Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas decorations were given as presents this year. I made some 3D Christmas trees using a pattern I bought in Creative Quilting as a kit years ago. The original was quite large, so I made the pattern a bit smaller and made three to give as gifts.

Red/green and Spectrum Christmas trees

Purple Christmas tree
I think the best bit about making these is the decorative embellishments, I love making the baubles with some of the many beads, bells and sequins I have collected over the years. Several years ago I found some tinsel trim in a local haberdashery shop. I bought some in red and purple, both of which I have now used up, so I had to find some more. The haberdashers is long gone, so I traipsed around Kingston trying to find something suitable. In Paperchase I found some tinsel gift ribbon, it was on offer 2 for 3, so I am restocked for a few more trees. With battery operated LED lights, the mouldable variety, you can even have working lights on them. The battery pack sits in the pot. What's not to love about them?

I also made some hanging decorations with the Quilting group I belong to. Once again beads and sequins made an appearance.

Beaded stars and pyramids and a padded tree
I crocheted this Elf for a friend who I thought might need a smile. The pattern came from Simply Crochet magazine issue 38. I have made several of the Christmas projects from this magazine, not always in Christmas colours as some of them are suitable for other uses.

Christmas elf
I decided it was time to finish a UFO, so I got out the Infinity squares quilt from last years Jan Hassard workshop. I was thinking about making it bigger than 12 blocks, but decided against it, as it was tedious getting them to fit together nicely. I thought I had cut and sewn the strips carefully, but not carefully enough it would seem. In the end I used some of the left over strips to make a border and used some in the binding. I quilted it in the ditch and was going to use a decorative stitch in the black sashing, but I liked the plain black and thought, as it is a busy pattern it looked good enough without any extra decoration. I am very pleased with the resulting quilt and may add a sleeve to hang it on the wall, if I don't decide to use it as a throw on the sofa.

Finished Infinity squares
I have also been crocheting blankets for Project Linus and have three to pass on. I bought a nice book called Beautiful Blankets, Afghans and Throws by Leonie Morgan. It contains 40 patterns, all gorgeous, so I am working my way through them. I love this book, the patterns are beautiful and the instructions are UK terminology. I have completed two and started another two. Here are the finished two.

Crossed Hatch with Mosaic border

Rice Field with Crab stitch border
Here is another, not from the book, that I made using a variegated yarn and back loop trebles to give a ribbed effect. I added a border in two of the colours from the yarn, a nice result without a pattern.

This reminds me of the seaside

 Next month Lucy at Attic24 starts another CAL, I have the yarn and can't wait for the project to start. I also need to try and get one or two other UFO's finished, and the sewing room could do with a sort out. It may not be long before I can't get thorough the door any more and I really can't have that!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

November 2017

Since August I have been busy working on some projects for in-house workshops, for one of the quilting groups I belong to. These are scheduled for next year, but I like to get ahead of myself, so I can check and double check my instructions. I have made several examples so I could take pictures and check the instructions for mistakes, one still slips through occasionally. Sometimes you cannot see where you have gone wrong!

Fabric bowls

Folded fabric wreath/candle mat

This group also held an exhibition this year as part of the 150th Anniversary of the Church, whose facilities we use for our monthly meetings. So I was heavily involved with helping in the organisation of that. It seemed to be a great success, and we had several people interested in coming to meetings to see what we get up to. Hopefully they will find them interesting enough to join the group. We sold nearly ALL of our fund raising items, this meant we made a profit even after paying for the hire of quilt frames, printing a catalogue and sundry other expenses. I recently gave the group a short talk, with examples, on different ways to finish the edges of quilts.

I have also made two birthday presents, a Christmas present and some Christmas decorations.
The first of the birthday presents was this table runner. I used a rainbow coloured stripped fabric, cut at different points to get seven stars all different. Originally I cut out plain white for the background, but I did not like the look of this and substituted a white on white print for it, much more pleasing. I used a Creative Grids template 'Scrap Crazy 6 inch' by Karen Montgomery. I particularly like this Milky Way pattern, this is the second one I have made, and it probably will not be the last. May even get around to making myself one.

Stars table runner for EL birthday
The second one is this bunch of poppies. I made some yellow flowers earlier this year and thought I would have a go at some red ones for a November birthday. I also found this cute 3D jug pattern and thought it was perfect for a barge ware style vessel to hold them. These patterns were from issue 88 and 94, respectively, of Stitch magazine published by the Embroiderers Guild. The flowers are adapted from Gillian Travis' flower patterns. I found some sequins that resembled the top of the seed pod, I used what I had available - black might have been better. I was very pleased with the result.

Poppy flowers 

 The original jug was designed, by Anne Pye, to cover a small glass jar for displaying real flowers . I added a base and some glass beads as weights for stability. I also constructed the jug section as one piece, with the fabric bonded to fusible double sided Fast to Fuse, medium weight.

Barge ware style jug with poppies
The Christmas decorations were some projects we did with the quilting group. I do like to add embellishments in the form of beads, sequins and ribbons, they make your projects special.

Padded Christmas tree
Although the beading may look complicated, it is quite simple to do. Start with your thread on the back edge at a point or corner, and, working away from the point or corner, thread three seed beads, take a stitch at right angles to the edge from front to back. repeat. This will give you a rope effect all along the edge. The length between stitches depends on how many and the size of bead you use. I generally do not count the number of bead loops per side, unless I want to have and idea of how many beads I need for the whole project. I have not found turning corners a problem, you could probably add a slightly larger bead to corners and points as added decoration. Must remember to try that.

Hanging pyramids and stars with bead embellishment

I made a small Linus quilt from the plain white pieces that I did not use as part of the table runner. I drew some garden related pictures with different types of fabric marker. I had bought the markers when I was studying for the C&G Patchwork and Quilting Certificate and Diploma. I got the flowered fabric square sizes a bit wrong and had to add bits to the ends of the rows. The overall effect is quite pretty, but it could have been made better! I used wadding and backing with 'in the ditch' quilting. There is a bit of gold in the butterfly border fabric so a bit of sparkle too. I hope it makes some little girl happy.

Butterfly garden quilt

I bought a new crochet book, on Blankets, Afghans and Throws, so have been working on some of those. I hope to be able to donate them to Project Linus when finished. I have started work on some of the Linus quilts I cut out several months ago. I have the fleece to finish at least two, must sort through the stash to check if I have enough to finish more, before I rush out to buy some. I am trying to reduce the amount of fabric I have accumulated over the years, but it seems to be a slow process.

Monday, 28 August 2017

July 2017

Over the last three months I seem to have been doing quite a bit of crochet as well as quilting. I am also involved in organising a small patchwork and quilting exhibition with one of the quilting groups I belong to.

I have finally finished all of the T-shirt quilts I had cut out at the end of last year, four in total. They have all been passed over to Liz our local co-coordinator for Project Linus.

T-shirt quilts 3 and 4 of the current series

Liz had given me a large piece of a teapot print with a black background at one of her Linus days. She felt it was unpromising for use in Linus quilts. However, I thought  I would have a go at using it, as I do love a challenge, and here is the result.

Linus strip quilt
As I have lots of this fabric, I may well be making some more of these with bright coloured fleece on the back. This one had a yellow backing. This is an easy quilt to make and is simply quilted in the ditch between strips. it took me two afternoons.

I have also finished and passed on the Olympia quilts from the previous post.

I bought another crochet shawl book from The Crochet Project. This time I went for a downloadable copy, but I am not sure if I like these. I think I am a bit old fashioned and prefer the printed book. So here are some of the things I have made from Book 1.

"Never Black" using West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply yarn in Peacock 

"Never Black" using hand dyed yarn bought at Unravel 

"Northmoor Lock" in 4-ply and DK yarns
I also bought a pattern and the recommended yarn to make a Fronds shawl - pattern from The Crochet Project. The yarn was expensive, but as I had received some money as a birthday present in April, I treated myself. I then went on to make two more in less expensive yarns, all are lovely, one I gave to my sister as she liked mine so much. This is a truly gorgeous pattern and very adaptable as to the yarn you can use. The cream one was a very inexpensive yarn with a nice soft drape, a baby yarn from Wilkinson's, cost less than £10 to make.

Beautiful "Fronds" Shawl - suggested yarn
"Fronds" Shawl - substitute yarn
This one is from the second book I bought, it is the 3rd in the series. I used DK yarn, left over from an Attic24 yarn pack from Woolwarehouse, so it is quite large.

"Bud" shawl
There are others but that's enough pictures of them.

Back to fabric with some presents made for friends birthdays. Some flowers from an edition of Stitch magazine from the Embroiders Guild, and a Barbara Chainey design for a cushion. 

Flowers for H

My contribution to a set of hand-quilted cushions for T
I like making 3D items like the vase and flowers. I am thinking about a workshop for the quilting group on fabric bowls. I have made a few of them using several different stabilising materials, so plenty of scope.

Since starting this post I have cut out enough T-shirt blocks for 3 more quilts and 2 T-pot strip quilts. They are in bags for taking to quilting meetings, when I have no project with a deadline to meet.

That's all for now, lots more in the pipeline.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

March 2017

I love being retired, it has presented me with opportunities to try new things, meet new people and make a lot of friends, long may that continue.

I recently volunteered to help the QGBI at Olympia at the beginning of March. I was given the task of helping participants make an 8 inch  'Corner in the Cabin' (quarter log-cabin) block. These are collected, sorted and made into small quilts for Project Linus. It is a wonderful experience with people who have never sewn or used a sewing machine to experienced stitcher's who have never tried patchwork techniques. One experienced stitcher was a man who is a kite maker, his wife makes quilts but he had never tried it, perhaps he will now. There were several students studying textiles at school/college that had never tried patchwork. Everyone I dealt with seemed to enjoy the experience, and I hope they were inspired enough to have a go themselves. I came home with six sets of blocks to make up into quilts.

Endless possibilities for 'Corner in the Cabin' blocks 
I tried quite a few more patterns with this block, but these were the ones I liked best. Two finished four to go! I hope the recipiants get as much pleasure using them as I do making them.

I have been doing more crochet projects. I bought a crochet magazine (Inside Crochet issue 85), as it was advertised with a very nice pattern for a jacket in Tunisian crochet. It had several projects that I liked, so I started with this Lacy poncho. It is project by Sarah J Green from  a book called 
BoHo Chic Crochet Ponchos (Leisure Arts, £5.99), this could be a good buy if you like making ponchos. I had to make a minor adjustment as my tension was a bit off, it still was not quite right, but it looks good on.

Lacy Poncho
I have also made a lovely shawl, this pattern was from a company in one of the articles in the magazine - The Crochet Project. They have some gorgeous patterns. the two I liked most were The Shawl Project: Book One by Joanne Scrace  and the Fronds Shawl also by Joanne. The one I have completed so far is from the Shawl booklet.

'Your Mileage May Vary' Shawl
I bought the yarn at Unravel in Farnham in 2015, it is from Easyknits, Dandy 4-ply in Sunshine. Again my tension was a bit off so I had to adjust the pattern. This booklet has six patterns and instructions on making shawls in various ways with examples explaining how to calculate the size and yarn amounts. The nice thing about these patterns is that they all take a 100g skein of the more expensive artisan yarns, so you can have a luxurious item for a reasonable cost. Advise on changing the yarn type and weight are included in the general instructions. I may be developing an addiction for shawl making, I have started a second and have the yarn for a third!

I made a birthday present for a friend in February, this is the fourth one I have made, one for me and three as presents. This friend loves purple, I did not think I had much purple in my stash, but I had enough to make the outside and found suitable lining with purple flowery hearts. I call it a Jellyroll bag, as I made the first one out of a leftover jellyroll, but all the subsequent bags have been made from 2.5 inch strips from FQ or WOF, what ever suited. It is based on a pattern from a magazine using charm squares

Annie's bag
It is a nice roomy bag, with a zipped top and two inner pockets - one zipped. I love making these too. When I can find the time, I will make one using strips instead of squares. My last post showed the one I made using one piece of fabric. 

Just in case you think I never get out with all this crafting, I play golf and badminton at least twice a week and get into the garden, digging out dead trees (a small one), tidying the green house and cutting the grass. As my husband pointed out when I retired ' You can't spend all of your time sewing', but I can spend as much time as possible on it. To finish, this is the third blog post I have made in two weeks, yes I know they are all to do with crafting, I like to share my creative activities.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

January 2017

I have been quite busy since the last post. Christmas always has me looking at small projects to add to my lovely collection of Christmas decorations. I developed a couple of bird patterns for the quilting group I attend, the inspiration for these came from a piece of Christmas fabric and a Christmas card. These seemed popular with our members. The pattern can be found on the QoS blog via a link under the December 2016 post.

I also made a pattern for a much simpler bird using a crazy patchwork technique and some of the small scraps that I find it so hard to discard. This technique is adapted from a book called Fabric Leftovers by D'Arcy-Jean Milne. I recommend it for those of you who find it hard to discard nice but small bits  of fabric. It also encourages you to use some of those lovely decorative stitches on your sewing machine. I tend to use felt as a base, and cover the fabric with net/tulle if the fabric pieces are very small, before using decorative stitches to anchor them down. The decorative stitches need to be experimented with, as they are not all suitable for this technique. Also if you use a decorative thread, metallic for instance, you can run into problems.

Crazy patchwork birds
This 'new' fabric also makes nice purses and book covers if you need a nice hand made gift. If you look at a previous post, 'New Fabric from Scraps' February 2013, I have explained the process in a bit more detail and included references of the sources I have used. You can also make these birds from felt or fabric for a quicker version. They do not have to be Christmas birds, these two are hanging from twiggy stems with LED lights.

Felt and fabric birds

Both these patterns would be suitable to make with children as they can all be made by hand.

I bought a lovely book of crocheted snowflake patterns and managed to make all 40. I have an idea about how I would like to use them, but they will need starching first.

Christmas also means a Secret Santa present. I made this for a friend who is partial to purple. It was a commercial pattern from Snapdragon Designs called Angel Wreath. I thought I would be clever and reduce the size a bit to 75%. I had a few problems as the pieces were smaller and more fiddly to make, but am very pleased with the result. The stars and hearts are painted wooden buttons.

Snapdragon Designs - Angel Wreath
I have to confess to having bought several crochet books this year, from which I have made some Christmas decorations (among other things) here are a few of them. From Ruby and Custard's Crochet by Millie Masterson.
Dove and puddings from Ruby and Custard's Crochet,
knitted pine-cones - Jane Greenoff pattern
From Twenty to Make Mini Christmas Crochet by Val Pierce.



Some I made last year from Simply Crochet magazine issue 38.

Christmas Wreath, not exactly to pattern

Holly bunting
Apart from Christmas, I have been working on some projects for the quilting group. I said I would give a couple of half day workshops. One is on making a circular box with a zip (more pictures see January 2015 post), and the other will be on using jellyrolls for quilts and bags. These are coming along nicely.

Circular box for workshop
I have made a present for a friend, no picture as she has not had the birthday yet. I have been making several T-shirt quilts for Project Linus, two finished and two still to layer and quilt. I have lots more fabric for more of these. As it is a large block they make up quickly - if that is all you are doing!

First T-shirt quilt for Linus
I have also been making crochet blankets, Flower hexagons from Ruby and Custard's Crochet, a Corner to corner squares blanket from Deramores and the Moorland blanket CAL from Lucy at Attic24. I also have a crochet scarf on the go, I am making this from a variegated crochet yarn and one of the snowflake patterns, joining the motifs as I go. I made a cosy neck warmer (Attic24) and a lacy scarf as gifts.

The latest project, finished this week, was a bag for my small sewing machine a Janome JP760. It is big enough to hold the machine and accessories as well as an extension lead. it has a pocket for the manual and webbing straps from the base for support. I used a similar method of construction to the Spot bags from the June 2016 post. I quilted the front and used 809 Decor Bond interfacing from Pellon on the lining. It took a lot of ironing to get it to stick. Although it is not as firm as craft interfacing, it was a bit like try to stitch a 30 x 20 inch piece of card. The finish is nice and firm. I am not sure that I needed such a firm interfacing, but having bought it (with a view to using it in boxes and small bags), I thought I would try it in a bigger bag. It will be interesting to see how it keeps it's shape during use.

Sewing machine bag
I also had a go at dressmaking. I made a lovely tunic from some elephant batik fabric. It was so successful I will have another go, already have the fabric, with a collar and 3/4 sleeves. I also have another pattern for a top I would like to try.

Lastly, as my Christmas wreath was so successful, I decided to make a Flower wreath using patterns from various books, mainly 100 Flowers  and 75 birds, butterflies and beautiful beasties to knit and crochet by Lisa Stanfield.

Flower wreath
I must stop thinking I that I don't get enough time to sew/craft, as I clearly get plenty of time to pursue my creative side. My problem is the number of things I would like to do, far out weighs the time I have to do them!