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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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!

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?!

Stag Print Button Closure Cushion

 

As I’m trying to lose a little weight at the moment, I haven’t been sewing many garments, as I’m scared of putting all that effort in to them and then only being able to wear them for a few weeks. As a result, I thought I’d focus a little on home furnishings and other smaller projects, just to keep my sewing mojo ticking over! One of my favourite home decor things to make is cushions. They’re such a good blank canvas for really beautiful fabrics!

On my last trip to the UK, I treated myself to these gorgeous fat quarters. I really like stag print at the moment and little animals with antlers seem to be turning up on all sorts of my things!I thought they would make a great cushion, and now I have my serger I needed an extra “sewing chair” cushion, so decided to use these fabrics for this special project.

As I’ve made quite a few envelope closure cushions in the past, I decided I wanted to use this project as an opportunity to practice one of the new skills I had committed to learning in 2016 – buttonholes! I thought that doing buttonholes on a cushion would be a great way of practicing without having to worry that I would ruin a garment I had spent the whole afternoon making. It was also a great opportunity to use up some of my buttons from my overflowing button jar!

I decided to test the one step buttonhole foot on a scrap of my fabric first. I have to say, I don’t know why I put off doing this for so long! Although I had to spend 20 minutes or so going through my manual, finding the “button hole lever” and making sure I got my button hole foot on the right way round, it was much simpler than I expected! It tok a bit of practice to get the sizing right, but apart from that, my Pfaff made it super easy! Now I want to put buttons on everything!

Apart from the buttonholes, there wasn’t anything too challenging about this make. I love the finished effect though. I also feel like both sides of the cushion look nice, so it’s nice and versatile! I chose some quite chunky buttons in a complementary brown to finish off the cushion which I think match quite nicely.


All in all I am delighted with my finished cushion! I’m sure it will get lots of use as I get to know my serger! Now I’ve gotten over my buttonhole fear, I’m also ready to finally tackle my Tilly and the Buttons Mathilde Blouse, so watch this space for that one! How about you, how are your new year’s resolutions coming along? I’d love to hear from you!

Half Yard Heaven Notice Board

Even I am the first to admit that my love of fat quarters may have gotten a little out of control. I’ve become somewhat of a fat quarter tourist, and if I happen to find a nice bundle on my travels, it must come home with me as a souvenir! I’ve been filling up a little suitcase with them, and have decided that I may as well use them for decorative purposes on display on my craft table!

A trunk of fabric joy … 

I did, however, receive a fabulous Christmas Gift which should help me enjoy my expansive collection to the maximum! My brother and sister-in-law got me this great book, Half Yard Heaven, by Debbie Shore, for Christmas, and it’s got lots of great projects in it! They are accompanied by lovely pictures and step by step instructions. It’s one of those lovely books to have a flick through when you have the itch to make something from your stash. Nothing needs more than half a yard of fabric, so it’s great for scraps too!

The first project I set my sights on was a fabric covered noticeboard. We’ve had a rather sad looking Ikea cork noticeboard in our hallway ever since we moved in. Prompted by the lovely pictures in Half Yard Heaven I decided it was a prime target for a makeover!

I chose to use my fat quarter bundle from Rowan, which contained a lovely selection of coral and black florals. One coral fat quarter was the perfect size for covering the cork board. I then made three small pockets using a couple of strips from two other fat quarters in the bundle. Despite following the book’s instructions, my pockets turned out quite small, so if I were making one again I would definitely make slightly larger pockets.

This was my first time wielding a staple gun, which was a little bit scary. PB ran for cover as I waved it about ominously in our lounge! Stapling in to wood was pretty hard work – but was worth it for the results!

I struggled a bit to get the pocket placement straight though. You end up in a vicious circle, as you can only place the pockets straight once the fabric is taught and stapled down, but if you do that, you can’t sew them on! As a result it took a bit of guess work, but for me they are functional enough! I finished the board with some thin elastic which minimises the need for extra pins. Overall I’m pleased with my finished make! It was pretty speedy too. I’m already plotting my next one for my craft room in the new apartment!

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!