• Downton dilema resolved

    Thursday, 16 October, 2014

    I'm home again from working at the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace, and what a difference a week makes - lights on, heating on, curtains closed. But then candles lit and cosy evenings with lots of lovely fabrics to piece by hand - or machine - maybe Autumn isn't so bad after all.
    On my way to the show I called in at the lovely Village Haberdashery shop - , which is a shop I've looked at on line but this was my first chance to visit - it's a small shop but it's full of beautiful fabrics - so I bought just one bundle of fat quarters, which was very restrained. It's  Fly Away by Phyllida Coroneo for Dashwood Studios, and I love the way Kona plains have been added to the bundle - it's a project for the spring - just what project I'm not sure of.

    Now back to Downton - I have decided to make the piecing easy and so have started laying out the fabrics and stitching the triangles together - I cut all my16 fat quarters ( Lady Edith and lady Sybil ) into half hexagons using die 658880  and started to lay out the 'whirligig' design -
    then I added the surrounding colours -
    then I separated the shapes out to leave me with 6 triangles to stitch -
    I then stitched the triangles together - but left the centre 1/4" unstitched -
    this is to enable stitching the other piece in (known as a Y seam) to complete the triangle -
    Repeat this until you have stitched all 6 triangles -
    After this you just keep adding triangles to complete each whirligig - this is how far I have progressed -
    When you have stitched all your triangles you can then join them into rows and then join the rows together - I'll show that next week.
    Now the question is will I finish the quilt before the end of the series?

    I enjoyed working at the show as always - meeting customers,  seeing new fabrics, new projects and I always think that I'll come away without buying anything - this time I was attracted to 'Flexi-frames'
    for closing bags - so there will be some bag projects coming up.
    Whilst working, on The Cotton Patch  stand  ( ) I decided to see what size quilt I could make out of a layer cake - so using the Big Shot and
    Bigz die 659853
    I only cut the full triangle not the half, and managed cut 6 from each 10" square

     so I now have 252 triangles to make into a quilt for the grandchildren - I'm not sure how big this will be but I'll show you next week.
    Until then - enjoy the Autumn colours and keep stitching.

  • Knitting and Stitching Show

    Friday, 10 October, 2014

     This week I'm busy demonstrating at the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace, on the Cotton Patch stand, which is F27 -
    I'm taking the opportunity to start making Christmas presents using the heart dies and - below are photos of 2 cushions that I'm working on 


    I'm also planning to make I-phone covers and felt Christmas decorations.
    Come along and see me - the show is open until 5 pm on Sunday - and see what I'm up to.
    If you can't make it you'll have to wait to see the projects as I feature them here on the blog in the run up to Christmas.
    I haven't had any time to work on the Downton dilemma but I hope to show some progress next week.
    I hope to meet some of you in the next few days.


  • Downton dilema

    Thursday, 2 October, 2014

     Well it's only how to put the quilt together! - there's and easy way for the piecing, which is difficult to plan, or there is a difficult way to piece which is very easy to plan - still not sure which option to take - here are the options -

     I can make each pinwheel complete and then lay them out to get a balance of colour and pattern - but the piecing will be complicated, or
    I can stitch the shapes into triangles - but as you can see from the numbering on the pieces in each triangle that it is quite complicated - so I'm off to the sewing machine to see which method I'm going to adopt - back soon.
    The decision is made - this method was quite tricky to stitch precisely although as previously discussed it's easy to plan.
     This triangle method gives me a much neater result - not so many difficult half seams - so I'm going to attempt this method and hope that I can plan it well enough.
    As I have about 20 different fabrics to work with I think this method will work.
    My next task is to cut some more half hexagons with die - and get sewing again. I'm going to cut 24 half hexagons from each fabric and see how far I get - this may just end up as a bed runner-or a single bed quilt - I'm not sure yet. I'll keep you informed as it progresses!
    Next week I'm demonstrating at Alexandra Palace at the Knitting and Stitching show. I'll be on The Cotton Patch stand, I'm not sure of the number, so if you're at the show come and say hello.
    Hope to see you next week.


  • Welcome back Downton Abbey

    Thursday, 25 September, 2014

     I'm thoroughly enjoying the beautiful blue skies and late summer sun this September, but I'm also enjoying the prospect of curling up in front of the television, watching Downton Abbey, as the Autumn evenings become shorter and cooler.
    So what better way to celebrate than to bring out my collection of Downton Abbey fabrics and begin a new quilt - sound of hands rubbing together in excitement!
    I've been trying to decide what to make with these fabrics for ages - I've kept picking them up and putting them down - and now I've decided - so here we go -
    I have a selection of Lady Edith and Lady Sybil fat quarters and have added 5 plain fabrics from the Wickerweave range from Andover fabrics - as I think all the patterns together might be a bit much'
    I've used one of my favourite dies the half- hexagon but I'm going to stitch them together to create a different shape -
     So now I have to work out how to stitch them together - by making each pinwheel - or by creating triangles which can then be stitched quickly by machine - but this will entail careful planning - so I think I'll go and make a cup of tea and then see if I can plan the lay out - it may take a while - so you'll have to wait until next week to see how I fair!!!

  • Any one for coffee?

    Thursday, 18 September, 2014

     Yes that's right - the coffee table is finished and it's time to sit back and relax - and at least in North Wales it's a lovely mild afternoon with a pale blue sky - just right to sit back and enjoy.
    To create the top I had a piece of hardboard cut to the inset size of the table. I marked a grid onto the hardboard and drilled holes for the thread for the buttons.
    I covered the hardboard with 1" foam and then covered that with grey wool fabric, smoothing it out across the foam.
    Using the Big Shot and Bigz die I cut 18 circles to use to cover buttons for the top.

    It made covering the buttons even easier - especially as I used a 'self cover button tool'
    Insert the fabric and the button top into the soft rubber holder, place the back over the button and press in with the rigid plastic tool - so easy -

    I then stitched the buttons through the foam and the hardboard - tying the threads at the back to give some tension.
    The edges of the grey fabric were laced together to hold in place.
    It's then really simple to place the top into the top of the table - and now it's an attractive unique piece of furniture.

    Now to plan some projects for Christmas!!!
    Until next week have fun.

  • Coffee Table challenge!

    Thursday, 11 September, 2014

    How are you enjoying our extended summer - I've just sat outside to enjoy the sun whilst having my lunch - I guess there probably won't be too many more days like today so I decided to make the most of it!
    Meanwhile back in the workroom -

    I've covered the sides of the table with 1" foam - cut into strips 1" deeper than the side - I've notched the foam where it goes around a corner - I used a wide double sided tape to fix the it to the table.
    Meanwhile I had extended the strip of patchwork that I had started last week so that it was a bit longer that the circumference of the table (just as a reminder I used the 10" Dresden plate die with my Big Shot
    I turned the table right way up and stretched the fabric up over the foam and onto the inside edge of the coffee table side and stapled in place - it is a little tricky and you may need an extra pair of hands to get started - 

    and the corners are sort of pleated together like this -

    and so it looks like this -
    I'm going to try taping the staples in further with a small hammer later - for today this is what it looks like -
    Next week I'm going to cover the buttons and make the padded top - that should be a lot easier than all this stapling - so until next week - enjoy the extended summer.

  • Under cover coffee table

    Thursday, 4 September, 2014


    How are you this week? I'm recovering from looking after my gorgeous granddaughters - Oona decided that last week was the time to cut 2 new teeth - which explained the sleepless nights.
    However in the middle of it all their dresses were altered and here they are, as promised-
    Abi, on the left wasn't very well - but did manage to play her part walking down the aisle -
     and Eve enjoyed every moment of the day -
     So now back to work - and the coffee table -
    I have used 
    10" Dresden Plate Bigz L die - 660120 to cut the fabrics to go around the sides of the coffee table. I'm mixing the patterns and colours to create quite a random effect.
    The plain grey fabric is going to cover the middle and I'm going to cover some buttons, to stud the top, using the same fabrics, and I will pad the sides and to give a softer finish.
    Next week I hope to have the sides finished and maybe the buttons covered - I'm looking forward to seeing how this will work - and then I may need to cover other things!!!
    I'll be in touch again next week - meanwhile enjoy the last few days of summer.

  • Cotton and Steel

    Thursday, 28 August, 2014

    Hello - how is  your week turning out? I have my 3 grand-daughters staying with me this week - they are 1,3 and 5 - so as you can imagine there hasn't been a lot of sewing going on here! Well I have been altering some dresses for them as they are flower girls at a wedding next week - so I'll save showing you  their photo until they are all scrubbed and dressed up next week!
    Needless to say I haven't had a moment to finish the bird table runner from last week - even though 5.30 a.m., has become a normal time in my day - so I'm afraid I'll have to postpone showing the finished item.
    So why is the blog called Cotton and Steel this week - well it's because I have a selection of fabrics from the collection to start a new project -

    There are quite a lot of fabrics in the fun new collection by some talented new designers - I love all the new colour and print mixes coming onto the market this year and hope it will continue for a long time. 
    I have been given these to make a padded cover and top for a coffee table - we saw a picture of one we liked but decided that the budget wouldn't stretch to buying it - so we are going to make our own variation - so watch this space over the next few weeks to see how it progresses - and if it turns out the way we imagine!
    Well the sun is shining and I have some little girls waiting to go shopping for a present for a birthday party tomorrow. When we come back we are going to use the Big - Shot and some Bigz dies to cut paper and card shapes to make some birthday cards and gift tags.
    It won't be long now until bedtime - not the girls - mine!!
    That's all for this week - I'm off to have some fun with 3 little beauties - more sewing news next time.

  • Birds on a line - table runner

    Thursday, 21 August, 2014

    Hello. the Festival of Quilts already seems a long time ago and Christmas projects now beckon! which feels crazy - but that's the way the deadlines work. - So before I really start thinking about Christmas - and ideas for decorations and quick gifts to make I thought I'd show you some of the table runners I made for the Festival.,
    This week I'm featuring the Birds on a line - it uses a Bigz Die - Bird w/Wing #2 by Rachel Bright - 659824 , which are appliqued into place -

    You can either make it using co-ordinating fabrics or use up some of those scraps you've been stockpiling.
    For the background, and backing, I used a cream on cream print - 48" x 44". Cut into 4 pieces 12" x 44". Join 2 pieces together to make a long strip, and repeat with the other 2 pieces for the backing.
    Choose your fabrics for the birds - you will need fabric 6" x 5" for each bird, and I made 14 birds.

    Before cutting the birds and wings iron a fusible web to the wrong side of the fabrics, then cut using die 659824 - I cut the birds with fabric RS and WS up so that they would face in both directions.
    Remove the backing from the fabrics and arrange along the length of the table runner, and then fuse in place. (At this point I reduced the length of the table runner to 82")
    Mix and match the wings on the birds, and fuse in place.
    I stitched the birds in place using a narrow zig-zag stitch in matching colours.

    Now as you can see I've added a binding but haven't quilted it yet - I know this is the wrong way to do things but it was the only way this table runner was going to be useable at the show!!
    I selected one of my fabrics for the binding and I cut 1 1/2" strips to give a total of 190" - I joined the pieces together to make a long strip.
    Layer up the backing, a piece of wadding 12" x 84" and then lay the top RS up and pin/tack the layers together.
    I then stitched the binding RS to the top of the runner, pressed to the wrong side, turned under a 1/4" seam allowance and slip stitched it to the back of the runner.

    So now I have to decide how to finish this - I can't make up my mind whether to create a 'washing line' for the birds to sit on - or to create 'twigs' with machine stitching.
    I'll let you know which I chose next time.
    The birds would also look good on a cushion, or pillows, and you could also make someplace mats to match the table runner.
    Or thinking about Christmas how about making some in silver fabric to hang on a tree - my ideas are now running away with me so I it's time for me to go!!!
    Have fun stitching.

  • Did you enjoy the show?

    Thursday, 14 August, 2014

    Well I hope you did.
    As always I am very tired after the Festival of Quilts - 27 workshops in 4 days is a lot, but as always it means that I met a lot of lovely ladies, and we also had a few lovely gents join us this year.
    The only down side for me is that I hardly saw any of the quilts on display - just a quick run round after the show had closed on Saturday evening, and also I don't have much time to be tempted to spend my money - although our stand was right by a rather lovely fabric stand which did cost me a bit - photos to follow in the next few weeks showing my creations.
    So for now I thought I'd show you the project we made at the show -


    a useful jewellery roll using one of the new Nel Whatmore applique dies -
    I think I'm going to have some fun with this die - I'm planning a little clutch bag with lots of beads or sequins on it for the Christmas session.
    Nik from The Cotton Patch had also been very busy creating a couple of new quilt kits which were on display at the show -
    This quilt was made using the 5" Half Hexagon die - and almost creates a 3D effect
     and this quilt uses another of my favourite dies  10" Dresden Plate -
    I love the vivid colours Nik used in this one.
    Well that's all for now folks - back to work on a quilt for Christmas.
    Next week I'll show you some of the completed ( yes I am giving myself a pat on the back ) table runners we used at the Festival of Quilts - as long as I've located the boxes they were packed in!!
    Enjoy stroking your purchases, reading your books, dreaming of having time to make lots of new projects. How about a nice cuppa?

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