Thursday, 31 March 2011

Mother's Day gift

I've managed to finish the applique elephant cushion for Mother's Day well ahead of schedule (it's Mother's Day here in the UK on Sunday). 

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out - I changed the layout slightly than that suggested in Sew Hip magazine, and added a large heart to the middle.  This was the first time I've done a project with so much hand appliqued parts - and I even had to look up a You Tube video to remind me how to do blanket stitch!! (I had one of those moments where your mind goes completely blank!). 

This elephant (above) is probably the neatest one in terms of the blanket stitch - it was the last one I did so I'd had plenty of practice by this time!  I used 9 different fabrics - 1 elephant in each fabric (and the heart) and then also did an ear out of each fabric and then swapped the fabrics round so the fabric of the ear is different to the fabric of the body. 

I used 3 different coloured threads for the appliques - pale yellow, green and orange.  I appliqued the ear and body of each elephant in the same colour. 

I appliqued the heart with white and added 4 buttons around it.  I added a big square of thin wadding behind the cushion front as the pale yellow backing fabric is pretty thin and the wadding gives extra cushiony-ness.  The buttons hold all these layers together (along with a backing layer behind the wadding). 

The back of the cushion has an envelope style opening and I made this using 2 of the fabrics which were also used on the front -

The top fabric (yellow with stars) was the other half of the baby bed sheet that I made my quilt binding from.  A cheap £4.99 sheet has gone far!  You may also notice splashes of 'Sunkissed' fabric in there too, I had a few scraps which were perfect to use up for little elephants and their ears. 

For the eyes I used some metalic thread I had (it's a nightmare to sew with though so I don't use it too often or for any large amount of sewing).

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Ready to roll!

So I decided on Sunday that I 'needed' a sewing wrap/roll of some kind so that I could work on some handsewing projects when we go away for the weekend etc.  I wanted something simple that would hold needles, scissors, threads etc, lots of little pockets and perhaps a zipped one... so I grabbed some sewing books off my bookshelf and started my research.  

This book, 'Make Me, I'm Yours...Sewing' had just what I was looking for!  

Say hello to my new sewing roll - 

Allow me to give you the guided tour....

I decided to go for a cream calico background with red accents.  I just bought this brown gingham last week and realised it would look really good with the cream and red.  Starting on the left there's this amazing zip pocket which I absolutely *love*!  It was super easy to make and it looks so smart (in my opinion anyway).  The zip pocket has strips of woven cotton tape down eather side, decorated with a red zig-zag stitch.  (I had to cut a longer zip down to size which I've never done before, but all went OK!)  The left edge of the pocket was sealed down neatly with a strip of red binding tape. 

Next to the pocket we have a neat little pencil/ruler holder.  I used a wide piece of cotton twill tape decorated with this pretty piece of grey heart ribbon. 

Above the pencil holder is a needle catcher.  The instructions were to put a heart here but I decided to make a little 'pillow' stuffed with some wadding as I thought it would be more practical.

At the top of this row is, quite possibly my favourite part -

A little key fob and a loop.  Quite useful for something, I just haven't worked out what yet!  I think I need to find one of those little tape measures on a key ring, then I can attach it to the key fob.  The ribbon was a little scrap which I received in a scrap swap - I think I've put it to extremely good use as it looks really cute here. 

Next up is a pretty polka dot red pocket which has been divided into 3.  Of course some lovely red buttons have been added here, I had to get some buttons in there somewhere :)

Here is the end pocket.  It is actually the outer jacket of the roll folded up and then sewn down to make a long pocket.  I put red binding around the whole roll as per instructions and decided that it would give a neater finish if I added it to the top of this pocket too. 

The outer jacket of the sewing roll is made using 'Crazy Stitch and Flip' patchwork which was made up almost entirely of scraps.  I'm not sure I like the overall look as it's quite 'busy'. 

But I suppose I'll be looking at the inside of it more than the outside when its in use anyway.  And I love the inside!

All filled up and ready to go! 
The one last thing I need to do is attach a button and a piece of ribbon to the outside of the roll so that I can roll it up and keep it closed securely.  I will have a go at using one of the self-cover buttons I received recently for my birthday. 

This was a great project and really didn't take long to make (the crazy patchwork took the longest).  I have learned so many new tricks from making all the pockets that were incorporated in this roll that I'm already thinking of making more in the future for make-up and make-up brushes and/or jewellery. 

Friday, 25 March 2011

Useful little box

Here's a little box I whipped up for some toys.  Have you noticed that when you can sew, you start finding things you 'need' to make?  More for my own benefit than anything else, just to try a pattern or a new technique I've seen.  I managed to catch the light at the end of the afternoon to take some photos out in the garden. 

Fabric Box

The robot fabric was from a sewing friend who I did a little scrap swap with.  Isn't it so cute?

In her stash of scraps, I also got some lovely blue and green gingham and I added in some red which I already had in my stash (I *heart* gingham so much!)

Back of the box

I love how all the primary colours come together in this little project, the robot fabric ties them all in perfectly.  The yellow binding was also in my stash, I knew it'd come in handy one day!  The box is lined with natural calico which is a really thick fabric and adds to the sturdiness of the box. 

I'm sure when my son is older this little box will be used for all sorts of interesting things, but for now, it's home to his new teapot and teacups.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sunny days of Spring

Scottish Springtime
We've been really luck here in Scotland lately and have had LOTS of sunshine! This makes me really happy. I love that first glimpse of sunshine in the morning, it gives you so much hope for the day. It may not always be all that warm, but wrapping up and heading out to the park or even just out the back door and into the garden is such a nice feeling.

I took advantage of the blue skies and sunshine today and (during nap-time) I managed to get some pretty 'Easter' photos to show off the little Easter bag I made to put my son's Easter gifts in.

Easter goodies
I managed to use a few scraps I had leftover of the Sunkissed layer cake along with a couple of pieces from the Hideaway range and made the patchwork strip, then sewed it between 2 pieces of calico.  I used some really teeny scraps from my scrap basket to make the little bunting which I think is so cute!  I left it 'flappy' to add some nice detail to the bag. 

I used a piece of blue gingham to line the bottom of the bag, just cos I love gingham and thought it'd look good!

Base of bag
I wanted to add some more detail to the patchwork section so I sewed along the top and bottom in a contrasting blue thread and also sewed on a few pretty buttons...

I went with 1 handle so it didn't look too 'girly'.  The bag will come in useful for storing all those bits and pieces children seem to accumulate, in my son's case, not only toys, but the odd clothes peg, freezer bag clip, bottle filled with pasta/lentils/rice (homemade rattle),  he's a little Womble my son. 

I may have made the bag a tad large, considering all I've made to fill it so far are the bunny and the little heart hanger.  I'll have to think of something to bulk it out!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Introducing 'My First Quilt'!

Finally, the time has come for me to unveil my FINISHED quilt!  I must admit that towards the end I did put off finishing it, the quilting took so long that I got a bit fed up of looking at it unfinished!  I bit the bullet and got the binding cut (from a lovely pale yellow child's bed sheet!), trimmed the edges of the quilt and got to work machine sewing the binding on yesterday. 

What a great feeling to see the completed quilt coming out of the other side of my sewing machine!  Once it was complete all I had to do was wash it and hang it outside for those classic 'quilt on washing line' photos.  There may be far too many photos in this blog post but I don't care, I want to show off my quilt from every angle!

Here it is -
Wonky Squares Quilt

Close up of quilting lines on the front
In terms of quilting this quilt, it was a bit tricky since the squares were all wonky!  I quilted using sort-of straight lines (I just fed the quilt through the machine in an 'organic' fashion) and went through each border with quite a few lines of quilting til it looked filled up!  I then did the same in the other direction so it is criss-cross.   I quilted squares inside squares around the outside of the quilt only.  It would have been very difficult to do this on all the squares in the middle of the quilt due to the small size of my machine and the huge size of my quilt, turning the quilt would have been impossible.  Here's a close up of some of those squares inside squares -

For the back of the quilt I chose a silver-gray coloured fabric and did 1 line of wonky squares completed with a coloured 'extra' border.  I love the back!

You can see the quilting lines really clearly on the back, they really stand out on the solid parts giving a great effect.

Classic 'quilt & cat' shot!

All crinkly and wonderful!

I think this photo is kind of 'artsy' with the sun just shining over the top! Appropriate really since the quilt is made with 'Sunkissed' fabric!  I love it -

Here is another 'classic' quilt photo - the binding from the side, all rolled up -

More quilting detail on the reverse
If you would like to see even more photos of my quilt (and let's face it - who wouldn't!!??) then please click on  my Flickr link on the right-hand side of my blog. 

I can now see why people go on to make quilt after quilt, it's so satisfying seeing something you've made from scratch turn into something so beautiful (and practical!).  I don't think I'll be starting another one just yet though, but hopefully I'll get the chance to make some smaller ones too so I can practice, there were a few wrinkles in this quilt that shouldn't be there, but practice will make perfect.

Monday, 21 March 2011

On a roll...

Slightly off topic for today's post, but I was so proud of my creations that I thought I'd share them!

As part of my birthday, my OH booked me on a bread making course.  I have tried very hard in the past to master the art of bread making, but I just couldn't seem to get it right.  My bread was so dense and thick and nothing at all like the light, springy, fluffy handmade bread I'd seen on tv or in books. 

I went to Bread in Fife in a little town near where I live.  The bread making course actually takes place in the kitchen of a B & B.  Colin runs the B & B with his partner and he makes all the bread for the breakfasts. 

There were 4 of us on the course, we gathered round the kitchen worktop and set to work in our aprons.  First up was a wholemeal loaf.  We measured, mixed and kneaded.  We left that to rise, and got on with  making the dough for some rolls.  Whilst the rolls were rising we made some rough oatcakes.  We stopped for lunch (sampling some more of the delicious breads) while the oatcakes cooked in the oven, and then it was back to work.  We knocked back the dough and then shaped the loaves and rolls, had a quick tidy up of the kitchen while the bread and rolls cooked, then Colin managed to make up some wholemeal scones in around 20 minutes from start to finish (as in us eating them!). 

Here's some I prepared earlier!
We tasted some fantastic breads (walnut bread, olive bread and lemon rolls).  Wow, is all I can say!  I can't wait to try to make some of these.  The recipes for these breads and many more are here on the Bread in Fife website. 

We made 2 wholemeal loaves each...

Wholemeal loaves
We also made 6 rolls (I chose to make white rolls) with various toppings -

Yummy rolls
We also made some fantastic thick rough oatcakes.  I don't have a photo of these....but they are delicious! 

The only downside about bringing home so much of our baking was that I'll have to wait until we've eaten it all before I can practice my new bread making skills and make more!

I had a fantastic day and if you live in the Fife area I would definitely recommend you try this course - no previous baking experience is required, it really is that easy! 

And back on the sewing topic - I finished my quilt today!!!! As soon as I finished the binding I was sooooooo pleased with it!  Hopefully the sunshine will continue and I'll be able to wash it and hang it on the washing line tomorrow for the classic 'quilt on the washing line' photos. 

So all-in-all I'd say I had a pretty productive weekend :-)

Saturday, 19 March 2011

And for my next project...

No, I haven't finished my quilt yet, but I'm already one step ahead and planning my next project! (Or should that be projects, plural?)  I'm always thinking ahead to what I'm going to make next and there are loads of projects just stored away in my head that I know I'll move on to one day!  There's a short list of them on the right hand side of my blog. 

I've been working on some Easter gifts lately, but I need to turn my attention to  Mother's Day as that's coming up on the 3rd of April.  My mum loves elephants so when I saw this project for an appliqued elephant cushion in an issue of Sew Hip magazine, I knew it would be perfect. 

I sat with my fabrics yesterday and decided which ones to use, I have chosen yellows, oranges and greens, nice and Spring-like!  

I got some Bondaweb (Wonder Under) for my birthday so I'll be putting it to good use and using it for the applique elephants.  I haven't used it before but it'll make the whole process A LOT easier!

While I was looking through my fabrics I also picked out these -

I'm going to make a cushion similar to the elephant one, but with love hearts instead of elephants.  This will be for me - to go on my bed. 

AND, I also have these fabrics ready and waiting to be turned into a cushion for my son -

What I plan on making with this selection of fabrics will be losely based on this cushion which has cute little bunting flaps on it.  I won't be making one exactly like this because I want to use a big square/rectangle of the animal print fabric and use the colours as some bunting and also for a patchwork border. 

I also put these fabulous reds together....but I've no idea what to make with them.  I'll have plenty of time to think about it while I get to work on these other projects!