Tuesday, 4 December 2012


I have been doing quite a bit of crafting lately but am getting to the point where I need to get some projects finished. Other things seem to get in the way.

I have also started to learn to knit about a month ago and it is going surprisingly well. I have tried to learn to knit before and never got very far, but I decided this time I will make sure I learn. This has been taking up most of my time, but I am pleased with my progress.
I picked it up quite quickly and am able to do alot more than I remember. So far I have knitted two practise squares and I am now knitting a cardigan. I have done the back and one front section, and currently working on the other front section, I would love to get this finished by Christmas to show my mum what I have made.
I am getting quite a bit of knitting done on my lunch breaks at work and have been doing it when watching films or TV, it is a bit easier to do than sewing or quilting when watching with someone else.

I have lots of ideas for projects and things I want to do, so have set myself a target to get my UFOs completed before starting any other projects.

Quilt - This is a work in progress for a Christmas present. needs to be done by Christmas. This should be ok, as I just have to cut the wadding and backing, quilt and bind it. DONE

Knitting - Cardigan for myself. Aim to complete by Christmas, or finish it over the Christmas time so mum can help me stitch it all up.

Cross stitch wall hanging- Not much to go on this, one image and then the boarder, I might need some more stranded cotton though. I want to have this finished by end of January. DONE

Liberty cushion - I have the back of the cushion to complete. I have hand paper pieced small stars, which seemed like a good idea but now I'm not sure how to join them at the moment. End of January.

1 Christmas present - I have not decided on this yet, but will possibly be a patchwork cushion. Will be finished by Christmas.

Quite a few things to fit in as I work full time and doing overtime most nights until Christmas so I mainly have the weekends. The quilt and the present are my priorities to complete.

I want to get these projects completed so that I can move on in new year and start to work on my projects more regularly.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

September, time for another quilt methinks!

I have been sewing the back of my liberty cushion which is going well; I found some lovely small pieces of Japanese fabric and have stitched them into stars. As I can hand piece these, they have been occupying my lunch breaks.
The cross stitch is coming along well but not finished yet.

I have been thinking of making another quilt for a while and found the perfect excuse, my little sister had requested one a few months ago and now she has just started university. So I thought I will make her a quilt as a sort of moving away/flatwarming gift! Having thought about it a bit more I have decided to make a quillow from a pattern in a book called 'Love.... quilting' As she is at university in a small room she can have it as a cushion to look nice and brighten up the room and then unfold it into a quilt when she gets cold. Having lived in student halls I know that anything space saving and small is a good idea.

Now the big problem......what fabric do I make it from?! Having looked in my stash I don't really have anything as most of it is small pieces. I wanted something bright and cheery as she likes her bright colours. Not too traditional, floral or pretty as I wanted it to match any room she lived in. While looking online I fell in love with the Trade Winds range from Moda designed by Lily Ashby.
Trade Winds by Lily Ashby, Moda.

This was bright and colourful and looked exotic and luxurious. My favourites were on the third and fourth rows down, I like the jewel like design and Indian inspiration. However when I looked into it a bit more I decided that the patterns may be a bit too large for this design and I would be better off with something with a more repetitive pattern. I started to think that a geometric pattern may be better and instantly give the modern look I was trying to go for.
Then I found Washi by Rashida Coleman-Hale for Timeless Treasures and this intrigued me. I like the triangles and the colours; I started to think if I had that as the background and then solid colours for the quilt blocks that would look fresh and simple. After quite a lot of thinking and browsing the fabrics are as follows:

Fabrics for quillow

Washi natural from M is for Make,
Bright pink, turquoise, grey cotton
Turquoise stars, I was considering this to be the centre of the stars but it wasn’t quite right
Yellow elephants on linen.

The elephant fabric had been considered once and discarded. I got it out again, realised the square shape in the centre of the star block was on its point for this quilt design and then realised that the elephant print looked so much more interesting when it was laid out like this! It was the perfect centre for the star and gave a focal point without overpowering the rest of the design.
Then again.....when I actually sew them they may not work together at all!

I made up a block by hand just to see how it would look, before I cut out the whole quilt. Some stars will have plain blue fabric others blue star fabric.

Practise star.

As you can tell this was all done in the evening as the photos are really poor. In future I should wait until daytime to photograph and hopefully photos will look better.

To see the finished item and post details here

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Work in progress

At the moment I have been working on my lovely Liberty hexagon patchwork. This is great as I have been working on it on my lunch breaks at work so have finished it quite quickly. It is going to be a cushion, I have not yet decide how I am going to do the cushion back. I really enjoy doing paper piecing I find it very relaxing as you do not have to focus very hard. What do you think so far?

Liberty hexagons

My other project which I have been keeping at home is a cross stich project. It is from Cross Sticher magazine which my mum buys and it is one of their projects. This is it so far.

Cross stich project

I don't normally do much cross stich but this makes a nice change. The colours in the magazine were different and I decided on a blue and white theme. I have been using an embriodary hoop which makes it alot easier to work on. When it is finished it will be a wall hanging with pockets to store things in.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Quilt: Vintage Laura Ashley hexagons

I last left you when I had finished putting all the original hexagons onto card and was planning the quilt layout. Having realised I was short some fabric I bought some from etsy in America to help with finishing the design.

This is the link to my first post about this quilt.

The fabric turned out great and had a little more give in the cotton than the other fabric, but it was still ok. Once I had cut it out, it was back to more layout planning on the floor. I took photos of this and used as a reference point when adding hexagons. Due to the number of hexagons in each pattern I had to be a bit creative with the layout and you can see in the finished quilt that I have two designs for the corners in order to create the most symmetrical layout possible.

I did quite a lot over Easter and completed one side, then went back to finish the other side. I did put it down for a few weeks and then came back to it. I finished the quilt top on 21st May.
I ironed it with the cardboard in, and then took out all the pieces and ironed it a lot more, ensuring that all my seams were ironed flat the right the way.
Back of completed quilt top

Wadding and backing
I was going to buy the wadding online and use Hobbs Heirloom as before, then I heard about a quilting shop near me in Lincoln. I had been keen to go and have a look for a while. I wasn’t expecting much, but as it was so close to me I thought it was worth checking out as an alternative to the local shops I use.
Well the shop was amazing, enormous selection of fabrics, lots of choices, jelly rolls, moda, batik and beautiful Japanese designs. They sell wadding on the roll, so I bought some from them which was better than online.
The wadding I bought was ‘Soft and Elegant’ 80% cotton, 20% polyester. For the quilt backing I bought a flat bed sheet and cut it to size. I got a 300 count Egyptian cotton sheet and it is so lovely and soft.
I constructed the quilt in the normal way. Backing fabric on the floor (freshly ironed) wadding, then quilt right side up on top, pinned and then basted into place.
Quilt top basted to wadding and backing fabric.

I was very nervous about doing the quilting as it was to be my first attempt at machine quilting. I decided on diagonal lines to form a diamond grid. I wanted to keep it simple and thought this would look a bit more interesting than squares. I measured all of the lines in one direction and then put quilters tape on it to mark these. I used quilters tape as I got given some for Christmas with some other items, so thought I would try it out.
Quilters tape marking where I will sew.

I started to stitch it, and realised a problem soon after I started and couldn’t really rectify it. As I was a bit nervous, I started with the corner, so the shortest stitch line. However this caused a bit of bunching later on which was difficult to smooth out. I should have stitched the centre lines first and worked out allowing the fabric to smooth outwards if required. Therefore when doing the lines the other way around I stitched from the middle and it was much better. A couple of lines are not very straight, but I am pleased with it as a first attempt.  Next time I will also stitch more basting lines and start ALL stitching from the middle. I liked the quilters tape. I wouldn’t use it all the time as I think it is a bit wasteful to buy it when it can only be used once. But it was great as a beginner to be able to visualise how the pattern was forming, if I was measuring it right and most importantly it was a good guideline for the machine. It is important to remove it quickly after use, as the longer it is on the harder it is to remove, on the box it says only use it for one day and I would agree. I did all of the quilting in one weekend, and it was much better to do it all in one go. It took a while to figure out how to fold and move the fabric through the machine, so there was a lot of moving around and repining and folding. I found that once I got into a system I got a lot done quickly. I used a lot more thread than I thought I would on the quilting and next time I will find a few machine bobbins and preload them in advance so that I don’t have to keep stopping and reloading, or even worse, stitch a whole line, look back and realise I ran out of thread halfway through!

I chose green binding as there is green in one of the fabrics and if I did it in pink or white there would not be enough variety. Also as the darker pink fabric came from elsewhere I thought that by adding the green, it wouldn’t draw as much attention to the pink being darker than the other pink tones.
The binding was also bought from wisteria fabrics, it is Marbles by Moda. I liked this compared to a solid green block. I prewashed it, as it is darker than the quilt. I was talking a lady in the shop and she explained a good method of how to attach the binding by machine. I created my binding strips and then along one edge, laid the binding on top of the quilt right sides together  and stitched ¼ inch from the edge. Then I folded the fabric round the back, folded it under ¼ inch and hand stitched it to the quilt. I also mitred the corners. I had some difficulty with the binding, I can see how it should work, but I made it wider on the front than the back, so that you can see the stitch line on the back. Also I need to work much harder on mitring the corners as they are a bit untidy. Next time I will leave more fabric to play around with and fold under.

I also made a quilt label having read about these online. I thought it would be a nice touch to explain the history of the quilt. I stitched my text in green on some hardanger Aida (all I had lying around) and then made a mini border. This was hand stitched onto the quilt. I have blocked out the names on the photos below.

Quilt label (after washing and it looks very wonky in this photo)

The final thing to do was to wash it. I was rather nervous, having read about shrinkage rates and bleeding. Some parts of the quilt had yellowed a bit, some had a bit of dirt and stains on them having been carried around so much. Once washed it was put on the washing line to dry and it looks absolutely fine, there were no problems after washing. However next time I will prewash to save myself the worry.

Completed quilt

Close up

Side view

All in all I am very pleased with this, it has taken me about 6 months to do, but I would put it down for a few weeks and then start up again. I am pleased with how the quilting looked, and once I got into it I quite enjoyed it, but I defiantly need a bigger dining room table. The colours have worked well and the extra fabrics I have bought have matched. I used alot of thread for this. I must have used about 5 normal size reels, I then bought a massive 1000m reel and have used a bit of that too. The finished quilt measures 70 x 39 inches or 185 x 99 cm and has 355 hexagons. I will be taking it to my parents in a few weeks when I visit and give it to my grandma. Hopefully she will like it!

New skills
*Hexagon hand piecing
*Machine quilting
*Machine binding

Shopping list
Asda, Elegant living range

Laura Ashley quilt kit
Vintage floral fabric
Moda, Marbles – green
Flat bedsheet
A lot of Gutterman white cotton

Monday, 28 May 2012

A couple of small projects

I have a lovely bag which I received as a Christmas present a few years ago. It was bought from Accessorize and I love it, it has lots of pockets to put things in and it is a good design. I use this bag in the winter as it is made of wool. As I have used it so much the pink piping on the handles had started to fray over Christmas leaving the piping exposed.
Frayed piping on handles.

I wanted to carry on using the bag and there was nothing wrong apart from it now looking a bit tatty, so I bought some bias binding to replace the pink with.
I took the handles apart, removed the pink fabric from the piping cord, stitched the new navy blue bias binding over the piping cord and then put the handles back together and reattached to the bag. This took quite a while but I am very pleased with the results as the bag looks so much smarter, it still feels strong and should keep me going for another few years.

I also made this little bag for a friend of mine as a birthday present. I love this fabric as it is so bright and fun. I lined it with pale pink felt and put on a bright pink zip.

Cupcakes small zip bag.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Summer bag - Tile Florish


This is a bag I finished for myself about Eastertime. I have been test driving it since and am very happy with it.

Pixie bag

Close up of inside lining and magnetic fastener

The fabric is from Joel Dewberry's lovely collection, and the fabric is Tile Flourish in green. I saw this in John Lewis a while ago when thinking of the bag and knew that was the right fabric. Something fresh and bright for Spring Summer, while being a pattern which can go with anything.
The other fabric is a gorgeous pale blue which I bought at the same time, it also has a nice weight to it, not too thin and flimsy.
I used a pattern I bought on Etsy which can be found here. It is the Pixie handbag. A very nice pattern, easy to follow and I love how having the darts in it gives the bag so much shape.
The pattern was reversible, but I have only put interfacing on one side, and am quite happy with having it this way round. Also I added a magnetic clasp to the bag. You can see that inside for the lining we have the pale blue for the bottom half, and the tile flourish for the top band.
I stitched it with a pale blue thread to blend in with the fabric.
I focused on making sure my top stitching was as straight as possible and have been working on ensuring that I reverse stitch at the end of a line and keep threads tidy.
I bought the fabric from eclectic maker a website I will definitely use again. Beautiful fabrics, reasonable p&p and quick delivery which was beautifully wrapped.

New skills and materials used
No new skills, but improving my technique on topstitching, ironing and darts.
Joel Dewberry - Tile Flourish green
Pale blue cotton
Gutterman polyester thread
1 magnetic bag fastener

Shopping list

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Quilt project: Vintage Laura Ashley

Now that my quilt is finished I have another one lined up to make already! Recently my grandma has been sorting out some of her things and she has tried all sorts of crafts over the years. She has found a quilt which she started to make years ago and has asked me to finish it for her. It was bought as a kit for a single bed in Laura Ashley in London in the late 1970’s, and I think it cost £10 at the time, I even have the two bobbins of cotton bought at the time. As you can see it has some way to go. I have already cut up a lot of card to make the hexagons and put some of the patches on. I need to finish up all of the patches and then stitch them to the main quilt. I think it is going to look very pretty when it is done.

Quilt as I received it

Quilt and hexagon pieces

UPDATE: I have now put all of the fabric onto hexagons. Last week I laid everything out on the floor to work out what order to stitch the rest of the pieces. It took a few attempts to work out what was the best orientation for the part already made and once I had established this I was short alot of hexagons. I seem to have lots of the white pattern and not enough of the pink. 

First orientation - not enough hexagons

Second orientation - better, but not enough of certain patterns and still missing some

plan for the layout at one end, ignore the colours I was working on the number required.

So I had a think and decided to buy some more fabric in order to replace the missing pieces. I wanted a fabric which was mainly pink as that would work best with my plan.
I couldn’t really find anything and was considering a gingham or a dotty print, but didn’t think my grandma would like them very much. Other patterns seemed too ‘floral’  or ‘rosebuddy’ and did not fit in with the existing patterns. I didn’t want to use a plain fabric because I thought it would look wrong introducing a plain so late in the design.
In the end I came across a vintage piece by chance on esty. I saw it and thought ‘this is perfect’ the correct shade and pattern and is actually very similar to one of the patterns already in the quilt. It is from a seller in America so I can’t wait for it to arrive. I hope the size works out ok as I need to get 60 hexagons from it.

See post part two for the finished item.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Winter project completed - first quilt

This winter I have been working as a conservator on a project which has just finished
Due to working away for a good few months with no internet access and limited phone signal I decided that I would make my first quilt to give me something to do in the evenings.
I have always loved patchwork and admiring quilts, but never got round to making one, so here was the perfect excuse. I went to a lovely craft shop near my parent’s house and took ages to choose my fabric. In the end I selected a kit which the shop had made up. It was for a basic square and rectangle quilt and could be the size of a cot quilt or a lap quilt when completed. I chose a beautiful charm pack of 50 5 x 5 inch squares, and then 2 extra fat quarters and couldn’t wait to get started on it.
I really enjoyed doing the patchwork, but when it came to sewing up the blocks I realised how important it is to make sure all of your seam allowances are the same as some of mine are a bit ‘off’ so some squares are a bit small.
I then added some embellishments, by stitching on some crochet ribbon and some old ribbon my grandma gave me. 
Crochet ribbon along the bottom, blue ribbon on blue panel.

I also stitched the cute cherry pattern of one piece in satin stitch and stem stitch, which gives it a nice effect. I quilted some squares as well.
Stitched detail on cherry panel.

I added the boarder which is burgundy and blends in well with the colour theme and this was from a slightly heavier cotton and this will make it a bit more robust.
For the wadding I used Hobbs Heirloom 100% cotton and I like the fact that this seems a bit heavier, I enjoyed working with this wadding. I then quilted the whole quilt and then added the navy blue boarder. I struggled a bit with the mitred corners to make them look tidy.

Boarder and binding

I have finished it tonight and I am very pleased with it, it is also extremely warm, much warmer than I thought it would be. I am regretting having made such a small quilt, but am pleased with my first attempt.
I sewed the whole quilt by hand, as I was working away. I enjoyed doing the patchwork by hand, but I think that quilting by machine makes the effect much more defined and also neater. In future I will do quilting on the machine.
I have not prewashed the fabric, having only remembered it halfway through making it, so I carried on and did not prewash the boarder or binding either.
I really like the colour theme as I wanted my first quilt to have an old fashioned look to it. It measures 129 x 100 cm or 51 by 39 inches.

Finished quilt

Finished quilt

New skills and materials used
·         Patchwork
·         Quilting
·         Satin stitch and stem stitch
·         Constructing the quilt sandwich and stitching it together.

Shopping list
·         Charm pack http://www.patchworkdogandbasket.co.uk/
·         2 metres burgundy cotton, Cloth store, Crawley
·         ½ metre blue cotton, Cloth Store, Crawley
·         Crochet ribbon, fabricland, Salisbury http://www.fabricland.co.uk/salisbury.htm
·         Wadding, www.hobbycraft.co.uk