A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books


A mat for the cats

As the cat tree is next to some of the bookcases, the cats use it as stepping stone to get even higher. We were pretty sure they’d be up there even before we got them, so we cat-proofed it. The bookcases run along one wall and round the corner, leaving a gap in the corner itself. We were worried that the cats could fall down there, either by accident or design, and as the bookcases are very securely fastened to the wall, it’d take some time to get them out again.

So, Stephen fastened a piece of board to the top of the bookcases, and covering that open corner. The cats enjoy going up there and napping, but I didn’t think it looked very comfy.

Luckily, I had a plan for that.

BookcaseMat-04The board is fastened down at the edge of the bookcase, leaving it loose along its length. It’s perfectly adequate to stop it from moving and it means that I could slide something underneath it.

I made the mat using the quilt as you go technique. I rather like that as it’s so quick and easy. Once made, I fastened elastic to the sides in three places to make straps that would slide under that board and hold it firmly in place. If it wasn’t fastened, the cats would just keep throwing it on the floor.

BookcaseMat-03Not the neatest sewing of the elastic, but it does the job.

It looks ok, and more importantly it gives a softer surface for the cats to nap on.

BookcaseMat-02I tempted Frodo up there once I’d fitted it and he seemed to approve. Since then, both cats have taken to it nicely. They do seem to like anything that I make for them 🙂




Frodo’s quilt – finished

Finally finished it just over a week ago. It’s been sitting on my desk for ages, half quilted and needing binding. I’ve been very busy with job search activities recently though, as well as the garden, and have had two very inquisitive cats to contend with every time I went near the sewing machine. Also they’d taken to napping on the partly finished quilt, while it was on the desk.

Once I’d made time to get it done, it didn’t take as long as I’d thought so here it is, all quilted, bound and even washed. (to remove the numerous cat hairs that it had already accumulated.)

Frodo'sQuilt-05And a close-up to hopefully show off the quilting a bit better.

Frodo'sQuilt-08Once I’d taken a few photos outside, to take advantage of it not actually raining, I tried some inside as I wanted to get a shot of the back, which shows the quilting off a bit better. Sammie was determined to take a nap on it though so I only managed a couple of slightly dark photos.

One of Sammie

Frodo'sQuilt-06And one of the back.

Frodo'sQuilt-07I’m really pleased with the quilting. I stitched about a quarter-inch either side of all the seams, and I think it turned out quite well. The binding leaves something to be desired, but it’s better than the last time, so there’s improvement. Can’t ask much more than that, and these cat quilts are great for practising on.

There hasn’t been any crafting of any description since last Sunday. I had a bit of a mishap. I was preparing some veggies and decided to use my new mandoline. Bad idea. On the first attempt, the cucumber flew one way and my finger was dragged over the very sharp blade, removing a decent slice from it. It would be the index finger on my dominant hand too, wouldn’t it. I’ve not been able to stitch, sew, crochet, garden and I can’t even type properly. Gah! Still, my Fitbit stats are great this week as I’ve been going for walks instead. Hopefully it’ll heal soon so I can get on with all the fun stuff.



Frodo’s cushion

This was probably the easiest cushion that I’ve made yet. I’ve made it specially to fit inside the cat carrier as Frodo will be travelling home all the way from Cannock and it’s a long journey for a little cat. I felt he needed something soft and squishy to cuddle up on for the journey.

I didn’t have much time to get this done so I went for the quick and easy method and did quilt-as-you-go. I used scraps too, so I’m feeling quite virtuous. I cut the batting and some muslin just a bit bigger than I’d need for the inside of the carrier. Then I picked out a couple of small scraps and stitched them to the centre, and added the rest of the fabric going round and round so it’s a bit like a log cabin effect. Once all the batting was covered, I cut a couple of pieces of fabric for the envelope-style back, hemmed the edges and sewed it all together.


I had to make a cushion inner as it’s an odd size but that didn’t take long. I just sewed two pieces of fabric together, leaving a gap to pull through. Then I topstitched the opening closed after filling it with washable stuffing.

It fits beautifully and I didn’t stuff it too tightly so it’s quite soft.


I’m rather pleased with it. Hope Frodo likes it 🙂


Snowballs #2

I had four piles of squares waiting to be made into snowballs. One pile was done a few weeks ago but the others have been sitting on my desk, looking reproachfully at me every time I went in my craft room. I’ve been doing a bit of cross stitch, a bit of crochet, a bit of decluttering and have also been wasting far too much time surfing and playing games online.

This morning I was blog-hopping and had a quick chat with Kate, one of my very productive friends, and was motivated to do some more to the Snowballs.

One of the reasons I hadn’t done any more to them, is that it was so time-consuming sewing each white square on. I’d seen something on YouTube that I thought would help so thought I’d give it a go – chain piecing. Now I realise that most quilters probably use this method most of the time, but sometimes I’m a bit slow to find the best way to do things. I really wish I’d tried this earlier though. It was so much faster, and what I didn’t expect was that it was also neater and more accurate.


I was so motivated both by the chain piecing and Kate’s gentle encouragement, that I got all four piles stitched.


Woo hoo! And not only that, but I even found time to press them while the veg for dinner were steaming.


I now have five piles of finished snowballs so next I’ll be assembling them into a quilt top. Maybe tomorrow if I’m still feeling motivated 🙂


Disappearing nine-patch #2

And it’s finished! I’m not completely happy with it as my sewing skills definitely need some work, but it was good practise and I feel a lot more confident about using the new machine now.


I did random wavy lines to quilt it, which I’m thinking are ok. It’s the binding that I need to work on. It’s definitely a bit wonky on this, and the stitching is all over the place.


Overall though, it’s not too bad and I’ve learned a few things along the way.

I’ve had to abandon the C25K for a while. My knees ached quite a lot after the 20 minute run last Wednesday and were still achy on Saturday so I didn’t do my scheduled run then. They’re quite a bit better today but I’m wary of damaging them with our holiday coming up soon so I’m going to leave it for now and maybe try again after our hols. Also, the treadmill is currently buried under suitcases, clothes and other items for packing so running on it would be a bit tricky. I switched to using the treadmill after the second week as if my knees played up while running, I could stop immediately and not have to walk home. I found it easier too as it keeps you at a steady pace. I really hope I can get back to it later. I was enjoying it a lot.

I’ve been a bit freaked out lately. I have a serious spider phobia and there has been at least one monster, mutant spider stomping across the living room floor each night recently. Not what you want when you’re sitting quietly, doing some stitching and out of the corner of your eye you see ‘it’ heading your way. I know that they can’t hurt me, and they’re more frightened of me etc. etc, but when the phobia kicks in, logic flies out of the window. Once I can prise myself off the sofa, I’ve been throwing the magazine holder at it, as it’s got a flat bottom and is heavy. In an attempt to be more spider-friendly however, as it’s not their fault that they wig me out, I’ve bought a Bug Katcha on the recommendation of a friend. I just had to break off my typing to scoop up tonight’s invader and he’s been lobbed out the front door. I’m feeling rather pleased with myself as I only whimpered a bit while doing it 😉


A wee pouch for my laptop

I wanted to make a pouch to protect my laptop when it leaves the safety of home. I couldn’t find a pattern that I liked, or that was suitable so I worked it out for myself.

I had some pretty embroidered fabric that I got at the NEC a couple of years ago.


After a rummage, I found some solids that go with it quite nicely.



I measured the laptop and worked out all the sizes. It didn’t take long to cut out the fabric and then sew them together. I even managed to insert a zip, although that did give me a bit more trouble as it was quite fiddly. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.


Close up of the zip.


It’s not what you’d call a professional finish, but it does the job and it isn’t too untidy. The laptop fits in there and is nice and snug. It’s a perfect fit.


What I’m really happy about is that I started and finished this in one morning. Usually I stop and start projects but this came together so easily that I just kept going. It must be the new machine 🙂


I’m not friends with my sewing machine today

I was all set to do some sewing this morning. I have some pretty fabric, which is all cut out and pressed and waiting for me to sew it. Am I sewing though? No I am not. What I have been doing is trying to persuade my sewing machine to work properly.

This is what it’s doing on the reverse of the test pieces of fabric.


That was a couple of the better efforts. Most of them look like this.


Not quite what I was hoping for.


And from a different angle.


My first thought was the tension. It’s been fine before but the manual said if it’s loose on the bottom, it needs the upper tension increasing. So I did that.


It then started going all loopy on the top.

I’ve had all the bobbin assembly out and cleaned it. I’ve had the plate thing that’s under the needle off and cleaned there too. I’ve oiled it, checked that everything is in the right place and reassembled it. I’ve changed the needle and made sure it’s threaded properly.

I have absolutely no idea what else to try. I don’t want to pay for it to be serviced as I’ve nearly saved enough up for a new machine and want to keep my cash for that. I can’t get technical help from the manufacturer as I can’t find them online any more so I’m thinking they don’t trade now. That’s what I get for buying the cheapest machine I could get, but I did only want it for scrapbooking then. Sigh.

Do any of my stitchy friends have any idea what else I can try please? I’d be really grateful for any suggestions.

I guess I’ll go and do some housework now, seeing as I can’t sew. Mutter mumble, sulk, sulk.


Edited to add:

It is now working as well as it usually does. Cherry suggested that it might be the thread and when I went to change the bobbin thread, it occurred to me that I may have overloaded the bobbin slightly. I took some thread off it and that did the trick. Thanks Cherry and Ellie for the advice.

I was just starting to look forward to my new Pfaff too…


Pinwheel Cushion

I’ve had this on my desk since March. I made a decent start on it by cutting out gazillions of squares and making my HSTs. After that, I didn’t seem to get any time to play with it so it’s been sitting there looking reproachfully at me.

Yesterday though, I decided that it had to be finished so that I could start a new project that I’ve been  planning. You notice how I found time to plan new things to make, but not time to finish the ones that I’d already started.

I managed to get the front and back pieces finished yesterday and today I’ve quilted the front and assembled it all. I did consider trying some fancy quilting but went for stitch in the ditch in the end. Keep it simple and I’ve less chance of making a complete dog’s dinner of it, eh?


Pinwheels! This may have been a bit ambitious but I thought the practise at doing the HSTs would be useful. They’re mostly wonky but I was improving as I went along so there is that.

The pattern I was following gave instructions for the front and then said to  do the back how you wanted. I chose to do an envelope style instead of using a zip, ’cause it’s easier. Also, I wanted to try to  make the back a bit less plain so worked out how to do a bit of a border to the top piece. I’m quite happy with how that turned out.


I’m thinking that maybe I should have ironed it before taking the photos, but you know how it is. You get so excited to have finished something that you just can’t wait to get the camera out. Please say that isn’t just me.

This is the cushion once the pad was inserted.


And in situ with the one that I made using the same fabrics.


Not the sharpest photo, but as I’ve said before, there is no natural light in my living room. If I ever move house again, I shall be buying somewhere that’s better for taking photos of my creations 😛

I’m going to tackle a quilt next. I have all the materials needed to make a fairly large lap quilt. The pattern is very simple so hopefully won’t take long. I may make a smaller one first though, just for a trial run. I have the fabric for a smaller one, but need to find a design for it.