Celebrating Sunshine

As I enjoy the start of what promises to be yet another magnificent sunny holiday day I’m reminded of the mini quilt I made for the June Monthly Doll Quit Swap, “Under the Sun”.

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The theme was “My Garden” and from the off I knew I wanted to use a floral design. I had seen an inspiring quil on Connecting Threads but the block size was only 5″, much smaller than what I was aiming for, so I quicly designed a large central floral block that finished at 15″ square.SunbloomI used a block border and plain border, representing the spots of colour and grass around my garden. The binding used was Kona Cheddar, a nice sunny colour. I kept the quilting simple. And started with a semi circle in the corner, the Sun.Sunstitch

From this corner rays of sunlight radiate over the rest of the quilt. To stitch these I used a decorative stitch on my machine that produces a nice even wavy line. The quilting was stitched with Kin Tut #922 Harem.

Sunrays

Finishing up at 20″ square this mini depicts so much on what I love about my garden in summer. Of course one other wonderful thing about summer is holiday time. I love heading back home to Ireland for a couple of weeks of camping and caravanning with my family. I can’t say I’m getting any sewing done, although I have plenty of projects with me I could be working on. Instead I’m making the most of some stunning sunny weather, enjoying dips in a crystal clear sea, and waking up to stunning views such as this one that inspired this mornings post.

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Ho, Ho, Ho and On We Sew – July

July is in full swing, and for many that means Christmas in July and the start of their seasonal sewing. However for myself and Fiona over at Celtic Thistles Stitches it means that it is month seven of our Ho, Ho, Ho and On We Sew link party. We have been busy working away on our Christmas projects since the start of the year, with the aim of being extra organised this year, and each month we, and a series of guest hosts, have been hosting the Ho, Ho, Ho and On We Sew link party, sharing tutorials for handmade gifts and working on making sure that, unlike last year, we are very organised for Christmas this year.

Now I must admit that I very nearly didn’t make it to the party this month. It’s been a bit of a crazy time for me and the 18th literally snuck up on me without a single piece of Christmas sewing having been completed this month. Thankfully though my boys decided that this morning was a good day to wake up extra early, and the earlier than normal start allowed me to sneak in a couple of hours sewing. For a super quick make I decided on a pouch design I have been using a lot lately.

PouchThe design, which I am working on a tutorial for, is very simple and quick to make. The pouch has a boxed base and the covered button is purely decorative, hiding a sew-on magentic clasp underneath. My original plan for this month had been to make lots more of my Christmas ornaments because, although I have enough for myself, I do not yet have enough to gift. I may not have gotten around to making the ornaments yet, but now I do have the perfect package to gift them in.

OpenpouchAs I plan on gifting ornaments to more than one person I reckoned it was just as easy to make a few pouches as it was to make one, and so I completed three. Each has a slightly different flap shape but all were made to the same simple design.

3pouchesNow of course you can’t have a link party without somewhere to link-up all of your makes. This month’s link party is being hosted by the very talented Nicole over at Modern Handcraft. If you haven’t visited Modern Handcraft before then I urge you to do so as Nicole has no end of wonderful ideas and tutorials that will inspire you. In addition to hosting the link party this month Nicole is also sharing her tutorial for a really fun countdown to Christmas advent chain.

As with every link party there will be a random giveaway for all of those who link up. This month’s prize is a lovely fabric scrap bundle from Backstitch and you can see the bundle in question over on Fiona’s post. The link party remains open till the end of the month, so even if you haven’t started your sewing yet you still have plenty of time to do so and link up a finished project. I look forward to seeing all your makes.

Mini Mania

Mini quilts. I just love them. I love that I can quickly try out new designs and ideas, I love that I can constantly change what I am working on and I love that sometimes I can go from start to finish in the space of a day. I’ve made several mini quilts over the past month and today I’d like to share the first of these, “Tumbled”, with you.

"Tumbled" Liberty mini quilt | Mud, Pies and Pins“Tumbled” began life as scraps. I started with a Very Berry Fabrics scrap pack of Liberty lawns. I love to keep a few of these always in my stash as they are a great source of fabrics for many of the mini projects I like to work on. I then teamed the Liberty scraps up with some plain off-white fabric. I tend to use a lot of this fabric in my various sewing projects and of course that means that I am forever generating plenty of scraps.

"Tumbled" Liberty mini quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsTo make the quilt I simply chose nine coordinating scraps of Liberty lawns from the scrap pack and sashed each one in strips of the off-white fabric approximately 3″ wide – some were a little wider, some a little narrower depending on what the scraps yielded. Once all of the scraps were sashed I laid out the blocks in their final layout and then trimmed all of the blocks down so that the orientation of the Liberty centre of each block was always varied. The resulting blocks were always trimmed to 6.5″ high, but the widths varied within an inch. For each row of blocks I made sure that the sum of the widths of the three blocks in the row equalled 19.5″.

"Tumbled" Liberty mini quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsOnce all nine blocks were joined to complete the mini quilt top I set about quilting it. For backing fabric I used “Vogelfrühling”, and organic German fabric featuring a Sybille Hein design.

"Tumbled" Liberty mini quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsI decided that a simple spiral would be the most effective quilting for this quilt as it enhanced the sense of movement and tumbling that the block arrangement conveyed.

"Tumbled" Liberty mini quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsThe quilting was stitched with the same Aurifil #2021 I had used to piece the quilt. I finished the quilt off with with binding made from a blender in aquatic blue from the Simply Style Fabric Collection by V and Co. for Moda which picked up on the colours in many of the Liberty fabrics used.

"Tumbled" Liberty mini quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsOne interesting trick I discovered with this quilts was how to iron with a saucepan! This mini was made for the Doll Quilter’s Monthly Swap. It was finished just before a long weekend here, when we were all heading off to my brother’s place in the mountains for the weekend. As I hadn’t had time to photograph it before I left I packed it up so that I could photograph it and post it when while we were away. I forgot that it would crease when packed and of course I want it mostly flat for photographing. Not having an iron I decided I’d go back to basics. One heavy bottomed saucepan gently heated, a bit of water in said saucepan for added weight and heat retention and it was job done!

"Tumbled" Liberty mini quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsFinishing up at 18″ aquare I can’t help but think that “Tumbled” would make a great starting block for a quilt. I have always wanted to make a quilt as you go quilt and I think that this mini could be the perfect starting block. With that idea in mind I have set up a basket of Liberty scraps and neutral strips which I am going to use as leaders and enders with a view to creating a set of these blocks as I stitch so that I can hopefully make a larger QAYG version of “Tumbled” in the future.

"Tumbled" Liberty mini quilt | Mud, Pies and Pins

Handmade Gifts for Children

Ever since our boys arrived our circle of friends with children has slowly increased, and with that, of course, the number of birthdays to be celebrated. As I’m not a fan of the latest crazes and the “must have” toys, I much prefer to try to buy or make something that will be appreciated by both the recipient and their parents.

Earlier this year I made my niece a selection of dolls’ clothes. She’s at the age where she loves to dress up dolls, but as some of hers are quite small it’s not that easy to find clothes for them.

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With the exception of the trousers, which are elasticised, all of the outfits are simply velcroed shut, which should hopefully make them easy for little hands to take on and off, an

For another little girl, who loves My Little Pony and other little dolls I made a play bag/mat that she could use to carry her playthings with her when she was out and about.

PlatmatbagThe flaps adown both sides of the bag that you can see above are where the bag velcroes shut down. Once the bag is opened flat it revelas a playmat on one side whereas the other features sortage pockets for larger dolls along with and a mesh pocket that has a velcroed flap for storing smaller items.

Platmat

In this case I made the playmat to resemble a garden complete with pond and flower beds, but I have lots of other ideas for these bags and I’m now in the process of making versions for my boys that I will put away for Christmas.

The latest sewn gift was a pillow and quilt set for a little girl who I knew would be getting her first dolls for her birthday last week. I use two different fabric combinations to make both the pillow and quilt reversible.

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On the one side there was a 2″ patchwork featuring bright colours and butterflies, on the other side I went for a more pastel scheme with florals and lace. This was also the first time I free motion quilted a proper quilt, albeit a mini one, but I am more than delighted with the results and all the practicing I have been doing is defintiely worth while.

ButterflyquiltflippedThere have been plenty of non-sewn gifts too. For the child who loves to craft I went bought a storage box with movable dividers and then filled it up with all manner of craft items. I made sure I included plety of sticky tape, both plain and patterned, as I knew this was something that was used a lot. For another it was a set of small plain cloth bags and fabric markers, perfect for making personalised totes.

Semi-consumable gifts are also quite popular. Browsing through Pinterest I kept coming up across the idea of gifting cake and cookie mixes in jars, and my son had actually received such a gift last summer (much to his, and my, delight). When a friend’s child was recently diagnosed as lactose intolerant I knew this would be the perfect gift and so I put together a few jars filled with muffin mixes that just needed the addition of oil, eggs and fruit juice to bake yummy lactose free delights. With the addition of some baking implements, silicon baking cases, and apron or maybe a cookbook it’s easy to transform a few simple ingredients into a wonderful gift.

I know that there will always be the old reliables like books and Lego that I will happily buy as gifts, but for the most part I see lots more makes for children in my future. Do you have favourite go-to gifts that you make for the children whom you gift? If you do I’d love to hear all about them.

A Few Reminders

Last week I shared “Fluttering” with you, the quilt I had made for the Quilt Sandwich Fabrics Briar Rose Challenge. All of the challenge projects have now been posted over on the Quilt Sandwich Fabrics blog and I can highly recommend visiting as there are lots of wonderful makes to see. You can also vote for your favourite make by leaving a comment on their blog post while you are there.

QuiltingThis week also sees the start of the second half of Plum and June’s 2014 New Quilt Blogger’s Blog Hop and there are lots of great new blogs participating this week so be sure to pop on over to Plum and June’s and get hopping.

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