Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Catching up: Outgoing!

At the back end of last year I had a sudden flurry of things I needed to make which made for a very busy December and am only now catching up with blogging about them!

First up were 'under bed den' curtains for my eldest niece.  She got a 'mid bed sleeper' bed (an odd name for a bed but that's what they're called!) in the summer and asked me if I could make her some curtains for it - I said I'd have them finished by Christmas at the latest but didn't get the measurements until the beginning of December so I had a frantic few days of fighting with slippery voile and metres of ribbon.  They turned out well, though:

under bed den curtains
I don't know why I had fifteen metres of voile in my loft but I have enough left to make another set of curtains, should her sister get a similar bed and want some!

Also needed was a book bag tag for my youngest niece, to help her identify her navy blue book bag in a pile of thirty-nine navy book bags.  She first asked for a pink dinosaur and then changed her mind and wanted 'Holly from Ben and Holly'.  Naturally, I spent quite a while with tiny pieces of fabric and made a Holly.  The first thing she said when she opened it was 'I thought it was going to be a dinosaur'  *bangs head on table and weeps*  No, I didn't make a dinosaur and yes, she's quite happy with Holly!  The book bag tag is just under three inches square and is made using scraps of fabric, fusible web, wadding and ribbon left from her sister's curtains:

As if by magic...
 Yes, some of those pieces are tiny - I don't know how I managed it but I didn't lose any!

My eldest niece also asked for a Union Flag/Jack cushion - she'd seen a miniature version and asked for one of her own, in pink, purple and lime.  Each time we talked about it the cushion got bigger and in the end I made her a pillow-sized cushion which I thought would be perfect for sitting on under her bed.  I finished it a few days before Christmas and immediately washed, dried and wrapped it and didn't get another photo - this was taken when I still had one side of the binding left to stitch down:

Almost finished!
I had been going to just quickly quilt the flag but then got sucked into doing at least three times as much as I'd planned - the texture is lovely, though!

Quilted cushion top - the back
A better photo of the quilting
As I'd done so much quilting on the front, I decided that the back needed an equal amount of quilting.  I didn't really have time for it but it needed to be done!

Almost finished - the back
I happened to have the perfect shade of pink Aurifil 50 in my thread stash - I love it when that happens!

Of course, if I'm making a cushion for one niece, I have to make a cushion for the other so I got sketching and designed a 'Mammy and Baby' owl cushion.  I finished stitching the binding down on 23rd December at about 11pm and immediately put it in the wash and stayed up until the end of the (fortunately quick) cycle so that I could put the cushion cover in the airing cupboard overnight and then get it wrapped.  I didn't manage to take a photo of it with a pillow inside, nor did I get a photo of the back (vertical wavy lines with pink binding on the overlap) but here are the owls:

Finished, washed and dried!
All made from scraps and leftovers - the blue Oakshott background was left from the back of the Stingy Siblings Together quilt.

The quilting took quite a while (all those ends to finish off!) but it was worth it.  Both cushions have a double layer of wadding on both the front and the back - a great way to used up odd strips of wadding that you're left with after a quilt has been trimmed!

Owls are quilted - the back

The frantic sewing was well worth it as my eldest niece (7 years old) opened her cushion and hugged it to her.  She then danced round the room with it, exclaiming 'I love my cushion!  Who loves my cushion?!' - the memory of that still makes me smile!

There was one final Christmas make, which came as even more of a surprise than the cushions (at the end of November I wasn't making any Christmas presents and by the beginning of December I was making two big cushions and then on the 21st December, another present was added!) - I'd ordered (on behalf of my mam) a knitted shawl kit for my sister-in-law (just a very simple but beautiful triangular shawl - a proper 'beginner' knit) and when it arrived I was really disappointed in how it was presented.  (In my mind, a 'kit' means that it is presented nicely and you get a little bit more (in terms of wrapping) than you would if you were buying 'supplies to knit this item'.  This 'kit' consisted of three balls of yarn and an A4 instruction sheet (printed in colour and then folded into quarters) in a plastic ziplock bag - I later worked out that the mark up on this kit was around £7 as I could have bought the pattern from Ravelry and printed it out and bought the yarn separately.  Needless to say, I will not be shopping with this shop ever again - I didn't get a confirmation email about my order, I didn't get a dispatch email and when, a few days after ordering, I emailed to check that the order had gone through and quoting the lack of confirmation/posting email as possible evidence that something was amiss, the reply said that 'your item has been posted' emails were an eBay process and not something this shop did as they were a small shop...overall, it wasn't the best shopping experience I've had and is nothing like any other experience I've had from a small, independent seller.  Thank goodness it's in the minority!)  Anyway, to get back to the story, I offered to make a drawstring bag for the yarn, in return for Mam decorating my Christmas tree - it was 21st December and my tree still only had lights on as I was so busy sewing, a skills swap was the only way it was going to get decorated!!  I used the method of this tutorial but altered the dimensions to create a project bag (I have them somewhere in case I need them again, I'm just not sure where that somewhere is - hopefully it's with all my other 'I might need this again' sewing instructions/notes but I can't guarantee it at the moment!) and added heavyweight sew-in interfacing to the back of the outer fabric, which means the bag holds its shape, a very handy feature for a project bag.  I think I'm going to make more of these but will alter how the drawstring casing is created, to eliminate raw edges coming into contact with the drawstring.

Project bag
Please excuse the awful photos - by the time I realised I hadn't taken a photo, Mam had already wrapped it so we had to cut through the sellotape, slide the bag out of the paper and  then slide it back in...no time to run an iron over it or wait for daylight!

After Christmas, I needed to make good a promise I'd made back in May 2014: to make a 'something' for Yvonne, to say thank you for my lovely cushion.  I had some fat eighths of this fabric (I think it's by 3 sisters for Moda) and decided to make (my first) Dresden plate - I wanted it to look like a flower so made a double plate, one pale pink for the 'petals' and one green for the 'leaves'.  I used the EZ Dresden ruler and cut the inner blades 0.75" shorter than the outer blades - I made both plates separately, appliquéd the green plate to the background and then the pink plate on top of that.  The yellow centre was then appliquéd in place and two layers of wadding were put behind it to add a trapunto effect to the centre of the 'flower' and then I added embroidery (stem stitch around the edge of the yellow centre and the pink plate and colonial knots around the edge of the green plate), hand quilting and then a narrow binding.  I then had a bit of a wobble as the lines I'd added with a Hera marker (to help me get the hand-quilted zigzag even) didn't wash out so, after a lot of thinking and a brilliant suggestion from a friend, I added some tiny French knots along those lines - I used two different colours (one for the lines coming from the points and another for the lines coming from the valleys) to give it a bit more depth and, as is quite often the way with these things, I much prefer with the added embroidery and I'm really glad the lines didn't wash out.  At least I am now, I wasn't at the time!  In-progress photos can be found here.  The drama didn't end there as I managed to post the parcel to Yvonne's old address and I spent a few days on tenterhooks, worrying that it was lost forever, but fortunately the lovely lady who now lives in the house took it round to Yvonne's new house - phew!

(Finally) Finished!!
Dresden mini for Yvonne - about 14" square

(Finally) Finished!! - detail
Close-up of the embroidery

This is an item on my FAL Q1 list and I'll be linking up with Adrianne at the end of the quarter, which is rapidly approaching!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Archie started the week in an ideal manner:

How better to spend a Monday than wrapped up in three quilts?!
Yes, the rest of him is there somewhere; yes, he did this himself; no, it's not my bed - he has his own quilts (duvets really, but I don't like that word!) to keep him warm!  And yes, he's completely wrapped up again today - there's no point in taking a photo as you can't see hide nor hair of him!

Thanks for popping in!

Monday, 2 March 2015

What's the time, Mr Wolf?

Fresh Sewing Day

In August last year, Nicky had a project published in the Fat Quarterly zakka issue (issue 18) - she made a clock (I've looked for a photo of it/blog post about it but can't seem to find one, sorry!).  She kindly sent me the canvas and clock gubbins to make my own and I've finally got round to it!

I decided to (hand) piece a hexagon block which had twelve segments so that it would be easy to tell the time.  Choosing this block also meant that I didn't need to cut a hole in the middle for the spindle - I simply stopped stitching an eighth of an inch before the centre of the block (to create a hole approximately a quarter of an inch in diameter) and, obviously, didn't do my usual circling of the intersection.  I used three 10" 'Miss Kate' squares (by Bonnie and Camille, for Moda - these were a present from a fabric fairy) and have a few small scraps left for future projects:

Plan B
You can't see the central hole in this photo but it is there, just hidden by the seam allowances!

I then hand pieced a background from the remains of a fat quarter and some of the red and orange scraps left from the star:

Plan B part ii
Awful photo but most of the strip is red, with a touch of orange on the right-hand side - you can see it better in the next photo.

And then (hand) appliquéd the hexagon in place:

Plan B - complete!

I covered the canvas (12" square) with a layer of Warm and White wadding (secured on the back with masking tape) and then, with the help of a friend who is the possessor of a 'straight eye' (something I wish I had!) and many, many drawing pins, it was stretched over the canvas and pinned in place on the back:

Patchwork clock
It keeps good time, once I got the 'levels' of the three handles right - at first they kept bumping into each other!

I'm really pleased with this little project which was quite quick to make (compared to some of my other projects, at least!  This was finished in just over three weeks and at least a week of that was the gap between finishing the appliqué and seeing my straight-eyed friend so I could have finished it much faster if I had a straight eye.  Or if I'd used a solid background!)

Thanks for the inspiration and necessary equipment, Nicky!

This is a finish on my Finish Along list (my list is here) and I'll be linking up with Adrianne when the time comes.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Spring is definitely on its way, isn't it?  (Although March has definitely come in like a lion...roll on the lamb!) I've been out in the garden checking on all my plants and giving them encouragement, as well as (mentally!) putting each one into one of the following categories: definitely dead/possibly dead/definitely alive/too early to tell - a little stock take, if you like!  There are fewer plants on the definitely/possibly dead list than on all the others, which is always a bonus!

I planted up several pots of spring flowering bulbs last autumn and am starting to see the fruits of my labour - these dwarf iris are definitely my favourite at the moment and I'm planning to get some more in September:

Dwarf iris

Archie had a birthday in February (he's now fifteen!) and he celebrated with a hedgehog:

 I think we're going to be good friends, don't you?  No, I'm not licking my lips.  Honest!

Now?  Can I say hello now?!

Did you say something?  No, hedgehog isn't hurt, we're just playing...

Yum yum!  Isn't this game fun, hedgehog? You like your feet being chewed, don't you?!!

I'm linking up with Lynne for Fresh Sewing Day and hope to be back relatively soon (before the month is out at the very least!) to continue with my catch up and show you the Christmas presents I made - yes, I'm that far behind with my blogging!!

Thanks for popping in!

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