Posts Tagged ‘Sewing’

Little squares quilt

You may (or may not!) remember a post I made a few weeks ago, about a cushion I’d made using a new-to-me method of piecing small squares accurately, using iron-on facing – the tutorial I used can be found here. The tutorial talks of facing with a 2” grid marked on it, and I eventually managed to track some down in the UK, which wasn’t easy, as not many places stock it, and then had a play with it.

I found five fat quarters from the same range in my stash, and cut them into lots of 2” squares, then started making layouts of 7 x 7 squares (that being the width of my ironing board, so easy to do…!)


I completely failed at taking any sort of progress shots, this is the only one I managed, of the first square. This time I didn’t trim the seams and iron them flat, I simply pressed them to one side, then sewed the seams in the other direction, so there’s only twelve seams per block. You can see the lines of the seams a bit, but that would be eased by making the squares ever so slightly less than 2”, as in places they overlap, which adds bulk to the fold of the seam. I’ll try and remember for next time!

So I made nine blocks, then found an old duvet cover and cut strips of it to make sashing and binding, before backing it with calico for cheapness sake – this was really only me seeing how the blocks behaved in a quilt. With hindsight I’d have been better off using quilting fabric for the sashing, the duvet cover is pure cotton, but it had been washed quite a few times, so it’s lovely and soft, and contrasts rather too much with the stiffer blocks. But it’s not bad, I’d use this method again for quickness and accuracy.


And this is the finished thing. You can see the sashing rippling slightly.


I decided to put it over the end of my bed, to try and keep the cat hairs contained.


Mollie loves it.


Minnie had a go at lying on it, but really prefers to find the one bit of my bed it isn’t covering, so she can make it nice and hairy. Little minx.


I just stitched along the seams of the sashing to quilt it. I machined sewed the binding on, from the front, which was only partially successful – I managed to miss the edge in a few places. I think that technique may need refining!


It’s funny, but the patterns in the blocks show up much better on photos than they do in real life.

I’d used most of the 2” squares I’d cut, but there were a few left over, as well as a few that weren’t quite 2”, and I remembered another tutorial I’d found on Pinterest, to make a cover for a notebook. I again ironed the squares onto facing, in strips this time, and sewed the seams, then inserted them between pieces of calico, added some stiff facing, and ended up with this.


Which makes a very ordinary A4 hardbacked notebook look much nicer.


This is the back – you can see the dark blue boards slightly at the edge, which is a shame, but again it’s worse on the photo.


It has pockets to hold it on.


And there’s top stitching next to the pieced strip.

So there you go – it’s amazing what you can make with five fat quarters, an old duvet cover, facing, and some calico!

Read Full Post »

Little Houses

Once again, I’m all behind with my blog, but I have been busy – my finger seems to be better, after two whole weeks with no knitting at all (that was hard!) so I’ve started knitting again a bit, but I took the opportunity to do some sewing whilst I couldn’t knit, and now I can’t seem to stop making quilts…


This was the jelly roll which first started me on the slippery slope of quilting – I saw it and a Monkey Buttons pattern, and just couldn’t resist having a go.



The pattern’s called The House That Jack Built, and consists of three different house blocks. I decided to do all the roofs in red and green, and mix up the colours for the houses. But at that point I hadn’t leant the tricks to make piecing quicker, and it took me ages to do six blocks, at which point I put it all in a bag and left it there.


I also wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the quilt once I’d done it, but last weekend I remembered about it and decided to just crack on with it regardless. It only took me a couple of evenings to do the rest of the houses, and I laid them out to make sure I’d got a reasonable mix of colours, before thinking about what to use for the sashing and borders. But the more I looked at the houses laid out on the floor, the more I liked them like that, and the panel was the perfect size for a wall-hanging on my stairs, so I just sewed them together as they were.


Because it was for the wall, I didn’t do much in the way of quilting, just four horizontal stitch-in-the-ditch lines between the rows of houses. I used calico for the backing and the binding – it’s a very narrow binding, just 1/4”, as otherwise I’d have cut off the corners of the roofs.


To hang it I stitched half square triangles into the corners when I sewed the binding on, and a loop in the middle – that’s just held down with a safety pin, it seemed easier than sewing it into place. I’ve just used a garden cane and a couple of nails to hang it.


And this is how it looks in place –


And the view from the front door – I’m really pleased with the way it fills the space there.


The houses remind me of those seaside towns you get on the Yorkshire coast, where all the houses seem to be on top of each other.


Like these houses in Whitby.


I see the quilt every time I go up or downstairs, and it makes me smile. That’s a result, I think.

Read Full Post »

A couple of days ago, I remembered about Pinterest – I set up an account on there ages ago, and made some boards and did some pinning, then forgot about it, largely because I bought an ipad and couldn’t find an easy way to pin from Safari, and because their app didn’t seem to do what I wanted it to.

But something inspired me to open the app again, and it’s lots better now. I also did some googling, and found how to add a ‘pin it’ button to my ipad bookmark bar, so I can pin things I find as I wander round the internet. I’ve gone a bit bonkers, pinning and repinning lots of things – apologies to anyone who follows me and is overwhelmed, it’ll calm down soon! I’m Minniemoll over there too, if anyone who doesn’t follow me wants to. Oh, and feel free to pin things from my blog if you want to – I know some people don’t like it, but I’m happy to be pinned!

Anyway, one of the things I found and pinned was a link to this tutorial, for an easy way to piece small squares of fabric, and yesterday afternoon I couldn’t resist sitting down and having a go. I found some scraps of the fabric I used to make flowers in the summer, and cut out 25 2” squares, five in each design. Then I cut a 10” square piece of fusible interfacing, and arranged the squares on it.


I ironed them on, then did the first row of seams, just folding the fabric right sides together at every join.


I trimmed the very edge of each seam – I started using a rotary cutter to just cut off a bit, which worked well for the edge seams, but not so much in the middle, where there was too much bulk under the ruler to hold it straight, so I used a pair of very pointy scissors instead.


And ironed the seams flat. I know you usually press them to one side for quilting, but I think that would make too much bulk, with the interfacing as well.


I then repeated the process with the other set of seams, and hey presto! A set of perfectly lined up squares with very little effort – just eight seams and a bit of ironing.


Of course I then had to think of something to do with such a pretty thing, and a bit of digging found some offcuts of plain white fabric, so I gave it a border, attached some wadding, and quilted the border, to make the front of a cushion.


Apologies for the photos above, by the way – I was snapping them on my phone, and it was a bit dark and murky yesterday.

I thought I had enough plain white to make a back for the cushion, but I didn’t, so I did a similar thing, but with a single piece for the centre. Then I sewed the two halves together, leaving a gap on one side, inserted the inner, and hand sewed it closed – I thought about putting in a zip, but I couldn’t be bothered.


And this is the finished thing.



You can see the quilting on this one – I used the darning foot for my machine, lowered the feed dogs, and swirled away. It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad, and it frames the lovely panel nicely. The centre panel is 7.5” square, and the cushion is about 15” square.

Read Full Post »

New cushions

I’m still sewing, largely because I’ve done something to the bottom joint of the first finger on the left hand, which is making it hard to knit (I can use the second finger, but it’s not as easy, so I’m not knitting nearly as much as usual). I’m hoping it’s not RSI, and that I’ve just injured it somehow, but I’m starting to think that it might be :(

But at least with all my new fabric I have plenty to sew! I may have just slipped back into the shop and bought a bit more on Wednesday. Just possibly. Oops.

2013-01-16 18.02.54

There’s four more pieces of William Morris, a piece with gorgeous velvet flowers, and a couple of floral pieces. All for £38. There’s over a metre of each, and some have more than that.

But yesterday’s project involved some of the stuff I bought the week before, two similar Morris floral prints, on a linen-y type base fabric.


I’ve had four of these Ikea cushions on my living room sofas for years now, and whilst I still like them, the embroidery was getting a bit tired and snagged, and I thought that a change would be good.


So now they look like this. I also covered a little cushion that was hanging about, with a hole in its cover.


They’re very simple covers, just a long strip of fabric round the length of the cushion. I used wonderweb to hem the folded edges, for ease and so that there were no visible stitching lines, then put buttonholes in one end, sewed them into and envelope, and sewed the buttons on. Nineteen buttonholes and nineteen buttons – it did get a little tedious, but it was worth it!


They’ve brightened the living room up nicely :) Now what can I find to sew today?

Read Full Post »


Last Wednesday I was on a lunchtime wander round York, when I passed a curtain shop with a small sign saying they had roll ends from £3 per metre, and bags of scraps from £5. I couldn’t resist a look, and was amazed to find that the bags of scraps were enormous bags of big pieces of lovely fabrics, much bigger than I was expecting. I did go a little bit crazy, ending up with two big bags of ‘scraps’, for £10 each, and £50 worth of roll ends. I had to leave them there as I couldn’t manage it all on my bike, and hold my impatience until I could go in in the car on Saturday. But it was worth the wait! I was like a child at Christmas as I unpacked it all :)


This is the two bags of scraps – all William Morris Sanderson prints, mostly full widths of fabric, and varying between about 20cm and half a metre. There are multiple pieces of some of the fabrics too. I’m very pleased with this lot!


And this is the bigger pieces, more Morris, and a few pieces of more contemporary designs.


This is my very favourite piece, it’s a half width, but it has the full repeat of this beautiful tree on it, which is about 60x80cm. My first thought was to frame it, and I’m still thinking along those lines, but now I’m thinking it’d be nice to embellish it first by sewing over some areas with embroidery thread. So that might be a project for the future.


But my first project was to make a quilt, to keep on the sofa for chilly evenings. I’d come across this old wool blanket a few weeks ago, and was thinking of upcycling it, so this seemed like the perfect chance, especially with the heavier upholstery fabrics. I reluctantly discarded some of the coarser weave ones, thinking they’d probably fray too much, and decided on six floral prints, with a leafy one for the background and backing – that was one of the ones I’d bought a roll end of, and there was more of it in one of the bags.


I did some sums, and decided that for the size of my blanket, I needed 6” squares with 1.5” sashing in between.


So I spent an evening cutting out squares, doing a bit of fussy cutting to centre the bigger designs.


Then worked out a layout that looked random but does in fact have a pattern to it – the first six rows have one of each fabric in every row and column (think sudoku!) and the last row is a repeat of the first one.


I took these photos on my ipad, and it was very handy when it came to checking the layout as I sewed the pieces together – new technology helping an old craft!


I sewed all the smaller sashing pieces in first, then inserted the long horizontal strips, before adding borders.


I didn’t want to quilt this, due to the thickness of the blanket in the middle, so I’ve tied it, one tie in the centre of each cross of the sashing. I hope it holds!


I did sew the binding on by machine, using my walking foot, but as I suspected my machine really didn’t like it – it kept skipping stitches, leaving very long stitches, and generally misbehaving. But I got there eventually, and then spent an evening handsewing the binding down on the back.


And this is the finished thing! It’s lovely and warm, and a good size for the sofa (about 45” x 51” – the blanket was a single bed size, but I think it had shrunk when I washed it years ago).


Read Full Post »

Holiday sewing

I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned that I’m going on holiday next week – I’m off to Hay-on-Wye (home of many bookshops, book collecting being my Other Hobby) and on Sunday I’m going to Wonderwool, which is conveniently held fairly close by. I’ve been once before, three years ago, so I know what to expect, and I’m really looking forward to it! In my head I’m thinking that I probably won’t buy much, as I don’t actually need anything, but I know that this is unlikely to actually happen!

But going away means that I needed a cover for my new toy, which came on the first day of release and I’ve been loving ever since – my new i p a d (spaces to try and deter spammers!)


I bought some lovely new Tanya Whelan fabric from Grace and Jacob a couple of weeks ago, in two different colourways, and I’ve been thinking ever since about how to make the cover. I wanted it to be padded, and I had thoughts of trying to stiffen it too, to protect the screen, but I couldn’t quite work out how to do that without making it a very complicated project, so in the end I’ve run up a simple sleeve and will carry on thinking…


I took a few photos as I went along, not enough for a proper tutorial, but enough to give a general idea what I did.


I cut three 11” x 9” rectangles in the contrast fabric, one in the main (green) fabric, and a 14” x 9” rectangle in green for the front pocket. Then I cut two 11” x 9” pieces of iron on wadding, and one piece 7” x 9”, and ironed the two bigger ones onto one green and one white rectangle, and the smaller one onto half of the pocket piece, folding it over the top. Then I put the pocket on top of the front piece, sewed down the middle, then sandwiched all three pieces together to make the padded outside of the cover.


I trimmed the seams to 1/4” and mitred the corners. Then I sewed the lining, leaving a turning gap in the bottom, and sewed the whole lot together round the top, catching a loop of elastic in as I went.


Then I turned it right side out, sewed up the hole in the lining, and found a button, and voila!


A nice padded cover for my new toy.


The pocket will hold my phone and headphones and usb connector.


As ever Mollie supervised. But failed to point out that I’d cut the pieces about half an inch too short – if I was doing it again I’d make the pieces 11.5” x 9”.


This is a close up of the pretty fabric – it has birdhouses! The green’s actually come out very washed out on these photos, it’s lovely and bright in real life.

Whilst I had the machine and my various sewing bits and bobs out, I decided to run up a quick tote bag – I made one a few years ago, and it’s been very useful, but it’s looking the worse for wear now. I bought a load of fabric from Fabrics Galore at the Knitting and Stitching Show a couple of years ago, so I dug in and found some with apples on, with a beige canvas for contrast and straps.


No progress photos this time – its’ just one piece of fabric folded in half and sewn with concealed seams for the main part of the bag, with mitred corners at the bottom, then a strip of canvas twice as wide as the finished depth for the top – I sewed it into a loop, attached it to the top of the bag, folded it in half and folded a hem on the inside, then top stitched round on the outside, so there are no raw edges inside the bag.


Then I made some handles and sewed them onto the outside of the bag.


They’re not perfect – I couldn’t be bothered trying to turn them inside out, so I just folded the strips of fabric in half, ironed the edges in, and topstitched round the whole lot. It’ll do!

Read Full Post »

Two knitted FOs to share tonight, the first is the socks I spun the yarn for a couple of weeks ago –


The fibre is BFL, hand-dyed by the lovely Fiona at Grace and Jacob in York. I spun it as a fine single then chain plied it to get about 220m of fingering weight yarn.


I split the fibre down its length, but I obviously didn’t get it quite even – the stripes on the second sock (on the right above) are much wider than on the first! I did break the yarn on the foot of the second sock so that I managed another peachy stripe before the toe, which made the stripes a bit narrower on the top of the foot.


I cast on 60 stitches on 2.75mm needles, and did a short row heel over 32 stitches. The leg measures 5”, and I used about 200m of yarn for a foot size UK4.5. I’m very pleased with both the yarn and the socks, they’re lovely and soft and should be very cosy next winter. Or next week if the weather forecast is to be believed, they’re now muttering about the possibility of snow, which doesn’t seem possible after the warmth of the last week, but it is only the end of March I suppose!


Next up is a cardigan which didn’t make it to the blog whilst it was in progress, largely because it’s a pattern I’ve done before and I didn’t think of anything to say that I didn’t say the first time round. It’s Peasy, and I used Rowan Felted Tweed. I’ve worn my grey one lots, it’s a really useful little cardi to slip on over things, so I thought I’d do a cheery red one too.


Only a headless modelled shot, I’m afraid – I’d just got in from work, and it showed on my face! But it is nice to be able to photograph things during the week again. I love summer time and light nights.


The cardigan’s worked top-down, with a pretty vine lace pattern at the yoke, then it’s plain stocking stitch all the way, with only a tiny bit of shaping. The bands are garter stitch picked up up the fronts and round the neck, and I used the little flower shell buttons again, largely because I have lots of them and they go with everything. Well, most things.


The skirt was a charity shop bargain in Grassington – I got this Wallis one and a flowery sequined Phase Eight one for under £9 the two. I may give up on sewing if I can find skirts for those prices and alter them if necessary. Speaking of which, I found this M&S one in a different charity shop a couple of weeks ago.


It’s not easy to see from this photo, but it’s got eight panels, with eight triangular sections let in to make it flare out, starting about eight inches below the waist. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s a style which just makes my stomach stick out in the straight section before the skirt flares from underneath the bulge, which really isn’t an attractive look. I nearly put it back, but then I pulled it up and turned about four inches over at the top, and was inspired to buy it and alter it.

I took off the facing at the waist, undid the side seams and took out the zip, cut four inches off the top, tapered the side seams so the facing fitted back on, put the zip back in,  sewed up the side seams and put the facing back on. Which was a little fiddly, but, apart from the unpicking, no more so than sewing from scratch, and before long I had this.


Which is a lot more flattering, and is also the length I’m preferring at the moment, just below my knee. The fabric’s a lovely linen/viscose mix, of the sort I can’t seem to find anywhere, and it was a bargain £8. I think alterations are the way to go.

Oh, and one last thing – a couple of years ago I started making flowery granny squares for a blanket, but all that stopping and starting and sewing in of ends meant that I quickly got fed up and shoved it all in a box. Until last week, when I had the bright idea of using 25 of the 30 I’d done as the centre of a blanket, then just doing rows of different colours round the edge. Which is what I’ve done.


It’s a lot less tedious! I’m going to keep going until I either run out of yarn or of the will to live, whichever comes first…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »