Saturday, February 26, 2011

Learning to quilt

When I got my sewing machine for my birthday last year I really wanted to learn how to quilt but didn't know where to start. Until a trip to my local Scrapstore with my art loving daughter revealed a cheap source of 'upcycled' fabrics. So I decided to play with the techniques and had a lot of fun.

The first quilt I made was a pattern called 'Puss in the Corner' from Traditional Patchwork Patterns with Plastic Templates by Rita Weiss

Puss in the Corner wall quilt
Puss in the Corner wall quilt

I made it using the plastic templates included in the book but the squares aren't quite all the same. The floral fabric is an upcycled curtain material (I think), the cream is a calico that I bought cheaply and the green border & backing was given to me to play with by a friend.

close up of floral fabric used in wall quilt
close up

I echoed the seams with a contrasting thread when quilting but then left it unbound as I didn't how to do it.

Then I made another one using an amazing piece of scrap material:

Terracotta Woman wall quilt
Terracotta Woman wall quilt

It reminds me of a terracotta wall fountain. I patchworked her face and then using an open toed foot drew out the detail in the fabric:

Close up of Terracotta Woman's face
Close up of Terracotta Woman's face

I also picked out the detail in the leaves:

ivy leaf in quilt
ivy leaf

It then joined the first one in the 'pile to be bound' as I still didn't know how to do it.

Then in November I went to the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate & came home with a Double Strip 90 degree ruler from Creative Grids. I made 2.5" strips and had fun with some Sanderson upholstery weight fabrics:

Upcycled Sanderson upholstery fabric
Upcycled Sanderson upholstery fabric

and turned them into this:

Blue & Yellow double strip wall quilt
Blue & Yellow double strip wall quilt

I echoed the seams again but this time in a matching thread. I also used a thicker wadding so it's a lot plumper than the others.

Blue & Yellow double strip wall quilt
Blue & Yellow double strip wall quilt

I really enjoyed using the ruler and so DH bought me more for Christmas.

So now I had 3 wall quilts sat in the corner unbound. They stayed there for a few months until I plucked up the courage to do something with them and I turned to YouTube. First I learned how to bind them:

and then I had to sort out the back. I started off by sewing it by hand but got fed up as it's slow and my handsewing isn't neat. But then I remembered another video that I found a few months ago that demonstrated how to finish the binding with a sewing machine:

neat binding and the stitching in the ditch is hardly visible
neat binding, binding join and the stitching in the ditch is hardly visible

I also added triangles in the corner to make it easier to hang them up (a tip I found on one of the Quilters forums on Ravelry):

Corner triangles to hang wall quilt
Corner triangles to hang wall quilt

I did all 3 quilts over 2 evenings and have conquered my fear!

All 3 quilts, the yellow door stop and the tall fabric box have now found a good home with my local Scrapstore to provide inspiration to others.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Boxing Clever

On my travels around the internet I came across a pattern that I had to make as it seemed very simple yet so clever.

I was aiming for a box 3 1/2" tall so adjusted the formula to suit. My first attempt using scrap fabric wasn't too successful as I made the outer sleeve too tall:

Tall fabric box
Tall fabric box

The next one in the same fabric was a bit better:

fabric box
fabric box

Then I dug out one of my favourite fabrics that I got in the sale at Fabric Rehab:

White Russian Dolls fabric box
White Russian Dolls fabric box

I only used the nice fabric for the outer sleeve so that I've got some left for another project in the future.

Black Russian Dolls fabric box
Black Russian Dolls fabric box

and one together:

Russian Dolls fabric boxes
Russian Dolls fabric boxes

It's a very clever pattern and cardboard is used to support the sides so it can be removed & the 'box' washed.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A few knitted stitches

are being done here amongst the sewing.

Toe up, two at a time socks just past the toes
Toe up, two at a time socks

This photo was taken at the weekend and they have grown since then. The yarn is Knit Picks 'Essential Tweed' in Plum which I think is discontinued now. It came from deep in my stash and was a present from my friend CL in Canada a few years ago. It's a lovely soft yarn but hopefully will be strong due to the 25% nylon content. I'm using 2mm needles for a nice dense fabric.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


When I first got my sewing machine last year for my birthday I really wanted to sew but to be honest I didn't really know where to start. I'd had a crafty weekend with Arianwen a couple of years before & made a Simple Tote from Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter and also a very basic baby quilt (which still isn't finished) and another friend gave me a couple of lessons but that was the extent of my experience. I started collecting pretty fabric but it's expensive and when you don't know what you're doing quite daunting to cut into.

So I was fortunate to discover that a local charity for Creative Play for children & young people has 'upcycled ' fabric available for a small cost. My 15 year old daughter is studying Art at school and we went to kit her out with supplies and materials and I came back with a bag of fabrics. Most are from sample books of upholstery fabrics and if not reused in this way would probably go to landfill. This gave me the freedom to play with my sewing machine and enabled me to learn a lot. The Door stops in my last post were made with upholstery fabric that I got there and I'll be giving them the yellow one plus some other things I've made soon for display purposes to inspire others.

The Upcycling of fabric really appeals to me. Resources for it's manufacture, dyes etc have already been used so my crafting has minimal impact on the environment and it also saves money which is always important. With this in mind I've also been scouring charity shops as I want to make a quilt for our Super King bed and have found duvet covers to be a wonderful source of material:

green fabric door stop
100% Cotton Double Duvet cover originally from Ikea cost £5

duvet cover
100% Cotton King sized Duvet cover with 2 pillow cases originally from M&S cost £5

duvet cover
100% Cotton Double Duvet cover with 2 pillow cases cost £3

It's bizarre that every cotton duvet cover I've found so far is pink and green as these are the colours I want to use in my quilt. I've found polycotton covers in other colours but I only want 100% cotton fabrics.

I also found this skirt a few years ago before I started sewing but I'm sure you can understand why I bought it:

Lady bird skirt
Lady bird skirt from Get Cutie

Lastly I'm going to leave you with a teaser of one of the items I've made to donate to the charity mentioned above:

sewing project
will be revealed soon

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Which one would you like?

This post is for Arianwen but I'd also love to hear what other readers think.

I've been playing with my sewing machine and some 'upcycled' heavy weight upholstery fabrics recently & couldn't resist trying the Door Stop pattern from Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter:

green fabric door stop
green fabric door stop

or this one?

yellow fabric door stopyellow fabric door stop

The first would compliment your carpets and the second your newly upholstered suite.

The flower details are really pretty:

yellow flowered fabric
yellow flowers

green flowered fabric
green flowers

So Arianwen would you like a door stop to prevent cats getting trapped in a room? Or (like cats) do you even have room in your home for more than one?