Monday 28 January 2013

Baby Bear Paw begins

Time to start the Baby Bear Paw quilt.  I have designed this with a Sizzix die cutting machine in mind as speed was at the forefront of my plans but you can make this the usual way, rotary cutting directions are included.  I have tended to avoid half square triangles as all the trimming is a strain on my hands and the sort of rotary cutting where I worry that one stray move and I will cut off the end of my fingers and making me think of Stuwwelpeter and Suck a Thumb!  This is where a machine like the Big Shot is a massive bonus and it has liberated how I plan my quilts. It is an investment so I would advise you to plan the dies you will most use and think ahead- if you will use a 4 1/2" HST die, you want other shapes that easily work with it, maybe 2 1/2" square (handy for scraps) or 2 1/2" HST die as they will make 2" sqs finished which tessellate nicely with the 4" squares.  I have found this shop great value and free UK postage.  

These instructions are to make the 4 bear paw feature square blocks that make up the main section of the quilt top.  In the next instruction post I will add the centre strips and the quarter square triangle centre, plus backing and binding info, but for now let's press on.

Baby Bear Paw Quilt

Four 12 1/2"square feature squares- a good picture print works well here
For Sizzix HSTs: Twenty Four 5 x 5 1/2"rectangles, 12 in colour A, 12 in colour B.  These could be in 2 contrasting fabrics or a scrappy mix in 2 sets of contrasting colours.  If you are very careful, you can cut out using 5 x 5 1/4"- it is just big enough to cover the die.  You will need Sizzix die 657613 which cuts two 4 1/2" HST triangles
For rotary cut HSTs following this method: Twenty Four 5"x5" squares, 12 in colour A, 12 in colour B.

1. Assemble your half square triangle pairs
For each feature square, you will need 6 HST pairs.  The rotary method is here.  With a little forethought, arranging your fabrics on the Big Shot can save on your HST piecing time.  I placed contrasting rectangles right sides together for cutting.  A Big Shot can comfortably cope with around 6 layers of quilting cotton.  

When placed together this way, the HSTs come out in pairs, ready to be sewn together.

Sew a scant seam to allow for the bulk taken up with thread and the fold of the fabric, I line my fabric with the foot edge rather than right next to the 1/4" foot guard.  Scant seams should give you an accurate 4 1/2" square.

Chain piece your HST together.  

2. Press seams open
This is my preference, you can press to the side if you wish.  Arrange around your feature squares to randomise the colours and take a photo for your reference.

3. Joining half square triangle pairs together
Sew 3 HST pairs together in a row and add to one edge of feature squares.  Sew 3 more HST pairs in a row adding a plain 4 1/2" square to the end of the row.  Add to adjacent edge of feature square.

Your block should look like this.  Repeat 3 more times following pattern diagram/your photo for placement. 

I used Sarah Watts Timber and Leaf fabrics from Eternal Maker, plus a little Riley Blake October Afternoon Seaside and the odd scrap from my stash.  Finishing the quilt top info to come soon!

Thursday 24 January 2013

Buttons and clothes

I have been perusing Saints and Pinners to see what I can recommned to you this month and subconsciously I have chosen a palette of grey/blue/pink co-ordinating palette that is making me think of an outfit in these fabrics.  Jo does choose fabrics that are great for dress making.  This light and floaty cotton/bamboo blend would make a beautiful top or shirt, Tova even, also comes in charcoal grey and heather.  Subtle prints that work for clothing can be hard to find which is what makes these fabrics appeal to me that little bit extra.
And to go with your new shirt, how about a skirt?  Trousers even if you are feeling daring?  This crossweave cotton is a medium to heavy weight so it would work well in either and has more subtly and would be easier to sew than denim.
To help you visualise a skirt, Jo helpfully made one a few months back using the Victory Madeline pattern.
Gorgeous isn't it?  Wonderful pockets,  and you know how I love a project with pockets.  This one is made from the pink version of the same cross weave and it gives you idea of the drape.
Thinking a little smaller and a little quicker, Jo also stocks Metal fabric cover buttons, great to add detail to a bag or a shop bought garment.  Replacing the buttons on a cardigan sounds twee but it can turn a boring item round to something you will wear all the time.  You can copy Jo's idea of pieced scraps ( she sells Charms as well as scrap rolls with a wide range of prints, ideal for this  and you will find the buttons in 3 sizes here, here and here.
Or you can cheat and buy the ones Jo has already made for you, shh, I won't tell a soul ;)
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Wednesday 23 January 2013

B is for Brrr, BFF and a beautiful Baby

Brrr, so chilly.  I am part woman and a larger part socks, woolies and feathers ( Uniqlo Ultradown).  My husband thought that I had overnight put on a few pounds- until he patted my sides, I was heavily insulated by a feather boday warmer under my hoody, plus jersey and vest- I love layers and I feel the cold big time.
I have been sewing, sewing and more sewing and my new best friend,  promoted to BFF ( although an alternative meaning made me laugh) is starch.  I have always been a little mystified by starch, especially as all I could find in the UK was aerosol stinky white flakey starch, and then I found this, Earth Friendly Spray Starch.
Available in UK at many online stores- cheapest I found was auravita, you can also find it at Lakeland and health food stores and in other countries.  It is cornstarch based, lightly and naturally fragranced.   I am very sensitive to smell and I find this the only starch I could consider, it is a light frangrance that doesn't linger.  So what does it do?  It bullys bulky seams into submission, those seams with many layers flatten easily.  It also sorts out bias edges and stops them waving and stretching. On slippy fabrics like voile and lawn, it gives the fabric stability.  It does't produce rigid shirt collar style fabric like an aerosol just  a neat flatness and no marks or flakes. I had tried homemade starch but lack of preservative was a problem and the spray bottle started developing mildew.  This is worth every penny and I wouldn't do with out it now.
And a quick mention to Lucy, she made this wondrous version of my Liberty Sewing Portfolio case pattern, not only a beautiful piece of work- the embroidery!  But also made when her soon to be born baby was days overdue.
inside sewing case

sewing case
And then on Monday, along came her beautiful daughter Lois.  Huge congratulations to Lucy!
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Tuesday 15 January 2013

Baby Bear Paw Quilt Plan

I have a baby nephew on the way very soon so I need to get on and make a baby quilt.  I saw glimpses of  Timber and Leaf by Sara Watts  a few months back and knew I had to have it.  I ordered a selection from Eternal Maker and some 'Seaside'  October Afternoon by Riley Blake which goes with it perfectly.

Beautiful colours and prints

Seaside October Afternoon is on the left, Timber and Leaf on the right.

Here is my plan, based on a bear paw quilt block, very simple and easy- Baby Bear Quilt.   The fabrics are doing the work in this quilt so I wanted plenty of space for the picture designs.  The large 12" squares will be alternating Fawn in birch grey/ bear brush beat in taupe prints- I have a half yard of each.  I am using a selection of FQs for the half square triangles, the plaid for the binding- that may change, and a mix of the yellows for the crisscrossing centre strip and some quilting plans for those strips too.

I'll be posting all the details online as I make it.  I have a heavy workload at the moment so I can't guarantee exactly when but this needs to get made in the next month so that gives me a push to get going!  I will be including cutting details for using a Sizzix Big Shot as well as standard half square triangles.  I had this sent to me before Christmas for a project and you can see from the cutting pads, it has been in constant use.  The half square triangle dies are a joy to use and I went and bought a 2.5" square die immediately for sorting scraps.

Here are the other posts so you can cut, sew, quilt and bind your Baby Bear Paw Quilt.

Making the blocks is here
Completing the top is here
Spiral quilting is here
Binding with glue is here

Saturday 12 January 2013

Village Habby news

Annie has a busy year ahead what with a a new bricks and mortar shop and a baby on the way but she has found the time to keep her online store  packed as usual with new temptation and sale offers.  She mentioned that Anna Maria Horner Field Study Voiles were in stock- happy news.  Little Folks Voiles have to be one of my all time fav fabric lines, perfect for clothing and ideal for a bit of quilt luxury.  I fancy the Field Study for (dare I say it) 'spring' clothing and accessories, scarves and the like.
And there is plenty in the sale with an extra 20% off sale with the code SALE20- offer up to 18th Jan.  YOu can find Liberty Bloomsbury, as used in my Sewing Portfolio pattern.   This is the Lytton print in colour way C
Cherry Christmas-Deck the halls in Cardinal.   you know you'll want it next Autumn when it will be long gone and you are just feeling like making a Christmas quilt!
With my new found appreciation of purple I have been cutting into a bit of this Heather Ross print, Country mice, available in pink, natural and green too
Check out more sale fabrics here
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Thursday 10 January 2013

Liberty Sewing Portfolio

I have been waiting a little while to reveal my latest free pattern/ project .  This was a project designed for Liberty Lifestyle.  I was asked to come up with something for an intermediate sewer so I designed a mini sewing portfolio travelling case.
 All the fabrics are from the Bloomsbury collection and you can find detailed instructions, labelled photographs and downloadable diagrams at the Liberty Craft Blog.
It is the perfect size for travelling to sewing classes, or carrying small projects to sew on the go and there are pockets everywhere.  I promise the zip is not as scary as it looks and the binding covers up all the zipper stitching as a bonus.  The scissor zip pull was from Ayumi!  I wish I could find more things like that here, cute and practical.
You will find is an interview with me there too.   From past attempts, I have not been able to get comments to work on the Liberty blog but you can find other projects like Katy's Bloomsbury Stripes quilt and Jessie's star decoration , so go visit, share on Facebook, tweet and if you make one do send me a pic!
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Monday 7 January 2013

Picture Books

We are all big fans of picture books in our house.  When my daughter was young Damian and I would pour over books bought solely for their illustrations to read to Lula, many of which we kept as I couldn't bear to pat with them and all the memories they hold.  Each Christmas we seem to add a picture book or two,  (I think this was last year's purchase) and this year we discovered a couple of beauties.
The Fir Tree, Sanna Annuka
It is a typical Hans Christian Anderson sad and sorry moral tale with breath taking pictures. Sanna Annuka is a English/Finnish print designer who works for Marimekko as well as producing her own products.
 The shapes, colours and tessellation's are a delight, every page is a quilter's inspiration.

 The sun is possibly my favourite.

Damian found this book.  He is a big fab of creative paper cutting as well as fairy tales.  
The Fairy Tale Princess
 It is the newsprint that really grabs me and excites me in these pictures.  The princess and the pea is a treat.
 The Dancing Princesses...

 Sleeping Beauty...
 Both are a pleasure to read, you are never too old for a picture book.
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