More Fun with Felt

 In my last post I told you about the "Fun with Felt" class I will be teaching at the Creative Craft Retreat later in the year. The class has limited numbers so that I can give individual guidance to the ladies. This means they will have a wide range of choice, both of design, and felt and thread colours, rather than everyone doing the same thing.


I am going to encourage them to choose their design before they arrive so that they don't waste the first hour trying to make up their minds which one to embroider!


I was going to email them a dozen or so designs that I have drawn, from which they can choose ... but how boring is it to see a black and white drawing on a computer screen!?!   

I decided it would be much better to show them worked examples, so I've been having my own 'fun with felt' time and been stitching some of them:


We will be working on a small rectangle of felt which can be put on a bag, or Ipad or Journal cover or made into a needlecase or pincushion - ideas only limited by one's imagination. 


I am really hooked on felt at the moment!



Candy from Capetown recently sent me two photos of block of the month projects that she has completed. Here's "Keys to Contentment" from a couple of years ago:


and last year's free pattern "You are Blessed":


Hasn't Candy done a lovely job! Now she is starting on this year's "Hand-picked Wardrobe". If you want to join in this free Block of the Month programme, all the patterns from the last six months are still available and will remain free until the end of the year.

I hope you are having as much fun with your stitching as I am.

Val

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Block 6

It's hard to believe that nearly half the year has already gone! That means it's time to give you Block 6 of the Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt
Hand-picked Wardrobe.


So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you.  Put on kindness ....
Colossians 3:13


 When you finish this block, the quilt will be half finished!


 The block for this month includes a pinwheel:


The free pattern is in my Craftsy Store here.

I've been addicted to felt the last couple of weeks. I am teaching "Fun with Felt" at the Creative Craft Retreat later in the year, so have been having a wonderful time preparing samples.  


In the bird sample, there are eleven fun stitches which give it so much texture and dimension: Blanket stitch around the edge, Fly stitch on the outside of the bird, satin stitch eye, cast-on stitch around the wing, then chain on the inner wing, Palestrina knot around the tail and coral stitch on the inner tail, back stitch leaves, stem stitch vine, straight stitch feet. Then there are the whipped woven circles on the ends.


 It is so much fun watching the transformation of some lifeless felt into a 'work of art'. I like the folksy feel this sample has. It's a genre I've been exploring a bit more lately. Who knows where it might take me!

Happy stitching!
Val 

The stitching accessory I didn't know I needed!

My lovely mother was very good at craft, sewing all our clothes for many years, knitting our jumpers, and crocheting exquisite doileys. When she died, I received her craft gear and there were some lovely little treasures amongst it all, like the antique Alfred Shrimpton wooden crochet hook case, (which I will show you another time!)

Another little gem was this pearl handled sewing stilleto/awl.


It has sat in a pocket in my sewing compendium for many years and I may have used it once or twice for poking a hole in something, but it has languished, hidden away, out of sight and out of mind.

Recently I have done quite a bit of piecing and ... you know what it is like when you want to get that sewing machine needle in exactly the right place when you're stitching, so that the patchwork point doesn't get cut off, or doesn't have too generous a space above it. There is no way your finger can hold that point in place until the needle is right there. What could I use? I've used tweezers before but they don't work well ... and then I thought of it - that sweet little stilleto/awl! It is the absolutely perfect little tool for holding that fabric in place.


Then because it now sits in pride of place on my sewing cabinet, I began to find lots of other uses for it. That little awl will guide braid and trims and ric rac into position under the needle. It steers the appliques when machine blanket-stitching. It evens out gathers and ruffles and eases them beautifully under the needle. Hold it on the fabric at the end of a seam and it prevents the fabric from shifting. It is wonderful for moving layers to align raw edges or gripping straying fabric. It gives me an iron grip on nested seams so that they stay in place as I stitch. A quick push with my awl and that recalcitrant seam is made to turn the right way.

I've found it is ideal for pulling out the loop when you lift up the bobbin thread. It is great for lifting layers of fabric when I'm counting how many squares I have cut. It holds down turned edges when I'm pressing, so no more burnt fingers!  And it's even flat so it doesn't roll off the sewing table. How I wish it had come out of hiding many years ago!

A project that has come 'out of hiding' is my Enchanting Forest cushion. You can find it in the May edition of Homespun magazine.


Felt is a medium I love using and I had a lot of fun giving these toadstools texture and dimension with layers and stitches.


Palestrina Knot stitch is my new favourite stitch for felt work and I've used it a number of times in this design, particularly in the scallop edge. 


See the little bird above for another favourite - cast-on stitch.

I hope you have a great week of stitching - and if anyone gives you a stitching stiletto/awl, don't hide it away like I did!

Val

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Block 5

Block 5 in the free Block of the Month Wall Quilt
Hand-picked Wardrobe
is now available for you to stitch.


The classy little jacket is a reminder of our theme verse:
So, chosen by God for this new life of love,
dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you.
Colossians 3:13

I hope you enjoy stitching this block. You can find the pattern here in my Craftsy Store.


Last week I had a lovely email from June who belongs to the Kilham Quilters Group in the UK. The group recently held an exhibition to raise funds for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Yorkshire Cancer. June made my Garden Dreams perpetual Calendar in time for the Exhibition and you can see it in the centre of the photo below. The exhibition was a great success and I am so pleased to know so much was raised for these worthy charities.


The Calendar was one of my earliest designs and I still love everything about it, especially the box to keep all the pieces in!


 If you are interested in making it too, the pattern is available here in my store.

I've managed a little bit more applique work on my quilt - cherries this time:


... and started another couple of projects. That's four things going at once, which is about the right balance for me I've discovered. There's one with plenty of machine work, another ready for stitching at the drop of a hat, another that needs time to prepare appliques, and a commission with a deadline. I like to have things at different stages and then I can choose what to do according to how I feel, what time I have available, what interruptions I'm expecting, or even maybe what the weather is like! Then of course I'm already planning another design or three!

Happy stitching!
Val 

Roses are Blue

I'm always thrilled to be offered fabric to make my projects!!! Handmade magazine gave me some of the lovely Indigo Essence fabric range by RJR Fabric to design whatever I liked. I chose three of the fabrics - a blue tone-on-tone, a black background blue roses print and a khaki tone-on-tone.  I had in mind to make a bag and to use a set of handles that I had purchased on a whim and been waiting to use in just the right project.


I was very happy with the finished project and rather like the way the blue tone-on-tone fabric peeps out from the pleats. I used the khaki fabric for the lining.


There was plenty of fabric, so I made this pretty glasses case to match:


The project is in Handmade Vol 35 No 11 but unfortunately it wasn't printed correctly. The glasses case instructions were not included either, so the magazine has made the corrected pattern available on their website in their pattern library:   http://www.patchworkandcraft.com.au

Yesterday, hubby and I had a fun afternoon at an old-time movie matinee, complete with newsreels, cartoons, shorts and a classic Aussie film from the 1930's. We were even treated to an icecream during interval! It's a while since we laughed so loud and so long and it brought back lots of memories of childhood excursions to the cinema, watching comedies (in black and white of course!) Those excursions were very occasional so hold a special place in the memory and it was lovely to have them revived in such a delightful way.

My fruit quilt is steadily progressing:


The grapes were a bit fiddly but turned out OK:


Apples good enough to pick!:


Since this quilt is in the hand-stitching phase at the moment, and I like to do that in the evening, I have been thinking about a new project which will need machine work which I want to do in the daytime. There are a few designs running around in my head and I have started exploring them in my EQ7 software. It would be so much easier if my brain would just focus on one thing at a time!!!

Happy stitching!
Val

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Block 4

Happy Easter!

In looking past the eggs and the bunny, I've found that the true meaning of Easter is an amazing reality that deals with our past failures, puts our present life into perspective, and gets our future sorted. What an amazing gift is the death and resurrection of Jesus!

Today I have block four for you in the free Block of the Month Wall Quilt

 

Block 4 features a scarf and it will make up very quickly, so it's a good opportunity to catch up if you're a bit behind!  You can find the pattern in my Craftsy Store here.

Last weekend we had the joy of having nine of our family with us - so special to be able to spend time with them. It was tinged with sadness because our daughter and her family were supposed to be with us too. They live at Airlie Beach which was where the huge Cyclone Debbie hit Australia just the week before and caused so much devastation. Thankfully our family were kept safe with only minor damage such as their fence smashed down, the clothes hoist dead and some damaged gutters from tree branches being flung around. Their cars in an open car port were amazingly protected from damage. They were without water for 2½ days and without any electricity for 9 days. We are so proud of how the family coped, kept smiling, helped others worse off, took a friend in as his unit was unliveable and shared lots of meals with neighbours who had no means of cooking. Of course they were unable to leave their home with all that happening, so we have had to resort to long Skype calls!



My Arbor Window quilt is coming along really well. I stitched all the blocks together then a week later, unpicked the lot!!! It just wasn't as good as I had hoped. After lots of thinking and a couple of mock-ups on scrap fabric, I decided to make the sashings wider. That has worked well and it only took me a couple of days to put it all together again. As I am using the QAYG method, my new dimensions mean that the walking foot fits more easily in the sashings when joining the rows which in turn makes it easier to obtain good neat results.


Now I'm on the fun part doing the appliques.


We're big fruit eaters in our house but the plan today is to indulge in a decadent dessert I made to help celebrate our 51st wedding anniversary! How blessed am I to have the love of my life with me for 51 years!

Val
 

Coins in the Jelly and other treats

I've been a bit slack lately in putting some new patterns in my Craftsy Store, but I've remedied that and you can now find "Coins in the Jelly" Quilt here

I'm happy that it is proving very popular. 


This project is ideal for Jelly Roll strips and is very quick to make.



I did simple walking-foot quilting on it:


I've also uploaded Belinda Bilby's Birthday stitchery which you can find here.


I'm rather fond of this sweet project with lots of pretty stitching.

 

I've framed mine, but it could be made into a wall hanging or a cushion or a book cover or anything your imagination can bring up.



Meanwhile, I'm steadily progressing on my pool-table quilt. I'm up to the appliqued borders - heaps of work but I think they are going to look good!

Pears are cheap at the moment, so out came the preserving pan and two or three hours later I have eight bottles ready for later in the year. It does take some effort to prepare everything, but it is worth it down the track when the fruit is no longer in season. We use our preserves on our breakfast cereal. Combine that with Greek Yoghurt and it is fit for royalty!


The India/Australia Cricket is on, so it's a good time to sit near the TV and prepare some more appliques!

Val

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Block 3

It's time to give you the next block in the free Block of the Month Wall Quilt



This is my take on 'the little black dress'.


"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you." I hope you are enjoying these blocks each month.

 Block 3 is available in my Craftsy Store here.


I've had a couple of good weeks after a health scare for the first two months of the year. Thankfully medication has sorted out my problems and I'm feeling back to normal. It's amazing how quickly you bounce back once all the tests show that there is nothing seriously wrong! 

Hubby was really getting worried when he came to empty the scrap bin in my sewing room each week and there was nothing much in it!  He will be happy this week because it is full and overflowing. 

I have completed all the Arbor Window blocks for my pool table quilt and here are some of them sorted into their rows:


I love the way the black background makes the colours pop. I have now started putting them together with my favourite QAYG technique. The more I make quilts using this method, the more I am becoming hooked. I find it makes everything just so much easier for me.

Of course, I must have some hand-stitching to do at night and the little bit of QAYG stitching doesn't take long, so I have started a new design!!! There's nothing like the thrill of a new project!

Happy stitching!
Val

Confessions of an imperfect piecer

I’m one of those painful people called “perfectionists”! I spend nearly as much time unpicking and resewing as I do in stitching in the first place. If I can’t do something well, I don’t do it at all – eg I would never play chess, because I knew my brilliant son would beat me! I always have to fix mistakes – other people’s as well as my own! I’m always correcting grammar, like telling sporting commentators from my lounge room that they’ve used an adjective instead of an adverb – pity they can’t hear me!


My personality of course carries over to my stitching. If you look at my designs, you will see dozens of needle-cases, bags, cushions, wall-hangings, stitching accessories, but only a handful of quilts. That’s because I’m an imperfect piecer! 
 

I admit that embroidery is my first love and so it is easy to put all my effort into that. I don’t find sitting at a sewing machine sewing little pieces together for a quilt all that enjoyable, especially when they don’t turn out 110% accurate. I become disappointed with the result, and therefore I don’t sew many quilts!
 

 Over the years, I’ve learned ways to get by, like designing quilts without points, or using ‘disappearing’ blocks that look as though you’ve done amazing piecing, or using lots of appliqué to get the focus in the right place! 


 We have a half-sized Pool Table which is always covered with a quilt when not in use, which quilt is now VERY faded and drab. As only a quilt will do, I have to face my fear of imperfection and get going and make a replacement. I wanted to use the Arbor Window block (aka Granny Square), but oh dear, all those hundreds of points with the potential to be not quite perfect. 

After a pleasant time looking at lots of wonderful quilts using this block on the internet, I discovered the possibility of making beautiful square blocks with no points to align! Out with the calculator, some scraps, and plenty of enthusiasm, and after a couple of attempts at getting the right triangle sizes, I have had success. 


I don't mind the small bit of wastage involved, when I can achieve perfect points and accurate square blocks. Nesting the seams makes it easy to line up the square blocks in their rows, which is about all the aligning that I have to worry about.


 I am now facing the making of this quilt with a totally different attitude. Once again, I have decided to use the Quilt-As-You-Go method. I feel as though I have somewhat perfected my favoured version of this QAYG technique now and I certainly find it easier quilting small blocks instead of a whole quilt.

I have one other admission to make - using a cutting die (I have an Accuquilt Go) means I start with very accurately cut shapes, and this has certainly helped my piecing to improve. Who knows, one day I might even make a Dear Jane Quilt!

Val