Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Medical bag and Tool bag

When I do a big tidy of the kids toys I tend to sort them, not that the kids play with any one category of toys at a time - I've been served tea with toy screwdriver parts in toy saucepans before. So it was more for my benefit than theirs, tho they love bags of any sort, when I made a Medical Bag and a Tool Bag to put all their medical and building tools in.

I used fabric from my stash and some left over Vliesofix and made a simple tote bag to which I had raw edge appliqued a red cross and a hammer onto. I even used a french seam on the bags because I couldn't be bothered zigzagging the edges and this way they can't fray. Only took about an hour to make both and as predicted they're used for carting around toy food and books, not medical instruments or hammers and spanners. But their eyes lit up when they first saw them and they ARE being used so I can't complain.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh yeah, that's what I was doing...

I'm a little stuck right now, unable to do anything without a little clingy shadow (Little Sir is sick) so what better time than now to update my scrapbook. I lost my sewing mojo again and I've been busy with other stuff but I have managed to still do some crafting since my last update. Finished projects include a couple of toy bags and a Banana's in Pajamas cake. My current in progress projects include the log cabin crocheted blanket, the hexagon cathedral window pillow (all hexies in place, just gotta start adding the coloured windows), Little Lady's Candied Hexagon Quilt (I blame this project for my current lack of motivation to sew - it's turned out to be way, way more work than I thought it'd be and is in NO WAY going to be finished anytime soon) and a Shelly doll from the current Australian Homespun (No. 103 Vol 12.12). I'm making Shelly with Little Lady - she has picked all the materials and helped me pin, cut and sew (by sitting on my knee at the machine, removing pins, pressing my up/down button and cutting threads). We've also stuffed her parts and now I'm "taking forreeevvveeeeerrrrr" to sew her together before we sew on her hair, make her clothes and decorate her. I've gotta take some pics and then will endeavour to post a bit more regularly. Maybe...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hexie Windows Shaping Up

It's slowly coming together. All my folded hexagons have been pressed and the centres secured and now I'm slowly sewing them together. I'm using ladder stitch as my preferred blind stitch.

To be continued...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Slight hitch

So I spent last night ironing folds and it turns out that I've misjudged how thick some of my seams are which means they won't fold back on themselves to overlap the colour window insert. Duped by the thinness of my paper template. But after playing with it some more this morning, if I snip this and tuck that it still might work. I'm determined to get this. After all I've already cut the fabric so really what have I got to lose by hacking it some more?

To be continued....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Project

My sewing mojo is back thanks to a couple of recent Sit and Sew sessions with the gals at the MMQG. In particular Rachel and Bek have got me thinking about catherdal windows and while I don't want to make a whole quilt, I'd love to make a few pillows to dress up my couch. I'm not sure if a sew-along will happen just yet but I couldn't wait so when Spotlight had a 30% off storewide sale earlier this week I went to stock up on base fabric. As usual they were out of white but there was a roll of unbleached quilters homespun that had a linen-like weave which was down to $4 a metre so I picked up 3.5m, enough for 3 pillows I hope. And I've got plenty of coloured bits for the windows in my stash.

But here's the catch. I don't want to do square catherdal windows. You see, the other project I want to do is make a light summer weight quilt for each of my little monkeys to sleep under this summer and at the moment I'm thinking one of them, probably Little Lady's, will be based on the Candied Hexagon quilt like the one on the cover of Australian Quilters Companion Vol 5.2 Issue 18 (2005) which was designed by Kerry Dear. By the way, this issue is out of print and I don't have a pattern but that's nothing new.

Anyway, with hexagons in mind I want to make a hexagon catherdal window pillow. I can't find a pattern online anywhere and it's taken me 2 days but I finally figured out how to fold the hexagons and now that I've got it I don't want to stop in case I forget so I've been busy making templates...

...and cutting today.

Now I'm up to ironing and folding my hexies. It's going to have to be all hand sewn because the sides don't unfold like a traditional square but I want to hand sew the windows in anyway so whats a little more hand sewing. Famous last words no doubt!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Feminist much?

I resisted, truly I did. At one point there was no way I'd buy a toy ironing board for my little girl, NO WAY! It's a job I loath and I hate the expectation that boys get tool sets and toy lawn mowers (cool stuff in my books since I love tinkering and gardening) and girls get ironing boards and cleaning trolleys (in my head complete with images of being chained to the laundry and toilet brush). It sets my teeth on edge just thinking about it. And before you jump down my throat, yes I know that you can buy all these toys for boys AND girls but as free thinking and equal as we are it is still implied and more often the norm that females do the vast majority of the washing and cleaning and cooking and other 'home duties' and such toys are targeted accordingly.

Then my sister got my nephew a toy iron which makes steam noises and a little ironing board and Little Lady and my niece just loved it and in all honesty it didn't seem so distasteful once I saw them play. I know, where were my high and mighty principles then? They were watching my baby have a ball playing with another toy which made cool noises, not learning a lesson in 'life roles'. Funny how so much continues to change after you have kids.

But being in a bit of a cash flow situation and still stubbornly adamant about NOT buying an ironing board, I did the next best thing.

I made one.

A quick search on Google found only this which is a vintage toy ironing board plan with some basic measurements for me to start with. Then I read the instructions that went with it...

"While your little girl happily joins mom in doing the family ironing..."

Ahem. Well... lets just say I would not have been popular in the 1950's. But the plans were simple and exactly what I was after... with a few adjustments from me of course.

It took me a couple of hours each day over 3 days with both kids sick and myself and Gorgeous Man sleep deprived as a result though it could easily be finished in a day if I hadn't painted it... or started it at 6pm, and easily in a lazy weekend.

Pink is apparently the flavour of the moment

And God love her she only wants to iron fabric. A future sewer/fabriholic in the making. Gotta love that!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Stained Glass Quilt Backing

The MMQG had a Sit and Sew Evening recently at G.J's in Brunswick which I wrangled time away from the fam to attend. I've lost my sewing mojo recently and while I have ideas for new quilts I'd like to make, in my current frame of mind I thought an easy quick thing to sew would be a pieced backing for the pink and yellow freckled whimsy quilt which has become another UFO of late.

I had a particular fabric in mind

but didn't realise how much I would need and of course didn't have so instead I sketched out an idea that would use almost all of it with the pink and yellow fabrics from the front thrown in. And on paper it looked pretty simple.

Quickly as a side note, I haven't been to a Sit and Sew Day for a while and I'd forgotten how lovely it is to be with other wonderful, talented, sew-insane people. Sewing can be a pretty solitary hobby. My sewing habit looks like I've simply dipped my toe in while they are completely drenched in comparison and I love the inspiration it provides.

I didn't get it all sewn at the SASE as the centre took way longer than I thought to sew up with all the interlocking pieces (and I spent a lot of time chatting and laughing with Rach, Bek and Sally) so even though I didn't get home until after 11:30pm I was still buzzed to keep going and quickly sewed the rest.

Stained Glass Quilt

I think it'd make a great simple quilt front too so I'll definately be making more of these.

There's another Sit and Sew Day mid August so hopefully I'll have this basted by then so I can quilt it and maybe, just maybe it might be finished in time to give to little Emma before she graduates high school!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Long Time Coming

My mum taught me to knit and crochet when I was a girl, something I will one day teach to my kids. I'm a decent knitter and thanks to the wonders of the internet I now know how to sew knitted garments together. But most of my knitting endeavors still get ripped out (my family love to tease me about how I'm unravelling it YET again) or left unfinished and stashed in the cupboard when I run out of knitting steam.

So recently while looking for something else, I stumbled on bags and bags of unfinished knitted projects which all got unravelled as I have no intention of finishing them and hopefully the yarn might have half a chance to unkink if it's stretched around in a ball. Can that happen or do I have to steam it or something to straighten the yarn again?

Anyway, I also found a bag with a whole bunch of crocheted log cabin squares which got stashed because I ran out of the wool having grossly underestimated how much I'd actually need since I wasn't following a pattern. Did I forget to mention that I started this project over 10 years ago? I'm not going to even bother trying to find wool to match now.

Little Lady is in a zone at the moment where all her dolls need naps and everyone and everything gets a blankie which not surprisingly seem to be in short supply here. And not wanting to unravel these squares I got online and found how to join the squares using a flat braid and have been happily sitting at night watching Gorgeous Man play Assassin's Creed II (that is when I haven't been hogging the Xbox myself to play it) and crocheting the squares together.

I still need to sew in all the ends and haven't decided what kind of border to put on it or even if I need a border as the flat braid leaves a small scalloped edge on the squares but it is a bit small for a lap blanket and I think a border would finish it properly. Guess I'll need more wool after all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pink Cardigan Finished

I've finally finished the pink cardigan that I started back here. I sewed it up and blocked it before crocheting the hems (row 1: 3 dc into every stitch, row 2: 2 dc into every stitch) to give a ruffle effect. On the 2nd row I incorporated pink and clear beads spaced out every three or four stitches. Then she wanted buttons so I crocheted small chains to attach large heart shaped buttons and also to make a matching loop. I deliberately made both long so that the cardigan would close so you could see both the ruffle and the buttons. She hasn't worn it yet and I'm really hoping it won't be too small. Overall though I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our first commission

The third quilt I've been flat out making was a commissioned King Single Quilt for a gorgeous little 3 year old, Amelia. I'm slowly unveiling it over at 2 of 4 but here are some sneak peaks.

I learned so many new techniques putting this quilt together, including raw edge applique and trapunto which were inspired by the amazing work of Kelly Wulfsohn of Don't Look Now, and I've gotten so much better at controlling my free motion quilting.

This little guy is the big brother of the caterpillar I made for Little Sir's baby playgym mat and I've also made a pillowcase to match the quilt.

So far I don't have any immediate plans to begin anymore quilts (I can hear my husband sign with relief) as I'd really like to finish Little Lady's cardigan - I'm thinking of changing the edging to a ruffle rather than a picot/scallop. But right now I'm going to wrap my monkeys in beenies and coats and take advantage of the sun and head off to the park before the weather decides to turn crappy again.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Quilting designs

I planned the quilting designs for the freckled whimsy quilts long before I got anywhere near quilting them. I used google images for inspiration and practiced sketching on paper first to work out how to draw them in one continuous line. Next I made templates in cardboard of the general shape and traced these onto the quilt top with the water erasable Clover pen, then basted the quilt.

On the purple and pink quilt I quilted a meandering pattern of swirls and hearts 

 and incorporated each design as I came to it, including a rose,
a tulip,
 a handbag,


bumble bee,

and flower.

On the blue quilt I used a meandering pattern of loops, stars,

and occasional waves

to fill in the spaces between crabs,






and anchors.

The finished quilts measure 1.2m x 1.5m.

For my gorgeous little niece

and my handsome little nephew.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Busy, busy, busy...

I'm still recovering from a massive 2 months sewing in which I've made 3 quilts. My sisters both had theirs bubs - Tammy had a beautiful little girl and Nicole had a tiny handsome little man, and I actually managed to finish both quilts on time.

I sewed the fronts together fairly quickly and then used a blue fine tip Clover water erasable pen to mark on the designs that I wanted to incorporate into the quilting. I bought and tried many, many chalk pencils and other removable pens and markers and the Clover was by far the best. It completely dissolves in a small amount of cold water even after ironing over it which you're not supposed to do. On the blue quilt I had to use a violet marker (Sew Easy brand from Lincraft) which faded quickly so I had to redraw some designs, it took a bit more to come out and I haven't been game enough to iron over it.

Dreading the thought of having to baste them hunched over on the floor for hours on end I tried a technique I came across a while ago while trawling youtube which I conveniently bookmarked and promptly forgot about until these quilts...and am I ever kicking myself that I didn't try this sooner. It's soooo much easier than pin basting and is actually quite therapeutic tho it does take longer. The videos are long and Sharon talks quite a bit but it's well worth it as its full of tips and tricks - my fav is the quilters knot which I now use for everything. Did you know that thread had a grain?

I sourced my boards from Bunnings - they're just painted 2.7m pine boards found with the skirting boards which they kindly cut for me into a 1.1m and 1.6m length. Even tho my boards are shorter than the quilt width it still worked really well.

Here the quilt is 1.2m wide and I'm using the 1.1m boards. It took me 4 hours to baste the first one and 3 hours to baste the second which sounds like a long time but since then I've basted a king single quilt, 160cm x 210cm so almost double the size of these, in 4 hours. One of my main gripes with pin basting was the fiddling I have to do to get top and bottom smooth often involving repinning areas a few times and I absolutely hate fumbling with taking the pins out as I get to them on the machine. With thread basting I just snip the threads and pull them out as I get near them and if I accidentaly run over them they pull out easily and I don't damage anything.

Next up, the finished quilt and quilting designs.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


As usual I got to the ironing part and am procrastinating again but I have made some progress. How's this for chain piecing?

And that's just the blue quilt.

I have actually been busy with other things. I have taken the plunge and have started working on a handmade craft business, 2of4, with my little sis Steph. I've just finished our first commissioned item for a lady she works with, a customised craft apron with a new design on the neck band to make it even more kid friendly to use. Check it out over here. It's based on my original design for Little Lady's adjustable craft apron with a modified neck strap.

We're making our debut at a local playgroup market in June so have been sewing whenever we can to build stock for it. So far we're making adjustable craft aprons, 50's style kitchen aprons with pot holders, placemat/coaster sets, and picnic blanket/linen sets but hope to branch out into playmats, small quilts, busy books, etc...all aimed at imaginative play for kids so it's all kid sized!! We're chronicalling our journey over here so if you're interested in the birth and growth of a small homebased business, head on over and check us out.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tip - how to keep a random pattern in order

The pattern I'm currently using for the pink & purple and blue quilts is from a quilt-along hosted by KarrieLyne at Freckled Whimsy back in July last year. Its supposed to be sewn as 9-patch blocks made completely randomly - she even recommends placing all the HST blocks in one bag and the squares in another then lucky dip to make up the 9-patch blocks but if you're like me thats just not going to happen. Relinquish control to a lucky dip? Uh uh, can't do it. I like to see exactly how the whole quilt will look before I commit to sewing all those pieces together.

The problem is how to keep everything in order between laying it all out and sewing it up without dedicating floor space or wall space (OMG I so need a design wall!) to a quilt that may take anywhere from a day to a month or longer to sew up. My solution is this:

I assign each block a grid reference,
write that reference on a little dot sticker and label all the blocks. 
Then I can stack up each row in order and if things get knocked over, dropped or messed up, no probs, I know exactly what needs to go next to what when I sew them up.
If I was able to sew without distraction, which is virtually impossible to do with 2 little ones, I wouldn't bother with labelling them and would just stack them up in the order that I want to sew the blocks into rows. I couldn't tell you how many times these little dots have saved my bacon when wandering little fingers have rifled through my carefully stacked blocks. I also find them really handy for quickly checking every now and again while sewing that I haven't accidentally picked up a block from the wrong pile.

I've had to wait until Little Sir sleeps before I could lay out the 2 quilts I've been working on otherwise he treats the fabric pieces like confetti, ie colourful lovelies to be thrown into the air with squeels of delight (from him) and horror (from me). Here is the layout for the pink and purple quilt

and for the blue quilt

I plan to begin sewing these tonight or tomorrow depending on how distracted Steph and I get with our brilliant plans for world domination...I mean our future financial peace of mind.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pink and Purple and Blue

I love these little stacks.

I've finally completed the rest of the blues and all HST are now trimmed and ready along with matching squares. I need 844 blocks for each quilt but I've made extra so that I can make matching change mats as well.

My future neice's quilt.

And for my future nephew.

And now for the fun part... I finally get to sew!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Two days...for this?!!

I pushed through coz I know the fun part is next but damn my hand hurts.

388 7cm squares. Yep, had to trim them all. Yep, 2 days. But they look so pretty, don't they? Hopefully I'll get feeling back into my thumb tomorrow coz right now it's a phantom digit.

Got fussy with the colours so still got these to sew and trim before I can plan the layout. Less than 7 weeks until the bubs are born and lots still to do. It actually feels great to be this motivated.
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