Wednesday, 25 April 2012

WIP Wednesday

Lucy, who is 9, came home from school yesterday proudly waving her "Pen Licence". It looks just like a driving licence, with a photo and everything, and means that she is now allowed to use a fountain pen instead of a pencil at school. One (pink) fountain pen duly purchased, all that she needed was a pencil case. 

I had seen a lovely boxed pouch over at Mommy's Nap Time, and Emily very kindly shared some tips with me this morning on the best way to go about making one. I still managed to totally stuff up my first attempt, of course. It's not completely useless, but is really wide and shallow and not quite the look I was going for. I'm sure Lucy will find a use for it though. She does seem to have an endless requirement for little bags to put stuff in.
Attempt number one. A bit flat!
I had another go, of course, and ended up with something much better. I think that what I really needed was a much longer zip. I only had 9 inch ones and that made it a bit complicated. I used this tutorial, and the pouch is properly lined with all the seams hidden.  I also made her a little tiny matching drawstring pouch to keep her cartridges in. What a good mummy I am!
much more what I was going for!
Also this week I basted my mum's quilt, with the obligatory help from the cat.
I've started hand-quilting it in a whole load of different patterns and colours of thread. I'm really enjoying it - the variety gets rid of the tedium factor nicely!

Linkning up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Saturday, 21 April 2012

I get there eventually

I've been wanting to make a new handbag for myself for, oh, about three years. It's funny, because I usually make decisions really quickly, but for some reason I just couldn't make my mind up. There are too many options. Fabrics. Patterns. Zips (or not). 

The 241 Tote pattern has been popping up all over blogland for ages, and has been high on my "probably this one" list for just as long. It took this fabulous bag by Kelly to finally push me over the edge. That, and the fact that she told me I wouldn't regret it. Kelly, I took you at your word. Luckily for both of us you were right ;-)
It's a fantastic pattern. Really well written and easy to follow. And the bag itself is a lovely size - not too big, but definitely large enough to hold the seemingly endless amount of crap that I schlepp around on a daily basis. I've cleaned out all the old receipts, empty chocolate wrappers and pine cones and sticks (remember, I have a six-year-old) for the purposes of these photos, of course. 
The fabric is from one of the Denyse Schmidt collections for Joann's. Now I have made this bag I want to make about a gazillion more in loads of different fabrics. The problem is that I can only carry one at a time. Maybe I will print the pattern at 75% or so and make a couple for my girls. That will give me my fix without ending up with more bags than one human being could possibly need, although I'm sure many women would say there is no such thing.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

I blinked first...

in the game of Chicken that is the secret swap. Having convinced myself that my partner really didn't care for my first offering, I spent the morning making an alternative. 

It's a teeny version of the magnificent Sparkle Punch Quilt. I would love to make a full sized one of these - the blocks are such fun to make!
I haven't sewn the binding down yet. That's why it looks weird.
My husband is convinced I am overthinking things. Silly man, I would never do that. I was simply trying to avoid work.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A quilt (top) for mum

My mum asked me a couple of months ago if I would make her a quilt, and it seemed the least I could do, seeing as she gave me life and all. She picked out a Kaffe Fassett pattern (the Welsh Quilt, from V&A Quilts) and we hot footed it off to Liberty on a fabric buying expedition. 

Mum had a very specific size in mind (60 inches square, to sit on top of her double bed), so the pattern needed to be altered slightly. I didn't fully appreciate how complicated that would be until I actually sat down to work it out - there are a LOT of triangles in the borders, all of which have to be precisely the right length. Pythagoras was not helping. In the end I used freezer paper to foundation piece two of the borders. I've had the roll of freezer paper sitting on a shelf for (literally) years, and never used it before now, but I have to say that it is brilliant. Just the right amount of stickiness, it's resuable, and the length of the roll made piecing long borders a breeze. 
I promise that it is square, I just couldn't get far enough away to get a proper photo!
I have to admit that this is not my favourite quilt top ever, but (as I keep reminding myself) that is not the point. Mum will love it. Or I will make her love it through guilt. Either works. I'm thinking of hand-quilting it in a diagonal grid pattern about 2 inches apart. She's not mad about machine-quilting, and I want it to be special. I'm not-so-secretly quite chuffed that she asked me to make her something in the first place, so I am going to go big or go home.
Also this week, I finally managed to get around to making the other half of a pair of socks, the first of which I knitted two years ago. I am pleased to say that I now have a total of three completed socks, after knitting the second one way too small. Grrrr. If anyone happens to know a ten-year-old with only one foot who would like a single sock, please let me know.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced

    WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Friday, 13 April 2012

First of many, I hope

Today Rachel and I spent the day sewing, together. This was her first foray into dressmaking. It is surprisingly difficult to find patterns for kids her age (12 and over). All the lovely modern kids clothes only go up to age 9 or so, and then there is hardly anything available until adult sizes. After a good deal of rummaging around on websites we settled on Simplicity 2689, made up in this gorgeous fabric. And finally, with the two little ones at camp, we had a day to ourselves.

It's been a long time since I made clothes (like, oh, about 20 years) and I was a little rusty, to say the least. The instructions really are written in another language and it felt very strange using such an enormous seam allowance. We managed it though, and she is really happy with the fit. I drew a heart on the inside of the back yoke, because of course there is no label to work out which way round it goes. And also, the love thing.

It's pretty good for a little light trampolining, too.

In other news, she loved her birthday quilt. I don't have a single photo of her opening it because I was too busy watching her with my actual eyes instead of from behind a camera. Shocking, I know!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Do you think I could get away with keeping it?

I've finished my doll quilt for the DS Quilts swap, and I love it so much I don't want to let it go. It is pretty heavily hand quilted (along the edge of all 160 fan blades, plus a fair bit of echo quilting) so it has come out of the wash looking beautifully textured. It used literally every tiny scrap that I had of these precious fabrics, and finished a tiny bit bigger than it should have (20 inches square, rather than 18). I hope I don't get reported to the quilt swap police.
The pattern is from this book by Sarah Fielke, adapted slightly so there was more empty space around each fan. That is how it looked in the picture, but I think there was a mistake in the pattern because it originally came out with them much closer together. As I discovered after I had appliqued three blocks. Luckily I hadn't done all 16.
I hope that my partner loves it too. It looks pretty good on my living room wall - I might have to make another one for me, if I can face the idea of all that applique again!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Quilting into a void

I'm part way through quilting my mini quilt for the DS Quilts Doll Quilt swap. It's a lovely way to spend a quiet Sunday.
I really hope that my partner likes this. It's my first ever quilty swap and I am really nervous that it will go down like a lead balloon. Partly because I really love it, and partly because I am hand-quilting the hell out of it, so it is taking forever.

This is actually quite nerve wracking!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

An exercise in bloody-mindedness*

*an unpleasant combination of stubborness and contrariness. Not to be confused with determination, which is an excellent characteristic.

The London Modern Quilt Guild challenge for this month is to create a mini quilt (maximum 12 inches square) that represents your own definition of modern quilting. A selection from the group will then be displayed in John Lewis (a major department store in central London). 

My personal definition of modern quilting is the freedom to create something a bit bonkers. Perhaps using a design that wouldn't normally be considered 'quilty'. To use fabric in unexpected ways. 

Last year my friend Sally blogged about QR-3D - a project to create artwork based on QR codes. I totally missed the boat on it first time around, but really loved the idea. It's been mulling around in my head ever since.

So, how best to make a block that uses 625 (count 'em!) teeny squares and needs to finish at less than 12 inches? Naturally I thought of this fantastic method by Elizabeth of Oh, Fransson where the pieces are fused to interfacing and then sewn together. It's a brilliant technique that I have used before with great results. So, one giant piece of interfacing was marked up, millions of 3/4 inch squares were cut (yes, they needed to finish at 1/4 inch) and the whole shebang was fused. The code worked when I scanned it, so I started sewing. And sewing. And sewing. Fifty seams to sew, trim and press. It's possible that the sole of my iron is now covered in melted interfacing. 

When it was finished it looked a bit wonky, but the proof is in the scanning. Which was a dismal failure. Looking at it you can see what the problem is. The three corner squares - the part that says "I am a QR code!!!!!" - are not exactly square, to put it mildly. Cue swearing, tears and the previously mentioned bloody mindedness.
Don't bother scanning this one. It will get you NOWHERE!!!!!
I realised that I needed to minimise the wibbling around of teeny squares that had been so disastrous in attempt number 1. Foundation paper piecing is the best way I know to do that, so I drew the pattern out in 25 teeny strips (10 inches long and 3/4 inch wide) and spent the best part of four hours sewing, trimming, pressing, sewing, trimming, pressing... You get the idea.

It was a bit unnerving spending a whole day (yes, I know, what about realjob, and laundry, and cooking, and housework) without knowing whether it would work in the end. Finally at 10.30 I attached the borders and fired up the QR reader app on my phone. And YES!!!!!! It worked!!!!!!

Here it is, in all its glory. Go on, scan it - you know you want to!
(If you don't have a scanner, then this is where it directs)
I think I had better get on with all the stuff that got ignored yesterday. Ooops!

Monday, 2 April 2012


It's done! I finished the binding and sewed on the label this morning. Here it is, fresh from the dryer. Mmmmmm, warm quilty goodness!
as usual, thanks to my lovely husband for being 6 ft 4
I am so happy with the quilting. Each stripe is outlined in a different coordinating colour and it looks really pretty, even if I do say so myself ;-)

I made a machine embroidered label for it because there was more to say than I could face embroidering by hand. I hope that she shows this to her grandchildren one day and they are amazed at how long ago 2012 seems.

Linking up with Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations

{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations