Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Quick thrifty dress

 Do you remember the top from my charity shop finds last week?

I couldn't decide whether to try and turn it into something else to wear, maybe a skirt, or whether to just chop it up for a quilt.

A few days ago a friend was throwing out some clothes in the recycling, and let me have a rummage first. I found this top:

Can you see, it's got a pretty ruffle around the neck.
 It was brand new but she'd decided it wasn't her kind of thing. It's not really something I'd wear either but it clicked in my head with the top from last week and I thought I could combine them to make something that Venetia would definitely wear.

Can you visualise it yet?
 It's an adult top so I chopped it off at the top of the straps and shortened them to fit Venetia. It didn't need any more altering, it's a stretchy figure hugging top so it wasn't at all baggy even on a 6 year old. Now to add a skirt to it. I chopped off the top as high to the arm holes as I could.

I didn't iron it at this point so it kept the tiny gathers in place that were there in the top.
I checked the length on Venetia and then just sewed the 'skirt' to the vest top right sides together and ironed it back down. That was it. Probably about 10 minutes work.

And she loves it...

Already I find it hard to picture the skirt part as a top, although it was a very pretty top it feels like it was always supposed to be a skirt now.
 She doesn't need any more dresses since we frequently find beautiful dresses very cheaply in Charity Shops without needing to sew them together but it was fun to do. And I've still got the rest of the top with the sleeves (and some pretty buttons!) to do something else with - perfect in a mini quilt I'm thinking!

Back tomorrow, Sally.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A bought quilt

I'm not a collector of bought quilts, I don't go out of my way to look for them, generally I prefer making them. But if I see a second hand one that's gorgeous in some way, and not a large amount of money, then I do find it hard to resist!

This quilt was displayed on a chair outside a lovely shop on a sunny day. I was walking along on the other side of the street but I spotted it out of the corner of my eye and the colours called me over. And then I couldn't resist!

The shop lady thought it dated back to the 30's, I haven't got a clue, but it is obviously quite old from the style of some of the fabrics.

Lots of really pretty fabrics, but I find some of the placement a bit bizarre, there are 'clumps' of the same fabrics rather than any attempt to give the quilt a good balance with the fabric placement. I think probably whoever made it cut and pieced scraps as they had scraps to use and that the quilt built up over time in this way rather than being pieced all in one go.

It's not particularly big and it's slightly strange in that it's hand pieced hexagons on both sides with no wadding or anything in between and no quilting holding the 2 layers together. It seems to be held together purely by the blue binding, which is a quaint frill.

Blue frill for binding
 There are quite a few areas that are damaged, and somebody has already tried (not very well) to mend a couple of these.

Some torn fabric

I don't really know what to do with the damaged areas. I don't want to change it in any radical way, I definitely don't want to add any different fabric to it  but I'm not sure how effective just trying to 'darn' it will be. But it's not something that's overly worrying me. The damage doesn't spoil the quilt for me, it's all part of its history and beauty, I just want to try and preserve it a bit better if I can. I think I might end up hanging it up on a wall somewhere which hopefully will keep the delicate, worn fabrics a bit safer for longer.

Back tomorrow with a very quick, thrifty make, Sally.

PS If you felt like having a go at making a mini quilt after seeing yesterday's lovely 'Doll's Quilt Wall' on my Pinterest board, then there's lots more mini quilt inspiration on my board here, Mini Quilt Inspiration. I'm going to have to not look at these too much though because for one thing my wall isn't big enough for all the ideas I love on here and for another thing I'd really like a few of the ideas to be personal to me and my family. Pinterest can be too full of lovely things sometimes!

Monday, 29 July 2013


I'm still working on the Half Square Triangles from the end of last week but, ever since the beginning of last week when I showed you photos of My Mum's Quilt, hexagons seem to be popping up all over the place! I think it's mainly that the children, having looked at the quilt with new eyes, are now spotting hexagons and pointing them out to me like mad. And tessellating hexagons in particular create the most excitement at the moment! Generally it's when we're out and about, maybe in the car, and I can't take photos. But I have got one really good example I can share with you - really good because it also ties in with the half square triangles that are going on here at the moment:

A half rectangle triangles quilt? Think about spiltting the more obvious triangle shapes in half, then pairing them up with the split triangle of a different colour next to them, this makes the rectangles.
I'm hoping this is clear enough for you to see the pattern. It was hard to get anything like a decent photo because this is actually a pattern on an envelope, so it's really small and also quite pale. Venetia was given a card in this envelope, and was just as excited about the envelope as she was about the contents once she spotted there were hexxies going on in the pattern! And I think (someone more experienced than me please correct me if I'm wrong here) that if I were to try and recreate this pattern in a quilt (which Venetia desperately wants me to do now!) that I'd use half square triangles (or rather half rectangle triangles) to do it. So although it looks very complicated, and it would need careful colour placement to give the right effect, it is actually a reasonably straightforward quilt to construct, all machine sewable and all based around one simple shape. Watch this space for an example maybe - although I think it might be a mini quilt, at least to start with, perfect for Venetia's dolls perhaps.

Anyway, back with the hexxies. The children were busy this weekend making all things hexagon with acqua beads.


And I got infected with the hexxie bug. The half square triangles were put to one side and I remembered I'd bought this material a while back:

Perfect to join in with the hexxie bug. I only had a fat quarter of it (new fabric has to be rationed in this house, but I bought it from here if you're interested, Plush Addict), so, especially since I didn't really want to break up the lovely hexxie pattern, I thought a mini applique quilt might be good. Obviously it had to be bees, and not just any bees - hexxie bees! Don't get too excited because it's not finished yet, but here are a few photos of how it's going so far:

Brown and yellow fabric strips sewn together ready for the bee body templates

Fabric cut out, slightly larger than the templates, then ironed over the templates

One bee, edges all tacked under (in the red thread) about to be sewn on to the honeycomb fabric.

I've been wanting to make some mini quilts for ages so it feels great to have one started. I have plans for a wall of mini quilts so I hope it will be the first of many. I have always hankered after a patchwork wall and, a while back, my friend Emma (of Hope Sews fame) made me green with envy when she created this very beautiful patchwork wall:

Photo: The Patchwork wall!!

Isn't it gorgeous? And I can tell you it looks even better in the flesh. I especially love the way Emma put in small things, like cards and photos, that have special meaning for her. It just made me want to 'patchwork' all sorts of different things rather than purely quilts. But as for that wall I'd love to have - despite wandering around my house many times considering every wall from every angle, I just couldn't find a wall where it would look good and be practical. And even with the extension that's being built for my parents I'm not sure there's a wall that's a good candidate. But then I saw this picture (on trusty Pinterest):

Hillary Lang's Doll Quilt Wall.  What a great idea, for studio or any roomHillary Lang Doll Quilt Wall from my Pinterest
And it occurred to me that this was something I could do quite easily to give me the kind of effect I was craving. So this is what the mini quilts are for eventually. They're going to go on the wall beside my stairs, which is much too boring at the moment. So expect to see more mini quilts cropping up here in the future (maybe the one for Venetia, based on her envelope, won't get to be for her dolls after all!).

I was going to show you one more hexxie lovely today, a bought quilt - quite unusual for me. But I think (and my children definitely think!) that this post is plenty long enough already so I'll save that for tomorrow.

Back then, Sally.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The start of the Summer holidays and the start of a new project.

First off, do you remember my 'Hope Sews' quilt from a few days ago?

'Hope Sews' - have you 'liked' their Facebook page yet to spread the word?!/pages/Hope-Sews/102588516501725?fref=ts

When I wrote about it I couldn't find a link to a tutorial on the particular method I'd used to make it. But here it is now, found at last:
It's quite a different way of making a quilt with squares so worth a look.

We didn't have the best start to the holidays yesterday, Sam was sick in the night so the friends coming round and the camp out had to be abandoned. But a quiet day at home meant I got to make a bit of a start on my next project. Here's where I'm up to so far:

Another make with vintage sheets.
  Not very far yet, but aren't the colours lovely? I'm really looking forward to getting a bit further with this. I'm going to make something with half square triangles. These can be very versatile in quilts and there are lots of good tutorials out there about them. Try here, for example, to see how to make 8 in one go!

And Theo, Venetia and I did get to take a little walk through the woods to the river this evening for a late swim, so it did feel a bit Summer holidayish to 3 of us at least. It was a lovely, still evening, the water was beautifully warm and we were incredibly lucky to see a deer and her fawn crossing the river and stopping for a drink just a few metres up stream from us. A wonderful end to the day.

I'm afraid we were all 3 of us swimming when the deer came past, so I didn't get a shot of them, only of Theo! But sometimes moments don't need to be caught on camera to be remembered, sometimes it's enough just to have had the moment at all.

Hope you're having a great weekend too. Back Monday, Sally.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Soulemama's 'This Moment'

Here's the link to the original Soulemama moment:

And here's mine:

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Teachers' Presents

As an idea for anyone else for teachers this year, I could be a little late here. Our school seems to be incredibly late breaking up this year, but in case you're in need of a present idea for some other reason I thought I'd share this with you today.

First off, can I just say that I know not everyone does teachers' gifts. But we have some really lovely teachers who give lots of their own time running clubs for the children and taking them off on trips and generally making their time at school as interesting and exciting as possible. So for us personally, we like to give them something at the end of the year to show them that we do really appreciate this.

We do often do handmade presents (surprise, surprise!) and a few of the quilts I've shown on here have been for teachers but for extra special reasons - a teacher who's been very important to one of my little ones who's having a baby, another teacher who's been very important for many years who's now retiring and a lovely pre-school teacher who's had 3 of my babies through her amazing Montessori school and now I've run out of babies to send there, very sad! Partly because all of those gifts have been extra special and time consuming, we've gone for something nice and easy and 'bought' for the 'standard' end of year presents. But hopefully still thoughtful and special - an ice cream hamper!

It's definitely a present I'd be happy receiving!

I saw this idea floating around Pinterest before Christmas, and we actually used it as a Christmas present for someone too, but it feels even more appropriate now in the middle of Summer. So, if you're struggling to come up with a present for somebody over the Summer, how about an ice cream hamper? You can make it as big (think different cones, wafers, flakes, sprinkles, sauce, syrup...) or as little (just a small tub of ice cream and a packet of cones maybe) as you like.

Back tomorrow with a photo, Sally.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sunshine Quilt

I have to say, I love this quilt! This has been one of my favourites to make (and now look at!) for quite a while. I'm not sure whether this is because it's of the sunshine, or because of the lovely bright colours, but it just makes me happy! I want to hang it on my wall and smile at it every time I walk past.

But it's a present for someone so now I've got to give it away.

Grumpy Sad Sun Clip Art
Just hope she likes it. As well as the fact that the weather has been so sunny, I made this particular quilt because she's such a sunny person. I always find it's good to make a quilt as personal as possible for the person in mind because then it is usually easier to give it away! Obviously this one needed to be a bit more personal though!

I've seen quite a few sunshine quilts on Pinterest, all of them very similar, but I think this is my favourite:

Sunshine quilt

The thing I most love about it is the blue binding, which I've used, and love now, on my quilt. And I also loved breaking into my pile of vintage sheets for mine.

I made it by first sandwiching together the backing fabric (part of an old duvet cover), an old wool blanket and an old plain sheet. I gave them all a good spray with the 505 glue, it's really important to have all 3 layers secure if this method is going to work.

My 3 layer sandwich, backing facing up here.
Once they were secure and smooth I cut out a 'ray' shape from my vintage sheets and just stitched it down through all 3 layers, leaving the 'ray' edges raw. Then I carried on with more 'ray' shapes, sewing them, right sides together, over the previous ray, then ironing it over so the right side was face up on the plain sheet. This way the sun gradually started to build up, each ray covering the previous one's raw edges.

Sew right sides together down one seam before ironing it over flat.

 For the last ray, I ironed a quick hem on the leftover edge before sewing it down over my very first line of stitching, which was on the raw edge of the very first ray. Does that make sense? Sorry, I should have taken more photos, I'm still not used to stopping and doing that.

So now I had all the rays with a roundish hole waiting to be filled in the middle. All my stitching so far had gone through all 3 layers so was already 'quilting' it together pretty well but I wanted lots more quilting on this one so added lots more lines on each section to give more of the 'ray' effect. It worked really well.

Quilted rays

I decided I'd like a big round sun on the back too so I appliqued that on next, with a really dense zigzag stitch all the way round the raw edge.

The round sun on the back, with a dense, orange zigzag stitch around it.

Then I cut a slightly larger circle for the front so that it would cover the zigzag stitching that had come through to the front. I didn't want more zigzag stitching going through to the back so I turned over a thin hem all the way round my front circle before sewing it on with just a neat machine running stitch.

An easy way to turn over the hem on a circle is to cut a paper template slightly smaller than your fabric (reasonably sturdy paper is good - I used plain wallpaper that the girls have for painting), place it on the wrong side of your fabric and then iron over the wider strip of fabric all the way round. It really is much easier to do it this way with something this size and then you can just machine stitch it down rather than hand applique it, turning it as you go. And obviously it's going to stand up to wear and tear much better this way too.

My paper template, with the fabric underneath slightly larger.

Ironing over a small hem on the paper.

I was nearly done but wanted to add some more quilting detail to the circle piece too, so I machine stitched a spiral on there. It's been a while since I made a quilt with lots of quilting lines on it and I think this is another reason I like the quilt so much, it really does make a difference to it.

Then the blue binding and it was finished.

Normally I would never make the same quilt more than once (I get bored too easily for that! Plus the fact that there are always so many other quilts to make), but with this one I'm definitely going to have to make another similar at least so that I can put it up on my wall somewhere in the Summer. And I'd love to make a baby quilt along these lines too.

Anyway, this is already a very long post and I haven't even told you how amazing Bruce Springsteen was last night! He's definitely a lesson in growing older, he's 63 and still doing what he clearly loves, surrounded by friends in the band who are clearly very important to him. And not only is he doing it but he's doing it incredibly well, I wish I had half his energy now! Sometimes you hear older singers and all the power and quality in their voices seems to have drained away but that wasn't the case with Bruce at all. And he sang for probably over three and a half hours almost solidly! Amazing! If you ever get a chance, go and see him.

I'll leave you with some of his (completely randomly chosen!) song lyrics, for no other reason than they're going round my head still!

Back tomorrow, Sally.

“Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going”

“You’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above”

"God have mercy on the man
Who doubts what he's sure of"

"You can't start a fire, worryin' about your little world falling apart"

"Now everyone dreams of a love faithful and true,
But you and I know what this world can do.
So let's make our steps clear so the other may see.
And I'll wait for you...should I fall behind wait for me.”

Have you got any favourite song lyrics, not necessarily Bruce Springsteen, that you feel like sharing?

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Hope Sews

A good friend of mine, Emma, set up a Facebook page, Hope Sews, at the start of the year, to make quilts for orphans in Romania through the Humanitas Charity. Emma has a personal connection with this charity, having spent quite some time in Romania a few years ago, giving the children there the love and attention they need. She has a strong social conscience and is very much someone who gets things done rather than just talking or thinking about it, combine this with a love of sewing and quilts - and you have 'Hope Sews'!

Emma's latest quilt for Hope Sews
She also found a lovely book a while back, 'Quilting for Peace', which I'm sure inspired her as well. She lent it to me recently and it's a very moving book, full of stories of how individuals and groups have used quilting to reach out to people, whether by trying to help with grieving, change outlooks, show love or simply provide warmth to those who need it. It's here on Amazon if you're interested:

If you can, please take a minute to have a look at her Facebook page:
And even if you're not in a position to make a quilt for them please still feel free to give them a 'like' and that way it'll spread the word further! If you do feel like making a quilt, either for Hope Sews or another cause, then even better. A few of my friends have made their first ever quilt for 'Hope Sews', it's a lovely way to get into quilting, especially as they're only looking for smallish quilts which is always easier.

And there's really no need to go out and buy expensive supplies to get started on a project for this as my latest 'Hope Sews' quilt shows:

This quilt is made from an old white sheet, one skirt that was being thrown out by a friend, and an ancient coat for the binding. The middle is a very lightweight, old wool blanket, the knitted kind with holes in - not sure what they're called. Since the sheet and the skirt material are both very fine materials it's given the quilt a lovely light feel all round, but hopefully the layers, with the holey wool in the middle trapping some air, will give it warmth too - this is what my boys tell me from their science lessons on the principles of insulation!

I made this quilt in a slightly different way - I'm sure I had a tutorial on Pinterest but can I find it now? No! Watch this space and I'll try and find it again for you because it's quite a clever method.

I have to say that I really didn't enjoy making it much though! It was quite tedious just sticking to the checker board pattern and not even having any variation in colours to work into it. I played around with the back a bit just to give myself a bit of interest in it really, and that was much more fun:

Just a randomly pieced heart and a few leftover squares too.

It's been really hot round here for the last few weeks (hot by our usual standards anyway!) and making quilts has felt just a little bit wrong! But this quilt has a lovely, light Summery feel to it for me so it was good to finish it. And I think I might have another very Summery quilt for you tomorrow. But for now I've got to get ready to go and see Bruce Springsteen in concert in Cardiff- wahoo!

Back tomorrow, probably tired! Sally.
PS Don't forget to go and 'like' Hope Sews!