new patterns and a ‘mini-adventure’

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Hello again!

I’m back after my summer blogging break and I have been working on some new patterns that I’m super excited about.

I also joined the wonderful quilting community on Instagram – if you haven’t tried Instagram yet, I recommend it wholeheartedly!  There are so many lovely and talented quilters on there who freely share their ideas and advice – I find it such an inspiring place to be!  My username is @sewingroomsecrets if you want to follow along , I’d love to connect with you there!

It was on Instagram that I first came across the idea of a ‘mini wall’.  Let me explain – a ‘mini wall’ is a dedicated wall where you showcase all your mini quilts!  You simply display all your minis in a mosaic fashion to make a feature wall. And me, being a sucker for all things small and cute, I was hooked straight away 🙂  (Click here for an awesome example of a mini wall by the very talented Camille Roskelley – couldn’t you just die!)

I’ve had the most fun designing a trio of whimsical style minis and am super excited to share two of them with you today (number three is coming soon!).

First up is this little mini entitled ‘Love Lives Here’.

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This one was inspired by a little block I made for a charity quilt. I had so much fun with this wee project and love how it turned out! And judging by your feedback on Instagram and Facebook you guys love it too!  Thank you so much!

Finishing up at around 20.5″ square, the pattern uses easy raw edged applique techniques and a simple patchwork border to create this sweet little quilt.

Heart.

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tree

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Next up is ‘Woof!’

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Now as minis go, this one is definitely on the larger side (22″ x 27″), but still cute! See that little pup in the top right ? … he’s the cheeky one! 🙂

tongue..

Raw edged applique is used on this one too, along with a few basic embroidery stitches, making ‘Woof’ and ‘Love Lives Here’  suitable projects for even a relative beginner.

nose

And guess what? I’m planning a ‘mini wall’ in my sewing room – won’t that be fun! I think this may be the start of a ‘mini adventure’! I’ll be sharing pictures of all the minis I make in future posts and would love to hear what you think as my mini wall evolves!  I’m hoping to include some ‘pieced’ minis (all patchwork) as well as the whimsical style ones I’ve been working on. I’ll be utilising my own patterns as well as minis from some of my favourite designers, so there should be a good mix.

Well now, how about a mini-giveaway? I’m going to give-away a mini quilt pattern to one lucky reader on each of my Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as here on the blog.  That’s 3 chances to win!

For a blog entry, simply leave me a comment telling me which pattern you would like to win i.e. ‘Woof! or ‘Love Lives Here’.  Then pop over to Facebook and Instagram to enter there too if you like!  The giveaway is only open until tomorrow evening (that’s Monday, 7th September) at 6pm (GMT), so you need to be quick! I’ll pick a winner tomorrow night, but if you don’t want to wait until the giveaway ends you can grab your copy from my ETSY shop now.

Good luck and happy stitching!

Natalie xx

P.S. have you made any minis yet?  Leave me a link in the comments and I’ll pop over for a peak! 🙂

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a little bit of whimsy

pillow front sewing room secrets

I didn’t intend to stitch a mushroom house.

But then we were challenged at our sewing group to make a 12 1/2″ block suitable for a child’s quilt, with a theme of ‘homes and gardens’. The quilt blocks will be donated to a charity called The Linus Project, sewn into quilts and given to sick children.  Great, I thought, can’t wait to get started!

It was the red and white polkadot fabric that caught my eye – that’s when the idea of a mushroom house began to take shape.

pillow angle2 sewing room secrets

So I appliqued the little house and a couple of clouds in the sky. But I didn’t stop there.  I love details you see.  I can’t help myself.  I stitched a crooked picket fence, a birdhouse, creeping vines, window boxes, birds, bees, bunting and roses around the door. Finally, some wisps of smoke billowing from the chimney (just to show that someone is home!).

flower detail sewing room secrets

embroidery detail2 sewing room secrets

bird house sewing room secrets

door2 sewing room secrets

When I’d finished, I soon realised that my whimsical little block wouldn’t really be suitable for inclusion in a child’s charity quilt that is likely to be washed repeatedly. Back to the drawing board to think of something else.

But I was determined not to let this cutie become just another UFO (unfinished object) so I made it into a cushion and added some sweet red & white binding around the edges (way easier than making piping!) .

cloud sewing room secrets

cushion on chair sewing room secrets

And speaking of cuties, I forgot to show you what I did with my little embroidered Harriet.  I framed her in a patchwork frame that I picked up at Ikea last year – it couldn’t have been more perfect for her! And the best part?  The frame was only £6! All I did was add a little wadding behind and some ric-rac around the inside edge to make it pop!

Harriet7

Harriet1

Harriet seems content in her new home 🙂

Natalie x

 

 

tidying up can unearth long forgotten treasure

I came across these tit-bits whilst I was tidying up today

Lola threads.

And it got me thinking.

Those gorgeous orangey shades reminded me of a certain lil’ redhead that I stitched once upon a time. .. can ya guess who? For anyone new to my blog, this is the sassy little lady I am referring to

Lola21

Needless to say, the tidying came to an abrupt end and I grabbed my pencils and paper and this wee sketch emerged …

Lola sketch

I am going to enlarge the drawing big enough for a cushion cover. I think Lola will look very ‘chic’ in a wide-brimmed hat and I’m looking forward to weaving those gorgeous strands into her lovely locks…

… am I sounding confident?  Like I have a plan and know exactly how to proceed? Good, cos I’m trying to convince myself that I do :).  Truth is, I have had these threads for years because I have absolutely no clue how to use them!  I bought them many moons ago for no other reason than I just had to have them. They shone and sparkled and called to me and I knew straight away that I needed them in my drawer life!

I am not at all sure how I will work the threads in –  they are all different thicknesses to begin with, not at all like ordinary embroidery floss.  I guess that’s why they are so appealing…

Lola threads

But I like them.

A lot!

So I am inspired to give it a whirl and see what happens, plan or no plan! 🙂

Happy stitching!

Natalie x

love entwined … slow progress

I’m making very slow progress with my Love Entwined quilt …

The truth is, I found stitching the zig-zag border very tedious (there, I said it!) and that led me to abandon the quilt for a long time. Eventually, I did pick it up again and have been getting on with things a lot better now that the border is finished!

So, the first vase is now brimming over with berries and blooms and I  just need to embroider a few stamens to a couple of the flower centres.

LE flowers4

LE flowers1

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LE flowers3

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Now I’m working on the second vase of flowers …

Vase2

I apply tiny drops of Roxanne’s glue-baste-it to hold the pieces in place before stitching them down.

Roxanne glue-baste-it

This amazing applique glue dries in minutes, holds great and is 100% water soluble, with no harmful chemicals, dyes or waxes.  It also comes with a super fine syringe-like applicator which allows for controlled droplets of tiny beads of glue just where you need it! I find glueing so much better than pinning, since I don’t prick my fingers so much 🙂 That’s gotta be a good thing, right?  Cos who wants blood on their quilt?

berries

Fern

And, best of all, I get to combine embroidery and applique on this quilt too … *happy sigh*

embroidery2

embroidery1

small purple flower

.. and it was so worth it to persevere with that pesky border, cos the end result is pretty cool! I love the whole 3D effect with the zig-zags 🙂 This is how the whole thing looks from a distance …

photo.

Whether or not I ever go ‘all the way’ with this quilt remains to be seen (the finished size is 90″ x 90″ – yikes!), but right now I’m not looking too far ahead. One piece at a time is enough for me …

Happy stitching!

Natalie x

 

 

zakka butterfly

Butterfly table topper2

The patchwork group that I attend are hosting a BOM this year, with different members of the group demonstrating a technique or a block that they have enjoyed doing and are happy to share with everyone.  The idea is that you can either make a quilt with all the blocks or you can just do particular blocks that appeal to you and make them into cushions, mini quilts or other small items of loveliness 

I have been asked to host a demonstration on my preferred method of applique for the March block. Oh the pressure! Yikes! This wee butterfly block is what I intend to go with.  What d’ya think?

Applique butterfly

The finished blocks will be 12″.  I wanted to use my block to make a table topper, so I stitched six 2½”  squares either side of the butterfly and added a 3” inch strip of the grey linen that I love so much.  Then I finished the whole thing up nice and neat with some gorgeous aqua binding.

Squares3

Butterfly table topper3

I quilted some simple blooms here and there, adding a cluster of beads to some of the flower centres for a wee bit of sparkle …

Squares

Applique3jpg

Back2

Applique1

The method of applique that I use is often referred to as the ‘freezer paper and starch’ method.  I like this method best, because I like how the pieces hold their shape as I work with them and I can get pretty smooth edges too 🙂

Butterfly head

Applique4.jpqI used fabric from my stash, because I wanted the finished quilt to co-ordinate with the little Zakka style nesting boxes that I made for the bathroom.

bathroom set.

And what do you do when you finish a quilt and get that lovely fuzzy feeling of accomplishment?  Yep, you make a nice cuppa tea, settle on the sofa with a quilting book and dream about your next sewing project! 🙂

Afternoon tea

Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie x

fabric iPad sleeve tutorial

 

Harriet 005.

I had been wondering what I could make with a little embroidered piece that I stitched recently and finally decided on a new iPad cover.  I already have a ‘Smart Case’ for my iPad and, whilst I like the protection that the hard folding cover gives to the screen, the fact remains that it is a dull grey colour, a little grubby from fingerprints and well … just plain boring!

So, I wanted to pretty things up a wee bit and this is the result …

iPad cover1

iPad cover3

iPad cover2

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iPad cover7

iPad cover11

I made a slightly different version for my mother-in-law, adding her initial in embroidery on the front. I added a velcro flap at the top, rather than an elastic and button closure and I also quilted the background of the linen section.  I found some wonderful embroidery templates for monogram letters here.

iPad cover4

If you would like to have a go at making a fabric iPad sleeve, I’ve jotted down some quick instructions below on how I made mine.  You can do anything you like on the front cover – I used my new Harriet & her Teddy design on the front of mine (available in my pattern shop), or you can just keep it simple by using two pretty co-ordinating fabrics – just go with what you fancy!

Before we get started, I need to point out that I made mine big enough to accommodate an iPad4 and a Smart Case.  If you want to make a cover just for an iPad on it’s own, I would suggest using a 1/2″ seam allowance throughout (for a snugger fit), rather than a 1/4″ seam allowance.

So, what you will need is:

For the outside

  • 2 pieces of fabric 9.5” x 8.75” – for the bottom of the outside cover
  • 2 pieces of co-ordinating fabric 9.5” x 3” – for the top of the outside cover
  • 2 lengths of ribbon around 10” long, plus extra for the bow
  • 1 small button (for the bow centre) and a larger button for the closure
  • 1 adult hair elastic/ponytail holder (or similar thin elastic)

For the inside

  • 2 pieces of thin wadding (batting) 9.5” x 11.25”
  • 2 pieces of lining fabric 9.5” x 11.5” (the extra 1/4″ in length for the lining fabric is for the trim at the top edge)

*Use 1/4″ seam throughout

1. Cut out all the pieces before you start

Harriet 3

To make the outside cover …

2. With right sides together, stitch each of the two top pieces (9.5” x 3”) to the bottom pieces (9.5” x 8.75”)

Harriet 1

3. Cover the seam lines by stitching on some co-ordinating ribbon

Harriet 2

4. Make a ‘quilt sandwich’ by laying one 9.5” x 11.25” piece of wadding down on your work table first, followed by the front cover (right side up), followed by the back cover (right side down), and finishing with another 9.5” x 11.25” piece of wadding. Line up all raw edges and pin.

5. Stitch all four layers together using ¼” seam, leaving the top open. Backstitch a few stitches at the start and end of sewing to stop the seam opening when you turn it right side out.

Stitch all the layers together

6. Trim away the wadding to about 1/8th of an inch from the sewn line to reduce bulk, clip the corners and turn right side out. Push out the corners to give nice neat points.

7. Sew the elastic hairband onto the outside of the back cover by placing it in the centre and stitching over it a few times about an 1/8th of an inch from the edge. Allow a little of the elastic to hang off the edge (you will trim it later).

Harriet 11

8. Now take your lining fabric and place the pieces right sides together. Stitch down both long sides and along the bottom, leaving a 4” opening at the bottom for turning. Leave the top open.  Clip the corners, but don’t turn it right side out yet!

Lining

9. To join your outer cover and lining, keep your lining inside out & your outer piece right side out and slip the assembled cover inside the lining, matching up your two side seams. They should now be right sides together.

Harriet 10

10. Line up the top edges of the lining and the outside cover and stitch a ¼” seam all around the top edge. Trim away the excess elastic from the seam allowance.

Collage1

11. Gently pull the front cover through the gap that you left in the lining. *Tip:  I use a star headed screw driver to turn things out as I find that the little star head grips the fabric and helps things along 🙂

Harriet 512. Poke out the corners and press

Harriet 8

13. Stitch the opening closed

sew opening closed

14. Gently push the lining inside the cover.  You will find that a little of the lining will naturally fold around the wadding at the top edge to give a nice little trim along the top (that’s the reason why we cut the lining pieces that extra 1/4″ longer 😉 )

iPad cover12

15. Sew on a pretty button and top-stitch ‘in the ditch’ where the lining and the outside meet to give a neat finish (although it looks just fine without this step).

Top stitch to finish (optional)

ipadcover5

I have just begun to stitch another little version of Harriet & her Teddy, this time I am embroidering the entire thing on to soft white linen (no applique).  I’ve added tiny beads as flower centres and smocking at the top of her dress…

A pocketful of posies

 

… not sure what it will become this time, just gonna see where the stitches take me …

Natalie x

 

one year ago today …

… I began my adventures in blogland with a very nervous first post from my sewing room.

To tell you the truth, I was not at all convinced that anyone would be the slightest bit interested in my ‘wee bits o’ nonsense’ (aka sewing projects).  But I was amazed how quickly I was made to feel welcome in the blogging community with lovely comments and words of encouragement.  Bloglanders are such a friendly bunch 🙂

Looking back over my blog I realize that I have created a colourful little journal of my life in stitches!  I didn’t think about that aspect of blogging when I started out, so it’s an unexpected and happy bonus!

Hexy flower side view

One year on and I would like to thank you all for reading my words, looking at my pictures, checking out my tutorials and for all your wonderful encouragement and amazingly generous comments! I can’t tell you how much you brighten my day by taking time out of your busy lives to share your thoughts with me!  It is particularly heart warming when someone tells me that they have been inspired by something they have seen on my blog! And I have to pinch myself when I see a Sewing Room Secrets project on Pinterest!  That still freaks me out every time! (in a good way!!)

I have picked out 12 of my favourite makes and posts from the past 12 months and hope you will humour me as I take a little trip down memory lane…

Little hexie needle caddy

Little hexie needle caddyIt’s a giveaway!

Etsy Collage

A treasury of applique

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Hexagons for Harriet

Harriet before applique

‘Lola’

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Zakka Style

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Zakka inspired gift set

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‘Morning Star’ … a journey of a thousand stitches

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How to make a Suffolk Puff

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Time to just be me

My glasses case

Catching up …

Crafty Creatures

On white

Chocolate Tiffin Recipe

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Thank you for your company this past year … having you along for the journey has really been a blessing 

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*Edited: I will be taking a step back from blogging for a while, as I will not be able to devote as much time to it in the coming months, due to other demands in my life right now. I will still be ‘around’, working on my Love Entwined quilt and drafting several new patterns for my Etsy shop, but unfortunately blogging will have to take a back seat for now.  I will try to pop back from time to time with updates when I can, but for now I bid you all a fond farewell and happy stitching!  Love & hugs, Natalie xx

 

happiness is …

…a pot of tea, an open fire and some quiet stitching on a Sunday afternoon

LE centre4

I’m working on a new appliqué quilt called ‘Love Entwined’.  It is an historic appliqué quilt dating back to 1790, which has been interpreted and re-created by Esther Aliu (you can read more about it here). Esther is generously offering this magnificent quilt as a free BOM over on her blog, if you care to join in 🙂   Just hit the button in the sidebar and it will take you straight to Esther’s blog.

Original LE Black & White

Not much is known about the original, other than it is from the Georgian Era, England, heavily appliquéd and is described as a ‘fine marriage coverlet’.  It will be a real labour of love and will probably take me in the region of two years to complete!!

LE centre2

LE centre3

It took me ages to get started … partly because I discovered it just before Christmas when I had a million and one other things to do, but mostly because I was nervous about the huge undertaking that this quilt represents.

I mean this is BIG! Not just in size (96″ x 96″), but also in the challenges that it poses.  It is an intense appliqué project and I have never attempted anything quite on this scale before. Yikes!

The first challenge was choosing the fabrics.  This is the part that, for me, takes forever as I keep changing my mind!  Laying out some fabrics on my work table helped a lot 🙂

LE fabrics3

The second challenge was the Mariner’s compass block as I have never done one before. It took a couple of attempts, but I got there in the end …

LE embroidered dots

The appliqué pieces on this quilt are an awful lot smaller than they look, but I have been getting around it with a few carefully placed embroidery stitches 😉   

Now that I have finished the centre circle, I think I am over the worst.  Yeah right, who am I kidding?

flower

applique flower2

… one solitary little embroidered flower added, only nine more to go!

What new challenges have you set yourself for the New Year?

Happy stitching!

Natalie x

a treasury of applique

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy1

Given the choice, I prefer hand sewing over machine and appliqué has got to be one of my favourite techniques.  It’s like a form of art, I guess – the way you can take the teeniest, tiniest scraps and layer them, so as to build a picture out of nothing.  The down side to this, of course, is that I find it difficult to throw even the smallest piece of fabric away.

I recently made a little appliqued sewing caddy and it has been getting such a lot of attention from fellow stitchers that I thought I would share it here on my blog.

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy13

I first saw the pattern by Hitomi Fujita in one of my quilting magazines, yonks ago, and I fell in love with it straight away (Australian Patchwork & Quilting, Vol.4, No.6).

Australian Patchwork & Quilting MagBut, you know how it goes – it went down on my ‘to do’ list and then was forgotten about, until a few months ago, when I was flicking through my collection of old magazines (I can’t throw them away either :)) and I came across the pattern again. 

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy14

I’m so glad I didn’t just file the pattern away again, because now I have the most wonderful little home for all my sewing essentials.

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy11

There is a place for everything, from my embroidery scissors

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy9

a small fastener ensures that my scissors stay securely in place

to my tape measure and leather thimble

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy8

pockets where I keep my pins, embroidery threads and the all important stitch ripper!

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy10places for a ruler, pencils and threads

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there is even a pin cushion and needle book

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy3

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy7The great thing is that the needle book and the pin cushion are both detachable from the pouch, as they are secured in place with velcro. Genius!

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy6

but, best of all, I got to do lots of lovely applique on the outside

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy5

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy2

This labour of love is now one of my most cherished creations ….. every stitch holding a memory of thousands of tiny seconds of time spent in my sewing room doing what I love most ♥

Happy stitching everyone!

** Edited 21.12.13**  I have had many requests for the pattern for this sewing caddy. Unfortunately, I don’t know where you might obtain the pattern these days – some of my readers have tried contacting the magazine, but unfortunately they have not been very helpful 😦  I do know that some people have managed to get a copy via Ebay and others via Bonanza.com or by posting a request on quilting forums.

Under copyright law, I am at liberty to publish my own photographs of my interpretation of the design, so long as I give credit to the source and the designer (which I have done in this post) but, unfortunately, the copyright for the design lies with the designer (which is not me!) and so I am not able to re-distribute the pattern in any shape or form, sorry. Natalie x

spring arrives with a baa-ng!

sheep7

I’m back in my sewing room after a lovely Easter break with my family in Northern Ireland.   Long walks, (way too many) coffee shops and ‘wee buns’, warm fires at night and a glass or two of my favourite tipple!

Irish Mist

It’s funny, but I still refer to Northern Ireland as ‘home’, even though I have lived in England now for more than half of my life. There is definitely something magical about going ‘home’ – that feeling of true belonging that cannot be felt anywhere else on earth.

It was lambing season whilst I was there, but sadly there were fewer lambs than usual in the fields surrounding my parents house this year. The recent heavy snow falls meant that many sheep and their lambs perished, buried in huge snow drifts of up to fifteen feet high in some areas! 

Thankfully, many pregnant ewes survived the harsh conditions and, now that the snow has all but melted, lambs are once again a happy sight on the Irish hillsides 🙂

sheep in snow1

sheep in snow2

It was scenes like the ones above that inspired me to create a sheep-themed pouch like the button pouch featured in my ‘button love’ post.

sheep4

sheep3

 

pouch back

 

sheep9

I use this one to keep cotton wool in, but there are any number of uses for it. You can find the tutorial for it here.

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I’m back home in England now and as I sit at my sewing table, looking out at the daffodils making a later than usual appearance, it makes me smile to see their sweet golden faces heralding the arrival of spring at last!

daffodils

Happy stitching everyone!

time to just be me

One of my favourite designers, the talented Kate Popovski (aka LiliPopo), has just released a new embroidery pattern and my copy arrived last week.  I have been itching to get going with it, but there was always something else to do and I’ve not managed to find the time.

Today, with the March sun streaming through an open window, I managed to sit down in my sewing room, just me, and stitch for a few glorious hours. 

lilipopo in progress

Oh! there are few things more satisfying than those precious moments when nothing else requires your attention, other than the needle and thread in your hand and making sure there is tea in the pot!

lilipopo in progress2

I love combining appliqué with embroidery and have done so to great effect in many of my own projects, but I think that these little LiliPopo designs are perfect to showcase just how effective this technique can be.

My glasses case

ipad2

I shall need to carve myself out some sewing time next week in order to make a Mother’s Day gift.  I have some Suffolk Puffs lying around somewhere; I’m sure I can rustle up something lovely with those 😉

First though, I shall need to post this wee glasses case to my aunt in Northern Ireland.

Aunt Hilary's glasses case3

I just love days like today, when you can while away the hours just sewing, nothing else, just that.  Bliss x