• Little birds for a baby

    Thursday, 28 May, 2015

    The long anticipated baby has arrived - and it's a boy - James Arthur, brother to 3 beautiful girls!
    So there will be a quilt for him - but I really must finish the quilts for two of his sisters and one of his cousins before I start his ( the good news is that all 3 tops are made - I just need to layer them up and quilt them!!)
    So a quick gift is what I need - so here it is -
    a little string of birds that can fix across his pram - I did think of adding some little bells to this but know that my daughter, Naomi, wouldn't appreciate it.
    I used Bigz die 657685 http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/657685/sizzix-bigz-die-birds-3 and the Big Shot http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/660200/sizzix-big-shot-machine-only-white-gray  to cut the birds in felt - I chose grey and aqua - cutting 4 birds, 2 wings and 2 eyes in grey, and 2 birds, 4 wings and 4 eyes in aqua.
    I started by stitching the eyes and wings in place, using a small running stitch, but this can also be stitched on a machine. ( remember to make pairs of birds)

    Then I stitched 2 grey birds together, with a length of grey ric rac running through the middle, and adding a little toy stuffing before completing the stitching -
    it just remained to complete the other 2 birds in the same way.
    I now have a little gift to take when I visit again tomorrow.
    An alternative would be to make the birds into a mobile - hanging the birds from ribbon attached to the back.
    I could also make a little quilt to match - or even add a bird to a tiny t-shirt - I'm sure my granddaughters will help me decide on the next thing to make for him.
    So that's all for this week, have fun sewing.

  • Summer bag inspired by Chelsea Flower Show

    Thursday, 21 May, 2015

    I love going to the quilt shows, and seeing all the amazing quilts and seeing lots of lovely new fabrics. This year I only managed to see a few of the quilts as I wasn't well and so didn't go to the show early - but I did manage to see some of the winners and some of the quilts on my way in.
    As always I'm impressed by the skill and originality of the quilts on display, and the wonderful mix of colour.
    So now I'm enjoying watching the Chelsea Flower Show - I love the vibrant colours and mass of different shapes of the flowers - so it may not surprise you to see that my project this week involves flowers
    I found some beautiful wool felt on Margaret Fox Floral Arts (https://www.floralcraftsupplies.co.uk/Margaret-Fox-Home  stand at Malvern - and decided to make this little bag with floral decoration.
    For the bag I cut -
    2 pieces of pink felt 24cm x 20cm (9 1/2" x 8") for the bag
    2 pieces of pink floral fabric 24cm x 22cm (9 1/2" x 9") for the bag lining
    2 pieces of pieces of pink floral 34cm x 6cm (13" x 2 1/2") bag handles
    Using the Big Shot Machine and Bigz dies -Heartfelt 660233
    Flowers, Layers and Leaves 657690
    and Flower layers #13
    I cut out and assortment of flowers and hearts in felt and the pink floral fabric.

    To make the bag I curved the bottom edges of the felt and fabric bag pieces.
    Then on one of the pieces of felt I arranged the flowers, and took a photo -
    so that I could remove the felt flowers and stitch on the fabric flowers -
    I used a large irregular running stitch to secure the flowers, and frayed some of the edges using a nail file.
    I then stitched the felt flowers in place with a central button, and the hearts with small stitches along themed line.
    Then I pinned the 2 felt pieces together, with the flowers innermost, and stitched the sides and bottom together ( a 6mm/1/4" seam allowance), and turned it right side out.
    I stitched the bag lining in the same way, but left an opening in the bottom to allow for turning.
    The bag straps were folded in half down the length, wrong sides together, and a 6mm/1/4" seam allowance was press along each long side, and one end was pressed to create a point. The straps were then stitched along the fold.
    I pinned the straps to each side of the bag -
    and then put the lining over the  bag, Right sides together, and pinned the top edges together. When the edge was stitched the bag was turned right side out, and the opening in the lining was stitched together.
    To finish the bag, the lining was tucked inside and the lining showed as a border around the top of the bag, I pinned and then stitched the bag and the lining together along the seam line.
    Tie the straps together and the bag is ready for use.
    I think this is a great little bag to a summer party, or for a little girl.
    I hope you've enjoyed this project - and as Chelsea is always a sea of colour I'm just playing with another project -
    I'm not sure that I like the colour for the cushion - but I think a few more flowers and then some leaves and stems - either in ribbon or embroidery will look great.
    So until next week - keep enjoying your sewing ( and Chelsea if you like flowers)

  • Spring is in the air - but snow is just around the corner!

    Thursday, 14 May, 2015


    OK I hope that really isn't quite right about the weather - but I did see Nik Sewell's new snowball quilt - and it's so neat and quick to make the blocks using the Big Shot machine and the Bigz dies - I'm just going to show you a couple of blocks - and think this would be a great way to use up all those small pieces that you can't bear to throw out.
    For each 4" finished square you will need 4 x 1" finished squares.
    Put a small square on each corner of the bigger square, and stitch diagonally from corner to corner -
    Trim the corners to a 1/4" seam allowance and then press the seam towards the middle of the square. Repeat for as many squares as you need.
    Here you can see how the 'snowballs' come together. I think this is going to be fun to make.
    If when you're cutting a quilt you have some small bits left over you could cut a couple of 4" finished squares, and keep them in a bag for when you're ready to make this quilt. If you're really organised cut a lot of 1" finished squares and then you could make a couple of blocks each time you have a couple of spare minutes, and you'll be surprised how quickly you'll have a quilt top pieced!!
    Now I mentioned Nik Sewell earlier - and he is part of the CottonPatch team http://www.cottonpatch.co.uk/ and I am demonstrating on their stand at the Quilt Show at Malvern this week - so if you'd like to see Nik's complete quilt come and see us. I'll be demonstrating the Big Shot, and Big Shot Plus machines, along with lots of the Bigz dies. Come along and say hello.
    See you soon.

  • Friends - new and old

    Thursday, 7 May, 2015

    How quickly the weeks are flying by - it only seems like yesterday that I wrote my last blog!!
    I've just spent a lovely morning here at Black Sheep Wools - demonstrating and training with the Big Shot Plus, and Bigz dies - which you can see laid out on the table.
    This quilt is one of my all time favourites -
     I made this quilt using the Big Shot Machine, and Bigz hexagon dies - 658316,
    and die 658317,  http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/658317/sizzix-bigz-die-hexagons-1-sides-2 , for the fabrics. I used some of the Tilda fabrics for the quilt.
    I tacked the fabric over the papers, and then stitched them into lozenge shaped blocks - these travelled with me on holiday, to appointments - it's so easy to just keep a small bag with papers, cut fabric, scissors, needle and thread, in your bag and you can stitch a few whenever you have a few minutes (even in your coffee break).
    I decided to add the border, and add some half blocks to complete the quilt.
    There really isn't a quick way to put a hexagon quilt but at least the cutting is quick and precise.
    Now next week is quilt show at Malvern - I'll be there demonstrating with The CottonPatch - I hope to see you there.

  • Tessellations for fun

    Thursday, 30 April, 2015

    I’ve been very busy this weekend, but I haven’t finished the quilt from the last blog. I’ve been a little distracted because I suddenly thought that I need to get some quilts finished for my grandchildren – before the next one is born ( due around 20th May)!!
    You see I’ve made one for Oona the youngest, and Daniel, the eldest already has a couple of quilts, but Kieron and Abi  are still waiting for me to complete theirs, and I haven’t started one for Eve – until today.
    So I hope you’ll bear with me.
    I’m featuring just one die – Tessellating Pinwheel 659584 http://www.sizzix.co.uk/catalog#q=tessellating% – but with about 5 different layouts/colours.
    You do need to be careful cutting - if you are using patterned fabrics you will need to make sure that the fabric is always the same way up so that all the pinwheels tessellate in the same direction - for plain fabrics it doesn't matter ( but you do need to make sure that you stitch plain fabrics to keep the tessellation correct)
    The first 2 samples are of cushion covers – the first shows the easiest layout – just using 2 fabrics, so each block is the same.
    The second cushion cover uses more fabrics but they are laid out in rows - so it’s still really easy.
    Now this quilt is for Abi – she loves elephants – so these fabrics are ideal for her – and the quilt will be bordered with fabric with just elephants. This is the most challenging layout – you need to lay all the pieces out in rows – so that all the blocks make interwoven pinwheels – you need to do careful pinning and labelling (and even so I still needed to relay the last 3 rows again before stitching.
    I think it's worth the effort - at least I do now all the rows are stitched!!
    The next photo shows the beginning of Kieron’s quilt – now he decided that he wanted the pieces to be put together in a random design – I couldn’t quite cope with that so I’m creating pinwheels with random fabrics around each one – it’s easier – but I’m not sure how it will look when it’s complete – I guess the important thing will be that Kieron likes it.
    It will be interesting to see this progress!
    Now Eve has said that she would like to make her own quilt, and she can use my sewing machine quite confidently, but at the age of 6, I think this might take her quite a while – so I’ve started this quilt – and it’s so easy!
    As long as I make sets of 4 matching pink with 4 white pinwheels – then the lay out is so simple because the blocks can just be joined together –
    The great thing about this one is that I'm using some of the fabrics from my stash, and I also think Eve will love it.
    So 5 looks from 1 die – I reckon that’s very good value for money.
    Will I have them all finished by next week – no – but I’ll keep you updated, and hopefully complete them before the newest member of our family arrives!
    So enjoy this Bank Holiday weekend, and I’ll be with you again next week.

  • My happy new quilt

    Thursday, 23 April, 2015

    This last week has been so lovely - but I haven't been tempted away from my sewing!
    I've finished the quilt top that I showed you last week - it's only small but I do like it -
    The finished size is 42 1/2" square - so makes a cute little lap quilt or even a picnic blanket.
    The blocks are made using - http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/660183/sizzix-bigz-l-die-triangles-isosceles-right-3-1-2-h-assembled and the 3"finished square - http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/657608/sizzix-bigz-die-square-3-finished-3-1-2-unfinished 
    The fabrics and amounts you need are as follows -
    Centre squares - 3 pieces 12" x 4" - more if you are going to cut motifs for each square
    Star points - 3 pieces 36" x 4 1/2" 
    As I mentioned before I used the lovely fabric from the Fenton House collection by Guetermann for the stars.
    White - 27" x 42" for the triangles and squares.
    For the inner borders - dusky purple - 27" x 42" - cut into 2" strips and then cut 18 x 9 1/2" and 18 x 12 1/2"
    For the sashing, outer border, and binding - 27" x 42" - cut into 2" strips.
    - For the sashing cut 6 x 12 1/2", 2 x 39 1/2".
    - For the outer border cut 2 x 39 1/2" and 2 x 42 1/2" ( now my fabric wasn't quite wide enough so I had to join an extra piece onto each end )
    - the remaining strips are for the binding.
    Backing and wadding - 45" square of each

    Make the 9 blocks - you can see the layout for each block in my blog on 9th April.
    Add the borders to each block.
    Then join the blocks with the sashing, and then add the border.
    Now this is as far as I've got this week - but all that is needed is to layer up the backing, wadding and top. Quilt by hand or machine - I'm not sure yet how I'm going to quilt - but hope to be able to show you what I've done by next week.
    Binding uses the remaining strips, and voila! one small quilt completed
    And now for something completely different - but with the same die -
    If you join the triangles together in rows of 3, as pictured above, you can make easy hexagons!!
    Or using 2 fabrics and staggering the rows you can make a zig zag design -
    and that's just a starters - I like the idea of using one die for lots of different effects and projects - so next week I might still be on this die - you'll have to wait and see.
    Hope you have a lovely weekend and make something fun.

  • New quilt started

    Thursday, 16 April, 2015

    I hope you've all been enjoying our lovely spring weather.
    I am pleased to report that the baby quilts are not only finished but have been sent and received by at least one of the families - the one to America will obviously take a little longer!
    I've also managed to find the quilt I had started for my granddaughter, Abi, it has eluded me for several weeks, and that is now well on the way to completion - so have been feeling quite pleased with myself.
    The fabrics I showed you last week are coming together nicely -
    I really like this die - http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/660183/sizzix-bigz-l-die-triangles-isosceles-right-3-1-2-h-assembled - because it makes these stars easy to make.
    I partnered it with the 3"finished square - http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/657608/sizzix-bigz-die-square-3-finished-3-1-2-unfinished  and this makes a 9" finished block.
    My dilemma now is that I'm not sure how to complete this - I think a trip to my local patchwork store is called for - I think maybe a plain fabric sashing, or maybe a few more blocks with plain fabrics - I'll have to let you know next week.
    I'm also hoping to create a few more blocks using this die so that you can see how versatile it is, or there maybe another new die featured I'm not sure yet.
    In the meantime have a lovely week, and keep sewing.

  • New fabrics and a new die!

    Thursday, 9 April, 2015

    I you all enjoyed the Easter weekend.
    It was lovely to have a long weekend and to have time to relax and enjoy the sunshine. We also started to decorate our dining room - it's almost finished - but unfortunately the baby quilts still  need to be quilted - maybe this weekend!!
    Recently I was given some lovely fabrics from the Fenton House collection by Guetermann, and have been thinking about what to use them for - and now I have a new die to use - so it may be a marriage made in heaven.
    I am so excited about using these lovely fabrics.
    I'm using the 3" finished square Bigz die - 657608, and die 660183 - 3" finished Isosceles triangle ( and half triangle), also a Bigz die
    When these shapes are stitched together they will make a star, but as I'm running very late this week I can only show the pieces laid out -
     to give you the idea of what this will look like.
    I'm not sure at the moment how big this will be - or quite how I'm going to join the blocks together when they're made - but that's part of the fun.
    So that's all for now - I'll be hard at work this weekend - creating this quilt and also finishing the baby quilts - update next week.
    Have a great weekend.

  • A happy trio of baby quilts

    Thursday, 2 April, 2015

    Hello again, and Happy Easter to you.
    As you can see, from the photo below, I have made progress on the baby quilts - and I think I might be able to finish them this weekend.
    I think you'll agree they look quite different, but all have the rectangle in common, it was a happy decision to make the task easier, which worked for me!
    This quilt is a rail fence, using 2 rectangles for each block.
    I laid the whole quilt out and then made the blocks for each row, joined the rows and there we have a cot quilt top.
    This quilt uses the square with the rectangle to make a rainbow of blocks that I joined together in sequence.
     This is actually the quilt I made first - using the white strip to alternately with the bright spots.
    Now they just need to be quilted and bound - but I think I might manage that this weekend.
    So not quite HRH but certainly a bright beginning!
    Next week I think I will be showcasing a 'new' die - it's not been in our catalogue for very long and this will be my first time using it - so watch this space!
    Enjoy this very special weekend.

  • Spring flowers

    Thursday, 26 March, 2015

    What a lovely morning - bright sunshine and lots of primroses in bloom - I think Spring is definitely here - even though it's still a bit cold outside.
    Last week I met a whole lot of you at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC in Birmingham, where we made coasters using the lovely flower die - http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/659961/sizzix-bigz-die-flower-5

     these made an easy and relaxing workshop project - we cut the flower using the flower die and the coaster circles using -http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/660117/sizzix-bigz-l-die-circle-5
    and we used the lovely new Big Shot Plus machine -http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/660020/sizzix-big-shot-plus-machine-only-white-gray
    We stitched the flower centre to the flower first, and then stitched the flower to one of the circles.
    To complete the coaster we stitched the 2 circles together.
    Now some of you will have noticed that this is the same flower die that I used last week to make cushion covers because I want to show that you can use one die for lots of different things.
    During one of the workshops one lady suggested that the coaster could become a needle case - so here's one I made earlier -

    I used a thicker felt for the front and back of the needle case, and a thin felt for the centre
    leaves, and the front flower. Instead of stitching all round the circles I just stitched a straight line on one side.
    Later the same day another lady suggested that a child's bag could be made by leaving an opening at the top, and attaching a ribbon -

    Again I used a thicker felt for the circles to give some strength to the bag - this would make a cute little Easter gift - filled with little chocolate eggs, or some beads to make some jewellery.
    So now I'm back home, and haven't got any shows booked for the next few weeks so I can concentrate on those little baby quilts!!

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