Project Linus Quilt

7878EDC7-CE5E-48D2-B65C-1155536E6F4FI don’t normally go in for children’s  themed fabric even when making quilts specifically for children. I suspect that’s because my children are of an age along with their cousins and peers that a themed quilt would be deeply uncool. A few years back it would have been different with cry’s for Thomas the Tank Engine pillows or Telly Tubby Quilts but not now.

So what’s with this quilt depicting what I guess must be images from a book in just about every home with young children, The Hungry Caterpillar? Well it goes back to a sewing day organised by Joy Edgington of Pastures New Quilting and star of a new sewing channel on the U.K. Network. Joy taught me the basics of quilting and I shall always be grateful. She is the local Project Linus coordinator collecting I think up to 100 quilts from across Birmingham for this wonderful cause.

Joy used to run sewing days to piece and quilt these quilts.  It was a huge logistical nightmare coordinating quilters, ironing fairies, refreshments, fabric and supplies, publicity etc etc. But from the quilters perspective it was great fun all bashing away either using our own fabrics/ patterns or using fabric supplied. The couple of quilts I made were these.

 

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Joy, to save her sanity, has now gone for a monthly regular sewing sessions. That regular  commitment sadly doesn’t  work for me but I still like to make a quilt for Project Linus.

One of the speakers who came last year to tell us a little about what happened to some of the donated quilts, was from the Birmingham Children’s Hospital.  They give quilts to newly admitted children on one of their wards to cuddle during their stay and then take them home. It’s hugely popular  and a great way of settling in the child. The speaker said one little boy who was very nervous was immediately drawn to a Hungry Caterpillar  quilt because it was something familiar. So when I saw some panels going for a song at The Fabric Guild I snapped them up

We owe the staff at BCH a large vote of thanks.  Both the twins had birth defects and had to spend time in that hospital . Nothing too concerning, ‘routine and common’ were  how their medical issues were described which we found reassuring words, but nevertheless it required altogether some 5 or 6 hospital stays between the pair of them.  My daughter’s procedure was just one 2/3 day stay but her twin had to have multiple stays – everyone of which he absolutely loved. He talks of it fondly even now. I think he loved the attention he got, and they are exceptional nurses, but also I think he just enjoyed having my undivided attention rather than vying with his siblings. We always had a fun time, injections aside, when he would scream the ward down.

I was going to make two quilts with these panels but they weren’t quite big enough. Better to make a reasonable sized quilt for a toddler or preschool child who would know the story than two smaller cot size quilts of babies who wouldn’t.

It was the simplest of quilts to make and I bought some coordinating fabric from the range and added a border to pull it together. The quilt took an evening to make. Then equally simple cross hatch quilting to keep it cuddly. I used a Hera marker for the cross hatching and it worked well. But I found it had to be laid on a hard floor and the only decent sized floor of that type that doesn’t have heavy furniture is the entrance hall, perfect for this sized quilt but more of a struggle for a larger one.

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It was such an easy make but sometimes something that requires very little brain or creativity for that matter is just the ticket.  It’s finish coincided with the largest snowfall we’ve had for years (which compared to many of you at 4”/5” inches deep would be little more than a dusting but here in the U.K. this was exciting stuff) I couldn’t resist getting a snow picture  but the sharp eyed will notice that the binding has yet to be sewn down but I knew if I waited until that was done the snow would be long gone.

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Linking up with Kelly My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean Crazy Mom Quilts

 

Swapping comfort zones!

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I’ve heard a lot about IG swaps and a number of people I follow participate in them and produce some amazing items both in quality and number for their swapee (is that a word? Almost certainly not but you get my drift). Most appear absolutely delighted with both the giving and receiving.  But I’ve also heard horror stories of people putting in huge effort in their gifted item and receiving either something that’s obviously been made without a thought for the person’s wishes and taste or worse still, nothing arrives at all. Rumour has it that there is a black list that circulates amongst the marvellous people who coordinate these things of swappers who are ‘no shows’.

So I’ve never participated but I was tempted by what was presented as a small swap for those who participate in the Saturday Night Craft Along on IG. This is an IG link up of people who are crafting on Saturday evening and who share whatever they are working on. It’s fun and informal and hosted by someone in each geographical zone. Lucy of Charm About You hosts it here in the U.K. and lives up to her sewing name by being a very gracious and generous host. It is my ambition one day to sew all 18 hours or so from when it opens in Australia to when it finishes in the US. In my dreams… too many people in my house wanting to be fed or given lifts!

Anyway these hosts organised this anonymous swap with about 100 participants. It’s not actually a swap in the sense that you make something for someone who in return makes something for you. You make for the person assigned to you, in this circumstance Stacey, @craftylilmouse and someone else is assigned to make for you. In my case that was Natalie of @sewmuchtolearn.  As I say this was all anonymous so noone knows who is making for whom until you receive your parcel which adds to the fun.

The swap was well run. It was very clear that the items should require no more than 2/3 sessions to make and extras should have a value of less than £8 in U.K. sterling.

People were asked to produce mosaics of things they liked/colours/style. Here was Stacey’s which she posted early on which helped enormously.

 

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Stacey also helpfully added she likes pastel colours, floral, fun and cute fabrics, mustard and pink  being favourites.  Now this definitely took me out of my comfort zone. I don’t as a rule sew with pastels and cute fabrics or designs but that’s the challenge! Stacey has a dog Millie who took centre stage. She had included an image of a daschund and I remembered the Elizabeth Hartmann design Dogs in Sweaters. I thought that might work  – it’s a cute design, it’s a dog and although not the same breed I could use Millie’s colouring and of course with a pastel coloured sweater!

 

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It was quite agonising choosing to make for someone else. I tried to match up the colours to ones she posted and decided that a cushion might be a good idea. I scaled the picture down as it’s quite a large dog pattern. I put a zipper in the back so it can easily be removed or used as a wall hanging.

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0AE690EA-B410-4FC2-91F8-77154E619220As for the extras I remembered I’d got some very cute mouse fabric to tie in with Stacey’s nickname of Mouse and made up the see through pouch from Aneela Hoey’s new book. I thought it would be perfect for holding some of Stacey’s card supplies.

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And together with a cute sloth fabric in Stacey’s colours and some other pastel fabrics the swap package was good to go….

You can imagine my relief when a) the parcel arrived and b) she loved it and said some very sweet things.

What did I receive I hear you ask? My swap person was  Natalie at @sewmuchtolearn. Natalie had this mosaic to go on…

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Well all  I can add is that Natalie in fact doesn’t have sew (sic) much to learn at all as she made the most unique and beautiful of items, a 3D cup and saucer using fabric from the Wonderland range of  fabric from The Rifle Paper Co  which I’ve loved from afar. It looks a tricky make but beautifully constructed and is in pride of place on the dresser. It’s a pity it has to share the space with my son’s hairdryer and hair gel as he has no mirror in his room. I must reclaim that dresser particularily now.

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Its an absolutely perfect choice of fabric, all themed around the tea party in Alice in Wonderland and of course I consume vast quantities of tea. There’s even a cat in the mix! Look at that clever and thoughtful detail when you peer inside the cup, the grinning face of the Cheshire Cat looks up at you from the bottom.

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Looks just like Felix in a wicked moment, OK maybe it’s more of a grimace than a grin….

 

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But clearly Natalie has been a very effective stalker of my IG account for all the good reasons! And I can now use the posh tin of Betty’s Tea which Natalie sent me to round off the experience. It’s absolutely delicious by the way and I’m not looking forward to going back to PG Tips! There is also a variegated thick thread from Aurifil to play with one day which looks fascinating.

All in all it’s been a very enjoyable swap.  Yes more agonising than I anticipated but satisfying and fun at the same time.  And of course two new IG friends!

6F8573A2-4C73-4A20-9701-D6593751BC31Linking up with Lorna, Sew Fresh Quilts

PS Look what Stacey sent me as a thank you. It arrived today the most beautiful  handmade card and this really sweet hand painted cat key ring. It’s way too special to bear the brunt of life with my keys so I’m going to make it into a Christmas tree decoration.

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More on riveting

BAF4114D-D396-4A23-A60A-5F6C05565436When I recently made my Aneela Hoey’s Sewing Folio, a very cleverly designed sewing organiser,  I asked my daughter her thoughts. She waved her hand round my sewing room and desk and pointed out that the one thing I wasn’t short of was sewing pouches/bags/containers. And she was right.  However the one thing I am very short of are attractive shopping bags, I’ve plenty of the ugly bright orange branded plastic canvas type bags but given these get used each and every day it would be good to have something more stylish.

I have made a couple of shoulder bags before such as the ones below

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but they don’t have  the capacity for shopping. I made the Market Bag from Handmade by Anna Graham which most certainly does have capacity.  It is sadly now rather tatty not helped by my not appreciating that black leather isn’t colourfast!

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But I’ve always liked the professional look metal hardware gives on handcrafted bags particularily rivets but have been equally wary of giving it a try. I put this down to the fact that anything remotely related to DIY is completely alien to me so any activity using tools such as hammers, screw drivers etc although wielded from time to time by necessity, rarely ends well. My first DIY task after my husband died which was simply to put up a picture ended up with me puncturing a water pipe and water squirting everywhere. My lovely neighbour rescued me.

I could have asked for his help again but this is my hobby and surely it can’t be that difficult.  But sadly  it was that difficult! Whilst there are no shortage of articles and YouTube videos on how to rivet I couldn’t find any with the specific measurements because when you come to buy rivets you are faced with all sorts of complicated choices like size of the rivet cap itself and the post on which it sits. So I bought a sample pack from Amazon of a variety of sizes. That gave me an idea as to which sizes I wanted but choosing a cheap product wasn’t. I reckon only 1 in 4 I managed to successfully rivet. The rest were misaligned or crushed. Armed with the sizes I wanted and back to Ebay this time to look for a ‘proper’ supplier, I ordered a couple of batches from Abbeytops. I liked the 9mm cap size with either a 8 or 12mm Post. Now it worked and of course practice makes, if not perfect, better! I used them on the leather on the Tiny Treasures Trays by Anna Graham (again) in my most recent tray makes.

 

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But back to my shopping bags, rivets in hand …. I’d acquired in the remnant bins some upholstery fabric  perfect to give the bags some heft and as bags use lots of fabric this proved economical at c£4 per remnant. I had liked the additional structure using recycled denim gave to the shoulder bag pictured above so wanted to incorporate that as well.  And finally a new type of interfacing.

I’d read on Mrs H’s blog about headliner. I’d never heard of this but it is the fabric in cars that lines the roof on the inside. As you can see it has a thin foam backing. If you are familiar with Soft and Stable it is thinner but has more substance than say the thicker fusible waddings. But best of all in the U.K. at least it is a quarter the price of Soft and Stable. Using this was a great success – it’s not fusible but the foam side is sticky so it’s easy to quilt to your fabric with a few pins in place. It’s given the bags a quality feel with good structure.

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Armed with quality rivets it was very easy and the tutorials came into their own.

I read on Svetlana’s SOTAK blog, a talented designer of bags and pouches, that for extra strength she sews on the leather handles. That seemed  a wise move so I did that as well

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As to the design having made bags before I felt confident enough to make them without a pattern. I made them a bit like you make a drawstring pouch with the exterior and interior all in one long piece. Please excuse the night picture and messy floor. It’s a simple and effective way.

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Its often the proportions of something that makes or breaks it. I’m pleased with the shape of the smaller bag but the larger one needs to be wider at the top. I was limited by the size of denim I’d got to hand. As an aide memoir to me the sizes of the two bags allowing for a generous 1/2”seam allowance from bottom seam to top of the bag (so not giving separate measurements for the two pieces in each bag front) are…

smaller bag  – depth 15.5” , width 15.5”

larger bag – depth 18.5”, width 16.5”

I think next time I will go for min width 18.5” and depth 18.5” to give a better proportioned larger bag and then possibly one for over the shoulder at say 17” depth but 20.5” width.

Re rivets where the rivet passes through denim this took a 12mm post but when it was just the fabric I got away with the 8mm. The leather is 2/3 mm depth. Another tip is I must remember to fit the zip pocket into the liner before sewing the bag!! Now I just need to get some more remnants and leather! With the rivets I have 150 of those, so they will last me my lifetime…..

B0562C82-D949-4844-B668-85090881C598Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts

Keeping it in the family

 

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This quilt is destined for our front room, supposedly a lounge for my teens to entertain their friends. It has everything teens expect a tv, games station and computer but for some reason they prefer the family lounge. In an effort to make it more homely I’m hoping this quilt will do the trick.

My lovely mum who just turned 90 was up with us and offered to do some sewing. I don’t think she is any more enamoured with my Pfaff than she was when she sewed with it on her summer visit. Continue reading

Sunday stash – my most expensive fabric purchase ever

IMG_7185Yes  I thought I would confess straightaway.  Maybe its my prostestant work ethic but on one hand I feel I have to defend myself for my profligacy.  But on the other hand I think well  its my money and no one will starve because of this purchase.  And in the scheme of things paying £28 for a metre of fabric is hardly the stuff of banking crises.  But for me it seems a lot. But of course its for the lovely Kirstine in Wild Rose from Outback Wife by Australian Gertrude Made.  It has a quaint backstory that each fabric line is named after a real life  ‘outback wife’ in rural Australia. Continue reading

Fabric trays and a riveting experience

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I mentioned in my blog post a week or so back that I had tackled my sewing room, well more specifically my WIP drawer and made a batch of see through project bags – 19 no less. I’m afraid there are still more drawers to sort and the bookcase, but a start is a start. One thing that struck me when I was making my production line of WIP bags was how disorganised my sewing process was as well as storage. Sewing was fraught with trying to find things all the time. Essential tools like rotary cutters, markers, scissors  etc would get caught up in fabric and the general mess so I seemed to spend as much time looking for things, than actually sewing. Then there were the heaps of scraps that were generated when cutting, some for scraps, some for the cushions for the cat home – I needed a better process.

When I’m sewing, the tray at the front of my bionic gear bag serves to coral things like seam rippers,  pin cushion etc and I try hard to make sure I put everything back in the tray so it’s easy to find.

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I needed the same for when I’m cutting and assembling. This, in the absence of a big enough standing height cutting bench (in my dreams…), is done on the floor. For big cutting jobs I use the island unit in the kitchen but for the odd pieces for blocks, assembling things etc it’s down on the floor. I struck upon the idea of fabric trays. A quick google search and it was a toss up between Aneela Hoey’s zip up tray, her stacking trays or the free pattern byAnna Graham Noodlehead Robert Kaufmann. I settled on the latter.

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These were fun and quick to make.  It’s a very clever design and I presume given that  the pattern piece refers to Kaufmann’s Essex line, its a showcase for that product. This is a linen cotton mix so a lovely texture and with some heft to it. So for the first couple I stuck with linen mixes including the Essex Yarn Dyed range and this gorgeous screen print on that fabric from Carolyn Friedlander’s Euclids range.

 

3CD35679-4257-491F-9141-45E80807D730I’d found a very helpful post on making these by Sophie of Luna Loves Quilts. I enjoy her blog, she has a lovely fresh take on quilting and she writes it in both French and English….. bilingualism isn’t going to be happening any time soon on this blog I’m afraid given that I barely scraped through my French ‘O’ level much to the surprise of my French teacher and me! Sophie gave some excellent tips on changing up the construction which worked very well. I don’t want to steal her thunder and repeat them here so suffice to say the only change I didn’t do was make bias binding. She’s right it would be easier with those curved corners but I hate taking a lovely half yard of material then slicing it in two on the diagonal then having two awkward pieces left.

 

I made a number of sizes. The one in the pattern is on the small side made from a pattern piece 8.5” by 11”. I increased those sizes by 10%, rounded down to the nearest 1/4”, to get a set of three stacking trays.

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Using Essex yarn dyed fabric and other linen mixes in my stash worked very well. Couldn’t decide whether it was better to put the stiff fusible interfacing on the exterior or interior piece. Pluses and minuses to both.

I then tried with quilting cotton…. not so successful.

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Fusing this onto the stiff interfacing made it very wrinkly when folded up as the inside of the tray, it was better as an exterior but not much.  I presume the much greater wrinkliness (is that a word?) is because the fabric is a tighter weave than the linen mix even more so as this is an AGF fabric.  But I had a play and came up with the fact that if you add a fusible wadding to both pieces of fabric in addition to the stiff interfacing then it seems to work but only if the stiff interfacing is on the exterior piece. This tray features Helen Steele’s lovely new screen print designs, as I know her in real life I’ve left her name on there.

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786096BB-4F38-4E4B-9766-0E1B93542FC7The riveted leather pieces have absolutely no purpose other than being decorative. I’ve been putting off learning how to do rivets despite the fact that I think they look very slick and make a totebag look professional and well finished. I just knew it wouldn’t be easy. And having bought leather, a hole punch and a variety of rivets this very much proved to be the case! I had a success rate of around one rivet per 4!  It looks very simple on YouTube videos and I think the knack is doing it in one hammer blow.  I had to order more rivets as I quickly worked through the relatively small number sent with the sample pack. But aside from gnashing teeth when they didn’t work, when they did they looked good.

And have these trays helped with organisation?  Well let’s put it this way as I made successive trays I used the finished ones  to help me be more organised with the latest trays  and a lot less things got lost.

They will also make great gifts so at watch  out family and friends…..

So for future reference

1. In terms of sizes an increase of 10% but then down to the nearest 1/4” makes them stack nicely.

2. With linen mix fabric I found the stiff interfacing can go on either the exterior or interior pieces.

3. With quilting cotton the exterior needs to firstly have a low loft fusible wadding like Pellon 430 fused on to it and then the stiff interfacing. The interior also benefits from a layer of low loft fusible wadding.

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Linking up with Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts  

and Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts.

Quarter Log Cabin Quilt

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This might be my favourite Siblings Together quilt I’ve made yet. Mindyou I always say that! Many of you will know that Siblings Together is a charity that brings together siblings separated in the UK care system. The many events they run include camps and the highlight is being gifted a quilt, often the first handmade item the children have ever received.

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We have been having a recruitment drive and there are now 4 Bees up and running full of keen and generous quilters who make blocks and some of whom then take them and make them into quilts. We need a 100 quilts a year…This beauty is the work of Bee 2 although many of the new volunteers who went on to form the new Bee 4 also made blocks. Altogether I reckon there are over 20 contributors to this quilt. There was even a block making ‘factory’ down at Hever quilt show where Heather Hasthorpe and Jackie Norris were manning the Modern Quilt Group section of the Quilters Guild and brought with them a vintage sewing machine and were sewing blocks. Always a good ruse I think to draw people in  because who can resist seeing what someone else is making!

I had seen the Lake Cabin Quilt pattern on Rachel’s Stitched in Color blog in the Summer and thought it would make a good charity quilt using up blue and green strings.  With Rachel’s kind permission I shared the quarter log cabin design with Bee members but of course the tricky  bit with this pattern is the sashing and the fact it is set on point. But of course that’s what makes it different and attractive. I hadn’t  quite appreciated how much extra work there would be taking into account those two features but it was well worth it.

I went with a dark greeny blue solid having done an IG vote. Democracy ruled that a blue background was required but the initial choice was I agree a bit loud. So I toned it down from the girl guide blue of the bottom of the picture to Mineral, a Free Spirit solid, which is this lovely greeny blue.

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When I’m sewing something big I tend to do that in the kitchen and when I’m sewing at the weekend the children moan slightly less than if I’m tucked away in the sewing room. I couldn’t work out why every time I returned to the sewing machine my thread had become unthreaded. Dreadful mother that I am I began to suspect the children of playing a joke until I caught the culprit red handed! Felix loves playing with a full spool as he can flick it up and chase after it so a proffered empty spool was ignored.

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Skye played her part in delaying progress by curling up and going to sleep on the quilt mid quilting. Any cat lovers out there, I’m ashamed to say she was pushed off and offered another quilt but that wasn’t good enough! She hopped straight back on…

 

 

There will be more quarter log cabins in my future as I had a bumper crop sent by Bee members. I pulled out all the plain masculine blocks and will make up another quilt for an older teen. The rest went on the back.

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Linking up with aLorna of Sew Fresh Quilts, Kelly My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean Crazy Mom Quilts