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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 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!


  1. An impressive set of makes Helen! I really like the Union Jack pillow, there is something so simple and perfect about it and the quilting is gorgeous-I usually have an aversion to UJ textile things but it really is wonderful!

  2. wow! You were very busy indeed! Lovely makes :-)

  3. wow you've been mega busy, I adore the owl cushion

  4. These are amazing makes. The bag tag is so cute and soooo tiny! Iy onne's cushion cover is stunning, I am sure she loved it, it's very her.

  5. you sure have been busy - look like Archie just needed a rest huh, such a cut dog.

  6. What a lucky family you have!:-) Love the owly quilting.

  7. I am so in love with the cutest dog in the world!!!!! And what a lot of gorgeous makes! My you had a busy Christmas! Jxo

  8. My, you have been busy. The picture of Archie is precious, priceless. I just want to kiss that sweet black nose. Of course he knows how to make a blankie - they all do. (o:


  9. My Gosh . . heads down in your household for sometime . . . to get all that loveliness created before Santa arrived.
    Love all your stories, just as much as the items!
    To sew the drawstring bag with the clock ticking, and Mam up a tree with the sparkly dingle dangles, would have been a sight to behold! Clever you to get it all done!
    Can just picture your niece . . you are a clever treasure!

  10. That little owl cushion is beyond cute! Hats off to you for your manic Christmas sewing, you've done yourself (and Archie!) proud!

  11. My dogs have duvets too, I buy fun generic kids duvet covers from eBay so that everything is easy to wash- we have dinosaurs, diggers and spaceships currently ;)

  12. Holy moly that little Holly! Cutest ever!
    Archie is a boy after my own heart. He's living the life, that fella.

  13. Archie is such a little snuggle bunny! My old girl Amber (she was a Westie) used to do the same thing ... but it was in my bed ... with her head on my pillow ... just like a human ... yes I was indulgent :) Looks like you had a very busy run up to Christmas, you must have slept for weeks after! I'm not going to show my girls the Ben and Holly tag because they'll want one and those pieces look so small! But I will go and pick up that project bag tutorial ... I have some wool to send to my MIL in London and it would be nice to pop it in something like that, so thanks for the idea :)

  14. Such a lot of lovely makes Helen! My favourite, however is Holly :)

  15. I like Archie's plan - wrap up in a few quilts - best way to start the week! I love the little holly book tag and the owls especially the photo of the quilting on the back. I bought a gardening kit once and was disappointed with how it was presented but never thought to make something as lovely for it as you did for the knitting kit!

  16. I know the nieces will love the right sides of the cushions, but I want to reach in and touch the "wrong " sides - they look amazing and really tactile!! Great project bag too, what a swiz that the kit just came on a plastic bag

  17. Perfect makes, I love the Owl Babies and that Union Jack cushion!!! Don't you just love children!!

  18. Wow, that's a lot of makes. No wonder you were exhausted.
    The owls are my favourite. Very impressive.
    And archie is looking his usual sweet self

  19. What a wonderful collection of makes. Your family are very lucky to have you sewing such beautiful gifts for them :)

  20. Lovely lovely makes Helen. Obviously my favourite has to be MY cushion made especially for me! I may just have echoed your niece hugging it to me whn it arrived. Fortunately, for the lady who kindly delivered it, I just managed to stop myself hugging her! It's even more beautiful in person. Thanks again Helen. Xxx

  21. Gorgeous Dresden - those french knots are stunning!

  22. They all look fabulous - I'm not surprised your niece loved her cushion, it's gorgeous. You have been very busy. (And I love how cosy Archie looks - clever boy!)

  23. Love this muted dresden. Not what one typically sees!

  24. Wow Helen, you gave been busy! Love the flag cushion. I have two of them: one as a cushion and one as a wall hanging


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