Tuesday, November 27, 2012

...having a go at hand piecing

On the last school holidays (or is could have been the ones before - these things tend to get away from me) a  took a few days of work and worked my way through a reasonable jam packed 'Crafty things I would like to do/try that I never have time for'. It was the best holiday I have had for a long time - at home, with purpose.

One of the things I did was attend a class on hand piecing at Amitie with Jenny. I have been interested in hand piecing for a little while but apart from the EPP projects I hadn't sewn anything together with just needle and thread (ie sans machine).

Frankly, I didn't trust my stitches to hold up over time - even just the time to get the top together, let alone quilting and years of use. And I couldn't bear to think of it falling apart as I was sewing or soon after and have all the hours of stitching wasted.

The class lasted the morning and I took along a small bundle of fabric and a new acquired pattern (Galaxy by Trish Harper) that specifically recommended hand piecing and the normal odds and sods of sewing. To that bundle I added a new 1/4 wheel, a sandpaper board and and needles recommended for hand piecing.

And the process was much as I had imagined but a little demonstration and encouragement can go a long way when you are learning something new. I pieced the center section of one star that day and have just now started working on it again. It think this block will became a cushion cover as I am not quite convinced with the fabric choices I have made for this one.

But in the meantime of course I bought the Green Tea and Sweet Bean pattern booklet and starter pack and I have started it!

I've drawn around the templates and then added the seam allowance as directed and stitched and stitched and now I have the first block for this quilt.

My two biggest decisions with this new technique developing now are
1. What project to take with me to Perth over the Christmas break, Green Tea and Sweet Beans or the unfinished Circle Game?
2. How I am possibly going to find time to start, let alone finish even half of the hand piecing projects I how have my eye on!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

...Crafty Tote

When Nicole announce the Bag Project of the Month, and specifically her project, I loved it. And waited quite impatiently for the June issue (Volume 13.6) to be published so I could make it. Then I waited pretty impatiently again for the Mama Said Sew fabric to arrive in stores because by that time I knew I wanted to use it for the lining.

Finally, a couple of weekends ago I got around to making it. I use some fabric from a Melbourne screen printing company, Yardage Design, in a sale earlier. This fabric was labelled as an imperfect second but it looks pretty great to me!

For the feature panels on the top I used some basecloth I bought from the same supplier and screen printed some panels of my own with some word art. I used Wordle to create the art and then played around with the size on screen and paper to make them fit roughly inside the pattern piece.

A change from the published pattern - I used two different fabrics for the lining. the red script from Mama Said Sew and the black Newsprint from the same collection by Sweetwater. 

As I have come to expect from Nicole's patterns the instructions included a lot of pictures and information on  techniques to assist in construction and I am sure that is no small part of the quality I was able to achieve with the finished product.

I did find some parts of the pattern difficult to follow and there appeared be a number of errors in the cutting directions and the construction (based on the pictures). For example, extra interfacing needed to be cut for several of the pieces. I am assuming Nicole has noted these as well as she had re-released the pattern under her own brand.

I also made a couple of changes, I dramatically shortened the handle and would shorten it more if I made it again. And the extra fabrics for the pockets. I think they make them easier to see. I used rectangular links for the handle instead of the round ones and use them again but alter the handle size next time to fit it more snugly.

I'm really really happy with it. It fits a huge amount of stuff in it while still having them easy to find. I learned a few new tricks and the virtues of stiffer interfacing. And if you make I can't recommend a walking foot highly enough!

Edited to add: These are the changes I made due to pattern omissions or confusions. 
It isn't to say that the pattern won't work without these changes, careful reading and some prior knowledge should serve you well but knowing what to watch out for can be helpful. The fabric/interfacing/fusible batting requirements as listed in the magazine will be enough for the additional pieces. 

I've emailed Nikki to let her know what I noted and confirm the changes I made were what was intended - I'll update these again based on her responses if needs be. 

1. This one was included on the Homespun website - a template had an incorrect label (there were two Lid Side Panels and one should have read Lid Center Panel) but was the correct size and shape. I actually didn't find this errata until later and it is pretty obvious to pick.
2. You will need 2 x lid and base wall interfacing (the directions only ask you to cut 1)
3. You will need to cut lid and base wall batting (As shown fused in the Step 39 picture on page 48)
4. I also cut a piece of batting for the back-wall hinge (it doesn't ask you to cut any)
5. I also cut an additional batting in the base/lid shape so there was batting in the lid and base.
6. While not technically and error I had huge trouble finding the dimensions of the wall pocket, lid & base wall and the back wall hinge (there are no pattern pieces for these, just dimensions given as they are rectangular). You can find them in Step 15 on page 46.

And my tip - use a walking foot for all steps of the construction!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

...another Hexy MF update

On Friday night I sewed the last (with the exception of a few for the borders) of the flowers. There are 70 there - seven in each of the fabrics.

For those that are mathematically minded interested (I am sure the minded can work it out for themselves) that is 490 basted 1.5" hexies and 8820" of hand sewn seam. 

I spent some time at the inaugural Sew Shells event laying them out on the floor and mixing them up until I was happy with the placement (there were a couple of changes after this picture was taken but it is the one I am working from)

The background is ordered (Robert Kaufman Quilter's Linen in Beige) along with some samples for the stems and leaves.

Better get to adding more columns to these to then!

Monday, November 19, 2012

..uh oh!

I was tiding up in the sewing room early yesterday morning and came across some long neglected knitting.

It wasn't long before I remembered why it had been set aside.

N did volunteer to melt it back together - I said there was no flame going anywhere near the knitting! Luckily a quick trip to the the yarn store for a better quality needle and cable and some sticky tape saved the day!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

...A lovely surprise

In what was a nice surprise towards the end of a pretty busy and slightly stressful week I got a lovely email from Rachel letting me know that she had nominated me for The Lovely Blogger Award.

Thanks Rachel, it is so nice to know that you enjoy reading!

It has been the cause of some embarrassment and stress that it has taken me so long to reciprocate. I blame some computer problems, true, but it feels insufficient. 

But to the point of this post....

The rules for the One Lovely Blog Award are as follows:
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to him/her in your post.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 bloggers you admire.
  • Leave a comment on each of these blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

So... my 7 things...

  1. I am absolutely terrified of snakes. I didn't used to be and then within five days several years ago two came into my workplace and there was one in my backyard near the shed when I went to put something away. And I seem to see them I seem to see them in suburban areas - like when I am putting my bin out. Clearly that is a species out to get me :)
  2. I have lived half my life in the country and half living in a city. Not all in one go - I have moved country to city to country to city.. and without meaning it it has worked out to be roughly an even split for about the last 10-15 years. I think that is going to change though and city living will overtake in the next few years.
  3. I have never been north of the equator. I hope that will change in the next year too!
  4. Despite Item 1. I once did the Spit to Manly walk in Sydney. In spring. There was screaming when I came across a lizard in the first 10 minutes but I stuck it out and I am glad I did. You should do it too if you are ever in Sydney and have a spare day. 
  5. I like to cook almost as much as I like to sew
  6. I used to do karate - and almost had a black belt but and so not fit enough for that now.
  7. I get my hair cut twice a year. I would do it more but I haven't found a style I really like in the last 5 years. 
And now the bloggers I'd like to nominate (in no particular order):

1. Rachel at My Messings
2. Nova at A Cuppa and a Catch Up
3. Amy at Badskirt
4. Kaelin at The Plaid Scottie
5. Kerry at VeryKerryBerry
6. Jenny at Jen Kingwell Designs
7. Angela at Fussy Cut
8. Bronwyn at Whippet Good
9. Nicolette at Dutch Comfort
10. Cathy at Cabbage Quilts
11. Cheryl at Dining Room Empire
12. Ayumi at Pink Penguin
13. Lisa at Sunset Seams
14. Sarah at Sew Squirrel 
15. Jennifer at That Girl...That quilt