Quilts Of Hope 2017 Block

I have finished my block for this years Quilts of Hope and now just have to post it in. Craftalive are running a quilting challenge this year at all their events across the country. Participants receive a mystery brown bag containing 2 pre-cut 4″ squares of Ella Blue fabric . The challenge is to use at least 50% of the fabric in a quilt block and to consider the theme “Future Stars” when making your block. You could do the block any way you wanted as long as the finished size was 9.5″ square.

For my block I wanted a base to work within so I knew how much space I had to play with. I cut out a base with a mottled light teal coloured fabric that looks like sky, yes I know you can’t see stars during the day 😉  Around the base I did a border in star fabric. By chance the supplied fabrics fitted nicely on my sizzix cutting dies and I was able to use the a star cutting die to cut out multiple stars per square. I randomly placed them on my fabric and satin stitched around them. To get the stars for the embroidery designs I used Microsoft Word to draw up a variety of size stars. For basic shapes I still can’t go past the drawing function in Word. Using my light box and frixon pens I filled in the gaps with the various stars. The embroidery is basic backstitch which is my hand embroidery of choice. I matched the thread colour to the different coloured stripes on the fabric I used.

My inspiration for this block design was no matter the size the size or shape every star will shine bright in the future. These quilts blocks will be made into quilts for kids with cancer. I wanted a more sophisticated quilt block that could be used on a quilt for a teenage boy. It has a little texture to it with the appliqued stars and embroidery thread so if  you were having quiet time you can sit there and run your fingers over it and feel calm. I’d like to think that is what this quilt block will do for some child or family, give them something else to look at and explore and take their mind away from things even for just a minute.

Cassiy

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Star Wars Coasters

My friend really likes Star Wars (Confession I’ve never seen any of them) I wanted to make her an original Star Wars inspired gift that was also practical so I have come up with these coasters.

Yoda Coasters

I don’t know who the characters are of who her favourite is but I have heard her mention Yoda (even I have heard of him) so I traced a Yoda on one side of the coaster. I copied a free colouring in image from online. I wanted only a simple out outline.

For the other side I did wanted a saying. So from what I gather Yoda has a distinctive way of talking where his words in a sentence are back to front in parts. My friend and I are known at times to have text messages sessions where the messages are in “Yoda” style. I wanted something like this on the coasters so I came up with this saying. As I mentioned I don’t have a clue about Star Wars so I’m not sure how correct I was.

These are very basic to make. I just cut 12 squares. On 6 I traced the Yoda image the other 6 I did the words. The embroidery is all done in back stitch. To construct them I placed 2 squares right sides together with a layer of batting on the wrong side of one and stitched around them leaving a turning gap. Once they were turned out I slipped stitched the gap closed then did a simple row of straight stitch to quilt around the edge. All the supplies came from my stash.

I learnt some very valuable with these – To take a photo straight away after I finish an item. I’d actually forgotten too at the time and only remembered that I was meaning too after I had wrapped the present. I had to “borrow” them back to take the photo. From the screaming that came from my friend I think she likes them.

Cassiy

Tiny Essentials Tote

I loved the look of the Tiny Essentials Tote by Little Moo Designs the moment I first saw it. I don’t say it often with bags but it just looked cute. The Australian Sewing Guild held a sewalong to make it at the start of December but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to participate in it so on December 31st when I had a few days up my sleeve I started on it.

TET Finished Outside

The bag looked challenging and involved a lot of techniques and material which I had never tried or worked with before. I’d never made piping, used fold over elastic or worked with netting or webbing. I wasn’t scared by this new things and actually wanted to get in there and have a go with them. The tutorial that comes with the pattern is great and as part of the sewalong the Guild put additional notes and tips up on their blog which came in handy.

TET Outside Panels

Throughout the entire pattern suggestions are given on how to make the bag to your personal taste. I kept the outside of the bag simple using one fabric, quilting it with diagonal lines and using plain webbing for the handles. If you wanted to you could piece the front, add fabric detail to the handles and quilt it as elaborate as you wanted.

TET Inner Panels

On the interior pieces you really have the opportunity to customise the bag to the way you wish to use it. I opted to have 2 netting pockets but the tutorial shows you many other options including using elastic straps so you can hold items in place. I thought the netting would be flimsy but this netting is really thick and solid. Sewing it was very easy.

TET Inner Pocket

I used fold over elastic (FOE) to cover the raw edges. Having not used FOE before I had no idea how to sew it. To be honest until it arrived in the mail I didn’t even know it was sold flat I thought it was folded like premade bias tape. I looked on YouTube on how to sew it and happen to find this clip by Anne who is a fellow Guild member, she has some really good tips. To sew the FOE I decided to first secure it with a zig zag stitch. I had it set to a standard width but perhaps I could have made it a little narrower. After folding the elastic over I did a straight stitch to hold it in place. I wasn’t sure how much FOE to use so the pocket would gather a little. I used 9″ but perhaps could have use 8 3/4″ or 8.5″  to really pull it in. For the first attempt at FOE and netting I’m happy with it.

TET Zipper

When it came to making the zipper I had no issues. In 2015 I sewed a lot of zippers so I don’t have a zip phobia. I actually sewed all 3 layers in one hit like the tutorial suggests. I took my time, went slow and at the end remembered to take the zipper foot off (I broke a needle last year when I forgot this) I even pattern matched both sides of the zipper! I’m proud of my zipper.

TET Sew My Stash

One thing I didn’t do when making this was cut out all my pieces before I started. Yes I should’ve but I felt it was a little time consuming and I just wanted to get in and sew. When it came to stage of making the continuous bias strips for the piping and the binding I discovered I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut my squares… Oops. The irony was in the afternoon prior to making the strips I had been in a fabric store. That’s ok I adapted and raided my stash. I knew I had navy fabric but by chance just as I approached my stash I saw the green fabric through one of the clear boxes I keep my stash in. It was perfect.

TET Make Do

Another place where I adapted my fabric was on the back piece of the gusset. I needed only 1 rectangle I think about 6.5″ x 5″ I didn’t want to cut an entire strip off my remainding fabric for only 1 piece yet I didn’t have a piece big enough from the scraps for it so I stitched 2 scraps together to make the size I needed. It was perfect and used up some of the leftover bits.

TET Gussett

When I assembled the bag I did have couple of little flaws. In the gusset area there are a few small folds. I just need to remember next time to go a bit slower and ensure both layers are flat. You can also see some of my original stitch lines on the inside of the bag when I secured the netting to the bag or stitch both panels of the bag together. Next time I need to just do these lines of stitching closer to the edge. Also my binding strips look a little bulky so I maybe next time I will cut them a little narrower. I stitched all the binding on by hand first tacking it on one side with a running stitch and jeans sewing needle then switching to a regular needle to slip stitch the folded strip in place. I haven’t decided if I like piping or not. My piping on this bag isn’t too bad for a first attempt. I may of stitched a little close to the cord to enclose it so when it came to securing it to the bag in places you can see my original stitching line as it didn’t get hidden in the seam. I just need to leave more of a gap. It was fairly easy to do so I will attempt it again.

TET Finished Inside

I am extremely happy with this bag. The fabrics I used were from the July Sew Box and of course the contrasting fabrics were from my stash making this a real Sew My Stash project. When I got these fabrics in July I knew I wanted to make something for me with them as they are very much my colours of choice. The sewalong was hosted by the Australian Sewing Guild and I’m going to use this bag to take to Guild meetings so I have that little connection between the 2. I got to challenge myself with this bag and experiment with new techniques and materials. One of the reasons I joined the Guild was to expand my sewing skills and this bag sums it up.

I finished this bag on Jan 3, what a great first completed project to start off the year.

Cassiy

 

Embellishment Workshop

Last weekend a 2 day Embellishment Workshop was run in my local Australian Sewing Guild region. The workshop was run by Rhona Feeney who owns Bernina Sewing shop at Chatswood. Rhona is a very talented person who does amazing textile pieces and has been a member of the Australian Sewing Guild for many years.

Embelishment Workshop Finished Sample

During the workshop we worked on turning a simple printed flat fabric panel into a 3D piece of artwork. On the finished sample Rhona had transformed that once flat panel with embroidery, beads and shrinking fabric (texture magic) It looked stunning. There was so much texture and colour in it.

Day 1
We learnt all about shrinking fabric (which I had never heard of before) and were given a demonstration on how the shrinking process worked. The fabric is plastic and shrinks down about 30% Anything attached to the fabric (ie sewn on to it) shrinks with it. It was like watching a magic show seeing it shrink down.

Embelishment Workshop Day 1

We started to embellish our fabric using free motion quilting to highlight the different areas of the panel. I’ve done a small amount of free motion before but nothing like this. I’ve only ever used tone on tone fabric and thread to fill in the background of a piece, wanting the quilting to blend into the background and disappear. This time I had to really think about thread colour and where I was putting the stitches. Rhona explained it as colouring in but with needle and thread instead of a pencil. I’ve never been able to stay within the lines. I found this really challenging. I’d try to stick to a feather and go off it. I found myself going sideways across the panel instead of following a line down it. You had to think about how it would look once it was shrunk down. Any areas without stitching would puff up. You had to fill in the area with more long narrow stitches rather than circles and shapes unless that’s what you wanted the final piece to puff up. It was really hard to see your stitched lines so you had to keep turning the fabric over to see where you had sewn. I was happy with the amount I’d gotten done day 1

Day 2
At the start of the day Rhona demonstrated how to attach beads with a spring needle. Spring needles were again another item I’d never heard of. It’s basically a regular sewing needle that has a spring down the shaft. To attach it you remove the foot shank and insert it in like a regular needle (it has a flat back) The spring needle is the only attachment on your machine. The spring allows you to stitch in the centre of the bead.

Embelishment Workshop Beading

We continued colouring in our fabric then had an attempt at beading. At first it feels very foreign. You have to manually turn the handwheel to do the stitch inside the bead to secure it. Once you get your head around it then you have to work out how to hold the beads whilst you stitch them. Tweezers are a must. Even though I’m right handed I’m used to using my left hand so I was able to hold the tweezers with the left hand and operate the handwheel with my right. Once you get the hang of it beading is very fun.

Embelishment Workshop Druken Sailor

In some areas I was a bit drunken sailor with my stitching, as I mentioned I struggle to stay within the lines. We were told the shrinking process is forgiving and disguises minor errors.

Embelishment Workshop Day 2

I never got the panel finished but I did get most of the beading done. The most important thing was I enjoyed the workshop. I had an inspirational teacher, were among lovely company and I learnt some new skills. I really like the concept of the shrinking fabric, I brought a piece of it as I’d really like to use it in something. I don’t really do decorative stuff but it can be used in some many ways. Rhona showed up a jacket she had which had a peacock down with shrinking fabric appliqued onto it, a native flower broach where each petal was done with the fabric. I’ll have to put my thinking cap on….

Honeycomb Mini

Little Quilts Book

I signed up to another Instagram swap “Bee Still My ” which had a bee theme to it. As soon as I saw this swap I wanted to be involved as I knew exactly what I would make, a mini quilt that is on the cover of Little Quilts designed by Sarah Fielke. I’ve always wanted to make this but never had the need too. My version is a little different to Sarah’s. Sarah has pieced the front of her quilt with hexies and has a single piece of fabric backing, I however have a one piece of fabric on the front and have a hexie pieced back.

Honeycomb Back

 

I used my Big Shot to cut out the hexie papers and fabric. Due to the size of dies I had my hexies were smaller than in the pattern and I used more. My swap partner liked blue and green and I was lucky to find honeycomb fabric in both colour tones so I used only these 2 fabrics to make the piece. Originally I was going to have the pieced hexies on the front like the original pattern but when it came to tracing on my bee stitchery I couldn’t see through the fabric even over my lightbox with the house in darkness so I had to decide on a plan B. I’d already pieced the fabric so I really wanted to use it in this mini so I decided to use this as the backing.

Honeycomb Front

I’m actually glad my plan A never worked as I really like the bee stitching on the tone on tone hive fabric. It’s so simple yet but really effective. The bee is hand back stitched using 2 strands of floss with the wings on the veins done with single thread. To quilt this I wanted to frame the stitchery in a hexagon so I used an acrylic template to trace around it. I then repositioned the template tracing out the shape over the entire piece using the centre hexagon as a guide. I marked it with a frixon pen (the same way I marked out the stitchery) I didn’t think it would be enough quilting to so I used a smaller size hexagon to trace out an inner line in each one. I used a Rasant thread that matched the fabric. I wanted the quilting to blend into the background. The binding is some pre-made bias I brought at the June craft show. I took fabric swatches with me to get a colour that matches. I found a tutorial by the Haby Goddess on how to sew curved binding as I’ve never done it before. I struggle with regular binding let alone curves. I followed advice from the tutorial, took my time and it was actually easy.

Looking at it I can’t believe I actually made this. It has turned out better than I imagined it would. The quilting on the front mimics hive fabric. I kept the bee stitchery simple. The best thing was I had fun doing this project. It was a combination of hand work, machine work, learning new skills, problem solving. I gave myself plenty of time and I didn’t rush this. My swap partner really likes it and I got to make a pattern I’d wanted to make.

Bunny Mug Rug

Bunny Mug Rug Front

I finished this a while ago for a swap for some one who likes bunnies. This was so cute I almost didn’t want to give it away. This stitchery I found in Mollie Makes magazine. It was designed for the front of a bag but I instantly knew I wanted it for this mug rug. I love the idea of a bunny trying to disguise himself in the forest as a stag, like no-one will realise he is really a bunny as he has antlers. What I didn’t know at the time was the creature was actually a Jackalope. After googling Jackalopes I discovered they are mythically creatures from America. Anyway I just thought this one looked cute.

Bunny Mug Rug Centre

I used the same fabric on the front and the back of this mug rug. I like simple. I free motion quilted this. I did some echo quilting around stitchery and just had fun filling in all the little areas of the mug rug. What I did learn from this is that my chair isn’t high enough so my shoulders aren’t relaxed as I was sewing and with free motion you need to relax your shoulders.

Bunny Mug Rug Back

I had no idea until someone pointed this out but if you turn the back of it side ways it looks like a hippo. This is pure accident. I love hippos so the inner animal lover in me must’ve come out in this quilting. I think it also gives this a different look so your mug rug could be reversible.

Long Weekend Crafting

Last weekend we had a long weekend which meant 3 days of crafting!! I did so much but didn’t really get anything completed.

Toy WIP

I started 2 stuffed toys. One was a little more complicated than I anticipated so it took more time. That’s ok I worked on it in stages over the 3 days. It is slowly came together and is now up to the stuffing and facial details stage. My second toy came about on a whim after a conversation on Friday night. I was planning on making a different toy for this child but when a child is obsessed with a certain animal its best to give them what they want. This one will be made from all scraps I had near my sewing table and bit of extra felt. Look I’m using trims!

Mug Rug WIP

I worked on a mugrug for a swap due at the end of the month. I wanted to give myself plenty of time to complete it. This is only my second time at free motion quilting. I just need to bind it now. Secret sewing is fun but it also means you spend so much time on it and you can’t show anyone until the person gets it! I also went shopping as I got a great pattern last week which is perfect to add to some gifts I’m making but I had no supplies to make it so I took advantage of the great sale Lincraft was holding and saved a minimum of 40% off all the items I purchased (11m of fabric in total)

Even though I have no Tada! projects to show I enjoyed my weekend as it was full of sewing, crafting and relaxing. Lots of works in progress and fabric drying (yes I’m a pre-washer) equals a successful weekend crafting to me. After loosing my “sewjo” the last few months doing the ASG photo challenge last month sparked the sewing side in me again. I had fun sitting at the sewing machine working away (even if I had to re-do toy seam after toy seam – I really don’t like sewing curves or stuffed limbs inside a toy) I remembered to use the little skills that I have learnt. I used the built-in features of my sewing machine including using the knee lift, I used different sewing feet during a project to give me the best result. I still consider myself as a basic sewer. I love learning and I love putting the things I’ve learnt in to practice.