A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books


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Craft show goodies

Today I went to Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC with my friend Jackie. We had a lovely time walking round all the stalls and gazing at all the beautiful stash. I made one or two purchases, but I was very restrained and didn’t buy any yarn or cross stitch stash. Just a bit of fabric…

I got a selection of fat quarters as they’re so useful to have in. I rather liked the colours in these packs.

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They’ll go with quite a bit of the fabric that I already have. I did get a few patterned ones too. I spotted these at the pretty much the first stall we looked at and couldn’t resist.

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Such gorgeous colours, aren’t they. I picked up a couple of brown ones from there too.

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This roll of fat quarters caught my eye and as it was a bit of a bargain, I bought it.

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There are ten pieces of fabric there and I love the colours and patterns. This is them flattened out so you can see all the different ones in there. You can also see the colours as for some reason, the roll photographed with a blue tint.

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One stall had small packs of 5″ squares in the most gorgeous colours. I tried to just buy a couple but I couldn’t narrow it down. I feel some more cushions are in my future.

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I also got some yardage. I have a project in mind and needed one and a half metres of something pretty. I picked this.

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And when we spotted this, we agreed that I had to have some. I have another project in mind for it.

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Is that not perfect? I hope I can do it justice.

I think I’ve got enough fabric to keep me happy for a while now. I just need to find the time to get into my craft room and play. Oh, and I may need another fabric storage box…

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Block two

I’ve done another block for the sampler quilt. This one is the block of the month in issue one of Love Patchwork and Quilting. I’m hoping to work my way through all the BOMs in the magazine, plus any others that take my fancy.

I used some of the cheap fabrics that I bought at Joanns. They’re fine for experimenting with.

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This was my first attempt at Flying Geese so although the corners aren’t as well lined up as they could be, I’m quite happy with it. I did try to pay attention to getting the seams lined up and the points in the right place and they were definitely improving as I went along.

I’m looking at pieced block next. I’ve already printed off the templates but I may make another cushion first. The others look lonely on the sofa.


17 Comments

View of my craft room

The top end of my craft room seems to be gradually turning into a sewing area, with most of the scrapbooking stash disappearing into cupboards. The window is up at that end so the light is better and it is nice having all my fabric, cutting equipment and tools in the same area as the sewing machine.

I thought you might like to see.

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The drawer unit in the corner, plus the box on top of it, contains my small fabric stash plus tools and other bits and bobs.

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There’s still some scrapbooking stuff on the wall there, and a bit more beneath the desk. Most of that floor-space is taken up with four large Really Useful Boxes containing yarn and more sewing stuff – mostly the bulkier items.

This is the 90mph sewing machine. The very cheap and cheerful sewing machine.

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I have my eye on a Pfaff and am hoping to get one for Christmas if I can save half towards it myself.

My craft space doesn’t always looks so tidy by the way, although I do put everything away between projects. (which is when I took these photos) It’s covered with the makings of another block for the sampler quilt at the moment and is most definitely not tidy.


21 Comments

Starry Skies cushion

Before I get onto the ‘Hey look what I made’ moment, I’d like to ask if it’s just me that can’t seem to find a speed between stop and 90 mph on my sewing machine. It doesn’t matter what angle I place my foot at on the pedal. Or what height I have my chair. Or how gently I ease my foot down. It hums gently as my foot increases the pressure…

…and it’s off like the clappers. 90 mph, every time. Oh, I can get it to slow down occasionally, to a very slow pace that gradually eases to a stop. Then as soon as I try to get it going again it whizzes off as if I’ve floored it.

Is there some special technique? Some knack that you learn at sewing machine school and isn’t available to us ‘learn as we go along’ folk?

Just be aware that some of the seams you’re about to see aren’t quite straight and I’m blaming that on trying to keep up with that blasted machine.

So, my latest creation. I mentioned recently that I was having fun with Foundation Piecing. This is the result. Look what I made!

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It’s the cushion from issue two of Love Patchwork and Quilting and the designer is Holly deGroot. She also designed the other cushion that I made so I guess I must like her style. Once again the instructions in the magazine were brilliant and I found the Foundation piecing really easy. I loved how precise it was and can’t wait to have another go at it.

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And with the piecing finished

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The magazine example was in completely different colours.

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I had that lovely Batik fabric and thought it’d look great with a dark navy background and I’m very happy with how that turned out. The colours really pop against the navy.

I do know that I should have paid more attention to how the navy fabric was lying but I didn’t realise it all had to run the same way until I noticed that some pieces looked different shades and looked it up online. I’ll know next time. So much to learn!

I decided to Stitch in the Ditch for the quilting and not attempt the squiggly quilting in the example. I think that must be free-motion and I’m not even sure if my machine can do that, let alone me.

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I used fabric from the same range for the back.

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And now it’s sitting on the sofa.

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That’s a terrible photo as the light in our living room is bad at the best of times, but in the winter it’s non-existent. Maybe I should have put the light on. Something else to remember for next time 🙂

The quilting went a bit wonky in places and not all the seams are dead straight apart from the pieced ones, but other than that, I’m chuffed to bits with it. I love that fabric and I loved learning the piecing technique. This is so much fun. I can’t think why I didn’t try all this years ago.


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Mug Rug #2

I needed to try another Mug Rug after the last one didn’t turn out as expected. It was ok, and is a very good iron stand in my craft room, but I wanted a Mug Rug for the table next to my comfy sofa. Emmely left me a link in the comments from the first Mug Rug pointing me towards an easier method of binding that might be better for my cheap machine.

This is the result using that method.

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The tutorial for the cheat binding is at Made by Rae and uses the backing fabric for the binding instead of a separate strip. This reduces the bulk and my sewing machine liked it much better. I still had issues with the fabric rucking up, despite using a walking foot and a quilting needle but it was a definite improvement.

The back is a little messy, but I won’t see that and I’ll get neater with practise so I’m not going to worry too much about that.

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Ok, looking at the photo, it’s probably a lot messy, but it’ll do.

This time I used some of the narrow strips from that honey bun that I used for my cushion. As they were going to be in the same area I thought it’d be nice if they matched.

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I’m still without my new cutting board and ruler that I ordered two weeks ago. Ups lost the parcel and the Ebay seller is being very quiet. I’ve escalated to Ebay customer service now so hopefully I’ll soon get a refund and can go elsewhere to buy what I need. So frustrating when I just wanted my parcel delivered.


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Not quite a Mug Rug

I’m waiting impatiently for my new cutting equipment, which UPS seem to have lost. While I’m waiting, I thought I’d have a go at a small project and I’d seen just the thing on Oh Sew Tempting. I think I liked the name as much as the project. Mug Rug sounds so much better than coaster, don’t you think?

I’ve got some cheap fabric that I bought on holiday when we went to Joanns. I raided their clearance section and got jelly rolls and fat quarter bundles for $6 each.

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I may have gone a bit mad, but I thought they’d be great for practising with, and if I managed to make anything decent with them, it’d be a bonus.

I used some of the plain blue for my Mug Rug. If it went pear shaped, it wouldn’t matter and if it worked, it’d look good in the living room to put my coffee on. I wanted to try the quilt as you go technique and I thought it’d be a great way to try doing some binding as I hadn’t had a go at that yet.

The instructions on the blog are brilliant and I was doing great up until I got to the binding. I made the binding ok, using instructions from another website, and I was pleased with that, but as I really dislike doing hand sewing, I decided to do the binding differently to how it was shown on the Oh Sew Tempting. I used the same technique but attaching it at the back first and then machine sewing it at the front. I read how to do that on a different blog somewhere.

It might have gone ok but my sewing machine objected strongly to the thickness of all the layers so it all went a bit wonky. I don’t know if that’s because I was doing something very wrong or because my machine is a very, very cheap one.

This is how it turned out.

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I don’t think I’ll bother with any close-ups, eh? I think you can see how much my sewing machine didn’t like it. I’ve decided it’s not worthy of the living room so it’s going to be used as an Iron Rug as I did need something in my craft room to sit the iron on. It does the job nicely.

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I liked the quilt as you go technique very much, but I do need to figure out why my machine wouldn’t cope with the binding. Preferably before attempting an actual quilt…


4 Comments

Having fun!

I’m making another cushion and I’m having a huge amount of fun doing it. I’ve discovered the glorious world of Foundation Piecing.

I’m loving it. It’s another one from the new magazine, Love Patchwork and Quilting and the instructions are excellent. The templates are on the website so I downloaded them and printed them onto freezer paper. It’s so easy to get perfect seams and corners and to get it all lined up. Love it!

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The front of the cushion is almost done but I need to cut some 18″ strips for it. My one and only quilting ruler is a 12″ square and my cutting mat, which I assumed was self-healing but apparently isn’t, is just an inch or so larger. I decided that with one cushion already under my belt, and a growing fabric stash, a larger, and definitely self-healing mat was needed, along with a longer ruler.

They’re both on their way so I should be able to finish my cushion off next weekend and then I’ll have another one to show you. And yes, I know I ‘could’ cut the fabric with my small mat and ruler but it’ll be so much easier and more accurate with the larger ones.

I’ve already got the next cushion planned, and even have the fabric pulled for it. There was a booklet of different blocks with the latest copy of the magazine and I want to try making most of them. There’s a nice star that’ll look lovely on a cushion front although I think we may get overrun by cushions at this rate 🙂


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Rail Fence cushion

I’ve had great fun making this cushion. It’s one of the projects featured in the first issue of the new quilting magazine – Love patchwork and quilting. It’s supposed to be good for beginners so perfect for me to have a go at. This is the mag picture that caught my attention.

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Pretty, isn’t it. It calls for wide strips but I thought it’d be a good way to use up some more of the never-ending honey bun that I used for the monthly cottages. I adapted it to narrow strips in a variety of colours instead of shading from light to dark in one colour. The honey bun is Kansas Troubles, Sandhill Plums. I love those colours!

First I made my four squares. I tried to make them go from light to dark although it was difficult to decide which was lighter in some cases. I think it looks about right though. These are the four squares before being tidied up.

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After joining the squares together and pinning the cushion top to the batting and muslin, I then needed to decide what I was going to do about quilting it. On my earlier attempt at quilting, when I was just trying it out, I did stitch in the ditch, but this time I wanted to do something more adventurous. The magazine example is done ‘on point’ and looks gorgeous. I thought I’d do mine like that but instead of doing different widths, I’d do it so it matched the strips.

Like this.

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I’ll be honest, I did think I’d been just a little bit too ambitious but I had a picture in my head of how it would look and I really wanted to try it. It took me longer than I thought it would, but once it was finished I was very happy with it. It actually came out just how I’d planned. As the fabric is in several different colours, I decided to go with navy cotton. Whichever colour I picked was going to show somewhere so I planned for it to make a statement in the centre. I’m not sure if that’s the accepted way of doing things, but I like it 🙂

Once the top was quilted I had a mild panic attack when it came to the zip. I’ve done a couple before but the instructions for this were different to how I’d done the others and I really wanted to get it right. I had my own personal cheerleader though, (thanks Jackie!) and managed it with it only going slightly wonky.

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The back is in a red fabric that matches the strips in the Honey Bun. The only other yardage I had to match was in a brown or a green and I didn’t want to use either of those. I think the red looks fine though.

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Once the zip was in, all that was left to do was sew up the three sides and insert the cushion pad. I got several at Ikea last time we were there so it looks like I’m going to be making a few more cushions yet.

The finished cushion is now on my sofa and I’m leaning on it now. It’s very comfy. I’m chuffed to bits with how it turned out and I really enjoyed making it.

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Stephen is very impressed. He wants me to make a quilt for the bed now with matching pillow cases. I think I may make a few more cushions first though. Just to get a bit more practise.

One last close up of the finished cushion.

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First attempt at quilting #2

And it’s finished! I defeated the sewing machine gremlins and made some buttonholes for my cushion cover. This is the finished item.

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My scrap piece of fabric, that was being used to try and do buttonholes is now looking a bit tatty. It took quite a few attempts to get it right.

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The problem was that I wasn’t pulling the buttonhole lever down far enough. You have to pull it down and then push it gently back until it clicks into position. Mine would only click if you pulled it halfway down, so I assumed that it was in the right place. While I was fiddling with the machine, I realised that it had to be all the way down as it was when it touched the buttonhole foot, that the machine knew to start stitching back the other way. This would be why it was only sewing a straight line before, but most of the time it won’t click back if it’s in the right position so you have to gently hold it back. I got there in the end though and managed to do some fairly reasonable buttonholes.

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They’re not perfect, and I did have a couple of issues with the two end ones, which is why I’m not showing them to you. I had to do quite a bit of tweaking to get them fairly even, adjusting stitch length and a screw at the back of the machine. I’m quite pleased with the result though.

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It’s quite small as cushion covers go so I do need to get or make an insert for it. For the purposes of taking a photo though, I stuffed it with toy filling. It’s been a bit of a learning curve, with my first quilting and first buttonholes but I’ll feel more confident when I make the next one.

One more photo of the finished cushion.

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I want to make another one now 🙂


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My first attempt at quilting

I’ve been threatening to have a go at this for ages. I keep seeing all the lovely quilty things that Tree makes and puts on her blog, and each time I see them, I wonder if I could make anything like it. At the NEC show this year, I took the first step by buying some fabric but it’s been sitting in a drawer while I procrastinated. Sewing is scary when you haven’t really done any before, you know.

Yes, I know I’ve been sewing the frames for the cross stitched cottages, but it’s not really the same thing. Call that a warm up.

I’ve been looking at lots of patchwork cushion covers on Pinterest to get ideas and have been doodling different designs until finally, I came up with one that I liked. I thought a cushion cover would be an excellent thing to start with as we do actually need some, and they’re nice and small.

This is the stuff that I had to play with.

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Firstly I worked out how big all the pieces would need to be and which ones I wanted to use where in my design. Then, I got cutting. I pressed each piece carefully, and then I got the sewing  machine out and started sewing. I kept going back to the iron and pressing the seams flat in between attaching pieces and this is how it came out.

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I then fired up the laptop and checked a few websites to make sure I had some idea what I was doing next. Then, I took a deep breath, put the layers together and sewed.

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I’m quite pleased with it. I can see that the fabric puckered in places. I’m not sure why. Maybe I need to adjust something on the sewing machine. Also, I wish I’d arranged the right column slightly differently as there’s a band going across as well as up/down. That was unintentional but I can live with it for a first attempt. I’d cut the batting and backing slightly larger than the front, as instructed, and have now trimmed it all off ready for putting the back on.

And there is where the problems have started. It was all going so well too. I’m planning to do the back in two overlapping pieces that fasten with buttons. Having cut the two pieces, I hemmed the edges that will overlap and then hemmed them again so no edges would be visible. Then I checked again to make sure the sizes were ok. They weren’t. The hemming had made them slightly too short so there wouldn’t be room for buttonholes. Sigh. Luckily I had some more of that fabric so was able to cut another of the smaller pieces.

I had the splendid idea of using the sewing machine to do the buttonholes. It does them automatically, according to the manual, so why not? I mean, how hard can it be? So, first I sorted out the buttonhole foot, and then read all the instructions several times until I felt confident. With foot attached, I set the stitch length, the stitch selector, and pulled down the little zip knob. I read the instructions again and made sure that I’d followed all the steps. Then I set about making a buttonhole – on a scrap of fabric. Not doing it straight onto the back proved to be an excellent idea as on the first go, it just stitched a lump. On the second it stitched a slightly longer lump. On the third, it ate my fabric and I had to dismantle the bobbin holder to get it out. On the fourth, after I’d ironed some interfacing to the back, it just stitched a long line that didn’t resemble a buttonhole in the slightest.

Then the phone rang, saving my machine from being sworn at and very possibly kicked. My car, which had gone to get its air con fixed, was ready for collection. Oh how lovely it was to drive home in a cool car, although I may have had the air con turned up a bit too high as I fear I may now have frostbite and therefore can not do any more sewing today. The sewing machine may be thankful for that.

I’ll try those buttonholes again tomorrow. After I’ve had a wee look on Google to see if I can figure out what’s wrong.