Saturday, February 11, 2017

{QUILT} Finally...THE Minecrafty Quilt

It feel like it's been forever...who am I kidding? It has been FOREVER. The beginning of this was over a year ago. The mammoth project started about 4 weeks before Keegan's 8th birthday. He's well over 9 now, so lets just say we are ALL happy on all accounts that this quilt is COMPLETE.  

He has duly reminded me many times over the past 18 months that he is still waiting for it. The thought of surprising him with it was my initial though, but I realised he'd have fun designing his favourite blocks into quilt squares, so I didn't do that. Lucky!  I was a bit surprised he didn't want the TNT block (I really wanted to do that because it would have been waaaay easier than THE FISHING ROD that he did want).

We designed some of our own blocks using graph paper and coloured pencils - the fishing rod, powered rail, torch, egg, bookcase and enchantment table.  Because we are both a little bit particular (him more so than me) about things looking right, most of the blocks had to be 16 x 16 squares (yes, your maths is correct if that came out to 256 itty bitty squares for each block). What a biatch they were. Of course that's why it took me so long. The thought of lining them up exactly. Gah. 

And sewing them into the exact same size squares. This is probably Basic Quilting 101 but I'm not a seasoned quilter. You can probably skip this bit if you are. The key here is in the 1/4" seam allowance. Because I hadn't done all of the blocks in one hit, I couldn't remember how far out my machine's guide was. Turns out, it is quite out. Like 1mm.  1mm over 16 blocks equates to 1.6cm!! That results in a lot of trimming, re-sewing seams and a few swear words.

There are however plenty of good uses for a block that doesn't quite turn out square. A cushion. A wall hanging. A pencil case.

My advice is to double check every seam.  I recommend you iron seams flat, measure, re-measure the finished size then finally trim the seam allowances last. It's much harder to sew the straight lines once you've disrupted your lovely fusible grid holding everything close together.  Some of my blocks don't line up perfectly but you can't tell. Right.

A tip on ironing the seams open or to one side - I wouldn't bother ironing the seams open. It made no difference to the finished quilt and it takes ages and ages and ages longer. I started the quilt ironing seams open and by the end, they were ironed to the side. Care factor was waning and really it made no difference.

The whole pattern for this twin size quilt was based on one from Slightly Off Quilter, who put it together for one of her fellow quilters in a discussion board, which can be found here. The base pattern measurements are for 16 x 16" square blocks (finished size). Each block has eight rows and eight columns (64 blocks) made from blocks cut to 2.5" square. The blocks with the tiny squares - 16 x 16 squares (256 blocks) had squares cut to 1.5"x 1.5".

I found a fabulous tip from Tricia at My Rainy Day Designs about using fusible grid paper to line up the squares. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND doing this. You are welcome.  If you can't find fusible grid paper, plain fusible interfacing works well with lines drawn on it in pencil or pen. Tricia did have patterns of blocks listed on Craftsy, but apparently the Minecraft powers that be weren't too keen on that.  So you will need to use your eyes and imagination to recreate the blocks all by yourself.

I may not have used 50 shades of grey, but this quilt does have over 40 shades of colour! 9 shades of green, 7 shades of brown, 3 shades of grey, 8 shades of blue, 3 shades of red, skin colour - 4 shades, 2 shades of yellow and two of orange, white, black and a few purples thrown in for good measure!

Clair's Fabrics is an excellent place to start for a massive range of Kona solids and is where I began my search for solid colours. I use my local quilting store Southlands Sewing Centre to source the colours I didn't have and needed to match, sometimes you just need to go and buy fabric in real life! The green backing is called Broken Stripes, which I bought that from another one of my favourite online fabric stores, Utopian Threads. The minecraft strip was originally from Spoonflower though I scored it through a destash group on Facebook. Keegan was pretty insistent that I used it, and since he really didn't want the green backing I'd bought, I had to aquiesce somewhere!

Was a little breezy trying to take photos today!

I had the quilting done by the fabulous Michelle (she has to be fabulous with that name!) from Kwerki Quilting who came recommended from a friend. We absolutely love the job she has done on this, it's truly amazing. If I'd quilted this myself, we'd be waiting at least another year for some substandard straight lines! She had it done in just over a week with this fancy pants geometric pattern.

In the beginning, this was going to be a 'twin' size quilt. Somehow it's ended up a bit bigger - perfect to hang down the sides of the bed and for snuggling under on the couch. I hope you feel a little bit inspired to try something for your own minecrafty peeps!

Pattern by Slightly Off Quilter here and My Rainy Days here
Fabrics from Clair's FabricsSouthlands Sewing CentreUtopian Threads and Spoonflower
Machine Quilting by  Kwerki Quilting

Monday, September 26, 2016

{A Tilda Tea Party} A Dolly Basket, Mini Quilt and New Doll Clothes

I have to admit I was a more than a little bit excited when Fiona from Tilda Australia and Two Green Zebras asked me if I’d like to make something to showcase the new Tilda range for a tour around Oz with the Tilda Trunk Show. Anything I like. Yes. Yes I would love to! Of course, a little dolly basket would be deeevine! And oh boy, yes it was! 

The Tilda trunk show launched in early September in Adelaide and has been travelling around the country, continuing through to October, showcasing the new Tilda fabric lines Cabbage Rose and Memory Lane. Every day a new project and maker are featured on the @tilda_australia instagram page and there are stores across the country who will host Fiona and the Tilda Trunk Show. If you live close by one, be sure to pop in to see the beautiful projects in real life!  

AND...drum is my turn to share my creations! I have used the Libby Dark Slate, Tilly Blue and Flowercloud Dark Slate from Memory Lane. I love that this range has some a gorgeous girly prints without being glaryingly pink. My favourite kind of fabric! 

Just as every little doll needs a bed, she definitely needs a quilt too. I made loads and loads of HSTs, (visit Kerri at Lovely LittleHandmades for the know-how) and had enough Windmills (or pinwheels, I won’t judge you. I lived on a farm, once upon a time, so windmills it is) for only half the quilt. I’m a bit like that. I don’t really work out what I need before I start. Things just snowball. So I snowballed some more mini windmill blocks until I had 20 little tiny squares to sew into a mini quilt. Don’t they look fantastic spinning around. Shame I didn’t think about actually matching them up properly. Please say they look fine. They do? Thanks, it’s so kind of you to say. You didn’t even notice? Great! You thought they were meant to be totally random? You really are awesome, I hope you stick around. They were actually. Meant to be random.

Because there was still some fabric left, and I have a little model, Holly, who absolutely needed a matching outfit, the plan was to make her something new. There are literally a bazillion dresses for 18”dolls online and I really wanted something easy to make but not the usual doll dress. So here is the Lil’ Red Cape and Dirndl. And no. Before you even think it. Stop. This is Little Red Riding Hood-meets-Heidi. There shall be no talk of Octoberfest and scantily clad bar maids.

Let me give you a little history of the Dirndl. Dirndl translates to ‘girl’ or ‘dress’ in Bavarian.  A traditional dress of Austria, South Tyrol and Bavaria, worn by servants and maids in the 18th century, it consists of a blouse, bodice, full skirt and apron. The tying of the apron bow has significance to marital status, a knot on the left indicates a woman is single, a knot on the right that she is married, engaged or otherwise ‘taken’, a knot tied in the front centre means that she is a virgin and a knot tied at the back indicates that the woman is widowed.

You might notice there is no apron here. I like practical. My 4yo can NOT tie a bow, though she may try and I end up fighting with a screaming banshee about a stupid bow that can’t tie itself. No kidding. No bow can tie itself. So…no apron. I really didn’t think every mother would want to spend hours tying and untying a doll’s apron. Or placating a screaming banshee.  Perhaps a pause is needed now to make sure we are clear, to differentiate that from playing dolls. I may have done that recently and actually planning a dolls wardrobe really is quite fun!

Now, because you were really awesome about my little mini quilt’s mismatching random windmill placement, the pattern and tutorial for the Dirndl Dress to fit an 18” doll is here. The blouse is part of a separate pattern, read down a little further for the link. 

The blouse is modified from Jennie's at  Wren*Feathers - I have used her smocked blouse bodice and sleeves, cut the bodice longer so the front is all one piece, extended the bodice width so I could gather it and then sewed a peter pan collar on to the neckline.

Next, there is a cape to fit an 18” tall doll. I have made a Lil’ Red Cape add-on for the barbie sized Lil’ Red Capelet Pattern I released last year! I know, I know. I just said there was no apron because of the bows and the not wanting the tying of the bows all day and here I have gone and put a bow on the cape. What was a thinking?! Well this one can be sewn down and then poked through the loop, just like a button. OR the cape just goes over her head and the bow is just for looks. Simple!

Do you see the hood on the cape? Like how I’m maximising all those little scrap pieces? I unfortunately have a terrible habit of being unable to throw useable pieces of fabric into the bin. The results it endless sewings of mini-things. Lucky I love that! But also growing piles of pieces of thou shalt not be wasteds, that I get a little itchy need to colour coordinate. School holiday activity for the kids? How long do you think that will last! I’m SO laughing OUT LOUD right now!

If you’d like to get the add-on for the 18”doll cape, it will be available in my Etsy shop very soon! You will still need to purchase the original pattern and tutorial for the Barbie sized Lil’ Red Capelet from either my Etsy store, or by purchasing One Thimble Issue 7. This will contain all you need to know about how to make the lil’ red cape.  If you already have a copy of the original pattern, you can purchase the add-on for the 18”doll cape from my Etsy store. Got it!?

Let's not forget the baby doll whose bed this actually started out to be! She has a new reversible crossover pinny, with velcro straps. Easy as pie for little hands to do all by themselves. The pattern for this was one is guestimated and fits a small 12-13"doll well.  

Fabrics were supplied by Tilda Fabrics Australian supplier, Two Green Zebras and all opinions are my own. If you get a chance, definitely visit one of these fabric stores around Australia while the Tilda Trunk Show is touring. 

Fabrics provided by Two Green Zebras/Tilda Australia
Doll basket pattern by MadeEveryday
Lil’ Red Cape and Dindl patterns by The Toffee Tree sized to fit an 18” tall doll, such as “Our Generation®” and “American Girl®” Dolls**
Blouse- modified Smocked Dress by  Wren*Feathers
Pinwheel mini quilt block pattern Lovely LittleHandmades 

**Australian Girls dolls are slightly taller at 20” or 50cm. I haven’t tried this cape on an Australian Girl doll but the size is generous so it could fit nicely.

Happy Sewing!


Friday, June 3, 2016

{TECHNIQUE} Two ways to gather fabric

Gathering may or may not seem like a pretty simple technique to you - if you're new to sewing, if your style is a little more 'make it up as you go along' or  if you simply haven't spent much time following patterns, it may not be something you are completely familiar with.

AND if you're an experienced sewer and you've spent a lot of time reading patterns, you might still learn a tip or trick in this short video I have made.  I have included both the traditional/proper way to gather fabric and what I refer to as 'The Cheat's Method'.

Here you go! Just click play to watch.

Ultimately, gathering is a way to make a piece of fabric more ruffly and full, shortening it to fit another piece of fabric with a shorter length.

And where are we going to use all these gathered pieces of fabric? To make ruffles of course. Or to gather a skirt to sew it to a waistband or bodice, the top of a sleeve, at a hem to add a cuff. The options are endless!

How to choose which method to use? These are a few tips to keep in mind:

Benefits of " the Proper Way"-
- gathers form more evenly
- looks neater once sewn into a garment
- the gathers wont fall out or shift while being handles before sewing
- allows you to gather two or more layers of fabric together
- better for heavier fabrics or two layers of fabric

Benefits of "the Cheat's Method" -
- quick
- fabric gathers as you sew
- no snapping of threads
- its the QUICKEST way
- best for lightweight fabrics and single layers
- did I mention, it's pretty quick!

Watch the video and then you can decide which is best for your project! I use both methods, depending on the final look I am wanting. For skirts and dresses with more fabric to gather, I tend to use "the Proper Way". I save "the Cheat's Method" for dolls clothes, like this barbie skirt I made here, ruffles and to fit cuffs.

If you have an overlocker or serger, I'd highly recommend learning how to gather on that for super long ruffles like on the bottom of this dress.

Monday, February 15, 2016

{ Project of the Week } Vintage Circus Sit Upon pattern available.

Blogging took a bit of a dive last year, but now I'm ready to jump back into it! There are so so many projects that I did and just never found (made) the time to share on the blog.  Over the next few months, I'm aiming to share a project a week, so I'll start with a more recent(ish) one because it's just so flippin practical you should all have a set for the whole gang!

You know I am a huge fan of the One Thimble e-zine (and if you didn't,  now you do!). It's an Aussie sewing digital magazine filled with brilliant patterns and advice.  Last year I had TWO patterns published in OT. The first on was the Li'l Red Capelet for Barbie sized dolls, but you'll have to wait another week for that one (did I really not do that post on the blog??!!) 

The second one was this absolutely fabulous (yes I'm biased, but it really is!) picnic circle AKA the vintage circus sit upon. Yeah yeah, I know, there are plenty of tutorials online for similar things. So why should you make this one? Because it will make you feel very clever! This pattern includes instructions to make a plain Jane circle, like you might find in the online sewing world, plus instructions to embellish it with an amazing applique (applique patterns also in OT issue 9) PLUS has pattern pieces and instructions to piece two different kinds of sprocket and starburst designs. I've also added a waterproof top layer to protect the applique on the top. You could leave this off all together if you weren't worried about your applique friends fraying a little. 

Having two designs that were so similar was unintentional really. I constructed the pattern for the starburst with varied sized wedges first and then thought it would be easier to do all the wedges the same size. My pattern testers actually noticed they were different and so we decided to offer both patterns, ever so slightly different. I love that the starburst makes it look like our hero is popping out of the limelight! 

The free motion embroidered appliques by Sarah at Ric Rac and Retro really are something else. They add such a unique touch to just about any sewing project. There are two applique patterns for this issue plus a couple in some earlier issues of OT. When you combine these picnic circles with the a really funky appliqu, you'll be the envy of every other Mum at the park. Or on the school oval. And kids especially love that they have their own little mat to have their tea party on. 

See how much fun the kids can have with a picnic mat that's like no other. These are great to use all year round, no more wrestling with a ginormous picnic blanket and kids can carry their own. Check out what my amazing testers have done with theirs.

You may have seen peeks of this on Facebook already and if you want to know what I'm doing on a more regular basis, follow along with me on Facebook or Instagram.