The longest project?

Once upon a time, I was a broke student who wandered into accessorize and fell in love with some beaded purses. Due to the brokeness, I couldn’t buy them but it was when I was doing a lot of sewing, so I decided to make one.

The sewing of the bag happened in a day. Unfortunately that was so long ago, I have no idea if I used a pattern (unlikely) or made it up.

And then I began beading. Again I have no idea if I made the bead mix specially or if I owned it already. The drop beads came from a lady in my meetup group.

The reason I cant remember these details is because I started this bag approximately 4 years ago.

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The first fringe was small and made with beads I owned – seedbeads and drops. It took forever. So I made the decision to make the next layers longer. I also bought beads for these layers. The second layer is bugle beads and black and silver pips. The third layer is seed bead, bugels, seed beads and a mix of pips and drops.

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The last inch

 

I did a lot of the beading at the craft meetups I used to attend in London. I also used to take this project back to Chester a lot. I used to keep all the bits inside the bag hence the transportability.

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Its a fabulous handbag. Its a fairly spacious bag which I like. I wore it out to a wedding and felt fabulous. It was almost worth waiting for.

 

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Pretty fixes

I am an avid user of instagram (you could say addicted but hey) and I have been seeing some beautiful repairs of clothes, especially the ones done by hunterhammerstein.

Because of recent changes in my life, the majority of my wardrobe is fairly recent and therefore there are fairly few repairs that need to be made. So I’ve been keeping an eye out for something with a hole in it (that was worth fixing). And then I found it, one of my plain jumpers had a snag in the body. I gathered it up and spent some time deciding on colours, in the end I went for quite a bright colour scheme but based off the wrong cross stitch scheme.

I then put the selection away because I had quite a lot of crafty stuff and life wise going on just before Christmas. However after Christmas I had a few days back at my place and I spent most of the time crafting in piece.

I began with the hole and went around it in a binding stitch. This made it quite a bit bigger but hopefully has stabilised it. I then embroidered the flowers around it. I started with the big red one, this is the one I’m least happy with. However it looks fine especially surrounded by the others. They were all trial and error stitches and the fairly open knit of the jumper made it pretty tricky to find stitches that worked well.

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I’ve since worn and washed the jumper, and all the stitches are still in place. I like the overall effect, it is pretty but not too over stated.

Let’s see if any more holes turn up.

 

 

A finish at long last

 

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My completed ‘Wrong’ cross-stitch

I finished this cross stitch. Finally, it felt like I was working on it for ages. While I did like the process, I think I might stick to smaller projects in the future. In fairness I think I finished it quite quickly but because I’ve had so many long term projects on the go, everything has felt quite slow. Maybe I just need to stagger things a little more.

Progress Shots 

I showed you my planning before. But pretty much every time I started a motif I went and looked at what I’d decided and changed the colours a little. I actually cut down the number of colours I was planning on using quite a bit. For instance all the leaves are more or less done in the same colour which wasn’t the original plan. I just felt it need some cohesion as I was going along. I worked symmetrically adding one colour at a time, which meant I could change colours as I was going along.

The finished object and the plan

How I chose different colour combos

Most of the time I knew straight away which colour combos I was going to use, but when I didn’t my deciding goes like this. Put it next to the area its going and take a picture. Looking at the pattern through the screen, changes it a little and distances you. I find it much easier to tell what looks better after having taken the pictures. In general I’m pretty happy with the colour choices. I’m not entirely convinced by the pale pink but not sure what else would go there, so for now it stays.

Front and Back

I always think that my cross stitch is a pretty good analogy for my life in general. From the front, it looks pretty perfect (Even if I do say so myself – and yes I know I still been to iron off the markings ect) and the back is mildly chaotic. I’ve never been some one who could align all my stitches perfectly on the back as well as the front. However as it doesn’t seem to stop me making it look lovely or (as far as I know) make it any harder, things are unlikely to change. I’m also not really a finisher, which is why it’s on my shelf and still hasn’t had the markings ironed off.

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With my other treasures 

 

A Weekend of Half Finishes

I had a quiet weekend and I’ve spent it doing a lot of little bits and pieces. As I mentioned last time, I’ve been working on hard on a few projects in order to get them finished soon, and with another two days I’ve managed to get quite a few projects to a semi-finished place.

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This is definitely a slow method, but isn’t it beautiful

I finished all the needle turn applique on my Hawaiian quilt. I really like this technique, even after starting  with something that was definitely not beginners material. All of those tight concave curves and points are really tricky, and you can definitely see which half I did first and which I did later on. I’m planning on trying out some hand-quilting on the panel (and maybe turning it into a tote bag), which I figure will help hide some bits and secure it as well. I’m still thinking about colours as the current blue/white isn’t really my thing.

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Such a cool shape

I’ve been remaking my knitted sunglasses case, as I lost it somewhere in India. I’ve finished all the knitting but I need to buy a zip before finishing. I love this colour though.

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This is how I work

I finally attached all of my bezelled seaglass pieces together. I attached them together two at a time, to try and keep it balanced. It ended up being a curve, and know I need to figure out if its stable enough to just add hoops for a chain at the ends or if I want to put hoops and chain all the way along.

And I finished stitching both sides of my artist trading card for the Very Berry ATC swap. It’s a slightly different take on the phase ‘say something’ to most peoples interpretation, but hopefully my partner doesn’t mind too much.

And despite having achieved lots there is still plenty to do. Isn’t there always.

Learning Curve Sampler Quilt

Two years ago I attended a patchwork and quilting course for a birthday present, and then spent some money on a very pretty set of fabric. I was intending to turn this fabric into my first quilt but it took some time before I decided what I was going to do. My main problem with deciding was that despite being a beginner, I’m overly ambitious and wouldn’t have been that happy with simple squares and that I get bored easily so a repeating pattern was never really going to float my boat. After spending a lot of time on social media, I started to get a feel for the type of quilts that float my boat (generally very technical ones). So I settled on doing a sampler style quilt, because it would let me practice all sorts of techniques, and let me do it a bit at a time

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My selection of fabric

My first blocks were some 6″ squares from the blocksnswaps blog. It was a challenge – some of the pieces were tiny and I hadn’t yet realised how tiny 1/4″ is. Neither blocks are actually 6″ squares. I’ll square them up one day. My favourite part is still the choosing the fabric.

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The ‘windfall’ from a days sewing 

The next time I sat at my machine I made two tile blocks from sewmamasew and a Poseidon’s Hall block from the 2015 fabri-quilt new block blog hop, designed by sarah from 123Quilt. The tile blocks were quite fun to make, but the Poseidon’s Hall block was tricky. I find the cutting of pieces pretty laborious, and don’t get me started on the trimming of the HST’s. I guess that’s what makes it so precise though. In hindsight my fabric choices for this block are not exactly brilliant – it doesn’t have enough contrast, but hey ho. This was my first attempt at chain piecing, and I attempted both pressing open and towards the dark side and decided that I like pressing seams open in most cases.

And then last weekend I tackled flying geese. I found a brilliant set of tutorials on the sewing directory which I will definitely be using again going forward. I made both blocks described. I cut all the pieces first and then went and took a break before coming back to do the sewing, and this is a method I will be doing again. These are possibly my favourite blocks so far. The points aren’t perfect but I like the colours. I had recently bought some extra neutral, low volumeish fabric for backgrounds.

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Flying geese blocks

 

A Teacosy – A Learning Curve

I had a whole empty day last Sunday, so I got my sewing machine out. I recently had an idea about what to do for my first quilt, but made myself promise that I would finish my teacosy first.

My Teacosy
My Teacosy

I started making a teacosy about three months ago. I wanted to make a quilted object that I would use and that I could just have a go at all the different techniques on, so I bought some insulated batting to play with. I was using the tutorial from quiltingjetgirl as a starting point. Her tutorial is for a reversible teacosy and I decided that for the moment that’s probably not necessary. So I mostly used it as a size guide. I used the sizing for the larger teacosy.

In my first session of sewing I pieced together two panels. I cut some right angled triangles – I think half square triangles in quilting lingo – and then pieced them together as pinwheels. I did this in strips, so each panel was three strips of triangles. I really enjoy the process of patchwork, of the cutting shapes, and choosing colour combinations and then seeing the patterns evolve as you sew them together again. The pinwheels were quite tricky to match together. If anything I got worse as I went a long. I definitely need to rethink how I cut the fabric. I don’t have a lot of space so when cutting from large sheets of fabric, some of it hangs off the table. This can then move and distort when I’m cutting it. Today I tried cutting on the floor – this was also pretty tricky. I couldn’t quite get the right angle.

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This is my sewing space. It gets a little crowded.

So once I’d got them pieced, it was time to quilt them together. It took me so long to figure out how to put a walking foot on my machine. I managed to dislodge the automatic needle threader (and no I still don’t know how it works). Eventually I got it going again and began quilting the first panel. And I hated it. The tension was wrong and the thing warped quite a bit and it was generally all a bit frustrating. With hindsight at least some of these problems would be solved if I a) bought some of the spray glue to baste it together properly and b) maybe practiced beforehand. But I’m impatient and cheap (the spray glue is expensive). And at this point I just put it away to deal with another day.

Front and back of one of my quilted panels
Front and back of one of my quilted panels

So when I got my machine set up this time, I just blitzed the quilting. Somewhere along my reading travels I read that if you quilt the lines in opposite directions it helps with the warping. And it definitely helped but this half was even less well basted so it still didn’t go that well.

Clover clips weren't in my budget either
Clover clips weren’t in my budget either

And then I had to learn how to bind the quilted halves. A quick google threw up this tutorial from cluckclucksew. I chose this one because it looked simple and didn’t include any hand sewing. The instructions were really easy to follow and it was a great way to get very neat corners. My biggest problem was I didn’t take enough care with the seam allowance when I sewed the binding to the front of the quilt. This meant when I was sewing it to the back it was really hard to get it to line up with the edge of the binding on the front of the quilt.

A bound and shaped panel
A bound and shaped panel

My teapot must be incredibly fat, because despite having used the larger sizing, there was no way it would have fitted if I’d sewn the pieces straight together. So I added side panels. I cut two equilatrial triangles, where the edges are the same length as the height as the panels. I quickly quilted with a single line, then used the back fabric as the binding. This is definitely a quicker method but doesn’t look as good.

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It’s pretty tent shaped

All that was left to do then was handstitch the panels together and I had a finished teacosy. No it’s not perfect, and it’s a funny shape (the side panels could have been smaller) but it keeps tea warm. And really that’s all a teacosy needs to do.

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A Pleasing Finish – An Embroidered Pincushion

I do love the feeling of having finished something. And today I finally finished the embroidery kit pincushion. This was another kit from my late grandmothers stash and it’s been well traveled (Croatia, France, Chester, Boston and New York).

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Embroidered Pin Cushion. Design by Jane Rainbow

I like having something to do with my hands so having to sit still for a few hours on a plane or train is a good (unnescessary) excuse to make something. And an embroidery kit is normally more self contained than beads. Although that hasn’t stopped me from beading on a train – it was a birthday gift with the date looming. It lead to an interesting conversation with the man next to me who didn’t believe the beads sewn on to fabric would stay on. However the thing that got the most comments/ conversations started was when I was darning my point shoes, while taking trains all over  the country for university open days. And gosh that was a long time ago now.

Embroidery Instructions
Embroidery Instructions

This kit is by Jane Rainbow and the instructions consisted of a grid pattern, examples of each stitch and some fairly complex written instructions. The pattern makes a square; then the four corners are folded in to make the pincushion. I stuffed the cushion with the left over wool ends and then the fluff which I pulled from some cotton wool pads. I’ve kept the other part of the pads to use as a line for this project.

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Christmas Ornament
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Top: Cotton wool pad Bottom: left over sheet

This was my first time doing embroidery, and if I do any more I really need to invest in an embroidery hoop. This one distorted quite badly by the end. This isn’t noticeable now its been folded and stuffed, but it would be very obvious if it was a flat piece. I’m not actually sure I’ll do anymore embroidery. I mean I wouldn’t turn down a kit if someone gave it to me, But it’s quite complex and I don’t particularly like the look of the wool. Maybe embroidery with thread or floss would look better or more modern. I definitely prefer the finished effect of cross stitch and find it much more therapeutic.

It was interesting to learn something new and I have made something I really needed. I didn’t own a pincushion and have been struggling to find my needles every time I need them. I have a butterfly cross stitch that I began on the last trip which should keep me going for a few more journeys (I think I forgot this off my list last month – whoops) and also a kit for an embroidered tea towel that I should attempt one day. It doesn’t have quite enough instructions though so I need to be feeling brave when I begin.