Friday, 29 November 2013

Some Serendipitous Scrappiness

I have been sewing scrappy blocks again. Here are four I've made over the past few days. I've actually made quite a few more, but not had the chance to photograph them all yet.
It's such a lovely feeling. Just grab the bag of scraps, pull a bit out, sew, trim, grab some more and repeat.
There is only one rule with these blocks - and that is that there are no rules! - any colour, any shape, it all goes in.
And you know what? Sometimes I look at what I'm adding and I think Yuk!, but then I look again and it surprises me! I certainly have my favourites in the bunch, but there is nothing I hate, and I love that I just don't know how the block is going to end up when I'm starting out. I think I love the odd shapes the best. Some of those pieces are really tiny, and I did think, "What on earth are you doing here? You're using almost as much thread to sew these pieces together as is in them in the first place!", but I love how they've turned out.
You may be wondering where I'm going with all these blocks.
Well, alongside the blocks, I've also been making strips from all the odd 2 1/2" wide scraps (of which I have a lot, as I love using jelly rolls). These strips are 72" long, which will be the length of the quilt.

 I shall place them between the columns of scrappy blocks and have sashing around everything - a bit like this. I'm not sure the sashing will be grey - it's just what I had to hand for photographic purposes, but I do quite like the grey.

I hope everyone has a productive crafting weekend (or a fun filled Thanksgiving if you're in the US).
I am being treated to an exciting weekend away, which I will tell you more about in my next post - Let's just hope the weather stays dry!!

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Friday, 22 November 2013

Finished !

I got the binding on my quilt this week, so it is finished - Yay!
I think it will probably be my last quilt finish for 2013. I do have a charity quilt on my Making Christmas "to do" list, but I'm not sure I'll get it finished in time.
I like the fact that this quilt has some nice big prints which are showcased well with this design. I machine quilt my binding to the front and then hand sew it to the back. I know it takes longer, but I do enjoy the hand sewing. It's a nice therapeutic end to a project when you can take your time and admire the quilt, reliving the process in your mind.

I'm pleased I went with the solid navy choice for the binding . It goes well with the back too - which is actually a virtually unused (almost vintage) sheet.
I loved using my flatbed table for the first time for the quilting, so I'll be really brave and show you!

So now this one is finished, it's time to get back to the Christmas making - some decorations, a tree skirt, the charity quilt and some special gifts for the soon - to - be parents of a very precious baby girl. 
I did have a pair of knitted socks on my Christmas to do list too, but realistically, I don't think they'll get done. Maybe they'll be my project for the week between Christmas and New Year.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Quilting Practice

Since getting my new quilting table I've been doing a lot of playing quilting.
This quilt top had been waiting to be quilted for quite a while, so the new table was just the incentive I needed.
I worked a simple meandering pattern within the blocks and straight lines 1/4" in on either side of the sashing.

It was a joy to do now that my machine is flat bedded.  There are no more annoying little jolts in the straight lines where the quilt sometimes drags on its way up and over the machine base and the stitch length is a lot more even than it used to be.

I'm looking forward to getting a bit more adventurous with quilting now I have my new table. I'm going to cut up some old sheets to use as practice squares. I have a lot of oddments of wadding that I'm so pleased I haven't thrown out. A quick zig zag stitch to sew them together and they'll be perfect for my practice squares.

I'm hoping to get this quilt bound over the next few days. I've chosen a solid navy to give it some strong definition and to offset the pink and orange a bit

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced

Thursday, 14 November 2013

English Paper Piecing and an Early Christmas Present

I've been hankering after doing some English Paper Piecing for a while now. Each time the thought entered my head I told myself not to be silly, I didn't need another new project, and certainly not one as long term as hand sewn paper piecing. But eventually the urge got the better of me and I cut out and tacked a few hexagons.

At the time I didn't have a project in mind. I just enjoyed the process. This week I put them to good use in my strip for the Bee that I'm in.
Now we are only supposed to give teasers until the strips are finished, so I hope I'm not giving too much away here. I hand sewed a single flower out of some of the hexagons and then machine appliquéd it to a quilt block. Just enough to keep the EPP urge at bay, I think!

I do enjoy appliqué and the strip was great fun to make. Hopefully the final owner will like it too.

I've also been happily playing with a new addition to my sewing room this week.
My sewing machine normally just sits on the desk top. For most sewing this works just fine, but when I'm quilting the drag on the quilt as it moves up to the height of the machine has been making me very frustrated and disappointed with the quilting that results. I really wanted a flatbed table.
I had looked at perspex extension tables (which seem very expensive for what they are) and sewing cabinets with a flatbed, which are even more expensive and I haven't got room for, and then I stumbled across a fold away version at a very reasonable price at Sewing Online
I watched their hilarious video showing you how sturdy it is. I measured and re-measured to check my machine would fit in it and then I hit that "Buy Now" button.
It arrived 48 hours later !!

 I soon had it set up and my machine fits very nicely in it. I can place it in front of my L shaped desk whilst I'm quilting and the desk will support the rest of the quilt. When I've finished quilting I can fold it away.

So now I'm practising my free motion quilting on scraps of fabric. It is such a luxury to have a nice smooth surface to work on.

I don't mind if I don't get any other Christmas presents this year. I'm a happy bunny, just playing with this one !

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Monday, 11 November 2013

Christmas Star Bunting Tutorial

It's getting to feel rather Christmassy here at the Mack and Mabel abode. I've finished my Christmas star bunting and I managed to grab a little time over the weekend to photograph it in a few possible locations.
Over an internal doorway…….

Across the beam over the hearth in the lounge….

 and on a nice plain bedroom wall…..

I love them all !!

It is very easy to make, and I've written a tutorial for you. You just need some felt, fabric, Bondaweb or other fusible, some bias binding to hang the stars on and a few buttons for decoration.
I chose to make my stars 4 1/2" (11cm) tall. There is a full scale template in the downloadable PDF
that you can print off, but you could make them any size you want.
I went with a red and white theme. It seems to be a favourite of mine for this Christmas!! but they would look just as good with a totally scrappy palette.
The tutorial is here 
and I shall also add it to the sewing patterns tab along the top of the blog. The tutorial has lots of stage by stage photos, which makes it easy to follow, but heavy on ink to print out. I recommend  that you print just page 2, to get the template, but view the instructions straight from the download if you can. Less money spent on printer ink means more money available for fabric Yeah!!!!
I hope your Christmas craft projects are well and truly underway, too.
Have a great week,
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Friday, 1 November 2013

Sew,,,,,it's November

Yes, it's November already! I can hardly believe it. Since we turned the clocks back last weekend so much sewing has to be done in artificial light. I hate the dark nights, don't you?
Well looking back on October, it was a very productive month.
I started and finished this jelly roll quilt.

I finished the Swoon blocks and completed the top (quilting will wait until the New Year)

and I knitted these little stockings.

I made my Christmas sewing list, and I've ticked off one project already.

1. Tiny knitted Christmas stockings for a wreath -  finished
2. Christmas bunting - started
3. New Christmas tree skirt
4. Fabric tree decorations
5. A quilted bag
6. Socks
7. A charity quilt - started

I should have been making more Christmas bunting, because I've promised you a tutorial, but I got a bit side tracked, so photos of the bunting are going to wait until I'm nearer to finishing the tutorial. (I need daylight for the photos and it has been in short supply this week!)

Instead I made a start on my charity quilt. It's a scrap busting quilt and I took inspiration from a fellow quilter Sarah at Quilt Candy She is part of our Sewing Bee and I saw some of her wonderful improvisational work when the Bee blocks passed to me from her. Even one of my grown up sons admired her work, and requested a quilt along the same lines.
I bought Quilt Improv by Lu Summers and have been playing with her ideas. If you are thinking of trying some improvisational quilting I totally recommend this book. I am having so much fun, which is why there is no bunting finished yet!!!
It is totally freeing. You don't have to worry whether points are pointy, seams match up or whether your 1/4" seam is accurate. I'm falling in love with my scraps all over again - even the once I didn't like very much.
I started with this lot

I put the white to one side and sorted the rest into large and small scraps and into roughly rectangular and very angular piles. I pressed and sewed and trimmed and so far I have one block of scrappy triangles

and 4 blocks of "not quite log cabins".

I love them all, but I have to say the scrappy triangles are my favourites. I just used whichever scrap came to hand, didn't over think the placement and only a couple of times did I reject a piece because the colours jarred. Mostly it was just serendipity.
I'm not sure I'm whether I'm going to mix the log cabins with the wonky triangles in the same quilt yet. I'll decide as I go along - there are more than enough scraps for 2 quilts.

So, if I'm not back next week with some Christmas bunting to show you, I'm happily buried under a pile of scraps!

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day at Lily's Quilts

Lily's Quilts


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