April – A Month of Firsts

April 1st might be All Fool’s Day, but April has been a month of firsts for my little blog, and none of them foolish. Although I’ve been writing the odd few posts here and there before this, April was the month when I finally began to open up my blog to the world. I had my first follower, my first comments, participated in my first competitions over at Stitched in Color, wrote my first tutorial for my QAYG type flowers and joined in my first link-up over at Greta’s Quilting Studio. If you’ve never visited Greta’s Quilting Studio then I can highly recommend you do so. Her work is really stunning. Cick on her button below to pop on over.

I have also received a few interesting pieces of mail, that too will be firsts for me. I have joined my first block of the month club. I am going to make the Warm Winter Blessings quilt by Primitive Gatherings. The materials for my first block have arrived and I’m hoping to get started on that next week.

I also received my Umbrella Prints Trimmings pack that I ordered a couple of weeks ago as I’m going to take part in the Umbrella Prints Timmings competition.

I’m excited about this as it gives me a chance to get playing with some beautiful fabric pieces. Time to get creative and start thinking a little outside the box I think.You can find out more about the competition by clicking on the poster below.

I’ve been over at Threadbias playing about with their quilt design tool and participating in the Briar Rose Quilt Design Contest. I really like their quilt design tool and even though I have a copy of EQ7 that I love to use, I also love the flexibility and ease of use of the Threadbias tool and I can see myself creating plenty with it in the future too. If you’ve not already seen it I can highly recommend checking it out and joining the lovely community over there.

 

Briar Rose

Heather Ross has her first collection of quilting cottons for Windham Fabrics coming out in July.

Called Briar Rose, it’s a cute collection featuring frogs, bees, strawberries and roses, and I’m looking forward to getting creative with some of those fabrics in the future and am thinking of making myself a lovely outdoors picnic quilt.

At the moment there is a quilt design contest ongoing over at Threadbias in collaboration with Pink Castle Fabrics and Windham Fabrics.

It’s a fun competition that involves using the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool to create a quilt featuring fabrics from the Briar Rose line. I had a play around with it and came up with a design that I named Briar Wheels.

It’s a large block quilt, and needless to say I would love to win the fabrics I need to make this. I could see myself and my boys enjoying summer picnics in the garden on a quilt like this.

QAYG Flower Tutorial

I’ve been asked a few times how I made the flowers on my Shelburne Falls cushion and my Mother’s Day / Easter cushion. So here to answer all of those questions is a tutorial on how I made them.

Before I start I have an apology to make. My photos aren’t the best. I do most of my sewing at night, when my two little boys are safely tucked up in bed. Needless to say night time sewing is not the best for photography. I should also point out that this is my very first tutorial so forgive me if it is over wordy, not clear on some points etc. I’ll happily answer any questions there may be.

To start with a list of materials: you will need a small piece of plain cotton for the base and a selection of rectangular scraps for the flower. You can use any colours you like. Personally I like to use a gradation of colours working from the centre outward. Scraps should be no more than 1″ wide and at you should not need any longer than 3″. Depending on how you wish to finish the flower you will need either fusible web or some lightweight muslin/cotton (more about that in a minute). Finally you will need an octagonal template to cut out your flower. I drew mine 4.5″ wide for my larger flower and 3.25″ wide for the smaller one.

I should also give a little information on finishing the flowers before I start. My early versions were sewn as per this tutorial, although when cutting out my octagonal base fabric I added 0.25 inches to all seams to allow for finishing. Once the flower was completed I then stitched a layer of thin backing cotton to the right side of the flower allowing a quarter inch seam all around. After trimming my seams and clipping the corners I made a slit in the backing cotton and turned the flower inside out. This finished the edges of the flowers neatly but the resulting flowers were relatively bulky. This worked well on my cushions but I also wanted a less bulky version for a quilt I am planning and I then came up with the method I will describe here.

The first step is to cut out your base fabric. For this version I applied a layer of fusible web to the cotton before cutting out my octagon. I then cut out my octagon to the size I had planned for my finished flower. I removed the backing paper from the fusbile web side and then proceeded to place my central flower piece on the background right side up. I like to place it off centre as I find this gives me a lovely result in the finished flower. For reference my centre piece was approximately 1″ x 1.25″.

Your next piece will be place right side down on top of the centre piece at a slight angle. Stitch this second piece in place allowing approximately an eighth of an inch seam, then finger press away from the central piece. DO NOT iron it. If you do you will stick it in place with the fusible wed. You do not want to do this yet so please finger press only throughout. I should also add that I start and finish my stitch several stitches either side of my fabric piece, and I don’t use any locking stitches unitl I get ot he pieces at the edge of the flower. Most piece will be well enouvh anchored by the overlapping pieces not to need the extra locking stitches, and this way it’s also much easier to unpick and reposition a piece if you find it’s placement is wrong.

Add a third piece roughly opposite the second piece, again at an angle, stitch in place and FINGER PRESS away from the centre.

The next piece added will cover both the centre piece and the ends of the two pieces already added.

The following pieces should cover other end of the centre. The idea is to create a rough pentagon or even a hexagon around the first piece.

Once you complete the first “circle” of pieces around the centre you begin with the next “round”. At this stage you should aim to always try to cover at least two end pieces with each new piece added. You will find that as you go you may almost completely cover pieces previously added. This is fine.

Soon you will find that you are reaching at least one edge of your octagon.

At this stage finger press each piece in place, then fold it back and trim all of the underlying material to expose as much of the base at possible. This is done no matter which type of finish you are working with. If adding a backing it reduces the bulk in the edge seams, if working with the fusible web it allows it to fuse directly with the edge pieces of the finished flower.

Then fold the piece back in place and roughly trim to follow the shape of the hexagon.

Continue adding pieces till you have covered all of the base. Now you can iron away. This should fuse all of the edges neatly if you are using fusible web.

The final step for this version is to trim the flower neatly to shape using a ruler and rotary cutter. Turn the flower upside down to do this so you can use the base material as your guide. If you are backing your flower you can then proceed on to do that.

To use either version of the flower I attach a new layer of fusible web to the back and then iron in place. The backed flowers I then anchor in place with a ladder stitch. The flatter unbacked flowers lend themselves to all manner of decorative appliqué stitching.

Needless to say the variations in colour and design of these flowers are endless. I do hope you enjoy making and using these flowers as much as I do.

QAYG Flower TutorialLarge flowerSmall flower DSC07479 cropped DSC07481 DSC07484

Sunset on the Shore Mosaics

Over at Stitched in Color Rachel is hosting a mosaic contest sponsored by Lark Cottons. I’ve never tried my hand at creating a fabric mosaic before, I’ve really always stuck to collections when it came to using a mix of fabrics in my sewing. So, always willing to try my hand at something new, I thought I’d give it a go.

The theme of the mosaic is Sweet Contrary.  According to Rachel’s description the fabric collection should include a contrast of warm red, pink or orange vs. cool colors like aqua, gray, teal or blue. These are my sort of colours. They remind me of spring, of summer and most of all of sunny days by the sea that end in spectacular sunsets.

I’ve played around with the fabrics and the Mosaic Maker tool and come up with the following two mosaics.

The first is influenced by the spring colours appearing around me at the moment. Delicate pinks and oranges reminiscent of spring blossoms with hints of fresh green growth. The second is more a vision of summer days to come as colours become more vibrant, when sunsets are unmatched in their glory, their colours reflect off the water and echo those in blooms all around.

Old is gold

For years all my sewing was done on my mum’s sewing machine, a beautiful old Singer. It could stitch forward and backward. It had an attachment to stitch buttonholes.That was it.

I then inherited my grandmother’s machine. An even older Singer. A Singer 201k to be exact. She is now 55 years old and she is a beauty. She too only stitches forward and backward, but we have been through so much together. When we bough our house she stitched our curtains and cushions. When I got married she stitched my wedding dress and the corset tops I made for my sisters. When I had my first son she stitched the first pairs of trousers I made for him.

But sometimes a girl wants more and when I saw a Brother on offer in a local store my head was turned. It stitched a myriad of stitches, it was lightweight, and all in all it was fun to sew with. And so it was that the Singer was relegated to the corner and the brother took over on my sewing table, whizzing through all manner of projects. It is a beautiful machine, and it has allowed me to tackle all manner of new sewing projects that before this would have been beyond me. But the one thing it is not is faultless, and at two years old it decided to have a wobble and needed to be sent off for a full service.

It was then that I realised just how wonderful my old Singer is. She is sturdy. She is easy to maintain. When you take off her cover there is the most wonderful faint aroma of sewing machine oil, which to me is part of the sewing experience. And the one big thing she has is harp space, lots and lots and lots of harp space. Unlike my Brother she easily accomodates the bulk of a quilt. So while my Brother will remain my day to day machine for general sewing my Singer is taking over the role of quilter. She has plenty of life in her yet and while she may be old but she is most certainly the star of my sewing room.