Monday, 29 July 2013

Embracing Improv!

Hello! Hope you've all had a great weekend? I spent time working on my Improv Block from FQR and making it into a cushion.

When I'd been packing up for FQR the instructions for Lu Summers class was for scraps around 5" or a charm pack. After a bit of a root around, I found a charm pack (about 20 pieces) of Avignon by Emily Taylor for Riley Blake, a few matching solids of yellow, turquoise and Kona Snow and kind of hoped for the best!
Improv Block by fabricandflowersuk

I was quite nervous about the Improv class because I'm an instructions kind of girl, so Lu's 'cut around 5 strips, about 1" wide' was a bit of a challenge for me. So I did as I was (roughly!) told and learnt four different techniques: strips (which could be turned into HSTs, which I didn't do), log cabins, chevrons, lazy drunkards path and crazy patchwork. I actually found it easier to improv as we progressed as we had more scraps, whereas to start with I had to cut things to size. I'm so glad I took along the solids to provide some contrast and some 'rest' areas in the piece. Others in the class had taken mostly solids and mixed in with a few feature fabrics and their pieces were really amazing - I definitely want to try that next time!

The construction was again quite fun for me: there may have been a moment where Lu and I had a conversation along the lines of:

Me: So how big is the block meant to be?
Lu: However it's shaping up, it's up to you....
Me: how should I put the pieces together?
Lu: Just lay them out and see what you like best
Me: Okaayyyyy.......

But I made it through! I'd already decided to make it into a cushion for Little Girl and as the piece was so busy I added a Kona Snow border, before using all the left over scraps to make a very scrappy binding.
Improv cushion by fabricandflowersuk

For quilting, I thought it would be fun to echo the drunkards path as well as have a go at spiral quilting. I remembered reading a 'how-to' guide over on Kerry's blog and would thoroughly recommend it, her template rocks!!!!
Spiral Quilting on Improv Cushion by fabricandflowersuk

It's a envelope-style cushion, but when it came to putting it together I realised that I had the two pieces for the back but only one was wide enough. What to do?! I ummed and ahhed, checked my stash and decided that it really was the best choice, and that I'd just have to piece a bottom panel. I added some Kona Snow, decided it looked a bit empty and that as it was for Little Girl I would add a special message for her.....
Special message to Little Girl by fabricandflowersuk

So a truly Improv'd cushion I think?! It's been so fun and I'm already planning some more projects: a wall hanging using some Oakshotts and someday a quilt for Boy 1 (he keeps asking for "a dark blue quilt Mummy"!!!). First, I'm going to eagerly stalk await the postie to bring me Lu's new book for more inspiration and ideas!


Todays sky ● blue, clouds, grey - think we've had pretty much everything today!!!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Lets Get Acquainted!!!!

Hello there! Welcome to my blog if you've popped over on the Let's Get Acquainted Hop, it's so nice to meet you!
Part of my craft room, cropped to miss out the messy desk!!!

Firstly, I must say a massive thank-you to Beth for letting me join in as I suspect I was one of the last ones to say 'oh, can I join in, please?!'

My blog journey started nearly a year and a half ago now: back then I was a keen knitter/crocheter and had been debating blogging for a while. I then read about 'concept knitting/crochet' and made the leap to crochet a row a day for 2012 based on the colour of the sky and thought what better way to document my progress?! On my first post, I signed off with a mini sky report as it seemed apt and still do it now, partly because it's habit and also because it fits in with the British obsession with weather!!!!
2012 Sky Blanket by fabricandflowersuk - read more here

I spent ageesssss trying to find a blog name: lots that I liked were already taken so in the end I went for fabric and flowers as they combine two of my favourite things, although I must confess that my enthusiasm for gardening doesn't translate to actual skill!!!!

Last year I started my adventures in patchwork/quilting and dressmaking and haven't looked back - there literally aren't enough hours in the day for everything that I want to do at the moment!!! I still feel very new to it all and am still trying to find my style, but I'm having a lot of fun along the way!
Patchwork projects by fabricandflowersuk

As you can see, I've had a go at lots of different things over the past year and enjoyed them all so much. This year I've signed up to the Skill Builder BOM (although I'm still working on April's Blocks so am a little behind - oops!) and a Siblings Together quilting bee which is great fun and for such a good cause, and I'm learning new skills all the time which is brilliant!
Dressmaking projects by fabricandflowersuk
I've also had a lot of fun with dressmaking, although looking at these pictures all together I do seem to have a set pose, don't I?!

I love to make bags too and have been on a bit of a Sew Sweetness kick lately!
Aeroplane and Lapin Noir bag by fabricandflowersuk

At the moment, I mostly sew downstairs at the kitchen table, but do have a spare room which is my space (and the guest room). I've not fully moved in yet (my excuse being that we recently moved but that was nearly 9mths ago now, so that's starting to wear a bit thin!), partly because it's upstairs and I would be interrupted by my three Littlies as I tend to sew at night. Would you like to see some of my room?
Fabric and yarn storage! fabricandflowersuk

Most of my fabric and yarn is stored in a dresser unit which I bought cheap and repainted. I think I've got quite a modest stash (although Mr f&f disagrees!)

When I'm not sewing/knitting/crochet I'm running around after my children - ages 7yrs, 4yrs and 3yrs (yep, 16mths between the last two - it was a crazy first year!!!!) which keeps me fairly busy. From September they'll all be going to school in some form or another so I'm hoping to have a lot more time to work out some of my ideas.

And just for a bit of fun, here are some crazy things that you may (or may not!) want to know about me!

✿  My first real job after uni was selling fork-lift trucks
✿  I didn't enjoy selling fork-lift trucks but did enjoy meeting one of my customers who I later married (we've been together nearly 14yrs now - eek!)
✿ BC (before children!) I worked in market research. Even now, I still love walking around supermarkets, checking out new packaging and products. 
✿ For our honeymoon, Mr f&f and I went to America and toured around on a Harley Davidson for two weeks: it was the best time ever
✿ I love hearing my kids laugh
✿ I always get my words mixed up, especially when I'm tired.
✿ I get overly excited when seeds I plant in the garden start to grow
✿ Sometime I laugh so hard I cry, especially if it's one of those animal videos from You've Been Framed - they get me every time!
✿ I'm not a morning person. It takes me at least two cups of tea to wake up. I once put chilli on my porridge (instead of cinnamon) because I wasn't fully awake!

Thanks so much for popping in and don't forget to check out the rest of the fab blogs that are on this weeks hop;

RobinSue @ RobinSue Quilts
Elisa @ Lovelea Designs
Elizabeth @ In The Boondocks
Emily @ Sew E.T.

S x

Todays sky ● blue sky and lots of cloud, still warm though!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

What a FQR'ing great weekend!

Oh my! And what a weekend it was.....I don't even know where to start!
Travelling (partly!) handmade!!!!
As predicted I was waaaaay too over-excited and I think I spent most of the weekend speaking way too fast and having to repeat myself at a much slower pace, but by Sunday I had actually started to calm down! Apologies to anyone who nodded their head politely at me but didn't really know what I was talking about.....

I met so many amazing people - it was especially great to finally meet Sarah, my roommate for the weekend, and a lot of my Siblings Together bee mates, including Jo who made a special trip up on Saturday night.  And yet I also seem to miss lots of people too which I didn't realise until I got home: a testament to how crazy busy the weekend was.

The classes were brilliant - Kerry was fab (and wore some of her amazing clothes on each day - I so want her wardrobe!) and I've almost finished my PJ pants so will be able to post them in a few days. I even managed to sew them on this tiny little machine (I bought it for Little Girl and borrowed it for the weekend as it was a lot easier to take to London!)

The highlight class for me was Lu's Improv class on Saturday morning - I knew that it would be out of my comfort zone and didn't expected to love it as much as I did. I used a charm pack which I had at home, mixed in with a few solids but really loved the ones that were done with solids mixed in with a few prints. I was so engrossed in what I was doing that I stayed an extra hour to get my block done, and am going to turn it into a cushion for Little Girl (she's already passed approval on the colours!)
Improv block by fabricandflowersuk

My table-top sessions were both with Mandy - hand quilting and needle-turn applique - both of which I really enjoyed, and techniques that I plan to include in my future makes. We also got to ogle Mandy's Green Tea & Sweet Beans quilt at the same time which is stunning and inspiring (and going on my bucket list of 'one day' quilts!)
Green Tea & Sweet Beans quilt made by Mandy Noble

And then there was my fab swap group - Krista, Jo and Diane - where I was lucky enough to be given the cutest doll, decorative tape measure and cosmetic bag.
Di, Krista, Me & Jo

Saturday night was market night where I confess to indulging in a little retail therapy (honestly, I was very restrained!), a lot of it inspired by Lu's Improv Class and included a pre-order of her new book.
FQR Market Night

There was also a raffle which included some fabulous prizes - I was lucky enough to win a jelly roll of Comma, and there were a few lucky people who won 32 FQ's of Liberty (yep, you read that right! Some of them were nearly mugged I think!!!!) and others who won boxes of Aurifil. Together with the goody-bag we got on arrival I came home with quite a haul!

It's difficult to describe just how much fun I had meeting so many inspiring and lovely people as well as learning new things - my mind has been buzzing ever since I got back, although the reality of going straight into the summer holidays and starting potty training has bought me down to earth with somewhat of a BuMp!!!

I've already told Mr f&f that I'd like to go again next year.......

S x

Todays sky ● blue with lots of clouds

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A staple Staple Dress!

I've been umming and ahhing over the Staple Dress for a while now - it looks like exactly the sort of thing I'd love to wear and that would go great with leggings so perfect for the colder months but it also looks like the sort of thing that could be completely shapeless on me. What to do?!

When Minerva Crafts contacted me about the Laurel Dress I asked very cheekily if I could buy some jersey and have it sent over at the same time and they very kindly included it for free. How nice of them is that?!

The Staple Dress is really quick to do - just five pieces, 9 if you add the pockets in which I did.

I think the longest part of making this dress was matching up the fabric on the fold - the pattern goes both horizontal and vertical so it had to be level, and I didn't really want a white bird highlighting my chest (like headlights, if I got the placement wrong - eek!) so I took my time over cutting it out.

Once cut out it came together really quickly. Having read a couple of blog posts and after holding the pattern pieces up against myself I decided to lower the front neckline slightly to make it a bit more comfortable for me around the neck. I also adjusted the drop hemline as although I always admire them sometimes the difference in lengths makes me feel a bit schizophrenic...!!!

On a whim I decided to hand-stitch the hem in place: I didn't want a solid line of stitching around the bottom and sometimes it's socialable to sit with Mr f&f of an evening! So, would you like to see my finished dress?
Staple dress by fabricandflowersuk

I love it and am so happy with the final fit, it's so comfortable! I can see many more of these in my future and I may even try shirring on my next version.

So, details are;
Pattern::: Staple Dress by April Rhodes, size XS
Fabric::: Bird Print Jersey
Mods::: lowered the front neckline by 1/2", re-drew the drop hem at the front (the highest point is halfway between original lines for the straight & drop hem)

I'm thinking it would also look lovely in this and this which are slightly more summery in colour, and this remnant would make a lovely dress!!

Thanks again to Minerva Crafts for sending me some lovely fabrics to play with!


Today's sky ● bright blue & boiling hot.......again!!!

DISCLAIMER: I am not sponsored by any manufacturer or supplier, I only use fabrics I like and suppliers that provide excellent service. All photos are taken by me and all opinions in my blog are entirely my own based on my personal experience.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

July Siblings Together Bee Block ✔

In the craziness of the last couple of weeks, I forgot to post about my July Siblings Together Bee Block. This month was organised by Jo who asked for wonky square blocks, inspired by and based on this tutorial, although the wonkiness was to be based on different widths of fabric around the central square.

This months fabric was Moda Simple Marks mixed in with some Kona Solids, with all the fabrics being donated by our wonderful sponsors




And here's my finished block at 18". As you may know, I like straight lines and order so this was a real challenge for me and I had lots of fun making it!

I can't wait to see the finished quilt - it's going to be so colourful and cheery!

See you soon,


Todays sky ● bright blue and scorching hot!

Monday, 15 July 2013

A new Laurel

A little while ago, I was lucky enough to be picked by Minerva Crafts to try out some new stretch cotton canvas fabric when they asked "if you had the choice of these fabrics, which would you chose and what would you make?". I was still riding the high of my last Laurel top and thought that it would be great to have a winter-weight Laurel dress. And Minerva Crafts seemed to agree!

I chose a patterned fabric.  It has a good weight to it, with just a slight amount of stretch. It is perfect for a winter dress, or even a skirt and would be better for fitted/structured items as it's thickness means it doesn't drape massively. It does tend to fray once cut so you do need to make sure that you finish your seams off, which I did with a zig-zag as I don't have an over-locker.

The Laurel dress was easy enough to put together, although I did need to make a few adjustments to the pattern to take into account the thickness of the fabric: namely re-adjusting the sleeve and taking in the back centre seams a bit for a slightly better fit. I also tackled an invisible zipper for the first time using a normal zipper foot. After googling it, it seems the trick is to iron the zipper teeth flat and it worked!

For something a bit different I bound the neckline and sleeves with a black satin ribbon which I used just like binding, as I thought it would add a nice bit of contrast to the fabric. Clover Clips were essential to hold it in place!

So, without further ado, here's my new Laurel (which you need to appreciate I'm modelling on one of our hottest days so far!!!!!)
Laurel dress by fabricandflowersuk

Laurel dress by fabricandflowersuk

So, details;
Pattern::: Colette Laurel
Size::: 2
Mods::: took in the back centre seam by 1/2" on each side, lowered the armstice and front darts by 1/2"

I'm really happy with how this has come out, I think it's going to be great in Autumn/Winter with a pair of leggings. In retrospect the only thing I would maybe change is taking in the skirt as it does feel a little bit pouffy!

Thanks again Minerva Crafts for letting me play with your new fabrics - I had great fun!


Todays sky ● glorious blue and baking hot!

Monday, 8 July 2013

This is me!

So, in just under two weeks, I'll be heading off into London for a weekend of Sewing Fun at Fat Quarterly Retreat: it's my first time going, I am just a tad over-excited about it all as well as being just a teensy bit nervous about meeting all these quilting celebs in real life. I'm so hoping I don't make a fool of myself!

There's a bit of a linky party going on, so for those of you that are going, this is me (and I will probably look this goofy all weekend!)

So, what about me?! I'm still just about in my mid-thirties (!) and am a stay-at-home Mum to my three Littlies (Girl, Boy 1 and Boy 2). Before Littlies I used to work in market research and spent a lot of time crunching numbers and predicting stuff. Then we started a family and when Boy 2 arrived two weeks before Girl turned 4yrs life just got a bit too chaotic. So I've been at home ever since.....

My Littlies by fabricandflowersuk

I re-started sewing about three years ago now and love patchwork and quilting, dress-making and also enjoy knitting and crochet in odd moments too! I still feel very much a newbie with patchwork, which I think is partly due to being a complete perfectionist and only ever seeing what could have been done better (I blame it on being a Virgo). I've been on a bit of a bag kick lately so you might spot me carrying around one of these...
Aeroplane Bag and Lapin Noir bag by fabricandflowersuk

With the exception of Anna who I've met for a couple of hours, everyone else will be new to me. And that means that I'll probably over-compensate by talking too much, probably too loud and interjected with lots of nervous laughter. If you can bear with me until I calm down we'll hopefully have a great ol' natter!

I'll be sharing a room with Sarah - who I'm so excited to be finally meeting! - at the Grange and am looking forward to meeting lots of lovely people in Kerry's PJ Pants class, Lu's Improv Class (which should be a nice challenge to my perfectionism streak!) and then I'm stalking (!) Mandy in Hand Quilting and Needle-turn Applique.

Can't wait to see you all there - please come and say 'hello' to me and don't be offended if I come running over to squeal excitedly at you......

Right, I really should get on with organising my bits now....

See you soon,

S x

Todays sky ● clear blue and boiling hot!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Mamma's got a brand new bag!

Hey everyone! How are you all? I had a busy weekend working away finishing the pattern testing for one of Sara's new bags. Its a new pattern called the Lapin Noir and I have to say that I love it! There are two different ways of carrying it which also give the bag two very different looks. And did I mention that it's also very roomy with lots of inside pockets? Perfect for trying to organise my life!
Sara Sweetness Lapin Noir bag by fabricandflowersuk

The pattern is well written and easy to follow, although there is quite a lot of 'prep' with regards to pockets, straps, handles so you will need to allow a bit of time - I managed it in a few hours over a few nights. The bag requires a foam such as Annie's Soft & Stable, but I used car scrim that I had left over from my Aeroplane bag and it helps to give the bag good body and make it feel really sturdy.

The exterior requires 1/2 a yard of fabric, so it's a great way of show-casing any special pieces of fabric that you have lying around. I had some Liberty Lifestyle Bloomsbury sitting in my stash which I'd bought when it was first launched, and because I didn't want to break it up too much I also used it for the front pocket and the strap extenders.
Sara Sweetness Lapin Noir bag by fabricandflowersuk

I did make a few minor adjustments to the pattern, mostly due to the supplies that I had on hand. I only had a quarter metre of the teal, which I really wanted to be visible as the lining when the bag's folded over. The pattern calls for the lining to be a mirror of the exterior of the bag eg. a contrast band at the bottom, so instead I did a bit of careful measuring and used the teal for the top portion of the bag so that it was level with the internal zip pocket 

Bag interior by fabricandflowersuk

The only issues I incurred was with the handles, which are actually one of my favourite features of the bag! The largest cotton cording that I could buy was 12mm (the circumference) which would have meant that the pattern requirement of a strip of 2.5" wide to cover it would have left a lot of excess fabric, so I instead reduced it to 2" and then followed the instructions. I also slip stitched the ends shut as I could not get my machine to participate on sewing the seam shut.
Sara Sweetness Lapin Noir bag by fabricandflowersuk
And then it was on to sewing the tabs to fix the handles in place. Boy, my machine did not like all those layers of fabric - it was quite the challenge, especially as I do not have an adjustable foot! So, my top tip for sewing on those tabs? When you have the handles wrapped up in the tab, ready to sew in place, it's really helpful to have a seam ripper to hand that you can use to push the handle and any excess fabric underneath itself so that it doesn't get caught in your seam (ask me how I know!!!). I didn't even bother trying to machine stitch around the tab and instead slip stitched them in place. If I had my dream machine with an adjustable foot height, then I think machine stitching would add a really nice touch, I just wasn't particularly good friends with my machine by the time I got to that point!

I love this pattern and the finished bag makes me feel all proud and glow-y like! I'll be bringing this with me to Retreat - it should hold most of my essentials I reckon?! And I'll be keeping a special eye on it when Hadley's around......

ETA - the pattern is now available to buy here!

See you soon,

S x

Todays sky ● mixed, blue skies and clouds. Nice and warm though!

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