Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Cutting out patterns

I am going to be totally honest and say that cutting out clothing patterns bores me - there I have said it!

Not great when you have decided to make a dress!

It is all the pinning and precision cutting with scissors.

I just can't get the cutting with dress scissors thing right. I have made many clothes over the years and this is the one thing that stumps me. Sewing and following the pattern is fine, but the pinning and cutting drives me crazy and then I rush through the making just so I can get it finished...

Result is clothes I don't like...

So this time I was determined to find another way. I have made a bed sheet version of the Tova- well more like tested out the complicated bits! And I have bought my gorgeous Moda Cotton Weave.

Pondering over how best to cut the fabric I realised that I am a demon with a rotary cutter. My hatred of the dress scissors could be side stepped if I used my cutter... but would it work?

Turns out yes! Loads of people are using their rotary cutters. Now I feel like a silly girl in the class!

Then I found out about pattern weights. My problems with pins are solved!

Very late last night I made 12 of these little beauties:

They are a dinky 2.5" square and filled with rice. Of course having made them I needed to test them!

I placed them all over the pattern pieces and grabbed a rotary cutter with a new blade.

They worked. It was fast, easy and the edges are smooth. Total genius!

I am so excited I have managed to overcome the 'worst' part of dress making for me!

(It is a good thing as I have bought yardage from the sale section at Hawthorne Threads for more dresses and tunics... more on that later in the week!)

Monday, 29 April 2013

Shopping for a Tova

This weekend I took the boys up to see a fabulous family friend, the lovely friend who I made the pixelated heart for.

I discovered that a quilt shop had opened. I am a fabric addict so obviously I need to visit all quilt shops I can find... right?

Well Angie's Quilts did not disappoint!

It is a lovely bright shop full of gorgeous fabrics, including all the new lines like Comma.

The space is well lit and there is plenty of fabrics, organised in colour order - which I love!

Angie is a lovely quilter, with loads of experience. She holds classes in the shop on fabulous tables.

Once I was there I cam across some gorgeous cotton cross weave fabric from Moda.

I bought a turquoise weave, which feels like linen, but shouldn't crease like linen. I matched it with a basic from Art Gallery Fabrics in a bright pink for the collar - it is going to look soooo pretty (I hope!)

I really enjoyed chatting with Angie and I will be visiting her shop again when I am next up that way.

I will keep you updated as to my progress! The mock top is looking lovely and alterations I made to pattern have worked too!

Linking up with Lets Get Acquainted!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Using up Scraps

Today is my beautiful best friends birthday!

I decided that this year I am making gifts for friends from my fabric scraps. First was my friend's green cushion and then yesterday I made a small table runner for my friends birthday today.

Starting with a colour I know she has in her dining room - I really hope my memory is right! I pulled the scraps from the pixelated heart quilt and started building a strip piece.

I decided I wanted the quilting to stand out and I tried a new quilt pattern - risky move!

I decide to counter the strip piecing and quilt large curing flowers that run into each other. Great fun! And they added a really nice texture to work. The back is light grey so showed up the texture of the quilting really well.

This is my first go at the design and I got some of the scale off, but I love the overall effect of the flowers running into each other.

The scale of the quilt is just right to put into the middle of the table and put a vase on!

This morning I found this amazing wrapping paper. Patchwork and flowers! Perfect for my gorgeous friend!

Making presents from scraps is working so far!

Linking up with Free Motion Friday.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

UFO for 7 years!

I know 7 years is a long time, but there is a reason...

A couple of weeks ago my dad came back to the UK after nearly 5 years - he lives in the Far East.

Before he went on his travels 7 years ago he had requested I make a quilt for him to take with him. He had wanted to take a quilt I had made my mother whilst she was poorly. I just couldn't let that one go so far, so I offered to make one for him and his new girlfriend - she is now is wife and they make a lovely couple!

So I set to work making a quilt for my dad. Gek, my dads wife, had chosen a quilt design called Wedding Quilt by Kaffe Fassett from his book Passionate Patchwork. It is a fabulous mixture of stars and pin wheels.

I will admit I have been procrastinating on this quilt because of the emotions attached to when I started it - it was the year after mum died and the grief was over powering.

Anyway, my dad visited on Sunday and mentioned the quilt, which has been languishing under my bed. I now feel ready to get it finish. The top is complete:

It is big! Gek chose the shot cottons and Kaffe Fassett fabrics along with a pale green background.

They are all lovely. Time has changed how I view this quilt, it is now an exciting project to finish!

I have disregarded the polyester wadding and discovered a hole in the backing which I think I will patchwork with from shapes from the front. Then we are good to quilt!

How old is your oldest UFO?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Making Clothes

I am a quilter to my core.

But I have made clothes in past - not for a long time though!

I have an awards ceremony coming up in May and I need something new to wear. I just can't seem to find what I want. So I am going to make something.

I have been looking at the TOVA pattern from Wiksten for quite a long time, but not been sure about giving it a go...

But today I have taken the plunge and bought the PDF of the pattern.

I love the look of this shirt and when I saw the lovely Sonia from Fabric and Flowers wearing the one she made I was sold.

The only thing I am concerned about is the fit. All of the pictures I find on google of people who have made the shirts are of slim makers. I am not slim, I am a curvy size 16. I hope it works ok with my body type too!

Now which fabric to use. I have so many I love...

From M is for Make

From Backstitch

From The Village Haberdashery
What do you think? 

Have you made one?

Would love to see your Tova!

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Sewing Revival

In my job I work with lots of groups of people.

The young and not so young, people with mental health issues and those who come to private classes.

It is a varied job and great fun!

Items made in a beginners class
All of these people have one thing in common, they are part of a huge revival in sewing. Across all of the groups I go into there is huge excitement about sewing and being able to create with fabric. I always go prepared with a planning - never go without a plan! But I am often side tracked by the ideas my learners have.

On Saturday I had a spot at a community centre open day. I took along 3 sewing machines with the intention of demonstrating how to use a sewing machine in the morning and then planned to hold short pin cushion making classes in the afternoon.

I didn't get a chance to hold 'classes', I was inundated from the minute the open day started by people who wanted to learn how to sew!

Patchwork Blanket in progress
At the end of a manic 4 hour session 20 learners had sat at the sewing machines making pin cushions and I spoke to another 40 who couldn't wait to make a cushion but were desperate to learn how to sew!

The growth in interest has been helped along by the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC 1, which has done a fantastic job of bringing sewing and clothes making into people's living rooms across the country.

I find that people want to make something unique for their homes or change clothing to create unique items. Lots of people loved the quilts I took along with me and wanted to have a go.

It is really promising for the future of sewing and quilting that so many people are interested in learning how to sew. Learning as a group in local community centres builds bonds between members of the community.

I hope that more and more people discover the joy of sewing and the revival continues to build. I feel privileged to be a small part of the journey that people are making with their sewing machines and fabric.

In the morning I will working with a group of young mums building their confidence, maths skills and teaching them to sew patchwork blankets for their children - basically I have the best job in the world!

Linking up with Let's Get Acquainted.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Magic in a can!

As a long time quilter I have worked with different methods of basting my quilts.

I always used to simply use a needle and thread to baste the quilt sandwich together, which worked incredibly well. But is was very time consuming - a king size quilt would take well over an hour to baste.

The other down side is that the quilt would shift sometimes, which is really annoying when you have worked so hard to centre the back pieces!

I have been using quilters safety pins for a year, I love these on smaller projects, but I have found they shift the quilt too much on a larger quilt. On smaller quilts shifting is much less of a concern. Small shifts over a huge space builds until the centre of the back is completely off.

I have also found that as I FMQ my mind tends to wander off and I zone out. I often miss the fact that I am approaching a safety pin until it is too late and my machine is almost on top of it!

Still I prefer the pins to the needle and thread method!

This leads me to the magic in a can method!

The curvy quilt I shared with you yesterday is full of curvy seams and the backing was pieced so I was really keen to make sure I got the front and the back positioned properly. So I started investigating my other options and the most obvious was a spray adhesive.

I got some from The Village Haberdashery.

From The Village Haberdashery
The instructions on the can are really clear.

You lay the quilt layers out - preferably outside, which isn't an option in freezing England. You peel back one half of the quilt top and spray the basting glue onto the wadding. Then gently smooth out the quilt from the middle out, smoothing out the top as you go.

You repeat the process for the other side. Then you can flip the quilt and repeat the process for the backing.

I found this video on You Tube that shows how to use the spray:

Having used it on 3/4 large quilts I won't be going back to pins or needle and thread. It has allowed me to work on huge quilts both in my machine and by hand without having to worry about everything shifting around.

As an experiment I also left the curvy quilt for a few weeks after I basted it to see if the glue would wear off - it hasn't! It is still just as strongly put together as it was when I sprayed it.

The beauty of the spray basting is that I can re-position the quilt top and the back if I need to - but I haven't had to yet!

What's you favourite way to baste your quilts?

PS I don't receive any form of incentive from either the shops or manufacturers I chat about on my blog.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Quilting the curves!

On Boxing Day 2012 I experimented with curves and made a more grown up quilt for my near 11 year old eldest monster. He had chosen fabrics with city scape's and we turned them into curvy buildings.

Please excuse the bad photo!

It was great fun and challenge that I had not tried before - plenty of starch was used!

It has been basted using some basting spray - my thoughts on that tomorrow - and sitting on my 'please quilt me pile' for a couple of months. He is now getting upset that work design/paperwork and my Swoon quilt have taken precedence over his lovely new quilt. So it was put onto my FAL Q2 list and I have decided to not leave to the last minute!

I had outlined one of the curvy towers and started to FMQ swirls and pebbles in co-ordinating thread, but I had not really thought beyond that block....

Today I have a little spare time between prep for a class tomorrow and housework so I have outlined the next curvy block with some Aurifil in a pale grey (2615) which goes well with the white and grey blocks.

I am thinking of only quilting details into the windows, but not sure!

The pieces above each curvy building block are going to be quilting with swirls and pebbles in co-ordinating thread, which means I have had to order some neon orange - I hope it matches!

I will be honest, beyond that I am not sure.... it is going to be an adventure!

What are working on? I would love to see!

Linking up with Free Motion Quilting Friday over at Free Motion Project.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

WIP: Design

This week I have been slowly putting together the equilateral triangles for my lovely friends quilt:

I have spent 2 weeks cutting lots of triangles, but I there still aren't enough!

I plan on sewing a row a day in the hope that I will manage to fit the quilt into my busy schedule and get it finished for my friends holiday in May...

I have also been working on a new block design for the Bi-Monthly Block of the Month that is starting in July at Prema Arts Centre. This one was a tough one to put together and I don't know yet how to teach it...

It does look pretty groovy though!

Would love to see your work in progress this week!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Charity Bee!

Last year I discovered Stitched in Color and I have been hooked ever since!

I love her blog and the generous way she shares information, ideas and her plans.

I also discovered the do. Good Stitches charity bee which Rachel founded and co-ordinates. I thought the idea of using quilting to bring joy to those less fortunate than ourselves was/is a fabulous idea.

It took my until November to work up the nerve to apply for a place on the bee. There a huge waiting lists and the standard is so high.. I really worried I wasn't good enough.

Anyways I heard nothing for ages, but I expected that. The one day 3/4 weeks ago an email pinged through from Rachel saying she had checked out my application and would I apply to the bee as quilter as I clearly have the skills!

I actually did a little victory dance in my studio! So blinking excited!

As far I knew my application would be placed in a waiting list for a place in an established circle.... but a week later she announced country based quilting circles! Turns out I am a quilter for the first UK circle called  Together at do. Good Stitches! ME!

That means I get to design a block for other bee members and then once the blocks are back I quilt it.

We started this month with a wonderful block from out co-ordinator Fiona from Poppy Makes:

They are simple blocks that came together really easily. The finished quilt will go to Siblings Together for a teenage girl. Knowing the finished quilt will bring joy and comfort to someone is fab!

Next month I am the quilter, so I have to sort out a block design and wait for the bee to get the blocks back to me.... what to do????

So many exciting possibilities!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Window shopping....

.... actually more like screen licking...

At the moment I am a total fabric shopping ban - rent comes first I guess...

But I have been liking the screen at some of the new stuff I have spotted popping up in my favourite shops. I just love torturing myself with newsletters from the shops concerned that make me hold my breath and swear!


This is Woodland Pine from Sarah Watson and is available at M is for Make. I seriously need the whole line in my hands. They are all just amazing!

I mean look at this Drops of Clay... yummy!

I keep seeing Shelburne Falls on peoples blogs and I have fallen in love!

Backstitch has this wonderful bundle that would be perfect in my stash....

I love Comma by Zen Chic, and this one in particular! The Village Haberdashery has a lovely selection.

At first glance it is a modest wish list, but  must add that I want all of Comma, all of the wonderful fabrics by Sarah Watson and all of Shelburne Falls..... not so modest really!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Loving Strings!

Last week I read the over at the wonderful Stitched in Color blog all about Ziggy Strings.

Midi monster wants a herring bone quilt of scraps and this looked like fun, so I just knew I had to give it ago!

A lovely friend of mine had a wonderful birthday last week and she loves green, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on a smaller project using the ideas on Rachel's blog.

I needed to make my blocks smaller so I opted to cut the foundation paper at 4.5" inches:

I raided my scrap bucket and pulled all the greens. The scraps were cut into varying widths and then sewn onto the the foundation paper.

I then got to play around with the layout of the blocks!

I settled on the this design:

To quilt the design I used an all over flowers with swirls in an all over design as my friend loves gardening and flowers!

I love this cushion! The mix of green scraps is so lovely!

I wasn't able to my friends party, but I hope the cushion lives in happily in my gorgeous friends home!

Now to plan midi's quilt for him!