To Quilt or Not to Quilt?

IMG_7903I’ve always thought quilting to be something that my Nan would do and up until the other day I had absolutely no interest in it what so ever. And lets face it you can only make so many quilts. We have four beds in our house, so to me that equates to four quilts. I know people who just sew quilt after quilt after quilt…. and end up giving the large majority of they hard earned work away. So to me it’s never really been of any great interest until I saw a lovely photo of a chevron patterned quilt and I thought “Perfect, just perfect” for my daughters new bedroom. We are planning to go for a white room with splashes of neon, or very bright colours.

So today I went to my favourite shop, The Remnant Warehouse and sourced these four colours which I plan to start this week. I’m going to make 80, 10 inch squares and then I have to admit I am going to pay someone to do the top stitching for me; I can’t think of anything more tedious than doing the final stitching part – it’s way too time consuming for me at this point in my life.

So the plan is to cut out the 80 squares this week and then get started on turning them into half square triangles…. ahhh I’m picking up on the quilting lingo already! Classic. Then next week I’ll work on finishing off the half square triangles and maybe even start to sew some lines together, time permitting.

Do you quilt?

Little Peoples Belts

IMG_7793 So the weekend away was most eventful! I really surprised myself with how much I actually achieved! I went with great intentions but having three children (now 5 and under) I didn’t really believe that I would get much done; if anything to be really honest.

My husband decided that he was going to take the two big kids into town to get some ingredients to cook up a lovely casserole for dinner so I stayed at home and got going on the sewing whilst our baby boy slept. I powered through heaps of belts; the ones using twill tape took no time at all; about ten minutes each, the ones I made with ribbon took a little longer only because I ironed some interfacing in-between two strips of ribbon just to give it a bit more rigidity. I think they have come up really nicely so I’m now working on a tutorial to add to my site for anyone that’s interested in making a few. You certainly don’t have to have any experience in sewing to be able to make them, and you could even just hand stitch them if you don’t own a sewing machine. (Obviously it might take you a bit longer though).

The belt my son is wearing in these photos is the ribbon version. I have to say it was a lot more difficult to get him to pose than my daughter; it comes pretty naturally to her, this one didn’t enjoy it as much so when I asked him to then model the twill tape belt it all went horribly pear shaped so I just gave up – I figured it wasn’t a fight worth having. I like to pick my battles wisely!

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Twill and ribbon belts

Belt

Old School Techniques

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This week my good friend and I met again for our monthly get-together and did some sewing and a lot of talking. Her Mum was down from the country for the week so she joined us and I learnt a really good old school technique; but more about that later…

At the beginning of this crazy ‘learn to sew’ adventure I started a year ago I bought this gadget online from the USA called a Yo-Yo Maker because it makes cute little material flowers from scraps of left over material. (God only knows what I thought I was going to make with it!). So a year after purchasing it I actually opened the package this week and attempted to use it. A few things I discovered:

1.  One and a quarter inch yo-yos are way too small to do anything decent with (in my opinion that is!)

2. A Yo-Yo is the American term, a Suffolk Puff is the British term

3. You don’t need a Yo-Yo Maker to do it – in fact I think it’s just as easy to do it by hand. It’s so easy that I have created a tutorial here.

I decided to make some hair ties for my little girl and her cousins so I collected a few pieces of scrap material from the scrap box and cut out some circles and got to work hand stitching. You basically do a running tack stitch around the outside of the circle and then pull the thread to make it gather, tie it off and then sew the hole closed…. when I did my first one I thought “Gee that doesn’t look right at all!”. So my mums friend had a look and told me that the problem was that I had not folded over the edge. So simple but being a beginner I didn’t think of this. Once I folded over the edge it made the world of difference to the finished product.

Elizabeth is 63 years old; has sewn all her life and has passed her knowledge onto her daughter. She can sew anything – and I mean anything; regardless of the level of difficulty! She just takes one look at something and can copy it. She has a real talent. Elizabeth grabbed my failed Suffolk Puff and said “Look you just fold over the edge, crease it and then sew”. Most of us today would use an iron and carefully fold over the edge and then press it with an iron but Elizabeth just folds it over, creases it in-between her thumb and index finger and carries on around the circle. She told me her grandmother taught her to do it this way and that she had always found it to be very effective. So I tried it and it really does work! And to be perfectly honest you would never know that I haven’t used an iron. I like to keep things simple and this certainly is a lot more simple (quicker and easier) than using an iron. It’s certainly worth a try and it even means that I can now make them on the train on the way home because I don’t need the iron anymore!

Sweet don’t you think?

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Screen Printing

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A few weeks ago a good friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in doing a screen printing course with her. To be totally honest I wasn’t really interested because I once did it at uni (back in 1997) and hated every moment of it but for some reason I decided to say ‘yes’ and give it a second chance. I have to admit that I loved every minute of it! Lucy and I took Saffron Craig’s course held at Material Obsession in Drummoyne. From the minute I walked into the room I had a good feeling about the day. Saffron was a delightful teacher, full of knowledge on the techniques of screen printing, colour and fabrics. She certainly was a wealth of information!

I turned up to the class very unprepared. Partly from lack of time and partly because we weren’t told to bring anything with us or do any prior research. Ten minutes into the class we were asked what we might like to screen print! My girlfriend Lucy had come prepared with an image she wanted to print – I had no idea what to do. I decided to do something for my baby girls room. She seems to have a bird theme going on so I came up with a simple bird & tree motif to screen print. So I grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper and sketched it up quickly, (and I have to say surprised myself and how quickly I came up with something not too bad…. am I allowed to admit that???!!). Below are a few shots of the process.

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I have to admit that I was thrilled with the final product. I am going to turn it into a cushion and embellish the design with felt & stitching…. but this will happen over the course of the next month or two so you might have to wait a few weeks to see the final product!

If anyone is interested in attending Saffrons class I can highly recommend it! Saffron travels all over Australia offering her classes from the big cities right out to little country towns. Grab a group of friends and give it a go – I’ll guarentee you’ll thoroughly enjoy every minute of it! Thanks Saffron – a nice way to spend a day! (Oh and thanks Luc for the inspiration to give it a second go!!)

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(Above: the beginning of my print coming together)

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(Above: firstly I decided to do the trunk as an outline but didn’t like it so on the next piece of cloth I blocked out the trunk)

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(Above: and here is the final product)

Get-together

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At the end of last year my good friend and I decided that (1) we need more time to sew and (2) we need some time for us without the kids around so we came up with an idea…

We decided that once a month we would meet up for a days worth of sewing and a long, very long chat. So yesterday was day one of our get-togethers for 2014. We had such a nice day, (and very quiet without the kids I have to tell you!).
I picked up some lovely jersey material from Tessuti and made a modern version of the pillow case dress. It turned out so well! And it really was super easy to make, especially because I now have my overlocker to finish off all the edges nicely.
My girlfriend worked on some appliqué designs, oh and we also organised for our beautician to come over for some treatments just to top the day off.
So all in all it was a great day – can’t wait to do it again!

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Mission Accomplished

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Finished! Just after midnight last night I managed to finally finish the Hello Birdie Pillow. I think it has come up very well – the pattern is very easy to understand, it’s by no means difficult; even for beginner sewers like myself. I made a few minor changes:

– The pattern calls for the same material front and back; I did different fabrics to add to the interest

Pillow

– I put an eye on the back of the pillow as well; again for added interest and it means that it looks nice whichever way it is left by my little girl.

Blanket stitching around the six wings is time consuming but the pattern does give you other options (i.e. using your sewing machine and use a zig-zag stitch) but I thought the blanket stitch is nice as it adds a real sense that it is a hand crafted piece. I am half way through making a second one which I am going to gift to my god daughter for her upcoming christening and I wanted it to have a real sense that I had made it by hand, I think it adds to the meaning of the gift.

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So that’s it for a week now, the family and I are off camping. When I get back I will make two pillow cases, one for each of my boys.

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Pillow Talk

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So far so good! I can’t believe I’ve managed to get half way through this with not one issue! There is hope for me after all.

I think the Hello Birdie pillows are starting to look really fantastic. I’ve cut out both front and back pieces, cut out six wings for each pillow and placed them using fusible web. Now I have to blanket stitch the edges… I have to admit that I had to look up on the web how to blanket stitch; it’s really very easy so that’s the job for tomorrow: get all the wings stitched. At this rate I will have the two birds completed before the weekend is over! 
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