• Downton continued

    Thursday, 30 October, 2014

    Hello again, are you enjoying the cosy autumn evenings now we have turned the clocks back?
    I'm enjoying the autumn colours in the trees, and the fallen leaves - which I still enjoy kicking my way through ( even when I haven't got my grandchildren with me!!)
    Talking about colours - I received a wonderful box of  'Art Gallery' fabrics last week -
    sent to me by for a whole heap of projects - now this is a little unfair, as you won't get a glimpse of any of the projects until later in the year or even early next year - but these fabrics are so bright and beautiful to work with I just wanted to share the photo.
    Before I show you the latest progress on 'Downton' I just show you a couple of photos from the workshop I taught  yesterday at The Sewing Room in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, the shop - for Anita - you can see her in the second photo below

     We had fun making quick and easy Christmas decorations, using hearts , and stars
    Christmas decorations will feature in my blogs next month - when I hope to have finished Downton.
    So here is the next instalment -
    I finished laying out the triangles and then joined them into strips - here you see all the strips joined together - to make a large central hexagon.
    Now I really want this to be a quilt that I can snuggle up under while watching Downton Abbey - so I'm going to add a neutral fabric - maybe calico to make this into a rectangle, and then maybe add a border to create the size I want - so that will be the final instalment - and then I'll give you the fabric requirements as well.
    Meanwhile enjoy the cosy evenings and keep sewing.

  • Downton part 3

    Thursday, 23 October, 2014

    Have you enjoyed the last week?
    I've had great fun, playing with the grandchildren, shopping for a holiday later in the year and choosing some fabrics for new projects.
    But I've also had  moments of wanting to scream or just cry - why? because of my Downton quilt!!
    I had stitched lots of half hexagons into triangles but when I came to lay them out in strips somehow they didn't match!!! Even my husband couldn't see how to  make it work - so after a while of unpicking I proceeded to lay them out again - but the cautionary note to this tale is pin the half-hexagons into triangles -
    and then pin the triangles into rows -
    and as long as you're careful as you stitch them it should become quite straight forward!
    This is how far I've got -
    and this is a closer look at how the 'whirligig' looks -
    I now have a clear idea of how to complete this quilt - but it means that I need to order some background fabric -  maybe from the new 'downstairs' range in Downton fabrics!
    As usual I think it's time for a cup of tea, and then it's time to start planning for next week.
    Enjoy the weekend.


  • 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.

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