Quilt finished, time for a new challenge.

The last few weeks seem to have passed in a blur of activity, but this morning I am thinking what shall I tackle now? I finished my double bed quilt, which I was very pleased with.  NewQuiltIMG_4783I free motion quilted the main part with daisies and did a large leaf design along the borders. My free motion quilting skills aren’t great yet but they are definitely improving the more I do. The only thing I wish I’d done differently was buy more of the floral fabric so I could have had wider borders. I was pleased with the colours though, as I think the gold centre squares really lift it.

I have made a few other smaller things in the last couple of weeks. I finished my bag with the mandarin duck embroidery. It is really pretty and I was very happy with it. IMG_4773I chose a plainish turquoise/green for the main bag fabric and embroidered a small butterfly on the closing tab. Inside is a white cotton with bright flowers. I would really like to keep this bag, but plan to sell it.

I made Easter bunny bags for my grandchildren to fill with mini eggs. They are made from felt and were quick and easy on my embroidery machine as they are all done in the hoop. easter

My daughter and son-in-law came for Easter with 2 of the children (the other 2 had gone to their dad’s). We had a lovely time and the children enjoyed an Easter Hunt on The Naze on the Saturday. It is a brilliant open space that is a big nature reserve. They had to find golden eggs tied to trees and exchanged them for a prize. A great way to explore the area!

I also made a small cross body bag for myself for when I don’t want to carry a big bag around. I have been volunteering a lot for Essex Wildlife Trust in the last couple of weeks and when I am out manning an event a small crossbody bag is ideal.

I went to a patchwork and quilting fair a few weeks ago with my eldest daughter. We had a lovely time and I came back with some fabric of course. One is a really beautiful floral piece that is just like a summer cottage garden. I want to turn it into a summer bag. I need to find a pattern idea that will be more of a challenge than my usual designs. I also need fabric for the inside of the bag so this afternoon I will visit my local little fabric shop. It is a real treasure house of everything crammed into a tiny space. I am sure to find something to match there as they have a huge stock of cottons, and their prices are great!!

I have been baking this week and entered a baking competition held by a local cafe in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. I made an elderflower sponge with white chocolate ganache and sugared real flowers on top. I was very surprised to hear I’d won!! This morning I went to collect my prize of a special apron and baking utensils. My grandad, who was a master baker, would be proud of me as this is my second baking competition win!

So I think my summer bag is going to be my next project. It won’t take too long and I’m sure I’ll soon find something else I want to try making.

A good sewing and family week.

I have had a couple of really busy weeks and this week I have been poorly with a heavy cold all week too, so though I meant to update I am very behind with everything from being ill. However I have continued to sew as much as I can. I finished my purple star quilt top. Here is how it came out. I was pleased with how it looks so far. new patchworkI still have to quilt it, but I have my backing and batting so I just need to find the time to sandwich it together, then I can start the sewing. I have been practising my FMQ design.

I also managed to make two patchwork bags this week. I plan to sell them at a craft fair. First I made this small blue one.

IMG_4759It has a plain lilac lining and lots of pockets inside. Then I made a bigger one with mostly greens.

IMG_4758I free motioned a daisy design over thegreen one. I hadn’t done it before but it was surprisingly easy.IMG_4761I have used my embroidery machine this weekend and did a beautiful Mandarin duck design on some cream fabric that will become part of another bag.

IMG_4756I really love this design, it took me about 4 hours to stitch it out but it was worth it!

I had the really exciting news last week from my youngest daughter that she has booked the date for her wedding. This week she wanted to go wedding dress shopping, so on Thursday my older daughter and I went with her. She had no idea what she really wanted so tried on lots of dresses. She looked really beautiful in most of them of course. (Proud Mum!) But we narrowed it down to 3, and then she chose one she had fallen in love with. It is a real fairy princess kind of dress, not at all what anyone would expect her to choose!! (She has a style all her own and is very rock chick.) But she looks amazing in it and it has the wow factor. The wedding is not until November so plenty of time to arrange everything else now she has the most important item!

Next week I hope to be quilting. I also plan to get outside as much as I can now our weather has turned into Spring. I’ve been tidying my garden as everything is coming through fast.

Still mostly quilting.

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks but I have been continuing to sew. I seem to have a real quilting bug at the moment so my makes have been mostly of the quilting variety. I watched a you tube video of a jelly roll race. This inspired me to have a go at something similar. As I didn’t have any jelly rolls I just raided my stash of scrap pieces and cut lots of two and a half inch strips. I then sewed these all together into one long strip, as shown in the video. I then joined them as shown and made this colourful mini quilt.

IMG_4722It was just a practice for the technique so I didn’t make a bigger one, but it was quick and fun to make. I also practised my freehand quilting on it.

I then saw a star block I really liked. I have not done anything this difficult before so I again raided my scraps to have a go. I made the trail block into a cushion cover.

IMG_4697After doing the trial one, which I managed fairly easily, I then wanted to use the block design for an actual quilt. My sewing room/ guest bedroom has a double bed needing a quilt so I played around with ideas on some squared paper until I had a colour scheme I liked. The new quilt is now underway and this is my progress so far.

IMG_4713I like the squares and diamonds made when I started to join the blocks together! I am not very expert at lining the blocks up yet, but as it’s just for my own home it’s fine.

Yesterday I found a white t-shirt I hadn’t worn yet and decided it needed a bit of decoration. I saw this really great machine embroidery design on the Urban Threads website.  I bought it and used my embroidery machine to put it on my white t-shirt.

I love it! They have a whole set of them, quilt, sew, knit etc., so I may have to do a few more!IMG_4719

 

Quilting is so rewarding.

I have just finished making a double bed size patchwork quilt which is to be a wedding present for my youngest daughter. IMG_4686

I found the main fabric in a little fabric shop I use, then chose the dark purple to go with it, and added white to break up the dark colours. I had to cut out all the black and white squares individually as the fabric wasn’t printed straight! But I am very pleased with how it looks now it is finished. The black and white fabric is of trees native to New Zealand, where my husband was born, so it will have some special meaning to her too. As I have a decent size sewing machine I was able to free motion quilt it. I am fairly new to this, having only done it once before, so there are a few bumps in the top, but not too many and it adds to the home made charm I hope.

Here is a close up of the detail. IMG_4690I had to make the bias binding myself as I wanted it quite wide and couldn’t buy any wide enough. But I found this great tutorial http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/02/continuous-bias-binding-tutorial/ on how to make continuous bias binding on Craftsy. I bought some black and white spotty fabric and followed the tutorial, which was a bit time consuming but worked perfectly. IMG_4688I really hope my daughter will like her quilt as much as I do!

New bag all sewn up.

It has been very cold here and so I have been happy to stay in and sew as much as possible. I bought some vintage tweed a few weeks ago that I thought would make a lovely bag so at the weekend I made myself a new bag. It was quite a challenge to sew as it is a heavyweight wool and by the time I had added fusible fleece we are talking seriously thick seams! However my Janome Horizon coped with most of it pretty well. I did have to hand crank over a few parts but didn’t break any needles. I use a jeans needle when bag making.

Here is a photo of my finished bag. IMG_4677

It is brown with  blue/black squares so a tartan type design. I lined inside with a pretty pink butterfly fabric and my usual lots of pockets. IMG_4676

There are slip pockets on the opposite side for my phone etc. I also sewed a lovely wooden painted button onto the flap for decoration. IMG_4675

I make my own bag patterns as it is easy once you have made a few. I put chunky silver hardware on this one and a key keeper inside too as I can never find my keys otherwise!

Apart from my bag I have been busy on my large sewing project which is going well. I am on the last stage which will probably take me a couple of weeks to finish!

Making a fabric organiser.

Yesterday the weather here was very windy so I decided it was definitely a sewing day! I wanted to make a present for my youngest daughter. As she travels around during the day for her managerial job, I chose an organiser that she can carry in her bag. I have this one  that I made last year. IMG_4663 I am on the committee of our local Women’s Institute and use it for my committee meetings as it is just the right size and has lots of handy pockets inside. IMG_4665 I used this free tutorial. http://theglamoroushousewife.com/2013/10/constance-organizer-tutorial/

There are a lot of pieces to cut out before you can start sewing, but once this is done the sewing part is straightforward and well explained. For my daughter I chose brighter colours. I am not a quick worker but I managed to finish the whole thing in a few hours. IMG_4658This is the inside. It has a space for a notebook and pen on one side and three pockets plus a zipped pocket on the other side. I just used fabrics from my stash. I chose the tattoo fabric because she has several!IMG_4661

 

Basic tote tutorial.

IMG_4652This is my first tutorial so I am starting with something I am very comfortable with making – a simple tote bag.

I love making bags, I have been doing them for a few years now, and love the fact that I can make any kind of bag I want in my own choice of fabric with whatever features I fancy. Once you have made a few and get the basic principles of bag making you will find it easy to design and make your own. I do like my bags with lots of pockets and a key minder on the inside so if I am making myself a new bag that is what I include. But today I just want a simple cotton tote to fold up in my handbag for carrying supermarket bits I have bought back from town rather than use a plastic bag. So I’m doing a tutorial as I make it.

Materials list

To make this bag you will need:

Half a metre 45″ wide cotton for bag outer

Half a metre cotton for lining

Matching thread

Cutting out.

2 x  rectangles 18″ high by 16″ wide outer fabric

2 x rectangles 18″ high by 16″ wide lining fabric

2 x  rectangles 6″ x 28″ for handles

2 x 6″ squares for small inner pocket (optional) – I used outer fabric but it could be anything.

IMG_4644

Making up.

Seams throughout are half an inch unless stated otherwise.

First sew the inside pocket if having one. Put the two 6″ squares right sides together and sew all round, making sure to leave a gap of 3″ on one of the sides for turning the pocket through. (I mark this with pins to remind me not to sew here.) IMG_4645

Clip the corners as in the photo. IMG_4646

Turn your pocket through and use something with a blunt point to poke out the corners      – I use a thick knitting needle or a chopstick. (Don’t poke too hard or you will make a hole!) Topstitch along the side you want to be the top of the pocket. (I made it the side with the turning gap, thereby closing the gap.) Press flat. Now centre your pocket on one of the lining rectangles where you want your pocket. I put mine 5″ down from the top of the bag. Pin and then stitch round the sides and bottom of the pocket, close to the edge. (Do not sew along the top edge or your pocket won’t open!)

Right – pocket completed, next comes the handles. Take one of your two long rectangles and fold it in half, right sides together. Now press along the fold with an iron. Open the fabric out again wrong side up, now fold each of the two long sides in to the middle you have creased with the iron and press again. It should look like this. IMG_4642

Finally fold the two long sides to meet each other in the middle and press again, forming a handle. Topstitch along both of the long sides to finish off (don’t sew the ends) and press once again. Repeat with the other handle piece.

IMG_4649

Put handles to one side.

Now to sew the outside of the bag. Take your two main fabric pieces and put them right sides together (making sure your pieces are the right way up if your fabric has a directional pattern). Sew down both long sides and across the bottom. Clip the bottom corners. IMG_4650

Turn your bag right side out and press well. Now is the time to attach the handles to the outer bag. IMG_4651

Place the handles where you want them, matching the short raw edge to the top of the bag and pin as in the photo above. (I put mine one and a half inches in from the side seam) Make sure your handles are not twisted then stitch to secure, about a quarter of an inch down from the bag top.

Next take the two lining pieces and put these right sides together. (I used a plain cotton for the lining so it didn’t have a wrong side). Along the bottom edge leave a four inch gap unstitched, which will be for turning the bag through. Sew down the two long sides and the bottom. Don’t forget to back stitch where the gap is or it will come undone when you are turning. Clip corners and iron but leave wrong side out.

Now you can assemble your bag for finishing. Put the outer bag right side out into the lining (so they are right sides together), tucking the handles downward between the two so they don’t get accidentally sewn to the top, and matching up the side seams. Pin all the way round the top. Stitch all the way round the top with your half inch seam. Now you are nearly finished! Next pull the outer bag through the lining gap. You may want to press the two halves again now. You will need to close the gap in the bottom of your bag lining. I do this by machine sewing but it can also be slip stitched by hand. Now tuck the lining down inside your bag. The last stage is to iron and then topstitch all the way round the top of your bag to stop the lining showing on the outside. IMG_4653 Now you can admire your new tote bag! Do contact me if you don’t understand anything in this tutorial, I hope it’s useful.

  IMG_4657

Another change!

Yes I have changed my theme again! I have been trying to create a tutorial post and the theme I was using just wouldn’t let me do what I wanted and kept putting in odd formatting, so I had to ditch it. Hopefully now I have one that works for me. I have finished my tutorial and it looks okay. Just one more photo to add and I will publish it.

Walk on The Beach

Today I have been writing a page about machine embroidery. As I spent some time writing this morning, and still haven’t finished, I will be adding it in the next day or two. I also did some more quilting on my secret project. On Monday I had a really painful shoulder as I had spent too long sitting at my sewing machine on Sunday without breaks. Last year I suffered for nearly a year with a frozen shoulder. It is a very painful and debilitating condition, and necessitated some very agonising physio treatment to aid my recovery. I do not want to go there again, so, lesson learnt after Monday, I have been making sure I vary my activity. This afternoon, as I live only 200 yards from it, I have been for a walk on the beach. It is very windy here today but I wrapped up and took my camera with me. I spotted a pair of birds on the sand as I walked along. These were oddly enough two different species that are normally seen in a larger group, but it was just the two birds. The little grey wader is a Sanderling and the brown one is a Turnstone. They are birds that both spend the summer breeding up in the Arctic but winter here. They were digging about in the sand together until a dog came onto the beach and they flew off.

IMG_4545 (2)
Sanderling

 

IMG_4544 (2)
Turnstone

 

A bit further along on my walk I spotted them again, this time splashing about in a puddle at the edge of the sea wall.

IMG_4547 (2)I got a nice shot of the turnstone when he sat on the stone edge, although the focus could have been better. My camera is a Canon SX40HS  and I love it because it has a 35 times optical zoom. It’s great for photographing the wildlife here.IMG_4548 (2)

This is the beach along the side of The Naze. IMG_4553 If you click on the photo, in the very far distance on the horizon, you can just see the cranes of Felixstowe docks.

This is a container ship at the docks taken from the same spot with my camera on full zoom! IMG_4554

As you can see it is excellent for getting close up on things a long way off. (It was a murky day which is why it’s not a very clear photo.)

Hopefully I will finish my machine embroidery page later today.