ScrapHappy Zeppelins in October

When the new session of the F2F block swap started (details here), I decided to make a scrappy block every month in the colours each participant had chosen – partly so I’d have something to show on Scraphappy day if I’m honest – which I always try to be with you dear readers.    I made a couple of blocks with random scraps then changed my mind and decided to make the same paper pieced block for each person plus one for myself using the remains of the fabric used for them or similar colours from my scrap bin.   I confess the scraps are quite big scraps (more like small remnants ) as anything too small wouldn’t work for the design I’m using.   I’m still putting it forward for ScrapHappy day this month though because the fabric was all leftovers and because I haven’t had time to make anything with smaller scraps as I’ve been in a bit of a dressmaking frenzy which will be the subject of a future post.  I hope Kate and Gun will forgive me for using biggish scraps instead of littleish scraps.  (‘Littleish’ – now there’s a word you can really get your tongue around.  Is it even a word? If not, it should be.)

On a side note, if you think paper piecing is wasteful of fabric – what about dressmaking?  I can’t believe how much goes in the bin and most of it’s no good for scrappy stuff being too thick or thin or whatever.

Anyway, I have adopted a paper piecing pattern called Zeppelin which you can find on Craftsy here as a free downloadable PDF.  It doesn’t have too many pieces which is good when you have to make quite a few of them and I like the clean lines and contemporary look of it.

I started in July with Claire’s colours of turquoise, grey, black and white.

Then, in September, Nanette’s colour choices were blue and blush pink.

I parted with some of my precious ombre fabric for this one.

Moira chose browns and creams with duck egg blue as a highlight in October.

Earlier on in the swap, I was ‘Miss June’ and later made one in my own neutral(ish) palette of greys, creams, and vintage pink.

I still need to make one in Sue’s colours  – I missed making a ‘Sue Zeppelin’ in July.  Her choices were similar to Nanette’s but with white instead of blush pink to go with the blues but, eventually, once I have a Zeppelin in all nine participants’ colours, they will make a small quilt or throw which will be quite a nice souvenir of the 2018/2019 block swap.

The four scrappyish Zeppelin blocks so far flung against my  design wall.  I say, ‘design wall’ though it is just a flannelette sheet held in place by books on my bookshelf – but you get my drift.

Wondering what ScrapHappy is?  Have a look on Kate’s blog here and join us once a month – or less if you can’t come up with a duplicitous way round it like me – well, let’s call it a ‘compromise’.

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An Eclectic Runner

Do you ever have those times when you’ve not even thought about a a new project but, all of a sudden, something pops into your head and you have to start on it there and then despite having numerous others on the go?  Of course you do.

Ages ago, I kept spending loads of money with a company called Massdrop (are they still going?) until I realised the error of my ways and unsubscribed.  However, I will always be grateful to them for my stack of beautiful ombre fabrics

and my thick felted wool ironing pad thingy which is in constant use.

Anyway, one of my impulse purchases from them was a stack of fabrics from Tim Holtz called ‘Eclectic Elements’ which has languished in my stash ever since as I couldn’t imagine any of them in a quilt and keep forgetting about them when I need something a bit ‘quirky’ in a  craft project.

 I decided (all of a sudden as previously mentioned) I needed a table runner for the coffee table in the living room.

My décor – such as it is – in there is not really something calling out for my usual selection of quilting fabrics so I thought these would work being more subdued in tone.

I took out the blues as they definitely don’t ‘go’ with anything in the room and added a couple of toning fabrics from elsewhere in my stash.

The ‘Suchard Chocolat’ piece was in the original Eclectic stack but I had already sewn it in to the runner by the time I’d thought to take a photo because it’s my favourite piece and I used quite a bit of it as the central strip.  My second favourite is the butterflies which might be moths – must put my specs on to read the teensy writing, something I’m finding myself saying more and more often these days.

I was intrigued by a method I saw here where you cut out the backing and batting to size, cut your strips of fabric and lay one centrally, right side up,  across the backing and batting.  Then, you lay the next strip right side down on top of the first and sew a quarter inch seam, then press seam open.  On the other side of the first strip, repeat with another strip and carry on like that, alternately in each direction, until you reach the ends of the runner.

I had this red and cream floral fabric in my stash which I think coordinates well with the other fabrics and also with the room it will be used in which has a red theme going on but not a bright red.

So you have, effectively, sandwiched and quilted the layers at the same time – a sort of alternative ‘quilt as you go’.  You can leave it like this or add some further quilting – which I did, using a very French makeshift template.

I bound it the traditional way with a double fold binding and some plain red from my stash.

I’m surprised how much the quilting pattern showed up once the runner was in position – especially here where the sun was shining right across it.

Oh look, there’s blue in my rug – I could have left the blue fabrics in after all.

I would be drummed out of Instagram for not plumping up my sofa cushions before a photography session.  Still, let’s call it ‘keeping it real’ this time and be amazed there’s not a dog or three draped across it.

So, not a ‘pretty, pretty’ table runner one often associates with quilting projects but I don’t think that would have worked in this room so I’m quite pleased with it.

Now to get back to whatever it was I was supposed to be doing when this popped into my head.

 

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Sunday Sevens

 

What?

Is that not what it means?

 

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #3

An occasional (can’t manage more than that) series of posts where I say not much at all.

Remember my stained piece of gorgeousness picked up in the junk/charity shop?

Thank you for all your suggestions.

Here it is now

I decided to trust the oxygenating stuff (known as Vanish here and in the U.K. at least) and soaked it overnight.  Then I sprayed with a dilute white vinegar solution and laid it out in the sun.  Then repeated both actions before hand washing in mild soap and rinsing thoroughly followed by another bout in the sun.

I am as chuffed as whatever a chuffed thing is. **

Here’s the final result of my project using leftover yarn.

💖

💙

One or two people might be getting a blanket for Christmas.

 

**

English dialect chuff pleased, puffed with fat

Thanks for that Merriam-Webster, sometimes it’s best to live in ignorance.

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A Bit Of A Rub Down

The other day a friend and I had a spot of lunch before mooching around a couple of junk shops.

Unlike the U.K., we are very ‘poor’ in charity shops (thrift/op stores) around here but we do have quite a large one within a half hour drive.  There is so much stock that some of it ends up outside to be rained upon and this includes furniture, sewing machines and all sorts.

You could be forgiven for thinking this photograph was taken outside the junk shop but, in fact, it’s part of the terrace at the back of my house – the shutters are a clue.  This, however, is the position this wardrobe door was found in – leaning up against an outside wall in all weathers – with the only damage being the veneer at the base starting to peel off a bit.

I’ve been looking for a full length mirror to put in my sewing room to help with fitting issues and I might not have thought of an old door separated from its wardrobe if my friend hadn’t suggested it.

Anyway, the door was purchased and (wo)manhandled by the two of us into my car – it was a tight squeeze .

I thought the wood veneer might look a bit ‘heavy’ in my workroom so decided to clean and lightly sand the surface …..

……… protect the lovely bevelled mirror with masking tape and whip out the chalk paint.

Here I include a word of warning to anyone over the age of about 40.  Never actually look at yourself when bending over a mirror – gravity is not your friend.

I love this bevelling.

Not much distressing of the chalk paint was necessary as the wood stain shows through a bit anyway so I just rubbed a bit at the mouldings and brushed some soft wax over it all.  I left the little lock cover on as it’s pretty and I’m not trying to hide the fact it was once a wardrobe door – it’s more interesting that way.

Not bad for 5 euros (about 6 US dollars)

Despite having this antique suitcase stuffed full of vintage linens that I must have a rummage through one of these days, we also went a bit mad in the linen department of the aforementioned junk shop.

I say ‘we’ but it was mostly ‘me’.

I find linens really hard to photograph which is probably why I still have a suitcase full of the stuff instead of having it in my online shop.  Well, that and I’m not very knowledgeable about embroidery or different kinds of lace so the descriptions are a challenge for me too.

This piece is lovely and only has a general, slightly tea-stained look about it – no single stains.  I know I have some readers who are vintage linen aficionados and wonder about the best and safest soak for an overall ‘freshen up’ for this piece.  (You should be able to click on all the photos to enlarge them)

I got told off by Mr. Tialys for buying this next piece because it definitely has some staining which the thread, in particular, has absorbed.  The work on it is so lovely though and the lace surround so pretty and there’s no other damage (more excuses ready if needed) that I had to buy it.

Obviously, the darker threads are stains although at first I thought the maker might have just run out of beige thread 🤔- but I also wonder why the light cream and the darker cream embroidered squares are placed in these positions – it seems a bit random.  I don’t think I’ll be able to get the staining out of those threads – unless you know different – but wondered about deliberately ‘tea-staining’ the whole thing.  Any thoughts from my knowledgeable readers much appreciated.

Changing the subject ever so slightly, I hear that mustard is big again this autumn which I hope is true or this –

will have been a waste of time.

Not that most people in the corner of rural France I live in would know or, still less, care but I do at least try to keep up appearances.

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Big Scraps, Little Scraps And Some In Between

Can a person get addicted to a crochet pattern?  If so, I’m on my way to rehab.  Remember these two Little River Blankets? (pattern designed by Emma Varnam )

The one on the right is made with Scheepjes yarn from the original kit and, to be honest, is still my favourite due to the softer feel of the cotton/acrylic mix and the more carefully planned out colour scheme which the pattern provides.  The one on the left is made with 100% cotton yarn and I made the colours up as I went along.

All the yarn came in cute little 10g balls and, in the original, only one row is crocheted with each ball.  Even so, I still had some leftovers from both projects

Perfect for yet another version using the scraps and enabling me to participate in ScrapHappy day this month.

I am breaking the rules with this one due to the limitations of using scraps and am having to change colour part way through a lot of the rows.  I’m just trying to keep some sort of blending going.

This is it so far,  unwoven in ends and all.  The blue I’m using to create the unifying ripple every 7th row and the eventual edging is the only new yarn I bought for this version.  The 7th row should have been the 5th row but I forgot and didn’t want to frog it so decided to keep it at every 7th – who will know?  Or care?

I think the reason I’m addicted is the pattern is easy, though not totally mindless, so perfect for getting something useful done when I’m Netflix bingeing in the evening. It also keeps me from having a glass of wine or falling asleep – the two usually go together.

A double whammy from the scrap department this month.  I made these two blocks for Kate’s newest quilt project for Ovarian Cancer Australia.  Their colours are teal and cream and Kate likes to indulge her love of puns when naming the quilts.  We’ve had ‘Tealed With A Kiss’, ‘Signed, Tealed, Delivered’ amongst others in the past and this one will be called ‘Go Teal It On The Mountains’.  So, Kate and some of her readers of the patchwork persuasion are making blocks with a mountain theme.  For some time now I’ve had a stash of of teal blues (and similar) kept specially for these projects.  The blocks are assembled, quilted and finished by Kate and then auctioned to raise funds. You can read a bit more about it on Kate’s blog here.

This first block of mine was just a case of joining strips really.

I found the original idea online here

My second block was foundation paper pieced, a method I have come to love.

Free pattern found on Craftsy here 

Kate asks for 12 inch finished blocks and this one was only 7 inches but I found this useful guide on how to enlarge and reduce paper pieced patterns here

Here’s another little scrap

Yuki hunting grass

Joining in this month with Kate and Gun’s Scraphappy Day for some inventive uses of scraps and interesting blogs. If you want to use up some scraps and show what you’ve done with them – could be paper, yarn, fabric, leather, wood, whatever, just let Kate know here and she can add you to the list of participants even if you don’t want to do something every month.   Find more details on Kate’s blog here

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A Question Of Quilts – Well, Two Actually.

Inspired by Cathy’s big, beautiful hexie quilt top in progress she showed us recently, I ferretted around in my workroom and unearthed my box of hexies started a few years ago.  I had bought some thin card pre-cut hexies along with some fabric ones and, filled with the enthusiasm that is always evident at the start of a project, I started making them.

Then I stopped.

Although I did put one ‘flower’ together.

As you can see, this range of fabrics is very retro – it’s Chloe’s Closet for Moda called ’30s Playtime’ but there have been many variations of these so I don’t know which one this was.  They are all along the same lines however.

Then, probably the year after or maybe later, I bought a jelly roll of ’30s Playtime’ which is a different variation but near enough to make no difference.  I haven’t unwrapped it yet but I’m hoping there are more pups and bunnies.

I think I haven’t progressed much with the hexies because I have no clear idea what I’m going to do with them.  I know, almost certainly, I will never have the patience to make a whole quilt with them. So, my question is, do you think I could join the ones I do make into a row – or however many rows I have enough hexies for – levelling that row (or rows) off to make straight lines – then make the rest of the quilt top with the jelly roll strips, inserting the hexie rows wherever they look right?

I also have some larger fabric hexies – just waiting for their paper/card inners – so the rows of hexies would be slightly different sizes.

Any ideas? Please! I have searched Pinterest without much joy as everybody else is obviously far more patient than I am and have mostly made quilts out of hundreds of little hexie flowers or similar.

Now for the second question.

Have you ever used double gauze fabric in quilting?

Double gauze has 2 layers of very thin gauze fabrics fused together, to create a soft, full bodied fabric.   I have some in the perfect colour for backing my F2F blocks which are all in neutral colours with a sort of ‘dirty’ pink – let’s call it ‘vintage’ pink – as a highlight.

When I get around to putting the blocks together, I will be using the ‘quilt as you go’ method for construction which, for the non-quilters amongst you, who probably aren’t reading this anyway, means I will make a wadding sandwich with the top and backing squares and quilt them individually, then join with sashing.

So, as you can see, my hedgehog block is sitting nicely against the colour for display purposes but I just wondered if any of you have any experience of this fabric in quilt making or in any other sewing projects.

Thank you muchly for any ideas, suggestions or general comments.  I know I can count on you.

 

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An Experimental Gift

In my efforts to make gifts for people rather than buy stuff, I decided to make something for a friend’s ‘special’ (aka ‘scary’) birthday recently.

She is quite fussy so I wanted to make something she’d like and use and that wouldn’t clash with anything in her lovely house.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have chosen her then for my first attempt at crocheting Moroccan Tile stitch and raid my stash for the necessary super chunky wool no matter what colour. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Anyway, here is the result of my well meaning endeavours……..

a lined basket – with handles no less – using the aforementioned stitch.

This is quite a large basket measuring around 8 inches in diameter and about 7 inches high.  It’s made with super chunky yarn and is also lined with yarn of the same weight so it’s substantial enough to stand up on its own.  I used a free pattern which, reading the comments, appears to have caused a few problems with getting the size of the lining right in relation to the exterior.

I went down half a hook size for the outside (I used a 5.5mm) and a whole size and a half for the lining – a 4.5mm (won’t do that again!)

Blocking wasn’t mentioned and the jury seems to be out on whether it works on acrylic anyway but the lining was just a teensy bit small so I had to pull it tighter than it was possibly meant to be pulled in order to join it to the exterior.  It became obvious that this had caused some narrowing at the handle level so I tried to make it as neat as possible and used a large glass circular vase to hold it open and pegs (pinging off now and then) to hold the handle section up.

That’s not the lining you see through the glass but face cloths to pad the sides out a bit around the vase.

Then I gave it all a squirt with the steam iron and left it for a while.

You can see that the basket goes narrower just before the handle section starts which it shouldn’t plus it isn’t entirely symmetrical which is all due to my overcompensating for other people saying their lining came out too big.

 I wondered about giving it to her for her birthday after all because it’s not 100% perfect and I was, therefore, not 100% happy with it.  In the end I bought some pretty hand towels to put in it, wrapped it in cellophane with a big bow and hoped she’d appreciate the fact I’d made her something even if she only uses it to let the cat jump in and out of.

I am definitely going to make another of these – they are large and very useful.  I love the effect of the stitch which took a bit of getting used to but the free pattern I used had written and video tutorials which I followed avidly.  You can find Tamara Kelly’s pattern on Ravelry and  here

…..and this is how the experts do it.

Next time I will see if I have something in plain colours I can double up to super chunky thickness – I have lots of aran and dk weight wools in my stash – as I think I prefer the original version in the plain colours.  Although I think the two different variegated yarns I used also create quite an interesting effect.  This was a really fun project – a bit of a challenge but that never hurts once in a while does it?

 

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Flora, Fauna and Fleas

Just to prove the weather’s gone crazy, I took this photo yesterday – from the car so it’s not brilliant, sorry – but these sunflowers are in full bloom and it’s the end of August.  Usually they’ve all finished around the end of July in these parts.  That’s what having rain almost every day in June will do I suppose.

This appeared in the storage box thingy next to the pool.  I want to move the box further up the garden away from scantily clad bodies but nobody has volunteered to help me.  Funny that.  Sorry for the blurry photo but I was in and out of there faster than you can say knife (or wasp) but they don’t actually seem to be interested in doing anything else but looking after their nest so might as well let them be.

My old dog Taz seems to be on his last legs – he’s thirteen next month and is now completely blind, almost deaf and seems to be confused about where he is most of the time.  He still enjoys his food though so when he suddenly slowed down his usual scarfing down of dog biscuits I was even more worried so I took him to the vets.  We have a new vet – she is amazing.  She laid down on the floor, on her back, as if she was examining the underside of a car and, without further ado, attacked his icky teeth with what looked like a cross between a pair of pliers and some nutcrackers to remove the tartar caring nothing for the close proximity of randomly snapping jaws.  He has an infection which she’s given him antibiotics for but, unfortunately, she also spotted a tumour in his mouth which she says can’t be operated on.  I wouldn’t put him through it anyway at his age.  She’s given him some tablets which may or may not inhibit the growth of the tumour but we’ll see.

Taz

Open wide

When I told her I think he has some sort of canine dementia, she said she would try oxygenating his brain.  I was filled with trepidation as to how he’d react when given a blow through with oxygen and wondered if she’d administer it through his ears or up his nose.  I was actually a bit disappointed when she just gave us more tablets.  She thought I was very funny for some reason.   I’ll give it a couple of weeks to see how he gets on but I’m in ‘preparation mode’.

With the heat this Summer we have, once again had a problem with fleas.  Despite costing me the price of a foreign holiday to treat three dogs, five cats and a large house with top of the range flea and tick treatment, those little buggers have returned.  Last year the cats were the most badly affected, this year it’s the dogs.  They usually have a topical treatment which is supposed to last a month but, three weeks in, I’ve had to give them tablets too.  I think I’m on top of the problem now but it’s not been without its moments.

I’ve become paranoid about every little black speck I see and, the other day, I tried to drown a tiny piece of black velcro that had fallen off the strap of my sandal onto my foot.  I only realised my mistake when I was studying it floating around in the glass and wondered why it didn’t have any legs.

Then, following advice on the internet, I added some cider vinegar to all the pets’ drinking water and made up a solution in a spray bottle to wet the dogs’ fur with and put some on a cloth to wipe down the cats.  I also sprayed rugs and furniture.  Only after the bottle was empty and I went to refill it did I realise I’d used red wine vinegar by mistake.  I’ve waited a couple of days to tell you this in case I had to report ill effects or drunken capers but, as there was no dancing on the tables or lewd behaviour to report I will assume no harm was done.  Although I can’t speak for what the fleas got up to.

 

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Another Flounce of Frocks

You may remember, in a previous post,  I was wondering if there was a collective noun for dresses/frocks and, in the absence of any definitive answer, came up with ‘a flounce’.  This time the ‘flounce’ is bigger.

As the weather’s been so hot I couldn’t countenance wearing my usual style of dresses and tops which tend to be quite fitted.  I just wanted something I could pull on and float around in when I need something more than shorts and a t-shirt – nothing too dressy, just comfortable and cool in the heat.  I searched through my patterns and the only one that fit the bill was this one which – probably due to the fact there is a very young girl modelling it and it’s very short – I bought to make for the Mademoiselles some time ago but never got round to it.

I made the first one in some cotton chemise in grey which looks really boring until you get up close and there are some sprigs of embroidery on it.   It creases a lot like linen but it’s supposed to be a ‘washed/distressed’ look so I guess it fits the bill.

It’s meant to have a back zip but what a pain they are to do up if you’re on your own in the house when you want to wear it – am I right?  So, I thought I’d try making it without a zip at all and see if I could pull it on over my head.  I know I can insert invisible zips quite efficiently so I wasn’t being lazy or a scaredy cat here, honest!  The dresses are lined so there are no facings or bias trims but you have to do that cool trick of partly constructing the dress and then pulling the backs through the shoulder seams to turn it all right side out.  One reason, I suppose, why I wouldn’t be able to cut the back on the fold instead of in two pieces if I want to use this lining method.

The dress was slightly too big for me on the neck and above the bust so, next time I made a size down but graded the back seam out a little around the area of the bust darts.

For the second version (my favourite so far) I used a rayon I’d bought in the Goldhawk Road a couple of years ago when I was there with Mlle Tialys the Elder where we went just a little bit crazy.

So, this one is almost perfect and I’ve worn it quite a lot so I thought I’d make another in a ‘distressed’ linen which I like but there are some flaws in the linen – a faded stripe here and there – one of which I managed to place just above my bust and the other just above my bum.  It’s almost as if I planned it like that.  Then, when I was using a tracing wheel to mark the darts on the fabric, I blindly reached for my small rotary cutter instead and ran it over one of the ‘legs’ of the dart.  The blade is getting a little blunt and the linen is quite tough so I thought I’d got away with it but, after construction, I noticed some of the threads pulling out so I did a bit of a repair, fortunately hidden on the inside by the lining, which may or may not hold.  Typical!

Creases and flaws but that’s linen for you.

I’m hoping the white lines will blend in a bit more with washing but it’ll be fine to wear to go to the supermarket etc. so I’m not too bothered.

The last one – because I was definitely on a roll this time and had all the alterations marked on the pattern – I decided to make with a round neck instead of a split neck.  However, the neckline is far too high for my liking so I scooped it out a bit more – another pattern piece change that I’ve remembered to mark in case I ever decide to made a 5th one!

Some of you might remember the rather odd fabric I bought in a charity/op/thrift shop for 4 euros a while back.  Something about it appealed to me but I had no idea what I’d make with it.

A maxi skirt would be good but the style might be a bit ‘hippyish’ for me.  Anyway, I thought it could work with this dress……

…and so it did (just needs hemming).

So, I should be able to see the rest of the Summer out with these handy little dresses that I can just pull on over my head and be done.

This pattern can now join my list of other ‘go to’ patterns which I know will turn out well without too much fuss.  Sewaholic’s Renfrew top is there at the top of my list too.

And, just to prove I do actually wear them and don’t just use them to dress up my mannequins –

Do you have a favourite pattern you keep going back to?

 

 

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