Give me Liberty!

…Or give me some other patchwork fabric.  That works too.  Yeah, I wonder how many times that pun’s been used?  Oh well!  :p  I seem to be failing hopelessly at not buying fabric right now, although at least a smidgen of it is for a commission.  I’m not sure if that makes it better or not!  A big contributor to my stash was the Sewing For Pleasure show at the Birmingham NEC a few weeks ago.  11 fat quarters for £15?  Yes.  HELL yes.  Please.  I may have gone a bit nuts at that stand!  Then there have been some more local purchases as well, including some lovely stripey shot cottons and some completely unexpected Liberty prints.

Sewing For Pleasure Purchases

The first stand to really suck me in and get me reaching for my wallet was Japan Crafts.  Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I’m rather partial to Japanese-related fabrics and crafts, so their selection of shiny fabrics initially drew me in.  However, it was the sashiko supplies that really hooked me.  Sashiko is something I have wanted to try for a while, and here was a stand selling nice bundles of everything needed to have a go!  And a flexible attitude to mixing and matching supplies helped, too.  I ended up walking away with two small and one large panel of pre-preprinted sashiko designs, plus a generously sized skein of sashiko thread.

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I have a feeling my bundle was supposed to include needles too, but either I dropped them somewhere at the show or they got forgotten in the purchase kerfuffle, so I had to order some more, which was a bit annoying.  :(  Still, I’m pleased with the designs and looking forward to maybe sitting in the sun and doing some hand-sewing!

As mentioned, I found a stand doing a very good (by UK standards, anyway!) offer on fat quarters.  I did not hold back!

Many of these were bought with a quilt already in mind, so I don’t feel too bad about them finding their way into the house.  :)  And I picked up plenty of yellows after discovering that it’s a really under-represented colour in my stash.

I also bought a few fabrics from other stands as well:

The Marvel superhero fabric will hopefully be the backing for a quilt for my cousin’s first baby, due in May.  Also, I clearly cannot stay away from Moda’s Modern Backgrounds – I couldn’t pass up getting a couple of half-meter chunks.  I’m just a sucker for equations on quilting fabric!  Then some random fat quarters – I really liked the leaves in two different colourways and I love a good blue.

That was about it for fabric purchases, the only(!) other things I bought were some thread and a(nother!) FMQ foot for the Pfaff – the dynamic 6D spring foot – after thoroughly quizzing the staff on the stand to make sure that it would work on the QE 4.2.

They agreed that it would be fine and indeed they were right; it’s the foot I used to quilt Poppy’s Flower Garden and it seemed to work well, even though I threw silly things like fleece at it.  On the right are some #8 pearl cottons, which I’ve wanted to play with for a while, and which have already been pressed into service, a random grab-bag of shininess from Oliver Twists that I just couldn’t resist and that does potentially have a project to go with if I ever manage to start it, and some Aurifil that I picked out for my sister’s wedding quilt, which is finally basted and ready to go under the needle.

Local Finds

First up, the most important thing – fabric for my latest commission, bought from Calico Kate in Lampeter:

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The solid is Moda Bella in Royal Blue, and the prints are from Artisan Spirit’s Shimmer range, which I adore.  The brief was for a royal blue/emerald green bed quilt and the  design will be diamonds, which will hopefully look like they’re floating against the solid royal blue.  It was a bit tricky to sort out designs and fabric choices with the client because she doesn’t live near me and she has no internet access, so I had to take photos and send them to a family member to show to her!  But these are the prints she particularly earmarked and they go beautifully together.  I wanted to try and get more green into the top in the sashing between the diamonds or by adding another print, but unfortunately every green we tried fought hard against the other fabrics.  However, the Artisan Spirit range also has extra-wide fabric in a really great emerald green that I’ll put on the back, and I may bind it with green, too.

While hunting down the above, these somehow fell into my basket and followed me home:

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Shot cottons!  I think these are from Rowan, although I’m not 100% sure.  I have two FQs each of the red/green, blue/orange, pink/silver and blue/gold, and just one each of the blue/silver and light blue.  I’d like to find a project that will really show off the stripey-ness and shimmer of these fabrics, they’re very lush.  Fortunately, they also go really well with a bundle of “plain” shot cottons I bought a little while ago, so I’ll probably combine them to make a decent-sized quilt.  I think shot cottons are becoming my answer to the fact that I like the concept of a quilt with solids but the range of solids actually available to me (without having to order online) is horribly limited.

Lastly, I mentioned Liberty, didn’t I?  And I haven’t shown off any Liberty yet, have I?  Well now!  Look what I found hiding out at Wheeler Fabrics in Machynlleth!

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They’re got a small collection of luvverly Liberty prints in at the moment for a great price, mostly on the bolt but some as fat quarters.  I’m afraid I have no idea what any of the prints are called, I just picked out the ones that really “spoke” to me.  I love the sketchy look of this print and when I realised I was cherry-picking FQs of it out of the box, I figured it would make much more sense to just buy a big bit, so this ready-cut bit is ~1.5m.

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So is this bit.  With so many colours, it goes with lots of other prints really well.  I’m sure I’ve seen it before online somewhere and I loved it, I just didn’t expect to find any practically on my doorstep!

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I thought this print was a batik at first, it’s got that kind of organic look that demands a second glance.  It’s rather darker IRL, but at least this picture shows the print on it.  I bought half a meter.

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Same print, different colourways.  Half a meter of each.

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And likewise here!  A half-meter each of these.  I love the bright version of this print, but there wasn’t much else among the bolts that teamed up well with it, other than the pixelly effort above.  Still, it demanded to come home with me!

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And these are three random fat quarters that just caught my eye.  (Well, that purple would catch anyone’s eye, lol!)  No real plans for these yet.  I know they don’t go together, or with the other prints.  That’s fine, they’re not expected to.  :)

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Finally there’s this.  I didn’t buy this bit!  I found it loitering in a pile in my hopelessly chaotic craft room, so I suspect it’s from mum’s fabric stash.  It looks sorta-kinda a bit like a Liberty print but there’s no way to tell.  It has a similar feel and weight to the Liberty prints I just bought and I think I can persuade it to get along with that punchy floral print, so they may end up in a project together.  :)

So, that’s my recent haul, give or take a bit.  And now I really ought to get back to work so I can justify all this wicked spending I’ve been doing!  *pulls self away from the Liberty Craft Blog*

And I’ll link up with Sunday Monday Stash over with Molli Sparkles, just ‘cos I can.  😉

The Bumper Post of Finished Things

Usually I try and spread things out a bit into dedicated posts, but recently there’s been a fair amount of busy creating and not a vast amount of posting, so things have kind of snowballed.  But in a good “yay things are finished” way, so that’s ok.

Baby Round The World

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This is the finished quilt I posted about here.  Not much to add other than binding, it was an easy finish.  The only bit of drama was this:

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Yep, that feeling when you cut all possible strips from your binding fabric and it still came up too short!  Uff!  Luckily, I had ends left over from the top, so I added in just a small piece of bubbly circles to fill the gap – job done.  No, no pictures of the fill-in bit – I completely forgot.

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It’s done!

It was an absolute pig to get together – it nearly killed me *and* my poor sewing machine!  I’m fairly happy with it, however, and I’m still in complete love with the RK Shimmer 2 line, so that’s good too!  But I’m going to need some time to forget how frustrating it was before I try making another one for me.

Poppy’s Flower Garden

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It’s good to finally get this one done and handed over, I’ve had it on the back burner for too long.  It’s for a friend’s little girl; by chance, they happened to be visiting our area this weekend and little Poppy’s third birthday was just a few days ago, so the timing couldn’t be better.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t made any progress on it since I last mentioned it way back in August!  After a hasty purchase of wadding (I wonder when I’ll finally cave and just buy a bolt?) and some frantic riffling through the stash for a backing (hello fleece!), I quilted up the top sans flower shapes with a FMQ flowers ‘n’ leaves ‘n’ stippling motif:

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My hot pink variegated YLI thread was perfect for this project!  Quilting on the fleece was a challenge because it’s so stretchy – it was hard to stop the quilt from puckering or distorting, I probably needed some stabilising straight stitching first before I started on the FMQ, but once the whole thing was done it looked alright.  It’s interesting how much more obvious the quilting looks on the fleece side!  After the quilting was done, I arranged all my petal shapes (once I’d finished folding the last ones), pinned them approximately in position and then used machine blanket stitch to fix them in place.

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The flower centres were cut from some off-cuts from a strip roll and appliqued on with a zig-zag stitch.

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The binding is yet more left-overs from a strip roll – you might recognise the prints from the Round The World quilt above!  It goes with the front and the back, which makes me really happy, and the recipient seemed really pleased with it, so job’s a good ‘un!  It’s always nice to get something off the UFO pile.

Linking up with Free Motion Mavericks,  Oh Scrap! and Monday Making.  :)

Wrestling the Weekender

Wow.  People were not joking about this bag being a challenge to put together and I haven’t even got to the point of trying to attach zips (still waiting for them to arrive) or assemble the whole bag yet (because see above).  Heck, just buying the materials has been a challenge – trying to figure out how many meters of 44″ wide fabric is equivalent to umpty yards of 54″ wide fabric on the fly is not easy!  So I rather over-bought on canvas and lining fabric.  Whoops.  At least I can always find a use for lots of solid dark-blue quilting cotton.

As mentioned previously, I used a quilt-as-you-go method for the outer body of the bag and I’m really pleased with how that worked out.

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The Shimmer 2 prints are so cool!  I kept the lighter ones for the main and top panels and used the darker ones for the pocket panels:

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I love the texture of them!

To save on “pretty” fabric on the main panels, I only used the Shimmer 2 prints down to about 1-1/2″ below the top of the where the pocket panel would start, then I covered the whole bottom area with my chosen lining/piping/handles fabric, which is a plain dark blue.  For the same reason, I also chose to use the lining fabric on the bottom panel, and this is the only place that I decided to use the iron-on vinyl.

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After some thought, I applied the vinyl to the unquilted fabric and then quilted it onto the canvas/wadding.  I think it’s more likely to stay put this way and it’ll provide good protection where it’s most needed.

Now that everything’s starting to come together, I’m really happy with the colours:

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Looks quite smart!  However, I’m rather less pleased that my machine started skipping stitches when I attached the pocket and piping to the main panels.

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That’s really bad!  Not sure what it’s down to – most of the stitching is ok, but it struggles and skips most over areas of extra bulk, like seams and the handles.  It could be because I was using a piping foot for this and thus couldn’t use the Pfaff IDT system (built-in walking foot). Or possibly I need to switch up a needle size.  Might be a speed issue, but I don’t think so – it seems to happen whether I go super-slow or not.  Anyway, it’s something I need to sort out or the whole bag might come unraveled at a crucial moment!  Also, I don’t like piping.  Not even with a piping foot!  *grumble*  (Except that it looks really good on a finished item, of course.)

This is about as far as I can get with the bag now until the zips and bag feet show up.  All the lining is cut out and interfaced (because I’m using patchwork-weight fabric) and I’ve added one pocket to one of the inner panels already:

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This was a bit of a “happy accident” – I accidentally cut out the pocket panel linings too short at first and didn’t realise until I was trying to interface it.  There would have been swearing, but then I realised that the two miscuts were perfect for making an inner pocket instead.  Yay!  The other panel is waiting for a zip for a zipper pocket.

If I don’t completely lose my rag making this bag for my sister, I have all the canvas panels ready-cut to make a second one for myself.  It all depends on how the final assembly goes!  But for now, I get to have a bit of a break while I wait for the rest of the bits to show up, and I’m off to a sewing show at the NEC tomorrow with my friends from Quilt Club.  I’ll try not to spend too much!  😉

Linking up with Let’s Bee Social and Needle and Thread Thursday!  :)

Mothering Sunday Gifts

Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK, so I made a couple of gifts for mum that I hoped she’d like.

First up is a purse.  My first go at making a purse for mum didn’t go all that well.  However, I thought I could see how to fix what had gone awry, so I took a seam ripper to the failed attempt and rescued the zipped pockets, card pockets and magnetic snaps (important because I didn’t have any more suitable zips and no time to get replacements!).  The first thing I did was to trim down the card pockets so that the total depth was much less, making the purse a bit more elegant.  I also took about 1/4” off each side (after checking the width with a card), since I wasn’t planning to turn through and therefore didn’t need to allow for the seam bulk.

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I re-did the lining and the outer cover (fortunately, the new fabric I chose for the outer goes really well with the red lining fabric!):

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I used some much firmer interfacing for the outer cover (maybe a little too firm, but it’s come out ok) and a medium-firm interfacing for the lining.  The whole thing holds its shape really well now.

I was really pleased with the exterior zipped pocket I’d added to the previous version, but wasn’t fussed about the contrast strip, so I just added the outer pocket without any extra decoration:

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Luckily again, the gold-coloured zips go well with the new fabric I bought!  Because of the reduced depth of the purse, I made the outer pocket shallower as well, but it’s still pretty roomy.

The interior pockets are much the same as before, but they sit much better now that they’re not all twisted out of shape!

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Still plenty of room, hopefully!

To finish it off, I made some bias binding from left-over lining fabric (not a wholly enjoyable task, I have to say) and, after basting the layers together, added the binding all the way around the purse.  Machine binding is, alas, something I’m still not terribly good at.  Something to work on, definitely.

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The next thing I made wasn’t really planned at all, it just kind of… happened!  I had a whole bunch of 1-1/2” squares in yellow, cream and purple left over from a couple of different projects and I had my postage stamp template out because I’d just been using it for something else, so I started to arrange the squares on it with the purple in one corner, the yellow in the opposite corner and the cream between:

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It must have been fated to work, since I only needed to cut two extra squares to make a full 10×10 layout!  Once I’d made the postage stamp patch, it told me it wanted to become a cushion, so I rootled out some more of the cream fabric from the scrap box, added borders to bring it up to a sensible size (16” square), and quilted it with simple diagonal lines.  To add a bit of a twist, the quilting is partly yellow and partly purple, to match the respective corners:

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This is an effect I’m really happy with.  Some simple quilted lines around the border to frame it, and a nice envelope back from some more scrap-box fabric and my surprise cushion cover was finished!

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Mum seemed pleased with her presents, so that was a relief!  :)  It is quite a challenge crafting for someone you share a house with and who doesn’t really understand the concept of privacy…

Linking up with Oh Scrap! and Monday Making (when it’s live).  :)

How Not to Make a Purse

Mother’s Day is looming on the horizon and I know mum could do with a new purse and phone case.  After my recent experiments with iron-on vinyl, I thought this would be a good practical application of it.  I apologise for a lack of progress shots here; I was mostly fumbling my way through this one and forgot about my camera in the general stew of trying to figure out what the crap I was doing at any given moment.

After some rummaging around on the interwebs, I found a couple of tutorials (well, one that referenced another) that looked as though they might result in something mum would like using.  However, neither is particularly clearly written, and during the later stages I ran into some definite issues, which were almost certainly made worse by my modifications to the general design but I think they would have caused problems anyway.

The tutorials I loosely followed are here and here.  The initial stages of creating the card pockets and adding interfacing and vinyl to the outer layer went pretty smoothly, once I’d made a decision to convert all measurements (mostly) to inches – don’t get me wrong, I love me an SI unit, but not when all my quilting rulers are in imperial!  However, I could only get hold of some mid-weight woven iron-on interfacing at the local shop, and I don’t think it has the firmness I was looking for.  It’s odd stuff, I think it could be good for some things but it doesn’t work well here, unfortunately.  I reckon even fusible wadding might have been a better bet.

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I liked the idea of adding a flap, but didn’t like the idea of using a hairband, so I decided to use a flap plus a magnetic snap (which I installed the wrong way around because I can be quite daft at times).  Initially I wasn’t going to bother with the patchy strip on the outside, but then decided that the outside really needed another pocket and realised that it was also going to be too short for a decent flap if I didn’t, so I used an unpieced strip of a contrasting fabric and added in a small lined pocket.  That’s a bit I’m pretty pleased with, actually.  The zip isn’t quite a concealed zip (I think it’s the wrong kind for that), but I’m quite happy with how the whole thing worked in the end.

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I also didn’t like that the original tutorial didn’t bother to line the interior zipped pocket, so I arranged for a proper lining for mine, to match the lining of the purse and the outer zipped pocket.

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Again, I’m pretty pleased with how that came out as a general concept.  You could stash a LOT of loose change in there!  And I added in an extra separator flap behind the other set of card pockets to act as a divider between… whatever, really.  Notes and receipts, perhaps?

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So, what went wrong?

Well, part of the problem is the depth that I left the card pockets at.  I used a WOF strip cut it in half to make the two card holder strips, and measured the pockets (in cm) from one end as described in the tutorial because for this it didn’t much matter whether I used inches or cm as long as the pocket width matched the purse width.  There was only a slight excess of fabric after all the pockets had been marked and folded, which I trimmed back to meet the shorter end, but the overall depth of the card pocket sections still seemed pretty deep – too deep, really.

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I could probably have trimmed them back about 1″ and they would have been fine.  I guess the original tutorial didn’t do this because they added a magnetic snap in that excess fabric?  Maybe?

Anyway, that depth makes this “purse” begin to look more like a mini handbag – it’s giant!  And even with the extra strip added to the outer cover, the outer still came up looking a bit short.  So, not awesome.  And that’s before I tried to make a pointed flap which didn’t really come out as I wanted because there wasn’t really enough fabric.  The whole thing also feels really floppy, even with the vinyl on the outer cover.  It really, really needs a firmer interfacing.

Lastly, there’s the way the outer, lining and pockets are joined together.  In the tutorial, the pockets are basted to the liner, then the liner+pockets and the outer are placed right sides together and a seam is sewn around the edges with a gap for turning through.  The whole thing is then turned through, pressed and topstitched to close the gap and give that all-important finished look and feel (the original tutorial only topstitches the turn-through gap, but my feeling is that the whole purse needs it, really).  Fine… but.  The folds of the card-holder pockets generate a LOT of bulk even when there’s only one layer, with no outer/liner and no zip to contend with.

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Sewing a seam and then turning through creates a double thickness of an already chunky thickness of fabric; even the Pfaff threw up its hands in despair and disgust when asked to topstitch through that lot, and I don’t blame it!  And the topstitching failure has made a right mess of the vinyl, too.

Lastly, turning vinyl-covered fabric through a small gap creates some really ugly creasing that’s just not something you’d want to show off to anyone.  Bleh.  Also, yuck.  Do not do this.

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A much better method (and one I might have used if I’d bothered to engage brain) would be to place the outer and liner wrong sides together after basting the pockets to the lining and go around them with some bias binding in a complementary colour; you would avoid massive excesses of seam bulk and zips and the finish on the outer layer would not end up creased to hell and back.  This would also avoid the distortion of the lining and interior pockets caused partly by the big fat chunky seams.

In short, I’ve wasted a good day’s sewing and some nice materials to discover that this is definitely not a good way to make a purse!  But it has been educational, and learning something new is rarely a bad thing.  Or so I’m telling myself!  :p  I think it may still be possible to salvage something from this mess (I would be sorry to lose all my efforts on the card holders and zipped pockets), and I still need a Mother’s Day gift for Sunday, so I will be unpicking some of this to reuse in a more effective item.  More to come soon, I hope!

Linking up with Needle ‘n’ Thread Thursday.  :)

Mug Rugs – Using Iron-On Vinyl

I love a good experiment!  I’m planning to make some items that I might want to use iron-on vinyl for, so I decided to order some and have a play with it to see what it can (and can’t) do.

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I wanted to test how it looks when applied to fabric with a metallic element, and I wanted to see if it could be successfully applied over already-quilted fabric.  Enter my test subjects, four 4″ quarter-square triangle blocks (which were themselves a test to see if I could make big enough QST units from 5″ charm squares for a different project – the answer was no!).

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I grabbed four more suitable charm squares for the backs and some scrap wadding, then quilted my four little quilt sandwiches with some simple straight-line quilting:

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Next, the vinyl!  It’s easy to cut – there are helpful guidelines on the paper backing.  The “sticky side” I found to be not actually that sticky, though that’s probably a good thing.  If it were really sticky, it would be more likely to stick irredeemably to itself or be harder to apply to the fabric without annoying bubbles. The instructions tell you to place the peeled-off protective paper onto the vinyl to protect it during pressing, although you might also need a couple of bits of ordinary printer paper to protect your iron and ironing board from little bits of plastic poking out from the edges, which you will get unless you’re some kind of ninja-genius with a pair of scissors and are only dealing with regular shapes.

It appears to work ok on quilted fabric, although a fair bit of pressure is needed to seal it really well into the quilted grooves.  The metallic red fabric looks better than I feared it would, though it has lost a bit of the sparkle effect.  I think that’s the effect of making the whole thing shiny – it “flattens” the shine that was already there.  Claims of durability were somewhat undermined by me scoring the vinyl quite easily with my thumbnail, although it was warm from the iron at the time.  When the vinyl had cooled, it did seem more resistant to scratches, though I don’t think I would choose to use it for anything that would experience serious abrasion.  I’m also not sure how much flexing it would handle without coming unstuck.

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Here are the four mug rugs all finished and bound, with vinyl on both sides of each mat.  I am not quite sure that I am completely sold on how it looks over the top of quilting, but it worked a lot better than I feared it might.  I am not completely sure whether I will use it for the project I’m planning, but I think I will definitely use it for other things, such as more coasters or place mats.  I like the idea of them being more easily wipe-able.  And at least now I have a set of unique coasters for my cups of tea in my craft room – I can almost hear my cutting mats breathing sighs of relief!

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And what’s the project that may or may not see the use of iron-on vinyl, you might ask?  Well…

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Oh yes!  I’ve seen a few examples of Amy Butler’s (in)famous Weekender bag around the place, I really like the look of it, and my sister needs a birthday present next month and her old overnight bag has died a death (heck, I don’t technically need one but I kind of want one for me, too).  My plan is to get hold of the firmest, sturdiest canvas I can find and then borrow Elizabeth Hartman’s quilt-as-you-go method, and I have spent some time tracking down helpful blog and forum posts to help me piece this beastie.  If my sister is very lucky, I may well use my RK Shimmer 2 bundle for her one!  I’m considering using the iron-on vinyl over the top of the quilted outer pocket panels and the underside of the bag to add a bit of protection and waterproofing (the rest will be fine with a good coating of scotchgard, I think), though I’m a little wary of how it will perform over a larger quilted area.  The pattern only arrived today, earlier than I feared it would, so I have a good amount of time to make it before my sister’s birthday in the middle of March.  Yay!

Linking up with Let’s Bee Social and Needle ‘n’ Thread Thursday!  :)

Lovely Bubbly!

After my shameful confessions of fabric hoarding recently, some good news on the other side of the coin – some stash-busting projects!  My craft-swap gifts and the baby quilt below have come entirely from stash (other than the batting for the baby quilt – I even made Franken-batting for the Crane hanging and cushion).  This makes me feel very much better about my fabric spending!  :)

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This unpromising pile of 2.5″ strips became scrappy “Round the World” blocks (tutorial over at Quiltville).  It’s a fun, fast way to assemble blocks, it’s strip-roll friendly and I can see it being a very handy pattern for those occasions when I need a quilt, STAT!  (Like now, when the recipient of this quilt is due this month.)  For my version, I used three different strip rolls I had kicking around – all of one, about half of a second and a handful from a third.  Thankfully, it’s quite forgiving as regards to combinations of colour and prints.  I really hope that the baby’s a girl and that her mum doesn’t mind bright colours!

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After pressing the blocks, I skiffled them around a bit to try a chevron layout (I didn’t like it) and then settled on a diamond layout that I quite liked.  Luckily, I still had a nice piece of the chevron fabric I used on the back of this quilt and to my delight it was just big enough for this project.  The chevron colours work well with the colours in the quilt top.

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I quilted the top with concentric diamonds in variegated turquoise thread in the needle and variegated pastel thread in the bobbin.  Now all it needs is binding and it’s done.  :)

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Cosmic Quilt Inspiration

I love the idea of space travel.  Love it.  Along with many others, I watched breathlessly in December as Major Tim Peake and his co-astronauts launched from Kazakhstan on their way to the ISS, and cheered when they finally docked safely.  It’s fair to say that Britain’s gone a bit space nuts since then, and I heartily approve!  Well travelled though I am, blasting into space is the kind of trip that I personally am extremely unlikely to ever take (my feeble attempts to play Kerbal Space Program don’t quite count!), but I can dream!  And to aid in such dreams, NASA/JPL have just released 14 fabulous Space Tourism posters that are free to download and print:

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Gloriously retro-futuristic, bold designs – what’s not to love?  😀  My favourites are the Grand Tour and Mars posters, and I could quite easily find myself wanting to do a quilt inspired by any one of these posters.  Check ’em out!

Quilting the Christmas Tree

Yesterday was quilt club and I had no idea what I wanted to work on, so I grabbed a miscellaneous selection of projects to take with me, including the Christmas tree advent calendar I’ve been working on.

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I couldn’t find the fabric I’d originally decided to use for the back, so I grabbed the next best thing, a dark snowflake-y print with a bit of a shimmer about it, bought yonks ago from Abakhan:

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I’m sure I meant to do something else with this, but it hasn’t happened yet, so at least it’s being used for something!

I also grabbed the last chunk of the hugely fluffy and frankly not very nice polyester wadding that I bought literally years ago from Galeria-Kaufhof in Germany before I knew what I was doing – it was just about big enough for this project, and I will be very glad to see the last of it!

The pockets will be added once I’m happy (ha!) with the quilting:

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I trimmed down the background around the tree so that it would fit on the wadding, which also meant that it fitted very nicely lengthwise across the width of the gold snowflake backing, then pinned the layers together.  It was a bit of a challenge, I’m not used to pinning anything so fluffy!

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For the quilting, I’d already decided that I would start by doing FMQ around each shape, following the lines of zig-zag stitch and using the same colour of thread, but because of the bouncy wadding it took me some fiddling to figure out what settings to use to quilt it without skipped stitches and/or broken thread and/or broken needles (yes, plural).  There may have been some swearing!  Eventually I caught the trick of it and quilted around all of the tree shapes.

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Because of the maddeningly fluffy wadding, the tree clearly needed more quilting to tame it a bit.  Smelling a challenge, I dug out a reel of green metallic Wonderfil (I bought it with this project in mind, after all), switched out my needle and started quilting random curvy zig-zags similar to the shapes of the tree bits.  It took a bit more fiddling with settings to get it to work, but the process was not nearly as painful as I expected.  (And the thread behaved itself and refrained from embracing inappropriate bits of sewing machine!)  About half of the tree has now been quilted like this and it’s helped a lot:

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(Yep, there are a lot of thread-ends to bury!  Oh, the joys of frequently breaking thread!)  I may well quilt some garlands with red or gold metallic thread as well, to make it really sparkly.  And try to ignore the fact that quite a bit of this will be invisible once I attach the pockets!  (In certain areas, this will in fact be a bonus…)

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The quilting on the back looks pretty cool, actually.  It’s not entirely without wrinkles, alas, but I’ve decided that I am not worrying about that in this instance.  :p

Once I’m done on the tree, I plan to quilt the background quite heavily (probably with a cream thread, I don’t know that my sanity could cope with more metallic) to squish it down and allow the tree to stand out a bit.

Linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!  :)

A Shimmer and a Sparkle

I have been a bad, bad girl.

2016 is the year of adding to the stash, right?!  :p  Help me out here, Molli!  In my defence, I bought some of this before Christmas and the rest before I noticed all those stash pledges and manifestos popping up.  I’m sure I will buy more fabric this year, but from now on I’m going to try and make sure it’s (mostly!) just what I actually need to complete current projects!

Pre-Christmas Purchases

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This wasn’t what made me click through from the Craftsy email, but the moment I saw it I knew beyond all doubt that I needed – NEEDED! – to own this bundle of Van Gogh inspired fat quarters from Robert Kaufman.  And the fact that they were all gone when I checked last week has only confirmed how right I was to buy them when I saw them!  No definite plan for them as yet; I would like a pattern that will show off the swirls of texture and colour, possibly something with hexagons or equilateral triangles?  Still pondering.

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Moda Modern Backgrounds in Ink – assorted background prints in greys and blacks were something that I didn’t really have in my stash, and some of these have chemical structures on!  ALL the love!  😀 For the same reason, I couldn’t resist a 4-yard cut of one of the prints in Paper:

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Fabric plus chemistry = <3  😀  (Even if it is organic chemistry – I can’t quite shake the notion that Moda rummaged through my Year 2 Uni notes when creating this print!)

January Purchases

…and then I got really carried away!  I’m going to blame the 365 Challenge – such a neat idea, but I simply didn’t have enough fabric (within a given colour range/style) to make it.  (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)  I’m probably going to use some of the Moda above, but when I checked the yardage I decided that I didn’t have enough, so I went rummaging for things that would (hopefully) work with the pattern – and be things that I would want around if I don’t jump in after all.

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A bundle of Shimmer 2 from Robert Kaufman was an early entry (the first Shimmer range skated right by me and by the time I noticed it and wanted some, it had disappeared off the face of the planet), but then I couldn’t decide between that and RK’s Sparkle range so, umm…

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…yeah.  One bundle of cool Sparkle and one of warm Sparkle, thank you very much!  In fairness, I love a bit of glitz and glamour and these are such glorious fabrics that I’m not worried about not using them!

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For more neutral goodness, this bundle of Blueberry Park by Robert Kaufman also fell into the basket.  I love the very graphic designs and they should go with the Shimmer and Sparkle ranges beautifully.  Again, I have the 365 Challenge in mind for (some of) these; we’ll see how it goes.

Last but not least:

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Oh yes!

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I have been very very curious about the Cotton+Steel prints but they simply don’t seem to be available locally, so when I saw then on Craftsy for a steal (ha!) of a price, they had to be mine.  There’s plenty of colours in here that I’m limited on, so it’s a good addition to the collection.  :)  I’m hoping they will be fabulous for baby quilts, since I seem to need a never-ending supply of those!

So I have been completely profligate and irresponsible – until I remind myself that, even with postage and tax, these all work out collectively to cheaper (approx. £9-10 a meter on average) than I would likely pay for them here, assuming I could even find them.  So… win?