Sunday, 30 November 2014

Almost No-Sew Christmas Bunting

What better way to decorate my quilting cabinet.
As part of my birthday present this year, I have a delightful charm pack of '25th & Pine' Christmas fabric.  I have been wanting some Christmas Bunting for quite some time, so this was the charm pack to make it with.  This bunting/garland is perfect as there is very little sewing.  The fabric is strengthened with an iron-on webbing and the only sewing is attaching the ribbon along the top - and this is a very straight forward chain piecing sew.

I watched a great video from Missouri Star Quilt Company on how to put it together and it really couldn't be much easier.

However, whereas Jenny used a template to cut out the triangles, I am much more comfortable rotary cutting along straight lines and not around a template.  For some reason, the template always moves or the cutter doesn't quite cut correctly so I decided to rule lines and cut out the triangles in a less stressful (for me) way.

I have outlined how I achieved this at Step 3.
Delightful little Christmas flags

Materials:  Fusible backing, charm pack, twill or christmas ribbon & rotary cutter.  Whilst I had intended to cut out a triangle template, in the end I found it easier to rule lines and cut along them using my rotary cutter.

Step 1.     Iron all the charm pack pieces to the fusible backing as per the instructions for the particular fabric & backing that you have.
In my case, it took about 30 seconds of a good steam press.

Step 2:     Cut them all out so you have the individual charm squares.

Step 3:     On the reverse of your fabric piece, rule a line diagonally down the middle.  Measure 5" along this line and make a mark.  Rule a line from the 5" mark to each corner.  These are your cut lines.  As you can see from the diagram, you have 2 identical triangles towards the top, right hand side of the charm square and a tiny bit of waste at the bottom left hand corner.

Step 4:     Arrange all 80 of your triangles in the order that you like and carefully sew along the ribbon on the right side of the bunting.  (the ribbon in this picture has not been sewn to the flags, it is merely lying on the flags whilst I sorted out the order).  Sew to about two thirds along the width of the flag piece, stop with the needle in the down position, insert the next triangle piece and continue sewing.

It comes together in no time at all.

Merry Christmas and happy sewing,

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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Christmas Crochet Stars

I don't wish to alarm you in any way, but I feel it is my civic duty to warn everyone that Christmas is fast approaching and that means there's limited time left for festive crafting...eeep!

Thankfully, there's always a few quick and simple things to make that add a touch of homemade loveliness to that oh-so-commercial time of the year and these little crochet stars are the perfect addition to a tree or a very sweet embellishment to a wrapped gift.

I used Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8ply in shades of Holly and Raffia with a size 3.5mm crochet hook.

The pattern is:

Chain 5, slip stitch into first chain to make circle.

Round 1:  Puff stitch, chain 1 (There's a great tutorial from the Crochet Guru on Puff Stitch here) repeat 4 times, 5 puffs in total,  then slip stitch into top of first puff stitch

Round 2: In chain space between puff stitches, Chain 3 (counts as first double crochet), double crochet 2, chain 1*,  In next chain space double crochet 3, chain 1, double crochet 3*.  

Repeat from * to * a further 3 times.  To finish round double crochet 3 and chain 1 in the first chain space of this round, slip stitch into top of chain 3.

Round 3:

Single crochet in chain space from previous round.
*Double crochet 3 into the next chain space, chain 3, double crochet three into same chain space (this forms the pointy bit of the star), single crochet into next chain space from previous round* 

Repeat from * to * four times.  Finish round by slip stitching into first Single Crochet of this round.  

Then it's a simple case of blocking the stars so that they sit nice and flat, sewing in the ends and adding a ribbon and button of your choice to finish.

Happy Christmas Crafting


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Sunday, 16 November 2014

It's Going to be a Charming Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas .. 
I went to my local fabric store today - a rare treat as I usually buy all my fabric online, but I got confused.  I wandered around aimlessly looking for inspiration, trying to put fabrics together, but with no luck.  It just wouldn't come together and I gave up, lest I just bought something for the sake of it (again ..).

I think the problem. is that I have become reliant on Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls and Charm packs.  The fabric always matches, it's always cut the right way and there is no guess work.
All you have to do is be creative!

I was very fortunate to receive such a charm pack  .. 'Solstice' by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics, in the mail as part of my birthday present this year (seriously .. the best present for a quilter.  A charm pack arrives in the mail and all I have to do is think about what to do with it)

I wanted a small Christmas wall hanging and came across the gorgeous 'Charming Stars Quilt' pattern from the ModaBakeShop website.  I fell in love with it and decided to make 4 of the stars for my quilt/wall hanging.  One charm pack is enough for this project.

The start of a new project .. always exciting!

I can feel Christmas coming!

4 Stars - ready to join

Thanks to the clear instructions over at ModaBakeShop, the 4 squares came together really quickly.

A quick bit of sashing and my wall hanging is ready to quilt.

I chose to quilt it 'matchstick' (ie. every 1/4 inch) along the entire length of the quilt except for the stars.  This helps the stars to pop forward - making them more prominent.
Let the binding begin .. 
So good to be hand quilting again .. 

Once all the machine quilting was done, I hand quilted around the inside of the stars using a red thread to really make the stars 'shine'.  I love hand quilting.  That may surprise you considering the amount of machine quilting I do.  If I hand quilted every quilt that I made though, I would only have one quilt a year - certainly not enough for me.

My son had a look when I had finished .. 

"Hey, that looks really good. It's like something from IKEA".

High praise indeed ......  I think.

Have a charming Christmas,

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

It's Christmas Time Advent Calendar

Every year I look at the Advent calendars in the stores, you know the ones with the flimsy little cardboard doors that hide a cheap chocolate treat, and find myself feeling extremely thankful for our handmade calendar.  This will be our 15th year of celebrating advent with our wall hanging and every time I start to fill its hand sewn little pockets with sweets, it takes me back to cold Yorkshire Christmases and opening this beautiful present that Louise had made for my birthday at a time when I was more than a little homesick for sunnier climes.

The pattern for this delightful piece is from Hatched and Patched a business based in Bathurst (that's country Australia if you're not from these parts) and Anni's  country vintage style is evident in all of the patterns and fabrics she sells.

The back of our Advent has it's own little personalised and hand stitched message, which only adds to the nostalgia that inevitably occurs  whenever the start of December is approaching.  

It can be tricky with three children finding small wrapped lollies that will fit in the little pouches.  I've become quite adept over the years at finding an assortment of chocolates or sweets that will be suitable.  Even now the children are teenagers they still feel every pouch and guess what might by lurking within.  I admit that sometimes some of the pouches for later in the month have remained empty for that first week in December as I try to find something a bit out of the ordinary.  Naturally, I  tell the kids that I'm just trying to surprise them so they can't guess every sweet, but I think they may be on to my last minute shopping!

Now that we've had so many years of use with our wonderful gift, I can't help but think what a beautiful present an advent calendar is for a young family.  It's a special something that is used and cherished every year - it really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Happy Christmas


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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Five reasons teenagers should learn to sew

Here's five fabulous reasons why teenagers should learn to sew:

1.  It's important to respect effort   
As a consumer it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that somehow the items that you purchase just magically appear in the shop and that the whole back story doesn't matter.  When you start making your own clothes, it pretty quickly becomes apparent that a whole lot of time and skill goes into making even the simplest pair of shorts.   Learning to sew is a fabulous way to understand that someone, somewhere is working hard to produce that dress you've just admired in the shop window and that effort needs to be respected.

2.  You're an individual
Often it's easy to get caught up in brands and what's hot right now, especially when you're a teenager and trying to fit in.   Sewing your own clothes means that you're not caught up in what fashion buyers think you should be wearing this season. It means that while you might still want to be on trend, you can make clothes that no-one else has and you'll never, ever arrive at a party wearing the same outfit as your friends.

3.  Learning any new skill takes time

When you start to sew it can be really, really frustrating.  There's a lot to learn and that gorgeous pattern for that prom dress you fell in love with isn't going to be within your skill set for quite a while...and that's OK.  It's important to take your time and start making simple items first and gradually build from there.  You might not be making that prom dress this year, but by next year you just might be.

4. Shopping doesn't mean spending

Imagine if you could have a whole heap of fun shopping without even thinking about spending money.  When you start sewing your own clothes, visiting the shopping centre suddenly becomes about finding inspiration rather than opening your wallet.    You'll find yourself looking at finishes, fabrics and trims.  If a particular embellishment catches your eye, you'll soon be looking through your wardrobe to see if you can add that to a long forgotten T-shirt.  Just wait, your friends will be super impressed!

5. Creativity

Fashion is all about showing the world your creativity, but when you make your own clothes, you're taking it to whole new level.  Rather than just choosing what top to wear with what skirt, you're going to start looking at fabric texture and drape, where you want a pattern placed on the finished garment, what trims you might use, which sleeves you would's an endless list and you're in control.  You're a fashion superstar in the making and you don't have to please anyone else but yourself.  It's like you've got Coco Chanel in your own head and she's working exclusively for you.

Happy sewing


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Drop Stitch Cowl

We were at a yarn market a couple of weeks ago and after speaking to some pretty fabulous yarn people all day long, I was struck with the...