Friday, 30 December 2011

Blogger's Choice

This took ages but it was fun.  A blogger's bundle opportunity courtesy of The Fat Quarter Shop and Laura at Quokka Quilts- click to find out more.
On Christmas day as my mum and sister unwrapped their pillows from me, my brother was a little put out that there was none for him (he did have a very nice and requested present).  He had a pillow last year but he was rather taken by the Walk in the Woods pillow.  As a consolation I told him he could have something else. He suggested something inspired by the film 'The Life Aquatic'. I haven't seen this but the trailer alone set my mind whirring.  This bundle is selected for this project, a hypothetical quilt for Jamie.  I love the combination, hours spent searching through colours and themes and my mouse hand is jiggered.  Would love to make it. 
Go enter!  It is a very interesting creative exercise. 
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The Camera Never Lies

I am normally up to date with my bee blocks but Amy's Ocotober Ringo Pie block slipped by the wayside.  Her theme was 'The Camera Shop'.   I have been saving images for a while, I was all ready to do a vintage Super Color Polaroid Land camera with a solid green polaroid coming out of it.  I drafted it, bought rainbow ribbon and kept trying to put time aside to work it through.  It never really appeared in my head, I had the concept but I couldn't visualise it and no fabric was talking to me.  Last week, a new idea crept in, fully formed, fabrics, details- I could see them all.
A vintage film canister, Kodak inspired.  I am lucky.  I have a great memory for colour.  The biggest swatch board is in my head. Unfortunately, once I think of a fabric or a colour, I then have to find it,  search round the zillions of different places where I store fabric.  Most of my stash is small pieces, half yards, fat quarters, scraps.  With this block, I pulled the fabric in minutes and unusually the vintage fabric is the background.
This could only be Amy's block.  She is an intensely creative person, her work has great colour and imagination.  Her personality comes through it as I think it does for us all.  You may not have met your blogging friends in person but you have seen their inner imagination and personality through their work.  
Fabrics- Vintage floral print, vintage green solid, Kona school bus with versacraft ink stamp, Sweetwater Authentic Newsprint, Suzuko Koseki text/number fabrics, Kona Brown, tiny squares of Denyse Schmidt's Katie Jumps Rope.  
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Thursday, 29 December 2011


Christmas was lovely.  Yesterday was very long, 450 miles on the train up and down the country to my Grandad's funeral.  A long and sad day but a funeral shouldn't really be anything else.  I don't like to dwell, I won't be posting all my makes of the year or anything like that.  I like to see these elsewhere but generally when I have made something I like to move on to the next project, get the creative buzz from figuring out how I am going to make the new idea.  This is handy, it makes it easy to pass on bee blocks, swaps and presents, I don't like to look back only forwards.
This pillow was for my sister.  Aneela's wonderful Walk in the Woods fabrics and a few others!
These fabrics are on sale in the Spring.  But just in case you still pine for a little Christmas, look at her festive fabrics for next year.  
Concealed zip, I don't do my pillows any other way now.
The back is simple parallel quilting and the main print is a Cosmo Cricket fabric given to me by Anna ages ago.  It matched perfectly.
There are some texty treats scattered around to make my sister laugh and my nephew too.  We have a puerile sense of humour but it can't be helped.
Now, Bee blocks to I trot
sib blog

Friday, 23 December 2011

Wishing you a happy....

Nearly here, this is my favourite time.  I find big days of nay sort, birthdays, wedding, Christmas a bit overwhelming, but this part, the preamble, the just before is my favourite part of Christmas.  I finally finished making my presents and now I am finishing Bee Blocks and stitching new year projects.
Wherever you are, whoever and whatever you are with and whatever you celebrate- something or nothing at all, I wish you all well, thankyou for calling in here, it means a great deal x
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Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Last month my final kitchen units were fitted.  The new cooker came  early December.  It has taken a long time to get everything in place, so many delays from supplier, need to change, paint the walls- but it is ready for Christmas baking.  Lula lead the way...

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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Friendship Pillow Tutorial

My last tutorial of 2011 is for a Friendship block pillow.  I have used scraps so there are no specific fabric quantities, this tutorial explains how to make the block, there are some links for completing your pillow and the rest is up to you!  
The foundation paper pieced blocks can be downloaded here and you can print this whole tutorial with/without pictures using the gadget at the bottom of this post.
Each square will be finished size of 2.5" and you need 4 squares to make a complete block.  I made 9 blocks, these join to make a total finished area of 15" x15".  I added sashing to the size I wanted the pillow.
First you will need to do some preparation...
1. Printing
You will need 36 paper foundation squares in total.  Cut each square out leaving a 1/4" border all round.  I use thin cheap 70gsm printing paper.
2. Cutting Fabric
Cut 36 squares 3 1/2" square.  This will give you the exact size triangle you need for the larger triangle on the paper pattern, it you would like to err on the side of caution make your squares bigger 
3 3/4".  Cut each fabric square in half diagonally, you should have 36 pairs of half square triangles
Cut 36 strips 1 3/8 x 4 1/2".   I used the same fabric throughout for this, a text print fromt he Hometown collection by Sweetwater.   Your fabric will need to contrast with the squares.
3. Sewing the Block
 Now you are ready to sew, take one paper square and one fabric strip, place the square evenly on top of the wrong side of the fabric and pin.  The fabric should go 1/4 over each of the diagonal lines.
This is the same square but seen from the other side.  I made sure my text fabric always faced towards the smaller triangle throughout.
Now take a pair of triangles.  Take one triangle, place it right sides together over the fabric strip so that the right angle is against the smaller triangle and the diagonal edge lines up with the fabric strip.
This is the same picture but from the other side- the side you will stitch.  you can see the triangle should hang out of the edges of the square just a little.  Pin on the longer diagonal line.
On your machine you will need a larger needle than normal- I use a 90 and a very small stitch,1.5.  I also use a clear foot for paper piecing.  Starting at the beginning of theseam allowance, sew along the diagonal from corner to corner.  You can stitch end to end of the paper.  Don't back stitch, the stitches are so small they do no need securing.
Turn over, flip the fabric triangle back and press.  It should cover the paper either exactly or with a little room to spare.
Take the other triangle, line up as before against the fabric strip, right sides together, turn over and pin the smaller diagonal line.
Stitch from seam allowance, along the line and along the rest of the seam allowance to the end in one continuous line.  Turn over, flip the fabric triangle out and press.  There will be a more excess here as this triangle is smaller.
Trim the block using the paper to guide you.  It should be 3" square.
Repeat on 35 more squares- I never said this would be quick, but it can be systematised!  I made anassembly line for this.  All the strips were pinned on to all the squares. Then I added all the large triangles, then all the small triangles in a chain piecing style.
The finished squares fit together in groups of 4.   I kept the papers in up to this point, once I had joined them into 4 I tore the paper out..
The blocks are sewn together in rows of 3
Then the rows are sewn together.  I pressed all the seams open to reduce bulk.  A back view always helps you see how everything fits together.
This should measure 15 1/2 " untrimmed, mine was a little smaller!  But hey, you can then make it the square the size you want by adding sashing.  Next you need to add batting and quilt in your desired style.  I echo quilted around the different diamond shapes.

You will need a back for the cushion and to add batting and quilting to that, or use a heavier weight fabric and no batting.  I  cut my front and back to be 18 1/2" square after quilting and use a concealed zipper closure.   I use a 1/2" seam allowance, neaten the seam edges and trim down the corners.  The end cushion will be 17 1/2" and will make for a plump feel with a 18" feather inner.  Amy has a lovely pillow tutorial here using the same closure and if you prefer you can do an envelope back or a lapped zip- I find a concealed zip easier, neater and it uses less fabric!  I found a great tutorial for a concealed zip here.
It does give a lovely neat finish!  A concealed zipper foot is a good investment, maybe not as good as gold but pretty useful x
sib blog

Monday, 19 December 2011


Part of the The Sewing Directry Christmas Creativity competition that I won a few weeks ago was for my pattern to be published in Cloth.  My edition arrived today.  I have not been published before, you can imagine my excitement.  
That is my name down there!
Cloth magazine is a little tricky to find.  It tends to be sold in independent crafty shops- no shops near me sells it- but you can buy it online here.  I rather like the cloak on the front and I am guessing Lula will too.  Quite a thing to see my pattern all printed out in a tangible magazine, I am a little bit blown away!  If you want to make the Scandinavian Tree Cushion/pillow instructions are also here
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The kindness and support of my blog friends never ceases to amaze me, such a supportive community.  Thankyou for all your kind and thoughtful comments.  It is really hard to think of what to say when someone has died but you were all so open and generous with your words and thoughts.  
 I have had a really quiet weekend.  Damian and Lula were away visiting his family on a speedy Christmas visit and though I miss them and look forward to hugging both of them later today, when I have stuff to deal with I need a lot of time on my own so it worked out well and I feel better for my weekend of dog and cats cuddling on top of me and a quilt, Skype, blog reading, visits, tea and sewing  Like many of you I have been sewing furiously and making slow progress.

 I should get there by midnight 24th December.  I can show this gift as it has been given, a little purse for Maria my pilates/zumba instructor.I used a Keyka Lou pattern, Pocket Clutch.  I have used a few of her patterns before and they are so clear to follow and quick to make.  This is my favourite shape, I like the tab closure (magnet underneath) and the storage inside.  Michelle is retiring some of her patterns and selling them at $3 (approx £2) for limited time only- such a bargain- check out her shop.

Maria is Spanish and is still learning English so I thought it would be fun to use text fabrics based on travel and home.  She is a great teacher, fun and giving.  I go to three of her classes each week, Zumba is Friday early evening and she always leaves me with a happy feeling to start the weekend.

I am making one of these for Lula next (Shhh! Don't tell her) in black prints, and eventually I might make one for me. I used the Vilene VH640 fusible fleece again- possibly the most useful product in the world!  Julia at Gone to Earth sent me a length and it has been perfect for little purses and pouches. I prefer this thicker loft over the 630, it handles like a dream and adheres even with my little travel iron.  The key is a damp cloth, I use a baby muslin.

The red fabric is from Sweetwater's Hometown collection, the travel linen/cotton print was from The Hey Day shop.  Katie has a little left in the shop.  The black/cream dots came courtesy of Lynne who sent me a surprise bundle of scraps in with some fabric I needed, what a sweetie x
I am just preparing a little tutorial and a print out for you all ; a pillow based on a traditional friendship block using foundation piecing.

 I would like to say it is a fast make for your gift list but in reality, even with short cuts it took me ages, it is for my mum so that makes it OK!  I am just waiting for a zip to arrive and then I'll post the 'how to make stuff'.  If you haven't  done foundation piecing before it is a good little block to start with x
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