Christmas Gift Quilt

I’m so excited to finally share this mega sewing project with you now it has been gifted to my lovely Mum! Back in the spring I promised my Mum a patchwork quilt for her bed and bought all of the materials. However it took slightly longer than I’d expected and ended up being a Christmas gift!

Mum had said she wanted something bright and colorful, so I bought a lovely selection of green and blue jelly rolls in patterns and solids. These jelly rolls are cut and composed by the lovely Andrea of Quiltmanufaktur in Frankfurt Sachsenhausen – she has a fantastic eye for colour combinations! As Andrea makes her jelly rolls herself, they are half the size of those you buy in the States – from memory I think they have about 20 strips, so I bought 6 I think to make this quilt!

I loosely followed the free Jelly Roll Jam Quilt instructions – for those of you who have never quilted before this is a great place to start and I love the accompanying YouTube video! After I’d made all of my strip sets, I cut everything up in to rectangles and laid them out.

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You’ll see I am not the most accurate cutter! I really need a bigger cutting mat and a sharper rotary cutter! (A bad workman always blames his tools!) Having accurate squares always makes life so much easier when it comes to piecing. What I love about this quilt is the variety of patches, prints and colours. My absolute favourite is this one:

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I love the cute little tigers that pop up every now and then!

When it came to laying out and piecing it together, I didn’t follow the Jelly Roll Jam’s instructions. With this number of prints and colours there were so many sets of blocks that I sort of just did it by eye. I think it turned out pretty well in the end though!

Basting this project was a bit of a beast – I have to confess that the basting and the quilting are the bit I enjoy least, particularly when they are this big! I end up having to take over the lounge and crawl about on all fours which is very undignified! I keep promising I will try that fabric basting spray … Maybe next year? I got the beast basted in the end though and set about quilting!

I am very lucky that my lovely Pfaff has an extra large arm space for quilting. I don’t think I’d dare tackle a project like this without it! It’s also got some fancy quilting stitches which I thought I’d try out – I did wiggly lines and loops in horizontal and vertical lines to create nice square patches on the back. I loved the finished effect, although was slightly regretting it half way through as loops take twice as long as straight lines!

I finished my quilt with some binding made out of leftover jelly roll strips connected together. This is my favourite way of doing quilt binding as the jelly roll strips are the perfect width and also colour co-ordinate with the quilt top! I always use this YouTube tutorial on getting the perfect mitred corner and it works for me every time!

After attaching the biding all that is left is hand sewing the binding down to the back of the quilt. I’m not normally a hand sewer and will use the machine where I can but this is one area where the machine just doesn’t cut it! I’ve learnt to love sitting in front of the Telly completing the final step by hand, with the aid of the most amazing wonder clips of course!

So here she is, the finished quilt!! I am super happy with how it turned out – it was definitely worth the many hours that went in to making it! Every time I finish one I think ‘never again’ and about two weeks later I’m already thinking of the next one … Maybe I will just pick a lap size next time?  

It was great gifting this quilt to my mum on Christmas Day! Such a happy (partially) handmade Christmas!!

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Stitchy discoveries

As I have been separated from my beloved sewing machine for the festive period, I’ve been taking some time to catch up with some sewing reading and social media! As a result I’ve found a couple of lovely things that I’d like to share – I’m sure some of you will know them well already as I get the feeling I might have been missing out for a while! 

The first one is the Seamwork online magazine! Funnily enough I got the first issue of Seamwork when it first came out (over a year ago – where does the time go?!) but never really got round to reading it. Since then there have been 13 issues! I ordered the Seamwork annual as a little Christmas treat to myself and I enjoyed reading it so much I thought maybe I would be keen for a subscription after all! I love the mix of crafty cosmetics, garment industry history, patterns and techniques! 

 For those of you who haven’t heard of Seamwork, the subscription is $6 per month – you receive the magazine to your tablet/phone or PC and you also get two credits to download 2 patterns of your choice! I was amazed to discover that I have access to use those credits on any of the patterns from the extensive library and if you don’t use the credits they just roll over to next month! I was also happy to discover that I could download all 13 previous issues so I have been merrily reading those! 

The hardest part is choosing what to spend my credits on – so far I want to make all of the patterns! Seamwork promise that all patterns take 3 hours from cutting to finished garment so they are perfect for weekend projects! My particular favourites are the Brooklyn skirt and the Camden cape, so I know what my first two credits are going on! Expect to see some Seamwork garments on the blog in the new year … 

The other discovery I have made (facilitated by reading Seamwork) is a world of stitchy podcasts! I suspect I’m quite behind the rest of the craft world in discovering these, but they are such fun to listen to! My new favourites are Seamwork radio, Modern Sewciety and Thread Cult. They’ve inspired me to do a bit more research in to finding new favourites for when I’m traveling! When I’ve compiled my ultimate playlist, I’ll be sure to share it with you! 

How about you? Are there any other crafty discoveries I’ve missed? Do you like listening to podcasts and have any recommendations for me? 

I hope everyone is enjoying the festive period! 

A Tale of Tea and Scraps

I’m not sure why but sewing seems to have awakened a fanatical recycling obsession within me! Now I can’t throw an old item of clothing away without ripping all the buttons off for re-use, or discard an old hoody without taking the cord out or get rid of an old pillow case without chopping it up for quilting, or put gift wrap in the recycling without saving the ribbons! I have bags literally stuffed full of scraps of fabric from past projects, and there’s nothing that brings me more joy than finding a way to use them!

While I was on my Cambodian travels I found this delightful teapot.


When I returned from my travels I had terrible jetlag and needed something simple to do that would keep me awake, so I set about sewing a quilted coaster for it to sit on. This was a perfect opportunity for me to delve in to my scrap bag! I found these great scraps of Moda jelly roll which I had used to make a quilt. A couple of left over patches were the perfect size for the top and bottom of the coaster, and I finished it off by making my own ‘candy striped’ bias binding by sewing other scraps of the fabric together. I used a remnant of some batting from a quilt project for the insides and I was so pleased with how it turned out!


I still had quite a lot of scraps left over in these colors though and I was still awake, so I thought why not go the whole hog and make a matching tea cosy?!

There are loads of great online tutorials on making your own tea cosy, so I followed this one and then added a few bits and pieces of my own. I drafted my own pattern based on the measurements of my teapot (yep- my teapot has a made-to-measure cosy haha!) and then cut out two patchwork outers from scraps, two pieces of batting and some plain black lining. I then set about quilting in a diamond pattern which I did by eye (shh- don’t tell anyone my diamonds are wonky, I was jet lagged!) All you need to do then is just sew round the top, not forgetting to insert the little loop. Easy!

What I didn’t like about this tutorial is that it doesn’t suggest you finish the inside seam. Maybe I’ve become a bit fanatical about sewing looking as good on the inside as it does on the outside (only my teapot will see the inside of the tea cosy after all), but it just really bugged me knowing that the seam was all exposed and you could see the batting. As a result I improvised with covering the inside seam with some black double fold satin bias tape that I had in my stash. I love how it looks now! (Yes I think I’ve gone quite mad!) I finished it off with some more of my patchwork candy striped self made bias binding.

So here is my finished cosy in all its glory! Never did I think I’d be making a tea cosy, but it was quite a satisfying make and a great patchwork stash buster! There’s something really satisfying about sewing something pretty and useful out of something that could just as easily have been thrown away!


What about you? Do you used recycled materials and scraps in your sewing? Do you have any other fun scrap busting projects for me? Is my need to hide exposed seams in the inside of my tea cosy the final proof that I’ve gone mad?! I’d love to hear from you!

A Fabric Adventure

I’m back from South East Asia after the most amazing break and wanted to share some small tales of my travels with you. I was surprised to find that sewing followed me on my travels (which is daft really seeing as Cambodia is one of the world’s biggest garment producers!). I saw everything from huge garment factories to individual seamstresses and it really gave me some sewing food for thought.

On the one hand, I am glad that through sewing my own I am not contributing to the cramped conditions of thousands of Cambodian women crammed on to trucks to go to work in the factories every day. On the other hand, for those women it is a valuable source of income. Many of the factories that were busy last time we were in Cambodia are now up for sale … apparently Cambodia just isn’t cheap enough anymore and people have cottoned on that “made in Cambodia” is not always a good thing. It makes me sad to think of all those women out of work. I guess it’s a fine balance, like most things in life! One thing is for sure though – those women have got some major sewing talent!

We visited the beautiful Psah Tmey or Central Market in Phnom Penh which sells everything from food to jewelery to trashy logo t-shirts! It’s in a beautiful building with a great big central dome and off the dome are a maze of corridors!

Down one of those tiny corridors I was amazed to find a world of fabrics by the metre and seamstresses working away on the most amazing vintage machines. Everything from Juki to Singer was represented and the seamstresses were getting fantastic results. It made me ashamed that with my fancy computerised snazzy machine sometimes I can barely put in a zipper haha!

Of course I couldn’t help but indulge a little in the mountains of fabric on offer. You had to be truly dedicated to the cause to rummage through this little lot …. hats off to PB for waiting it out as I shopped!

We were lucky enough to chance upon a stall with a really lovely and friendly owner. He wasn’t pushy and just gave me a chance to peruse. They had everything from jersey to silk, so in the end I decided to purchase a selection. The poor chap seemed a bit perplexed as to why I would be buying so much fabric, he even asked me if I ran a business. When I told him I just liked making stuff I think he thought I really was mad! Here he is measuring out some fabric for me. He had to literally climb out of the mountains of fabric in his stall to cut it for me … he really was drowning in fabric!

The market had some fabrics with some beautiful prints and colours which I was very tempted by, however I really wasn’t sure what I was going to use them for, particularly as I’m currently making winter clothes at home! You see … I did try and be a bit sensible!

So here is what I ended up adding to my stash:

Flower Print Cotton

 

Navy Blue Daisy Print Jersey

 

Leaf Print Chiffon

 

Stripy Chiffon

 

Spotty Chiffon

There’ll be a whole lot of French seams going on with this chiffony lot! I bought a total of 15m of fabric for 30 dollars …. amazing! I think I was quite restrained not to buy more! I also picked up a whole bag of buttons for my button jar and a beautiful piece of white lace for the bargain price of 3 dollars. All in all a very successful haul considering I hadn’t planned to buy fabric or notions on my travels at all!

I had an absolutely wonderful time away! Beaches and coconuts and I even met the real life Ernest the elephant! A dream come true! Now I’m back it’s time to get festive and finish off those last Christmas gifts!