Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Very Useful Bag

We went to mother's day lunch at a friend's house on Sunday, and, as ever, arrived loaded up with toys, books and puzzles to keep the BoyGoblin amused.

The bookbag got its first outing:

That's Rosie's walk peeking out - one of the Mummas' favourites.

Turns out it a perfect size for jigsaw puzzles too, and the handle is long enough to loop over a resteraunt dining chair.
All of which is a happy accident, as I made the thing before the Boy was even born! It was one of the first things I made with my sewing machine, and therefore is the first time I sewed a french seam or tried topstitching.

Which is why there are tail ends of fabric peeking through the seams:

Hairy seams
and the topstitching is in wimpish white:

Pale blue would have been better
The pocket is made from a piece of cross-stitch. Pattern from Cross-stitching Magazine, I think. and was, now I come to think of it, the first time I had used Anchor threads (being a bit of a DMC girl myself, by dint of an inheritance.

Yes, I know, some people inherit the family pile, I inherited a pile alright - of embroidery cottons in every colour available, as long as that is red, or, at a push, pink.

Scrap attack!

Remember this?
hundreds and hundreds of hexes
I’ve turned them into this:
Memory quilt top
For a while now I’ve felt a growing need to try english paper piecing. This is the type of patchwork my mum did, and she recently sent me the cot quilt she made for me, which we use on one of BoyGoblin’s change tables. Last year I went to the v&a quilting exhibition   – this was the impetus really for me to start patchwork, and it was the paper pieced quilts, with scraps of love letters and household receipts sewn in, that really captured my attention.
So, in the cross-generational spirit, I kept aside all of the goblin’s sleepsuits and onesies from his first 6 months. I feel slightly guilty, because some of these could be passed on, but most have had pretty heavy use and lots of washing – after all, the only things a newborn does really are sleep and make mess. (older children of course stop sleeping, and come up with new and e exciting ways of making mess…)
Because they were all stretch jersey, there was some front-end faffage involved in stabilising the scraps with iron-on interfacing before I could cut out my hexes.
So, here are the hexes, all ready to be pieced.

I did most of the sewing on my commute. Assembling  the daisy chains was just about doable in transit, but putting them together was definitely a late-night-telly job.
Now I need to sort out backing and binding. I’m reluctant to buy new fabric but don’t really have big enough scraps for the backing…
Back view, where all the process (and layout notes) is visible

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Not cranky. Not even a little bit.

Here is the first piece of beading I have tackled in nearly 10 years. The last time I tried to bead, I got so incandescent with rage that my partner confiscated my loom. So. Here we are.
the very very beginning.

This is the start of a simple beaded fringe. Its the subject of a tutorial I wrote for Korbond's Sewing Solutions site.
I might try some more.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Easter Treats

For reasons that are too dull to explain, I was wrestling with some nasty willfull organza over the weekend. It slipped, and frayed, and tore and wriggled. When, oh when, will I learn that its not worth scrimping on quality, not even for prototyping.
In order to properly pit my wits against it, I knocked up a small organza gift bag – seen here stuffed full of easter treats (its never too early for egg-shaped chocolate) but also good as lavender bags or party favours.

The filling is nicer than the wrapper in this case

I certainly didn’t win every battle – the casing for the ribbon frayed out before I even got the ribbon into it hense the little cross stitch design feature at the back to hold the ribbon in place.
But I’m going to claim victory in the great Organza War of 2012. I’ve tested the concept for the tricksy little simple little casing, and have a mildy unattractive bag full of chocolate in the fridge.

Friday, 9 March 2012

A calendar quilt of kittens

Goodness me, what have I done?
In 2010, World of Cross Stitching magazine gave away a diary featuring twelve little designs of Nelson and Tibbs. I like a portable project for  my commute to work, and I thought these would be ideal. So far so good.
By mid-March I had finished the twelve, and as by that time we found we were pregnant, I thought that taken as a set they would look good as a wall hanging for the nursery. Again, so far so good.
The next bit is a bit hazy, but I suspect it has something to do with the excellent and beguiling Fatquartershop and resulted in a package arriving containing a jelly roll, 3 yards of backing fabric, and a pattern book.
The pattern was perfect. Almost. I set about altering it so that the central squares could accommodate the cross-stitch panels – they needed to be bigger.
And then my head exploded, as I realised that that meant the inner framing needed to be longer as well, which meant I had just enough fabric. Just. But only if I juggled everything around a little and made not even one little mistake.
Combine that with the embroidered panels and the fact that I had only been using a sewing machine for a week and my rotary cutter was still in its packaging. No pressure.
After a couple of sessions of stitching and unpicking, and slightly more than one little mistake, I very sensibly and calmly put Nelson and Tibbs (temporarily) into the “Work in progress” pile.
Now that the baby is nearly 18months old, and far, far more interested in diggers than kittens, I thought now would be a great time to dust the pair off and get the quilt finished.
The thing is enormous – laying it out took up most of our double bed.
Certainly too big to hang on a wall!
And its been a rescue job at every stage. My seam allowances have been just a fraction over ¼ inch, which, given that every alternate block is made of 5 jelly strips (that’s four seams) has meant I’ve had to trim all the blocks down by ¼ inch. Which is just as well because the piecing on the first embroidered blocks was so dodgy that even working to the smaller size, it required considerable fudging and ingenuity to get it all together.

 Trimming and finessing

Fudging the seam allowances

But now its nearly there. I have a back, a front, and a juicy roll of binding, and am wiating for delivery of my batting. Oh, and a free motion quilting foot.
Juicy binding

Thursday, 8 March 2012

I'm not in love...

cross-stitch teddy bear baby afghan
Could do with a press...
 Sorting out the blanket box this weekend, I uncovered a baby afghan I made last year.

I’m not in love with it. For a start, the boygoblin is over a year old now, and that’s older than I thought it was when I began. Even at six months he was a little too old for pastel gingham bears. *sigh.

Finishing  the cross stitch was faff enough. I remember working on it at the height of summer - the one week we got – when sitting under a blanket was not my favourite thing.

cross titch bear afghan stitching close up
bear escaping (don't blame him...)
 And I’m not particularly enjoying the flannel either. Taken with the chunky cross-stitch it makes the thing look clunky, rather than cosy.

teddy bear afghan close up on chunky cross stitches
chunky clunky
 For the quilting, I found a variegated thread that picks up all the colours in the embroidery, and went for a sketchy tartan type of quilting , running along each edge of the woven borders. Sketchy because I patently cannot sew in a straight line.

Teddy afghan reverse and quilting
My mother would call the sketchy quilting a "design feature" (aka rescue job)

I bound by hand. Why? Because I’m slap-dash. The edges of my quilting lines were messy, so I needed to cover them over both front and back. And I got impatient over the iron (again, not the wisest project to undertake on a midsummer night) so the binding’s all wonky and I just couldn’t see how I was going to wrangle it in place by machine. If this thing had any chance of not being a complete dogs breakfast it needed its binding to be gently and sensitively eased into place.
Besides, I fancied a bit of CSI…

teddy bear afghan close up of binding
Wobbly binding (cute flannel)
So here we are – a baby blanket that is too small for darling goblin, and too ugly to inflict on any other child. I’m just, only just, too invested in the thing to throw it away. I’ll pop it back into his blanket box and wait a few more months…

Friday, 2 March 2012

Quick stitch

I knocked this out a couple of evenings ago. It came free with Cross Stitch Crazy magazine (issue 162),  and as my mum has a modest collection of poppy prints, and is a doting long-distance grandmother, I thought I’d pop it in the post to her.

Glueing this together reminded me why I don't do papercrafts.
Recentish photo of boy-goblin found in a photo-album reject pile. I’m never sure what to do with old photos – I feel they are a bit too personal to put in the bin, but I’m too squeamish to put my favourite people through the shredder. Which is why we have a handy pile of rejected photos for occasions such as this.

Now all I need to do it get a copy of Practical Wireless for dad, and everyone’s happy.