If you are anything like me you have scraps tucked into every storage box, bag and tub in your craft room (or tucked away from hubby in secret cupboards) and you dread the thought of dealing with the sheer quantity of it all BUT you cannot bear the thought of throwing it away either.
Short of just bagging the whole lot up without looking at it and dropping it off to your nearest charity (Salvos, Vinnies or if you would like to help Angel Gowns) there’s not much you can do unless you want to spend forever ironing, cutting and piecing scrap quilts, which as much as I love scrap quilts I would prefer to be making things I purposely designed.
I was lying in bed the other night at about 1am, still working online, looking for inspiration, researching and tweaking website when I had an idea. It’s probably not the first time this idea has been had but it will work for my plans and so I’m sharing it with you so that you can find out if it works for you.
I have decided that every time I piece a project from now on I will cut up what’s left into these 2in Drunkard’s Path shapes. I have always loved DP blocks from the moment I first saw one.
So by the end of 2015 I should have a terrific assortment of tiny blocks ready for my next scrap quilt. I will piece as I go so that the task is not overwhelming and so that I can keep track of how many blocks I have.
If you would like to join in with me on the mini DP block progress you can order your 2in templates from me here.
Of course if you aren’t a fan of the DP blocks you could do something else such as hexagons or clamshells if you love hand sewing. You could even cut small squares!
It not only has my favourite holiday Halloween but is also the birthday of the shop and this year for the shop’s third birthday I’ll be doing all sorts of wonderful things to celebrate.
Firstly there will be the ongoing competition.
To enter all you need to do is place a mail order (or orders) during the month of October. For every $5 you spend you will receive a numbered ticket. At the end of the month everyone’s numbers will go in my lucky witches hat and I will draw out a winner.
The prize: a $50 gift voucher to spend on fabrics (or it could go towards quilting costs if you prefer), a blue size 16 singlet top that has a screen printed black bat on it that I made in my screen printing class in September and some of my quilt patterns.
I will also be doing an overhaul on the store section of the website – this is more from an inventory standpoint so that all future sales are easier to track. There will be a heap of quilts listed on my hand-made store, all ready to be posted and perfect for Christmas gifts.
We’ve also passed 1000 likes of FB and 100 followers on IG so I’l be doing a little something to celebrate those.
Also if you would like to join in my fabric swap please drop me an email – email@example.com. The cut off date for sign ups was today but life go out of hand so I’m extending it for October.
There will be more details on the competition as well as a picture or two of the singlet top and the patterns etc so stay tuned!
I’ve been busy the past few months catching up on life and things in order to make sure that as we hurtle towards the end of the year and Christmas everything runs nice and smoothly. 😀
Custom quilt orders will be cut off as of midnight the 5th of October. There are 2 spaces available between now and Christmas.
Custom orders for other items (cushions, runners, placemats, hair accessories, aprons etc) will be cut off mid-November to ensure Christmas delivery.
Machine quilting will be cut off on the 8th of December with the last day for quilt returns being the 19th of December. There are spaces available just contact me to find out more.
I am in the process of looking for a suitable venue with dates and times for some basics classes (understanding your machine, patchwork basics, patchwork patterns and binding). If you would like to be popped on a mailing list for class information please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since moving the shop I’ve found myself rather low on space. It’s always been at a premium but now it’s top priority.
I’m having a massive quilt sale on all the pre-made quilts that I have ready to post.
The quilts are all listed here in a Facebook album and to purchase all you need to do is comment SOLD and message me your email and postal details and choice of payment method (Paypal invoice, credit card over the phone or direct deposit).
There is an assortment of quilts from cot size, to double bed along with a few wallhangings and table runners AND they are all 50% OFF!!
I want these quilts to go to good homes that will use them, throw them on the floor, on the lounge, use them as a picnic rug or even buy one for your favourite furry friend. I put a lot of work into them and I want people to enjoy them as much as I enjoy making them. 🙂
These quilts (with a few exceptions) are ready to post now – you purchase it and I’ll pop it in the mail. These quilts have been made over the past few years, some as recently as a month or so ago.
A few pictures below of some of what’s available.
As I unpack I will load more quilt pictures of what I have available.
And as always if you see something you like but it’s not in your colours or theme I can make a custom order quilt for you. Just get in touch with your ideas. 😀
I finally finished my Classic Horror Monster cross-stitch!!
I’m really bad at finishing cross-stitches so this is a personal best for me…all in the one year!
Top Row: The Mummy, Wolfman, Dracula
Bottom Row: Frankenstein’s Monster, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man.
I’ve also been working on some English Paper Piecing. I’m doing some clamshells at the moment and also working on a video for hexagons.
This quilt – that this first clamshell block will go into – will take me a while, as I am determined to do it by hand as you are meant to and I’m a very slow hand sewer. If you’d like to follow along just bookmark this post, but I’m warning you now that it will be ages in between updates, I’m that slow a hand sewer.
I’ll be using up all of my halloween scraps as I love the vibrant colours and I hate waste. And a girl can never have too many halloween quilts. 🙂
As of tomorrow the shop move goes into full swing so there might not be a post for a little while. Excited to have this all over with as I hate packing.
I have several sales happening as well at the moment – you’ll need to check out my Facebook page and Hand-made store for all the goodies.
I’m sitting here in bed typing on the very tiny bluetooth keyboard for my iPad thinking about all the things that happened today. It’s just before midnight and even though going to a market today was physically exhausting I am WIDE awake.
So I thought I might share with you what happens after a market –
After I have packed the truck at the venue, Mum and I drive home. We unload, collapse on the lounge with a cup of tea and just relax for a bit. Later on though my mind is filled with all the things that happened during the day – who I spoke to, what it was about, things I can change on the stall, things I can do next time, what I can bring etc.
Each market gives me its own unique feedback – sometimes that feedback comes in words from customers or event organisers, sometimes its as simple as monitoring what sells best/worst/in the middle – which means that for the next market I can try a different set of products, displays, set up and even to how I pack the truck. I try to maintain a balance between the efficiency of packing and unloading the truck (how many trips back and forth from the truck to the location of my stall) and what the customers would like to buy. Sometimes I get it spot on, sometimes I miss a few things, but that is why markets are so important to small businesses like mine.
I’m an online business selling an item that is tactile – which makes it hard to sell based on quality because as a customer you can’t feel the texture, see the brightness of a print or stack bolts in different sequences to see if your idea will work – but as a business owner I am relying on you to trust me about that quality, which you should because I am one of you. I’ve been there, starting from my first quilt (front was good but oh my the backing!), confused by all the tools and gadgets, even more confused by the maths (what are these inch things?) and not really understanding the accuracy of what I was doing.
You need to trust me to select the fabrics and products, trust that I would only stock good quality or things that I use myself. Which is exactly what I do.
Back to the markets…
I do markets to advertise, mingle and engage with my audience in a way that I can’t as an online business. I do the markets to help make the lack of a physical shop less an inconvenience to my customers – so that quilts tops can be dropped off for quilting, picked up once they are quilted, local mail orders can be picked up and so that I get some human contact. I’m in a studio all day on my own and it can make you a little crazy, all that solitude. I do enjoy it but it can be hard sometimes.
So after today’s fun at the Destash Market (my own stuff not the shop’s) I have some really fun things coming to the next market and I hope that if you do come to a market that I’m at that you do pop in and say hi.
I’m still not tired so I guess it’s more work for me until I feel sleepy, can’t do any sewing this late as mum and dad are already asleep. So is the cat…on my feet…
So nearly at the middle of the year, tax time, 6 months till the end of the year and time to reassess what I’m doing.
At the start of the year I made myself a resolution to finish UFOs. I have done a few, not as many quilts as I would have liked but I have also made inroads to finish other UFOs – runners, bags and other craft stuff that I’ve been working on….
I’m doing a Classic Horror Movie Monster cross-stitch from Cloudsfactory that I bought ages ago but have done barely any on. I’ve done Frankenstein’s monster, the Bride and the creature from the Black Lagoon, next is the Invisible Man, then Dracula, Wolfman and the Mummy. I can’t wait until it’s finished and I can get it framed.
I love cross-stitch but I’m really slow to get things finished – handwork is really not my forté so it takes me three times as long to do.
I’ve also been working on using pre-cuts to make a few items. I collect pre-cuts like most quilters do, you pick one up at a show or on sale and it sits in a box or the bag it came in and gets forgotten because you don’t know what to do with it or you struggle with the limitations of the size that its been cut at. I have a jelly roll sitting waiting for me but the project I’m saving that for is something that some friends and I are working on. The other pre-cuts I love at the moment are the mini charm square packs – 42, 2.5in squares – I’ve made a few things with them, but because they are so small its hard to keep coming up with ideas. This is the zippered pouch I’m doing today.
I’m also working on new quilt. I spotted a wreath on Pinterest sometime last year and it was lovely and soft grey tones with brighter peach flowers on it. I loved the colour combination so much I decided that I wanted to make a quilt in those colours. I did start this quilt last year but it has sat in a bag since as I got distracted by other projects. Yesterday I sat and pieced almost all of it and it will be on the quilting machine next week. I’m really looking forward to free-motion quilting something gorgeous in those wide spans of grey linen. YUM!
The move is going well. The new space is nearly cleared out and I’m still packing over at the studio. I’m aiming to be out by the end of the month but it is a little flexible. I really don’t want to muck around with moving as it is such a painful process but it is good in a way because it forces you to declutter and clean things out that you’ve left on shelves and in boxes for far too long.
I’m really looking forward to the new space as it means I can work more to my body’s natural hours. I’m a night owl, its well known that I’m no good in the mornings… 🙂 and because of the new space I am able to teach small classes. Nothing just yet, after mid-July when I’m all sorted, but you can book in now – just email or ring me.
Colour Class – 1.5 hours, $15.
Binding Class – 2 hours, $20, learn several types of binding.
Cutting and Piecing Class – 3 hours, $30, learn about all the tools needed for cutting, how to calculate and cut, then how to piece, press and iron.
Basic Pouch Class – 2 hours, $20, includes inserting a zip.
Basic Table Runner – 3 hours, $30, learn to design and piece a basic runner for your table.
I am located in Gosford so classes are intended for locals or those traveling through the Central Coast. If you are interstate please don’t worry as I can do video classes for you – please PM me if you are interested in those. I’m taking bookings now so if you’d like to secure your place please let me know and I will organise an invoice for a $10 deposit.
Anyways, its another wet and miserable day here on the coast so I’m off to make another cup of tea and get back to my sewing.
I’ve made this Christmas Table Runner using only a mini charm square pack and just over half a metre of Riley Blake Honeycomb Dot in grey (available in the store).
I know so many people who pick up pre-cuts thinking that they will make something from them, but inevitably they end up in a box or cupboard and don’t see the light of day for a very long time. I know it happens, I’m guilty of it myself. But this year one of my resolutions was to FINISH things and so in an effort to help you out there in quilt-blog-land finish things as well…here we go…
Aspen Frost mini charm square pack (42, 2 1/2in squares)
To start there’s a few little things that I need to make sure you know so we are all on the same page.
We will not be washing these fabrics. Pre-cuts don’t take well to pre-washing and you will lose more of a 2 1/2in square in fraying than you will have left to sew.
There will be minimal left overs as we will have scraps of the grey and a handful of squares that you won’t use.
Starch is optional but recommended. Starch will help your tiny pre-cuts retain what stability they have and will make your finished blocks easier to handle. Starch washes out. Starch recommendation is Mary Ellen’s Best Press, which you can purchase here.
If you have trouble remembering a layout sequence, make sure you have your camera nearby. Snap a quick picture of the blocks once you are happy with the design so you can refer back to it if needed when you start piecing.
The techniques used in this tutorial can apply to any quilted project you just need to adjust your measurements and design as needed.
From your mini charm square pack select four lots of nine sets of squares. From the Aspen Frost pack I was able to refine my choice by colour – red, green, blue and white – but whatever pack you have you need to make that judgment call. It could be by print, scale, theme, directionality* etc.
Layout your nine squares in a 3×3 block that you like. Take a photo for reference if needed. See note 5.
Thread up your machine with neutral colour thread (cream, white, black, grey) and your 1/4in foot. Set the machine for straight sewing, with average stitch length and width. My Janome likes a stitch width of just over 5 and a length of 2.
Take two of the mini charm squares and place them right sides together. Stitch the squares together down one side. Without taking the stitched squares off the machine continue piecing all the pairs of squares that you can from each block (this is where the photos of the blocks will help). Once you have stitched the pairs (12 pairs) you can remove the strand of pairs off the machine. This is called chain piecing** and saves time and thread.
Starting with the first of the stitched pairs go along and add the third square for that row.
Once you have joined the rows of three squares, take everything over to your ironing board, bring your scissors or thread snips.
Snip the threads holding each row together. Set the three rows for one block face down on the ironing board. Check that you have them in the right order (use your photos) and press the seams in alternating directions.
Taking two rows align the seams as shown. This is called abutting*** the seams and will ensure that you have better matching points. This technique can be used anytime you have two seams meeting.
Pin the two rows together making sure you have the seams matching.
Stitch along the edge, remove the pins and check you intersecting seams. Press the rows open and then repeat the process for the third row of that block.
Assemble all 4 of your 9-Patch blocks.
From your 55cm of grey fabric cut three, 2 1/2in strips.
Place your 9-patch block right side down on the right side of one grey strip and stitch along the edge. Attach all four blocks onto the strip in this way
Place the pieced strip down on your cutting mat as shown in the picture and trim the blocks/strip down to size.
At this point I like to spray starch my blocks to aid in keeping them straight and neat, it also helps press out the strips that I’ve just attached to the centre blocks.
Set the seams and then press the strip away from the block.
Layout your blocks in the order you want them in.
Piece the blocks together making sure there is a strip of grey in between each block. You can piece one by one or piece in pairs and then piece the pairs together.
Make sure you have a strip of grey on either end of your table runner length as well.
Trim down any excess grey fabric and press the seams you just stitched in towards the grey strips. Turn the runner over and press from the front to make sure there are no pleats in your seams.
Take one of the remaining grey strips and place it right sides together with your runner, and stitch along the length. Pin if you feel you need to.
Trim the excess fabric strip and then set the seam.
Starch the strip and then press it away from the centre of your runner.
Repeat for the other grey strip and your runner top is finished!
Press your remaining grey fabric (approx. 35cm). Starch if you like.
Lay the fabric right side down on a flat surface. Tape the selvedge edges down and then tape at intervals along the length, making sure the fabric is taut but not stretched.
Lay your rectangle of wadding on top of the fabric and smooth out so its flat and there are no lumps, wrinkles or loose threads.
Place your table runner right side up on the wadding and smooth from the centre out so there are no lumps or folds.
Pin baste with safety pins, no more than 4in apart. If the pins hurt your hands to close them – use a teaspoon.
Set your sewing machine up with your walking foot. You can increase your stitch length slightly, I tend not to but it does make it harder to unpick if you have a small stitch when quilting. Test a few sizes to find one you like.
I quilted this runner in straight lines – ditch stitching in each of the 9-Patch blocks and then ditch stitching the rows and extending it out onto the border. I also did a 1/4in stitch away from the edge of the border to secure the whole runner edge to make binding easier.
To tie in the loose thread ends – from the top of the runner thread the ends onto a needle and pull through to the back of the runner. Tie the threads in a knot and let the knot sit about 1/8th of an inch away from the runner surface. Thread all four threads on to the needle and thread into the runner and away from the stitches, hiding the threads and the knot inside the runner. Wiggle the knot so that it slips under the fabric, if you need to. Clip off the excess thread.
Trim down your backing and wadding to the edge of the table runner and you are ready for binding.
The other day I was fortunate enough to see this link that a friend (also a quilter) posted on her FB page.
I read it with interest, agreeing with some points, recognising that I could adjust my own view on others.
But one thing has struck me since reading this blog and that is if you piece a backing PLEASE piece it with the same care and attention to detail as you would the front.
Backing is important regardless of your view on it because it will be important to the overall finish of your quilt. Whether it gets professionally quilted on a long-arm or a DSM it doesn’t matter but how the backing sits is a key point in making sure your whole quilt looks its best.
I’ve often found there are several schools of thought on backing. I myself fall into the first category.
1. The ‘Match the backing’ club: This group wants the backing to match the front in some way. Using up the leftover fabrics from the front or matching it with another fabric altogether. This group often consists of Modern quilter’s with lovely pieced backings, those who like symmetry and those who like to use what they bought for that project.
2. The ‘it’s only backing’ club: This group seem to not worry about matching – theme, colour or style – they pick up cheap backings whenever they see it and whatever takes their fancy at the time a quilt is finished, it goes on as backing.
3. The ‘I’ll use something plain’ club: This group use primarily homespun, calico, quilter’s muslin or a very plain wide back. This group is rare. I hardly see any quilts like this anymore.
There is nothing wrong with any of the above ideas for backing. I’ve used all three types over the almost 300 things I’ve quilted over the last decade BUT the one thing that has been the same is that whenever I piece a backing it’s done with care.
Because a backing needs to be attached in a certain way to the ‘leaders’ (the fabric attached to the roll bars on a long-arm frame) it needs to be as accurate as you can make it. As a quilter I have seen many backings – some have come to me off the roll, some cut to size and some pieced – off the roll is best for less changes to the nature of the fabric as I can pin the straight selvedge to the top leader and adjust the bottom one as necessary. Cut to size is problematic as cutting it to size often results in too small, or it shifts during quilting and then one side has less, the bottom doesn’t make it all the way, corners are way off…. Pieced backings cause issue, because lets face it a seam creates a weak spot – seams undo themselves, seams might not be straight and seams may have been stitched incorrectly causing rippling.
So in order to solve these problems –
1. Off the roll: Where you can, leave a selvedge for the top edge of your backing. Talk to your quilter about it and if needed mark it as the top of your backing.
2. Cut to size: Backing for many long-arm quilters needs to be at the barest minimum 4in extra ALL the way around a quilt top size. This is mentioned in the link above. I would say 6in to be safer and 8in if you are getting dense quilting done. Please don’t cut backing ‘to size’ because it just won’t do. If you intend on machine quilting on your own domestic machine then cutting to size can be preferable as it reduces bulk BUT if you change your mind and want it quilted on a long-arm please piece some extra around your backing – an extra strip of homespun, or the like to help us get your quilt onto the machine – or rethink your backing altogether and start again.
3. Pieced backings: Lay your quilt top out flat and measure it. Use those measurements and then add your 4-8in all the way around. Draw up on graph paper your backing dimensions and then work out your piecing from the outside edge in. (Craftsy have a really good class on modern quilt backings with Elizabeth Hartman called Creative Quilt Backs, this may help with your backings if you have trouble). Piece your backing together as carefully as you would the front, taking the time to press as you go and run a row of stitching all the way around the edge of the backing to prevent seams unravelling. Use starch if you like and make sure all threads are trimmed away. Above all don’t rush, I know it’s exciting being nearly done or nearly ready to quilt but don’t rush your backing.
If you are sending your quilt away to be quilted make sure everything is pressed, trimmed and stitched securely so that it can handle any jostling while it travels to the along-arm quilter. Be clear with what you want for your quilt, discuss your options with the quilter and make sure you get anything you need in writing. I use an invoice book when I’m booking in a quilt, I write down the size, price, batting, backing, thread, design and due date (timeframe if the quilt is needed by a certain date: birthday etc). My customers pay a deposit and then the balance when the quilt is picked up. So the deposit amount and date is also included on the paperwork. Other things that we quilters look for when booking in your quilts are things like – do you want the quilt trimmed down ready for binding, do you want us to attach the binding, make the binding, are there labels that need to be quilted on as well?
There’s many things that need to be thought about in the process of making a quilt but if you trust in your long-arm quilter, their experience and talent you will have a finished quilt to be very proud of.
If you would like to know more about long-arm quilting you can check out the machine quilting page, email me email@example.com, ring 0416 023 637 or comment on this post.
Watch this quick video to see the machine in action
After washing all of your fabrics, iron and starch them.
This is how much fraying and threads that happened when we washed these homespuns, we lost just under 3/4in on this green fabric and the others lost about the same but none more than an inch. This is why I urge you to consider buying extra fabric to save you the grief and hassle of going back and buying more fabric.
Watch this video for using starch.
Fold your fabrics in half with wrong sides together, selvedges aligned. You may need to allow the fabric to dictate to you where the fold is, which may pull the selvedges out of line but they will be cut off so don’t worry too much. Your selvedges will not match up – in the photo below you can see the teal fabric selvedges are way off – this is due to two things, washing and grain line. When we washed our fabrics they have shrunk, we removed the sizing that was keeping them nice for the shelves in the shop and the grain line has been ‘relaxed’. By adjusting the position of the selvedge when folding your fabric in half for cutting you will get a much better and more natural grain line and it will be straighter.
Trim off the frayed edge to straighten up the fabric. If you are left-handed you can continue cutting as the fabric is laid out in the right position for you. Right-handers turn the fabric’s newly straight edge to the left-hand side of your board and then continue cutting.
From your five fabrics (50cm pieces of homespun in the materials list) cut three 2 1/2in strips.
Note: the remaining fabric will be used to piece the backing for Mum’s quilt, you can choose to do the same if you wish.
Set up your sewing machine with the neutral thread for piecing, the 1/4in foot and a straight stitch that is the average for your machine – check your manual for tips on this. My Janome likes a stitch width of 5.5 and a length of 2.
Piece the strips together in the sequence of your choice. This is the sequence we have chosen for mum. There is reason behind it, it’s not just random. If you paint put your mind into that way of thinking, but I will explain.
1. Green is on this end because it has a yellow base colour and is essentially the odd one out in this range of colours.
2. Teal is next because it is made up of blue and green so it can sit nicely next to green to help tie it into the block.
3. The blue is in the middle as it is the darkest fabric and will draw the eye in, but it is also there because it is blue – the teal has blue in it so they can sit next to each other, and the blue also is used in making the colour for the next strip so it is tying the two sides of this block together.
4. Purple has a red base (mix red and blue together to make purple) and so this is why it’s next to the blue.
5. Brown is often classed as a red based colour so it belongs next to the purple for this reason. It is also technically an odd one out so it is also balancing the green’s oddness on the other side.
Start with the green strip and place it on top of the teal strip. Pin if you feel you need to hold the strips together.
Note: I like to sew my strips together so that as they are being joined so that they are off to the left side of the machine – this keeps them out of the way and doesn’t clutter up the throat of the machine. I am right-handed, as is mum. Left-handers may like to try both ways and see what suits you better. Like all my other notes these are just suggestions of things that I find easier and have discovered over many years of quilting, it’s not gospel and you don’t have to treat it as such. Find what is comfortable for you and your machine.
Continuing adding your strips, keeping them in order and making sure that you are sewing so that the seams are all on the same side. Always start from the same edge.
Once you have joined the 5 strips, press the seams in one direction.
You may notice that the strips are not all the same length.
This is fairly common and is a manufacturing issue and a washing issue. It’s not something that can be fixed. But if you always start from the same edge when joining strips you will reduce the waste of fabric.
Trim the selvedges off the edge that you started piecing on.
Then cut your pieced unit into four 10 1/2in blocks.
Repeat for your other sets of strips and you have made all of your blocks.
In the next blog post we will be cutting the focal piece, adding a small border, assembling the quilt top and preparing for quilting.