting to get a freebie in return, don't be too upset if nothing arrives in the mail.

Don't expect anything other than a curt reply from the 'customer service' department either.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Under the needle (or Surprise...I'm quilting!)

I've finally forced myself to sit down and get some quilting done on my big star quilt.
I was crazy enough to unpick everything I had done, peel off the backing, replace it with a lighter fabric and then rebaste the whole thing.
It was a big effort but I am much happier with the way the quilting looks on the new fabric.
Lesson learned: don't let the quilt shop lady talk you into a fabric you really don't want.

I chickened out on the free-motion and am using the walking foot instead. It means lots of turning and pushing and so on but I'm learning a lot as I go. I'm finding it easier to manage the more I do and my stitching is becoming more even. Pity I can't sew a straight line...
As soon as this is quilted and bound I will try some more free-motion on a much smaller quilt.

I'm not quite half-way through and so far I really only have one little section I'm unhappy with. I'm prepared to call it a learning experience and leave it alone.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Simple Quilt-As-You-Go Potholder Tutorial

This is a super-easy project and a beginner can easily whip up a batch of these in an afternoon.

(This is my first attempt at writing a tutorial so please leave a comment if you notice something wrong with the instructions)

Requirements to make one 10.5" square potholder:
  1. 6.5" square feature fabric

  2. Scraps of co-ordinating fabric (I used 3 fabrics, each aprox 6" by 10"

  3. 1 x fat quarter for backing and binding

  4. 2 x 10.5" square cotton batting

  5. Thread to match backing fabric

  6. Walking foot

  7. Pins/ruler/cutting mat/rotary cutter

Step 1: Cut 1 x 11.5" square from your backing fabric. Lay it out right-side down and then centre the two 10.5" squares of batting on top of the wrong side of the backing square. Pin securely through all three layers at each corner.

Step 2: Cut a 6.5" square from the feature fabric. (This is a great way to use printed panels). Centre the feature fabric square on top of the batting/backing sandwich.

Step 3: Cut the scraps of co-ordinating fabrics into strips. I cut 4 x 1.5" strips from each fabric, but you can vary the width of your strips, or cut them on an angle to create different effects.

Step 4: Trim the first two strips to 6.5" and pin one strip to each side of the feature square, right sides together.

Step 5: Using a walking foot and a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch the first two strips in place, using a straight stitch and a longer stitch length than you use for normal sewing (I used stitch length 3).
Start and stop stitching between 1/8" and 1/4" from the edge of the fabric.
Pull the bobbin threads through to the front, tie them off and trim them. The next row of stitching will cover the ends.

Step 6: Flip the two strips open and "finger press" them flat. (Run your finger along the seam line to make the strip sit flat). Pin the next two strips in place to complete the frame around the feature square and stitch in place in the same way.

Step 7: Flip these strips open and finger press. Add the next row of strips in the same way and continue for each row untill the batting is covered.

Note: After you finger press each set of strips open, roughly trim edges of the strip level with the edge of the batting square. (Photo courtesy of the three-year-old...)

Step 8: Use the rotary cutter to trim the edges of the completed block and backing level with the edges of the batting.

The piecing and quilting is now all complete. Here is the back view showing the quilting.

Step 9: Bind as normal and add a hanging loop at the same time.
Here is a tutorial that shows how to attach the binding: http://http//
I use 2.5" strips for my binding.
Use a leftover strip of binding to make a hanging loop.
Fold the long raw edges into the centre and press, then fold the strip in half so the raw edges are sandwiched in the centre of the strip.
Stitch close to the each edge along the length of the strip.
Fold the strip in half (short edges together) to form a loop.
Stitch the loop inside the binding seam allowance on the back of the potholder before turning binding and stitching it in place on the back (you would do it before commencing step 3 of the Modify Tradition binding tutorial).

Step 10: Find a spot to hang your fantastic new potholder where everyone can admire it. Maybe even bake a chocolate cake to test it out!

Step 11: Sew up lots more for handy house-warming gifts...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

One step closer to a finished quilt

The back is done!

I finally sat down and got the last of this quilt back put together.

I'm not sure about the 'train squares' panel in the top third - I'm thinking about pulling that section apart and replacing that bit....I'll let it go for a few weeks than have another look.

What do you think?

Here is the front.

I might bind it with a blue and white spot or something red to pick up the colours in the sashing.

And here are the two sides together.

I think I will add something around the edges of the backing to give myself a little extra playing room for quilting - maybe some strips of the binding fabric.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pillowcases - and another January finish

I bought some pillowcase kits about two years ago and when they arrived I was dissappointed to find the main fabric was cut so that the directional print would end up running in the wrong direction if I used the pattern provided. The pattern also didn't have the 'flap' inside to prevent the pillow falling out.

Lets face it - pillowcases aren't exactly difficult. My challenge was to use the lengths of fabric provided in the kit without any unnecessary joins and patches. They got put away until I had time to think.

I unearthed the kits while cleaning up a few weeks ago. Yesterday I pulled out the tape measure and the overlocker and got stuck in.

Within a few hours I had two very nice, very bright and very neatly made pillowcases that will look great with Jack's I-spy quilt (which is what I was meant to be working on instead of making pillowcases!). I also wrote out measurements and a rough pattern so I can do it again without all the thinking :).

And as you can see Jack was straight into a game of 'What's your favourite, Mum?'.


I had the bright idea of organising a sew-along/swap in the on-line craft group so that I'd be forced to try out some of the techniques I've been putting off, and to use up some of the stash.

The idea is to make a batch of potholders, send them off and get a whole lot back in return.

I need to make five by the end of February and I've only managed three tops so far, but enjoying the challenge I set myself - to make them without spending any money!

January finishes

I'm loving actually finishing off some of the half-made projects that have been lying around feeling sad and lonely...

Joanna Goanna was intended for a baby shower gift in September or October but I got as far as the feet and had a craft-melt-down. Those things were mighty hard to turn, and there were four of the things!
So I pulled her out at the start of the month and stuffed and stitched and finished her off.
She is from Homespun magazine and I think is designed by Melly and Me.
I used polar fleece for her belly and underside of her feet to make her extra cuddly. She is totally made from the stash, so it is nice to have her finished off.
(I'd better go and remove the blue marker from her eyes and nose before I decide what to do with her!)

One of the problems with doing some hand sewing in front of the TV is that my husband has an issue with pins and needles - particularly when I stick them in the couch while I'm sewing - not that I've ever left them there but for some reason he doesn't trust me....
So I made my own little 'safety sewing stash' from a plastic screw-top jar and some scrap fabric and ribbon.

The jar is big enough to hold a pair of embroidery scissors, a thimble, threader, pins, needles, a few cards of embroidery thread or a reel of cotton and also gives me a spot to stash all the little thread off-cuts (another pet peeve of the other half!).
Because it is plastic it is safe if it gets dropped on to the tile floors.
And I also got to mess around with the hot glue gun...:)

Better late than never...

This is really for my own benefit - I've got a photo from each Christmas morning since I started the blog and thought it would be a shame to miss it just because I'm running a month late!

More pre-Christmas craft

This one isn't really my handiwork - but I helped with the paint and the glitter (mainly cleaning up the mess afterwards) and the pins and paid for the whole thing...
On a pre-christmas trip to the shops we spotted a lolly Christmas tree in the window of a local craft shop and Jack decided that we needed one as well.

A foam cone, a foam star, a pack of glitter and some wrapped lollies found their way into the shopping trolly. When we got home I had a few goes at making one like the shop one but gave up in disgust before deciding we could do a better one ourselves.
It looked great on our new table runner!

And this was one of my favorite 'Christmas Moments'....
...Doesn't every nativity have a racing car and an excavator right in the middle?
I didn't manage to get a photo of baby Jesus going for a ride in the back of the jeep although it happened quite often. I also regularly had to find him inside one of the babushka santas during games of 'hide and seek'.
The advent calendar - despite best intentions it wasn't finished to use this year, but I got the last few ornaments sewn together and hung on the tree in time to pack it away for next year. I'm hoping to get a few years use while Jack is still young enough to enjoy it.
This was given to me (partly made - got to love other people's UFOs) a while ago and I've been meaning to finish it of for a while. There are 24 ornaments, each with a ribbon loop. I sewed gold ornamental buttons to the tree for the ornaments to hang on.
I'm thinking of adding a row of red buttons to the bottom border so all the ornaments can be on display while they wait their turn to go on the tree on the correct day.
I still need to add a hanging sleeve but that will wait until next Chrismas when I know where I want to hang it. I might add a bit more quilting and a bit more bling as well - we will see how I feel in November!

Pre-Christmas crafting

Yep, I know it is nearly the end of January, but I wanted to remind myself of the 'completed' list because the WIP list grew at a rapid rate when I cleaned out the sewing cupboard and found lots of forgotten treasures.

Firstly - two 'Make it Perfect Versatile Wrap Skirts'. I cut these out way back in...?... when I made one in the blue/brown colourway for a swap. I'm not sure why I never finished them but now I have and they have bothe been worn several times.
(And no, they are not as tiny as they look in the picture - just folded to hang neatly on the hanger for the photo.)
Secondly, Jack's rocket outfit. Again started for a swap way back in...?... and all they needed was elastic in the shorts and the applique stitched down. I didn't get the matching button-up shirt made (actually not even cut out) but these were done and ready for Christmas day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tablerunner reveal

Yep - back in November I finished this and sent it off.

Not sure if it ever turned up but haven't heard otherwise, so I hope it got there.

The fabrics are from the 'Wrap It Up' Christmas collection from Hoffman Fabrics.