‘simply retro’ granny squares

chair2

I recently got back from my annual sewing retreat where I enjoyed some ‘me’ time with my patchwork buddies. As usual, we did nothing but eat, sleep and quilt – no kidding!  It was the best time ever!

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have to stop to make meals, do the laundry, vacuum, dust, go to work and all that real life stuff. In a few short hours I managed to stitch together the blocks for an entire quilt top!

The pattern is from Camille Roskelley’s book ‘Simply Retro’. I fell in love with the classic, fresh, retro look of this quilt … a lovely modern take on the humble granny square. I love it! And the best part? It’s fat quarter friendly – you only need 12 fat quarters and a few metres of white to make the top!

banister3

The simple do-able style of the giant 20″ blocks meant that the quilt grew pretty quickly too – hey, I like that!

banister4

Now I’m not gonna lie, I’m not a big fan of machine quilting (I much prefer to hand quilt) but, let’s face it, hand quilting takes time and some days you just wanna get it done, right? So … I opted to have a go at ‘edge to edge’ quilting on the machine. I chose wavy lines rather than straight ones, hoping to add some movement to the quilt whilst at the same time keeping it modern.  What do you think? 

quilting collage

apples

I finished it all off nice and neat with some cute red and white check 🙂

binding

on gate2

on gate

So there you have it … a quilt finished in just under 3 weeks (certainly beats 12 years!).

Phew! I’m off for a lie down …

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Happy stitching!

Natalie xx

 

 

in my element

I was in my element this afternoon.

The boys were out and I was ‘home alone’ … there was the mother of all storms blowing a gale outside, but did I care? Not one jot! Cos the central heating was turned up high and Bing Crosby & David Bowie were singing ‘Little Drummer Boy’ at full pelt, whilst I got to play with glue and glitter and wolf down a few home-made Christmas cookies! Did I mention the Drambuie? Well, that too.

Christmas cookies

The reason for all the glitter (and there was a LOT of glitter!) is this …

Teddy1

… a little bit of last minute present making in the form of a glittery, heart-shaped gift box to house a teeny, tiny teddy that I knitted for my God-daughter’s doll’s house.

Teddy2

I glued a wee suffolk puff to the lid as a finishing touch

Teddy3

Gift box2

Gift box1On the subject of gift-giving, I baked a whole heap of stuff this week and enjoyed giving lots of home-made edible gifts to friends and family

Christmas baking

Mince pie gift

Jars

Of course, I made sure to bake a little extra for us too 🙂

mince pies

The girls at work got the little Zakka style gifts I made for them and I wished them all a Happy Christmas. I am now officially on holiday for nearly two weeks! Yay! I am sooo ready for a break!

Gift1

Aqua set

Aqua cookie jar

Green set3

Green cookie jar

Rather than wrap the presents, I made some little gingham bows from ribbon, stitching them to brown paper bags and then I put the gifts inside.

Gift bags in a row

Gift bag ho, ho, ho

… and with the decorations up and the presents all wrapped, it really is starting to feel a lot like Christmas around here 🙂

Tree decs

Presents

Fairy

Christmas pics 097The little felt Santa in the photo is another present for my God-daughter. His tummy is a cut out circle and the hole is covered over with some see-through netting, so that you can see all the chocolate coins he has gobbled up!  There is an opening at the back of his neck to provide access to the chocolate and for refilling him.

So, as Christmas Day approaches, I will be signing off for a few days, but before I go I want to leave you with the recipe for my little Christmas cookies, which I call ‘Festival Pennies

Ingredients

  • 130g (4.5 oz) chopped hazlenuts
  • 250g (9 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 55g (2 oz) caster sugar
  • 55g (2 oz) cornflour
  • 300g (10 oz) plain flour
  • Zest of an orange, finely grated
  • Few drops of orange essence
  • Icing sugar

Method

  1. Lightly grease a baking tray and preheat the oven to 180ْC (fan) / 200ْC / 350ْF / Gas mark 6
  2. Cream the butter and sugar
  3. Beat in the egg yolk, Cointreau and orange essence
  4. Stir in the orange zest and the hazlenuts
  5. Sift the flour and cornflour over the mixture and mix with a wooden spoon to a firm dough
  6. Break off small pieces and shape into a ball, then flatten slightly into round ‘pennies’
  7. Cook in the centre of the oven for 12 – 15 minutes (do not brown)
  8. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes
  9. While still warm (but not hot), roll the cookies in icing sugar and coat generously. I often roll them in the icing sugar a couple of times to give them a good coating. Sift extra icing sugar over the top.

If you don’t have Cointreau or orange essence, you can substitute for brandy and vanilla essence and omit the orange zest. Sometimes, I will also add powdered vanilla pods to the icing sugar to make them a little extra special!

Now all that remains is for me to wish you and your loved ones the happiest of Christmas times.  Thank you all so much for your visits here, for all your lovely comments and support over this past year and to all who have bought my patterns.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to each and every one of you!   Natalie x

Snowman

an early christmas present … or two!

There are some new additions to my sewing room thanks to a couple of early Christmas presents …

ribbon holder1

My ever resourceful Dad made the wonderful ribbon holder for me, which I absolutely love! (that goes for the ribbon holder and my Dad by the way 🙂 ).

I was going to wait until I had painted it before I showed you, but I just couldn’t wait! Isn’t it fab?

ribbon holder2

And my lovely Mum (who knows me only too well) gave me this fun little plaque for my wall

sewing forever wall plaque

* feeling blessed*

Who needs Santa? 😀 x

santa basket

Santa basket pics 032

This little guy has been a regular in our house for the last couple of Christmases. He’s a great little chap for holding all the Christmas chocolates and usually raises a few smiles.

Santa basket pics 011

He’s really easy to make, all you need is:

  • a shallow wicker basket
  • a polystyrene ball
  • a hot glue gun
  • some scraps of fabric and felt
  • polyester stuffing
  • craft goggle eyes, a button, ribbon and a small bell

… and this is how I made him

1. Cut a strip of fabric long enough to go around the rim of the basket and wide enough to cover the sides and extend around the base.  The basket I used had a diameter of 7¼” and a depth of 2¾” which meant I needed a strip of about 24″ x 5″ to include 1/2″ seam allowances.  Sorry I can’t give exact measurements here, as it will all depend on how big your basket is, but what I would say is make it a little bigger than you think you need, as you can always trim it down.

2. Sew a 1/2″ hem along the long sides. Next, with right sides facing, stitch the short sides together to form a fabric ring. Place the basket inside the fabric ring with the wrong side of the fabric facing the outside of the basket. Use a hot glue gun to glue the fabric all the way around the rim of the basket, like a skirt. (Be careful, that glue can be mighty hot!). Allow the glue to set.

3. Turn the basket upside down and place a little polyester stuffing between the fabric and the basket to pad out the sides before gathering up the underside with a running stitch (I used quilting thread for strength), pulling it tight like this. Fasten off securely.

Santa basket pics 018

4. Glue a length of black ribbon around the rim to act as a belt and added a button to the front.

basket

5. Cut another strip of fabric long enough to reach just over half way around the rim, to act as the arms.  The rim of my basket is approximately 23″, so I cut a strip about 12″ x 4.5″, but again you will need to judge the size depending on the size of the basket you are using.

6. With right sides together, stitch the long sides of the strip together to form a tube and turn right side out. Stuff lightly with some polyester stuffing to within an inch of each end.

7. Cut some mittens from green felt and insert one into each end of the arm tube and stitch the ends closed securing the mittens in place. Glue a strip of white felt or wadding around each wrist.

Santa basket pics 0148. Wrap some strong thread around the centre of the tube to form two arms and glue the arms in place around the rim of the basket. I placed glue all along the seam line and then glued it to the basket in order to hide the seam 🙂

Santa basket pics 023

Santa basket pics 017

9. Make the head by covering a polystyrene ball with calico – simply place the ball in the centre of a large square of calico

Santa basket pics 046

10. Gather the fabric around the ball and tie it up with a hair scunci or elastic band.

Santa basket pics 039

11. Trim any excess fabric.

Santa basket pics 042

12. Tease out as many creases as you can to leave a relatively smooth area for the face.

Santa basket pics 045

13. The hat is just a triangle of fabric stitched into a cone shape and placed over the head (hiding the excess fabric and whatever you used to tie it up with!). Try to place the hat such that it hides as many of the creases in the calico as you can, leaving a smooth part showing for the face. Once you are happy with the placement, glue the hat to the head.

14. Decorate the face by gluing on some craft goggle eyes, a nose and add some cosmetic blush (or crayon) on the cheeks.  The nose is just a circle of calico filled with a little bit of polyester stuffing, which is gathered and stitched/glued in place.  You can use anything you like for the beard, from felt to wadding or cotton wool,  or you can make a cotton rag beard like I did.

Santa basket face

15. To make the cotton rag beard, simply cut 2 strips of calico 15″ x 3″, place one on top of the other and fold them in half length-ways. Stitch 1/4″ seam along the folded edge down the full length of the strip. Using small, sharp scissors, make perpendicular cuts about 1/4″ apart all along the raw edge side of the strip, taking care not to snip all the way up to your stitching. To get the lovely raggy look you will need to wash it and stick it in the tumble dryer.

Santa basket pics 033

16. Glue the beard in layers under the nose (there are 3 layers of cotton rag on my Santa).

17. Glue a strip of felt or wadding around the rim of the hat tucking any bits of beard under as you go.

Santa basket pics 012

18. Finally glue the head between the shoulders, add a bell to the hat and a wee bit of glitter here and there.

Ta-da!  You’re done! Put the kettle on – you’ve worked hard, time for a cuppa! 🙂

Santa basket pics 007

I think a snowman basket would also look great – you could knit him a lovely wee hat and scarf – must try that for next year 🙂 !

Right, I’d better get on with putting up the rest of the Christmas decorations … ♥ ♥ ♥

Natalie x