Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Little Blue Lunch Bag

Behold! My new little lunch bag.

At our last meeting of GHS&S, our project for the day was to make this bag. We had been given a requirement list some weeks prior, but typical me left everything until the last minute. So much so, that I had nothing ready to take to the meeting. I had promised another lady that I would help her sort through some fabrics, so that would take up some time. I also quickly packed some tracing paper, pens, pencils, rulers, my sewing box, and a photo for inspiration. If all else failed, I could do some pattern-making ready for another project I wanted to do.

As it turned out, our meeting took much longer than normal, with lots of things being discussed, leaving less time to work on our projects. There was also a visit by a lady with not one, but numerous large bags of donated fabric. Well, there went the remainder of the morning. There were tables and tables full of fabric, ready to be sorted & gone through, with ideas flowing as to what we could do with it all. We were told we could take what we wanted. I came home with a small pile that would not have made a dent in what we had to choose from, most of it furnishing fabric.

My new little lunch bag has been made from some of that donated fabric. The pattern called for 100% cotton fabric, and the finished sample looked like quilting fabrics. It also called for firm batting or fuseable interfacing. I chose the light blue as my base for my bag as it was a furnishing fabric that had weight to it.  I figured it needed no interfacing or batting to help hold the shape, especially with all the folding and double layering that goes on in the making. The dark blue that I used for the straps and the lining is much lighter in weight. I chose not to interface this as I thought the light blue would be enough to hold it firm.

In hindsight, now I have made this bag once, quilting cotton would be ideal. The light blue furnishing fabric that I used was a little thick with all the double layering. It's great for the support, but in stitching across those base corners there were 8 layers of it. The machine could handle it without a problem, it was probably more the fact that I had turned it through to see how it looked before stitching the corners, and did  not want to turn it back. The outer fabric being stiffish made it hard to turn through the little opening.

The dark blue fabric is a dress weight polyester, good for making skirts and pants. In hindsight, it could have used a light weight fuseable interfacing to give it a little support. The furnishing fabric on the outside only provides support part way up the sides, and the handles only partially help the top section.

The bag is a cute little one. I think it has been designed as a handbag. There are pockets all around the outside supposedly suitable for keys, mobile phones, sunglasses etc. I personally like my possessions behind closures so they don't accidentally get lost. I also like closures at the top of my handbags for the same reason.

This is the first time I have made this pattern, and now I know how it goes together I may make a few little quirky changes. In the meantime, this cute little blue one can become a lunch bag for my Guild days. It can easily fit a sandwich box or salad bowl, a water bottle, coffee mug, and piece of fruit.

Now for those of you that have read this far, I know it has been a long time between drinks, but rest assured I have been stitching every day. My current project is certainly of the slow cloth variety

Friday, June 07, 2013

Lefkara Lace Table Mat

Back in September last year I had the absolute pleasure of participating in a workshop by Christine P. Bishop. The workshop was on Lefkara lace, something that really got my toes curling and made me weak at the knees. The workshop notes stipulated fabric, fabric size, thread, and even colour. Being the good little student that I am, I complied with the tutors wishes.

Behold my finished piece! It may be similar to the tutor's, but I have changed and added a few things to make it my own.

The piece we were supposed to do only included the end border, on one end only. On the day of the workshop I had already decided that I would do it at both ends. Then as I worked the design, I thought I would put the design all the way around the edge.
So I started counting and thread lining, only to find the design wouldn't fit along the length of the piece of fabric. I was only about 20 threads short. Bugger! So disappointing! If only I hadn't cut the piece of linen to the specified size! Oh well, I just had to re-think.

So re-think I did, and I took only part of the original design and repeated it all along the longer side. Personally I think it worked out OK.

The next thing I did was to change the hem. The instructions said to buttonhole over 3 threads. Everything else in the design was over three threads, so of course the hem was too. From a counting and design point of view I could understand it, but I was thinking of strength and changed it to stitch over four threads. I did little samples on the edges of my fabric to test it out. It looked OK, and I couldn't see how it would effect the needle lace on the edge. So my hem is stitched over four threads.

Then I changed the needle lace at the edge. The original design only had the needle lace along one end, and I wanted it all the way around. I also wanted it different, and I had made up my mind to make it different on the day of the workshop. I had plans of doing something more elaborate than what I actually did, but the best laid plans can always be changed! I settled for simple loops with an added picot. It's still different than the tutor's.

The final change came as all the borders were being finished. I felt that the space in the center of the piece was too big and open, and it needed  'something' to balance it all out. I had placed a row of four sided stitch just inside the borders to 'hold' them together, so I just repeated another row of four sided stitch a little further in, which I think has worked beautifully.

So my Lefkara table mat is finished. Would I do another piece? Maybe one day. I still have the other end of the piece of linen left from this piece. Watch this space!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Knitted Family Heirloom

Behold, my greatest knitting achievement! Made as a gift, now given, and can now be shown off!

Back in October 2012, I received a phone call from a family member telling me that a new little person was arriving in May of this year. Wow! Excellent news! Of course, being the textile person that I am, my mind instantly started ticking over as to what I could make. But I needed inspiration, and  asked the new Mum-To-Be what she would like. "Mmmmm..........anything."  What colour? "Mmmmm...........whatever you feel." Well, that left me an open book, but I still needed inspiration. At the time I was packing to go on holidays, leaving the next day, and I had no time to think.

Thinking time came the next day in the car, I was passenger so I could let my mind wander. I could make a daisy wheel shawl, the ones that my Mum made for all the little babies of my generation. Maybe not, little fingers used to get caught easily. A patchwork quilt? I had made one of those for another family member some years ago, and then I remembered that another prominent family member on the other side also did those. I could look through some books, but they were all at home and I was in the car, not returning back for another two weeks! Decisions, decisions!

Then I remembered that the little town we were going to had a fabulous patchwork shop, and a lovely haberdashery shop with stunning embroidery threads and knitting yarns. Mmm....... I would just have to pay them both a visit to get some inspiration. Just inspiration mind you! Ha ha....... we all know what it is like when we get into shops like that! I have been in both these shops on many occasions and have never walked out empty handed!

We traveled on a Saturday, arriving too late in the afternoon to go looking, the lovely shops were closed by the time we arrived. Bugger, I just had to wait until Monday.

So on Monday morning my first port of call was the patchwork shop. I wasn't thinking patchwork quilt, I was thinking patterns, you never knew what they had. But there wasn't anything that said "baby", so then I just had to look at fabrics, how could I not? Remember I still had no idea what I was going to do! Still nothing that jumped out and said "baby", so then I stated looking at colours and picked up a few FQ's that together said "baby". I think I walked out of that shop with enough fabric to make a cot quilt, and that together would make something nice for a new little person. At this time though I still didn't know what that something was.

My next port of call was to the haberdashery shop. It's one of these shops that may not look all that inviting from the outside, but once you step inside and start really looking, there are some amazing treasures to be found. Right by the front door was the wooden stand with all the knitting and crochet patterns which  took me a long while to get past . I found two books with knitted baby shawl patterns, mmm......................... which one. They both had some beautiful patterns inside. After much deliberation, thinking of my ability, and the tastes of the Mother-To-Be, I made a decision, then moved on to yarn and needles. I had needles at home of course, but they were at home and I was elsewhere, and I wanted to start knitting NOW.

So here I was on holidays with enough fabric to make a quilt, and enough yarn to make a shawl. I might add here that I also had other stitching to do, but the shawl took over. The pattern is from the Shepherd Baby Shawls Collection 1, knitted in Shepherd Baby Wool Merino 3 ply. It begins on a set of four needles, then graduates to circular needles. I might add here that in the book the patterns are given a "sheep" rating which I didn't notice until a few days after I bought it. This pattern is given a "4 sheep" rating, in other words the hardest in the book! Well, that didn't surprise me, I usually go for the difficult and most challenging!

The pattern certainly was challenging! I think I un-pulled the start about 10 times before I got it right. I was nearly to the point of giving up and making one of the more easier patterns in the book. But I like a challenge, and never like something getting the better of me. After the rocky start, it was plain sailing for quite a while, until I needed a longer circular needle. I had checked in the haberdashery shop before we came home, they only had an 80cm one, I wanted 100cm. Then I checked my usual haunts at home, still nothing larger than 80cm! This shawl was pictured as a finished item in the book so there must be longer circular needles somewhere! I just had to find them.So then I started hunting on-line. I could find kits & packages that had them included, but they were $$$$$ and I wouldn't use the other items included. I finally rang Morris and Sons, where the girls were extremely helpful, and I had my 100cm circular needle within days. The shawl could grow a bit further, that is until I had to do another row of increases, and the 100cm needle needed to be longer! So another call to Morris and Sons who helped me out of a jam once again.

The needles were Knit Pro brand, which I would highly recommend. They are beautiful to knit with, and come in separate tips and cables which screw together. There are all sizes in the tips, and varying lengths in the cables, and there are also little connectors that connect two or more cables together to make one really long one. With this shawl I ended up with a 120cm, 100cm, and an 80cm cable, and at some point had the 100cm and 120cm cable joined together to take the over 2,000 stitches that were required!

So behold, my greatest knitted creation! A challenge and a half! Would I do another one? Maybe. I am thinking some alterations to this one to make something more adult-ish.

And what of the fabric I bought? Well some of that went into this quilt, and some I still have, with plans of making something else. So watch this space for more baby related goodies, and adult versions of the shawl above.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pooh Bear & Friends

There is nothing like a new baby arriving in the family to spur on some sewing. This little quilt was made for a little one born yesterday, & congratulations must go out to S.... & H....... on the birth of their son.

I have only met the mother of this child a few times, & don't really know too much of her background. But every new child born into this world deserves something special, so I decided to make a quick & simple quilt, something that could be loved & cuddled into for many years to come.

To make it quick, I was on the lookout for a printed panel that I could just quilt, rather than taking lots of time in cutting & piecing, let alone applique or digitizing. After many visits to the local fabric stores, I found this piece of Disney print featuring Pooh Bear & his friends. Perfect! I could just layer it with some batting & backing, quilt it, then bind it & wallah! Done! Well, so I thought.

When I bought the fabric, my first thought about the quilting was to do it in straight lines, between the rows of patterned squares & circles. But when I had it layered on the table ready to pin, it started to talk to me. It must have been the angle I was looking at it, all layered on the table,  that made me notice the diagonal lines. The little patterns are all printed in either a circle or a square, and if we look at them straight, they alternate, one circle, one square. It is only when we look closer that we notice that the alternating patterns produce diagonal lines of all square or all circles. Mmmmmm......... maybe I could quilt it with diagonal lines. No, that would go through the printed patterns & spoil them. So my mind when one step further, making a line going around the outline of half a square, then a short diagonal line to the next square, then around the outline  of half of the next square. Much better!

After making this decision, I thought I would be able to continue each row with only going around half the square. It would certainly be enough machining to hold the layers together for washing. But something wasn't right, it looked incomplete. So then I decided to make a second row, still linking the squares together in a diagonal line, but this time going around the other half of each square.

 It took me a long time, longer than I thought, with each diagonal row of pattern requiring two rows of quilting. I am so glad I quilted it like this. It not only made an interesting pattern of stitching on the back, it made all the little designs pop out of their background on the front.

Lesson learned, take note of the design and explore all options for quilting to achieve the best results.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

My New Book

Yesterday I had a fabulous day. A group of five of us from our local sewing group went on a day out to Crowle Home in Meadowbank. It was my first time and I was in Heaven! The Emporium and the Fabric Cave are treasure troves for any type of needleworker. Everything from beads, buttons, embroidery threads, needlework kits, bias binding, batting, crochet threads, fabric, books and all kinds of goodies. Everything is donated and at reduced rates, with some fabulous bargains to be had.

I spent a grand total of $25 and brought home lots of goodies. There is enough thread to make my Tenneriffe lace until I die, numerous rolls of cotton tape for name tags for 20c each, a piece of lovely wool fabric to make a jacket, numerous spools of  beautiful variagated machine embroidery thread, brand new, still wrapped in plastic.

Then there is the treasure of all treasures, my book on fabric flower making shown above. As you can see it is very old with the price of  7/6. Australia changed to decimal currency in 1966 so the book is older than that, but there is no date on the book anywhere. Cost of book .......... $2. Bargain! This little gem is staying in my book case forever.

Great day yesterday, thanks ladies!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Flutterby Dreams

Well, what can I say, it's been a while! We might just skip over all the Seasons Greetings stuff (hoping everyone had a good one) as we are way past that now, and just get on with the creativity.

I have been creating, ( those that know me well know that I create something with textiles every day !), I have just been creating things that I couldn't show here for a while. Most of what I am creating at the moment are for the new little people arriving in the family.

This quilt was created for a new little girl that arrived in the family late last year. I knew she was arriving, but it still took me by surprise when I got a phone call to say she was due "next week". That sent me in a spin, what do I do? In the same phone call I was informed of another little person arriving later this year! I might add here that this phone call was the night before I was going on holidays, how could I think? My mind was in a spin. The phone call was from the mother of the baby expected later this year, so at least I could ask her what she wanted. Mmmmm..........anything. What colour? Mmmmm...........whatever you feel. I was after inspiration,  so I had to look elsewhere for that, and I was going on holiday, no time to look through my patterns and books! For the whole trip in the car ( I was passenger) my mind was thinking, I could do this, or that, no, little fingers get caught in the holes, this would be better. What design? My books are at home! Then I remembered about the two creative shops in the little town I was going to. One of these shops is a patchwork shop, selling a great range of fabrics, patterns and general sewing stuff. My kind of store! I would just have to go for a visit to see what inspiration I could pick up there.So visit I did, and came out with a bag full of fabric that said "baby". Then it was onto the other store for more inspiration, but there will be more about that in a later post.

OK, so I had fabric, now to a design. I would worry about that when I got home (or so I thought),. I had other stitching with me to do.

While we were away the message came about L____'s arrival. A little girl! Mmmmm....... I had lots of pink fabric............... and white................ mmmmmm...........enough for a quilt? There were lots of other colours in the bag too but this was a little girl, she needed pink and white. So the paper came out,  the designing started, then the calculations. Mmmmm.......... I would just have to go back to that lovely shop to buy more pink fabric!

The quilt needed to be done as fast as possible, after all, L_______ was already here. So just quick squares were the answer, but it was looking to plain, how to jazz it up to give it some oomph! Some machine embroidery! Butterflies for a little girl! That would be good.......and quick! Well relatively, considering Christmas was around the corner. But it would all have to wait till I got home.

Upon arriving home I set out to see what butterfly designs  I already had , after all it is the digitizing process that takes all the time. I found a few, but only one I thought was anywhere near suitable. The shape was nice, but the heavy stitching wasn't, it needed to be light and delicate. So I set about changing it. I took all the heavy stitching away from the wings and inserted a filling stitch, placed at an angle to give more interest. Then I set about changing all the start and end points of each component of the design. If they are in the wrong place, the stitch out will have nasty looking jump stitches that cause problems. As any digitizer will tell you, this may sound simple but in reality takes time, then it all has to be tested to make sure it works.

The butterfly above is what I came up with.

Once the design was tested, I then had to think about how to execute it to fabric. I could cut out all my squares ready for embroidery, but they wouldn't fit in my embroidery hoop, and would need calico stitched on all four sides to make them fit. Mmmmmm........................time consuming. So then I thought about marking the squares onto the fabric, and  positioning the embroidery design in the hoop to fit within each square before the fabric was cut. Much better, less sewing, less time. So all 33 butterflies were stitched onto the fabric before it was cut.

Once the butterflies were done, the cutting and piecing were quick. Then I just had to think about the quilting and that was a no brainer. I had set the design off center to add more interest, and added the quilting lines to reflect it. Just straight line quilting, nothing fancy, pink thread on pink fabric, white thread on white fabric. Quick and easy, followed by the binding.

The quilt is now being cuddled by it's new owner, hopefully for many years to come.