Saturday, 26 May 2012

Found some inspiration...

... and so made another purse :) It was a gift for a friend's birthday.

While making this I finally got round to checking the distance between my sewing machine needle and the edge of the sewing machine foot. I'd always assumed that it was 1/4" and hence used it as a guide when doing patchwork. Recently however I know I've been cutting fabric accurately (ridiculously so) but my blocks have been coming out smaller than intended. Turns out the distance is more like 3/8" which would explain it. Feel much better about my sizing problems now!

I think I might need to invest in a 1/4" foot to keep my perfectionist side happy. But I'll definitely check that sewing box first to make sure I don't already have one! Still a few feet in there which I've yet to identify...

Oh, and so you know, the wrapping paper quilt is coming along really well! The quilt top is finished and I'm now on the hunt for some backing fabric. Very much enjoying making it :)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Beans 'n' Bags

Having enjoyed appliqué so much with the doll quilt back, I decided to give it another go :) I used this tutorial from Sew Like My Mom to make personalised bean bags for a little boy. Here's the story in photos.

Picked a cool font (Agent Orange) and did some tracing

Picked out some fabrics (the Oxfam duvet cover comes in handy again!) and cut out the letters and bean bag squares

Got very excited sewing zig-zags again

Picked out some ribbon. It looks a bit like I've gone for an American theme; wasn't intentional!

Sewed the ribbons on...

... times 4

Filled the bean-bags with help from my handsome hubby

Slip-stitched the gap to finish, all done!

One rather cute set of bean bags :)

Close-up. Had to take a second shot since my first one showed up an appliqué mistake, woops

So there we go! I very much enjoyed making these, and it's nice to have found a sewing project that works for boys too rather than just girls. 

I gave the bean bags to the little boy at church one Sunday. He was so cute with them! He seemed to most enjoy the sound they made when they dropped on the floor, which was a little unfortunate for those holding him as they had to keep picking them up... Sorry guys! His big sister was very sweet in helping to pick them up :)

Bye for now!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

A Complete Set

With the doll quilt finished I began work on a little pillow and pillowcase to match, also inspired by the doll bedding tutorial. After a bit of OTT maths (if I want the pillow to be this big with this curvature...) I soon had a pillow :)

very satisfying when you end up with one pin of every colour :)

Next, the pillowcase. I decided to have a strip of another colour rather than two different-coloured sections. I also did a quick bit of embroidery to add a flower :) Quick tip for anyone thinking of taking up sewing: find a husband who can draw. This comes in very handy.

I love that you end up with a proper little pillowcase which you can take the pillow out of and put it back into. I think I would have found that fun as a child. But then I was the child who 'played with Duplo' by sorting the pieces by colour and shape...

And so, there you have it :) One completed doll bedding set.

Since I don't currently own any dolls, my dear friend Bones agreed to be the model!

Coming soon: another appliqué project for the recipient's little brother :)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Floral Fun

Buying purses. Spending money on something to put your money in. Perhaps a little counter-intuitive?! Unfortunately, however, I needed new purses. A main cards-and-coins purse (as mine was falling apart at the seams) and a coin-purse to keep sewing money in. For the former, I found one at Accessorize (it's so cute!); for the latter I decided to get sewing.

I picked up a zip and bought a fat quarter of this lovely fabric from this lovely local shop :)

It looks fairly vintage-inspired which isn't normally my thing, but I love it! I seem to be going through a bit of a 'bright pink and blue' phase at the moment, what with this and the doll quilt. I don't know if I should admit it, but the Accessorize purse is bright pink and blue too!

I followed this tutorial, which was really helpful. I did have one problem, however. When I follow a tutorial, I just jump straight in: I often can't get my head around the later stages until I've finished the earlier ones, so I don't read ahead. Unfortunately this meant I encountered a issue early on (how to sew next to the zip 'head') which only had a solution further down in the tutorial (unzip it to the middle so it's out of the way, don't know how I didn't think of this myself!). I got around this with a bit of hand-sewing instead. It means it's not as neat as it could have been, but still pretty good for a first try :)
this picture reminds me of food tech lessons at school, laying out all the ingredients

zip in!

with a little bit of hand sewing at this end

sewing around the edges


So it worked out pretty well :) It's small and pretty and very useful. I feel like I'd like to make loads of these but I'm not feeling terribly inspired by my existing fabric collection at the moment. I'll have to have a root around and come up with some ideas...

I love that it's bright pink inside

After making this purse with my normal sewing machine foot, I discovered that I actually own a zipper foot! D'oh. This would have solved the problem I mentioned earlier. Ah well, I'll know for next time.
discovered in my sewing box. I gave my mum the Fireman Sam knitting sticker when I was a little girl :)

ETA: Turns out that's a 'straight stitch' foot, although I did just use it to put in a zipper! Next time I'll use the actual zipper foot... 

Sunday, 13 May 2012


I like the word appliqué. It sounds very fancy. In the context of sewing it basically means 'I put one piece of fabric on top of another and did x, y, z to make sure it wouldn't come off'. But saying appliqué makes it sound far more impressive.

Anyway, the reason for this ramble is that I tried out appliqué for the first time on the back of the doll quilt I showed you before. I was inspired by a tutorial at Sew Like My Mom: she's made so many fun things, and I love the way she's used appliqué. I found an equivalent of Heat 'n' Bond (Bondaweb) at a local fabric shop, found a simple image of a letter A via Google images and began following the instructions.

Thankfully the letter A is horizontally symmetrical so I didn't need to worry about any potential 'you can only look at this quilt in the mirror' issues. Having ironed on the A I then began to sew around it. And oh my goodness, was it fun! I had a great big stupid grin on my face the whole time. Just look at how cute those zig-zags are!

I'll definitely be using this technique a lot more in future. I've already used it in 2 other projects, and I'm still loving it.

After finishing the backing, all that was left was to bind the quilt. It would be a bit of an understatement to say that the binding process didn't go well. I won't go into details, but it was third time lucky in the end... And then I found this tutorial on an awesome blog named In Color Order. Her technique involved not only a neater way of doing the corners, but also a way to avoid having to hand-sew together the dreaded join. I was excited to say the least. But was it worth unpicking the binding which I'd already got wrong so many times? After a few deep breaths I decided it was, and gave the new method a go. It worked amazingly! So grateful for Jeni's tutorial. I did a couple of things differently (stuck to hand-sewing-to-the-back and sorted the corners and join when I got to them rather than at the start) but her tips were so, so helpful :)

I'll post full pictures plus the last bit of this project soon :)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Wrapping Paper Quilt

Thankfully the 'I've run out of pregnant friends' situation didn't last too long. I'm now working on my fourth baby quilt for a lovely friend, soon to be a mum for the first time, who is also called Emma :)

The three quilts I'd made previously were for twin boys and a little girl. This time however, the quilt would have to be, duh duh duhhh... gender neutral. I was a little concerned about being able to find colours and patterns that (a) would work well for either gender and (b) I'd actually like myself! I trawled the internet for gender neutral quilt pictures and thankfully found a few which looked interesting: some good orange, green and white combos going on (I was never a fan of orange until I met this blog and now I'm a complete convert).

It turns out however that I needn't have worried too much. The mum-to-be gave me this piece of wrapping paper as inspiration:

Isn't it great? I love the colours and the fact that they work really well for a boy or a girl. And the pattern's pretty cool too.

I have lots of ideas for this quilt. Unfortunately since it's going to be a gift (and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise), I can't post about it as I go along . So if all goes to plan, a quilt inspired by the above (and perhaps some 'making of' posts) should be popping onto my blog around September 1st :) I can't wait!

Monday, 7 May 2012


A little while ago, I decided that the 'I've run out of pregnant friends' gap would be a good oppurtunity to try out making a doll quilt. I was inspired by this post on Crazy Mom Quilts: she has such good ideas! Picking out fabrics was a little tricky: I wanted to use fabric I already owned, but when I picked out all the girly fabrics they looked rather sickly-sweet together. So instead I went for a mix of pink, blue and white:

I absolutely love the pink fabric. It's from the Nicey Jane collection by Heather Bailey. It was bought to become part of a picnic-rug-quilt I was planning to make and keep which hasn't quite happened yet (maybe one day!). The other fabrics are completely different: the blue is part of a duvet cover from Oxfam and the white is from the local cheap fabric shop. Gotta love the variety :)

I decided to try out this tutorial and make a 'tumbler' quilt. The mathematician in me (I studied maths at uni) rebelled against the template idea: surely geometry would produce more accurate tumblers? So instead I did a few calculations and used the gridlines on the mat to get the correct angles. Much better. Although quite a slow process; not sure yet whether my perfectionism is going to turn out to be a blessing or a curse with quilting!

This was my first quilt with non-right-angled patchwork and it was tricky to piece. When piecing the tumblers you had to judge 1/4 inch distances by eye. Not my strong point. But I persevered, and I'm so glad I did. I had to re-do about two or three of the joins per row (perfectionism strikes again...) but eventually got them all about right and I love the result.

the post-it note was a reminder that the tumbler needed re-doing when I could face it!

The above photo proved to be very helpful later on: when it came to sewing the rows together I got the first seam wrong (I sewed the top of row 1 to the bottom of row 2) and then couldn't get the pattern to work. My husband Laurence and I spent a long time staring at the blocks while I tried to figure out if I really was silly enough to have created a set which didn't fit together. Eventually figured out my mistake using the photo, unpicked and resewed and it all came together to look like this!

Ta-dah! One complete quilt top. Tune in again soon to see the fun I had with the back of this quilt :)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Where it all began

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

Well, perhaps not at the very beginning (I sewed a couple of bags and failed to make placemats earlier), but at the beginning of my quilting journey. So, here is my very first 'quilt'!

 the mark in the top right is from candle-wax, can't seem to get it out whatever I try

It's technically a quilted table-runner, but it involved most of the principles of patchwork and quilting, so I think it counts. It's based on a 'Diary of a Quilter' tutorial. I saw her pictures and thought they were absolutely beautiful. Such pretty fabrics! I didn't have any fabrics that lovely around, but I did have some good solids left over from the failed placemat project (picked out to match our lounge cushions) so I gave it a go. And I've never looked back!

with the vaguely-matching cushions

I loved the process of putting it together. One of my favourite things about quilting is the variety: choosing fabrics, choosing or designing a pattern, patchwork, quilting and then binding. Even if you're not enjoying one of the stages, the next is never far away :)

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed hand-sewing the binding on at the end. I originally tried to sew it on with the machine but broke a needle in the process (woops) so was forced into giving it a go. It was quite a relaxing process. Surprisingly the join (the most difficult part) went much better for me on this, my first attempt, than it did in later quilts. I've now however found a different binding tutorial which makes the process much neater, thank goodness!

So that's where my quilting adventures began. Since then I've made a few more quilts (proper quilt quilts, rather than just table-runners) which will be popping up here sometime soon.

Bye for now!