Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Looking back on 2015

At the end of 2014, I set myself five sewing goals for 2015 and so as this year draws to a close, I thought I would see how I had done:

1. Make a quilt for my husband
Done, but with only a few weeks to spare
2. Make a quilt for a new great nephew
Done, and made one for his step brother and one for his new cousin (my great niece) as well.
3. Start something from the Millefiori quilt book
Not done, and the second Millefiori book is now awaiting my attention too.
4. Try some free motion quilting
Done, only squiggly lines on my husband’s quilt but it’s a start.
5. Restart my fabric fast
Started, but stopped quite soon afterwards.

Looking back over the year, I’ve completed five quilts, entered a couple of items into a quilt show, finally put the free motion foot on my machine, stuck Liberty fabric on to a variety of objects, got back into dress making, stitched a pinny, a pin cushion and a picnic blanket, made a glasses case and a phone case, sewn a variety of bags using Liberty lawn, created two sewing caddies and a bed tidy, and crocheted three snowflakes! 

The last few days of 2015 have been time to try something other than sewing. I've been crocheting poppies for an Up For Arts project and I've even knitted myself a hat!

I'm not going to set any sewing goals for 2016 but my predictions for 2016 are that it could be the year of the free motion foot and the crochet hook for me.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Quilts in time for Christmas

Well, months go by without any quilts and then two come along at once – December had not one, but two quilt finishes!

The first has been a long time in the planning and sewing and is the long promised quilt for my husband. The pattern is a modified StarPlus from Machen & Tun for which I’ve been acquiring various shot and peppered cottons since last year. I replaced several of the smaller blocks with one large block so fewer fabrics were needed (otherwise the quilt would never have got started). The slow theme continued when it came to sewing the blocks as they were stitched over several meetings of Leeds MQG.

This quilt saw my first use of the free motion foot on my machine and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the machine behaved. I’m sure there will more FMQ done next year, though I will need to plan ahead better to reduce the number of thread ends that need burying. The quilt is backed with Liberty lawn and the wadding is black Hobbs Heirloom. 

As I was taking the photos for this post, I noticed that the quilt was not quite finished after all and the free motion foot was again needed for a final block!

In contrast, the second quilt was started and finished in just two weeks as it will be a Christmas present for my Dad. It uses mainly remnants from the StarPlus quilt and has no wadding but is just backed with microfleece making it very lightweight but still cosy. Quilting was quick and easy – simple stitch-in-the ditch straight lines across the quilt, so no thread ends to bury. Sorry for the poor photo, but it was the only chance of a daylight shot before I had to get it in the washing machine. (Speaking of which, isn’t it great when colours catchers do their job?)

The last of the pre-Christmas sewing was done yesterday evening  – a bed tidy, again for my Dad. Hopefully I’ve got the size right for when it is attached to the bed rail and hopefully it will give him somewhere to keep his glasses, phone, TV remote, etc to hand. 

I’m already planning sewing to do after Christmas and it might just involve one of the many bag frames brought over the years from Harrogate at the Knitting & Stitching show.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Not Stitching and Not Knitting

At this time of year that I would normally be writing about my trip to the Knitting and Stitching show at Harrogate, but this year I have decided to take a break and not go. I will miss meeting up with friends, but there will be other opportunities for this. With shows, I feel I have to justify the ticket price by equating it to P&P charges or by taking a workshop. However, there is also the cost of getting there and the travelling time to take into consideration. This year, I’ve decided to stay at home and spend the day sewing instead. There is nothing I really need to buy and until I looked back on my previous purchases from Harrogate, I didn't realise just how many I’ve still to use.

From 2012, the Clanger and Soup Dragon went to their intended recipient and some of the 505 spray has been used, along with a couple of FQs and the hexie paper pieces. The majority of the FQs, the purse frames, knitting needles, fabric scraps and sewing patterns remain unused.

From 2013, the little scissors and ¼” foot are in frequent use, but the fabrics, purse frames and pattern are still untouched.

Last year’s purchases have fared slightly better. The Flatter spray is in regular use (but is still half full), the shot/peppered cotton and Liberty FQ have been used in quilts and most of the threads have been started (but not finished). The vintage Liberty, purse frames and magnetic clasps have yet to be used.

Happen as well I’ve decided to give Harrogate a miss this year as the evidence suggests I would have come back with yet more purse frames! Now all need to do is to resist the Black Friday sales.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Sticking and Stitching at Stitchscape

Last weekend a group of us booked the Stitchscape sewing studio in Newton-le-Willows for an entire day and took along lots of  Liberty scraps and glue to try something different to our usual sewing. After unloading the cars (free parking is available next to the studio), we found that Diane from Stitchscape had made place names to welcome us and had the kettle on for cups of tea and coffee.

The studio accommodates six people and we used the large central deskspace our morning’s activities. Cutting tables, ironing boards and a sofa were also available so we had everything we needed to hand.

The morning was spent upcycling various objects by covering them with Liberty fabrics. A variety of tins, boxes and even an old cassette storage case were given new leases of life. I created a tabletop waste bin for my sewing threads, trim-offs, etc from a catering-sized coffee container and some of my Liberty scraps, before moving on to covering a pair of shoes that had seen better days.

After a break for lunch (there are kitchen facilities available including kettle, toaster fridge and microwave), some of us continued with the glue whereas others switched to a needle and thread for sewing projects, hiring a sewing machine from Diane when needed. My afternoon project was to cover a mini suitcase in more Liberty lawn. Liberty’s mini suitcase retails for £65 but a case at about a tenth of the price from Home Bargains and a jar of Mod Podge were more in keeping with my budget.
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I had primed the case in preparation so that the original design wouldn’t show through, but given my final choice of fabric this wasn’t necessary (if I do another, I’ll just sand it down with some fine sandpaper or wire wool). Covering the case was fiddly in parts, but a thin-bladed craft knife helped me to hide most raw edges under the brass hardware. I made good progress with the case at Stitchscape and just a bit more sticking and trimming was need the following day to finish the case. Once any stray primer had been removed (or covered with a metallic marker pen!), the final result looked quite neat and tidy.

We enjoyed our session at Stitchscape so much that we have booked it again for a day of Christmas activities in December. Stitchscape also offer classes, details of which can be found on their website along with contact details for Diane should you wish to discuss booking the studio for your group.

(Please note, our Saturday sessions at Stitchscape are booked and paid for by the group members and all opinions in this post are my own.)

Monday, 26 October 2015

Last of the summer sewing

Well, there’s no escaping it – summer is finally over. October saw the start of autumn and the end of British Summer time, and just a few sewing projects completed.

First to be finished (and now put away for next year) was a picnic blanket to go with a new picnic basket. It was made from a fent of wool curtain fabric which was only £7 from Standfast & Barrack and backed with some ripstop nylon from Abakhan. I found the same fabric online for over £400 but I’ve no idea if that is for a metre or a complete roll.

Next was a quick foldable shopping bag for future fabric purchases. Now the carrier bag charge has been introduced, I usually have a plastic bag with me, but it seems wrong to put new fabric in a bag that has carried groceries and the like. This bag was made from less than half of a 50p misprint of Liberty lawn, again from Standfast & Barrack, and will be kept in my handbag just for fabric (and maybe clothing) purchases.

The final project for October saw me return to dressmaking for the first time in many, many months. This is the drapey knit dress from the Great British Sewing Bee and I managed to find the pattern and instructions free online. There is rather a lot of ease in the upper part of the pattern which makes sizing uncertain and Melissa from Fehrtrade had warned me on Twitter to check the hip size, but I also wanted to lower the pockets, so a toile was definitely needed. Dropping the pockets by 3” was a success, as was cutting a smaller size than usual for the top, but I forgot about how this would affect the sleeves and a fat arm adjustment was needed. The toile was made wearable with a small insert in each underarm seam to widen the sleeve and the addition of a wide cuff to lengthen the sleeve.

As this was only supposed to be toile, the inside finishes were quick and easy – pinking shears for the seam allowances and a twin needle for the hems. The pockets are my favourite feature on this dress, whereas I’m not too taken by the main design element of the folded drape at the front. For the next one, I might remove this and just make a feature of the seam lines. I could even dust off  the overlocker and coverstitch machines if I’m feeling really keen! 

If you fancy making this dress, Love Sewing magazine featured this dress in issue 12. The pattern pdf is free to download from the magazine website and the instructions are part of the free magazine sampler available via the Love Sewing app for phones/tablets or from Pocket Mags on a computer. The dress also features in the latest Great British Sewing Bee book, "Fashion with Fabric".

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Hint of Pink

Back in 2013 I was awaiting the arrival of a great niece (or so the ultrasound would have had us believe), but a great nephew arrived instead! Just over a month ago, a great niece arrived and I was finally able to dig out the pink fabrics from my stash and put them to their intended use. 

The starting point for the fabric pull was the elephant and tortoise print which was used for the single piece blocks. I matched this with a few pinks (including sheep and humming birds!) and a couple of greens from my stash and used these for the nine patch blocks.

The backing was pink fleece (also from stash) and the quilting was diagonal lines, mainly through the nine patches, so that the elephants and tortoises were unquilted. Some machine stitched binding in the same fabric as the centre of the nine patch finished off the quilt.

The quilt is heading off to its new home where I hope my great niece will have fun spotting the eclectic mix of creatures.