Tuesday 31 May 2011

Bank Holiday Monday

We spent yesterday with friends: Carol and Simon and their daughter Rosie, and Jim, at Jim's new house ... decorating!

The boys papered part of the living room wall while Carol supervised

It seemed a bit labour intensive!!!
But they do did a reasonable job!

Meanwhile, Rosie and I kept out of their way, concentrating on another house ...

A felt dolls house will be going to Australia for Christmas, for my niece, India.  I had already made a desk and chair

and two beds

and yesterday I made a fridge and a basin

... while Rosie made most of an oven and sink unit

Did I mention? Rosie is eleven!

How impressive is that?

(If you are interested, the instructions for the dolls house came from Umecrafts.ETSY.com, she does a whole range of awesome stuff and sells the instructions)

Saturday 28 May 2011

Do you believe in coincidences?

Do you believe in coincidences?

Consider these facts

I eventually managed to get hold of a copy of a new craft magazine, Molly Makes, as recommended by Hadley, and I read it in a couple of evenings.  Then I remember putting it on top of the laundry basket to take downstairs to the sewing room.  Now I cant find it anywhere

Fast forward a few days, and look at this photo of my garden =>

Yes, it was taken today, 28th May 2011

No: it hasn't snowed.

Now take a look at the clothes that came out of the washing machine

 (...this photo was taken after a further two washes)

Regrettably I think the answer is obvious, these facts are NOT coincidental

Somehow, without noticing, I have filled my washing machine with dirty clothes (intentionally) and with my Molly Makes magazine (needless to say, unintentionally)

I now have 4 bras, several pairs of knickers, two pairs of trousers, and a number of t-shirts covered in a fine dusting of scraps of paper.  Two t-shirts escaped the worst of the paper ... and they were his!!!

Pleeeeease don't ask me how I managed not to notice - I have no idea, but I am expecting the men in white coats to come for me any minute now!

(Can I justify blaming Hadley?  No I didn't think so, but it was worth asking)

While I waited for them, I embroidered 8 of these hand towels for a friend's customer.  At least I didn't put any in the toaster, or in the CD drive!  I have delivered them to her tonight just to protect them from any inexplicable whim!

Thursday 26 May 2011

No sewing today

Priority claim on my time for the last three days has been driving lessons.

Wrapped around work and the odd bit of shopping, cooking, eating etc, Niki and I were out twice on Tuesday (first and reverse gears in the morning, up to third gear and three point turns in the evening) once yesterday (9 roundabouts) and then twice today (hill starts, traffic light roundabouts). Phew, my nerves have taken a while to recover! But don't laugh, the BSM instructor (thank you Tesco vouchers) has said she'll *try* and get her onto a main road on Sunday: we've been there, and done that!

Anyway, her theory test was today, she got 94% on the multi choice and 84% on hazard perception, but only needed 80% and 60%, so no problem there.

I promise I won't bore the blog with updates, but sewing could be slower than usual for a while!

Monday 23 May 2011

a bit of sewing

 I have finally finished Sister-In-Law's tablecloth-cum-blanket, and can show it here since (a) her birthday was last week and (b) she's on holiday so no chance she'll see the blog!

I have been collecting wine themed fabrics for a while for this project, and love the way the fabrics have come together.

All the black squares have been embroidered with a wine bottle or a wine class,(black on black) and the middle two squares are also the label with her name, the year and our names, also in black
I have gone as far as I can with my pentagon ball too.  In the photo it may look ready to throw , but it is just full of air as I cant find the bag of stuffing that I thought I had, so another visit to the fabric shop, oh dear, what a shame!
I have also done some work on the Whirly Gig quilt, but seem to have spent longer typing the instructions  than actually sewing it.  It isn't worthy of a photo at the moment, but I am loving the way it's turning out :-)

A few days of work now will interfere with my sewing, but then a week off for half term, although with Niki able to start learning to drive on Tuesday, and her absolute determination to pass in less than 9 weeks means we'll be out in the car more often that I'll be behind the sewing machine.

(ooh, ooh, that reminds me, a friend at church is on a five year mission to clear out her mum's old house.  She wanted to know if I could find a good home for and old sewing machine.  I should have at least hesitated ... I do have 7 at the moment ... but when she said it was a Bernina from the 1960s i grabbed at the chance.  It needs a service but it exactly the same as my mum's friend, Anita, gave me years ago, that unfortunately went BANG in a puff of smoke about 4 years ago.  I loved that machine, such a work horse, so I hope I can get Brian to give it a service ... Thank you Carolyn :-)

Sunday 22 May 2011

Woven Denim Bags

The ladies at both Chertsey Museum, and Windsor Library have made these no-sew denim bags, but Iris missed the lesson and asked for details ... so I thought I'd type up a brief summary.

No stitching is required so long as you have access to a glue gun, otherwise, some stitching will be required.

You can see from these examples, that the instructions are far from definitive - treat them as a guide and then go and do your own thing!!!
We started off with a very basic bag shape from blue fabric.  This was stitched right sides together, along both sides and the bottom.  This was to give the finished bag integrity (so nothing could fall out) and a skeleton to work on.  Turn the bag right side out.
[If anyone wants to have a go, let me know and I will post you a basic bag]
We then got a few pairs of jeans and started ripping!  The best way is to cut into the hem every 2 inches or so, and then hold either side of the cut and rip.  You might want to do this outside as it creates loads of blue dust!

The top photo here, Nicola's bag,  shows a bag just using dark blue denims, while the others generally have a variety of lights and darks, this is down to personal choice, and what jeans are ready to be sacrificed!  The reverse of the denim is usually a different colour to the front, so this could add more colour variety if wanted

Take half a dozen long strips and pin then at the top of one side of the bag, just touching. you may need more or less strips, maybe ripping another strip to the required size to fill the width of the bag.  These strips need to be long enough to go down the front, wrap around the bottom, and go back up the back, back to  the top of the bag.  Pin them again at the top of the back.  it will now look similar to Ann's in this picture, but without so much blue showing through the vertical gaps.

Well done, go and make a cup of tea!

 Now take another strip, and starting at the bottom of the bag, weave it under and over the vertical strips, around the whole bag. Arrange the strip so the join is a two inch overlap, and is hidden behind a vertical strip.  Put a pin through the hiding strip, both ends of the horizontal strips, and the blue bag.  Put another pin in the same square.  These will serve to remind you later that this is a joint.

If you want to use more pins to secure this strip that's fine, but it shouldn't move too much if your vertical strips are snug, and the first horizontal one is pushed down the the fold.
Repeat with the next horizontal strip. again using two pins to mark the joint.

Keep going until you get close to the top.

Once you are happy that the strips are all in the right place, and no adjustment is needed, you can fire up the glue gun.  If you don't have one you can use needle and thread, and maybe some buttons.  Basically you need to secure all the joints, (all the double pins) and in some places join the denim to the bag to prevent too much movement.  Either a dollop of hot glue between the layers, or a few stitches through all the layers.

The original bag (Benta's, 4th photo) was finished at the top using the waistband of a pair of jeans.  The third photo shows Ann's bag finished with a folded strip of denim secured inside and out, while the 2nd photo, Jenny's bag was finished with machine stitches - it's your choice!

Again there are choices for the straps: I used the remains of the inside leg seam through belt loops, Jenny stitched on short thin strips of denim, while Jess glued on long wide strips - there is no wrong!

Hope this is enough information for you to have a go, but if anything is unclear, please do not hesitate to  email me (Benta@SLIKstitches.co.uk) and I'll get back to you

Some more varieties ...

Steph made this bag with just one pair of jeans, and incorporated a pocket from the jeans...

... whereas my lovely Jess has a total disregard for convention (so refreshing in a 16 year old), and her bag included scrunched strips, waistbands, pockets, buttons, and some random weaving!

Saturday 21 May 2011

A day at the museum

Friday was my afternoon to teach Fun with Fabric at Chertsey Museum.  Four ladies attended for at least a second time, and three new ladies too

Jenny brought her denim bag from last month which she finished for 'homework'.  I love that these ladies, mostly over retirement age, bring along their creations for 'show and tell', just like the 5 year olds at school do!!!
Most of the ladies decided to have a go at paper piecing: pentagons or hexagons.  Barbara made a hexie pin cushion, Jenny and I went for pentagon balls, while Iris, Frieda and Denise went for grandmother's flower design either as a mug rug or a wall hanging.

Deborah didn't fancy this, she's done patchwork before, so she had a play with the gingham fabric I'd prepared for smocking.  I didn't get any photos, but she did a great job . . . and now we've decided that we'll all going to try smocking next month, so I'd better get some more gingham!

Hole In The Ground Panel
When I got home I managed to do some work on my yellow, orange (and now pink) Hole In The Ground.  (I think of it as this name, but Google couldn't find a block by this name, so if you have a proper name for it, please let me know!!!)

It was really easy to make the centre piece: It was from a jelly roll, so there were lot of fabrics pre cut to 2.5 inches x width of fabric (about 42 inches)
  • I joined enough strips to make a flimsy that measured 42 x 21 inches, then cut that in half, so I had two striped pieces each measuring 21 x 21.  
  • I put these two squares one on to of the other, right sides together, one with the stripes going vertically, the other with horizontal stripes.
  • I stitched all abound the two blocks (usual seam allowance) joining them together.
  • I cut the resulting block, diagonally, from corner to corner, like an X,
  • I then opened out the 4 triangles into squares.  
  • They were then twisted to create the design above.
This piece was started pre-blog, in oranges and yellows, with just a tiny hint of pink, but I have some great fabric that I want to add that has a fair amount off pink.  I thought I would introduce some pink, before I introduce loads of pink!

Now off to Windsor Library for the next class!!!

Friday 20 May 2011

Found time to post!

The beginning of the week is always difficult for me to blog, I get bogged down with work (apologies for the four letter word there) Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then treat myself to some sewing on Thursdays, finally getting to blogging for a few days before we start with Monday all over again!

So, excuses over, and here I am

So an apology for being tardy - and here are the photos of the very high tech give-away random winner generator:

Basket of scraps of paper,

and the first two slips drawn from the basket. 
As you can see, neither Plum or Teje relieved me of decision making, but they did narrow it down!  I decided to go with two children's charities

So the vanishing nine patch will go to the Foster Network, organised by a friend of Plum's, and the fail fence zig zag will go to Great Ormand Street hospital in London

 This going-to-be-a-whirly gig top hasn't progressed. :-(  I couldn't find any suitable border fabric locally, so went on-line and found what looks like the perfect fabric, and ordered it.  It was only when I got the dispatch email that I realised I'd ordered it from Germany!!! so hopefully that will arrive next week
 I have however managed another texture block for Hilary's quilt.  She has no idea that this is happening, but i needed to know how best to do these braille dots.  I stitched the braille for 'texture' in a few different ways (satin stitch, running stitch outline, triple stitch outline etc) and got mum to take it and ask Hilary for her help on a project!!!

So with Hilary's help (she chose the satin stitch) I have created another surprise block for Hilary - isn't that great!

One last piece of news before I go and pack my stuff for a lesson at Chertsey Museum (we are going to tackle hexies (and pentagons) and make either a pin cushion or a child's ball), I finally have furniture again in my living room.

This arrived on Monday, and is so squishy and comfy, I love it, (even if it is a tad too big for the room LOL)

Sunday 15 May 2011

Square Dance Quilt

Some of my favourite quilts at the moment are coming from Jo at Bearpaw and Bearpaw, and I have been inspired by her Whirly Gig quilt.  We exchanged a few email as to how she had made it (using a template and cutting each piece to the template) and I worried about keeping tabs on which piece goes where (I don't have a design wall, more of a design bed!)

Then I had a real DOH! moment - I've made two of these before!!!
Jo's method uses a irregular trapezium shape (different definitions for US and UK English!), and each block is 8 of these, 4 the same fabric, making one Whirly Gig, and 4 different fabrics making 1/4 each of another Whirly Gig. (Shown here outlined in black)

The method I used in the past uses a square template resulting in square block of 4 fabrics (shown in yellow).  I think the method I have used will suit me better as I don't have a place to lay out the blocks to make sure each one is correct in relation to it's neighbours.

I LOVE Jo's random fabrics (although I think they are all from one designer) but I don't have the confidence to choose fabrics from my stash and get that effect.

 I looked a number of 'families' of fabrics:

 and in the end the batik dots won.

To start with, these need to be pieced into a basic flimsy, and pressed

Before I do the next step I need to add a border, so part two will follow after a trip to a fabric shop!

Saturday 14 May 2011

Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival

It was Amy's Quilt Festival that got me started on blogging.  I loved looking at the submitted quilts for a couple or festivals , and then decided that I wanted to play - so needed a blog.  Thank you to Amy, not only for the festival but for the introduction to Blogging too - I've made SO many friends!

To visitors FROM Amy's site, welcome.  To my guests who would like to see the wondourous quilts in the exhibition, click on the top box in the right hand column: make sure you have plenty of time, there is LOTS of lvely stuff to look at!!!!

The quilt I want to show you this time is this elephant of a quilt:

[hopefully you can move your cursor over the photo and it will zoom in]

This was made in 2004 as a leaving present for our Vicar and his wife.  They had been a big part of the lives of people in two villages for  about 12 years, and lots of people wanted to contribute.

It's about 6 foot high, and about 10 foot wide! Dozen of organisations and families contributed a small, medium or large block which where then all stitched together.

We didn't use the stitch-and-flip method, as the block were not uniform in size (tip 1, if you do a project like this, send out blank fabric squares for people to use, don't trust them to measure and cut accurately) and some groups had decorated right up to the edge (tip 2, draw a margin to give yourself a seam allowance).  Instead we joined two flat sheets, placed the blocks on the sheet wrong sides together, and used cotton tape over the joins. (tip 3, you need somewhere with a lot of clear floor space, and that is clean!)

A variety of decorating methods were used ... fabric pens

counted cross stitch

photo transfer

hand embroidery


We all have fun making it, and keeping the secret (300 children involved from the school where Mrs H worked -- and not one told them!!!) and they really loved the reminder of their time with us.