Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What does a retired teacher do with all those plastic pockets?

She files everything that isn't bolted down :)

After buying new embroidery cottons I needed to put order into all of them so this morning I sewed little pockets into my plastic pockets. I drew guide lines on the paper and slipped it inside and sewed along the lines then slit the pockets open with my pointy scissors. Now all the colours are sorted and even the left over lengths are filed behind the matching hanks. Much better than the tumble weed of thread I had before.

Yesterday I filed my tea cup collection and my bird collection. The cups are drawn from photos of cups and saucers I found on the web and since I am not trying to make them into tea cups I figure it will be alright to share them as stitchery designs as I make my tea cloth.

Earlier this year I  filed all my patterns and drawings in two big folders.

I also put the magazines I had taken projects out of into folders with any tracings or patterns I had made up and I keep photocopies of interesting sewing articles and projects sheets in there too.

The magazine
The pattern sheet
My tracings

The plan for the tea cloth is checkerboard with white squares for the stitchery. This is just the floral squares on my design board with some thread choices.

Happy Quilting,

Monday, November 28, 2011

1 xmas item a month and Christmas through the year

I joined up these two clubs at the beginning of the year in the hope that I would be motivated to make some Christmas decorations and a few gifts during the year. You know what? It really worked! I have made quite a few bits and pieces through the year and really enjoyed it. There are so many ideas out there and everyone is happy to show and share :)

A big thank you to Narelle at Pins and Whiskers for hosting 1 Xmas Item a Month and also to Allie of Allie-oops Sweet Happy Life for hosting Christmas Through the Year. You have both done a wonderful job of motivating me and many others to make Christmas preparations a bit easier.

This month I have made a few things. My place mats are well under way and I made a tote bag for DD2 and two pot holders for my mum.

I usually make something crafty for place names at the Christmas table and this year I have started making some birds out of spare Christmas cards. I have lots of the background cards and they even have a little space to write the name.

While I was at the computer before lunch Tommy made his presence felt. He meows pitifully and when that doesn't work he taps me on the leg. How could I ignore such a plaintive look. Well I just couldn't and he got a nice tin for lunch :)

Happy Quilting,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Small projects

I have been making lots of little things. I just pop upstairs to my sewing room and think of something to make. I also have a few things that I have to make multiples of so they are cut out ready to go.
First I just want to tell you that I bought a bunch of DMC stranded cottons from Lincraft today. I went in to buy one - normally $2.99 and found them on special at 99cents. I don't know when this sale finishes but I thought it was a real bargain.
I usually pay $2.70 at my local quilt shop.
While writing this I have looked up the Lincraft online store and have found the same threads for 89 cents each  - this looks like the usual price. I put 10 in my basket and found with postage it costs $15.85 or $1.60 each. I think I  might be buying online next time.

I love drawing with my free motion foot and quilted this mug rug using flowers. The design matches my mug.

I made two more table mats.

Wanting to play with the free motion some more I made a tea bag holder to take away with me. I like to have my chamomile tea with me.

My drawing is a bit rough but I thought the writing turned out good.

I will buy single sachets to take away

Another drawing on the back

I am stitching no. 3 in the cat collection and preparing my tea cup drawings to put online probably middle of next week.

Happy Quilting,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Black and White" no.2 in the Cat Collection

Here is the second of my four cats. I wanted to play with my felt but had to think hard of something that I would look at or use everyday but wouldn't need to be wash. I had been noticing the sad sight my tea bags make in my pantry. I have tea tins but it is too hard to find the right tea since the tins are all identical.
I reduced the original cat design to 80%.
The felt bag was easy to make. I cut the wide sides to include a 3cm base section and added on another 1/2cm for a seam. I did the applique, sewed the base seam and pressed the base crease, sewed the sides onto the base then sewed up each side seam. I did a bit of buttonhole stitch around the top and added the tie.

Doesn't she brighten up the pantry!

You can download some basic instructions and the cat pattern from my Google docs.

I have also finished the second pot holder.

Happy appliqueing,

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I thought it was such a good idea of  Allie's  to give a design as a gift for friends. I take so many ideas from my blog friends I thought it would be nice to share something. I haven't done any original designs for a while so I have made a cat for applique. This first one is a ginger cat. I have made four the same shape and given them different colourings. I am going to try to make something with each one before posting it cause I know it really helps if someone gives you an idea how to use things. Though applique has endless possibilites. I thought the designs might also make nice stitcheries.
I have made this tote bag as a Christmas gift for DD2.

You can download the design and some basic instructions/ideas to make the tote bag form my Google docs

Happy Appliquing,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Selvedges again

I have been putting more selvedges together. It is quite fun. I played around with the tea cups. I didn't like the dark brown satin stitch I started with so I just continued with different thread. I can do what ever I like with things for me.

Since the backing was one piece I thought it would look good with some meandering quilting. I have never tried it before. I was quite happy with it the result. Some of the stitches were a bit uneven but I only got one crossover.
The tea cup mat is for my sink. It has an old hand towel on the back.

Today I made a pot holder that I will give to mum for Christmas. I will make a pair. I saw one with the glove pocket on the back at a craft shop and thought it was a good idea to stop the edges of fingers touching the hot part. I use pure wool blanket pieces inside. Last winter I bought a single bed wool blanket for $3 at the op shop.

Happy quilting,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Selvedge applique

I put the cat on a tea towel and then I got busy and made the 'ribbon' tree.

I think I will make 6 for the Christmas table. Not all with trees. Maybe some curved decoration shapes and a dove and a gingerbread man. I have just made some tea cups with selvedges I was given. I will put them on a counter mat for the kitchen.

Couldn't for the life of me remember where I had seen the ribbon tree - til Karen commented from Sunburnt Quilts

Happy quilting,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

sewing strips

I saw a pattern for a folded pouch made from 1 1/2" strips and I just got the urge to sew strips. So I put together 10 width of fabric strips in Christmas fabric. I didn't really want a Christmas pouch so I cut it into 4 squares and made a table topper. So I could use it all year I made the backing with some of my NZ fabrics - the Tui's and matchng green.
My travel bag sits very patiently while I play.

I also saw that someone had done a lovely ribbon tree and thought that idea would be perfect for selvedges. I have drawn it up ready to do. I got side tracked with a stripy cat that just had to go first. I think it will go on a tea towel.

I drew the pattern on thin interfacing sewed on the strips then stay stitched around the outline and cut it out. I will use a bit of spray basting to hold it on while I stitch it on the tea towel. There is a tail and a stitched face to complete it.

 Mum and I had time to go and have morning tea up at Mt Tamborine at the Polish Gallery. There is a lovely view down the valley. It was a bit hot so not a good place to go in summer.

And finally here is the garden progress. When the cucumbers grow big I will train them back over the bed to keep the sun off the lettuce and maybe a capsicum. The sun is so fierce here all the veges can do with some shade.

Happy Quilting,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Past and present garden

Lots of quilters seem to have lovely gardens. After quite a few years of no vege garden I have finally made minimum effort to get something going. It feels really good and I am very pleased with the progress of the little seedlings. I have planted lettuce and little cucumbers and some parsley.

I just tore the bag open and planted.

Unfortunately I am a little ashamed of how minimal it is so I have included some pictures of the garden I used to have. It was based on the mandala method with a chicken dome to nourish each of six beds. I would plant 3 beds in winter and three beds in summer. I had quite a seed sowing thing going, a worm farm and compost piles. I think I kept it going for about 4 years.

One side

Close up of the chickens

The other side

I have plans to start up my vege garden with new energy late next year after all my traveling has finished. It never works to leave someone else in charge of sensitive vegetables. Funily enough I have noticed that keeping up a vege garden is quite a drain on the finances. It is lovely to have fresh veges but having the garden doesn't seem to save money. I may have to sacrifice some of my fabric money to keep it going but since I am traveling in search of fabrics I should have a pretty good stash by then.

My travel bag is coming along nicely. Instead of making pockets for my passport, phone and purse I am going to make a special wallet to keep them all together in the inside zipper pocket. I have experienced losing a pair of expensive glasses as I rummaged in my bag before boarding once so I think a wrap up wallet will keep things more safe. I plan to have only that wallet in the zipper pocket so I won't be rummaging for anything else in that pocket. I have made the tote quite deep to try to stop things overflowing and the top is narrower than the bottom also to discourage overflow. It is becoming quite a work of art :)

Happy quilting,

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My new tote, some sewing tips and scrapbooking


I was going to post about the progress of my tote bag and ended up taking pictures of my sewing room and my light box set up and then I checked my email and found a nice reply from Vanessa at Whirling Butterfly. She is into scrapbooking and pointed me to her guest spot at Tamar's blog. She has included lots of links to free scrapbooking related things. I can see myself spending hours looking around those sites.

Back to the tote.
It is from this pattern. I like the separate inner concept.

I put my patterns in A4 envelopes. I also write the year I bought it and an alphabet letter referring to what part of my pattern box it came from.

I made it to the pattern a while back and it was just a bit too wide for comfort so I narrowed the ends by nearly half. I put a zipper in the side pocket and divided the pocket on the other side.

The end pockets would be too narrow if you follow the instructions. I could only fix one end because I had to have it flat to sew the stitching that divides up the pockets. The other end has two skinny pen pockets but they will need to be long pens so I don't lose them into the pocket :)

I want to add a shoulder strap as well as the tote handles so I can have hands free for check in.  I thought it lent itself to folding the top down (if it is not packed too full) and I have a magnetic clasp that I will use to keep it folded. I will attach the shoulder strap just below the fold line. I will also put a zipper across the top opening. It stops things falling out when it goes through customs.

The lining is dark green and I plan to put a big zipper pocket on each side. One side to put the ipad and one side will have slip in pockets inside the zipper pocket to hold my passport and purse and phone while my travel jacket is in the overhead locker. I plan to keep this tote under the seat.

I think I will also make the inner bag with a magazine or ipad slot and pockets on one side only (since the bag is narrower now). I think if I put tape loops on the back I might be able to attach it to the tray table to have my stuff easily accessible during the flight. Elastic might be too thick to fit behind the tray when it is closed.

Magnetic scissor keep
I found this in Ikea and it is perfect for holding my scissors within reach and out of the way while I am at the ironing board. It is also close enough for me to reach them while I am sitting at the sewing table. Now they don't get lost under fabric or pattern pieces.

My blue screen
In order to make my scrapbooking elements from my own tea cups etc I needed a blue screen so I could remove the background. I do this in Fireworks on my Mac.
The screen is just some blue fabric - you know I have just realised where my light blue homespun is. I was looking for it earlier this week :D  
It is long enough to flow onto the table and under the item I am photographing.
It is just tacked to the window sill.

You can see the pillowslip I am working on and the green tote bag lining.

My light box
I have a little glass top coffee table that also came from Ikea a while back. At some point I realised it would be good for tracing patterns because I had the goose neck lamp that fitted underneath.
I sit on a little stool or just bend over from the lounge chair. It would be possible to do it on the glass doors during the day but the big sheets from the quilting books are a bit awkward to hold up. It is easier to do sitting down.

Just a goose neck lamp that I can twist over.
When it is pressed flat it is easy to trace.

Something I traced the patterns for. A 36" diameter table topper.

Crickey! It is lunch time already and I haven't even looked at any of Vanessa's links. When will I get time to sew :)

Happy quilting,

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