Shameful. And quilting (yes, AGAIN)

Well, by best intentions of yesterday to tidy up went sadly awry. Instead, I was consumed with sewing. I have the crumb blocks done and branched out to the Word Play.  I had to give it a go and see if I could follow the instructions in the book and actually make something.  I am determined to actually follow the Quilt as You Go concept for the whole thing so when I get done I only need to bind it.  I did a sample piecing of a couple of blocks and so far (knock wood) it’s going well.

Th thing that scares me is the machine quilting.  I cannot manage the lovely closely packed scribbles that I’ve seen, so I’ve opted for a simple cross, with stitch-in-the-ditch around, then a seconde square around.  I need to read up on dealing with the pulled-to-the-top bobbin threads, clearly.


I’ve picked quite a bright stripe for the sashing on the front, and plain black on the back, as the backing fabric is a B&W cow print. And the word ties in with the smiley sunflowers that are at the heart of the crumbs.


Now, off to Hobby Craft with some shreds of the floss colour to get a better match, and then I have an idea that I THINK will work to add a bit more colour and playfulness to that improv quilt.  Need to get one small thing (although maybe not) to make it work.  It is totally a not-a-quilter idea, and actually uses something I’ve used in my scrapbooks for YONKS.  If it works I’ll share, and then all the real quilters can blanch and gasp and say Why, that’s crazy talk! But I am convinced I can make it happen so I have to persevere.  It is my nature LOL!

Oh and GRRRRR.  Spam and Spammers.  Hating them at the moment. Hating them as mush as I am loving reading up on “liberated” quilting…..

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DOH! So busy…

It’s been a bit manic around here, so I missed out 2 entire days of blogging.  I hate that.  Anyway, what I SHOULD have posted is the X-tied quilt, but a series of things got in the way – I bought some floss at a small local fabric store, and never realized it WASN’T DMC!  I used the 2 skeins I had, and when I ran out, I stapled the band to my shopping list and trotted off to Hobby Craft to match it.  Imagine my surprise when I found the colour in the bin was a dark GREY and not a bright ORANGE.  I knew I had bought the last two skeins at the small store so I had to get something.  Knowing that true colour memory is non-existent, I picked what I thought was the right shade and brought it home.  There I found the problem – I had a single skein of a DMC orange that was a bit too dark.  The band had come off and was laying on my desk, and when I grabbed the band to staple it, I grabbed THAT one, and not the GOODWEAR brand (Huh?) that I had used.  So I ended up with a CLOSE match but not a perfect one.  DOH!

So I will hope to finish the last few ties on that today, and bind it, and then I need to sort out labels and a bag of some kind.  Then I can finally send it off to JoZarty.

In the meantime, here is a shot of how it’s progressing.  I think the X-ties bring just a bit more playfulness to it, as the fabric is less kiddie oriented than I would have picked.  To be honest, I AM (rightly or wrongly) looking at this whole charity quilt experience as a nice way to try out some things that I have seen well in the past (and look at every time I get sidetracked from my love of paper into a temporary fixation on fabric) and to use either scraps I have or inexpensive fat quarters.  I figure that ANYTHING is going to be welcome, as long as it doesn’t fall apart. so the fact this one is not made from overtly child-obvious material doesn’t mean it won’t still be cuddly and a comfort.


It needs a good wash and dry to get rid of the hoop-creases and I can see a few of the Xs don’t quite line up – or maybe it was the distortion of the hoop that made me mis-place it but that is actually easily fixable.


I am determined to finish this up today of I can! The weather is ARCTIC around here and with wind-chill it is well below freezing.  Brrrr.  And DH took my car cause his didn’t start so I am trapped in anyway.  Shame – and I SO wanted to run errands….


Interesting quilt tying technique

Yes, I know, I am a huge wimp.  Sort of.  I had an idea to bring a little playfulness to my quilt by tying it in a different way.  A couple of things to note.  First, I started tying with yarn then decided I didn’t like it so I took it all out.  DOH! The photos ar using the bright orange yarn so they show up really nicely, but they aren’t what the actual end quilt uses.  I used a slightly less intense 6-strand floss, because I like the fray on the back.


I hope you can see what I am talking about in the photos!

I started with a long strand with the yarn, but I would say maybe a yard for the floss. You can make the Xs any size you like, and on my first try I found that I was wildly irregular size-wise.  After doing it for a while I found I became more consistent.  Also I am “tying” it with the quilt spray-basted and in a hoop.  I prefer working in my lap rather than hunched over on the floor.

1. Come up from the underside of your quilt – leave a 3″ tail. Go down into the QUILT TOP and THE BATTING (wadding for my UK friends) but not thru the bottom. Slip the needle across between the batting and the backing and pop the needle up, in line with the spot where the needle came up from the back.  I experimented with a sort of template to see if I could get my Xs a consistent size, but it ended up being a little to big.  But I think you can see what I mean.


2. Bring the needle up to complete the X.  ANGLE the needle back thru all three layers so when it comes out thru the backing it ends up CLOSER to the original hole.  The keep you from being to far away to tie neatly.



See how it is closer than the area of the X?



Now, you can carry on to make the next X, leaving a loop of yarn/thread at the back – doing in a hoop I just catch the yarn on my finger under the hoop, and make sure when I come up for the next X there is some slack. Snip the loops and tie with a square knot.


I’ll take a shot once I get the centre done with the new tying thread so you can see how it looks. But I think you get the idea.  My goal was to bring a bit of playfulness to the quilt, which is made from not overtly childish fabric, so if the Xs are not PERFECT they will make it so. But my aim is for them to be FAIRLY consistent.

One point to note: you need to keep the quilt oriented the SAME WAY – so don’t twist and turn it while you work – keep the top at the top at all times.  That will make all your Xs crossing the same way – and I found mine were slightly skewed wider across than top to bottom, no matter how hard I tried to match them if I rotated the hoop. You may not care, or you may be a MUCH more precise hand-stitcher than I am, but be aware.

From what I did (before I took it all out) I really like the look of it – it IS playful and the orange (even the toned-down floss orange) highlights the orange in the fabrics and the Xs are just cute as can be. Plus with the extra stitching, the thread is “caught” more so even if some nimble fingered kiddie were able to pick apart the know they would struggle to get the thread out! A bonus, in my mind.

At the moment, because I don’t have a ton of this floss colour, (thank goodness the colours are standardized!) I am making an X, snipping and tying, then doing the next X – it’s a little bit less wasteful, and because I can sit comfortably while I am doing it I don’t mind going slow.  But I swear, I don’t think I have actually SEEN an episode of Eastenders in yonks.  I’ve HEARD them all, while my eye is focused on whatever I am doing, so I haven’t lost the plot yet, but I almost forge what the characters look like LOL!

Anyway, that is what I am dong at the moment.  Hope you find it interesting.


WOYWW 196 – more sewing

Hi there WOYWWers! I was totally MIA yesterday as I was hunkered down on my floor struggling with another small quilt.  I had 4 fat quarters, and some off cuts from an old project that went, a bit, and got it in to my head that I could make something of it.  I started by sewing the four quarters together.


The bright yellow is a metre of fabric that I thought would work for the back.  I cut a 12.5 square right out of the middle.



Then sliced off the intersections and squared off the remaining bits.




That gave me some 6.5 inch squares, each with two fabrics. And a pile of plain squares too.


I started moving them about, and considered how to work in the off cuts (only two long but fairly thin strips, very wonky on the sides.)4fatquarters5

This is where I am.  It’ll get a border of the dark green and then I’ll see where I am.


It will certainly work out to be more lap-size (I’m thinking about 44 x 30ish maybe?) than even a cot sized quilt, but it’s not bad for such a minimal amount of fabric (and so far what’s leftover is laughable – almost NOTHING) and starting with no pattern or cutting guide at all.

Now I have to decide if I wimp out and tie it or if I have a bash at stippling it.  I think I need a lesson from a real person, as YouTube is good but it’s not really enough!  Maybe I’ll do a practice square and see how I get on.  But not till I desk hop 🙂   Happy WOYWW!



quilt DONE!

Pretty happy with my scrappy quilt.  I can’t quite decide which way round it appeals to me more:

quiltdone quiltflipped

And the back…


It’s a bit of a hodge podge, in the sense that the striped top was built on light weight polar fleece, so sort of “quilted”, just by the nature of the sew&flip stripes – the border stripes are quilted with just straight lines.  I had seen a tutorial for Quilt-as-you-go that does it like this, QAYG for the top, then adding the back after the fact.   I didn’t follow it exactly, but the general principles are the same.  I went with a tied quilt to join the front, another thin layer of batting, and the back.  I’m sure “real” quilters will shudder at the higglety pigglety assembly, but  its warm and cuddly and looks good to me.

Now, about that border.  I love the look of the alternating B&W squares, but there was simply no way I was going to try to piece it.  I thought to myself if I found a checkerboard fabric that had blocks of the right size, I could fake it.  I went looking for guidance and did lots of Googling, but found nothing.  Images that came up didn’t SEEM to address what I wanted (and I got bored looking thru all the links that ended up being not related) and the site searches didn’t seem to be what I wanted either. If you read this and know of a tutorial for this kind of thing PLEASE share it with me!  I would love to see how a pro does it.

Here is what I did – I hope I can explain it in text, as I didn’t take photos along the way.  I’ll point out the issues as I go.

  1. I cut the fabric to 6 rows of blocks.  One block was about 3/4″ square. I cut along the rows, by hand, with scissors, not with a cutter.  I knew if there was ANY hope of it even sort-of working I had to use the lines of the fabric, not measurements, IYKWIM
  2. I joined the strips, not like bias binding, but straight across, matching the block very carefully (pinning well) and sewing slowly right along the matched edges.
  3. Open and press the seams really well.  Honestly, the join in the PATTERN was imperceptible, and only by feeling could you notice the difference in the thickness where the seam was.
  4. Press the entire length in half, wrong sides together, right along the edge of a row of blocks.
  5. Trim the entire length with a 1/4 seam allowance along the raw edge side.  Looking at the strip you should have folded edge, a row of  B W B W then a half row of W B W B, raw edges.

This is the tutorial for sewing on the binding.  If I had tried to mitre the ends to finish off the checkerboard would have been impossible (well for ME anyway) to match.  Overlapping the ends gave me a better chance of having it look OK, if not perfect.

When you sew the binding to the front of the quilt, pin generously and sew right along the edge of the half block row. Obviously this SHOULD be a 1/4 inch as you’ve trimmed it this way. If you are sewing along and waver a bit and need to make a decision between following the 1/4 inch measurement or following the edge of the blocks, follow the blocks.  GO SLOW.

Do the usual flip at the corner, as per the tutorial.  Now, I thought the corners would be an issue, but whether it was just dumb luck, or something to do with the spacing of the blocks, all 4 corners actually worked out OK.  You can fudge them a tiny bit if need be – I think we are talking maybe 1/4 inch at the most.  Each corner of my rectangle was different.  The ideal is the half black/half white corner.  I managed to get this one bang on!


I have two that have a solid block in the corner, one black, one white.  No so well done with the mitre but again, I can live with it.


When flipping and sewing to the back, I made sure that the fold hit the line between the blocks, so the binding is one row front, one row back.

The join at the end was ALWAYS going to be a risk – no dumb luck this time! I intentionally started the stitching fairly close to the corner so I could disguise this by applique – I thought maybe an arrow, front round to back, pointing to the label.


It’s not PERFECT, but it’s not horrible either.  And I think it’s a reasonable trade-off for how stinkin’ cute the checkerboard looks. I think I would try again, maybe attempting more quilt math to see if I can get the join more perfect.

So sorry to bore all the papercraft people, and the PL printable people, and the Gelli play people with all this sewing malarky.

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Jumping back to quilting – something from nothing?

After I completed the quilt top (maybe I’ll be able to show the completed quilt tomorrow!) I sat looking at my depressingly large, yet colourful and bright, pile of scraps.  I did SAY my life was over run with scraps of all kinds, didn’t I? Here’s the proof!



It is possibly hard to tell, but lots of those scraps are actually pretty darn small.


In Googling, based on a half-remembered memory, I find these are called “crumbs” – the little leaving from the whole. Think toast and you will get it. Going back to Quiltville, where I found the string piecing info that lead me to the construction of the quilt top, I found a tutorial for a crumb quilt.  Just the ticket, and hence the something from nothing tag – normally I would probably have thrown anything under about 4 x 4 inches in the bin.  I didn’t.  Instead, I got these:


That is 10 (yes TEN) 6×6 squares, just from the leavings.  You can see the inner area uses the smallest of scraps, with the outer area uses more the longer strips. I tried not the think too hard about the placement although I aimed not to use too many  of the more vintage/country-style prints in any block, and every block began with a 2×2 square of the smiley flower fabric.  Where possible I tried to make sure at least ONE of the flower faces ended up on show in the final block, even if it didn’t end up in the centre.  The blocks grow somewhat organically, as you add crumbs and strips, sewing off at angles and along straight edges. Here are a couple alone.


and here you can see the cheerful little flower face.


I worked on five blocks at a time, adding the first few rounds to each square, one after another, in a chain.  I cut the chain thread, trimmed the excess from the seam (creating yet MORE crumbs)  pressed them, then added another edge.  Once they got to a reasonable size, I could lay the 6 x 6 template over it to check the placement and see if I only needed say one strip to finish it off or if, in fact, the block was done.

So that is a total SCORE! from my POV.  If I get one quilt from the big scraps and cut-into fat quarters, then a whole other quilt from the crumbs, with maybe a small amount of whole-fabric added for the sashing, it will be outstanding.  I am undecided if the new book I got will help me overcome my limited skills and do the word play border for the crumb one without having to buy material – cause I already had to buy backing flannel and fabric that I hope is going to end up a totally cool border for the striped one.

Now, this weekend is all about DD – DH has other commitments so she and I will spend the weekend (except her Challengers outing time) doing girly things together.  Have to miss crop AGAIN, but hey ho – she already has loads of plans for us.   Read an article on Love Bombing in the Sunday times (link is not to that article but another one by the book author) last week or the week before, and really wondered if the concept would work with her, given her handicap and difficulties with language/understanding.  So  we’ll see how she does – I’m not planning on TELLING her she is in charge, which could lead to her asking to hop on a plane to Euro Disney, but I AM going to let her drive, and try very hard not to say NO to anything.  It’ll be interesting – and a great start to my March PL pages.  Reminder: must finish off February’s pages tomorrow while she is out!


My life is over run with scraps!

Scraps of a different kind today, more for WOYWW tomorrow.


This is the floor next to my little sewing corner – literally.  It’s a two-tiered computer desk, with the sewing machine on the top self, where you would usually put the monitor.  I’m not QUITE sewing at eye level, but it sure saves my back from hunching over the machine.  You can see the pile of scraps (such an odd selection) that will, hopefully, turn into something fun and funky and warm and cuddly.  But that is what has absorbed me today – I was determined NOT to rush out and buy a load of fabric, to produce yet MORE scraps, so the whole thing has been a real exercise in something I totally dread … QUILT MATH.  Argh.  Is there anything worse?  Cooking math I can totally do, halving or quadrupling recipes on the fly, but fabric cutting and the general precision needed for most quilts, scares me.  Luckily I went back to just about the first quilt I ever looked at and thought Humm…intentionally wonky? only a minimum of precision needed? and I can use scraps and strips?  Oh yeah! and did that.  I have a cunning plan to use up the scraps from THIS quilt too ….. Stay tuned 🙂

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Snorf Ornament

I am just loving the Snorfs.  This morning I got an email from Maarten from 3eyedbear, asking if he could link to my blog post about the 12 Snorfs of Christmas, and kindly giving me a PDF of his new Christmas Snorf as a thanks.  It was sooooo cute I just had to do something with it. So I did.

First, I ironed a bit of fabric to some freezer paper so I could print on it.  I think this was not the best choice of fabric as it frays more than I would like, but it was what I had on hand.


Now, there are some lines you won’t cut for this version that are marked for the PAPER version.  I cut all the assembly slits, the hat and beard curves, and cut the hands free.  I did NOT cut the nose or the ears.  I did score and crease the brow area but NOT the nose.  Can you see that in the photo? I also cut the lower edge with a 1/4 inch allowance. More or less. Experience seamstresses, look away now LOL!Like so:


I ran out of Fray Check so I just brushed a bit of Glossy Accents on the mittens,  That was the only part that I felt needed the fraying controlled.

This is a little tricky.  Because of the fraying issue I didn’t want to peel the whole thing off the freezer paper so I just peeled the 1/4 inch extra away and trimmed the paper back to the original black line. Leaving the paper in place kept the Snorf shape.


I glued all the tabs, leaving the freezer paper in place. The beard curve and the hands HAVE to be cut in order to glue the tabs.  I leave the hat loose at this point.


I cut a circle of felt – mine was actually too small at 2.5 inches in diameter – I thought it was ok till I stitched back to the beginning.  I thought 3 inches looked to big but now I am thinking it would have been perfect.  I folded the 1/4 inch allowance under and did a quick whip-stitch to close the bottom.  I ended up pleating the back slightly to accommodate the excess.


Now, stuff the body with fibrefill loosely.  The beard and hands are free so you don’t want the fibrefill oozing out!


I added a bit of trim around the hat edge and the base, to control any fraying and to disguise the whip-stitching.


Loop some baker’s twine, or ribbon and push it thru the hat, making a hanger.


Lightly stuff the hat with fibrefill and the glue the back of the hat to the back of the Snorf.


I wrapped a bit more of the trim around the top of the hat, over the hanger to finish him off. Isn’t he just the cutest thing?


I am still dithering whether or not to glue down the mittens.  There really isn’t much fibrefill peeping out – I might have added a circle of felt to the inside, just to contain it, had I thought of it before I stuffed and glued the hat.

Now, obviously this is going to depend on your printer.  An alternative might be to print the Snorf on to tee-shirt transfer paper then iron it on to other fabric.  That also might let you make a softer version without the freezer paper, but the paper adds some stiffness to the hat and beard so I’m not sure it would have the shape it has if you don’t have the paper layer.

The Xmas Snorf is not available for download as I write this.  Who knows if it will be available in the future?   BUT the other Snorfs are equally cute and there are a few of them that I think would be Christmas-y enough if you fancy giving this a go.

Have fun!


Oops – Fun and Done trial

I’ve been researching a quilt-as-you-go method called Fun and Done.  Like it.  I don’t have the tool, which is a set of templates, a square that nests in a frame, but have managed  a reasonable facsimile with just a ruler. I really feel the best way to learn something is to do it, so I had a rummage in my scraps and came up with this combo:

I pinned a quilt on Pinterest the other day, saying how I love B&W and brights so this fits perfectly. I won’t say too much about it because I don’t know if a certain someone might be reading.  I WILL say that the backing is pink flannel (which is why it’s fraying a bit) and that I only had a VERY limited amount of the B&W swirl and the tiny green dotty material.  My design choices were dictated my the amounts. I haven’t yet sewn down the backing (just folded over and pinned) but I am liking it so far.  I def. learned a few things even from making the first block.

I have another row almost ready to add so the overall pattern will be more like this:

but I may play around with the placement before I decide finally.

The turnaround time on this is VERY FAST.  I’ll share more when it’s done.

It’s so bright and cheerful it makes me smile….

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Quilt – nearly done

Still sewing.  I’ve managed to get the whole of the quilt, save the binding, done.  Yay! It’s a bit of a technique practice, as I’ve done quite a few things I’ve not done before.  And thanks to the Missouri Star Quilt Co. tutorials I felt confident giving them all a go.  First, and this is buried in this video about creating a bias binding, I did the string piecing.  The is where you sew continuously, to join sets, without back-stitching or anything, then simply snip them apart.  In theory I can see how this would work, as the joining seams have both ends encased in other seams.  That was what I did when re-piecing the long strips that I had foolishly cut from my original jelly roll when I had a different plan for the fabric. Sorry it’s a little blurry – I had already trimmed the sides before I uploaded the photos so wasn’t aware it was so bad.

The, I had a bash at the Quilt as You Go method.  While I did manage it, it wasn’t without struggles, so I can see why I’ve seen MANY people mention this method is best for smaller quilts and table runners.  Mine ended up 40″ wide by 60″ long, so not massive, but not really small either.  I was happy with the seams on the back – they look neater than I expected, knowing my tendency to let my attention wander and to end up with less than straight lines! Hard to see here, I know:

I tried 505 spray basting – love it.  It really held the backing flat so I got a pretty smooth back.  Occasionally one of the rows would have a little extra width between the two lines of sewing but not so bad I felt compelled to pick out and re-do.  And about the backing – I had to smile when I saw the designer and I share a name, and spelling!

So here it is pieced and quilted.  Next comes the binding, and I may give the machine binding from that video a go.

Now I am wondering if I should maybe use this to try out machine quilting.  Yes, it is “quilted”, with the rows that add the strips creating the quilting lines through all three layers, but the video on scribble quilting looks fun (actually that may not be what it’s called but the link is right.)  Never machine quilted before, unless you can call the straight lines around each block of DS’s tee shirt quilt machine quilting!  With the thin rows it seems the perfect chance to do that as the areas are small and clearly defined.  Haven’t decided that yet!

And finally I am in love with the ease of this jelly roll pattern, From 3 Dudes Quilting!  SOOOOO cute, sooooo easy, and I just happen to have another jelly roll.  I also have a layer cake and … Charm pack? of the same fabric. Again, I had a plan that I am now rethinking.

Finally I thought I would share my weird little quilting space.

In the corner of the front hall, I sew on an old computer desk. Now the really odd thing is that I have been using it turned around, so the shelf that would normally hold a monitor is where the machines sits.  It’s not quite needle-at-eye level, but it is much higher up than I suspect most people would be comfortable with.  I’m tall, so hunching over the machine where it would site on a normal table is not comfy for me.

and I recently added the quilting table that came with my machine – that helped a lot with all the fabric! Plus I have a coupe of RUB style boxes piled up and full of fabric right beside me – that provides a nice table-like area for the overspill.

I’ll probably dither for a bit longer over the machine quilting question, maybe try it out on a small sample piece and see if I like the process, then decide.

I may talk DH into upgrading my Mac, as I find I can go to 10.6 and still keep Appleworks…baby steps, baby steps.  I’ll come bang up to date one day, but not today!