Thursday 28 December 2017

Vintage Home BOM Quilt Along: Month 3

Welcome to month 3 of Jo Avery's Today's Quilter Vintage Home BOM Quilt Along! You can find the introductory QAL post on Jo's blog here and this month's patterns in issue 31 of Today's Quilter. As well as Jo leading the way, there are regular guest hosts, including me for this month and I've followed Jo's patterns to make five vintage jugs, four smaller 'Milk Jug' rectangular blocks and one large 'Tall Jug' square with an eight-pointed star at the centre.

All the blocks are machine sewn, no foundation paper piecing required. I made one of the smaller milk jug blocks to get a feel for the instructions and then I cut out the other three blocks and chain pieced. I needed to pay extra attention to keeping my pieces in order for the handle as it's easy to muddle the rectangles up, but it's a straightforward block and the jug can face either direction.  I did also get my final top and bottom rectangles the wrong way round in the first block below! A quick unpick and that will all be sorted.  I like the angular shape, it reminds me of vintage Portmeirion pottery, especially the Totem design which has similar lines to this block.

It's a great shape for showcasing a print as a large scrap will suffice; I used white Kona cotton for all the handles. My fabrics are all vintage and I especially enjoyed using the mandala style geometric prints that remind me of pyjamas!  For the Tall Jug block, I used two vintage fabrics: a kitchen motif print and an alphabet/apple print with coordinating Kona.  The background fabric is Kona Copen, a lovely deep sky blue. I used a no-waste method to make the flying geese for the star which is super quick and works best with a multi-directional print. Jo mentions tips for sewing the curved handle here, I used lots of pins and sewed slowly on my machine.

I do love kitchenalia and I have a variety of jugs picked up from car boot sales, charity shops and vintage stores over the years.  Here are a few of my favourites...
This is a little, almost mug shaped jug is Hungarian and from the Granit factory.

Both these jugs are British made and from the J & G Meakin Studio range which date from the 1960s. The red floral jug is from the Dahlia range and the blue flowers are the Topic design by Alan Rogers.  My daughter used to play with the smaller one in 'kitchen' games when she was little and I have dinner plates of the same design.

This is a mid-sized jug and is from the Lotte range by Turi Granstad Oliver produced by Figgjo Flint in Norway.  I have a few Turi designed bits of crockery, I love the illustration style and colour palette. This jug is a little worn at the edges but full of charm.

This beauty is a larger pitcher-style jug, designed by Kaj Franck for the Finnish pottery maker, Arabia.

I plan to mix my various jug blocks with some scrappy pieced blocks using vintage fabrics and make a small summer tablecloth for eating outside in the summer. I think it's the Kona Copen blue that makes me think of outdoor dining! The patterns for the two jug blocks can be found in this month's Today's Quilter magazine and you can see more blocks from the quilt along on the hashtag #TQVintageHomeQAL on Instagram.

Friday 22 December 2017

End of Year

The last week has been a flurry of deadlines, both work and self-imposed, Christmas prepping and waiting for news.  My grandmother sadly died today, although in reality she was freed from the torment of dementia and Alzheimers which had ruled her life for the last two years and changed her from the person we knew before.  I lit a candle for her yesterday at our local cathedral as she kept on longer than anyone predicted. The cathedral has an extra calm atmosphere at this time of year which I appreciate as a non-believer, the feel of history walking on the ancient stone floor gives me a steady reassurance.  Granny lived to a grand age and I concentrate on the 90+ years when she lived independently, was great fun to chat to and gave me some very happy memories to think of now.  In the meantime, I'll keep sewing (slightly less frenetically), settle with my family, eat too much and play a lot of games. Wishing you a very happy end to the year, whether it's Christmas or other Winter celebrations. See you in 2018 x

Thursday 7 December 2017

Gift Ideas: Sewing, quilting, Crochet, Knitting, Tapestry...

This is my last sponsor post for 2017 and I'm concentrating on last minute present ideas, either for someone else, or for you to send the link to someone looking for a gift for you! I'm looking at a range of textile/yarn crafts; my daughter is just getting interested in crochet and we're both partial to embroidery so you'll find suggestions for these as well as quilting and dressmaking and more. I love a kit at Christmas, a great way to keep yourself occupied either during social occasions whilst still joining in, or because you've got some time free.  Starting with..

Village Haberdashery.

  1. TOFT Crochet Amigurumi Kit: Emma the Bunny.  One of the best stalls I saw at the Knitting and Stitching Show in October was the TOFT stall.  They used suspended transparent umbrellas full of their gorgeous crochet animals to display their range of kits and I have never wanted to crochet more!  I'm encouraging my daughter at the moment and I'm hoping she might like one of these in her future! 100% British wool yarn, everything included in the kit
  2. Hannah Bass London Tapestry Kit. If you've been to a quilting show in the last couple of years, you may well have seen Hannah Bass' mao tapestries.  Annie has a great selection available, Dublin is exceptionally pretty and there are international destinations too. This item is only available online, not in the Village Hab bricks and mortar store.
  3. Stitch & Story Knit Kit: Fur Pompom Hat in Navy &Mint.  All you need to knit a classic pompom hat in moss stitch, 100 % Merino wool.
  1. Star Shaped Bag Kit; For girls/boys big and small.  I bought some of the gold cotton-backed lamé fabric that is included in this kit to make a sun cushion (as a day job prop) and it is gloriously gold! It is also recommended for young sewers with a little experience. Includes all materials and instructions. 
  2. Daisy Chain by Annabel Wrigley for Windham fabrics  Fat Quarter bundle. My favourite fabric collection of 2017.
  3. Seascape Collection by Sheen Norquay for Aurifil.  Beautiful sea themed colours in 50wt 200m thread spools, ten in total. 
Plush Addict
  1. Cashmerette Appleton Dress Pattern (sizes 12-28, cup size C/D-G/H).  Jenny has had an amazing year building her Cashmerette pattern range. This design combines comfort (jersey) with a very wearable style that you can dress up or down. Looking for a smaller dress and/or cup size, try this option from New Look patterns.
  2. Alison Glass Sun Prints 2017 Chasing Rainbows Kit, designed by Lynne Goldworthy. Includes all fabrics needed to make the quilt top and for binding.  Finished size 74" (190cm)- Square. You will need wadding and backing.
  3. Autumn Rain by Jilly P for Dashwood, 10 FQ Bundle.  Lovely fabric selection from one of the newly released Dashwood collections, also available as individual prints.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Constellations: Book Review

From time to time, I review books from Search Press.  With limited storage space in my little house, I only request quilting books that stand out as different from the usual blocks and quilts and Constellations by Amber and Jaime from Fancy Tiger USA craft emporium in Denver, Colorado definitely ticked that box. 

It's a beautifully produced book with photography by Holly DeGroot and published by Lucky Spool.  It is a slim volume at 80 pages but it covers exactly what you need with detailed patterns for twelve astrological blocks, 20" square as well as suggested projects for them. The imagery is restrained and consistent throughout, lots of grey and blues and the projects show a range of substrates- rayon, linen, lightweight denim, canvas for example.  The fabric choices for the tiny squares that form the stars in each constellation are interesting, especially when they feature a fussy cut star or cross fabric as in the Orion block below. I'm imagining something like an Alison Glass modern batik would work well, especially if the background fabric was a good colour match.  The finishing details include adding tassels, 'star' (cross) stitch quilt tying, and very basic embroidery (running and back stitch) which are all easily accomplished by a beginner sewer.

For me, the best part of the book is being able to make a minimalist style, personalised quilt or cushion for a recipient- baby, relation, friend- and there are detailed instructions on how to make a mix-and-match Astrological Quilt in five sizes, complete with diagrams for the panels and additional fabric strips.  The other projects do tend to focus on simple flat makes- tea towel, divination cloth, pillow/cushion. The tote is appealing with a waxed canvas base, hard plastic internal base insert, external pockets on the back and leather handles. The Hoshi Jacket looks interesting but I think it's something I'd rather make without the stars.  Full-size traceable pattern pieces are included on a folded sheet at the back of the book.

I choose to make a block for a cushion. I used some lightweight Robert Kaufman dark indigo denim (similar to this) left over from this dress and a mix of Kona Cotton in Grellow, and Manchester metallic in silver and bronze. The book suggests mixing different colours for the stars and only scraps are needed as the squares are very small.  I starched all my fabrics with non-aerosol spray as the metallics and denim are all prone to fray and I had to lower the iron temperature with the metallic fabrics.  Precision is the key in these blocks, they look deceptively simple but one mistake and the layout can be totally messed up. There are hints and tips included to help keep the strips and squares in order which I did follow but I confess I sewed this in more than one sewing session which interrupted my concentration and a seam ripper was used more times that I would like to admit!  In addition, I would recommend cutting the strips lengthways (parallel to the selvedge rather than cross grain) to reduce stretch and also sewing the vertical seams in alternating directions to avoid any bowing. There are constellation line diagrams in section three of the book and I marked this in chalk and hand stitched with 12wt Aurifil (colour 2132) and a random metallic thread I had in my supplies. The colour is better seen in the close-up photo above; winter grey days make dark colours hard to photograph accurately.

This is destined to be a cushion but as it's a Christmas gift I don't want to post a finished pic yet or even say what the constellation is for fear of spoiling the surprise for the recipient.  Constellations does appear at first glance to be a niche quilting book, but there are a lot of quilters and astrological enthusiasts out there and I would put money on their being a sizable considerable crossover between the two groups and as well as interest from fans of minimal decor too.  For me, it is a great book to turn to for a tasteful baby quilt or cushion gift and I know I'll be using it again.  
Thank you to Search Press for sending me a free copy to review, all opinions are as ever my own.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

November at Plush Addict, Eternal Maker and Village Haberdashery

It's time for my monthly visit to my long-term sponsors, Plush Addict, Eternal Maker and Village Haberdashery. It's a busy time with many of us getting supplies together for gift making and Christmas projects and then there's the Black Friday offers that are already starting to pop up in anticipation of 24th November.

Plush Addict, top row, left to right. Three quilting cotton fat quarter bundles:

  1. Riley Blake, Fossil Rim, fat quarter bundle of 19 fabrics. Fun print selection for dinosaur fans in grey/mustard colourway, each of the fabrics also available as yardage via the bundle link. 
  2.  Alison Glass for Andover, Chroma Cottons, fat quarter bundle of 27 prints.  Super saturated rainbow colour selection, each of the fabrics can also be found individually using the bundle link. 
  3. Dashwood Serengeti fat quarter bundle of 7 fabrics.  Big cats and African themed florals in a beautiful colour palette, love the colour contrasts in this colour selection.

Eternal Maker, second row, left to right. Three exquisite dressmaking/ sewing project fabrics:
  1. Teal Velvet. Cotton and 58" wide.  I already have this on order for a Christmas Cleo pinafore! It would also work very nicely for the Ivy Pinafore. Also available in sapphire blue and a rich burgundy.
  2. Ellen Baker for Kokka Fabrics, Block Tulip grey paint. Kokka linen blend, suitable for bags, cushions and more structural garments. 
  3. Nani Iro, Naomi Ito double gauze, Lei Nani in mid blue.  Perfect for making yourself, or someone else, dream pyjamas...
Village Haberdashery third row, left to right. Three quilting and dressmaking selections:
  1. Nut Cracker Act 1 fabrics. Perfect for Christmas with sparkly gold accents.  Find all the prints here.  
  2. Lady McElroy Cotton Lawn, Brush Strokes print. A great watercolour monotone print on 59" cotton lawn. 
  3. Shot Cotton fat quarter bundle. Soft, drapey, yarn dyed fabrics suitable for clothing and crafting, available in a large rainbow range of colours in yardage.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Celebrating: Quilt Now 'A Year of Quilts' Diary

I've been doing some regular project work for magazines in the last few months and the results are starting to appear, including a wonderful diary with 12 blocks designs to take you through 2018 for Quilt Now, issue 43 which went on sale Thurs 16th Nov.

I love a commission like this, lots of variety and the freedom to make different blocks with a range of techniques. All the instructions are included with photos and diagrams plus any templates needed- I tried to keep the latter to a minimum.  I didn't know that my blocks were destined for this cute little book format, that was a very happy surprise and big thank yous go to Katy (Editor) and Sher, (Art Editor) for their concept and execution.

Here's a peek inside...

I have another project inside this magazine too, a Hexie Diamond floor-size cushion cover which uses 
foundation paper piecing, linen and feedsacks.

Katy's given me a copy of the magazine and diary, to giveaway. I'm hosting the giveaway on Instagram. If you are not on Instagram you can go through this link on a computer or email me and I'll add your name.  
The giveaway ends 7am GMT Tuesday 21st November. 

Monday 13 November 2017

Vintage Home BOM Quilt Along Info!

 A quick heads up for those of you who love a Quilt Along and a block of the month!  Jo Avery of My Bear Paw is running a Vintage Home themed QAL with Today's Quilter magazine and it starts now.  Each month, there'll be patterns which will feature various crockery and sewing themed items and Jo will be adding extra info on her blog along with some other UK quilt bloggers (including me!).

It's starting now with issue 29 of Today's Quilter (see below) which also comes with a Devon County/Quilters' Guild fabric collection magazine supplement and a very handy binding tool- see this post for how to use it!

In this issue as well as Jo's various teapot blocks and some background to the QAL, you'll also find the cover quilt by Lynne Goldsworthy and a foundation paper pieced cushion that I designed called Winter Light.

Jo's designed some lovely teapots for the first month and there's a good range of skills covered and techniques like curved piecing are well explained with lots of process pictures.  Jo's using Tilda fabrics (TQ have a giveaway to win a selection here, closing 7th Dec) but you can use anything that works for you.  I've already made my blocks for January using vintage prints and a blue Kona solid background.

You can read all about the BOM at My Bear Paw, leave a comment below if you're joining in and your Instagram name as I'd love to see your blocks. Today's Quilter issue 29 (print or digital editions) is available to buy now. The official hashtag is #TQVintageHomeQAL

Thursday 9 November 2017

Making Gifts: Fold Up Folio, Lola Pouch, Pixie Basket

I really enjoy making a little storage project, a bag, a purse, a basket, I love them all!  I had a few gift events coming up recently with birthdays and secret Santas for various sewing meet-ups, so these are my latest makes. I often sew little makes like these in between bigger clothing and quilt projects as a palette cleanser and some almost instant results.   First, there's the Fold-Up Sewing Folio from Aneela Hoey's latest book, Stitched Sewing Organizers (read my review of the book here). This project appears on the cover and is the item I wanted most to make when I first read the book, along with the Triple zip pouch.

It's a rewarding project; it's not particularly hard to make, you just need to be systematic and work your way through each step carefully. The part where I am most likely to muddle myself is the cutting so I find it helps to clip and label all the different parts, especially when many so pieces are rotary cut rectangles!

 It has a pleasing, plump finish and who doesn't like a little sewing organizer to store their portable supplies!  The sewing print is by Heidi Kenney and was a mini collection called Gran's Sewing Basket for Robert Kaufman fabrics of sewing themed prints that rather annoyingly never made it to UK stockist so I managed to source some abroad. Also used is Essex yarn dyed in black for the main lining and some unknown yellow 30s floral.

I also made a Lola Pouch and a Pixie Basket.  The Lola pouch is by Svetlana of SOTAK patterns.  This is the second pattern I've made by her and they are written with such clarity. This one is so easy with a crisp finish and includes details for two sizes, this is the smaller version.

If you like zip pouches, but dislike dealing with the zip ends, it's a dream! There's lots of space at one end for the zip to close, the zip is quite long so not as fiddly as little zips to sew and the end of the zip folds into the side of the pouch. The binding covers where the zip is attached and the combined effect gives the pouch extra structure at the top.  It's a quick and satisfying sew. 

The Pixie Basket is a free pattern by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt.  It's simple and effective and a useful little basket for sewing scissors, keys, sweets - any bits and pieces.  I used some fabrics from my stash and the lining is Purse Paraphenlia by Berene Campbell of Happy Sew Lucky for Spoonflower. 

Resource List
Lola Pouch: by Svetlana Sotak.  All Svetlana's patterns are 30% off until midnight 10th Nov, Central time. 
Pixie Basket: Pattern by Heidi Staples available for free. she also has lots of other free patterns available which are very cute and make great gifts. 
Stitched Sewing Organizers:  Available at Amazon, Book Depository Wordery and the usual bookshops. 

Sunday 29 October 2017

Dream PJs : Log Cabin in the Woods

 Every year, I buy my daughter cosy, jersey pyjamas for Christmas, often in grey, usually with pockets and a cute print and each time  I see her in one of her many pairs, it reminds me that I want a pair too.  When I saw the Homestead Life Cabin in the Woods fabric at Girl Charlee's stall at The Knitting and Stitching show, I knew its destiny was a set of PJs...
I used two patterns I already had. The top is Grainline Linden Sweatshirt (blogged here ). I've made four of these in sweatshirt fabrics and although this is a lighter t-shirt weight cotton/spandex knit, it's an easy and familiar pattern.  The other pattern was Hallå Lounge Pants.y  I've made these once before as yoga joggers but didn't blog them as black garments don't photograph well for sharing.  I had two metres of the Homestead jersey which was a guess quantity wise but by using a contrast navy jersey from my stash for most of the cuff bands, I managed to squeeze in both patterns with virtually no scraps remaining. For comfort, 2.5 metres would've been easier, but it was possible with less.

The contrast fabric was Art Gallery knits solids jersey which has the same 95% cotton 5% spandex mix as the Girl Charlee Homestead fabric from the BOLT range but there are some differences.  The Art Gallery has a stronger recovery, or bounce back- maybe the knit is a little tighter?  The Art Gallery jersey curls up like crazy when cutting, pinning or sewing, whereas as the Homestead fabric lies a little flatter for cutting out and sewing seams, plus it's also more drapey so it hangs nicely.


Construction Details:

I cut out a size 2 in the Linden and all the bands were cut at a size 2 as well so no changes to the original pattern.  I'm a 33" chest and a 36" hip to give you an idea of fit.

The lounge pants are a size 2/4 or size 36-38" on the hips. There are multiple options with this pattern, these are the higher rise option (this is pretty low on the belly, but good booty coverage), full length with a tapered cuff and I also tapered the legs from mid-thigh downwards by reducing the side seams. There are lots of additional instructions in the pattern for changing leg width, adjusting hips and much more.  The waistband relies on the stretch in the jersey, no elastic or drawstring added but you could add that. It can be folded over a little at the top or worn unfolded.  I created pocket bags from the existing pattern pieces but there are patch pockets and scoop pockets included.  It's a comprehensive pattern which works well for this relaxed jogger/ PJ pant style and like the Linden, it will get much use over the years!

I do find my overlocker tends to struggle keeping the layers even on cotton spandex so the end of the seams can get uneven by up to 3/8", even if I play with the dials so I ended up basting all my seams by hand and it did give a great finish, even if it took a while!
This pic was taken just after I'd finished them!  I am thrilled to bits as they look just how I imagined: cosy, comfortable pyjamas, ready for winter evenings! 

Disclaimer: the jersey was very generously given to me by Girl Charlee as a surprise gift for times we've worked together over the years since the launch of Girl Charlee UK.  I chose to write about my experience using it and all opinions are my own.

Thursday 19 October 2017

What's it like? Going to the The Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally

I've been trying a few new sewing related experiences this year.  I joined a quilt guild (South West Modern Quilt Guild) which I've loved.  I've also aimed to attend more sewing shows so since September, I've been to West Country Quilt show, the 'Stitching, Sewing and Hobby Craft and last Sunday I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace, London.  This is the biggest show that I've been to and it coincided with a weekend when I was already in London so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Alexandra Palace is an amazing venue. Sited at the top of an enormous hill, the building is magnificent with spectacular views across London all around.  I opted for Sunday as it's the quietest of the show days - it ran Wed-Sun with Saturday being the busiest. I arrived at 10am and there was a steady stream of people going in.  Although it sells a range of tickets- VIP, with workshops/talks, as well as standard and concessions really it's  about the shopping, all those specialist retailers for quilting, dressmaking, general sewing, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch and more under one roof.  There's one massive hall with the largest stalls and two smaller stalls which tended to house the smaller independent businesses and textile galleries.   There were various discounts for buying online, I got mine from being on the Fashion and Textile Museum mailing list, there is a booking fee though, the total cost is around £12-14 for a basic one day ticket.

It is a money-making machine. If you want to find a specific stand, you'd have to pay £4 for a 'guide', or return to the entry point and study the wall diagram. I made sure I covered every path of carpet and aimed to find a list of people who I knew were there who I've worked with in some way over the years. I saw lots of familiar names from previous shows, like Fabrics Galore with their two stalls covering quilting craft and dressmaking, and The Quilted Bear with a plethora of fabric and quilting/sewing tools. I also saw newer names- Higgs & Higgs had a wonderful selection of jersey, sweatshirt, linen, cotton and more.  Stof & Sill had a well-arranged stall, quite limited variety but interesting, well displayed and staff were helpful.

Girl Charlee had a busy stall with a mix of their familiar and new jersey fabrics. I've worked with Girl Charlee several times since they started their UK journey and it's always been a very positive experience.  Mark and Ben are both focused on a great customer experience and it really showed when I saw them helping newer sewers match their patterns to the right fabric.

I've worked with The Eternal Maker for many years now and Anna is an experienced stall arranger; there's always so much packed into her displays with a buzz of people around the fabrics, pattern and sample garments.

The Cool Crafting stand looked very inviting and they had obviously sold a lot of fabric, kits and patterns - the wrap dress and its fabric had sold out. I've seen their stall at previous events but toy kits, craft fabrics and trims have been their focus. This time, dressmaking was centre stage and they had beautiful cotton, linen and wool selection.

In one of the side halls, there were some interesting indie style stalls including Frances Tobin from The Maker's Atelier.  I wrote about her business early last year for Sewing World mag and she has expanded so much since then with so many more patterns and a successful book. Her stall was beautiful, a palette of caramels and gorgeous patterns. She likes to use an interesting range of tactile substrates like stretch metallics, silk crepes, leather etc.

Grace from Beyond Measure had a lovely stall, packed full of handcrafted sewing gadgets, rolls of wool tweed and an excess of sewing related gifts. It looked very inviting. She had her sister helping her on Sunday, it is a big time commitment running a stall for 5 days plus the set-up and take down, whilst also being away from your family.

Andree of Til the Sun Goes Down  sells a dazzling range of original design silks and wool crepes as well as her own pattern range, 'Now and Then' and tempting kits which combine the two. She had vintage patterns and fabrics too and all her patterns were made up in a multitude of samples. 

For a huge array of the best known names in sewing, it was excellent. I'm no longer a knitter and I can't crochet but both are well served. I didn't buy much, it was more about meeting some people after a long time emailing and enjoying the experience plus my budget is limited and I was carrying my luggage on the train the next day.  I did get some irresistible Homestead Life Cabin Bolt fabric from Girl Charlee which is destined to become jogger style pyjamas. Love the print and it's a slightly drapey cotton/spandex jersey, perfect for lounging and evening quilt snuggling.  I also picked up a short Japanese zip and a mini magnetic seam guide from a couple of sewing stalls.

There were a few odd stalls selling sweets or hair clips- the sort of thing that I see a frustrating amount of at smaller shows and are in no way related to sewing or knitting. It's a long week for the stall holders too and I did feel for them although there is a comradery amongst the stalls and it is great for catching up on news about the business. Some traders reported fewer sales or a lower spend by customers than previous years because of the recent Great British Sewing Bee Live event in September, whilst others said they weren't affected.  The exhibitions were wide-ranging and interesting as well as a break from the busier areas. I felt like I missed some though with the lack of having a map to hand but from the ones I did visit, standouts included Rachael Howard's Red Work, Diana Harrison's Traces in Cloth which I found rather dramatic to look at, and Amy Twigger Holroyd's reknitting gallery.  It was fun, I spent a very happy four hours there and I did get to see all the shops in person that I only ever usually visit online.  

Are there any shows that you would recommend?