Mum’s Birthday Quilt – A Work In Progress…

In 2 weeks time, it’s Mum’s birthday. And I am making her a quilt. A long-awaited quilt, I might add. And it looks like this…

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Now, Mum really wants a quilt. She started dropping subtle hints about 4 years ago, then over time the hints became increasingly pointed, until finally she got Mad Aunty Jean to call and casually mention Just How Much Mum Would Love A Quilt Made By Me.

But for one reason or another, I just kept on putting it off. I made her a lap quilt to use in her conservatory on chilly winter mornings, and she was over the moon with it. But I know that what she really, really wants is a bed quilt. And that project has been in the pipeline for quite some time…

Mum knows that a quilt will appear at some point. I think she’s secretly hoping it’ll be ready in time for Christmas (she thinks I’m making her a new knitting bag and knitting needle holder for her birthday). But as I shall be going back to the UK to see her for her birthday, I thought it would be a lovely surprise if I could finish it off and take it with me.

Nothing like piling the pressure on myself, eh?!

I kind of started work on it over the summer (well, I got as far as cutting the fabric out), but it wasn’t until quite recently that I actually started sewing. This involved piecing 42 blocks and 3 borders. Phew!

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22 of these blocks in pink and red, and 6 in cream and red…

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… and 14 blocks like this

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working flat out to try and get it finished, and – finally – I’m nearly there. The top is pieced, quilting designs have been marked, and it’s all ready to be basted and quilted. Now all I have to do is get my backside in gear and get started…

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I think I’ll be right up to the wire with this one, so wish me luck!

Linking up with Lee over at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Handy Little Fold-Up Pouch Tutorial

(I originally wrote this tutorial for the 2014 Q3 Finish-Along link-up, hosted by Katy over at The Littlest Thistle)

I’ve had a little fold-up sewing pouch for donkeys’ years, but I’ve rarely used it. I found it hiding away in a drawer in my sewing room a month or two ago, and when I pulled it out, it occurred to me that the reason it was languishing unloved in a drawer was because it wasn’t the right size for what I needed.

So I decided to make my own version that ticked all my boxes.

Initially I thought I’d use it as a take-along pouch for when I wanted to sew some hexies on-the-go, but I soon realised I could also use it as a little clutch for a night out, to hold travel documents and the like – well, you get the idea! I fiddled and faffed with the idea until I found something I was happy with. It fits my travel hexie kit, my iPhone and also my passport.

May I present to you a very handy little fold-up pouch!

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You will need:

  • 1 FQ main fabric for the outside of your pouch and the pockets
  • 1 FQ lining fabric for the lining and binding
  • Scrap of batting or fusible fleece 6 1/2” x 18”
  • 2 poppers (or magnetic clasps, as preferred)
  • 1 button, for decoration (optional)

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Cutting instructions

From main fabric cut:

  • 1 rectangle 6 1/2” x 18” for the outside of the pouch (if you will be quilting the exterior densely, I would cut it slightly bigger – say 7″ x 18 1/2″ –  and then trim it down to size after you’ve quilted it)
  • 3 rectangles 6 1/2” x 8” for the interior pockets
  • 1 square 6” x 6” for the interior pocket flap

From lining fabric cut:

  • 1 rectangle 6 1/2” x 18” for the pouch lining
  • 3 strips 18” x 2 1/4” for binding

Prepare the outside of your pouch.

Fuse fleece to the wrong side of your main fabric 6 1/2” x 18” rectangle, or baste the fabric to your batting. Quilt as desired – I quilted random wavy lines about 1” apart diagonally across the fabric.

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Prepare the pockets

With wrong sides together, fold each of the 6 1/2” x 8” rectangles in half along the 6 1/2” length to make 3 rectangles that each measure 6 1/2” x 4”.

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Press along the fold to form a neat, crisp edge, then top stitch along this fold, approximately 1/8” in from the edge.

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Attach the pockets to the lining fabric

Using a ruler, measure and draw 2 lines on the right side of the lining fabric, one 5” up from the bottom and the second one 9 3/4” up from the bottom. These lines will be covered by the pockets, so use a Frixion pen, regular pencil, whatever you have to hand.

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Take 2 of your prepared pockets and place them on the lining fabric, with the raw edges aligned along the lines you just drew, and the topstitched edges pointing down to the bottom of the lining.

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Pin in place and sew onto the lining fabric with a 1/4” seam allowance.

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Flip the pockets up toward the top of the lining and press towards the top of the lining.

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Take the third pocket and place it at the very bottom of the lining, aligning all 3 raw edges of the pocket with the raw edges at the bottom of the lining. Pin in place. Then align the sides of the other 2 pockets with the raw long edge of the lining and pin in place.

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Use a seam allowance of about 1/8” and a basting stitch of about 4.0 to secure the edges of all three pockets to the lining.

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Prepare and attach the pocket flap

Take the 6” square and fold it in half lengthways with right sides together. Pin the raw edges. Mark a gap about 2 1/2” wide in the middle of the long edge, which will be left unsewn for turning.

Sew both short edges and up to either side of the gap you marked, using a 1/4” seam allowance, and backstitching at each end. Trim the corners.

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Turn the pocket flap right side out through the gap you left, and push the corners out.

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Fold the fabric at the gap under 1/4”, and press the flap flat.

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Top stitch along each side and along the bottom edge of the flap; this will close the gap.

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Centre the pocket flap approximately 1/4” above the top of the pocket you want to have a flap. Pin in place and top stitch along the top of the flap to secure it to the lining. Pull the threads through to the back of the lining and tie them off.

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Add a popper (or other closure) to the pocket flap.

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Attach magnetic clasp (if using – if you’re planning on using a regular popper, skip this step)

On the outside,  measure up and mark a point 6 1/2″ from the bottom of the pouch, and  3 1/4″ in from either side.

On the lining, measure down and mark a point 1 1/4″ from the top of the lining, and 3 1/4″ in from either side.

These mark where the centre of each piece of the magnetic clasp should be placed.

Attach your magnetic clasp according to the instructions which came with it.

Assemble the Pouch

Place the batting side of the quilted outer fabric to the wrong side of the lining, and pin in place

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NB – if you are using a directional fabric, you need to line the top of the lining with the bottom of the outside of the pouch, so that when you fold it up, the fabric at the front will be the right way up. I found this out the hard way ;-)

Baste around all four sides with a stitch length of around 4.0 and a seam allowance of around 1/8”, like you did with the edges of the pockets. I used a walking foot because of all the layers. It will look like a complete mess, but the edges are about to be covered up with binding, so it doesn’t matter!

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Attach the binding

Sew the 3 strips of 18” x 2 1/4” lining fabric together end to end and press to create a single fold binding.

Attach the binding to the front of the pouch using a 1/4” seam allowance, then fold the binding over and sew to the back of the pouch either by hand or by machine.

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Fold the pouch up

With pocket side up, fold the bottom pocket up to meet the middle pocket, then fold up again twice.

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Add a popper to secure the front flap to the rest of the pouch, and add a decorative button if desired.

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Fill pockets with useful things and admire your handiwork!

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As you can see, I made several!

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So why not make it your own? Use up your scraps by piecing the outside (I made this one with leftover bits of a jelly roll)…

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… or piecing the pockets (I fussy cut my scraps of this glorious Tula Pink octopus fabric to do this)

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Make one without any pocket flaps inside (like my Tula Pink one above), or with several, or change the shape of the flap.

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The sky’s the limit, so why not get creating?!

LPC

Marfy Couture Jacket Finally Finished!

After a bit of a sewing hiatus this summer, my Marfy couture jacket is finally finished!

Woo hoo!!!!!

I started the jacket back in June, when I was fortunate enough to travel to Baltimore to take a week-long couture sewing class with Susan Khalje. I had a fantastic time, learnt more than I thought possible, and left with an almost-completed jacket and a list of things I needed to do to finish it up.

Here’s how things looked back in June…

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The exterior was all done. The lining was almost put together, apart from the sleeves. All I had left to do was finish the inside of the jacket, finish the lining, and attach one to the other.

When I got home, I put the jacket on my dress form in my sewing room, and I’m sorry to say that there it stayed until the end of the summer. I did have a bit of a crazy summer, and, after all, it’s hard to find the motivation to finish making a jacket when it’s way too warm to wear it.

Come the beginning of September, I decided it was finally time. There was a bit of a nip in the air in the mornings and it was clear that autumn was on its way. Ideal jacket-and-jeans weather was on its way. I decided my jacket Needed Finishing, and the best way to do it was to tackle one job at a time,

First up, finishing off the lining by attaching the sleeves to the main body of the lining…

… and may I just say that this was probably the hardest part of the entire jacket – that silk charmeuse is one slippery fabric! There’s absolutely no give in it, and just when you think you’ve managed to ease the sleeve into the sleeve-hole (for want of a better word), you realise that you’ve managed to rotate the whole sleeve by about 45° and the blasted thing’s all wonky, so you have to take out the basting stitches and start again. It literally took a week to get it right, by which point I was seriously considering leaving the sleeves unlined!

Then, catch stitching the seams of the jacket exterior to the underlining…

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… hand-overcasting the arm-hole seams…

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… and giving it a good pressing.

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After the trauma of attaching the sleeves to the lining, attaching the lining to the exterior of the jacket went like a dream …

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… and then it was time to create and attach the patch pockets…

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Et, voilà! My jacket was finished! I think it’s gorgeous, but then again, I could be a wee bit biased!

I’ve decided that, for now, I’m not going to add any trim. I haven’t found anything I like enough, I’m not sure that it really needs it, and, to be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that adding a trim is really ‘me’ (I’m more of a jeans and sneakers kind of gal). There’s always the possibility of adding something at a later stage, if I choose, but for now I’m more than happy to wear my beautiful, perfectly-fitting, hand-crafted jacket with pride, all the while planning my next couture sewing project :-)

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(Fabric from Mendel Goldberg, 72 Hester St, New York, NY100o2)

An Actual Finish!

Well I never, I’ve only gone and finished a project! My Alaska lap quilt is now sewn together, quilted and bound, and ready for use, just in time for the cooler autumn and winter months.

I know, it’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Especially when you consider that I actually started this particular quilt quite early on in my sewing life. It dates back to 2009, when I was living in the US, and I signed up for a Mystery Quilt class, billed as a “Mystery Tour to Alaska”. There were 2 different colour ways on offer, and I choose this palette of icy, watery blues.

I eventually finished putting the quilt top together about 18 months ago, and, until very recently, it had been languishing in my Cupboard of Unfinished Quilt Tops. I know exactly why, too – and for once it’s not just a case of laziness and Quilter’s ADD!

First off, the quilt’s pretty enough, but my tastes have certainly changed over the past 5 years since I started it. Now I liked this quilt, sure, but I didn’t love it. Looking at it now I find the colours to be a bit ‘meh’, and it’s all rather, well, uninspiring and triangular, really.

Secondly, I was totally lacking inspiration about how to quilt the blasted thing. I knew that it needed some carefully-chosen quilting to turn it from somewhat bland into something special, but I didn’t have the first clue about what that quilting should be.

And so in the cupboard it went, and in the cupboard it stayed, until I decided to tackle it as part of my Q3 Finish-Along list.

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Unquilted top – bland, dull and meh…

 It was my lovely friend Ms E, who first suggested that it needed feathers. Now, I’ve never been a massive fan of feather quilting, I’d always thought of it as rather dull and old-fashioned. But I had to agree that the idea of feathers, with their flowing curves, would give the quilt the illusion of movement. And once the idea was in my head, that’s where it stayed. And grew. Until one day I went out and bought some feather stencils. And the rest, as they say, is history…

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Feather-tastic!

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Loving all the curves in those feathers!

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Quilted circles to complement the curves in the feathers

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Close-up of quilted block

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The design in the dark blue triangle is a smaller version of the one in the pale blue triangle

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Feather quilting in the outer border, too…

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Close up of border quilting

The best thing about doing this was it was so liberating! I wasn’t totally in love with the quilt top. It wasn’t intended as a gift, it wasn’t going to break my heart if I totally screwed it up. I didn’t let myself get hung up about ‘perfect’ quilting. I was brave and chose a dark colour thread, which would show up prominently against the mainly pale background fabric. I just went with the flow.

And do you know what? I actually really like this quilt now!

What’s more, it looks like Mr. Boy agrees with me :-)

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Linking up with Audrey over at Glory Be Quilter for TGIFF - why not pop over and check out some more lovely finishes this week?

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