Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Oh Sweet Divinity...

Another website I've come across in my blog-reading travels is Stitch Steals. It's kind of like a Scoopon/Catch of the Day style website but for fabric! Seriously! So while the "steal of the day" didn't particularly catch my attention I decided to check out their "past steals" and I found some gorgeous Riley Blake fabrics that I'd previously "favourited" on etsy! I just love that beautiful Sweet Divinity..

And for $2.99 for a 1/2 yard I just couldn't say no. I ended up ordering a yard of each fabric (as pictured) and even with shipping it still only worked out to be ~$10/yard which is about half the price I'd probably pay locally! I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet, but Blossom has been asking why she isn't getting a Harry Potter quilt, so I might do her a pretty new something for her new bedroom.. 

They also had some other gorgeous fabrics, but I thought my husband might not appreciate me maxing out the account on fabric I don't *need* just because it was on sale... but there's always next week!

Tumbling along

Saturday night we went over to my mother-in-law's for dinner, so of course I took the opportunity to escape into my sewing room and work on my apron.. I was perhaps a little optimistic in thinking that I'd actually get it finished, and ultimately the sewing gremlins came along and made sure that didn't happen!
Bodice sewn, curves clipped
 First I basted the lace onto one piece of the bodice before sewing the bodice together... I turned it in the right way to find that one piece of lace had gotten caught so I had to unpick that section, move the lace as far out of the way as possible and re-sew it. Problem solved.
Bodice in the right way, pressed, topstitched and basted
I pressed the bodice, stitched around the edges to keep it all nice and flat, basted the bottom edge and then pinned it to my skirt.. I was so careful not to catch the wrong bits of the waistband and had it all looking perfect.. until I turned it over..
Bodice attached to the skirt
 The waistband got caught in my stitching. And my un-picker was at my house, not in my sewing room. So I got annoyed and decided that was the end of the apron for the evening. But wait! I had new toys to play with.. so let's crank up Flo the GO and try out my brand spanking new tumbler die! *huge sigh of relief* My fabric squares fit perfectly.
Playing around with my theoretical layout (clearly not to scale)
I pulled out my backing fabric and my Hedwig owls so that I could get a (very) rough idea of the layout that was in my head. I ended up deciding that the tumblers will need to be sashed, probably with the backing fabric because when they were butted up against each other they merged into an undefined blob.. and that wasn't really the look I was going for.
Looks much better with the blocks apart, yes?

Then yesterday I went over after school and spent some time cutting and placing more tumbler blocks to get an idea of how I might actually lay them out. I have a significantly larger amount of harlequin style blocks than any other, and I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do about that as far as layout goes... does it matter if I have them adjoining, or should I try and keep them apart?

Also, if anyone has any tips on how I go about sashing the tumbler blocks I'm all ears, otherwise I'll just follow my instincts and we'll see what happens!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tied up

So the weekend was a bit of a bust.. I *did* get a chance to do some sewing on Sunday... for all of an hour! And then it was time to head off to the next activity for the day *sigh*

I managed to sew on the lace trim onto the apron skirt and I also made, pressed, pleated and pressed the apron ties.

Then it took me all week to be able to get another chance to get sewing! This morning I FINALLY had enough time to head over and play for a while before I had to take Blossom to kindy. I top stitched the ties along the seam lines so that they don't twist when the apron gets washed, then I gathered the skirt, attached the ties to the waistband and then basted the waistband to the skirt. Now (if you don't look too closely) you could almost pretend that the apron was finished (if it were only a half-apron).
Then I pinned the lace trim onto the bodice and hemmed the top ends of the lace before Blossom started whinging about being hungry and once again, it was time to pack up and go... but on the upside, the bodice is the only thing left to complete.
Meanwhile, my backordered Accuquilt GO! dies (Baby 2.5" strip & 3.5" tumbler) came on Tuesday! Yay! Not that I've had a chance to  play with my new toys - I figure that I just need to get the apron finished first and then I can throw myself into Harry Potter quilt mode.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

My kingdom for an apron!

One thing I've been wanting for a long time is a nice apron. Not just a generic style apron, but something pretty, classic and evocative. I want it to inspire me to bake. I want to feel like Martha Stewart or Nigella Lawson when I put it on.
Isn't it pretty?
I mentioned in a previous post that my girlfriends and I had been on a shopping trip to Spotlight the other week, and that I finally found a pattern that I liked (and on sale too, more importantly!) and some fabric that I LOVED. But in amongst all my other bits and pieces I just hadn't had a chance to get it started.
I also love that the pattern is multi size & multi design.. and do you love my fabric as much as I do?
Well! On Tuesday night, after I finished cutting shapes for my Hedwig owls I pulled my pattern out and cut out all the pattern pieces that I needed. On Wednesday night after finishing my owls I got my fabric out to press.
Pattern pieces pinned.. dammit, the fabric is folded the wrong way.
On Friday morning I went and laid out my fabric, laid out my pattern pieces, adjusted my fabric to minimise waste and finally pinned all my pattern pieces to the fabric. Then I realized that I'd folded it right sides out instead of right sides together! Argh! Oh well, it won't matter- all of the pieces are symmetrical. So I experimented with cutting my pieces out with my rotary cutter instead of scissors and how much quicker and easier is that?!
That was quick! I love my rotary cutter.
Then I had to set aside my sewing so that I could go to a soy wax candle making workshop with some girlfriends (as blogged on Needles in the Haystack).

After my fragrant excursion Bean, Blossom and I headed back over to my mother-in-law's to show her the candles, have a cup of tea and have her amuse the kids while I holed myself up in my sewing room. I prepared the pockets and attached them to the skirt, then I pressed and hemmed the skirt.
"Easing" the corners while pressing

One pocket all done!
Two pockets all done!

Pockets sewn on. Can you see them? Neither can I.

Pressing the hem on the skirt
After I'd pinned the lace to the skirt I realized that it was quite late and I really needed to take the kids home for bed and cook dinner for my ever patient husband!
Lace all pinned and ready to sew

I'd hoped to finish it off today, but with dancing concert rehearsals, tee ball "meet the coach" day and a "reward" visit to our local indoor play center, the day has just disappeared on me! But there's always tomorrow, right?

Friday, 16 September 2011

Hedwig the Owl (Part 2 - Thursday)

After dropping Bean off at school, Blossom and I went over to my MIL's so that I could finish off my owls. But before I could start sewing, Blossom wanted to go and say good morning to the chookies and see if there were any eggs to collect.
Good morning, girls!

Blossom proudly showing off her haul.
With the "chores" out of the way I was free to finish sewing the rest of my base blocks together and then press them.

The rest of the blocks ready to be pressed

Blossom playing photographer

She's only as tall as the ironing board, can you tell?

Halfway there!
 The morning was mostly spent alternating between the sewing machine and the ironing board, sewing and pressing until.....
Four completed owls! (Well, minus the appliqued eyes)
 Then it was time to give Flo some attention and cut some felt for the eyes. I used the 1" and the 1/2" circles on my Rose of Sharon die. I wasn't sure what colour to do the eyes, so I cut a pair out of each colour that I had and then took a poll. Blossom voted for blue. My husband voted for blue. My girlfriend Linda voted for blue. The blues have it. I also kind of liked the brown, but the blue matches the background fabric nicely. The yellow and the orange are just plain demonic... but would be a great idea for monster eyes (on a different quilt).
Eenie, Meanie, Miney, Mo.. my mother said to pick this one.. Blue!
So this afternoon I went to my local quilt shop to buy some Vliesofix to put on my owl eyes (yes, I realise this is backwards - I should have done that BEFORE cutting) and tomorrow morning (or is that today, seeing as it's 1:45am?) I will attach the eyes to the blocks, although I might just do the white bits for now and wait until I've sorted out the rest of the layout before I commit to a direction for the owls to be "looking"... or maybe I'll just decide to have them looking straight ahead because an owl with half an eye is just plain weird.

Hedwig the Owl (Part 1 - Wednesday)

I have a confession to make.. aside from dressmaking efforts I have never really "sewed curves" as far as quilting goes. So I was a little apprehensive about my Hedwig blocks and decided it would be a really good idea to have a practice run.
Sewing curves
 So I loaded up a practice block onto my trusty Brother My Star 15 (he's not fancy, but he does the job and I've had him since my 16th birthday) and it was surprisingly easier than I'd anticipated.
Test block turned out ok, next stop Hedwig!
All of the "heads" strung together
 Then it was time to pin my Hedwig blocks, so I did all the heads first, and then I did enough bodies to complete a full block.
The first block, pressed and ready for assembling

Completed first block - we have an owl!
 After I finished the first block I just kept going with the pinning and sewing of the other blocks until it was time for me to take the kids home and go to Weight Watchers. I finished up with enough blocks to complete another owl, plus the other two heads and a few more blocks pinned ready to go. (Yes, I'm also aware that when I say finished, there aren't any eyes yet!)
Wednesday's efforts (not including the pinned pieces)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

What a busy week!

So it's only been 2 days since my last post, but boy have I been busy! I might have to split my last 2 days into a couple of separate posts just to make things a bit neater & tidier...

First things first though, following on from Tuesday's post about the local friendship quilting group..

I packed up my bags with all my dies, Flo (the GO!) and some scraps, as well as my Christmas fabric, table runner pattern and my Hedwig owl (just to give them an idea of what you can do) plus some lunch and colouring books for Blossom. We turned up about 40 minutes into the day, and Blossom chose an unoccupied table for us near the corner windows (great views!)

The first thing I did after settling Blossom was to check out the display set up by one of the local quilting shops (there are two that alternate each month to come along and display their wares) which was clearly a big mistake as I went from browsing to thinking about buying a $3.50 "scrap" bag, to buying 4 fat quarters for $20, to going on a $75 spree in the space of about 10 minutes (I had to take Blossom to the restroom in amongst all the action!).. but I think it was money relatively well spent... I bought:

4 fat quarters

Three of the fat quarters are to go with my other Christmas fabrics for my table runner.. not because I need more yardage, but for more variety and to break up all the different hollies.. the end one is a forest green with a gold kind of basket weave, then a beautiful cream & gold poinsettia and finally some red & gold baubles. The last fat quarter is a beautiful gold star pattern that was too gold to go with my other fabrics but I just loved it and I thought it would go nicely into Bean's Harry Potter quilt (perhaps the Griffindor crest? or a border? or something else..).
A gorgeous travel cutting mat & ironing pad

Cool idea, yes?
Then the girl next to me was looking at this beautiful portable cutting mat & ironing pad (looks like an A4 notebook - I wouldn't have given it more than a passing glance!) and once I realised what it was, I just had to have one.
2x bags of "Allsorts"
 Then I figured that seeing as I was supposed to be doing a demonstration of my Accuquilt GO! for the group I could justify some scraps to play with and add to my stash.. and as an added bonus I ended up with quite the matched set of fabric scraps (below) between the two bags, as well as another two pieces of fabric in the right colour scheme to match the Christmas table runner.
Co-ordinated scraps
I was about to pay for all my bits and pieces when I noticed their pile of fabric panels and decided to sift through them "just in case".. initially I found a cute reindeer kiddie Christmas panel, but then I found an Advent calendar style panel. I've been wanting to buy/make something like this for about 2 years now and just haven't come across what I was looking for. With this one you button a decoration on each day until the tableau is complete, perfect! (And let's just add ANOTHER project to my list...)

The main panel
The daily decorations
After that I decided I had to walk away. Right Now. Really. So I went back to my table and started sorting out scraps to see what was there and what I could use with my table runner. My fabric range for the table runner is now looking pretty good...
My Christmas table runner fabric collection (so far!)
Now don't think that because Blossom and I were sitting in a corner by ourselves that we were lonely.. quite a few of the girls that I'd met when I was going regularly (3-4 years ago) came up to chat and express their disbelief that Blossom was no longer the 6 week old baby that she'd been the last time they saw her.. and there was a visiting quilting group on the table next to me that were there to gift some charity quilts to us to distribute to local victims of the bushfires that went through our area back in February, and they saw Flo and asked lots of questions (before my demo) about what it was and how it worked etc.

After lunch and show & tell it was my 15 minutes of fame.. and let me tell you I don't think it was my finest hour! I mean, I'm sure it was ok, but I know I could have done better if I'd realised that Lyn was actually serious about making me do a demonstration! All the girls loved the GO! and were amazed by how quickly it cut the shapes. The most frequently asked questions I was asked were:

1. Do I sell them? Err, no... Oh really? You should! (Yes.. certainly something to think about..)
2. Can you use it to cut fabric with Vliesofix? (My understanding is yes, but you must count it as a layer. I must have answered that question a dozen times - every time I finished answering someone else would walk up and ask the exact same question)

After my demo it was pretty much time to pack up and go home, so as far as *doing* anything constructive I didn't really do much.. unless you count sorting out/purchasing fabric for my table runner constructive. But I had fun, and they were really keen for me to come back next month (and with my crafty friends ;)) so it was a pretty great day overall.

After picking Bean up from school I then went and spent a couple of hours in my craft room being constructive, but that's a story for the next post!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Taking shape..

We went over to my MIL's last night for dinner, so after dessert I snuck off into my craft room to play with Flo (the Accuquilt GO!). During my excursion to Spotlight last Friday (previously referred to in my post on Needles in the Haystack) I found some textured white cotton fabric that looked perfect (if a little thin) to make my Hedwig owls out of (for Bean's Harry Potter quilt). 

I decided that if I added some interfacing to make it a little heavier, it would be perfect, and easier to manage than trying to double the layers for thickness. So I estimated the amount of fabric I'd need to use for Flo to cut all the pieces, cut a piece of interfacing to match and then ironed it before putting Flo through her paces.
All my Hedwig pieces cut out
 Two rolls through later, all my pieces were cut! And then I looked at my scraps and thought "I really should save the pieces that could go through the GO! again"... I trimmed them into pieces and popped them into a zip-lock bag for use at some other time. I impressed myself with my thriftiness.. pieces that I normally wouldn't have kept because they were too small for anything useful are now completely perfect for things like my Rose of Sharon die!
Left: To keep. Right: To ditch.
Then it was time to find some fabric from amongst my HP "coordinating" fabric squares to surround and finish off my little Hedwig blocks. Because I'm making 4x Hedwigs, one for each corner of the quilt I was hoping that I would have enough of one type of fabric to do them all. Sadly, I was ONE SQUARE short of being able to do it all in the sparkly dark blue fabric. But never mind, I can do two in dark sparkly blue and two in medium sparkly blue.
Blue sparkly squares waiting to be cut

And now all my blocks for Hedwig are cut! Look at me GO!
 I must say that I was super impressed by how little time it took me to cut my fabric.. I spent more time trying to work out which contrasting fabrics to use (I had other fabric choices aside from the plain blue sparkly, but I thought they might detract from Hedwig and that just wouldn't do!) than I did cutting them. Then I cut 4x 1" squares from orange fabric (from offcuts that Phillipa cut for me.. same fabric as the top shown on Needles in the Haystack) for the beaks and laid out all my fabric pieces so I could get a mental image of how she would look.

Hedwig with all her pieces (unassembled, obviously!)

Flo with her seatbelt on, ready for her first playdate!
Then today was Stitch 'n' Bitch Tuesday, so I took my crochet over to Kym's only to have the girls ask me if I'd bought Flo with me.. which I had not. So off I went to pick up Flo, a die or two and some fabric scraps so I could demonstrate her to the girls. They were impressed by her portable size - they'd envisaged something much bigger.. and were absolutely floored when I popped a few scraps onto my Rose of Sharon die, ran it through and then showed them all the flowers and leaves I'd cut in the space of 25 seconds. I forgot to take a photo of my scrappy flowers though! (And once again, I went through all the scraps and cut the small RoS circles out of the pieces that were large enough so that I minimised my waste! I'll have to find something to use all those flowers, leaves and circles on eventually)
Pinning the curves
After pinning my first piece of Hedwig together (below) it occurred to me that perhaps I should practice sewing the curves on some of my spare pieces, so one of my girlfriends, Nici, picked out two of my spare pieces (white & yellow, above) to be my test block.
One of Hedwig's heads (pinned) 
Looks like an egg, yes? Or maybe a birdie beak?
 I thought the white and yellow together looked like eggs, sunny side up. Nici saw a seagull. So then I "made" her a seagull by playing around with the block layout..
Head, beak, body, wings on the sides.. imagine two embroidered feet at the bottom
 Silly, I know.. but we had fun! And then sadly it was time to go to playgroup so we had to put aside our crafty projects, pack up and take the kiddies for *their* playdate!

Tomorrow is my local quilting friendship day, and I'm planning to go along (for the first time in about 3.5 years!) but I'm not sure what to take with me. I don't have enough pins (and it won't take all day just to pin) to sit and pin all my Hedwig pieces together, but I could pack up my sewing machine and take that with me and do pretty much what I used to do at the friendship day - sit in the corner on my sewing machine and not really talking to anyone else because I need to be near a power point!

If my tumbler die was here I could take Flo along and do double duty.. demonstrating how cool the GO! is to the girls at the friendship day, AND cut all my Harry Potter fabric squares into tumbler pieces. But I can't do that.. and I'm not sure yet what I'm doing to do with my other bits of fabric until I've seen how the tumbler pieces go together. (I really should get my husband to help me mock up an image of my quilt so that I can work it out properly instead of winging it!)

So what to take?? Maybe I could not take any quilting and take my apron fabric & pattern and cut that out instead. OR WAIT! I have it! I was going to wait for my strip cutter to come along so that I could do my Christmas table runner... but I could just use my value die to cut out my squares. And so, apparently tomorrow is the day that the Christmas table runner pattern that I bought at the friendship group 4 years ago will finally go from being a pattern to a project in progress. There we go.
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