Thursday, 27 February 2020

Feline comings and machine goings

February has not seen much sewing but there have been some comings and goings.

You may have spotted a visiting tabby cat “helping” me with my sewing on previous posts. “Not-our-cat” has been visiting regularly for nearly two years and we assumed he had a home, but choose to visit us (and the neighbours) for a change of scene. However, he disappeared for a week between Christmas and the New Year and turned up at the neighbours in a very sorry state with an injured eye and mouth. It turns out that he was not chipped and not neutered and long story short, seeing as the neighbours already have two cats, a name change followed so he is “Now-our-cat”. Unfortunately for my sewing, he quite likes sitting on my knee, so all I have managed to sew this month is a soft collar for him to wear when he had his eye removed.
He’s had a tough couple of months with many trips to vets, each of which seemed to involve him losing a part (or two!) of his anatomy but hopefully he is now out of the woods. He just needs to have one more tooth out so he can close his mouth properly and stop sticking out his tongue.
On the goings side of things, one of my machines has now found a new home. I got my current machine about 9 years ago and the 1990's Husqvarna Orchidea that I got "third hand" about 12 years ago has not be used since. Since inheriting my Mum’s Bernina and getting it repaired last year, I’d been thinking that a machine should go to make room for it. When a colleague at work was considering getting a Singer from Lidl, I mentioned I had spare machines if she was interested in one instead. She has used a machine previously (her Granny’s Bernina) and so I warned her that she might be disappointed by a basic model Singer.
Despite not being used for years, the Orchidea powered up without any problem and I was able to find all the accessories. I cleaned and checked the machine and reminded myself how it worked before dropping off the machine and spending a couple of hours going through the different functions with her. I explained that it was an old computerised machine and the electronic parts are not available any more, but hopefully it will last a while. A few days later I got an update that it had already been put to good use – sewing a Batman patch over a hole in her son’s jeans!

It is much better for it to be used rather than it being sat in the spare room. Now I just need to find homes for some of my other machines.

Monday, 27 January 2020

A completed crocheted creation

I didn’t include this blanket in my summary of sewing finishes for last year as it didn’t seem right putting a yarn-based project amongst all the sewing projects, so here it is with a post all of its own.
I bought the yarn back in 2012 and it was originally to be a knitted skirt. However, I don’t seem to get on with knitting and even though the skirt pattern only had a four row repeat, I still managed to lose track of where I was and get the increases in the wrong place. I decided to unravel what little progress had been made and switch from knitting to crochet instead.

The pattern is the Ripple Blanket from Attic 24 and once the first couple of rows is down, it is just a matter of repeating a single row, so it was easy to put down and pick up again without losing my place in the pattern. Once I realised that this was going to be a more successful project, I got some more of the same yarn, but the original colour was no longer available as the yarn had been discontinued by then. Fortunately the new and old colourways went well together and with the stripy nature of the yarn the colour changes are not too obvious. As the blanket grew, it became clear that my foundation chain had been too tight and leaving it as it was would annoy me. As is often the case these days, the internet came to the rescue and I was able to redo the chain at a better tension, though it did need a leap of faith to take scissors to the stitches!

I had decided to use all the original yarn for the main body of the blanket and then find a contrasting yarn for the border. I was lucky to find a suitable yarn in a toning colour that had multi-coloured flecks in similar colours to the original yarn which was ideal. I used the instructions in the original pattern to fill in the wavy edges and then used the last two rows of the Attic 24 Cosy Blanket edging to create a textured rather than smooth edge.

I had no idea what size this would be as I just kept going until I had run out of yarn, but it has finished about double bed sized.

Crochet makes a change from EPP as something to do while watching television in the evening, though it does seem an “inexact science” when compare to sewing. There seem to be too many variables when it comes to finished size, amount of yarn required and which yarns can be used instead of the one specified in the pattern. This could all just be my inexperience showing and certainly hasn’t put me off starting a new crochet project.

(A WordPress version of this post is available here as it may be more mobile-friendly for viewing and commenting.)

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

2019 - my sewing summary

I’m writing this post in January, but hopefully with some technological wizardry it will travel back in time and appear in the archives for December – a much more suitable place for a look back on my year of sewing.

2019 turned out to be quite a product year. I took part in the Finish-a-Long which gave me deadlines to get things done and I even managed to finish some things not on the list. In total, and in no apparent order, I managed to finish:
  • 2 large quilts
  • 3 small quilts
  • 1 mini quilt
  • 1 mug rug
  • 2 coasters
  • 1 tote bag
  • 2 reusable non-plastic bags
  • 24 drawstring bags for the Leeds MQG charity sewing day
  • 1 ironing mat
  • 2 tops
  • 5 skirts (including 4 from the Style Arc Faye pattern)
  • 2 key fob holders
  • 5 mini Christmas stocking

There were also quite a few alterations (shortening 5 pairs of trousers for my husband, shortening 3 tops for me which needed the coverstitch machine being brought back into action, adding an inside pocket to a jacket) as well as various repairs that were quick to do, but had been put off for ages.
Some progress has been made on an EPP hexie patchwork quilt that is a very long term work in progress. My activity on this quilt seems to go in three year cycles – I started it way back in 2013, decided to change the design back in 2016, and I have changed the design again in 2019. I’ve kept the mirror idea, but switched the mirror effect from one side to the other. 

The change in design required a bit of unpicking and then I realised that I won’t have enough of one of the pink fabrics, so I've started using an alternative and will replace some of the other pieces to give me enough to finish the quilt. Even though there will be a bit more unpicking to do yet, I think I have passed the halfway stage now with this and can see progress from the 2016 photo to the 2019 photo.

For 2020, I’ve already got a short list of quilts I’d like to make and I bought some fabric in Abakhan’s sale to make yet another Style Arc Faye skirt. The Finish-a-Long has moved to Instagram for 2020 so I’ll give it a go again and see how I get on with the new format – I can be found on Instagram as @sewlittletosay if you want to see what I have planned.

(A WordPress version of this post is available here as it may be more mobile-friendly for viewing and commenting.)

Monday, 30 December 2019

Finish-a-long 2019 – Q4, finish 2

This is my final finish from my FAL Q4 list and has only taken me a year and two days to finish!
I've had this quilt top on my list since Q1 and finally it is a completed quilt.

The blocks were from a block of the month club and I think they were designed more to learn new techniques than to be used together for a quilt. I framed each block in dark grey and added sashing to make a decent sized quilt. Quilting was simple straight lines in the sashing and either echo or stitch in the ditch for each block as most appropriate.

The backing is fleece (which meant the quilting could be light) and the binding is the same dark grey as the block frames.

Hopefully Project Linus can now find a suitable home for this quilt.

(For 2019, I am trialling a version of this website on WordPress to see if it is more mobile-friendly  for commenting and posting. The WordPress version of this post is available here.)

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Finish-a-long 2019 – Q4, finish 1

My first (and hopefully not last) finish from my FAL Q4 list is the shaker style box I got at last year’s Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate and which first appeared in my Q2 list.  It had an insert to go in the lid and I needed something to decorate it.

I had bought a needlepoint kit at Festival of Quilts in the summer with the view to adapting the square pattern to fit the oval shape of the lid. However, while I was still thinking about this, I received a lovely hand embroidered card from a very talented friend and I realisaed that this was a much better starting shape.

(This was taken after I had poked around the edges to see if it would come apart)

By adding a bow and making the stems a little bit longer, the embroidery was just the right shape and size for the lid. I add a couple of layers of quilt wadding to pad the lid and laced the fabric across the back to secure it to the insert. The insert was then fixed to the lid with some double sided sticky tape

Even though my stitchy contribution to this project was very small, I’m so pleased to have repurposed this embroidery in to something that I will used. I’m planning on keeping sewing essentials (a pair of scissors, a few needles, some pins, and bobbins of threads in useful colours) in it so they are at hand for mending jobs etc so I don’t have to root around in my main sewing box.

(For 2019, I am trialling a version of this website on WordPress to see if it is more mobile-friendly  for commenting and posting. The WordPress version of this post is available here.)

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Finish-a-long 2019 - a nice surprise

Back in the summer, I had a surprise email from the organisers of the 2019 Finish-A-Long to say that I won one of the prizes for Q2. Being in the UK, there is always the possibility that with vouchers for American suppliers, you might end up spending more in shipping and custom charges than the voucher itself. Luckily this was a very generous prize and so right from the start I factored in the likely custom charge when deciding what to get.

My voucher was from Sew Sweetness and I spent a while looking at the website to see what I needed and what would be the best value items taking into consideration shipping/customs. Sara from Sew Sweetness was very helpful with questions I had about the different shipping options and once I had finally decided what to get and placed my order, the items arrived in the UK very quickly.

I chose a mix of items that I needed (a hot ruler for pressing hems etc which will be an improvement on the cardboard templates I usually use), items that were better value than in the UK (long double-headed zips for bag making), and some items that I wanted to try and where ideally priced to use the full value of the voucher (Tulip applique needles, a magnetic needle/pin/scissor keepers, and some Clover wonder clips). With some careful planning, less than a fifth of the voucher value went on shipping and the cost of all these items to me was a customs charge of ~£18.

I’d like to thank the sponsors and organisers of the 2019 Finish-A-Long and I better get sewing to have some finishes to show for Q4.

(For 2019, I am trialling a version of this website on WordPress to see if it is more mobile-friendly  for commenting and posting. The WordPress version of this post is available here.)

Monday, 18 November 2019

Autumn themed mug rugs

With winter approaching, there’s just time to show you a mug rug and couple of coasters I made for an autumn swap.

I used Paula Doyle’s mini mosaic technique which I learnt at a Festival of Quilts workshop back in 2016. The mosaic pieces start off at 1” square and are fused onto an interfacing backing. Once the seams have been stitched, they finish at half an inch square.

For the mug rug, I just used a narrow binding, but for the coasters I added a border before binding.

The quilting on the mug rug was stitch in the ditch around each leaf shape and I did the same on the coasters but added an echo line of quilting around the outside of the leaf.

The swap was supposed to be for a single item, but I received two sets of mats!

 (All of which are far too pretty to use.)

(For 2019, I am trialling a version of this website on WordPress to see if it is more mobile-friendly  for commenting and posting. The WordPress version of this post is available here.)