Sunday, 28 April 2013

Perfect Circles With A Few Tools Of The Trade

I do love having little tools that help you to achieve the best quality finish you can on your projects. 

I have already shown you these little row markers that have a different letter of the alphabet on each one.

Cardygirl got me onto these little beauties a while ago. You can get them from here. They are called 'Perfect Circles' and 'Bigger Perfect Circles'. The smallest circle has a diameter of half an inch and the biggest one a diameter of 4 and a half inches.

I love to do needle turn appliqué and for a beginner I'm OK at straights and curves. But, I am HOPELESS when it comes to forming a full circle. This is how I use them.

Start by making a Suffolk puff with your circle.

Once you have stitched most of the way around, place the Perfect Circle that is the required finished size inside, gather the thread up and keep stitching until you get to the spot you started.

If you have a seam like I do for these circles I start off and end there so that the thread doesn't pull through as easily when you gather the thread up.

I bought this little ruler recently and it is great to quickly measure the distance to make sure the centre of the pieces are in the centre of the circle.

Then carefully use the point of your iron to press the circle. Yes they are made of plastic, but you can put the iron right on top of them and they don't melt. I have my iron set on the hottest setting and I haven't melted one yet. I have also been using spray starch on these circles to get a nice crisp edge.

Then let your circle cool a little, loosen the stitching slightly and ease the Perfect Circle out. Pull the thread up gently and finish the thread off to keep all of the raw edges in.

Then a few dots of appliqué glue to hold it in place and you only have to slip stitch around the edge. No pins in the way for your thread to get caught up on. Now I know it sounds like a lot of preparation right?
But, I find this is the fastest way for me because I end up undoing my circle so many times because I am unhappy with all of the pointy bits. I can never get a nice curve all the way around. I end up with the quarter inch seam fraying away to nothing and have to make another circle and start again.

It is probably cheating a little bit because you aren't actually turning fabric under with your needle, but I don't care. Unfortunately the embroidered circles were just slightly bigger than the biggest Bigger Perfect Circles and so I made one out of cardboard. My cardboard circle was not 'perfect' and so those circles are little bumpy in places. But still better than going freehand.

I am so close to finishing my Life Is Beautiful BOM I have decided to get stuck in and finish it up. I have pairs of rows together. I decided to appliqué the circles over the intersection of the sashing while it is in a more manageable size. Then I'll join the pairs of rows up and keep appliquéing circles as I go.

If you're on holidays, I hope you are enjoying your last day before we head back to work and school.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

New Project-Toes In The Sand BOM

With my cross stitch now finished. I wondered what to do next...Hmmmm..

Start a new project of course!

I signed up for a BOM called Toes In The Sand. Now, red is my favourite colour, but I saw this in blue and white and really liked it. The first instalment arrived a few days ago and I couldn't wait to get started. Not only that, my record with completing BOM's is pretty bad. So I'm keen not to get behind.

This project requires a Hex N More Ruler which is the other reason I wanted to make this quilt. This ruler helps you cut out 60 degree triangles, hexagons, half hexagons and jewels. Sounded interesting and I wanted to try something new. 
I did become a little concerned when the pattern arrived. It is a book with most of the pages dedicated to instructions on how to cut out with this ruler!!

 After reading it a few times, my head stopped spinning and decided to make a start.

The first block was a fairly simple construction with 60 degree triangles to ease you into it. You have to be careful handling the pieces because there are a whole lot of bias edges you're dealing with.

So here is block one in two fabric combinations. Background fabric will be white.

 Most of you probably have something to store your blocks as you complete them. My mum made this one for me a few years ago now and it is really handy. The cylinder shape is one of those foam noodles the kids use to float around in the pool with. She covered it in some wadding first and then fabric. When rolled out fully it is about 24x24 inches. So you can store some really big blocks in it.

Looks like this when all rolled up and it is so easy to transport or store your blocks without them getting lost, dirty or 'hard to iron out' folds in them.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Three Bears...a slightly different version

Once upon a time there was a little cottage built deep in the woods.

Birds would often visit the family that lived there and tweet little birdy songs and flowers grew all around.

In this cottage lived a  family of bears who LOVED to eat porridge and walk in the woods. This particular morning they decided to combine these activities and take their porridge with them.

 Why? I hear you ask.

 Because they read their star guide that morning and it predicted that they would be visited by a short blonde stranger who would eat them out of house and home.

Surprisingly the short blonde stranger went by the name of Goldilocks and she LOVED to pick flowers. When she arrived at the cottage of the three bears she knocked on the door. Nobody answered, but the rude little girl walked right in anyway and started looking for food. 

All she could find was the chocolate that Mumma bear had stashed away to savour while she sewed late into the night when Baby Bear was asleep and Poppa Bear was on night shift.

Tired AND only slightly nourished, she looked for a place to rest.

The house did not contain a single chair, but it did have three beds with some really nice patchwork quilts lovingly stitched by Mumma Bear. After trying all of the beds, she discovered that the wee little baby bed was 'just right'...and know the rest of the story.

TaDaaaa...I have finally finished my nieces birth sampler.

 (The surname in the middle has been stitched, but I took the photo before the light vanished on me this afternoon)

I had to do a little reverse sewing on the border this afternoon when I realised the leaves on the upper side of the vine in the bottom left hand corner were pointing the wrong way. I only noticed that recently.

Oh well, at least I picked it up BEFORE it was framed.

Monday, 22 April 2013

At Last An April Finish!!

We had a lovely day on Sunday. First a visit to the local quilt show. SO many quilts to see from local quilt makers. As well as a few stalls.

Then back to my house to get our bags finished...well almost. Lots of progress was made, but unfortunately not quite finished.

I have been busy working on several projects whilst on holidays, just haven't finished anything.

But... I did get back to my bag after lunch today and here it is.

FINALLY I have a finish for April OPAM!!

I really like the fabrics, especially the pink paisley. Most of them are from the Noteworthy range purchased from Red Raspberry Quilts.

 If I made it again, I would use the orange in a different place. It tends to draw your eye away from the  embroidered panel.

Hope you're making progress on some of your projects.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

More Procrastinating

Some of my stitching buddies decided to make the bag in the Red Home book as a group project.

Sunday we will get together again to cut out the fabric and sew the bag together. 

Of course the stitched panel needs to be complete in order to construct the bag right? I was a little behind in my homework. On Monday I had only stitched three words. Tuesday and Wednesday I procrastinated on my cross stitch a little longer and last night....

 Ta Da!!!

Panel complete.

 I used the variegated thread DMC 107 for the embroidery. I love variegated thread. It doesn't look so flat like a plain colour can. I'm hoping the combination of hot pink, lime green, yellow and orange will come together to make a nice bright bag.  

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

An Experiment

I have a confession to make. I am a terrible procrastinator .Today I should have been cross stitching but something else was calling me. I opened the bag of scraps I bought from the shop Cardygirl took us to. Cardy's bright octagon quilt and other works she has in progress as well as a post by Kevin the Quilter inspired me to give it a go.

I bought these to experiment with this book I bought from Material Obsession recently.

This is far outside of my comfort zone. So much so that I had to buy a bag of scraps so I would have something to experiment with!! So, here is my first piece of 'made fabric'.

I made a few more pieces of fabric and then put them together to make a block.  I can see now that I have too much yellow gingham in this one. I was happy with the first piece of fabric I made, but not so sure about the block I have created. But I'm keen to experiment and it was fun 'making' fabric to create something that you can't buy in a store.

Wonderful Weekend and Violet Problem Solved

We had a lovely time with Cardygirl. Chatting to the wee hours, retail therapy and of course lots of sewing. We ate far too much, but who can resist Cardy's delicious cooking. Cardy and her husband were wonderful hosts and it was nice to catch up with their children who we have known since they were very young.
A trip to a local patchwork store inspired Cardy to try EEP with a quarter inch hexagon papers. We thought Cardy insane highly motivated to make hexagon flowers with paper pieces smaller than a finger nail. After all,  what you would do with these fairy sized flowers? (Except make quilts for beds in doll's houses). If you have any suggestions, please forward them on to to Cardy.

Here's a comparison of Cardy's hexagons and mine.

Cardy then worked on her octagon quilt.

Lots of progress made...looking very nice.

Julie made great progress with medallion on her Legacy from Violet quilt. 


...and pie pieces.

With a little help from my friends, I was able to solve the problem I was having with my EPP Violet quilt (see the labels on right hand side bar if you haven't seen this project). Those of you who have followed this blog will know that a great degree of forcing  easing was required to fit the top and bottom borders to the centre medallion. The result...the quilt looked like the surface of the ocean with a 10m swell. No amount of quilting was ever going to smooth over those lumps and bumps. So with a bit of reverse sewing, removal of the two centre stars and replacement of border fabric with a large piece of fabric helped. Finally I appliquéd  one of the stars into a central position to solve the problem. 

You're probably wondering what I am going to do about the gap. 

Two options:
1. Appliqué two smaller stars either side of the centre star.
2. Use the space to embroider initials and the date the quilt was completed (just like many antique quilts, probably in chain stitch)

But for now, I am happy that the quilt lies flat and will decide how to fill the gap later. I have only fixed the bottom border so far, will fix the top border soon. 

The good news...I've figured out how to avoid the problem for the following borders. Reluctantly I will put it back into the cupboard, until I finish a couple of more pressing projects.  

 I need to finish my cross stitch birth sampler.It has to be with the framer by the end of the month if I want to give it to my niece in time for her Christening. Will show you the progress on that soon.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Hooray for Holidays

I am really excited. Not only am I on holidays. But I am going away...again.
My friend Julie and I are going to visit Cardygirl.

I have packed just a few projects... Ok maybe a few too many for one weekend.But you just don't know what you'll feel like doing when you get there. I'm going back to my Girl Guide days and following the motto to always 'be prepared'.

One project I have packed is my flannel hexagon quilt. So far I have finished 14 rather large hexagons.

Some blue and mustard ones... 

some black and red ones...

some cream and green ones... 

and some brown ones.

I have enough now to play with design options. Just 23 will top a queen size bed!! Large hexagons makes for some fairly fast piecing. 

Hope you get some sewing done this weekend too.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Friday Night With Friends Plus A Quick Catch Up

It's been a while since my last post. So.... a quick catch up and then my FNWF projects.

Son No. 3 and I had a lovely time meeting our nephew/cousin. We flew to Melbourne for the Easter weekend to spend time with my SIL and the children while my brother attended a wedding in Brisbane.
They moved back to Australia last October. So nice to have them just a short flight away.

If you help make the muffins, you are DEFINITELY allowed to lick the beaters. Licking the beaters is the whole point of cooking, right?

Despite the very cool weather, we had lots of fun. 

Now to FNWF....

My new flannel scrap quilt was a nice portable project to take to Melbourne.

I have been trying to get one hexagon flower in my flannel scraps completed each day as I will be visiting a friend next weekend and she will be taking us to some quilt shops near her home where I hope to buy more fabric for background/borders etc. 

Last night I completed the one in the middle of the top row.

So far I have six flowers completed. 

The hexagon papers are 2 and a half inches so the flowers are VERY BIG!! My embroidery scissors fit inside one hexagon. Sew six together and you almost have a knee rug!!I need to have as many completed as possible so I can figure out what I will do with them. Not really sure yet...just ideas floating around in my head. 

Once I ticked that off my list, I went back to work on the birth sampler for my niece...

Do you find that once everyone is in bed, you enjoy the peace that reigns over the house and just keep sewing until OMG it's 1.15am?

 I have almost finished the leaves of the border...

Then I can go back and finish the flowers. You will have to check back to see what goes into the middle. I will have to push on with this as we now have a date for the Christening mid June. I will need time for it to be framed. So, I hope to finish it over the next 2-3 weeks.

Hope you enjoyed our FNWF.