Jelly Roll Jam Baby Quilt

Those that know me well know that I love a Jelly Roll! Made of 2 and a half inch strips of co-ordinating fabrics, jelly rolls are the ultimate way to get in to quilting. There’s also something so beautiful and tempting looking at the way they are sat there with all their patterns on display, they just scream buy me! When I lived in New York for a month, I took the opportunity to grab some Moda jelly rolls which are much cheaper in the US than they are in Germany. Since then, I’ve been steadily sewing through them.

One evening I was in the mood to sew something simple, so I used half of a jelly roll to create a jelly roll jam quilt top for a baby blanket. That finished quilt top was gorgeous, but I didn’t have any coordinated backing and binding so it’s hung around in a drawer for about a year. Finally yesterday I took myself down to Quiltmanufaktur to take some advice from the lovely Andrea Kollath on how to finish this one up, and found my sewjo to back, quilt and bind this bad boy in the rest of an afternoon.

There are three reasons I love this quilt:

1) The colours are an unusual choice but somehow really trendy, I just love the way it’s come together

2) I loved finishing an ancient WIP and getting so much enjoyment out of it

3) I hand sewed the binding whilst listening to the Stitchers’ Brew podcast and it was just a lovely, relaxing, mindful experience!

Overall, finishing this quilt has helped me find my sewjo again!

 

The finished quilt has a really lovely finish to it, I love the contrast grey binding. This quilt will be a gift, but right now I am tempted to keep it!

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Whilst buying the backing and batting for this fabric, I may have been tempted by yet another Moda jelly roll from the gorgeous Gingiber …. I feel a new work in progress beginning! Oops! Some happy autumnal sewing for me though!

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Cleo Dungaree Dress

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As soon as I saw Tilly’s Cleo Dungaree Dress, I was sold on it. It’s the sort of item of clothing I would love to buy in RTW stores, but would never fit me on account of my unusual *ahem* proportions. Sewing it myself was a great opportunity to make my little dungaree dress dreams come true!

Normally I’m not a big fan of kits, as I like to choose fabrics myself and I think it adds to the individuality of a make. In this instance though, Tilly has done such an amazing job of sourcing great fabrics, that I swooped and bought an aubergine needlecord kit as soon as it went on sale. It seems to be a good job that I did, as since the day I purchased the kit it seems to be constantly sold out – I believe at the moment there is a waiting list! So I feel extra special to have gotten my paws on a hallowed Tilly aubergine kit.

Anyway, on to the pattern. This pattern does 100% what it says on the tin – it’s a speedy and satisfying make with nothing too tricky. Or at least it wouldn’t have had anything too tricky about it had I remembered the special email Tilly sent out saying there had been a printing mistake with the front facing and to use the email supplementary piece she sent out. As I completely forgot about this until I came to try and get my damned facing to fit, I had no choice but to perform extensive facing surgery (especially as I was out of aubergine needlecord fabric). I was actually quite proud of myself in the end though – I found a creative solution which actually looks relatively normal from the inside. Could definitely have been worse! What is the lesson here? DO NOT FORGET to use Tilly’s supplementary facing when you cut this out the next time!

The other lesson I learnt on this make is to pay more attention to pocket placing markings. I accidentally placed my pockets wwwwaaayyy too far down the skirt and had to take them off and re-attach, which was kind of sad as they were so straight and perfectly top stitched the first time round. You live and learn though right?

I cut my usual size 7 grading to a 4/5 on the hips as I do with most Tilly patterns and this worked perfectly for me. My partner did make some helpful comments about me maybe widening the top part/doing an FBA on the top to give me more boob coverage, but you know what, I’m just going to be happy with what God gave me and leave it as it is. I like it and that’s the main thing!

What I loved most about the Tilly kit is that the dungaree buckles and interfacing and thread are all really high quality. The buckles attach super easily and hold really well. I feel like I’ve made something that will really last which is great! I liked the kit so much that have now purchased a second – the dark denim. I can’t wait to stitch it up and combine it with fun t-shirts – maybe even some of my more fun printed Agnes tops which I’ve made! I would definitely recommend this make – even for beginners absolute beginners! Give it a go! I’m glad I did!

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Easter Agnes

Today I set about a little sewing project using a couple of things that have been in my craft stash for a while. My lovely friend Kaitlyn kindly gave me a voucher for two Tilly and the Buttons patterns of my choice for birthday last year (she knows me so well)! I was so excited, I took the opportunity to indulge in the Agnes top and the Orla top.  Unfortunately though I had such a busy end to 2015, I didn’t actually get to using them until today! As today is a bank holiday, I finally had the time to make something from my project pile and decided that Agnes was the lady for me. With just 4 pattern pieces, she was exactly what I needed for a simple afternoon of sewing.

I’ve got a selection of suitable jersey fabrics in my stash that would have been great for this pattern. In the end, I narrowed it down to three choices – black jersey, dark grey jersey, or bunny print. Seeing as it is Spring, I decided it had to be bunnies (even though this probably wasn’t the most practical choice)! How could I resist these cute little faces though? I’m ashamed to say that the bunny choice also had something to do with the fact that I couldn’t face rethreading my serger … I just wasn’t up for Serger trouble on a wet bank holiday!

Hello cute bunnies!

I was a bit worried about the fit on this top as it is very close fitting and I always have trouble with fitting up top. I cut a size 8 on the sleeves, neckband and bust, grading to a size 5 on the waist and hips. This actually worked out really well, despite the fact it looked a bit crazy on the pattern pieces. I was a little worried the sleeves would be too big, but I think they are drafted quite small as they came up quite well on me. I could have taken them in a little on the lower arms, but I decided in the end I quite like the comfort of how they were fitting.

I chose the most basic version of the Agnes top- omitting the ruched arms and gathered bust. I don’t think I will ever make the gathered bust version – I’m not sure I need to draw any further attention to that body area! I may however return to the gathered sleeves – I think they look quite fun and might make a plain colour version a bit more interesting.

As I made the most basic version, the construction of this top was an absolute dream. Having a serger meant that it came together super quickly and I love the professional finish on the inside. I didn’t have any issues on the thread tension and all of the pieces fitted together perfectly. A lot of the credit on that front goes to this amazing fabric – it’s a rather expensive cotton jersey made by the same company that made the fabric for my Birdy Bettine. It’s great to work with and so comfortable to wear.

So here she is … my finished Agnes:

Overall I am delighted with this make and will definitely be making more of these. They are a really simple sew and something I wear regularly in my day to day wardrobe. I plan to make up a selection of these in long and short sleeve versions – they are great and comfortable for both work and the weekend! In the past I had always bought these tops as basics from H&M or Zara – I’m happy knowing I can now make these myself and add them to my Me Made Wardrobe!

Minkrea Spencer 10004 Baby Dress

As there is such a wealth of free sewing patterns for children online, I don’t normally buy sewing patterns for children’s clothes (especially as I don’t actually have children!) However, on my recent trip to Frau Tulpe in Berlin, I couldn’t resist this gorgeous little baby dress pattern from Dutch pattern company Minkrea. The pattern is a super easy make, and with so many customisation options, it just seemed like great value to have in the stash for making baby gifts.

I made this dress over a series of evenings – it was so easy to dip in and out of as a project. I think I may have found a new love for making baby clothes! The pattern only requires 50cm of fabric, and I picked up some really cute thin grey corduroy with little roses on it as a remnant from a recent trip to the fabric market. It was quite a simple sew, although you do have to pay serious attention when sewing around the curves!


My favourite feature on this dress are the matching fabric covered buttons. I’d never made fabric covered buttons before, but now it is going to be my new favourite pass time! It’s a good job I finally made friends with my button hole foot! After looking through my vast button collection, I had decided that really the only buttons that would look good with this fabric would be matching buttons. Luckily I found this post from Sew Sew Easy which showed just how easy it was! I ordered myself a little kit and before I knew it I had perfectly matching fabric covered buttons. A dream! This was also the first time I had actually used my button hole foot to make button holes on an item of clothing. They turned out just fine! I don’t know why I had been so afraid of them. I can certainly tick it off my 2016 Sewing Goal list!

The only thing I am not sure about with this dress is the fact that I decided to add the pocket detail. The dress was looking pretty cute beforehand! The pocket looked like it was going to be great, but I totally underestimated pressing and sewing that curved seam. I just could not get it to curve well, even after cutting out a cardboard template a la English Paper Piecing and trying to press around that. I sewed it on to the finished garment and I think it looks ok, but I’m not sure if I preferred the dress better before! What do you think?

I made this one as a gift for my little niece. At the rate she is growing, I hope it still fits her! I’m sure she won’t notice the wonky pocket – I hope not anyway!

How about you? Do you like sewing children’s clothes? Do you have any other baby pattern recommendations for me to try? I’d love to hear from you!

Scrappy Quilted Cushion 

I have finally finished my quilt top for my latest jelly roll quilt and I’m so excited to baste, quilt and bind that bad boy! In the meantime though I was looking for a nice Saturday afternoon project so thought I would use my leftover scraps. When you make jelly roll quilts there are always these little leftover ends where you have squared them off, and with prints as lovely as these there was no way they were going in the scrap bin!

I decided that a quilted cushion cover to match my quilt top would be the best use of my leftovers. I particularly love the fact that this entire project is made of leftover fabric and leftover batting – something beautiful and all from bits I had lying around!

This was quite an easy make from a patchwork perspective as my squares were already sewn in blocks of three where they were leftover from the strip sets. I made 3 rows of 7 strip set ends and then joined them together. I then added some white sashing to mimic the design of my quilt top. If you read my blog often, you will know that I’m not really an accuracy person. This too was a bit of a fudge – I guessed how many squares I would need and let the sashing take care of the rest. It actually worked out pretty well!

One of the reasons I was so keen to make a quilted cushion top was to have an attempt at doing some quilting which was more dense than just quilting in the ditch. A cushion cover is great as its not too unwieldy under the machine and much easier to control. I stuck with straight lines as my free motion quilt foot and I are not yet best buds – I am looking forward to my course with Andrea at Quiltmanufaktur to improve on that front! I actually think the straight lines work well with the geometric prints on this cushion though, so in the end it was a good choice!

I quilted straight lines in a square pattern half a centimetre apart. This took much longer than I expected – mid cushion top I was starting to question the wisdom of choosing quite such a dense quilting pattern! They are also not the straightest lines in the world – not that I really mind though, you have to look pretty closely to notice!

I’ve not made any cushions with binding before and have to confess it felt rather strange to sew wrong sides together instead of right sides together. I trusted in google though and the results are just fine! I bound the cushion using some leftover jelly roll strips from the bundle.

All that remained was for me to hand sew the binding down to the back of the pillow and then add it to the mountain of throw pillows on my bed!

I absolutely adore this pillow! It’s become a new favourite! I love the structure and the texture of the quilting. Now I can’t wait to get my quilt finished and the matching set will be complete! This set is extra special for me as it is going on the couch in my craft room when we move in to our new apartment! I can’t wait – 5 months and counting!

Happy crafting people!

Fabric Shop Tourism

Oo you beautiful fabric haul!

As I mentioned in my last post, last week I was lucky enough to take a whirlwind trip up to Berlin for work! Berlin is one of my favourite cities in the world. I used to live there for a brief time and I had the time of my life. Going back to Berlin is always a mix of nostalgia for the way things were and excitement to see what has changed. However, this time I had a whole new dimension to explore – the fabric scene!

As Germany’s capital city, Berlin is naturally larger and has more to offer than Frankfurt in terms of shops. In addition to being Germany’s political capital though, it is also it’s creative capital! Over the years some neighbourhoods have become decidedly trendy and whether you are for or against gentrification and hipsters, for fabric lovers and creatives, the growing mass of independent shops can only be an advantage! With this in mind, I did a little google search before my trip and happened upon Frau Tulpe. The shop is conveniently located near Berlin’s ever trendier Rosenthaler Platz, which is not too far from my office. As I knew I only had time to visit one store, after perusing the goodies of the online shop and watching their super cute video tour, I decided this was the store for me!

My incredibly patient friend Melissa let me crash our dinner date with pre-dinner fabric shopping. She was amazing as I oo-ed and aa-ed at all the pretty fabrics and the wonderful creations on show. This has to be my favourite thing about the store – the inspiring little handmade bits and pieces on display which just give you an insatiable itch to sew. I left the store overflowing with ideas and 24 hours after my return from the trip I’d already sewed up these Utsensilio‘s similar to what they have on display in store.



So what did I buy? I’m not sure whether a more suitable question would be, what didn’t I buy?! First up, this adorable pattern from Minkrea. I have to say, I’d never heard of Minkrea before I saw them in this store, but their patterns are gorgeous. They are really high quality, multiple language and very simple with great little adaptable add on features. Baby niece is going to look great in this little number. Just got to sew it up before she gets too big!

I also bought some gorgeous bundles of geometric print fat quarters (featured on my utensilios), a couple of funky and decorative lace zips which I’ve not seen anywhere else yet in Germany, a Moda charm pack (fabric line gooseberry), some cream and mint green spotty heavy weight cotton for a weekend tote bag, and the most gorgeous oriental blue floral cotton. I am still deciding for the cotton whether it will become the funkiest blazer you’ve ever seen or some kind of pleated circle skirt. What do you think? I also got some gorgeous fabric covered buttons, which has sort of inspired me to try to learn to make my own. All in all an epic haul! Even better, as my haul was so epic, they gave me a free fabric carrying bag to tote my haul about in AND a loyalty card. What’s not to love?! Here I am with my swag in store (photo credit to the ever-patient Melissa!).

Swag Happy!

  
How about you? Do you know of any fabric stores in cities that I should add to my fabric tourism list? Are you a fabric tourist too? I’d love to hear about your adventures!

 

Utensilios

On Monday I was fortunate enough to take a little trip to Berlin for work. While I was there, I decided to see if I could take advantage of the Berlin Hipster Scene and find a fabric store. Boy, did I find one! I stumbled across Frau Tulpe’s – the most wonderful store full of trinkets, goodies and fabrics. There will certainly be more on my adventure and purchases in the coming days, but in the meantime I wanted to show you something that my trip inspired me to whip up pretty much as soon as I stepped off the plane!

I bought this gorgeous fat quarter bundle of geometric prints. I’m really in to geometric stuff at the moment, and in addition to this we’ve just about settled on mustard and grey as the colour scheme for our lounge in our new apartment, so it was a bit like serendipity. The bundle was really reasonably priced and the fabric is fantastic quality. A pleasure to look at and to use – what more could you want?!

Not only does Frau Tulpe’s supply beautiful and unusual fabrics, they also have lots of handmade things on display. They seemed to be particular fans of little fabric baskets (also known as Utensilios). I decided that they could come in pretty handy for storage of all sorts, either in my craft room, or potentially in the living room. I decided that they really couldn’t be too complicated, and as luck would have it I found this YouTube tutorial, which will tell you how to make one in a matter of minutes. The tutorial is a bit twee, but it is incredibly beginner friendly and the steps are clear and concise. I wish I’d thought to make one of these as one of my first projects, I would have been delighted.

You only require two rectangles of fabric (20cm x 40cm) and one rectangle of interfacing (20cm x 40cm) and away you go. I chose to use the contrasting black and white geometric prints, as I think utensilios look coolest with a contrast flap! I am SO delighted with how it turned out – honestly probably a bit too delighted considering it’s just a little basket after all. However it did really work out just how I had imagined it in my head, which doesn’t always happen that way with crafting. It was just such a speedy and satisfying make! My only regret is not thinking to whip a label in to the side seam as I think that would have looked cool, but now I will know for next time!


I am now plotting utensilios in all manner of sizes and designs. I was sat at work today wondering if it would be weird to put one on my desk and put my stationery bits and bobs in it – or could weird become cool?! I am certainly going to make a much larger one to keep fabric scraps in. I think a few people may be receiving these as gifts too!

How about you – have you ever made a utensilio? Am I behind the times in discovering these little gems?!

A New Quilt

It may have been quiet on the blog recently, but this does not mean I haven’t been sewing! In fact, I have mainly been spending my time on researching a new larger project which I have now set about tackling – a new quilt! I couldn’t help but be inspired by my trip to Quiltmanufaktur a couple of weeks ago and decided to set about a new quilt in a completely different style to what I have done previously. I love to work with pre-cuts, and I particularly love Andrea’s jelly rolls, so I stayed in that direction, but I decided this time to work mainly with white and more muted tones, rather than something super colourful!

I love some of the fabric in these jelly rolls – the prints are absolutely stunning. Some of them have line drawings with a lovely dress making theme, others quotes and writing. It’s one of the things that I love about patchwork is being able to include prints that I really enjoy and the effect of them popping up in little pieces all over the quilt. One of my particular favourites is one of the strips with line drawings of aeroplanes – every now and again a little aeroplane will pop up, but only if you look closely!

In the past I have done some super simple strip piecing, so I thought this time I would like to be a bit more adventurous with my blocks. Most of them have turned out quite well so far – I love the effect! I did have one disaster, which surprisingly I didn’t even notice until the day after. Can you see it?


I’ve realised now where I went wrong … I’d cut my triangles in the wrong direction. After getting the seam ripper out I could salvage half of it at least! The rest I will save for a matching cushion cover made out of all of the left over scraps! Here’s a sneak peek of some of my blocks so far ….

  

As you can tell, I need to work a little on my accuracy. Despite using a quarter inch quilt foot, I still can’t seem to get my blocks completely square every time! I am completely in awe of some of the pictures on Instagram of perfect points and aligned seam lines. I’m not going to get too crazy about it though – I think it adds to the charm!

The plan right now is to make 16 blocks and then finish them with white sashing which should be enough for a large lap quilt. I’d like to back it with one of the prints from the jelly rolls and then a scrappy binding made with leftover jelly roll scraps to finish it off. I’m wondering if by the time I have the top finished, I might brave doing some more adventurous quilting than just straight lines. Towards this endeavour, I have finally purchased an open toe freehand quilting foot and am booked on to a “Basics of Free Hand Quilting” course on April 16th. I am very excited! I had a little practice with my new foot and attempted a quilted pot holder. All I can say is – I am glad I am booked on a course! Think I will be needing some help with that one! Wish me luck!

Crafting with Suede

On Saturday I had a lovely trip to a local independent fabric store in Frankfurt’s Brückenviertel- Die Quiltmanufaktur. What I love about Quiltmanufaktur is that it’s the only fabric shop in Frankfurt that really celebrates the art of crafting, rather than just being a transactional, functional place to buy supplies. It’s run by the lovely Andrea Kollath, who is always on hand to have a chat and share her extensive experience. I love the layout of the shop and all the amazing fabrics which are bang on trend. Andrea also puts together her own jelly roll bundles, which are otherwise practically impossible to come by here in Germany, so there is so much to love. I have to be a bit careful when I go in, as I could always spend a small fortune! However, I do always like to buy something, as I like the idea that I am supporting a local, independent businesswoman with my shopping! This time I came away with this gorgeous French Bulldog fat quarter and a couple of really funky mini jelly rolls!

I have to confess that I didn’t really have a plan for either of these, I just indulged and bought them because I liked them! However, late on Saturday night I had a bit of a crafting itch, and decided to finally use a couple of my velour scraps from one of my EUR 5 leather scrap bags. I loved the colours that came in this particular scrap bag, and decided to make myself a little dual colored zipper pouch. I was thinking hard about which fat quarter to use for the lining, when it suddenly struck me that this would be a great project to use a little bit of my Frenchie fat quarter. Those pooches will make me smile every time I open it!

I have to confess I was a bit nervous about the dual colour approach to this pouch. Although I had success on the last coin purse I made, I had another go with nappa leather last week and tried this dual fabric approach and it did not go well. The seamed leather was just too thick to sew through two layers and it resulted in a snapped needle, angry crunching noises from my machine, and two otherwise nice pieces of leather landing in the bin. I had high hopes this time though, as the suede is much much thinner than the nappa leather, so I thought I would come back for round two!

I’m pretty pleased with the result of this one! The dual fabric worked well and I’m really pleased that the seam is continuous and matches well on both sides. The construction was a bit scary though and I think I need to choose slightly wider pieces for these 6 inch zippers as it was a bit close by the time everything got turned out. Overall, I think it turned out well, but it certainly isn’t a reflection of how the sewing looks underneath the lining! One important thing I learnt is also that suede marks so much more easily than leather, so you need to be careful with the presser foot pressure.


The highlight of this pouch though is totally the lining! I LOVE the pooches inside! I also really like how the combination of the bright blue and black turned out, with a bit of a glamorous gold zipper. The sizing of this purse is slightly odd, as it’s too big really for cards and coins, but too small to be a clutch. To be honest, I didn’t really measure it for anything specific, just made the most of the leather pieces I had and tried not to waste any. I think I will use this to bundle together all those little bits and pieces that always get lost in my handbag – hairpins, lip glosses, nail files, hair bobbles … a sort of small carry pouch with style!

Sew Over It: Knickers!

They say there’s a first time for everything … and this will be the first time I share a picture of my underwear with the world wide web! Although not my usual style, I really wanted to share my knicker making experience! As part of my quest for quick and fun projects, I stumbled across Sew Over It’s PDF knicker pattern and thought I would give it a whirl. I’d seen a few positive stories online of people making their underwear, and had never really thought it was for me, however as my sewing experience has grown, I’ve realised that someone, somewhere sews my underwear, so why shouldn’t it be me?! I taped up my PDF and decided to dive in!

The great thing about knicker-making is it is an awesome stash-buster and great for using up remnants of fabric! For my first pair I decided to use some drapey cotton voile from my stash which had been a bit small to do anything useful with. I paired this with some black knicker elastic.

The key to successful knicker making is stretching your elastic evenly as you apply it to your fabric. I have to confess, I didn’t do myself many favours on my first pair by choosing a really floaty fabric as this seemed to make this much harder! Although totally wearable, one leg hole seems to have turned out a bit smaller than the other. The fabric suggestions in the pattern do suggest a lightweight, drapey fabric, so I thought it would be great, but I’ve since made a cotton pair and they were so much easier! I don’t think I can attribute this solely to the fabric, as I think I needed some practice on the elastic stretching technique, but it certainly didn’t help. I did love the print on my first pair though, so I think I might come back for another go at these!

Not to be put off by my slightly wonky first pair, I came back for round two. Knicker making is really addictive once you get going and they are such a speedy project! I decided to dive in to my fat quarter stash for round two, which is perfect as one pair requires pretty much exactly one fat quarter. Finally, an excuse for me to buy more fat quarters! I’ve been waiting for the right project for this blue floral fat quarter for a while and I decided what better project than to wear those flowers close to me! I paired the blue with some white knicker elastic.

Second time around the results were much better! The fit is great and they are super comfortable!! Using knicker elastic is a bit of a step away from the Sew Over It instructions. I chose this method as I prefer the finish to the satin stitched edges of the fabric as suggested by the original patten. Although the finished make are less frilly than the pattern, I am hoping they will also be more durable and comfortable as a result!

Overall I’m pretty pleased with my final make and I’d encourage anyone out there to give it a go! I’ve already been rummaging through my fabric scraps for knicker sized pieces and have a few more pairs lined up! I’ve also discovered the wonderful world of trims – elastic lace, little bows, buttons and embellishments! It turns out making your own underwear is the ultimate forum for being creative! Have you given it a go? I’d love to hear about your experience!