Saturday, 28 January 2012

Patchwork Place Mats

Patchwork place mats are so simple to make but they really brighten up the dining table.  I've made these place mats 16.1/2" by 12.1/2" and they haven't taken up much time or much fabric.  I can't decide now whether to make a set for myself or for a gift!

Each placemat is made using eight half square triangle units.  I used 2.7/8" squares for these and made them by placing two squares right sides together and sewing either side of the diagonal.  The rest of the placemat is made using strips of fabric 2.1/2" by 8.1/2".

I made two blocks and placed the second one upside down beside the first one.  That was all that I had planned for the patchwork placemat, but it looked out of proportion so I added a strip of white fabric to the top and the bottom. After pressing it was just a case of layering the backing fabric, batting and patchwork top.  I did a tiny bit of stitch in the ditch quilting - not much required on something as small as this - and then sewed on the binding as for a quilt.

I've started working on a coffee cup bag which I was asked for ages ago.  I've done what I thought would be the difficult bit - designing a coffe cup block - but I seem to be struggling to get the proportions right for the bag itself.  Oh well, I'll show you when I've finished it.

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Hope to see you again soon.
Best Wishes

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Valentine Gift Lavender Cushion

Stuck for Valentine gift ideas?  This lavender cushion with a ruffle edging takes no time at all to make and doesn't use much fabric either.

All that's required is two 8" squares of red fabric and a 5" strip of pink fabric cut across the width of fabric.  Oh and a generous dollop of dried lavender and toy stuffing and two 5" squares of fusible interfacing.

Cut two 5" squares of pink fabric from the ends of the 5" strip.  Back them with the interfacing and draw a heart shape on them.  Cut round the heart shape and place one on each red square with right side up.  Zigzag round the edge to secure the heart and then satin stitch all round the edge.

Cut the remaining pink fabric in half along the length to make two 2.1/2" strips and sew these together at both ends to make a loop.  With your sewing machine set at its longest length sew along one edge of the loop leaving a small gap between where the stitching starts and finishes.  With a pin mark the half way mark along each half of the loop.

Hold one of the threads and gently ease the fabric along so that it gathers.  Gather from both ends until the ruffle strip measures roughly 8" in each quarter.  Pin to the red square with the gathered edge lined up with the edge of the square.  Use the marker pins to check that you pin a quarter of the strip to each edge.

Lay the other square on top with right side down, pin carefully and sew on three and a half sides, leaving a few inches gap to turn the cushion right side out.  Pull the cushion through the gap to turn it right side out, fill with a mixture of lavender and stuffing and topstitch across the gap.

It really takes no time at all and makes a change from the usual lavender bag.

The video gives a little more detail of how it all comes together:

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Friday, 20 January 2012

Quilt Binding

About a year ago I started a beginner quilt and used it as a basis for a series of articles on beginner quilting.  I beavered away happily until I had quilted it and then I came to a stop.  It remained unbound for months and months and then this week I suddenly decided to finish it.  You can see the results on
quilt binding and I am so glad that I can finally move that quilt from the UFO pile!  I daren't count to see how many more quilts are still in that pile.

I've been asked several times whether I make dvd patterns and I've always felt that the technology was beyond me.  Earlier this week I started to look into it and I was convinced fairly early on that I had been right and the technology was way beyond me.  However as the week went by I decided not to be such a wimp and I think I am beginning to work out how to do it.  I'll keep you informed.

I finished my necktie quilt which came out really well.  It will actually be a quilted wall hanging because of its size, but I used three different quilt blocks to show different ways of using neckties in quilts.  I cut the first tie without any interfacing and that was a mistake - the silk was very difficult to work with - so I used fusible interfacing for the remaining ties and that made the work quite simple.

Here's the video tutorial if you would like to see it:

That seems to have been quite a hectic week and I certainly put a few late evenings in, but it definitely made the week fly by.  It certainly hasn't stopped me itching to get started on a new project!

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I hope to see you again soon.
Best Wishes

Friday, 13 January 2012

Patchwork Pin Cushion

With the amount of sewing that I do you'd think that I would have made a patchwork pin cushion a long time ago.  But somehow there was always something more pressing to make and you know what they say about the cobbler's children going barefoot ......

Anyway in one of my videos I had to fumble for my pins from a plastic box which I overturned and spread pins everywhere so several quilters suggested that I should use a pin cushion.  I looked around for ideas but I didn't want one that was so small that I wouldn't be able to put enough pins in it, so I decided to go for one based on a nine patch square.  It measures 5.1/2" across the diameter and about 1.1/2" high.

I used nine 2.1/2" squares each in a light fabric and a dark fabric.  I put them together as shown to make two nine patch squares with the colours reversed.  These nine patch units are 6.1/2" square which is just the right size for one of my side plates.  I drew round the plate and cut the squares (placed right sides together) into circles.

Sew round the edge of the circle leaving a gap about 5" long for turning the pin cushion right side out.  Backstitch at each end of the seam and turn the pin cushion right side out.

Push stuffing in through the gap.  You need the pin cushion to be quite firm to make it more easy to push the pins in.  I used ordinary kapok stuffing.  When you feel that you have filled the pin cushion, pin the gap and slipstitch it closed.

Sewing a button in the middle of both sides makes the pin cushion more stable and looks better.  Select two fairly large buttons.  This is the most difficult part of making the pin cushion:  use double thickness thread and a long needle.  Begin with a couple of stitches to secure the thread and then push the needle through the hole on the first button.  Push the needle down through the pin cushion to come out through one of the holes of the second button. 

The difficult bit is obviously trying to line up where the needle comes out so that it's in the right place to go through the button.  Continue stitching the buttons together (about half a dozen stitches should do), pulling the thread very tight each time.  That way you pull the buttons down so that they depress the middle of the pin cushion.  When you think the buttons are secure, finish off with a couple of stitches underneath the spread of one of the buttons.

I think that now I might need to buy some new pins to grace my new pin cushion!

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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Bright Colours

Oh but I have had fun this week.  I was asked (some time ago) for a necktie quilt and I have really got stuck in on it this week.  I've done a dresden plate with some parts of the ties and also two other different blocks.  Now I just have to decide which way to put them all together.  I'll post my ideas when it's all done.
Then yesterday I gave a sewing lesson to a delightful lady who had never used a sewing machine.  It was quite fun to go right back to basics and she seemed really pleased with the cushion cover that she made.

I've also been looking at ideas for bright fabrics.  Sometimes I buy them because they just seem so fresh and cheerful, but then I feel that I can't put them in a traditional quilt because they would dominate the other fabrics.  I think that one solution is to use the bright colours only but tone them down with loads of white fabric.  I quite like this quilt block because the bright patchwork pieces seem to float in the white.

It's really simple to make:  start with a four patch unit of two green and two white 2.1/2" squares.  Add a yellow square and a white square above and below the four patch unit.  Make two 8.1/2" by 2.1/2" strips by sewing together a 4.1/2" by 2.1/2" strip each of yellow and white and sew these to either side of the squares.

Sew together 4.1/2" by 2.1/2" strips of blue and white and add these to the top and bottom of the block.  Finish off with 6.1/2" by 2.1/2" strips of blue and white down the sides of the block.

The block comes together really quickly and I think having plenty of white gives it a fresh and cheerful feel.  I thought at first that it was a child's quilt, but I think I would quite like such a cheerful quilt as a throw for myself.

As ever, there are loads of options if you rotate the quilt blocks, but I prefer the one shown on the right.

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Hope to see you again soon.
Best Wishes

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Partial Quilt Seams

At first sight I always think that this Bright Hopes quilt block looks like some sort of log cabin variation.  It's only when I look again that I realise that it can't be made in the traditional way because there's an overlap all the way round - a log cabin quilt block would have squares above and below the central square whereas this block has rectangles all the way round.  That, of course, is where the partial seams come in.

The starting point for the Bright Hopes quilt block is one 2.1/2" square in a light colour and four 4.1/2" by 2.1/2" rectangles getting increasingly darker.

Place the square on top of the lightest of the rectangles with right sides together.  Mark a point half way down the square on the right hand edge and sew from the top to that marked point.  The square and rectangle are now partially attached to each other.

Place the darkest rectangle across the top of the white square and grey rectangle with right sides together and sew the seam across the top.

Next to go on is the second darkest rectangle.  Lay this across the black rectangle and white square and sew in place down the right hand side.

The last patchwork piece to complete the Bright Hopes quilt block is the brown rectangle across the bottom.  Sew this to the red rectangle and white square.  The last seam to be sewn is the continuation of the partial seam that was first sewn.  By continuing the seam partially sewn between the white square and grey rectangle down to sew the grey and brown rectangles together, the quilt block is completed.

These quilt blocks can be rotated and sewn together in quite a variety of ways, giving several great options for quilt design.  They give a weave effect which I really like.

It feels strange to be back to normal now after what felt like quite a long Christmas break.  I've been trying to plan my year out but so far I haven't been too successful.  Ah well, there's always next week for planning ...

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