Thursday, 31 December 2015

Sewing for me: New purse (Part 2)

I did it! Not only did I design my own purse and draw it out, I actually sewed it all together and finished it and it worked! (happy dance).

It was actually finished a few months ago and I've been using it constantly since then so I consider it a success. Its a little wonky, but that's OK; it's functional and that's the most important part.

So now for a deluge of photos during construction.

Purse interior pieces - cut and marked
Purse interior pieces - cut and marked

Interfacing added to reinforce card pockets
Interfacing added to reinforce card pockets

Card pockets folded and sewn, zippered coin section starting to come together
Card pockets folded and sewn,
zippered coin section starting to come together

Purse interior - complete
Purse interior - complete
Purse exterior - cut  and pieced
Purse exterior - cut  and pieced
Purse reinforcing / stabiliser - cardboard cut to size
Purse reinforcing / stabiliser - cardboard cut to size

Purse complete (except for a button closure)
Purse complete (except for a button closure which I haven't photographed)
Ta Da! All done.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

World quilt

This quilt was originally going to be a "Welcome to the world" gift for a colleague's newborn baby several months ago but in my usual style I left it too late to even start the project, let alone finish it in time for her work farewell or the baby's birth. 

Combine my tardiness with a few technical difficulties along the way and  I'm sorry to say that this one is still a work in progress and will almost certainly go to a different cause if when it finally gets finished.

Free quilt pattern
The pattern for this quilt is a freebie from Schwin & Schwin.

Choosing fabrics
The pattern is rather time consuming to print, trace and cut out because even though the continents are rounded out a bit, the coastlines and islands are still pretty intricate and fiddly.

Once I got the pattern printed I left the instructions and went on my own course which was, in hindsight, probably not the most efficient way of doing things. Somehow I found myself tracing the pattern 3 times - on the quilt front to guide placement, on the fabric selected for each continent and finally on to the heat and bond; and then I had to cut it out twice - once from the heat and bond and once from the continent fabric.

Losing the battle with the 'Heat & Bond'
I selected a variety of fairly neutral gender colours from the same fabric line and went with a plain white background.

I must remember if I ever make this quilt again, to trace the pattern on the heat and bond in reverse. It was a bit of a sticky mess but eventually I got it all unstuck and smoothed out enough to place the pieces properly.

Once the pieces were all stuck to the white background it was time to stitch them there. I went for a rough edge applique with straight line stitching close to the edges of the pieces rather than a satin stitch. (Satin stitching would have taken forever, used thousands of metres of thread and I'm not so confident on my ability to keep the stitching neat and consistent around all those twists and turns of the coastlines.)

Quilt sandwich all laid out and pinned - ready to quilt.
After the applique, it was time to make a quilt sandwich with the batting and backing, pin it all together and start quilting.

I had decided to quilt the entirety of the quilt using straight lines about an inch apart and a decorative stitch setting on my machine (a wavy line). The hope was the stitching would be almost invisible on the land parts, but on the water sections would look like waves.

Nice theory, unfortunately it hasn't turned out the way I had imagined it. So far I've done 3 lines across the top of the quilt (the arctic circle) and for some reason I keep getting missed stitches that look really strange and messy. I've unpicked all the stitching several times and re-done, with the same result every time.

And that's pretty much as far as I got... in my frustration at the quilting issues this one got thrown into "time-out" until I have the patience to try and work though it again.

Just working through this post has been useful though. The more I look at the pics, the more I'm thinking I should give up on the decorative wave stitching, change to a contrasting colour thread (maybe an ochre or dark grey) and try longitude and latitude lines instead.

hmmm...  starting to feel inspired again now... sadly I don't really have the time to pull the world quilt out of time-out and finish it - there's other projects that need to be done before we head off in a couple of days on a long overdue holiday... maybe if I have some time when we get back and before I return to work??


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Back into it...quilting again

I know,  I know!  I've been a bad blogger and not posted anything for like six months.... anyway moving on...

So I'm going to do something that i would usually avoid today.  Normally i wouldn't post about making gifts until they had made their way to the intended recipient. In this case that person is my Nanna who is approaching 90 years old and not especially tech savvy (and legally blind as well) so I think I'm pretty safe in sharing it early.

I've spent the last month cutting and sewing and ironing, then sewing some more and ironing more; all with the intention of having a lap quilt finished before we head off on a road trip. Well its done! I made my deadline for once!

It ended up being a bit of a hybrid... its a lap quilt, and its a quillow, and its got a hand warmer/kangaroo pocket at the top. And to top it all off its not got any batting in the middle layer.
It seems my Nan is always cold so a lap quilt should be just the thing to keep her warm while she sits and 'watches' her favourite TV shows.

I wanted the quilt to be warm, but didnt want it to be too bulky so I've gone for a luxurious and warm minky backing, a heavy cotton middle layer and the quilting cotton top. The top and middle cotton layer have been quilted together and then the minky added last so it didnt end up with lots of stitching through it ruining the lush softness of that fabric. There's no quilt batting but it seems to be heavy and warm enough without it.

The kangaroo pocket at the top should help to keep Nans hands warm and stop the quilt falling off her lap at the same time.

A pocket sewn on to the back of the quilt lets it all fold together and store nicely as a pillow when not in use as a quilt.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I hope Nan likes it too and gets lots of use from it.

The finished quilt
Quilt folded into a pillow 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Sewing for me: New purse

My purse has, after many years of good service, come to the end of it's useful life.  The zips are broken,  the card holders are torn and loose; is time for a new one.

Just as when I was making the wallet for the other half, none of the patterns I've looked at are quite right for me so I'm freestyling and designing my own.

Here's what I've come up with so far:
Now to work out the individual pattern pieces and the assembly. Stay tuned.


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Welcome to 2015 & Minecraft Party

The holiday season is over for another year; I hope yours was everything that you wanted it to be and that you're starting 2015 on a positive note.

The last month of the year is always crazy in this house; with a couple of birthdays, the end of the school year and Christmas it can seem a bit frantic and 2014 was no exception. I managed to get 3 weeks off work during this time and made the most of it with equal measures of running around like a headless chook and times where I did absolutely nothing at all - it was wonderful.

Now that I'm getting back to some semblance of normality its time to catch up on  some of the blog-worthy stuff I've been up to over the last two months.

First up was the monster's birthday party.  She had decided on  a sleepover with a few of her friends from school. Because the monster's birthday is after school finishes for the year  I usually send out about double the number of invites than I would for an event at any other time of year  because I know that so many families get out of town as soon as school is finished for the year. But with this year being a sleepover (we've never done a kids sleepover at our place before), I didn't want to risk the possibility of a dozen or more tweens showing up and not having enough space for them all so we deliberately kept it very small. We ended up with 3 of the monster's girlfriends for the party - a very manageable number to feed, entertain and provide mattress/floor space for.

Minecraft Birthday Sleepover Party

The monster had decided on a minecraft theme (is any one else's child as obsessed with minecraft as the monster? Seems shes always either playing it or watching youtube videos about it at the moment).


Of course being a minecraft themed birthday I decided at the last minute to supplement the gifts we had already purchased for the monster with a themed stuffed toy. And so I found myself sewing a creeper the night before the big day. 

In case you are not familiar with what these blocky little bad guys usually look like here's a reference pic.

In putting my creeper together I was reminded yet again of why I should not be crafting in the early hours of the morning after my brain has shut down for the night.

My creeper with the sideways head

You'll note that mine has its head on sideways. I was so annoyed with myself for not noticing this faux pas until I had sewn 3 of the 4 seams on the neck that I almost threw the whole thing in the trash but Jack the (seam) Ripper came to my rescue as usual!

In the end it turned out really well, and has probably been used more than any of the other gifts she received. All's well that ends well!


Entertaining the girls ended up being much easier than I had imagined. The classic, simple activities (including some that I was worried that would be too childish for my tween who would like to think she's all grown up) were huge hits.

Creeper Frisbee
There was lots of screen time and minecraft played, but we also kept the girls entertained outside for ages drawing on the concrete with a big bucket of jumbo chalk and throwing around a minecraft themed frisbee - a cheap green plastic frisbee with creeper stencil in black permanent marker.

Once the mozzies came out it was time to move indoors where the girls played a parent approved version of spin-the-bottle. This was a lot of fun and had the girls in fits of giggles.

The results of playing nail polish spin-the-bottle
The idea is that the players sit in a circle around a ring of nail polish bottles. They each take turns in spinning a bottle in the middle and whichever colour nail polish it lands on they paint a single nail in that colour. The game continues until each player has all 10 fingers painted (or all 10 fingers and all 10 toes in our case). Then of course we need take take photos of the crazy manicures!

After dinner it was time for movies and popcorn - I had set up a TV and DVD player in the spare room and all the girls piled onto the queen size bed in there to watch movies, giggle and chat into the early hours of the morning.

The final activity that I thought I would mention, because I was really unsure about how it would go down with this age group but seemed to be a hit, was colouring-in! I had printed out a heap of minecraft themed colouring pages and left these along with a bunch of pencils and markers in the room where the girls were to watch movies and sleep. I didn't mention them at all, and didn't push the girls to take up the activity but when packing up after the party I noticed that pretty much all of the pages had been used. I honestly thought the monster and her friends would think they were too old for colouring in, but obviously not.


Minecraft cake 
What's a sleepover party without pizza? Rather than ordering pizza to be delivered I home made individual pizza bases (using my favourite 2-ingredient pizza dough) and laid out a selection of toppings, allowing the girls to each add their favourites before putting them into the oven. Because the other half and I were also eating the same meal I also laid out things like baby spinach, feta cheese and fresh basil that the monster would balk at normally if I ever tried putting it on her pizza; I was a little surprised at just how eager a couple of the girls were to have some of the less commercial /traditional toppings on their pizzas as well. The individual pizzas went down a treat with barely a crumb left over.

The monster's (slightly disappointing) minecraft cake
with sparkler candles
In keeping with the theme we had a minecraft cake - A simple vanilla cake with a cream cheese / whipped cream frosting and pieces of red roll-ups. 

Although it looked the part this really wasn't my finest moment as far as baking goes - the cake was really heavy and bland and the frosting was lumpy  :(. But it was cake and had candles so everyone tried at least a small piece before moving on to the left over roll-ups that I had used for decorating.

The monster had asked for pancakes for the morning so I cooked up a big batch for brunch, set up a pancake bar and again let the girls add their all their own toppings. Again I was surprised (and more than a little pleased) at the volume of healthy toppings the girls opted for - almost all of them chose fruit toppings (with squirty cream from a can) rather than the syrup or lemon and sugar.

Pancake bar - pancakes, syrup, lemon juice & sugar, jam, whipped cream,
bananas, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes and watermelon.

All in all the whole sleepover party didn't really take that much effort to throw together and the girls all seemed to have a good time. I know the monster had a ball, and all her friends are great kids so it made it that much easier on us. It's certainly made me more willing to allow occasional sleepovers when the monster starts lobbying to have friends sleep over again.

What did you get up to over the holiday season? Did you throw a birthday/ Christmas / New Years party? Did you manage to get away for a break?