Thursday, 21 June 2018

A Green Quilt: Green fabric and Green wadding

A while ago (longer than I really wish to admit!), Boy 2 asked if he could have a 'Green Triangle quilt please, Mummy'. Of course, other things kept coming up and although I kept buying green fabrics when I saw them, I didn't really make much progress!!!
Green Triangle Quilt and initial thought of Dream Green batting

At the beginning of this year though, I decided that now was the time! I pulled out all the fabrics, looked at the notes I'd scribbled myself and set to for a massive chopping session. And then realised that my size measurements were based on when Boy 2 was a toddler, and promptly had to cut a load more!!!! At least it should last him a good while now!!! In all, I cut a total of 205 triangles (for anyone that's interested, the finished quilt measures 46" x 68") using the EZ equilateral 60* triangle which made life so much easier! I cut strips of fabric 5.75" wide from a FQ and then sub-cut into triangles using the template.


I used a mix of solids and patterns and I think they work quite well together, especially with the patterns allowing me to introduce a few different colours other than just green! Piecing triangles is not too tricky - particularly if you're using the template as it helps with lining them up - but in joining the rows I did have to let go of my inner perfectionist slightly! I'm not going to pretend that all of my points are perfect, but using lots of pins at each of the joining points certainly helped to get them generally okay!

When it came to quilting, I was a bit stumped, as my wadding roll has run out. I had a look around and came across the Dream Green wadding over at Cotton Patch as an environmentally friendly alternative which  I decided to try out, given the growing concern about the amount of single use plastic that we are generating in our world.
(Note - I realise that the majority of fabrics I've used are not environmentally friendly, but I am working on using what I have rather than buying new where I can)

Green Triangle Quilt and initial thought of Dream Green batting

The wadding is made from recycled plastic bottles and for each pack that you buy, it tells you how much has been saved from landfill - this king-size pack is the equivalent of 28 plastic bottles! The wadding has a slightly green tinge to it, with a few streaks and I have to confess that if I was working on a quilt with a lot of white negative space I would be a little bit nervous about it showing through. Having said that, it looks greener when it's all rolled up, but once it's a single layer, it's almost imperceptible. Certainly, one to check before basting the entire quilt though!

Green Triangle Quilt and initial thought of Dream Green batting


The Dream Green has a lovely soft texture to it, doesn't shed too many fur balls and quilts beautifully. I felt a little bit nervous about it (I've always used a cotton batting) but overall I was really impressed. It has a slightly firmer structure to it that the cotton wadding - maybe you can see in the picture above how it stands more upright? Unlike some waddings' I've worked with, there's no obvious wrong/right side that I could see and the projects that I've washed have all come out really well with no greater than expected shrinkage, which is always a good thing!

There are only a couple of things that I'm a bit uncertain about: packaging wise, the wadding is sent in a plastic bag and, because I ordered it online it was sent in a further plastic bag. I couldn't see any information on the Dream Green leaflet or the packing to say that it's recyclable, so overall I probably came out as environmentally neutral in making this purchase, which is better than negative but there is maybe still room for improvement? 

I also felt that there was some slight stretching of the wadding whilst basting some of my larger quilts, although I need to make a few more projects to confirm for sure. I admit that basting quilts is not something that I'm fantastic at. I baste my quilts on the kitchen floor, taping the edges down and using 505 spray, and noticed that on a couple of larger projects where I'm smoothing the quilt top over the wadding - and admittedly crawling around on top of the quilt! - I've ended up with slight ripples (or lettucing?!) around the edges of the wadding, and I've wondered if this is due to the synthetic nature of the material? And it doesn't seem to have the same 'bounce back' as the cotton waddings I normally use. Like I mentioned, I've been really happy with the quality and feel of the Dream Green and would use it again but for a bigger quilt, I would probably use my normal wadding until I've nailed a better technique of basting!

Quilting wise, I used a variegated Aurifil thread and serpentine stitched following the lines of the triangles. It means that even from the back Boy 2 cannot argue about whether or not it is triangle-y enough!!!
Green Triangle Quilt and initial thought of Dream Green batting, aurifil thread


Have any of you used Dream Green? Of have any extra tips on how I can up my basting game?!

S x

Today's sky:::: cloudy and blue but beautifully warm!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Go Orange! Patchwork Cushion raffle for MyelomaUK

Nearly six years ago now, my Mum was diagnosed with Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma. It's a blood cancer - one I'd never heard of before - accounting for only 2% of all cancers and is treatable but not currently curable. If you would like to read more about it, please check out the Myeloma UK site here.
Go Orange! Denyse Schmidt patchwork cushion raffle for MyelomaUK


Mum continues to receive amazing treatment from the NHS, including Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, and a Stem-cell transplant.  She recently started a further round of chemotherapy and I've been thinking about what could I do to help in some very small way?

When I was little, I spent ages crafting and Mum used to pretty much let me have free rein: at the beginning of the summer holidays she'd set her sewing machine up for me on the dining table, leave out her threads and just let me play. I wonder, now that I have children of my own, quite how my folks felt about us not being able to eat at the dinner table for six weeks, but nothing was ever said  (to me, at least!) and I was happy.

Which brings us to this cushion! It's Myeloma Awareness week from 21st - 27th June and I thought I could share a little quilty love whilst also helping to raise awareness and funds for Myeloma research and support.....

Go Orange! Denyse Schmidt patchwork cushion

I found some jelly roll strips in just the right colours - the Myeloma UK logo colours - and decided that a courthouse step block would be a great way of using the fabrics and making a statement cushion. I do admit to fussy cutting the plaid strip - they're not all exactly the same but I did and make sure that the 'V' of the plaid stripe was central.
Sewing a court house steps quilt block using jelly roll strips

I love sewing together these blocks, they're so quick - especially if you have jelly roll strips to hand! I started with a 2.5" square and then for the following rounds;

Round 2: two (2) 2.5" squares and two (2) 6.5" x 2.4" rectangle
Round 3: two (2) 6.5" x 2.5" rectangle and two (2) 10.5" x 2.5" rectangle
Round 4: two (2) 10.5" x 2.5" rectangle and two (2) 14.5" x 2.5" rectangle
Round 5: two (2) 14.5" x 2.5" rectangle and two (2) 18.5" x 2.5" rectangle

I stopped once I reached 18.5" as I think that's a good cushion size, but you could easily keep going: for each additional round, cut two (2) of the longest sized strips from the previous round eg. 18.5" x 2.5" and two (2)  longest size + (2 x the finished height of the strips) eg. 18.5" + 4"  = 22.5" x 2.5"

I've used fabrics by my favourite designer, Denyse Schmidt (for anyone that's not a quilter, that basically means I've used fabrics that are kept for either special occasions or just to be looked at!!!). The cushion cover finishes at 18" square, has a zip closure, is fully washable and can be used with an 18"-20" cushion pad.

Go Orange! Patchwork cushion for MyelomaUK raffle


If you would like a chance to win this cushion, please enter the raffle by popping over to my Just Giving page where you can get a ticket for just £2. The raffle will close at midnight on 27th June and I'm hoping to raise £250 in all.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for any contributions that you may make.

S x

PS - I seem to be having problems with email notifications of comments not coming through so if I don't reply/you'd like to speak to me about something please do drop me an email and don't think that I'm ignoring you!

Today's sky::: a little bit cloudy, but sunny none the less! 

Monday, 11 June 2018

A pencil case for your notebook - The Notebook Buddy!

Today I'm sharing my latest pattern with you -  a pencil case pouch that can be attached to a notebook or planner with an elastic strap - the Notebook Buddy!


Notebook Buddy, Pencil Case, PDF Pattern, fabricandflowers


I don't know about you, but I nearly always have at least one notebook with me at any one time, but trying to find a pen when I need it - and one that works! - is always the tricky part....



I've also been dabbling with bullet journaling this year to try and keep on top of the to-do list and stay motivated. I'm not the best at drawing though, so bought a few stencils to make my pages look a bit prettier but was then stuck with where to keep them, as not all notebooks have a pocket in them. And so the Notebook Buddy was born!


(PS - If you're interested in starting your own notebook or bullet journal, I've been really happy with the eco-friendly natural cork notebook, pictured above)

It's a slimline boxy pouch with a dividing pocket so that you can separate pens or have stencils in the back pocket and pens in the front, and an elastic strap so that you can slip it on the front cover of whichever notebook you're using.

I was showing it to a friend and she commented how if it was a little bit smaller to fit a phone, credit card and maybe a couple of pens it would be perfect for carrying the essentials around at work, so I obliged and created a smaller version for that very purpose!



The Notebook Buddy pattern includes two sizes with full-sized templates - one for the office essentials and one for notebook list making/journalling - along with two different sized divider pockets. This means that you can mix and match the insides of the pouch to fit your exact needs. Full sized templates are included with information on how to make a patchwork version (if you're using scraps or a directional fabric) or one main outer fabric.

                             

The pattern also shows you how to adjust the elastic strap to perfectly fit the size of notebook you are using - A5 or A4. You can use one piece of wider elastic or a couple of bits of thinner elastic - you really can work with whatever you have to hand! And you can also have a play with some of the decorative stitches on your machine (you know, those ones that never get used?!) if you fancy making the strap more decorative.


I've also thought about leaving the strap off to make it a normal pouch, or may be used as a case for carrying crochet hooks and sock needles in? The possibilities are endless!

I hope you've enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the #NotebookBuddy - if you'd like to make your own, you can find the pattern here in my Etsy shop, and if you do make one then please tag me so I can see!

S x

Today's sky::: beautifully blue and sunny!

Monday, 4 June 2018

Luna and Alfie Rabbit


Although there hasn't been much blogging, there have been quite a few makes and designs so if you don't mind, I thought I would show some of them over the coming weeks for Mondays Makes!

luna rabbit, alfie rabbit,

I'm starting off with the lovely Beattie and Bertie Rabbit that I made for my parents - named by them, obviously, but otherwise known as Luna Lapin and Alfie Rabbit!

I bought the book - Making Luna Lapin by Sarah Peel - as it includes the patterns for so many different items of clothing that you can really customise your Luna! I ordered a load of felt and some buttons for the eyes, arms and clothes from Sarah's website Cool Crafting as she very handily sells the felt in just the right size for a rabbit or a coat. I can thoroughly recommend the felt as it sews up beautifully by hand/machine and there are so many different colours to choose from!

I started off with Luna and used some Liberty fabric that I had to hand for the T-shirt dress with detachable bow. There is something both immensely satisfying (and at times, frustrating!) about sewing something so small! I found the trickiest bit to be sewing the sleeves in: I'm normally quite happy to go without pins but on such small seams I found it useful to pin/hand baste in position to prevent any fabric moving.

luna lapin, liberty dress, fabricandflowers

I did go a bit over the top by over-locking the seams on Luna's dress, but it felt like only the best would do for this little bunny: there is so much time and love that goes in to them and they have the potential to be heirloom pieces so I felt it was only right to make her as perfect as I could on the inside as well as the out!

The woollen coat is quite an epic sew with lots of little pieces, but the beauty of using felt is that there is no need to worry about fraying seams, just the occassional bit of bulk that occurs where you have lots of layers together. I finished the coat over a couple of afternoons, with the exception of the buttonholes. I was scared of doing them and ruining the coat!

luna lapin, fabricandflowers



Eventually I decided to do the buttonholes by hand: they are so small that I figured they wouldn't take long to do and if I made a mistake on the machine the felt would most likely be damaged by the stitching. After marking out the position, I used a pin at each end of each buttonhole - it was a bit like handling a hedgehog for the first couple of buttonholes! - a seam ripper to make the hole and then used blanket stitch to finish them off. Each one only took a few minutes in the end and although not perfect they work which is the main thing!!!



A few months later, I decided that I should really make an Alfie Rabbit for my Dad. I'm not sure if I've mentioned before, but I spent a lot of my childhood at steam rallies as my Dad is passionate about steam engines and has a model traction engine himself. I decided it would be fun to base Alfie on what he normally wears on the rally field: brown work trousers, a shirt, waistcoat, necktie, pocket watch and the obligatory flat cap!!!

Alfie Rabbit, Flat Cap, fabricandflowers

I drafted the cap myself over a couple of nights after looking at adult patterns for flat cap/Gatsby hats and the hood from Winter Cape in the Making Luna Lapin book. I made one out of scrap cotton first to get an idea of fit. There were four main pieces;

1 + 2. Front of cap & top/back of cap (bottom left): Cut 1 in main fabric and lining.
These were sewn together from the edge to the pin, between the pins and from pin to edge. 
The gaps left between the pins are for the ears to fit through (as per the Winter cape)!

3.       Side and Brim (top right): Cut 1 in main fabric and lining.

4.       Peak of hat (top left): Cut 2 in main fabric.


Alfie Rabbit, flat cap, fabricandflowersAlfie Rabbit, flat cap, fabricandflowers

To make the cap, I used the instructions from this tutorial that I found, the only difference being that I sewed pieces 1 and 2 together before joining piece 3. And once the cap was sewn, I ladder stitched the lining and outer fabric together for the ear holes and then stab-stitched between the peak and the top of the hat to bring the layers closer together.

Alfie Rabbit, flat cap, fabricandflowers

The necktie was made using a shorter version of the detachable bow from the t-shirt dress in the book, with a popper to snap it together.


And for the pocket watch a little bit of chain from a necklace that was too long gave the perfect impression of something being hidden in a pocket! My Dad was over the moon with him and I confess to feeling just a little bit proud of him. It's so much fun when you can personalise things, one of my favourite things about making!

A couple of other people have mentioned how much they like them so there will probably be more in my future (Alfie only took me a week from start to finish, so I'm definitely getting quicker!) and Sarah's also got another book coming out in August 2018 - Sewing Luna Lapin's Friends - and I may have already ordered it.......Boy 2 mentioned something about a fox!!!!

Sx

Today's sky::: overcast and gloomy


Thursday, 24 May 2018

Travel Design Board Tutorial

traveldesign board, tutorial, sewing, fabricandflowers

Hello! So, as we move towards half-term and with the summer holidays looming (honestly, doesn’t this year seem to be flying by?!) my mind always turns towards hand-sewing: something that I can take with me on days out or for when I can grab five minutes peace!


I love hand-piecing in particular and always use a design board to plan my block and keep it together during sewing. I used this great tutorial by Bee Lori for my board and would highly recommend it! It uses a thick cardboard which is great for use at home, but not so practical when you're out and about, so I came up with this roll-up travel design board. It’s a quick project, perfect for using up any wadding and fabric scraps that you have hanging around and probably took me an hour all in, including taking all the photos!!!


Finished size;
 8 1/2” x 8 1/2”

Materials Needed;

Method;

1.   Place bondaweb sticky side down on the wrong side of the outer fabric, in the centre leaving a 1/2” border all the way around. Press.

2.   To position the fastening, measure 4 3/4” up/down (to find the centre line) and 4” in from the left hand side and mark with a pencil (Note: you can vary the distance but I would recommend 3-4” if you want to roll it up). If using a snap fastener, push the prongs through the bondaweb and fabric. Otherwise, use a pin/mark the right side of the fabric. Remove the paper backing from the bondaweb BEFORE attaching your fastening!!!
 (TIP: once the backing paper is removed, the fabric is quite sticky so be careful with handling. I found it easiest to roll up the fabric in order to attach the snap fastening)



3.   Place the wadding wrong sides together with the outer fabric, overlaying the bondaweb, and again leavings 1/2” border on each side. Press on the outer fabric to bond the layers together.

4.   Fold each outer corner in at a 45* angle to meet the corner of the wadding, and then fold again. Pin in place to secure.

5.   Starting on one side, fold the edge of the outer fabric in half to meet the raw edge of the wadding. Press. Fold over again to give a 1/4” binding around the edge of the travel design board. Press and pin in place. 


6.   Repeat on all sides - where the corners have already been folded this should give a neat mitred finish. A wonder clip on each corner helps to keep everything in place.


7.   Wadding side up - and starting part way along one side - begin stitching just in
from the inner edge of the binding. It is best to take it slowly and, as you approach a corner, remove the wonder clip/pin, hold carefully in position (a seam ripper can help with this), pivot on the corner and continue until you reach where you started. [OPTIONAL] Add a second row of stitching just in from the outer edge of the binding.




8.   To finish, place the Travel Design Board right side up and, using a ruler to ensure it is level with the previous fastening, mark 1/2” in from the left hand side. Attach the other half of your fastening.  


Make it your own;
·    To make a bigger/smaller Travel Design Board: chose the finished size of board that you would like and cut wadding and bondaweb to this size. Cut outer fabric +1” bigger on width and height.
·     If you don’t want to use the self-binding method described above, cut all three layers the same size and then attach binding as you would normally for a quilt.
·     If you are not keen on fastenings or don’t have any to hand, some other ideas are:
o   Sew some ribbon in to the binding so that you can fasten the design board with a bow
o   Use a button and loop closure


And there we are! I hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial! If you make one then please do let me know and tag it #traveldesignboard on instagram so that I can see your makes, and do let me know if you have any questions.

Back soon,

S x

Today’s sky:::  grey and rainy…. *clearly* nearly half term!!!


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