Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Reflections and Reasons why I am Sew Grateful

I am Sew Grateful for the online sewing community.  Sewing for me is a quiet and isolated hobby that I enjoy very much.  I don't have music on and I only watch TV if I'm hand sewing in the loungeroom.  The actual room I sew in is very quiet and I can't even see out of the window unless I stand on my tippy toes.  (It is the room pictured in my Nessa's Place blog header - my sewing desk is opposite this shot, behind the camera)

Despite this silent and solitary state of affairs, I never feel alone when I sew.

I do have a voice to share and explain my projects on my blog.  I can communicate with other stitchers by commenting on their blogs and Instagram pictures.  I listen to the opinions, ideas and methods of others and can try them out for myself.  I think ahead about my ideas and processes that I might like to share too.

Before I knew about the online sewing community, I would ask my Mother, but with her living far away from me in Australia, if I ever needed help with something, I would have to wait until our time difference made a phone call suitable to ask her advice.  Now I can search for tutorials, construction videos, pattern reviews and style and fit photos to help me whenever I am in need of guidance.
My mother sewed our clothes growing up, both my Grandmothers sewed, and most of my Aunts sew too.  I am Sew Grateful to have been exposed to such a useful and creative set of skills.
My Mum and I in 2010
Having so much help and inspiration on hand via the internet has increased my stitching motivation immensely, and I no longer feel like sewing is a skill or pleasure to be embarrassed about or to shy away from owning up to enjoying.  I am proud to create lovely things using all kinds of stitching!
Sew Thank YOU fellow stitchers!

Today Debi has a link-up where you can post your own reflections about the Online Sewing Community and reasons why you are Sew Grateful.  Do go over and read some of the posts here.  There are so many inspiring women amongst us!

Debi has a linky party with lots of Sew Grateful giveaways well worth entering.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A First for Me and for my Friend Rachel

I have a friend named Rachel who said she would never have children, and now she has gone and made a gorgeous little baby girl named Poppy.  So for such a momentous and surprising First, I decided to make a baby quilt for her that would also be a First.  I attempted my first ever Dresden!
Here it is, folded and ready to go in the post for an adventurous journey all the way to Australia.
Here is the lovely young girl doing some gardening in the centre of my dresden.  I had appliqued this to the centre, which was easier than I thought it would be.

I even enjoyed doing the quilting on this one!  Using the free motion quilting foot on my sewing machine made the job quick and easy.
Ta Daaa!  Poppy's Quilt  34" x 34"
I made the centre dresden first, using matching colours, then made four more 90 degree circle pieces for the four corners.  I invented the background pattern pieces myself by measuring with a string and a pencil, and a good bit of fudging.

Sorry, I can't recall where I got the fabric for the binding or the background from, but the fabric I used for the dresdens, lovely girl and the backing are called The Sweet Life by Cori Dantini for blend fabrics.  I bought a bundle of eighth's of a yard pieces from Avery Homestore in Edinburgh last year and had been saving them for something special.
Speaking of the backing, it is gorgeous!  Lots of lovely panels, with girls doing all sorts of fun things!
The back of Poppy's quilt
I really hope she loves this as much as I do.  Now for the nitty gritty details...  I won't mind a bit if you just skip over these.  I've recorded the process for both my own records and for anybody else who might like to have their first try at making one of these out of some strips of fabric.  It really is a lot of fun and quite easy and satisfying sewing!

The Process

I started with a bundle of 10 coordinating fabrics from a 1/8th bundle and cut them into 1.5" strips along the longest side.

For the central dresden, I chose 7 strips and arranged them in a pleasing manner, then sewed them together, pressing all the seams in the same direction.  All seams are 1/4".
Then using the 10 degree ruler, and keeping it horizontal with the edge of the fabric, I cut the entire thing into as many wedges as possible.

Flip every second wedge and arrange them side by side and you will see the final pattern emerging.  Each of the wedges made by this ruler will end up being 10 degrees, so to make a 90 degree wedge I only need 9.

When stitching the wedges together, because you pressed the strip seams all in the one direction, the seams will now nestle together easily as you put them through your sewing machine.  I stitched the wedges into pairs, pressed, then into a set of four and a set of 5, pressed again then sewed all nine together.  All this pressing was done in the one direction too.

Repeat this process until you have four 'fans.'

Then I made another four, but this time I used a variety of the strips.  To create the background space, I simply put one of the fans into the centre of a large piece of paper and traced the edge.  Then I put a fan into an adjacent corner and traced the large curve.  I used a pencil tied with string and pulled taught to the corner of the fan and paper, to make sure the line was circular.  I then added 1/2" to this piece of paper to allow for the seam allowance.  Putting this paper pattern piece on top of my fabric, I cut four pieces then sewed my fans to them.

Then I sewed the four squares together.

Next I cut out one of the young girls from the backing fabric and carefully hand appliqued her to the centre.
I did a similar pattern making thing with the four outside curved corners.  I used the corner of a piece of paper, placed the corner of the fan on top and traced the curve.  I fudged a guess of 1/2" seam allowance to make the pattern piece bigger, then used it to trace some of the fabric from the quilt backing to create corner pieces.  After that, I simply used some of the left over 1.5" strips to create a border around the entire square.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comment box below, if you were thinking of trying a strippy dresden!
So that's it! - One of my 2014 first quarter of the year goals completed!
This will be linked up to Katy's Finish-A-Long.

Monday, 10 February 2014

I Have Joined a Quilting Bee

I have often read about quilting bees and am quite enamoured with the whole idea of women working together, chatting over a beverage of choice and creating something beautiful with fabric and thread.  I have read the entire set of quilting novels by Jennifer Chiaverini and have dreamed of using Lottery winnings or the inheritance from a long-lost relative to start up my own Jennifer-style sewing retreat mansion in the Highlands.... aah, if only life could be like the Elm Creek Quilters retreat.

But it isn't of course.  My life is full of work, deadlines, and all sorts of other commitments, but thankfully it is also full of technology!  Our quilting bee is going to be run completely using the internet.  Twelve women who have never met (well, actually I happen to have met three of them at The Edinburgh Stitch Gathering last year) are going to collaborate together to create a quilt for each other!
click here to visit the flickr group

If you are one of the 12 ladies who have signed up for this quilting bee, then "Hello there, and thanks so much for following my blog!" I've added the flickr group into my side bar, as well as to the picture above.  And here is the full title for those in the group who may want to copy and paste it onto their own blog:

Each of us get to decide what kind of quilt we'd like and share our ideas with the other ladies during our designated month.  My month is October, so I have a while yet til I need to decide on my own quilt.  This month belongs to Lou, and she'd like a quilt made up of wonky stars, so we are all going to make her one and post it to her!  How lovely does that sound?

Feel free to click on the link button in my side panel every now and then to see how we're getting on over the year.  And please, any tips from anyone who's been involved in a Quilting Bee, do share!

The Great British Sewing Bee Season 2

Yay!  This fun-to-watch TV show is back on this year, starting on Feb 18th, BBC2 at 8pm.  This season we are going to have 8 episodes!
So far, I have tracked down two contestants in blogland that will be on the show, the first is Lynda (second from the left).  Her daughter Sarah writes a knitting blog and she mentions her Mum's new adventure in a post here.  It is a really lovely write up, Sarah's pride in her Mum just leaps off the screen!
Here are the GBSB contestants for season 2!  Does anybody recognise any of these contestants?
L-R:  Julie, Lynda, Heather, Cerina, Simon, Chinelo (who also has started a blog), David, Tamara and Jenni.
Best of luck everyone, and thank you so much for putting yourselves into the public spotlight for our enjoyment and for the promotion of all kinds of fabric creation!

Click here to see the promotional TV ad on You Tube.
My source for this photograph and other information is here.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Scottish Blogger Meet-Up

On Saturday, ten lovely ladies-who-blog met up in Glasgow to become ladies-who-lunch and to do a spot of fabric shopping.  I had never met these ladies in person before, but I do follow some of their blogs, so was hoping that I'd recognise them!
In this photo are L-R: Helen, Debi, me, Elaine, Alison, Katy, Elise, Katy, Kerry (& Franca took the photo)

When I headed off in the morning it was snowing heavily, but by the time I arrived in Glasgow it was just rain, rain rain.  But it did not dampen my excitement.  First some of us met for coffee and to dry off, then we headed up to Mandors fabric shop where Hazel (who not only writes her own creative blog but also works at Mandors) welcomed us and told us all about the sale that was on, and a few tips on things to look out for, and then we shopped!
I was able to get a few things that were on my wish-list:  mainly some jersey fabrics, as I find these difficult to purchase online.  I really need to feel the fabric for myself, for the stretch and thickness.  I also got some lining and a zip, all pretty boring stuff really, but necessary.
Katy got an amazing deal on some upholstery velvet and Debi bought some beautiful Liberty fabric.  The other Katy snapped up a deal on corduroy and Kerry chose some sweet Pirate fabric to make baby bibs.  Helen chose some drapey spotty fabric and gorgeous purple jersey, whilst Elaine found a fantastic digital print that wowed all of us.  There was too much choice for Alison so her pennies stayed safely in her purse.  Franca found some red cotton to create a Collette blouse and Elise was even more sensible and avoided the temptation altogether by just meeting us for lunch.
We had lunch in the tea rooms at The Butterfly and the Pig and it was a beautiful place, if you ever get to Glasgow it is well worth a visit.  They use old porcelain tea cups and the building itself is amazing.
After our scrumptious lunch, tea and cake, we shared some items that we'd brought along to swap, and then enjoyed looking through the bundles of patterns and fabrics that we'd all brought along.
L-R Franca, Helen and Debi

L-R Elaine (top of head only), Alison, Katy, Elise, Katy
L-R Kerry and Franca
Kerry organised this blogger meet up and is hoping to organise another one when the weather may be more inducive to wandering the streets for bargain fabric and vintage stores!  I had a really good time and am so glad that I went along.  I was really glad to meet some new bloggers as well as some of my favourite blog writers in person!  'Twas a wee bit like meeting famous people!  The whole day was totally stress-free and timed perfectly.  Thanks so much for organising everything Kerry!

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