Sunday 23 September 2012

Miss Maven ruffles my feathers

Have you ever been halfway through a project and wondered why you ever started it? Well, that is where I was with my latest project for 12 WIP's in 2012.

At the beginning of the year I committed to making a bag from Amy Butler's Style Stitches book, having only made the Origami bags since I bought it (and let's face it you don't really need this book to make them!) the book was turning out to be an expensive ornament!

A nest of bags

I have been putting this off but couldn't put if off any longer as it was the only one of my remaining WIP's that I could reasonably complete in the time I had available. To be honest I had been underwhelmed by Style Stitches when I first looked through it so hadn't had much in the way of motivation to get cracking on anything. I think that part of the problem was the text heavy instructions. Style Stitches is full of arty photographs of the models and even of the completed bags, but completely lacking in photos of the techniques or process involved in making the bags. The odd hand-drawn illustration here and there just doesn't cut the mustard as far as I am concerned.

 I decided that I would have a go at the Miss Maven Ruffled Handbag, it didn't look too complicated! Hah! First problem was that I didn't have the double-sided fusible Pelltex called for, but I did have double-sided Ultra Firm & Flex, so thought that would be a good enough substitute. Well it was, but it was a real pain trying to fuse the fabrics as the Ultra Firm & Flex doesn't have a protective backing like the Pelltex has, so fusing only one side at a time per the instructions wasn't too straightforward! Lots of peeling the fused handle off of the pressing cloth was involved.

Making the body of the bag was straightforward although now that it is finished I really don't like the large inner pocket, it is just too big even although it is stitched in the middle. It runs the width of the bag including half of the side so it gapes too!
That as it turns out was only the beginning of my problems with this bag. Attaching the handles to the main bag and lining was tricky as not only were there curved seams involved but the double thickness of the handles with the Ultra Firm made manoeuvring the pieces under the needle difficult. Seams were ripped several times! Then this happened

Spotted the problem?

The instructions for this part were to "Pull out the remaining top edges of the exterior and lining main panels on each side of both handles. Match the top edges, and pin the top edges together." Now tell me that I am not the only one who would have matched the lining pieces together and the exterior pieces together. OK maybe I am!! I did try and convince myself that I could use the bag like this, but only managed to remain convinced for 30 seconds before reaching, yet again, for the seam ripper :(

By this time I was determined to beat this bag, and really pleased that I had followed the previous instruction to stay stitch the curved edges, as they were taking a real hammering with all the seam ripping going on.

Finally I ended up with this

The instructions tell you to attach the magnetic snap tabs when top stitching at the end, but I think it would have been better, and easier, to attach them when attaching the lining and exterior together. This by the way is the small bag,  you could probably use the large one to carry a small child if this one is anything to go by.

I suspect that all of this means that Style Stitches will revert again to gathering dust on my bookshelf.

Linking up to Craft Buds Craft Book Month
and Sew Darn Crafty
and Manic Monday
and Sew Modern Monday

Hope you spent less time ripping and more time sewing than I did this weekend :)

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Uglies tumbled!

Isn't it amazing what a looming deadline can do to productivity levels? Having cut out my tumblers for the In the Bag Ugly Fabric challenge, my normal activity would include a bit of procrastination and diversionary tactics before knuckling down to finish a quilt. With an end of the month deadline looming and a road trip to France and back to fit in before then the usual activity levels just wouldn't cut it. My sewing machine didn't know what had hit it, the tumblers were pieced before I knew it. Not exactly according to my original layout I have to admit, as the plan got lost in a couple of places with all the twisting of pieces back and forward. With these fabrics though that was never going to be much of a problem :)

I went with echo quilting for all of the tumblers except for the flash of pink which I quilted with a varying horizontal zigzag. The quilt was backed and bound with a plain rust cotton. I had thought of piecing the back but decided that would take up too much of my already limited time.

I have never put together a quilt (even a mini!) in such a short time, so I have definitely learnt that sometimes it is better to just go for it than to spend too much time procrastinating (sorry planning). One other lesson I have learnt from this challenge is that if it says ugly in the title it probably means it :)

I must have had these fabrics on my mind on our recent trip to Helsinki as this shop display took my eye!

Much classier!

It has been a while since I looked at my WIP list so this is what it looks like now

Completed projects

  • Shades of Green, Fleur Bleu, Checkered Heart, Orange, Sunflower and Reindeer cushions
  • Orphan Block needle roll, Pieced Arc Tea towel, Purse and 
  • Padded Hangers, Key/Coin tidy, Babushka backpack and Nautical Pillow tutorials posted
  • Sunflower, Sew Happy QAL and In the Bag Ugly Fabric quilts, Play  and Christmas mini-quilt challenge quilt 
  • Patchwork Block, Dragon and Fashionista Bags

  • 7 blocks of In Color Order HST BOM (1 block behind schedule)
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt basted
  • 9/24 Zakka-style SAL projects completed
  • Teatime quilt pieced, backed and basted 
  • 5 blocks of NY Beauty QAL completed and fabric cut for remaining 5 blocks
  • 14 blocks of Craftsy BOM completed (1 month behind schedule) 
  • 10 Summer Quilt Bee blocks completed (on schedule)
  • 3 Star of Africa Bee blocks completed and sent (on schedule)

  • Indigo and violet rainbow cushions
  • Last block of Sampler quilt
  • Amy Butler bag
  • Travelling Pic Stitch Blog Hop project 

Maybe it is not looking so bad after all!  Looking forward to seeing how everyone else is progressing.

Don't forget to check out this week's blogs on the Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop and Beth's
great giveaway.

Sep 18
       Lina from Smultronbo's Pieceful
       Chase from 1/4" mark

Sep 20
        Jen from Closet Quilter
        Anna from Pink Padme

Linking up to WIP Wednesday  and We Did it Wednesday

Monday 10 September 2012

Tumbling Uglies

A long time ago, or so it seems I signed up for the In the Bag Ugly Fabric Quilt Challenge and duly received these fabrics in the post for my Challenge.

Well they have been hanging around waiting for inspiration to strike with very little result I have to admit. I have trawled through all of my books and quilting magazines looking for a pattern that might suit such a diverse set of fabrics. I tested lots of patterns in my head but nothing enthused me enough to get out the rotary cutter and start slicing up the fabrics.

I had thought that the final date for submissions of the finished quilts was the end of October so was happy that I still had plenty of time to finally come up with something. Well, you can imagine my horror when I re-read the challenge rules and discovered that the date was the beginning of October not the end! Cue a frantic search for something quick to do as we will be travelling a lot over the next couple of weeks and my time for quilting will be minimal  :)

Out came the EZ Dresden ruler and with the addition of a couple of fabrics from my stash this pile of blades were soon cut up to make a Tumbler quilt.

The rules of the challenge are that I must use 90% of the fabrics in the resulting quilt and this is all that is left of my Ugly Fabric.

Throughout all of my deliberations with this quilt the pink and blue flower fabric (just seen at the bottom left hand of the photo) has been the hardest to work into any arrangement, but I have decided to just go with it and hope it works.

So this is the arrangement I have decided upon.

I am calling it Flash of Pink!

I don't know if I will be able to get the entire quilt finished in time, but certainly hope to have the top pieced at least so that I won't have completely chickened out of the challenge.

Hope you have all had a great weekend.

Linking up to Manic Monday

Friday 7 September 2012

Bees and Black Cats

The absence of Zakka SAL-related projects in the last couple of months might have led you to believe that I had well and truly fallen off that bandwagon. I would have been inclined to agree with you, until I saw this week's project - the Garland message board. Having already bought dinky pegs with this project in mind and seeing reports from Fiona  and Wendy that it would only take a couple of hours of my time, it seemed a shame not to have a go!

The original project was designed as a sort of shopping list organiser, but my shopping lists are generally way too long to be contained by a few pegs! So I tweaked the board a little to have the bunting spell out a welcome message.

Our son and daughter-in-law are coming out to visit tomorrow, so they have the honour of being the first names attached.

And here it is hanging in the guest room ready for their visit.

The reports were true, it is a really quick project and would, I think, be a nice gift for a new house or baby maybe with the appropriate letters in the bunting. I have missed my Zakka moments (although I haven't missed checking for all the mistakes in the book!), so it was nice to get back into that groove. This is the second last project in the book so being back in the groove will be a short-lived experience. This is the 9th of 24 projects from the book that I have completed, and there are still a couple that I will get around to it at some stage. I don't think I have ever completed that many projects from a single book before, so although I haven't managed all of the projects the SAL has definitely been worth it for me, in terms of getting value out of my book purchase. At times the project a week schedule has been impossible to stick to, but I would definitely join another book SAL in the future, what about you?

Asides from Zakkaing ( the spell checker does not like my new word!) I have also been sewing up and sending Bee blocks before we take on the role of tour guide for our son and daughter-in-law. First up, the Sunday Morning Quilts Bee block colour for September is red, and with my new colour-coded, zip lock scrap system (thanks all for the suggestion!) sorting out the scraps for each block takes no time.

The theme for the Star of Africa Bee block this month was animals. Jen intends to put the blocks together as a book for her children to use for animal spotting on trips to the zoo. My block is not of an exotic animal, however, although there are plenty of those mentioned in the Bee discussions, instead I have produced for Jen a humble Black Cat.

Not just any Black Cat though, the Black Cat of the house of the same name in Riga Old Town. The legend goes that a wealthy merchant sought to join the Great Guild of Riga and was rejected by the worthy citizens. Being a wealthy merchant though, the man (surprise, surprise!) did not take kindly to this rejection and as his house was directly opposite the Great Guild hall, took an unusual form of revenge for the snub. He placed a statue of a Black Cat on top of the tower nearest the Guild Hall, with the rear of the Cat facing the Hall. You can imagine the reaction of the worthy citizens! Several years and a lawsuit later the wealthy merchant was admitted to the Guild and the Black Cat statue was turned to provide a more fitting view for the Guild members!

And here it is! You can see why the view from the back might have upset the worthy citizens :)

Linking up to TGIFF and BOM's away

Hope you all have a great weekend.  

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Nautical Cushions and a Challenge

When I made some extra Dresden Fan blocks for the Craftsy BOM a couple of months ago, and asked for suggestions on what to do with them, several people mentioned the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild EZ Dresden Challenge. Naturally I was intrigued so checked it out and discovered that the Challenge would run the first week in September and had three categories for entries, one of which was Small Quilts.

So I got my thinking cap on and tossed around ideas but nothing seemed to stick until I came across a cross-stitch pattern for a lighthouse! Suddenly all thoughts of circles and spinning went right out of my head and in came pictures of lighthouses instead, those Dresden blade shapes took on a whole new form. Instead of a small quilt I decided to go for a cushion/pillow too, as that would be much more useful.

When I was back in the UK at the end of August, I took the opportunity to stock up with a Dotty Mini Wheel of fabric in Reds and Blues. When they met the EZ Dresden ruler and some linen this is the result.

I managed to incorporate some embroidery in the seagulls, light railings and grass tufts as well as a little bit of FM quilting! Our son's bedroom at home has a nautical theme so this will fit in perfectly.

I really enjoyed making this and although I initially started it because of the EZ Dresden Challenge, in the end the process of making this, planning the embroidery and even trying more FM quilting was just so much fun. So to have a nice cushion at the end and an entry for the challenge are bonuses.

Working on this though has meant that all other WIP's have fallen by the wayside!

To make a similar Lighthouse Cushion read on

Monday 3 September 2012

Flea Market Finds

We visited the biannual Flea Market again at the weekend and this time we didn't have to leap over puddles or avoid large swathes of mud to see the stalls. Although we would have been able to see these items without any problem, mud and puddles or not!

Not really your average Sunday morning purchase.

Last time we visited there was a tank for sale but it wasn't there this time, presumably it had been sold in the meantime. The parking charges would be astronomical I would have thought, but maybe if you are driving a tank you don't need to worry about parking charges :)

I was momentarily tempted by these

Think how crisp my seams would be, but then I thought of my arms and thought better of it. I was even more tempted by this

Isn't it a beauty and only 10Ls, which is about £14? I took this photo intending to come back for it later but then my heart was stolen by this instead.

It is a working model, and although I have no idea what I will do with it, I am already envisioning many happy hours in the winter cleaning and polishing, well it will be a form of housework. It will certainly be handy in a power cut too! Although it is not exactly lightweight so my arms may get that workout after all.

Hope you have had a good weekend too.

Saturday 1 September 2012


The first of the month already, how did that happen?? The round-up of August projects will be very brief as the lure of a cool glass of crisp white by the pool was just too strong to resist.

Despite all the lazing around I did manage to;

  • Make the Babushka backpack for the Practically Paper Piecing Blog Hop (still time to link up your projects if you haven't already!)

  • Complete my pattern test for Sew Festive Handmade's Harry Potter themed embroidery pattern, which will eventually become the front of a keepsake box but that is for another month. Check out this pattern and the rest of the Rebecca's Potter-themed range here There is a 20% discount available until Monday 3rd. 

  • And just scrape in under the wire with my August project for 12 WIP's in 2012

So the month wasn't entirely given over to the consumption of alcohol in the sunshine after all!

Whilst the men in the family were wearing themselves out hiking the hilliest section of Hadrian's Wall on the Bank Holiday weekend, I was treating myself to a Stitchery course at my  LQS. Given that it lashed rain all day it was not difficult to see who got the best of that bargain! In the morning we looked at various methods of interfacing fabric for stitching and drew our own patterns for the comparisons. As art is definitely not one of my strong points I went for a simple boat shape.

I liked the puffiness of the Pellon backed fabric and would probably use that again. I wrote down the number but needless to say cannot find it now!

We had the opportunity to look as well at different methods of transferring embroidery outlines including using a lightbox, which was a definite step up from my usual method of taping the image to the window :) I had brought along an embroidery magazine that I had bought in France the week before, so decided to use one of the iron-on transfer images for my project. Needless to say with so much chatting going on the actual sewing done was limited.

I originally intended to turn the finished embroidery into a cushion with the Eiffel Tower fabric, but my husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday so now I am thinking that I might use it instead for a Kindle cover. Either way I will have to finish the embroidery first!

So I have at least one project underway for September already. Hope you had a more productive month than I did.

Linking up to Fresh Sewing Day at Lily's Quilts

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