Saturday, December 31, 2011

That was 2011

There it is, most of the things I have sewn this year - I have been quite productive, I think!

Thank you for reading in 2011 and
I wish you all a Happy, Creative New Year!

Pencilcase and more

I was fascinated by this pencilcase when I spotted it in Stitch Magazine a while ago (last spring I think?), but I never got around to making it. But then my youngest nephew announced that he wanted a cool pencilcase for Christmas, and I dug the pattern out of hiding and had a go. It wasn't too difficult, but a bit fiddly, getting the bottom stitched on in particular.
 It has three zippers on the outside, but only one opens all the way down, which is good, I suppose, otherwise all your pencils would keep tumbling out. I struggled a bit with the three tips before I realized that I had to schrunch the zipperends together a bit to make the tips narrow enough to close the case completely, but I got there in the end and the gift was well received. It was not a disadvantage that it was filled with colouring pencils I suppose...
 The last of the homemade presents this year was a simple shopping bag made from some lovely Ruby Star Rising fabric and lined with a turquoise paisley. I used box corners to make a flatter bottom and some woven ribbon for  the handles. Nice and simple.
I might make more of these in 2012 - they are quite good for presents actually.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Summing up

Here I was thinking that I had bought hundreds of yards of fabric during 2011, but when I started looking through my photos, there isn't a terrifying amount of new fabric in my stash. There might be a few more purchases, but the truth is that since my local quilt shop moved away and my shopping went online, I don't buy as much fabric as I used to. Another change I see, is that instead of buying random fabric in colours that match, I now tend to buy groups of fabric from designer lines . That might influence how I plan new quilts as well: there has certainly been more quilts from single lines lately. I need to dip into my older stash and come up with new combinations to keep things exciting. Some of them might not be willing to play with others, though, but then there are always neutral solids. We'll see what 2012 brings...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Runner up

 Those silly captions - sorry, I just can't resist it... Oh, well, here is the last item to be finished before Christmas, a table runner I made for my cousin. The photo is a bit blurry, but as I have already given it away (of course, it being a xmas pressie and all...) I can't reshoot. Learning how to take better photos might probably be a good new year's resolution...
 Anyway, it's made with the disappearing nine-patch technique, but with rectangles instead of squares. I used a group of fabrics I bought to use together in a project, but had forgotten all about until I started going through my "plans" box - my fabric is basically sorted by colour, but there is this one box where I have put groups that go well together and that might be used in a special, unspecified, project one day. It turns out that it is high time I went through it and made some more spesific plans so they get to fulfill their potential - there were lots of lovelies there, and there are more coming in all the time, so I must really make sure I don't forget about those. Well, it's the end of year and time for inventories and new plans, I guess...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another finish

 I suppose it is safe to show the pressies here by now - everybody being absorbed in last minute holiday preparations and all. These are placemats for my mother, and are based on that sew-along from sew-mama-sew, though I must admit that I didn't really pay attention to the details. I just looked at the pictures and winged it, I'm afraid. But they turned out quite well, I think.
I'm as ready for the holidays as I will ever be, the brownies and raisin foccacia have been baked, the tree is trimmed and all the decorations are in place. I was thinking this afternoon that I would never manage to finish it all today, but I did as much as need to make things Christmassy. So what of not every corner is tidy and dust free? The main areas are, and it is warm and cosy, and I have enough food to come up with  something nice to serve for unespected guests. Like when one of my friends  popped in unexpectedly earlier this evening. I was able to drop everything and enjoy a nice long chat. I'm sure it never occured to her to check for dust on the skirting boards and a great time was had by all. And that's the main point about Christmas, really, isn't it?
Oh, and did I mention that the placemats have a fun surprise on the back? IKEA's international Santas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Curio runner

It always happens, doesn't it? You think that christmas is ages away and there is plenty of time for making stuff and preparing for the holidays. Not so. All of a sudden it is upon us and there is a mad rush to get everything done. Almost there now, though, the fridge is groaning with the weight of all the food we have bought. After all the shops will be closed for two whole days, so we need to stock up, right?
The presents are all wrapped and ready, some have been sent off to their recipients or are ready to be distributed. This runner is in one of those parcels, and I can only hope that my friend likes it. I have used some fabrics from the lovely Curio line, some black and white and one that I just have to get more of next year: Kaffe Fassett's Aboriginal Dots in teal. You know that you must, when it almost hurts to cut into it...
There is still some preparations to do, but that can wait until tomorrow, now the candles are lit, the sofa is beckoning and it's time for a nice cuppa...

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Boxy but good*

-like Volvos?*

 Before starting on the Christmas presents I took time out to make something for myself. I always seem to have several knitting and stitching projects on the go. Now I might have spent some time finishing them, but instead I decided it was more fun to sew some box bags to put them in ;-)

I used this tutorial as my starting point, but couldn't resist doing my own thing. First of all I quilted them instead of adding interfacing. My handle is shorter and narrower than in the original and I added binding strips to the seams on the inside, handstitching them closed to make a nice finish and make sure yarn or needles don't get tangled up in fraying raw edges.
Once I had finished the first two, and deciding that they were a bit smaller than I wanted, I had a bit of a rethink, and came up with the solution of adding square end pieces. It was a bit fiddly to sew, but I manged, and I ended up with bags that are just the right size for a couple of balls af yarn and a half finished shawl.

Once all my bags were finished and the UFOs tucked out of the way, I set to work on the Christmas pressies. I'm not overdoing it this year: some placemats and table runners, that's all. More about them during the weekend.

*Quote from the 1990-film Crazy People, starring Dudley Moore - somehow this phrase has just stuck in my mind since way back, kind of like the British "Naughty but nice"-commercial for cream back in the 80s... Now if only I could remember some important stuff ...

Friday, December 02, 2011

Good buys

One of the dangers of not having time to sew, is that I get more time to search the net and end up shopping instead. I have been waiting for Lotta Jansdotter's fabric collection since I saw the first glimpse on a blog ages ago, and I couldn't resist buying the full fat quarter selection.
I don't know what it is about this, the retro patterns or the slightly "off " colours - I'm not sure they go with anything in my stash - but I just love them. Now I just need to find a pattern to show them off.
Some lovely Kate Spain and Sandi Henderson fabrics also found ther way into my shopping basket, and I have been sneaking in some solids with every fabric order lately, Raisin and Nightfall from Kona this time.
These three are my favourites from the latest Amy Butler collection. I don't think they will be used together, but I can't wait to play with them - the scale is quite large, and I have great ideas about how to enhance the motives with quilting - such fun!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Henna Garden and retro pillows

I have finally pulled myself together and started making stuff again. The work week is still very busy, but I set last weekend aside for sewing, and my, was that great! I let cleaning and baking plans remain just that, plans, and turned the heater on in my bedroom/sewing room and devoted myself to cutting and stitching fabric while the storm raged outside.
I have more to show for my efforts, but I begin with these two pillows. The first one is made from my lovely stash of Sandi Henderson fabric - twelve different colourways of Henna Garden. I just love this fabric, and combining them all in one pillow means that I have a sample of each colourway even if I use the rest for gifts and all. My original plan was to fussy cut the fabric so that the pattern continued from one patch to another,  and I carefully worked out the size of the patches accordingly. After making several mistakes, involving not taking into account the seam allowances (duh!) and turning fabric the wrong way, I confess that my patience got the better of me, and I ended up just cutting patches and stitching them together without taking the pattern into account. Had I stopped to think, I might have adjusted the size of the patches to make the centre square, but never mind, I like the pillow just the way it is!
The back is made from strips of Henna, and the light strip of cotton/linen fabric hides a zipper. I love this way of adding hidden zippers, making the back as interesting as the front, and it is so easy to do, see the tutorial here
The other pillow was much more straightforward, using the Viewmaster fabric from Ruby Star Rising for the front, and retro radios and fashion ladies for the back.
The Viewmaster strip hides the zipper on this one, maknig it blend in with the rest of the pattern.
The Henna Garden Pillow is quilted with a thin layer of batting and an old, plain fabric remnant for backing - it gets hidden inside the pillow anyway, so it doesn't matter. The retro pillow is made from sturdier fabric and didn't need any extra support.
I used down pillow inserts for both these pillows and I just love the soft squishy feel of them!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I've only just begun

Yes, admittedly I've only just begun, but I have been sewing today. And about time too, before I forget how it is done! I'm making box bags following this tutorial. Mine will be quilted, though. I spent some time wondering how to go about it, adding zippers and all. Eventually I decided to quilt the outer layer with batting and a cheater fabric that will be hidden inside the lining, and just follow the tutorial from there on. And why make one, if you can make four?

Monday, October 31, 2011

More holiday sewing

 These Laurie Wisbrun fabrics were already teamed up with some brights and a grey/black polka dot, but I'm not entirely sure what I had in mind for them. A table runner, perhaps?
 I've been thinking about making some craft bags, and I have at least four options here that will work very well. The dark navy/white Aunty Cookie fabric in the lower left hand corner is one I'll selfishly keep for my own knitting. Love it!
 My kitchen wil definitely welcome some place mats made from this lovely Hometown range by Sweetwater and there will definitely be enough left over for a table runner as well.
 I've had this honeysuckle print for ages, and found a couple of fabrics to go with it. It might need some oomph, an orange or yellow, perhaps? Another set of placemats there, I think.
This London map print is destined for a drawstring bag, and I just decided that the house print might be a good choice for the lining. I think I have a photo of London buses transferred to fabric which might become a pocket or applique.
 The yellow polka dot will become a giraffe, and the Viewmaster print from Ruby Star Rising is meant for a pillow.
Some more Ruby Star Rising fabrics for another pillow or maybe for some shopping bags, I think.
Well I seem to have my work cut out for me here - or rather, it needs cutting so I can get down to some serious sewing. Family and friends beware - there will be a lot of placemats and bags under the tree for Christmas if I get round to it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back in the saddle...

 In spite of all good intentions, I fell straight off the blogging habit yet again. I blame lack of time to sew, and hence very little to blog about. I've still not found my way back to the sewing machine, but at least I've started sorting through the ever growing piles of fabric on my cutting table (no sewing doesn't equal no shopping...) and tried to remember what they were intended for. A visual record might be helpful, so here goes.
I managed to snag a pile of Sandy Henderson's Henna Garden in all colourways - just love that pattern! I will use some of it for a pillow. I have some fussy cutting in mind, so the pattern will continue from piece to piece. Borders will be made from a natural colored cotton/linen blend, I think.
 I couldn't resist this line, "Ca 1934" by Cosmo Cricket - placemats, I think. Possibly for my sister for Christmas?
 The christmas range from Sweetwater plays well with these black and brown fabrics with "fa la la la" all over. A table runner or placemats for Christmas, I think.
 There will be quite a few placemats this Christmas, it seems. Here's another group I have in mind. Some Kaffe Fassett, some Curio and a white with black lettering.
These will become a larger quilt, I think. Somehow they all remind me of Italy: terracotta walls and roof tiles, latin letters, doors, peaches, bees, vines, mosaic, flowers... all put me in mind of summer days. I added a blue Amy Butler fabric here, but maybe a more turquoise water or sky fabric will be better? And I need to come up with a pattern...

Well that's some of my ideas so far. I have more pictures to share, but I need to do more tidying up before I actually start making stuff. A bit of open space around the sewing machine often helps, I'm told...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Bags of inspiration

I have been sorting through old issues of Marie Claire Idees lately, trying to throw some of them out. Let me tell you: it's not easy! Each issue is so full of inspiration, but reason tells me that I will never get round to making all this stuff, so I've resorted to taking photos of the most exciting ideas to store them digitally and I just thought I'd share some of them.
I'm always tempted to buy all sorts of pretty beads, but I have resisted because I haven't had anything to use them for. This bag might just tempt me for real, though - I love the sampler-like fields of beads on this linen bag. Since they are all kept in one colour, the design doesn't become too busy, and it reminds me a bit of a Klimt-painting. Hm, maybe I need some beads after all..
This bag is from an old issue and I've had it in the back of my mind for quite some time as a technique to try, maybe not for a bag, but for a small quilt? The bag is made from two strips of solid fabric, in navy and white, and I love the combination of rows of stem stitches (I think) and negative space that make up the pattern.
 I think it would be interesting to make a small quilt with solid strips of several colours and an all over pattern of stitches in one or two colours.

 I have been eying those sweet crochet bags that seem to crop up all over the place lately, but as crochet doesn't seem to be quite my thing, I tend to give up after a square or two. Just adding my samples to a linen background along with some embroidery might be just the ticket for me.

This school bag is a fairly simple design - I have a pattern for a messenger bag that would be just right. What I love about this, is the panel of photos on the flap. One could make some kind of collage of photos with special significance to the recipient and transfer them to fabric... - good idea!

The only question now that I have filled my mind with so much inspiration: do I really need more bags???

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Doing stuff...

Summer is definitely over, and life is getting back on track after lots of hard work in the wings here. Nothing serious, just  lots of stuff that has needed my attention and left little energy for making stuff and that means not a lot to blog about either. The storm outside tells me that there will be more indoor time now, and I have spent more time with my sewing machine during the last couple of days than I did during the whole month of September. I didn't realize how much I had missed it, so I'll definitely be making more time for sewing in future. And I really need to make some stuff too: the postman has been kept really busy bringing parcels to my door lately, and more is on it's way. When a quilt shop on the other side of the world informs you that you are currently one of their best customers, you know it's time to slow down with that retail therapy...

I've delved into my yarn basket as well, and came across this half finished scarf. With more storms coming, it might be a good idea to finish it soon! I'm knitting stripes in two different colourways of Noro Taiyo (found in London last summer) and just love the colourplay developing here. Hopefully it will keep my interest for long enough to actually finish it. I'm not a natural born knitter, I think - my knitting tends to alternate between energetic needle movements followed by long periods of stretching and patting and admiring what I have done so far. Not the most efficient method, I know!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Carrying on

 Remember that wooden basket from the previous post? Well, it's been completely transformed, and here it is. I used an old school atlas I rescued from the bin at work, and tore out strips and attached them with gel medium, also adding it on top as a protective coating. I have used decoupage glue for this sort of thing earlier. I didn't have any left, but the gel medium worked just as well - use what you've got, I say!
I have been looking for some kind of caddy to carry supplies for tea and coffee from kitchen to living room, and this works perfectly. There's just enough room for my milk and sugar set, some teabags, sweet-and-low and a bunch of paper napkins - saves me a lot of extra trips to the kitchen because I've forgotten something, and it looks nice too.

There's precious little sewing going on here lately, because of other comittments that need sorting out. All I manage to do is a little bit of embroidery during those evenings when I don't fall straight into bed, but I'll be back to normal in a few weeks, I'm sure!