Monday, October 20, 2014

Sidekick Tote, yay!

I finished my sidekick tote last week and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I love the finishing touches in this pattern.

I used Wallflowers fabric by Allison Harris, and coordinated with a Bella solid which is a salmon-y pink colour - a classic case of the colour on the screen being very different to the actual colour. I thought I was buying a delicate pink, and this salmon pink would not be my favourite shade by a long mile. But it works well as a contrasting colour and trim, and the grey balances it out nicely. The pocket is from Violet Craft's Waterfront Park, a print I love, and it coordinates nicely with the Wallflowers.

I was a bit disappointed with the finish of the interfacing - neither of my local stores have had woven fusible for the longest time, so I used some of the regular fusible stuff I found in my stash and needed to use up. But I find the regular fusible much harder to work with, it just seems to give a crinkly finish no matter what I do with it, and that's most visible on the pocket. But a bit of use seems to have eased it out a little bit.

I meant to put a key loop on the inside, and another pocket, but I totally forgot. But that's ok, because this is my weekend bag so I tend not to carry the same amount of crap with me as I do in my big work bag. I really love the strap on this - I added extra length to it as I'm tall and I like a cross body bag.

This was my first time doing a recessed zipper. I love how it looks. It took me quite a few goes to get the sides meeting up evenly where the zipper comes away from the fabric at the end, but I kept at it and eventually matched them up on the 4th or 5th try.


I thought this pattern was well written and (essential for me!) it had plenty of pictures to help me follow the instructions. I definitely think that I would put a 2nd one together very quickly, having made it once and may just have to do that. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hoops, bags and bees.... WIP Wednesday on a Saturday

One of the hazards of this time of year is that sewing in the evenings after the kids are gone to bed means that the light is rubbish for photos. So today, I took advantage of the lovely bright sunny day to take some pictures of my work in progress.

I have a few different projects that I'm working on at the moment, which is nice, because only having one or two projects on the go at any time is not good for my sewing energy, I've realised. The busier I am, in terms of the number of sewing projects and the deadlines, the more inspired I am.  So this week my plan is to get moving again on another few quilt WIPs that totally stalled over this summer. But for now, this is my WIP list.

First up - Project Rachel's room. I've been slowly but surely decluttering the stuff stored in Miss Rachel's room (the peril of being the 3rd child and occupying the "spare room") to turn into a more girlie, fun space for her now that she is old enough to toddle round and play on the floor in there with her toys.

The head of her cot (and in future her bed) is placed in a shallow alcove, and its a perfect space for a  display of hoops to decorate it.I had some hoops, and filled them with lovely fabric prints I had - the unicorn is my favourite. I have lots more to do - I'm waiting on more hoops to arrive, and then, I couldn't resist ordering the princess print from FFA for one of them (although given the time its taking to arrive I suspect that the lovely people in customs may have snaffled it as it arrived in the country from the USA along with some lovely other bits I ordered.)

I'm also working on an embroidery hoop for her too. I got this as a custom design from Lilipopo, isn't it lovely? Can't wait to get it finished. I was short a few colours, in particular reds and blues, so now have restocked ready to tackle that toadstool!

I'm also working on 2 other embroidery projects, both intended as Christmas decorations this year. One is the Lilipopo stitchalong, which uses a lovely free download pattern of a winter girl. I decided to follow one of the suggested colour schemes for this one, so that it would be nice and relaxing with no decisions to be made, and so glad I did. I'm close enough to keeping up with the stitchalong, but you'd easily catch up with it if you still wanted to join in.

The other is the carol singers embroidery I started last year but had to abandon after my eyes started to protest. Hoping to get this moving again and finished will in time for Christmas.

My sidekick tote is moving along well. I didn't have woven interfacing so I used the regular fusible stuff and forgot how it creases up a bit after sewing. Need to go over that pocket with a very hot iron and try and sort out those creases. I'm also waiting for more of theWallflowers fabric to arrive for the strap for this (in the same package as the FFA). Sigh. Think I will get the zipper and lining done tomorrow and then its just a waiting game before I can finish it.

I am shamefully behind with my Modern Irish Bee blocks. I finally managed one for Anna, but I need to get my ass in gear and get the rest done. I do love her crazy scrapy block though - I think the idea to place the fussy-cut "centre" off centre was a bit inspired really.

Lastly, I have my charms cut for another baby boy quilt, this one for my sister in law's brand new nephew. I'm a bit behind with this one, as he arrived a few weeks ago but its ok, because being a newlywed, she is off on honeymoon :-) and I will have it done before she gets back.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Little Pearl Dress

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments on my last post. It was nice to hear that other people struggle with the same issues. I think that Lynz hit the nail on the head when she mentioned the whole "blogging mojo" issue - because sometimes, I am sewing, just not blogging, or reading blogs. I blame Instagram and the temptation to just post a picture without the effort of writing a blog post. And also, if I manage to create a half hour window for myself and its a choice between sewing or blogging, I'll always pick sewing.

But to move on, I realised during the week that I hadn't shared the Little Pearl dress finish on here, although I did post some pics on Instgram at the time. So in case you haven't seen it, I did finally finish the Little Pearl dress for Miss Rachel. I used the pattern in the "Liberty Love" book which was easy to follow, and I used beautiful lawn from Seamstar to make it.

I was really please with how it turned out. I added the ruffle on the front after much deliberation and auditioning of contrast fabrics for it. In the end, I stuck to the same lavender solid that I used for the lining and this was definitely the right choice. I didn't anticipate how much the ruffle would add to the finished look - it really brings the dress up a notch I think. I had a nice matching ribbon and some small pearlised type buttons that worked well.

And I managed to do the buttonholes with only one minor mishap. It took me ages to space them right, and then after practising on scraps a few times I tackled them. All but one went well, and I managed to fix the problem one without too much swearing.  I really like the buttons I picked for the back.

I tried it on Miss Rachel wondering if it would still fit, as it had been a while since I cut it. But thankfully it did. I did notice she has shot up a couple of inches over the summer because originally this dress was good bit longer on her than it now is, but that's ok.  You can see the length best in the bottom photo.

It hangs nicely on the back too, I'm happy about that because I had to do a little adjusting to get the ends meeting up properly and wondered if it would affect how it hung.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this, I just need to find some shoes that go with it for Miss Rachel to start modelling it properly (red shoes SO do not go).

This was one of my list of finishes in the FAL, so I'll happily add it to my  (small) list of finishes for the quarter.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hauling my sewing mojo back from the brink

So. It's been a while. (A long while.)

That sewing mojo (what's that I hear you ask) appears to have deserted me. Well, ok, maybe not quite so dramatic as that, because that other thing (REAL LIFE) has been interfering, but still. It's been a month since I blogged (bad Sarah).  The summary is like this: family wedding in Poland in late August, meaning that mid August taken over by school prep, then travelling to Warsaw and eastern Poland for my baby brother's wedding (wonderful and so much fun, and totally different from an Irish wedding!) then returning home and straight into back-to-schoool and after-school activities (music, tin whistle, cello, Irish Dancing, hurling, athletics...yes, you get the idea) plus work, baby stuff, blah blah blah. Oh yeah, and as usual back to school = children bringing home bugs and infecting the rest of us (i.e. me and miss Rachel with their sore throat/runny nose etc) To summarise: its been busy. (understatement of the year)


Instagram Mini Quilt Inspiration Mosaic

I signed up for the Instagram mini quilt swap. I'm pretty excited by this. I got my partner details and saw her inspiration mosaic and its right up my street. But somehow, between sorting out the kids, and getting back on top of my workload and getting up in the middle of the night with the poor congested baba, and taking every over-the-counter medication known to mankind to cure my own sore throat/flu, I managed to forget to sort out my own inspiration mosaic. So here it is.

It appears that my latest "thing" is low volume + rainbow. Who knew? Funnily enough, making myself do this mosaic turned into a "Good. Thing." I was happily liking photos on Flick and found myself wanting to, you know, sew. More than once. Possibily I might break out the rotary cutter tomorrow (and, hold the headlines, I might even do it before all the housework is done!!) Result. The sewing mojo is finding its way back.

 Anyways, I love the look of these and if my partner is anywhere close to any of these I will be a happy bunny.  But if anyone wants to volunteer to, you know, drive my kids to after school activities, or turn up at my desk and pretend to be me for a week or so, that would be awesome. No takers? Really? And I thought you all loved me so much....

Monday, August 11, 2014

The best part of swaps

I know I've written about this before, but there is something strange about taking part in swaps. You spend all of the swap window fretting about your partner, trying to second guess them, pushing yourself to impress them, working to someone else's taste. (It's fabulous, its why I love swaps. I just adore how it pushes you outside your comfort zone.) Then you send off your package and all of a sudden, it really hits you that you will be getting a package too. I know that you've been commenting on the photos all along, but its kind of abstract, in a way.

So when my hubbie rang me today at work to say there was a package for me, I spent the whole day in anticipation and of course, I ripped it open as soon as I got in the door. (yes, before picking up Miss R, or saying hello to my other kids or hubbie. Bad mammy moment). I was not disappointed.

I received this beautiful Big Stitch Swap package from Helen. She knew I just adore Lilipopo girls, and she made one just for me. I was so delighted when I opened it because you know how it is, you always make lovely things for everyone else and never keep the stuff you really love for yourself. This way, I get to have my own. I love how sweet she is! She is on the front of a lovely iPad mini sleeve, with Liberty lawn and linen. This is my idea of perfection. It is so beautifully stitched and finished. I stitched one myself for this swap, and I will certainly say that the patterns are straightforward, but deceptively so - it is very difficult to get the character of those girls right. I love how this girl finished up, she is gorgeous.

 On the back, there is some lovely piecing with more Liberty and linen, and some hand quilting. I just love it all.

Helen also send me a lovely package of scraps, you can see them in the top photo. Thank you Helen, I absolutely love it and its made my day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Big Stitch Swap Package (gone in the post)

Today, I put my Big Stitch Swap package in the post. I hope my partner will like it.

I used a LiliPopo embroidery pattern on the front. I enlarged it a little so I could have a bigger finished pouch, suitable for hand sewing or knitting projects. This girl is very sweet, and though the pattern was straightforward, it took a little bit of work to get the look I wanted for her. I tried to make her sweet but a little quirky.

I was trying to figure out how to set her in a background, and I wanted something to give it a tiny bit of an edge, so as not to be too super sweet. From somewhere, I had the image of her standing on a rocky, pebbly beach. Happily, Trudi's class at the FQ Retreat covered pebble quilting, and despite my previous pre-FQR attempts at the technique leaving me ready to cry, after practising a little, I felt up to tackling it on this. It took quite a while, and a surprising amount of thread, but I was really pleased with how it turned out. The texture of the thread against the Essex linen is just so lovely, it feels great.

For the back, I spent quite a while thinking through various blocks before I landed on this one. I wanted something I could add handquilting detail to, something with clean lines and that would be striking against the linen. I was inspired by Camille Roskelley's Puddle Jumping pattern, but I drew this block out on Touchdraw so I could customise it to the size I wanted myself.

My colour palette was inspired by something I saw my partner say, and when I went digging around, I was delighted to find a scrap of Nordika that was perfect for fussy cutting for the centre.

I did dither about the hand quilting on this, initially when I finished it I thought it was a bit boxy looking where the corners of the blocks crossed over, it didn't look quite as I imagined. But when I came back to it the next day, I was happy, and I got a lot of positive feedback on IG and FB about it, so I relaxed a little :-)

I added a hot pink zipper for a pop of colour and I used a Vintage Happy print for the lining. I bought this print a good while ago, specifically for use as lining,and I love how it works. I did a divider pocket about half way down. The pouch measures just under 12" x 12", so it's a good size.

So my pouch was all done, and I just needed to pull out some scraps to include to finish off my package. It's gone in today's post and I really, really hope that my partner likes it.

If you like hand stitching, or embroidery, or just want to see what loveliness can be created with a simple needle and thread, pop over to the Flickr group and have a look as some of the gorgeous finished projects. Maybe we will see you in Round 2?

Friday, August 1, 2014

A quilt for a special boy

I posted off this special quilt during the week.

A friend of mine has a little boy, a toddler, who is very sick and will be spending a lot of time in hospital in the next few months. I don't really want to go into any details, for privacy reasons, but as with so many other quilters, I felt compelled to make a quilt when I heard the situation. If you're a quilter too, you'll understand why. Comfort. Wrapping the recipient up (literally) in all the good wishes and positive thoughts that you want to express but don't quite know how. I wanted to do something concrete that might help, if even just a tiny bit.

I mulled over what type of pattern to make but it didn't take me long to make a decision. Elizabeth's Sliced Coins pattern has been on my list of "must makes" for quite a few years now, its one of the first quiltalongs I observed when I started reading quilting blogs, and I loved the quilts made in the quiltalong. Plus, it's easy and straightforward to make, but has a big impact, and I wanted a pattern which allowed the fabrics to shine, because my plan was to gather every novelty boy's fabric I could get  my hands on for this quilt. I wanted it to be something that he could sit and look at and explore. Something interesting and fun.

I have a (pretty depleted compared to a few years ago) stash of boys fabric myself, but not enough for what I wanted, and I knew I needed small enough quantities for the coins. So I asked some of the lovely ladies in the Modern Irish quilters group if they would mind swapping or selling me small quantities of any nice boys fabrics they had. Of course, they all came up trumps and put oceans of fabric in the post to me and refused to take anything in return. This gave me an absolutely fabulous selection of fabrics to work with. I really love the variety, the colour and the prints. There are cars, trucks, buses, diggers, planes, animals, birds, insects - everything you could possibly imagine that little boys are fascinated by. Thank you so much ladies, you know who you are and I couldn't have made this without your help.

I quilted it in a stipple but with lots of loopy loops and was happy enough with how it worked. There is lots and lots of white sashing which  Nicky suggested was perfect for driving dinky cars up and down and across, and I agree, it would work great as a playmat too.

For the back, I used some leftover coins to make another strip for the centre, then I used a couple of bright and happy Ikea prints to make up the rest.  As you know, I don't often piece a quilt back but it was worth the effort and I like how bright and happy it turned out. There is plenty of interest on the back as well as the front.

The binding was some blue poplin with little hearts. Perfect. I machine bound this, as I had a lot of other hand stitching to complete and I tried a different method than I have previously used which I liked, but would like to refine my technique on a little more.

I forgot to measure the finished quilt but I followed the pattern pretty closely and I know the finished size there was 54" x 57" so I assume its similar. It's a lovely generous quilt size for a toddler, equally perfect for bed at night as for snuggling on the sofa by day.

I hope that this quilt might provide some entertainment or comfort for my friend's little boy over the next few months, and that he gets lots of use out of it. Please God his treatment will go well.

This is my first finish from my FAL Q3 list also. Hopefully not my last.

Finish Along 2014