Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Spring tote bag progress

Just popping in to share my progress on the 'Spring' stitchery from my last post. I'm really enjoying this and am about 3/4 of the way done. I started to pull out some fabrics and I have cut lots of strips ready to make the bag. I'm planning to use the stitchery on a large pocket...

Though it's still all in my head and anything could happen :)
Loving these bright, zingy colours...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Starting something new...

It's a great feeling to put the last stitch in a project and sit back to admire it with a sense of achievement. All that time and effort, finally it is done. It may not be perfect but I did my best and I'm happy. And if I've learned something new along the way, all the better!

As I've just finished my Welcome Home Pillow, it's time to start something new. I just love that feeling.. the anticipation.. the buzz I get from choosing what to stitch and gathering the supplies. I think I get as much pleasure from beginning a project as I do from finishing one!

So here's my new project... one I am very excited about. I really want to have a go at making a tote bag to carry my patchwork/applique/stitchery projects in. Something smarter that a supermarket carrier bag :) And it has to have a huge pocket on the front for patterns etc. In search of a stitchery design that I could use on the pocket, I found the perfect thing....

It's called "Spring - The Earth Awakens" - a brand new design by Whimsy Dell. It came as a PDF file that I could print out and use straight away. It's the first time that I've bought a pattern this way and I am very impressed I have to say. Beautifully presented with very detailed instructions.. I couldn't wait to start!

Here it is in the process of being traced on the lightbox.

I've chosen the fabrics I'll use for the bag, the threads are sorted and I'm all ready to begin stitching...

take a deep breath...
make the first stitch...
oh, I just love starting something new :)

Monday, 23 January 2012

A Gardener's Journal

As soon as I saw this book I knew it was for me. Stitchery, patchwork and quilting, all combined into a gorgeous quilt... and with a garden theme too - perfect!  It will take me some time to complete but that's ok, I have lots of other projects I want to do whirling around in my head. So this is my long-term project. I work on it in between other things, picking it up whenever the mood is right. I know that one day it will be finished!

I decided to use fabrics by Nancy Halvorsen. I love the colours Nancy uses and have been collecting them for a while. I now have a box full - lots of scraps to use up and some larger pieces too.  I also have some lovely fabric left from my Welcome Home pillow that will blend in perfectly!  The DMC shades from the book match well with the fabrics, so I don't need to make any substitutions there.

The quilt is made up of 9 blocks and this is my progress so far on the first block.

I've traced all the stitcheries for the first two blocks and ironed on the stabiliser so that they are ready to pick up and stitch. I'm using a lovely oatmeal cotton fabric with a thin iron-on fleece (Vilene H630) as a stabiliser. It gives the fabric a lovely body without being stiff or hard to stitch through... and it's great for hiding all those ends too!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Welcome Home is finished...

I am so pleased with how this turned out :)

The pattern called for the pillow cover to just be patched but I made a bit more work for myself by adding some wadding and a liner and quilting in the ditch. I figured that it was worth taking extra time over this since I had put all those hours in on the stitchery. I used a piece of wool felt underneath the stitched panel, then attached it to the pillow with blanket stitch. I bought a lovely plump, feather-filled cushion to go inside it and with the quilted cover it feels wonderfully squishy!

and here's the back.... odd buttons and all :)

This has been so lovely to work on, I've enjoyed every minute of it!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Keep it tidy tilly!!!

One of my sewing resolutions this year is to keep my sewing stuff tidy and organised. Previously, I had teetering piles of fabric on open shelves that never looked tidy... and I could never find what I wanted. Then I'd spend ages picking up, refolding and restacking the piles of fabric! Annoying and so time-wasting when all I needed was a tiny scrap of yellow for an appliqué flower centre..

I already had several plastic storage boxes from my card making days, so I utilised those for patterns, buttons, threads, etc., then I  bought several larger see-through plastic boxes from Ikea for my fabrics. It took me an absolute age to sort everything out but it was so worth it! I also cleared off the bookcase at the side of my desk and moved all my sewing stash on to it. All my fabrics are sorted by colour, with the exception of my collection of Nancy Halvorsen fabrics - they have a box of their own :)

It's absolute bliss to be able to just reach up, grab a box and know that what I need is in there.
The only thing is... I have to keep it tidy and put things away as I finish with them!!!

While I've got the camera in my hand,  I've taken a photo of what's on my desk today... my sewing machine! It's a Brother Inovis 350SE, I bought the extension table and also several extra feet for patchwork and quilting. I've had this machine for just over a year and I absolutely love it!

I must finish that pillow......

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Resolved to sew - 2012

I don't normally make resolutions, probably because the ones I make are too ambitious and I don't have much chance of keeping to them! But this post on the Very Berry Handmade blog made me think. Maybe stitching resolutions would be more achievable? There are some gorgeous give-away prizes too, so do head over there and check it out. You don't have to be a blogger to enter and it's open to everyone, everywhere.

OK, here is my Resolved to Sew 2012 list....

I have so many projects I want to stitch in 2012 and am so tempted to start them all now. I know that if I do that I'll end up in a dreadful muddle, with mountain of half-finished projects and not much hope of finishing anything! So I will try my best to work on one long-term project at a time with a smaller project in between. That doesn't sound so bad!

I made a big effort just before Christmas to tidy and sort all my fabrics. I used to have them stacked  on shelves and when I pulled some fabric out it just got added to the top of the stack again. What a jumble! I used to waste so much time looking for 'that little scrap of purple with the lilac dots' or whatever, that by the time I'd found it, I'd forgotten what I wanted it for! Now I have moved all my fabrics into a large bookcase right at the side of my desk, they are all sorted by colour and stored in clear plastic boxes. It is so much easier to find what I need... but I do need to make a big effort to keep it tidy and put fabric back in the correct box!

I'm really enjoying trying new techniques, and that's something I want to continue in 2012.

I really would like to start earlier this year on Christmas projects.  I managed to make a couple of stitched gifts in time for last Christmas, but I never got around to making anything for me!

Last one is to make a real effort to keep this blog updated regularly!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Welcome Home Pillow

This gorgeous fabric and pattern was a Christmas gift from my younger daughter. I swear she is psychic, I had wanted this pattern for ages but I am sure I never mentioned it to her. The fat quarter fabrics are just perfect... tiny prints in the most gorgeous colours... yum!

This design reminds me so much of my dream home... on a Welsh hillside, looking out over fields of sheep :) How lovely to live there, in a little appliqué house... as long as it had a fast internet connection of course! 

The stitchery is finished and the fabric is cut into strips...

Now all I have to do is make them into a pillow!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Starting to stitch....

When I was a young girl (many years ago) we girls were taught embroidery at school. We used iron-on transfers, all stitches had to be perfect and precise so I spent more time unpicking than anything else! We made things like tea tray cloths and pretty embroidered hankies to give Granny for Christmas. Nothing very exciting and I didn't continue to embroider once I'd left school.

Now, through my wanderings on the internet, I've found that it doesn't seem to be called embroidery these days... it's stitchery. Wow, are there some clever designers out there! A whole new world of lovely things I want to make for my home. I mean, who uses hand embroidered hankies these days anyway?

So I dusted off my rusty skills, practiced a few stitches on a scrap of fabric, bought a pattern or two and had a go. This was my first stitchery project - Quilt Shoppe Pillow by Lynette Anderson... although mine didn't end up as a pillow, I made it into a wall hanging for my craft room.  The pattern came with an iron-on transfer so I was familiar with that part, then came the stitching and the appliqué... I loved it and a new addiction was born! I learned a few new things along the way too, like the benefits of using a stabiliser under the fabric... I wouldn't stitch without it now! I also learned that it does NOT have to be perfect. The things I stitch are for me and my family, I love making them and a little bit of love goes into every stitch. Far more important to me than perfection :)

Once I'd finished the wall hanging I couldn't wait to start stitching something else. I chose the Sewing Angel Tool Store by Anni Downs of Hatched and Patched. Apart from the fact that it would be very useful for keeping all my sewing bits together whether I was upstairs or downstairs, I love the combination of stitchery, appliqué and sewing. Enough there to keep me interested for sure. I  made it a little bigger than the pattern and adjusted the inside to suit my needs.

The tool store closed. All neat and tidy, so easy to carry round the house.

With the front cover open. Even though my scalloped edge went a bit wonky, I loved working the panel for the flap.

And here it is fully opened, everything I need for a stitching session is in there. Pattern and threads, needles and pins, scissors, stitch unpicker, fabric glue and marker. I use it every day!

I really love this stitchery lark :)

Friday, 13 January 2012


I don't know why it is, but autumn seems to be the time of year that I fancy trying something 'different'. Last autumn, I was wandering around the internet (as you do) when I came across the Don't Look Now! blog. As soon as the blog header appeared I though 'ooooh, I fancy having a go at that!'

I'd never tried appliqué so I didn't have a clue where to start. Fortunately, on the blog there is a super tutorial for a Flower Garden Pillow, so I downloaded the free pattern and instructions. I had a little go and absolutely loved the combination of raw edge appliqué and freestyle machine embroidery. I used Steam a Seam Lite2 to transfer the pattern pieces to the fabric. It takes time to do all the tracing, cutting and pressing but gosh, what fantastic stuff it is!

Here's the cushion I made for myself. OK so I've gone a bit wonky here and there on the appliqué  and the quilting is nothing to write home about... but I'm really, really pleased with it.

Don't look now! is based in Australia and I had a bit of a job finding the patterns here in the UK. I eventually tracked them down at Creative Quilting, I only intended  buying one pattern but ended up with three... oops!

On a trip to a nearby patchwork and quilting store, I bought a felt appliqué kit - Wooly Sheep by Rachel of Greenfield. I found that the easiest way to cut the felt pieces out was to use freezer paper.

While I was buying the felt sheep pattern, I came across the Art to Heart books by Nancy Halvorsen. I made this wallhanging as a Christmas gift for my elder daughter. It's a design from the Cottage Charms book... it was such fun to stitch! It's quite large, the hanger is a 22" one. My daughter has it hanging in her sewing room.

fabric, felt, buttons and beads... this was fun to stitch!

And the gift for my elder daughter was this cushion. I combined elements from my three Don't Look Now!  patterns to make up this finished design. My daughter has two mischievous cats, so I just had to include them...  on their collars are two tiny silver bells.

in the summertime...

During the summer months I spend a lot of time outdoors in my garden. First thing in the morning it's shady on the patio so I sit here with my morning coffee.

By lunchtime the sun moves around and it just gets too hot on the patio, so I move to the shade of the tree. It's lovely to spend a summer afternoon here, sometimes reading but more often than not I have some stitching or crochet in my hands.

But sometimes the need to 'potter about' strikes... and usually I end up pottering in the greenhouse. I love my garden :)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Baby quilt

Of course... when the Moses basket was finished, I couldn't stop there! The baby would need cot-sized bedding too, so I made some larger sheets and blankets. Oh, and a quilt... I mean, the baby had to have a quilt!

The fabrics I used are from the Itty Bitty Baby range by Marcus fabrics. I loved the colours in these fabrics so much that I matched them up and made a cot-sized ripple blanket.

And here is the finished quilt, I think the design is called 'Disappearing 9 patch'. Once the baby was born and a name decided, I added a label to the back with his name and date of birth.

and some sewing....

In 2010 my first great grandchild was born... imagine how OLD that made me feel!!!

We knew it was to be a boy and decided to get a Moses basket for him. Well.. we soon found that if we wanted something really nice, it would be really expensive. So instead we bought an inexpensive Moses basket and I made new covers for it. The original ones were a nasty, scratchy cotton and that wouldn't do at all for a precious new baby! I stripped off the basket hood, linings and coverlet and unpicked them to use as patterns for the new fabric. I'd chosen a lovely soft, cream cotton with satin spots, accented with beige and coffee trims.

Here it is finished... the 'baby' all snuggled up inside is a small hot water bottle with a little lamb cover :)

I also made embroidered cotton sheets and fleece blankets to match and knitted several blankets to keep him cosy.

and here's the baby sheep all tucked up inside!

A little bit of hooky stuff

I learned to crochet may years ago, but to be honest the patterns available in the 60's and 70's were all a bit dull... unless you were into hippie ponchos!  A while ago I discovered Lucy's Attic24 blog and from there the Ravelry group. (do check them out, so much inspiration). And colour!!! Lots and lots of bright, zingy colours! I couldn't wait to rush out and buy some yarn and a hook to begin. Since then I have crocheted on and off, in between other projects.. just picking it up whenever it took my fancy. Here are some of my finished projects -

Made with Rowan Pure Wool DK, it's a wonderful cosy blanket to snuggle up with on the sofa.

Based on the log cabin pattern, this was a Christmas gift for a friend.

A gift for my youngest daughter, this granny ripple was so much fun to work on.

This one is called 'Sunny Spread' - the pattern is on Ravelry. It has a wonderful texture.

Granny squares in pure wool. This one lives on the futon in my craftroom.

This is the first blanket I made, it lives in the spare bedroom.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

blog resurrection....

Goodness... is it really three and a half years since I last blogged???

Since my last post I have worked on some crochet, knitting, patchwork, appliqué, quilting and stitchery... so I haven't been idle, honest!! I guess I just got out of the habit of blogging and now it's time to start again. I will leave all the card making posts where they are - they are a good reminder of what I did with my spare time back then.

Over the next few days I'll add some photos soon so that you can see what I've been doing :)