Sunday, 29 January 2012

Poshest zip container in town!

Ok, I have finished the first try of a zippered pouch. I am reasonably pleased with the result, not perfect, but not a bad start. I need to do some calculations to get the proportions better, so that the panel is better placed, but having had a trial am better placed to get an acceptable result.

What have I learned? I need a wider turning gap in the lining. The elasticated thingy needs to be tighter, or it will be neither use nor ornament. I love King Tut thread for finishing my appliqué. My machine is happy with it too.

Pictures? Have you got fed up looking at pictures of this yet. If so go away and come again another day!

Here goes, I decided to use the black spotty, as it gave good contrast, without being boring.
Even the back looks quite fun! You can see it is supposed to be elephants- no I hadn't cut the threads off, sorry.

And I went on and did a simple back, and completed the pouch this afternoon. It is simple, but I am pleased with it.

As you can see, the elephants have lost their legs- this is where I need to get my proportions better. The result is ok for me, but not as a gift for another body.

Works really well for holding my zips though! Kindly do not see the mess behind. I am messy, I have always been messy, but I have a mental image of being a neat and tidy person, not leaving any mess behind me...I can dream.

Saturday, 28 January 2012


Ok, I thought I should have a bit of a play, using fabric I am not intending to use for the pouch swap. As I was looking through, (my stash gets worse, not better) I found bits left over from another project. So they came into play. I reckoned small squares would materialise quite easily from the bits, and I now have a mosaic of blue and green. I didn't get it quite right and two of the same pattern have ended up adjacent, but it is not too bad for a first attempt at tiny mosaic. No, I didn't use the interfacing method, though that would probably have looked better in the end.
I also wanted to play a bit more with my elephant idea- no mammoths just yet, but you never know- and first drew a rough sketch of what was in my head,
and then played with it mentally, decided the baby elephant should look at mamma, and started to use the old faithful, Bondaweb, and got a first result.  I then have been playing with different backgrounds, to see how I feel about them. I know it is a very busy design, and not at all my usual style, but , oh, it is such fun!

Do look at these, and see what you think, 

The first one clashes amazingly, and in a loud sort of way I could quite go for that   
this second one is a 'safe' option. This third one is a very busy background again, but I kind of like it.

I feel elephants growing on me! Someone has suggested a polka dot background, so I shall try that too. So many options...

I am guilty again. I was just getting some bits and bobs, and spotted this. now if I didn't get it when I saw it, it was not going to sit there very long, now was it? There was less than two metres left. So, I am afraid, it just had to come home with me. I have not the least idea what I shall do with it, but it is now awaiting inspiration, with a lot of other bits also in the same state. Impulse buys should not happen. I am trying to declutter not increase the chaos. But I smile when I look at it. That says something, doesn't it? Yes, mad as a hatter.

Friday, 27 January 2012

zips are here!

My package of zips has arrived. I got a rainbow of zips, so that I could go with the flow, when I am ready to go mad with the zippy pouch.

Of course, I now realise that my life is worth nothing, unless I have a pouch in which to store spare zips! so I shall make a 'practice pouch' just to put zips into!

I really didn't think it through very much, but I got long and short zips, to be adaptable, without too much waste.

It is strange, just how much fabric one has stashed away, in various places. Yes, I know some folk are very organised, and have their fabric arranged neatly on shelves, in colour order. My sorting is into a variety of plastic bags, and tends to run along the 'tidy it into here in a hurry' type of sort. I have various shoe boxes, in different drawers in my tallboy, with essentials, like cutting and marking stuff in one, and sewing and machine accessories in another, and ribbons and bias binding in a different one.

I have had various responses from the group on the original fabric 'pull' I did, but I would actually like to achieve some negative feedback as well, as I think this might give me a different handle on how my partner thinks. So I have put up two more selections, to try out the reaction. Have a look?

This selection is basically all things blue, but with jewel colours included.

the second lot is pink. Now, I do know some folk adore pink- yes, you know who you are, and some of us are less keen. Not all pinks are candy pink though, and they can be more subtle.

It is all thinking material!In several senses.

I have also been estimating quantity for the pouch I am planning, and getting it 'festering' in the old brainbox, so will possibly be able to do a preliminary hash this weekend. For the zips of course.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Starting to think, mouthy

I have had a few ideas batting around in my head, I think I may go boxy for the pouch. I am also thinking pockets on inside, and maybe an elasticated strip on one side, divided to tuck odds and soda into.  A couple of outside pockets could be useful too. Perhaps.

And I am thinking appliqué,  but would be happy to do patchwork instead...  and perhaps a handle at one end?
Or I may be biting off more than I can chew here.

I am thinking versatile, so probably just long enough to hold either a pair of scissors or similar...

and I am thinking mainly bright and cheerful, though with a more subdued gusset, and a bright zip.

Comments welcome!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

curves without pins

Okay, I had a message from Lucy, to suggest I try the 'curves without pinning method for my next curved block. She gave me a tutorial to follow, here, and I had actually seen it before, but was not confident enough to give it a go. So, I gave it a go. It is brilliant! Try it, you will be bowled over by how well it works, at least on a shallow curve, I will let you know when I have tried with a steeper curve. Want to see how well it works?
Look!  First off, spot the beginners mistake,

this one

Yes, I sewed the straight side on, insteadof the curved one....

  So a little unpicky time later, and I am ready to go again.  Needle down, Line up lower fabric (concave curve) with 1/4 " mark. Convex curve on top. 

and lift the top fabric enough that you can guide the lower one along the right line,and sew, gently, just aligning them as they go to the needle and hey presto!
there is a beautifully matched curve with very little effort.  so I just went with it, and pins can distort things, so that niggle is gone and I am so pleased with the result you would not believe!
See, and trimmed to size as per instructions!
One result so far today!

I have also been assigned my partner for the mouthy stitches, and am trying to research them.I think a lot of thought has gone into the assignments, as she looks like a super partner to be given, and I just hope she likes what I eventually produce. It is going to be fun!
I have had a quick look at her blog, and I have looked carefully at her Mosaic, though I will have a better look at it now, I have checked her on pinterest, and will follow some of that up too. thank you again mama, for giving me this one. Looks fun!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

trying to keep up!

I am remiss. I did not sew yesterday. Oh yes, I was full of good intentions, but somehow, it just never happened. So, today, I come home from work, and see others have been doing really lovely things following Laura, with her QAYGFMQQAL and suddenly, I am double guilty. I have got to get on with it.
So I prepared some squares, and pretended to sew the pattern. And then drew the pattern, and then I sort of cheated. I have a disappearing pen, I hope. So I drew the pattern on one of my squares. and then FMQ over the top. Well, I am just not that accurate, but the pattern at least seemed to flow a bit better. Though the stitching is nothing like on the lines. But a pattern emerges. I think you can see how I have some half way reasonable spirals coming along, and then I lose the plot. it is fortunate these are small squares and not one huge quilt...

I had a slight issue with the tension, as the bobbin thread was peeping through the fabric. I adjusted it, and thought it was ok, but now it is a bit patchy. In some places the bobbin thread is showing on the top, in others the top thread shows on the underside.

However, I was enthused enough to have a second go, without the drawing cheat this time.
You may be able to see at the bottom left, it looks like the thread changes colour. Yes, the thread does change colour. The top thread chose to run out, because I was not paying attention, and failed to register that it was so low. I do not have more of that colour, so had to use the next nearest.

I am really not a prizewinner, am I?

And there is another suggested pattern. In for a penny, in for a pound, I may as well try the flower.
Nothing venture and all that. And I didn't feel I made too bad a fist of it.

So far, I have learnt that a really sharp needle- I have used a quilting needle in the machine tonight- makes a lot more difference than I would expect. I think the quilting needle is finer than the usual standard needles, and it does behave better than normal ones. It also has a handy little green band on the shank, so I know which family it belongs to.
I suspect better thread would also make a difference. I may be going shopping next week with the lovely Lucy, with a bit of luck, and might treat myself to some special thread. And I also need some specific colour fabrics, so I think an outing would make sense. DV.

So back to the practising. I wish I could do more, with cheaper bits and bobs, but it doesn't have the same effect, and you just do not enjoy it as much unless you like what you are working with. So I shall continue to use nice fabric which cheers me up as I sew.
I wonder which poor soul is going to win me as pouch-maker for the swap, I think they deserve commiseration... But I shall try my best anyway. The list has closed. Everybody has filled in their details,and made their mosaic, and our three swap mammas have noses to their grindstones, and are deep in spreadsheets. The rest of us are champing at the bit desperate to get going on researching our victims!

Can you tell I am getting excited? It will be my first swap in such an organised manner, and I am scared and feeling tingly at the same time.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

drunkards ahoy, and resolution

It is week 23, and the curves continue. Leila has chosen a 'drunkards path' block this week, and given very clear instructions on creating it. I followed her tutorial, with variation to suit myself, but also used some tips I read elsewhere.
Once the pieces were cut out, I starched them before sewing. I lined them up, pretty much as Leila described, but only used three pins. One in the middle, and one at either end. Sorry, no photos of this- I left the card for the camera at work, and will retrieve it tomorrow, I hope. I also took the flat bed off the machine, so I only have the free arm. I then put the pinned piece in, with the segment uppermost, but held the whole thing curving upward, so that the edge matches under the nedle, but not being too uptight about matching further from the needle. Slowish sewing and checking both layers are running smoothly, and a good result is obtained with very little stress. This time at least.
Originally I thought I would cut some background pieces, and then one each of two other fabrics, segment and cut-out, but when I looked at the resulting options, I was not keen. So I ended up cutting two more fabrics, and more background, and using four fabrics plus background. I did two different layouts, to see how I like them when done.
I can really see a whole quilt in these.  I like the 'path' up the middle, it is quirky in its own right, without being too outlandish, and very little effort required. Some of the options when you have more than four squares to arrange look really interesting. Another one for the list. And I think I have to do another one, with smaller tessellations, to get a different pattern going too.
All good stuff, eh?

On another note, there is a little give-away going on, where you blog abouit sewing resolutions, and get a chance to enter. Well, it is all part of the fun. I am not good at resolutions, life tends to get in the way.

So, I resolve to do more sewing because I am inspired, and less because someone else wants me to!
I resolve to practise FMQ more.
I resolve to use the fabrics I buy for the project I bought them for, and not lose them in another project. And I resolve to tidy the sewing things on a more regular basis, and get the notions organised better.

Will that do?

I have sewing stuff in four different rooms in the house- nothing in the bathroom(?) and also on the landing. I think my husband will go potty if it spreads any further...

And I have changed my mosaic for the mouthy group, I finally found out how to borrow other folks pictures to include so this is the next version. I was surprised, as I have found very different off erings from a lot of other participants, but then, it is to find what pleases us and makes for a variety that we do it, I hope?
Look at some of these, I have chosen them, based on shape, colour, design, and fun. I am looking forward to exploring the partner to whom I will be assigned, to see what sort of stuff they like, and hopefully making something they enjoy. Awful if I get it very wrong, but fingers crossed, the swap mammas are partnering us well.

Oh, and you see the hole in the bottom left corner? there should be a pretty patchwork bag in there, but it failed to appear in the mix.

It has been a tiring few days, and tomorrow is my day off, so I am hoping for a little sewing, and some family time. What do you do with your day off? Do you have a day off? If not what would you want to do with one?

I always have too many things to do, to actually accomplish all of them. So I tend to do something that will improve the housework list, and try to do something just for fun.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Paying forward

I have had fun.
A while back I volunteered for a Pay it forward, but I am very impatient, and got excited, so I was thrilled when someone wanted to play. Luckily they had a pinterest board- I had never heard of these, but it is a great little tool/ timewaster. A bit like this I suppose. Enjoyable, but I could be sewing instead, or doing the dreaded housework? and you learn a lot by looking at what others have done and how they did it, and then you get sparked off in other directions..

So, I looked and I thought, and I produced a few items I thought she would like, and so I sent them. What did I send though.

It was a perfect excuse to play with a pattern for which I had been looking for reason to make, Amy Butler bag, free pattern here. I looked in my stash- I always have something lurking, and I thought the colours worked for her so here it is. It looks quite different in the plain fabric, and I did not have the Peltex to line the pieces, so I used heavy duty interfacing instead. And I used a heavy duty cotton lining. The finished bag is a softer bag than the pattern would normally create, but I quite like the softer result, so hoped she would too. 
And the pockets are a strong cotton satin type fabric. I knew I would have to make this again, and I have, It is a very straightforward pattern.

Now, the bag then, when shut. looked to me to be a bit plain. I had made kanzashi flowers in the summer, and knew I could turn them into brooches, so made some in suitable colours, and they went on the front.

I had also bought some lovely vibrant fabric when I was with DD1 in the summer, and found this was the excuse to play with that too. I was planning a mug rug, but my mug rug turned out far too big and was a place mat! Whoops. When there are three in your family, one place mat doesn't really work does it? So the poor lass got landed with three.

I think I went a bit over the top- but in my defence, I was having such fun! I certainly wouldn't expect this from anyone else, and would probably not go so mad another time. But this is energy expended for the possible three volunteers, though only one person took me up on it.
I hope she gets fun and use of these things. I certainly did. And it kicked me off to making more brooches for a friend to sell for charity. So that was good too.

I suppose, I still am open to offers- if someone would like to do a pay it forward this year, I would enjoy trying to make something for them, there are two places available...

Friday, 13 January 2012

little things

I knew I was going to visit the lovely Lucy, and that I was landing on her on the day before her birthday. Well it is a trepidatious thing, to invite a strange woman to your home, when, although you have chatted a bit on the blog, and exchanged the odd email, you really might land a very queer fish. So I could not go empty handed.
Now I am quite greedy. And I like cake. And I like baking. So what better than early birthday cake. Then I can get some too? So cake happened.

  And, when you are having birthdays as a 'grown up' - no, I plan not to grow up, not if I can avoid it- less fuss is made than when you are a littley. So I thought a small amount of fuss was in order. And I know she likes tangeriney colours, and a bit of soft turquoise blue goes well, so I thought a couple of fat quarters would find a kind home. But, that is too easy. I needed to put a little bit of me into it as well. So I had some bits and bobs, and a little star was born. Backing and very light quilting followed, with cheats binding,

If I had been braver, I might have put gold in the bobbin, but I didn't think of it, and wouldn't be that brave anyway!


And, I confess, I like making dolly clothes. And I knew there was a little girl somewhere around, So the same pattern as my DD2 used, and a little outfit came together.

All sewing done Sunday evening, as I wouldn't have time later, with work! So imagine my surprise, come Monday, when I saw what Cindy had been doing. Coincidences happen. It is a fun block to do though.

I like the instant gratification of little things like these.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Lovely morning

Some days things work out better than you can possibly hope. I went to visit a bloggy friend, She had never met me, but we had exchanged emails and looked at what the other does, and I like what she does, and she seems a lovely relaxed person, and very sweet. Today I met her. What a star, she is at least as lovely in person as she is on her blog, mention no names, but  I am hoping we can do this again sometime. Tea, cake and a chatty two year old. Bliss. Love it.

Then home and a little bit of sewing and marmalade making!. Could there be a better day off?

 I think not.

I picked up some vibrant solids to start making blocks for the quilt as you go QAL with Laura, I had batting at home but quite forgot I would need backing.
As luck would have it I have a really cheerful spotty fabric, and one or two other candidates for this, and so I started. I am not as organised as Laura, so I am afraid, I made a block and had a go. Not quite the disaster it would have been if I hadn't played with fluffy sheep last autumn, but definitely not a prizewinner. I used a same colour thread, so it won't look too bad, but as I get better, ( I hope) I may rip it out and try again.

There are a few odd size stitches, some of the time it flowed really well and looped in the right places, and then it stopped flowing and I got some pointy bits! On the photo, you really can't see the disasters, Yeay for same colour thread!

Yes, practise required!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


I do not know if I am being brave, or foolish. I have now signed up for five things on the interwhatsit!

So to keep me clear I am going to be boring and list them here. I have joined a bee. I have joined a swap, and another swap. Timing wise, I think I should be ok, as the Rainbow swap will be a very straightforward one. Should be great fun though, and the zippy purse swap will be all done quite quickly, and the other one will be gentle, until it is my turn to organise stuff. And I can carry on with the skill builder weekly. And I have yet to start on the FMQ one- I think I have misplaced what I am to do about that.

Ok, I have just signed up for the Mouthy stitches Swap  with Cindy, Hadley and Susan, and spent some time making a mosaic-to put up for this venture. Want to see it?

I think this should be fun and hope it is not too demanding, but should get a lot of chat with the rest of the gang. Rule number one, must be chatty- so I think I can go for that!

Looking at what others have put in their mosaics, I am not sure I have quite the same feel, but I was unsure where to start. And the samples they show are lovely!

fingers crossed!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Rainbow swap

Hi, A very quick one tonight- it is very late, but there is a 'Rainbow charm swap' going on at Strawberry patch. The first one filled up, but she is running a second, so if you want a go- try there now!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

can I bear block 22 again?

Well, yes, I could. I wanted it right. Flat, not woggly. And looking as it should. So I did start over. And this time... I am winning. It lays beautifully flat, and the central not quite a square meets its points just as it should. Phew. I am not likely to do that one again in a hurry.

This is not all I did today. I had a friend round for consultation on setting up a work website, so that took a few hours,  ( anyone volunteering to test it when it eventually gets done? tell me what is wrong with it etc?) and then I had bits of sewing I wanted to get done, today, as I am at a peer review tomorrow evening, and I want to know I have it complete. So that took the rest of the afternoon and evening- I will report more on those bits later.

Sunni at love affair with my brother is organising another stash bee, so if some of you want a bee- I know some of Cindy's fans were keen- perhaps you should pay her a visit. And Sunni is also doing a giveaway, of Aurifil thread. So, just maybe, you should go in for that as well. I know I go through so much thread, I would be thrilled to win some.  That's got to be it for tonight, I think.

Night Night.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

block 22, again

No, it has not gone well. Having printed out umpteen copies in different sizes, and cut them out and checked them, I realised that on none of the sets do the seam lines actually match in length. This is comparing the sewing line with it's corresponding sewing line. If they do not match you are in trouble. I know the cut edge will not match, but the sewing line should. However. I thought, better brains than mine have designed this, I better go for it. So I tried.

See how uneven and woggly the whole thing is? This is not a good look for a block. So I took it apart and 'wangled' it. It looks a lot better, but it is not right.

 So, I think what I need to do, is to draw out the block full size, and cut it up to make templates, which at least will have seam lines that match, and try again. Start over,and see how that works out.

That little square in the middle? It is not a square. The sides should be part of the curve, continuing on from the sectors, to make a smooth arc.
don't hold your breath while I have another go...

And I have had 'help' this last few days.
This rather large size help. I do not expect these fellows to be still lurking in January. Sorry, it is a blurry picture, I think he was camera shy. But he has made me jump a few times lately. I am not exactly scared of him, I just would rather not see too much of him, if you know what I mean.(Spider picture removed.)

And Genny takes not the least notice of him. I think she prefers not to see him. It is far too menial for her attention. She is too busy being beautiful. And looking after the throw from the back of the sofa.

Friday, 6 January 2012

block 22- curves

Leila has posted the next block. This one has curves. It is a pretty block, but printing out the template has been a bit of a nightmare. First of all, I printed the version as it stood. It was clearly going to be too small. So I printed it again, but increased the size, to 125%. This is going to be too big. I am getting a three bears scenario here. I am having to wing it here. I tried 110%. Now measuring the seam allowances, they are 1/4" as near as damn it, (pardon the language here)so I am hoping they will be right.
We haven't been given a dimension for the central square, so checking the size of that will not help, though I am hoping that will be 1 ". 10 sheets of paper later, perhaps I will choose my fabrics tomorrow. If I can get this one to work I will be very pleased.

And, with curved seams, as I know from dressmaking- fitting collars onto necklines, the seamline has to match. And I am not convinced that my seam lines are the same length on the corresponding templates. So this could be a total mess this time.I await the result. I suppose as a one off block it will not matter if it comes out a tad large, as I can trim it. If I was using a lot of them together it would be more important, as the circle effect would be lost if they are trimmed to size, rather than being right.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

fishy thing

I decided to turn my last Applique block into a cushion cover, A friend of mine will appreciate it, and I think it looks wonderful. ' Even if I do say so as shouldn't'.

I mounted it with a border in deep green, and put it on a skinny layer of batting, and that backed with white cotton I had in stock, Stitched at the inner and outer edges of the green, and then did a rambling set of wavy lines on the green by way of free quilting, to fit the watery theme. Then piped the edge with gold scroll fabric ( another first- never done piping before) and used furnishing suede, left over from DD2's Christmas bag, for the reverse of the cushion.
 The piping was surprisingly easy, using a zip foot, and 1" wide strips of fabric to cover the cord. I would definitely do it again, it produces a really professional result.

I was pleased with the way the Green mitred neatly at the corners, Thank you, I adapted this to do the mitred bit. and when I trialed it with a cushion pad it looked better than I had expected.
I debated doing a bit of quilting on the face of the picture, but decided, less was more, and I could ruin the whole thing if I got too enthusiastic.
I did an envelope back, which has a big overlap, and should be tidy and secure.
Hopefully, she should receive this at the weekend.

My daughter tells me I now need labels to put in projects, as this will finish it off even better. I am giving this consideration. What do other folk do? I am not at all sure. 

Now, I have a little list, of definite projects I wish to work on in the next few months. I do  not know how time and energy are going to run, but this is the brief list. I am sure other things will add themselves. These before April, I hope. 

1. Book bag- Son no. 1
2. Imogens cover-DD1
3. Cushion- Elizabeth--Done, Hurrah
4. Throw-Gill
5. Throw no 3-Living room. (for me!)
6. Finish quilt that began all this
7. Join a bee
Now one of those has already been finished, other than gifting, and one is, I trust, on its way. Sunni from Love affair with my brother is hosting a stash bee, the first hive is complete, but she is happy to do another to start in February, so I have signed up, with trepidation, as I have never done the like before, so I just hope enough other folk will join in, that it will run. She has several links on her page, to tell us how it is meant to work, and giving ideas of rules. 

Fingers firmly crossed, how about it?
Now, the lovely Lucy from Charm about you is having a birthday, and wants us to help her celebrate, by giving us a charm pack-well, she is giving two packs away, so go and visit her, and put your ha'porth in for that. They are lovely Kate Spain charm packs, and would go well in any stash!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year, thoughts

So it is the first day of the new year.

DD1 decided she needed a shoulder strap for her bag, to go across her body.  So today she has a shoulder strap for her bag. Would have been simpler had I attached it before making the bag, but such is life. The main problem is, that I had very little thread let in the right colour.This little thread. Almost nothing.

It was enough, although I had to use the remnant of the bobbin thread to finish the last little bit, and a black bobbin underneath. This slightly offends my sense of propriety, but we can live with it.

And my son kindly voluteered to model his sister's bag.

Looks good on him?
Perhaps not. But I will try to make him the book bag he is after, sometime soon.

It seems to be the thing to do, to put up a mosaic of things done this year. And as I have been led through the process of mosaic making-thanks Laura- I thought I could join the club, and do one here.

So this year, this is some of what I have done:
I am amazed at how much there is, I really didn't think I had been so productive. And I am sure I would not have been nearly so productive without online encouragement from loads pf enthusiastic people.

So Thank You all of the encouragers, and the suggesters, and the others who have been so lovely and helpful, And thank you to the QAL type organisers, Fluffy Sheep and Leila, and others who I may not have QAL-ed with but have observed at a distance. I look forward to a year of more fun with fabric.
Is there treatment for this addiction? Do not give it to me, I am not ready to stop yet!

i have joined in with Lily's quilts for the small blog meet and fresh sewing day. See you there?
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