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!

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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!

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!

Hand Appliqué Peg Bag

This isn’t the most exciting post ever, and certainly not the most technical, but I wanted to share this super speedy make with you that turned out way better than expected!

After showing my mum my cute little laundry travel bag I made, she asked if she could have a little drawstring bag to keep her clothes pegs in. As I love to make little drawstring bags and they are a super simple make, I was happy to oblige!

I’ve been trying to find a use for this gorgeous floral fat quarter that I bought at the Millets Craft Shack for a while. I thought a peg bag was a sort of Cath Kidston retro piece of homeware, so actually the bright florals were a great fit!

One thing Cath Kidston does really well is Appliqué. I love the way it gives things a really crafty, homeley feel. I’ve never done any appliqué before, so thought I would take this opportunity to follow Cath’s lead and try some!

I cut out some little paper letter templates spelling the word ‘Pegs’. (Side note- I am realiably informed by some American friends of mine that America does not recognize the word pegs and therefore they had no idea what I was on about, or why I would write ‘pegs’ on a bag.  As such I humbly offer a translation for my American readers which I believe to be ‘clothes pins’.) I used these templates to carefully cut the letters out of some contrasting blue fabric. I then set about hand stitching them on with some yellow thread in a decorative but practical blanket stitch, which I’d had a bit of practice on while making my espadrilles.


You will see that my hand stitching still leaves a lot to be desired! However I did realize by doing this that I am increasingly enjoying sitting and hand stitching in the evening. It totally relaxes my mind. There’s something so peaceful about the rhythmic motion of repeatedly pulling needle and thread through fabric. Who knows, maybe a foray in to cross stitch or embroidery could be up next?!

Once I’d finished applying the letters, I finished off the bag with some contrasting blue drawstrings. This is the third one of these I’ve made now and I was quite proud that I no longer need to follow instructions. I eyeballed for sizing on everything and it actually worked out really well! The more I look at it, the more pleased I am with the finished result. I hope my mum’s pegs (clothes pins ;-)) enjoy their stylish new home!


How about you? Have you tried any new skills recently? Do you also enjoy hand stitching? Is there any easy embroidery or cross stitching I could start on? 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!

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.

IMG_2433
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:

IMG_2450
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!!

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!