"It takes ages to finish a quilt you're not working on!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm not into beading, but...

The Lone Beader blog on my sidebar is a blog that I have been following since I first started blogging myself. Diana is a bead artist, and she creates the most unique and beautiful works of art with her beading techniques. I just dropped over there a minute ago to catch up with her, and found her latest finish - a sparrow. Now you might think a sparrow is a such a drab ordinary little bird, but go and see what Diana has done - made a little sparrow into a sparkling beauty! While you are there, check out the rest of her blog. And take a cuppa with you, you won't be able to tear yourself away once you start looking at her fabulous work.

Skill Builder Sampler blocks

While reading Jane's blog over the weekend, I was admiring her photos of two patchwork blocks she had just completed. She explained that she had followed the tutorials on a blog called "Sewn by Leila", whose creator had recently introduced online tutorials for quilt blocks. So I jumped over to have a look, and decided immediately I would join this group, as I am still very much a novice in the field of quilting, especially when it comes to those intricate blocks! Jane had done her blocks over a few days, so I thought I would try to do the same. Thanks to Leila's excellent Skill Builder Sampler tutorials, it took me just 24 hours to complete these two blocks! If you are reading this and you are an experienced quilter, you probably won't be interested in all this, but if you are a novice like me, go over to my sidebar and click on Leila's Skill Builder button. It's well worth a visit!
As always for me, there were lessons to be learned: again, the importance of measuring and cutting accurately, pressing as you go, and trimming the small blocks as you go. But what I learnt this time around was not in the instructions; indeed, it was a matter of my own stupidity. I learned NOT to combine stretchy fabrics with non-stretch cottons! Duh, I know...common sense, right? But when I am using whatever is in my stash, I don't look too closely at the fabric, other than to check if the colours don't clash. Well, that light pink gingham was just a little stretchy. Enough to pull the other pieces out of line. Ah well, I'm not making a quilt, so I've left it alone, but it was another one of those senior blonde moments that I will put down to experience ;-) Other than that, I am very happy with my first Nine patch block and Log cabin block.

Monday, June 27, 2011

This weekend's work.

My Japanese friend Aiko has a birthday coming up, and she loves handmade craft, so I decided to make her one of my mug rugs. Do you think she will like it? The border looks a bit wonky in this photo, but once I'd given it a good press it looked better.
It is one thing to do a workshop at a craft fair, and go home all enthused about the new technique you have learnt, but it is quite another thing to actually continue making items using that new skill! A few years ago, I did a class on making hexagons, and afterwards I bought a cute little set of template, mini cutting board and small rotary cutter, just for hexagons. Did I do anything with it when I got home, or in the weeks afterwards? No, of course not! But if you've been following this blog, you may have noticed that I am on a roll of trying new things, and last week I decided it was time to dust off the little kit and make some hexagons. The fabrics are what was given to us in the workshop, so I thought I may as well use them for this practice session. Now I know how easy it is (fiddly but easy), I've earmarked some little projects in my patchwork magazines and books. Stay tuned for further developments, lol!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finished projects, and info on fusible layout grid.

I'm surprised that some of you hadn't heard of the Fusible layout grid that I mentioned in my previous post. I googled "Fusible non-woven Layout grid" and came up with the usual ten thousand links! Here is one that provides a good explanation. Depending on where you are, I should think if you can't buy it at your local shop, you would be able to purchase it online. Darn Cheap Fabrics sell it for $13.80 a metre.
I finished binding my Suffolk Puff flower picture, and am very happy with it. I've also made another mug rug - and actually have ORDERS for more!! My friends who aren't into crafts like this are all delighted with my mug rugs and have been offering to pay me to make more for them! It is embarrassing - they only take an hour to do, and I'm not buying any extra supplies, as I'm just using my stash.
That reminds me - I forgot to post a picture of this mini quilt last week. It was in our local collectables shop for $10, so I grabbed it. It is only small - 40cm by 30cm, but so cute!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shopping for patchwork supplies.

I needed some more batting for my patchwork projects, so I headed over to "Darned Cheap Fabrics" at Heidelberg. They might not have the range of Spotlight, Lincraft, or other specialist patchwork shops, but they have the essentials, and what I think is a good range of fabrics. I've been reading about the new bamboo batting, and decided to give it a try. I used it for my Sweet Inspirations block (see previous post) and found it very easy to work with.
This cute little machine embroidered patch was hanging on the wall, so I added one of them to my purchases, as it will go perfectly with one of my planned wallhangings.
Another product I've seen written up in various craft mags is this gridded quilt fusible fabric. I asked the salesgirl if they stocked it and she wasn't sure, so she asked an older lady, who pointed her to where they had it. When she was measuring it out for me, a few ladies came over to ask my advice on how to use it. All I could tell them was what I'd read in magazines, but that was good enough for them, as they could see the advantages of using it for some projects. I have nearly finished my vase of yo yo flowers - just need to hand stitch the binding, and I'm done! I should have a photo here tomorrow. Thanks to all who commented on it - interesting to see people's experiences with yo-yo/suffolk puffs!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Suffolk Puffs (otherwise known as Yo Yo's)

I've been seeing Suffolk Puffs everywhere lately - in books and magazines as well as on blogs. I figured there was a message in there somewhere for me, so today I pulled out a Homespun magazine from my shelves, and made a cute picture. But not having made Suffolk puffs before, I had a little practice run. Just as well I did! The first few I did, I didn't turn the edge in for the hem, and they were a bit messy. I experimented with several kinds of fabric, and quickly learnt that a softer cotton is easier to work with than a linen or heavy cotton. I discovered that I do not have a great range of buttons! So I had to make do. But it was a good learning experience. This is the project in Homespun Magazine No.11 (about 10 years old).
And here is what I achieved today. I used a piece of hand dyed fabric for the background - I'd found it in the Guild's remnant bin last year, and knew it would come in handy for something! The other materials are just from my scrap box. I fused the vase and leaves to the background, and attached the yo-yo flowers after embroidering the stems. I'll finish off the borders etc. over the next few days. This is NOT going to be a UFO!
I'm planning my next project from this little book, which I won from Lynn Harris over at The Little Red Hen. She has a couple of designs in it, and had a giveaway on her blog when it was published. I'm sure she thinks I'll never use it. Well, I will. And soon!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A new ATC.

A year or so ago, I went through a stage of making heaps of ATCs to swap, but haven't done any since then. But when Doreen gave me one last week while she was in Melbourne, I figured I had to reciprocate. After all, they are called Artists TRADING cards for a reason! It didn't take me long to whip up this one today. Now I just have to find Doreen's address again...

Lacemaking - a dying art.

I discovered this little video clip on Anna Maria Horner's blog, and thought it would be of interest to my readers. http://vimeo.com/24025625

Lacemaking in Lefkara, Cyprus from Etsy on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meeting another Blogger friend!

I spent a most enjoyable day today, with Doreen Grey of "Creative Meanderings". Doreen was in Melbourne this week with her hubby and grand daughter, so we'd arranged for me to meet her in the city at the apartment where they were staying. I had asked Doreen if she would bring some of her embroidered work to show me, and she was happy to oblige. I took photos of everything. If my readers are also readers of Doreen's blog, you may have seen these before. But even so, they are worth another look! Stunning crazy patchwork blocks, made up into book form. There were 12 blocks altogether but I only photographed six.
This fabulous creation has been made using an old book as the base. The inside consists of handmade paper, painted and embellished with a myriad of craft fabrics and papers! Such creativity leaves me speechless in admiration! There was one more book, but my photo didn't do it justice, so I haven't posted it. We spent some time setting our respective cameras up to take photos of ourselves together, using the delayed timer, most of which I had to delete until I got what I thought was a reasonable photo of us both. Doreen looks a bit terse here, which is a pity, because she is not terse at all! A very friendly lady in fact. We visited some craft shops, then had lunch at Australia on Collins, talking non-stop between mouthfuls of food. We spent the first few minutes getting to know each other, doing some show and tell, and swapping a few goodies. I came off better in the goodies department! I brought some of my mug rugs in and offered Doreen a choice of them. But look what she had for me! A duchess set that she had started on a long time ago, but never finished, and she thought I would appreciate it. She was 100% right! Her stitching on the centrepiece is exquisite, so I'll have to do my bit on the doilies very carefully to match her work! Next is an ATC, and an embroidered brooch. Doreen had brought a dozen of them with her, and invited me to choose one. It was very hard to choose; they were all so gorgeous. And some craft magazines she'd finished with.

I made a complete fool of myself by offering to take Doreen to the Morris & Sons shop in Collins Street. When I mentioned this to her on the phone the previous night, I said "Do you want to go to the William Morris shop here?" There was silence for a minute, and she said "I didn't know that was in Melbourne". "Oh yes - it is across the road from where you are staying" said I. Some time after I hung up the phone, I realised my mistake in the name of the shop....but as if that wasn't enough. Today, I led the way into Australia On Collins - almost to the door of Lincraft. Looking desperately for Morris & Sons, I had to give up because nobody in the other shops knew what I was talking about. When I got home, I found the bit of paper I'd written their address on - No.234 Collins Street...a few doors up from Australia On Collins }:-( Sorry, Doreen! Next time!!

Shopping in Melbourne with Doreen G.

We strolled down to the Nicholas Building to visit some of the beautiful craft shops in there - L'ucellos, Button Mania, and Kimono House. I took a few photos at L'ucellos. The owner (Kim) is used to bloggers coming in and introducing themselves, as she has her own blog, and follows many herself. Her stock is constantly changing with shipments of goodies arriving often. I resisted temptations, and only bought a couple of things: A book/pad of iron-on stitchery transfers - very cute! A short length of exquisite lace which Kim informed us was from the time of King George VI. (Sylvia, if you want some of this, let me know! I had you in mind when I bought it ;-) The two dear little buttons are from Button Mania.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quilters Tote Bag

I've spent the weekend making two bags. The first one is something I've been thinking about doing ever since I started accumulating quilting and patchwork paraphernalia. Everything was in a big plastic bag, and we all know what that's like - a big jumble of stuff that doesn't fit nicely anywhere you want to store it. I'd seen a few tutorials on the net for quilters bags, but they weren't quite what I wanted, so I decided to do my own thing. I needed a bag big enough to keep my cutting mat, two quilters rulers, assorted plastic templates, and rotary cutters. A few years ago, the local Riot Art & Craft shop had a selection of plain calico bags, ready for embroidery or fabric painting projects. I bought two or three different sizes, including a library bag which I still hadn't done anything with. Perfect size - big enough to accomodate a larger cutting mat if I needed to buy one at a later stage! The first job was to make some pockets for the inside, to put my things in. The mat didn't need a pocket, but the quilting rulers, Dresden templates, and rotary cutters did. I cut out and hemmed three pieces of calico to suit, and machined them inside the library bag (it was a bit difficult, as my machine doesn't have one of those extra long bits where you can machine sleeves etc. on garments, but I managed it) Drawstring tops are okay for library bags, but I needed handles, so I made them from two strips of calico. Finally, thinking it looked a bit plain (and wanting to cover up the area where I had machined the pockets to the inside), I found a piece of furnishing fabric someone had given me, that was exactly the right size. So I used fusible webbing to attach it, and stitched running stitch around the edges. Voila!

Handbag organiser.

Don't you just hate fumbling in your handbag/purse/totebag for the fiddly things that rattle around at the bottom on the bag? In March 2009, Cindy posted a photo on her blog of a handbag organiser that she'd made for her daughter. She called it a "What's In the Bottom Of Your Purse Holder". I thought it was a super idea, and filed it away in my head for future reference. Since then I've seen bag organisers in shops, and tutorials for similar things in books and on the net. Today I decided to make my own. It is best to do it that way, because every lady's handbag is unique, as far as what goes in it. Here is what lives in mine when I take everything with me. (If I'm only zipping down to the shops to do some shopping, I only take a small shoulder bag with my purse, keys, and mobile phone.) I started by laying everything out on a piece of fabric to see how big I would need to cut it. I then cut a piece for the outer fabric, and another piece the same size for the lining. Then I found a third piece to make the pockets. But instead of making individual pockets, I lay the one piece across the lining over my bag contents, and pinned it over each item, allowing enough fabric to slip it in easily. Took the contents away and machined the pocket fabric where I'd pinned. Here they are all laying on their individual pockets. And here is everything in the pockets. Finally I added a length of green ribbon to one end, so when I rolled the organiser up, it could be tied up neatly and placed in my hand bag. I showed Ken, saying "This is a girl thing. I don't expect you to understand." He looked at it for a minute and said "You should make one for your car". I said "Oh, yes, I have a pattern for a glove box organiser somewhere!" He replied "I'm not talking about the glovebox. I'm talking about the boot (trunk to Americans). It's a mess with all the stuff you've got in there". Ah well, can't blame a girl for trying, can you?

Friday, June 10, 2011

All rugged out!

I'm done with mug rugs! Well, for the time being. I've done enough to give to a few friends that I will be dining with on Friday night, and there will be a few spares to give to other friends if they like them. I've had great fun doing these, but other projects are calling me, so I've tidied up the mess in my craft room, and will start on my next project in a day or so. These two are made from the fabrics I used to make my Iris quilt. They are both backed with a plain light mauve fabric.
This one is made from fabrics from a variety of sources. The back is from a fat quarter that I bought somewhere. The front uses the teacups material that I used for the border of a table runner, and the gold coloured stuff was a tie. The brown border is from my stash.
Everyone seems to liked chooks and roosters, so I used some of my stash of rooster fabrics for these. The smaller one has a red gingham backing. The larger one is the result of a series of blunders on my part! I used the ric rac to cover uneven stitching, and then I sewed the back and front together the wrong way (not the way I had intended). So I was left with an unhemmed border, which I've covered with good old bias binding! The back is plain green.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Today's projects.

I'm still playing with Mug Rugs! But the first two turned into placemats, due to my miscalculation of the width of the borders. Ken's great-nieces will still like them though, and at their ages (8 and 5) they are a bit young for mugs of coffee anyway. I started with a piece of fabric which had two Sunbonnet Sue characters printed on it. I cut that in half, embroidered the names in chain stitch, and joined each one to scraps of children's fabric from my stash. If they were to be mug rugs, they wouldn't have to be much larger, but by the time I'd stitched the red polkadot fabric border on, it was too late, so I backed them both with red gingham, and placemats they shall be!
These two are definitely mug rugs. The coloured cats fabric was left over from the Black Cat wall hanging I did a few years ago. I matched it up with pieces from my scrap box, and backed them both with gingham. I've got heaps of gingham in my stash - it is so useful for all kinds of projects. I used to think I'd do Chicken Scratch embroidery or at least cross stitch on some of it, but as life rolls on, I don't think I'll even bother. Too much else to do.