Ahoy There!

I’ve got my dressing making sew-jo back this summer with this great pattern by Fancy Tiger Crafts Sailor Top. It’s a really good fit on me. I made a small first time but found it a bit voluminous round the middle, so the second time I took it down to an XS from the bust to the hem. This pattern is a bit deceptive as the first 80% is really easy and just as you feel like you’ve nearly finished – you get to the neck gathers! This nearly broke me first time round but second time round I knew what to expect and found it much easier. I’m tempted to make another. The fabric mule husband has just come back from LA with a couple of yards of lawn, which would be lovely for this top.

The first one I made was a blue floral lawn, (I have a Laurel top in the same fabric) and the second in some Robert Kaufman chambray, which feels lovely to wear. I still need to get the hang of the dressmaking selfie!

  

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A May Birthday 

This month my lovely daughter turned 12. For one of her presents she asked me to make her a bag, which I was thrilled about. It’s a delicate age, it’s hard to know if she will love or hate things. She chose the Noodlehead sidekick tote and some lovely fabric….. It’s a bag I’ve made a couple of times before and again it came together really well. I used the neon pink text print inside and around the zip. The outside was a denim from my local fabric shop turned inside out for a more faded look. She’s really pleased with it and it’s been used for most of half term so far. 

     

  I also secretly finished off my half of the jelly roll jam quilt project we started together AGES ago! She finished hers last autum but my quilt top lay around until the self imposed deadline of her birthday got me motivated. She was thrilled to see it finished and even more thrilled to see it was going to be a gift for her.  Here it is in her room.
   Birthday season is over here until November. My youngest son has already put in a quilt request! 

Wonky crosses

This quilt was finished at the end of February but as it was a present for my son’s birthday it had to stay under wraps for another month. 

 

 It was lovely to make, just a single bed size, so very quick. Thom chose fabrics, lots of fabrics and i whittled it down to a handful of main colours.  

If you’d like to have a go at making a wonky cross they really are simple. There is a good tutorial here

The quilt came on holiday with us over easter. Here it is hanging out on the beach in the glorious sunshine. The backing was grey lucky penny fabric and the binding a blue and white stripe. I seem to have forgotten to get a close up of it.

We are both very happy with it!

   

   

 

Winter Washi

During a dig through my fabric cupboard last week I came out in cold sweat when I realised I still hadn’t used some of the fabric yardage I bought back in October. I’d bought it with the intention of making a winter washi dress. (I made one in July and LOVED wearing it so much!)

As I was about to order more yardage ahead of my husband’s next trip to New York, I thought I’d better get on with it – while it was still winter!

Making something a second time is just dreamy – especially when it was a good fit the first time. I got this made in a day. I just had enough fabric for 3/4 length sleeves but not long ones as planned. I got this dress out of 2 yards of Denise Schmidt Chicopee – witch was an incredible £3.90 a yard when I was across the pond in October.

This time I left the neck scooped rather than notched. I did a lined bodice – as per the tutorial here which was really easy and gave a great finish.

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I omitted the pockets (again – as with last time I ended up taking a good inch off the skirt on each side). The sleeves I used are the ones from the josephine pattern, as I felt the washi sleeves were a bit blousy for this fabric and again I didn’t have enough.

As with my previous dress it’s such a good fit and shape for me and it works really well with boots and a cardigan.

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Family Quilt

As the evenings drew colder and darker last autumn my family said ‘We need more quilts!’ I needed no further prompting.

I decided on a nice simple Plus quilt and used the tutorial by Jenni here.  My fabric choices revolved around a rich -wintry theme and also the desire just to use all the lovely fabric that is now overflowing from my cupboard.  I chose a lot of my favourites, resisting the urge to hang onto them.  How much nicer is it to see your favourite fabrics in use rather than stacked in the cupboard?

This quilt design is simple to cut and simple to sew. The hardest bit is getting the lay out right. It took ages! I started mid-morning and knew I had to get it right and all the rows stacked and organised by the time I had to pick the kids up from school.  I managed it JUST!

I was hoping to get it finished and wrapped in time for christmas but all the other Christmas frenzy took over. I did finish it before new year. Boxing day was a PJ day and I quilted all day.

The backing fabric is the infamous ikea number fabric with a strip of Amy Butler dots – forgot to get a picture, my quilt holders were complaining too much!

It was my speediest and most trouble free quilt yet and I really enjoyed the whole process.

Here’s the photo shoot – with fingers!

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Super Tote #2

Last summer I tackled a bag pattern called the Super Tote by Anna at Noodle-head. Her bag patterns are fab and I’ve made most of them over the last 3 years of sewing.

I had a little trouble with my bag which I moaned about at the time. Despite it being a tricky make and me making a bit of a pigs ear of making it, I did use it all summer.

So as winter approached I threw it in the wash and unfortunately it went in with something very blue….which sadly ran into the lovely yellow of my bag – making it a kind of muddy grungy green colour. Very sad. I tried lots of colour run removal washes and in the end decided on some weak bleach to try and lift the colour out. This did help a bit but it just doesn’t look very good any more.

So…..time for another Super Tote I thought. My sew-jo has been flowing well over Christmas so just after new year I thought I’d give it a try.

The fabric I used was all from my stash. The main body is inside-out denim (left over from my Dad’s apron and my ovenglove-a-thon) with some lighter denim for the straps and zip bits. I cut into a very precious fat quarter of Kokka linen for the main pocket.

Here are some of the things I did differently this time: (skip this bit if you aren’t intending to sew one!)

* read the pattern properly! last time I didn’t realise I had to stitch the straps to the top of the bag outer, which meant it was all a funny shape and flopped over. In my defence it’s easy to miss this bit in the instructions.

*I chose the same fabric for the bag outer all the way up (and behind the straps) – last time I had 2 different fabrics, which meant when the bag was picked up you could see the different fabric poking out from behind the outer pocket.

*I did a front pocket with a facing piece rather than a fully lined pocket and I added piping this time, which I love the look of. For some inspiring piping see Mary’s Super Tote

*I added a zip pocket inside the front pocket (confused!?). I used the front pocket a lot for my phone last time but found the little slip pocket that I added was too high up and when I bent over my phone fell out! So this time it’s nice and secure and it’s a lovely text-print lining.

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*I added a zip pocket inside the main lining. Again I didn’t bother with the elasticated pockets as per the pattern, as I knew it would be very unlikely that I’d take the time to put things in the right places. As it’s a big bag I decided that one pocket would be useful for lip-balms and other small items to cut down on rummaging time.

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*when attaching the gusset I clipped the curve on both pieces of fabric – the gusset and main lining piece, this made it WAY easier to attach. Last time I just clipped the straight piece.

*I interfaced the main bag body and straps with fusible fleece. This was quite bulky to sew but gave a much better and more sturdy finish than the woven interfacing I used last time. Its a heavy bag and it needs a lot of structure to make the shape work.

So in conclusion – it’s worth having another go at a tricky pattern. I totally love and am very happy with this one. Here are some photos.

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Glove-tastic

As christmas as now happened I can reveal my makes for this year. Now that I’m working 2 days a week at my son’s school, I was modest in what I attempted. I decided on a job-lot of oven gloves – 7 pairs in total.

They are a great gift. Who doesn’t need a new pair of oven gloves?! I used this tutorial inspired by the ones that Mary made a while back.

I used canvas on the decorative sides and lined the hand pockets with some light weight denim. On the ‘hot’ sides I used more heavy weight denim. Inside is regular cotton batting and some insulbrite wadding which is especially heat resistant.

I started out thinking I’d hand finish the binding on the backs of the oven gloves but soon realised this was way too tough to sew by hand. So I had to unpick a few lots of binding to re-sew them from the back to the front (top stitching along the front of the binding to finish). Even though this was a pain it gave a nice neat edge and saved my poor fingers!

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The other make this Christmas was an apron for my Dad – which he requested. He lives in France for half the year and is chief barbecue-er. I was thrilled when he asked me to sew him something. No tutorial for this – I used denim and cut out a large apron shape using one I had as a template. I bound the edges and added a lined front pocket. I hope to get a pic of him wearing it!

There was also a bit of unplanned festive sewing in the form of a table runner. I had bought some christmas fabric in the January sales, which was a very welcome find in December. I used this tutorial and a fair amount of winging it. It’s been a great addition to our Christmas clobber.

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Across the Pond

I am just back from a wonderful week in Canada visiting two fabulous friends.  Naturally I took a few handmade gifts with me…

Firstly for Rachael and her daughter Amelie these Noodle head zip pouches – which I’ve made a few of in the past. They got filled with goodies from England (they moved to Canada 6 years ago). I couldn’t quite fit in the giant jar of Marmite I took for them.

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Next I went to stay with my Canadian friend Ellen. We’ve known each other for nearly 20 years. As its been 10 years since my last visit, I decided her 40th birthday was enough of an excuse for another trip.

For her birthday I made a paper pieced table runner. The inspiration for which came from a blog called Wombat Quilts. I love Cath’s quilts and she has tons of free patterns. I was quite glad I didn’t attempt a whole quilt – paper piecing is hard work.

Here are some photos I took before I left and one of it in situ on Ellen’s coffee table. Her husband Marc was very helpful and sent me photos of the living room and measurement of the coffee table. As you can see it fits and it looks great.

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Lastly I made some more zip pouches for  Ellen’s children Cohen and Ingrid, filled with some classic British sweets.

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It was a fabulous trip and I had so much fun with my lovely friends, I was spoilt rotten with lovely food, wine, coffee and trips out to do things and visit people – and it snowed!!!

It wouldn’t have been possible with out my husband at home holding the fort during half term, (whilst juggling work!) and my mum for helping out as well.

It’s good to get away and remember who you are and who you were before you became a wife and mother. Going away always gives me a fresh perspective on life and a new appreciation of home and family. I have remembered how boring it is to travel a long way on your own – give me some squabbling children any day!

Rachael and I. Ellen and I.

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A Very Special Quilt

I started this quilt in earnest back in March. In fact the idea and initial cutting spree (until I got bored) was at Christmas last year. So it’s been almost a year-long project, with a the goal of being my Mum’s 70th birthday present.

I wanted to make something with the vintage sheet fat quarters I got through a swap and I knew that some of these prints would be wonderfully nostalgic to my mum.

I settled on the hourglass block after seeing Rita’s hourglass quilt and tutorial.
This is a double quilt, so there were a lot to make – 200 and something! (I guess I could have made them bigger!) I found a very handy labour saving half square triangle ruler on Amazon, which did help a lot.

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and then to start sewing them all together. There were even some perfect points!

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Then I sewed them into blocks of 12 in a rainbow-ish colour sequence

 

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There was some basting agony (isn’t there always?!)

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After our holiday to France and my sewing machine had made a trip back to the mothership for some attention, it was time to quilt!
I chose to do my favourite orange peel quilting. The curvy lines really helped break up the geometric look of the blocks and create these lovely flowers.

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And then with the addition of some lovely vintage stripy binding (which you can buy here!) it was finished (yes the backing fabric is a very funky vintage sheet!)

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My husband and I had a lovely couple of days in a Shepherds Hut in Somerset while the kids were my mum’s. This was the perfect chance to hand stitch on the binding in the cosy hut with the woodburner and enjoying the last evenings of summer. It was also perfect for photographs.

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Today was her birthday and we presented her quilt, she was really thrilled  with it and says she can’t wait to put in on her bed!

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I feel a bit sad now it’s gone!

Summer’s End

We’ve had a very busy but very fun summer. The last 6 weeks have gone in a flash, which is rather sad really. Here we are on the last day of our holiday in France.

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Our eldest starts high school today, it feels like a huge step towards teenage-hood. She requested a new pencil case earlier this week and rather than buy some plastic tat I asked if she wanted me to make one.

We decided on a boxy pouch with lots of space for a calculator and geometry set (I had to look up what that was because i couldn’t remember!). She chose some of this Road 51 bundle that I bought recently

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I decided to go the extra mile and make some quilt as you go panels for the body of the pouch. There is a great tutorial on QAYG here

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The boxy pouch was a surprisingly easy make. I used the tutorial from pink stitches blog.
A very pleasing make:

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And a happy excited daughter

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