thank you!

Just a quick post to say a massive thank you for all your lovely comments about my ‘twelve-years-in-making-scrappy-quilt’ (I really need to think of a catchier title 🙂 )

I am blown away by the reaction that my wee quilt story has sparked (over 2000 shares on Facebook – what?!?) – my word! Thanks you guys!

♥ ♥ ♥

Well now, what do you do when you finish one quilt?   I’ll give you three guesses, but you’ll get it in one … You start another one, right? Yay!

I’ve always fancied making a two colour quilt and have settled on this colour combo.  I’m going to machine quilt it this time though, so it shouldn’t take me another 12 years before I’m done!

Red grey fabrics

♥ ♥ ♥
 Happy stitching!
Natalie x

 

fun fabric alphabet letters

photo 6

Whilst browsing on Pinterest, I came across this brilliant tutorial on how to make a fabric alphabet. What a fab idea! Not only is it a fun way to teach little ones the alphabet, but also a great way to use up your fabric scraps – win, win!

It was super easy and quick to stitch up and my little God-daughter loves using the fabric letters to learn her ‘A-B-C’.

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photo 8

And … as luck would have it … I found some alphabet themed fabric in my stash, which I used to make a nifty wee drawstring bag to keep them all in!

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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

zakka inspired gift set

With Christmas just around the corner, I have been putting some thought into what little fabric gifts I can make for friends and family this year.

Every year, I make Christmas cookies for the girls at work and last year I made some wee fabric gift bags to put them in

Gift bag template can be found here

Gift bag template can be found here

This Christmas I want to give the girls a little something to go with the usual cookies and I have been wondering what it might be. Every time I think of an idea, I have been jotting it down on a yellow sticky note and pinning it to the notice board in my sewing room.

Sticky notes are great when you need to jot something down real quick; I use them all the time! And I certainly wouldn’t be without them at work (along with the humble highlighter pen!)

sticky notes

Which got me thinkin’! Wouldn’t it be nice to have something pretty to keep them in?

Dangerous thing, thinkin’ … cos now my sewing room is all messed up again!  There are fabric scraps everywhere, I’ve completely forgotten to leave anything out of the freezer for tea, the housework is untouched and I have no idea where the time has gone! But I don’t care … not really

… cos now I have a whole bunch of these wee cuties! 🙂

Pile notes on top

pile aqua on top

Aqua open with pencil

This little sticky note keeper fits two sizes of stickies – 7.5cm square and 9.5cm square

Open showing different sizes of stickies

And the really cool part is that they happen to go great with the little twisted hexagon coasters that I made a couple of weeks ago!

twisted hexagon coaster

I added in a little Sarubobo keyring and Bob’s your Uncle! … a cute little Zakka inspired gift set was born! Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together 🙂

Green set with lily

Green set from above

Green side on

These little Zakka style gift sets will be perfect to accompany the Christmas cookies this year!  I just need to make another half a dozen sets and that’s Christmas 2013 all ‘sewn up’ … (pun intended folks 🙂 )

If you would like to make a sticky note keeper of your own, here’s how:

In the main fabric cut:

  • Four 5” x 1¼” strips (for the borders around the pinwheel centre)
  • Two 4½” x 5½” rectangles (for the back and the inside pocket)
  • One 4½” x 9½” rectangle (for the lining) 

You will also need:

  • Two 3” squares of fabric – one light, one dark – for the pinwheel
  • 5½” x 10½” piece of cotton wadding
  • One 3½” square and one 3¾” square of stiff card

Materials

First make the patchwork pinwheel …

*Use a ¼” seam throughout (unless otherwise stated)

Place the two 3” squares right sides together and sew a continuous ¼” seam all the way around the edge

sew all around the square

Cut the sewn squares in half diagonally.   Then cut again diagonally in the opposite direction

four trianglesPress the patches open towards the darker fabric

Press seams towards the dark fabric

Lay the four patches in the formation of a pinwheel.  It’s easy to mix the patches up and sew the wrong edges together, so I lay the pinwheel out right next to my machine and that keeps me on the right track 🙂

join four squares

Place patches 1 and 2 right sides together and sew together with 1/4″ seam. Join pieces 3 and 4 in the same way. Press the seams towards the dark side.

Join two halves of pinwheel

Now join section A and B with ¼” seam, making sure that  the centre seams are nested together

Press the seam open to reduce bulk

press the centre seam open

Trim the pinwheel – it should measure 3” square

Trim pinwheel

Stitch a 5” border strip to two opposite sides of the pinwheel patch and press the seams out towards the border

first two borders added

Trim the borders flush with the sides of the pinwheel patch

Trim first 2 borders

Stitch the other two border strips to the remaining sides of the pinwheel patch and press seams out towards the border

Pinwheel trimmed

You now have a framed pinwheel block – yay!

Stitch a 4½” x 5½” rectangle to the framed pinwheel block and press the seam away from the block.  Place the piece right side up on the wadding

Lay face up on wadding

Quilt the two layers together by stitching around the pinwheel square and inside the light coloured triangles, about ⅛” from the seam lines.  I did a mixture of hand stitching and machine stitching on mine and I also added a little bead to the centre.

Embellish pinwheel

Trim the wadding flush with the sides of your work

Trim Collage

Take another 4½” x 5½” rectangle and fold it in half, matching up the short sides. Press.  This will form a pocket on the inside.

press pocket

Lay the lining fabric on your work table right side up. Line up the raw edges of the folded pocket piece with the raw edges on one of the short sides of the lining fabric and pin in place

pin pocket to lining fabric

Next, lay the pinwheel panel right side down on top of the pocket panel, matching up all raw edges and pin. (The pinwheel should be at the opposite end to where you have pinned the pocket). Sew all the layers together, leaving the short edge nearest the pinwheel open

Join lining to front panel

Trim away some of the wadding to reduce bulk and clip the corners

Trim wadding

Turn right side out. *Tip – when turning things right side out,  I use a Phillips (star head) screw driver to push out the corners, as I find the little ‘star head’ helps to grip the fabric and is less likely to pierce it than a knitting needle or scissors would. Try it yourself and see what you think!

Insert a 3¾” square of stiff card through the opening and push it to the bottom. It’s a fairly snug fit, so you may have to give it a wiggle. *I used card that was 1/8″ thick for the first couple that I made, but then I used two thicknesses of cereal packet stuck together and that worked just fine.  I used a simple glue stick to stick the card together.

insert first card

Starting from the seam line of the pinwheel block, sew two lines of stitching ¾” apart.  These two lines create a sort of ‘spine’ and encase the cardboard at the same time

encase the first card

Place a 3½” square of stiff card into the opening up to the sewn line

Insert 2nd card

Last bit! Fold in the raw edges of the opening by about ¼” and pin

Close opening

Stitch the opening closed with a line of stitching very close to the edge. Continue to stitch all around the edge of the square very close to the edge, wiggling the cardboard out of the way as you go. I sewed along to the first corner and then, keeping the needle in the down position, I was able to wiggle the cardboard out of the way and pivot my work and sew to next corner and so on.

If you prefer not to sew a line all around the outside, you can just slip stitch the opening closed by hand.

sew close to the edge

finished

That’s it, you’re done!

All you need to do now is insert the back few pages of a sticky note pad into the little pocket and you have a pretty little home for your stickies (oh the simple things that please us eh?) 🙂

Aqua sticky note keep

You don’t have to have a pinwheel as your centre block.  Depending on how you sew your half triangle patches together, you will get a different pattern. For example, I put the patches together as a ‘broken dishes’ block in the centre of this one

red set with keys

… and this one

Pile green facing

Or you could perhaps keep the whole piece plain and embroider a little design on the front – I think some redwork on linen would look fab! A nine patch block would do the trick too – you do whatever takes your fancy.

I’m a wee bit fond of the little red set, so I might have to keep it for myself (maker’s perk an’ all:) )

red set with flower

red set from above

red set with pencil

red set open with pencil

I hope you have enjoyed this little project and feel inspired to make some of your own wee Zakka-style sitcky note keepers – if you do, I’d love to see some pics of your creations! 

Happy stitching and creating everyone

Natalie x

the ‘big knit’

It’s nice to be back after my self imposed summer blogging holiday and I would like to start by thanking each and every one of you for the overwhelming response to my little hexie needle caddy.  Hundreds of you downloaded the free pattern and I was blown away by all your lovely comments, both here on the blog and on facebook, so thank you all!

I promise to bring you up to speed with what I have been up to in a little while, but for now I want to introduce you to the ‘Innocent Smoothies Big Knit Campaign’ – a fab little project that I have supported for the last 4 years or so.

BK_COVER_PHOTO_3

The idea is that you knit fun little hats for Innocent Smoothie bottles and they put hundreds of thousands of them on their bottles in the supermarkets in the UK during the month of November. The little be-hatted bottles look so cute on the supermarket shelves and for every bottle sold with a hat on, Age UK gets 25p, which helps to keep vulnerable older people warm and healthy during the cold winter months.

If you nip over to the ‘Big Knit’ website you can find patterns for the little hats – suitable for all levels of ability, from beginner to the more advanced, together with details of how to get involved.  You can find tonnes more patterns here.

I’ve started making a few hats of my own in the form of this fun little line up …

Bumble bee hats for innocent smoothies

Why not have a go at knitting some  yourself – you’d be supporting a great cause and having fun at the same time 🙂

Until next time – happy knitting!

Natalie x

a wonderful wednesday

Today has been dreamy.  I’ve been pottering in the garden and baking fruitcake.

The sun has made a rare appearance and I have even allowed myself to believe that summer might actually be here at last.

It’s funny, I’ve started calling Wednesdays ‘wonderful Wednesdays’ at work, because it’s my day off :).  And it has indeed been wonderful today – planting up tubs in the garden with the birds’ sweet song for company.

plants

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plants2

plants8JPG

With the tubs planted up and watered in, I had time to bake a fruitcake to take along to my sewing group tonight and I wanted to share the method with you.   The recipe comes from my Great Aunt Annie who used to make these fruit loaves for all the family.  I remember visiting her as a child and we would always leave with one of her famous boiled fruit cakes wrapped up in a plastic bag.  Aunt Annie also made great potato farls and Irish soda bread!

cake3

This is such an easy recipe and not too heavy or stodgy.   It also freezes beautifully.

Ingredients

  • 4oz margarine
  • 2 cups dried mixed fruit
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 tsp of ground, mixed spice (or to taste)
  • Handful of glace cherries (cut in half)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1-2 tbsp demerara sugar (for the topping)
  1. Place the margarine, sugar, fruit and water in a saucepan and heat until the margarine has melted.  Bring to the boil and boil for a few minutes.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool.  There is no need to cool the mixture completely, just enough, so that when you add the egg, it won’t scramble! About 20 minutes or so is usually sufficient.
  2. When cool, stir in the cherries followed by the beaten egg.
  3. Sprinkle over the baking soda. Mix it in until it all fizzes up and becomes a bit foamy.
  4. Sieve in the flour and ground mixed spice and stir well with a wooden spoon to combine.
  5. Pour into a well greased 2lb loaf tin (lined on the bottom with baking parchment) and sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
  6. Cook in the oven at 160ْ  (fan oven) for about 1 hour.  The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

cake

The demerara sugar gives the top a lovely crunchy texture. Yum!

So, that’s been my day up to now.  I’m just going to make a bite to eat for the boys and then I’m off out to my sewing group, laden with this yummy cake.  The perfect end to a perfect day ♥

cake4

Wherever you are in the world, and whatever you’ve been doing, I hope you’ve had a ‘wonderful Wednesday’ too!

ATC swap – please help me choose?

Do you remember me showing you the trading card that I made for the Very Berry Artist Trading Card swap?

Well, I have managed to make another wee piece of stitchery to show you and have done so just in the nick of time, as the deadline for posting the cards to our swap partners is in a few days!

ATC2.2 May 2013

This is the part where I ask for your help, my bloggy friends…….

Please could you help me choose which one to swap? I am going to be asking my Face Book buddies too.  Hopefully, it won’t go to a tie breaker, lol ;). Here is the first one I made ….

ATC final

Please leave me a comment below , telling me which one you would prefer to receive if you were my swap partner.  I need to post the card by May 31st at the latest!

Thanks so much! I really appreciate your help on this one 🙂

Happy stitching!

fabric finds and other cool stuff

fabric finds3I must confess, it’s been a few years since I’ve been to a quilt show (I know, shocking!), but a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a couple of tickets to the British Quilt & Stitch Village at Uttoxeter Racecourse. So, that’s where I’ve been this weekend – gazing at beautiful quilts and embroidery, not to mention  spending a small fortune on fabric and other cool stuff!

I didn’t intend to spend so much, really I didn’t, but with all that fabric, those buttons, that ribbon and all the other brilliant ‘stuff’ all under one roof, I was doomed from the start!

fabric finds1

With exhibits and traders spread over several halls, the experience was a lot more leisurely than the likes of the Malvern and Birmingham quilt shows; none of that pushin’ n shovin’ malarkey! Just how I like it 🙂

fabric finds2

I found some gorgeous new pastels to add to my stash.  I think I should have enough to make a quilt from them all now, so I’m on the look out for just the right pattern.

I also stumbled across these cute wee charms that you can tie on to handmade gifts.  Can’t wait to use those!

handmade charms

charms

This is cute too.  A little patchwork-styled sitcky note holder!  How fab is that!

sticky notes exterior

sticky notes

I am easily pleased, I know, but I did buy something else that was awfully sensible (for me anyway).  I’ve always looked at those daylight lamps – you know, the ones with a magnifying glass to help you see your stitching better?  When I’ve looked at them before, I could never quite justify the expense.  But, lately, my eyes have been feeling a little strained and my eyesight isn’t quite what it used to be. So, I took the plunge and am now a bonafide LED, daylight, magnifying lamp user! I used it last night for the first time and I wish I had invested in one years ago – what a difference it makes!  I would definitely recommend it!

So, my debit card had taken a battering and I was already headed towards the exit.

Honest I was.

Then I spotted this little lot.

fabric finds8

What was I to do? I mean, really?

fabric finds10

I may never set eyes on such loveliness again, I thought. So, needless to say, those beautiful linens are now keeping good company with the rest of my fabric stash.  I just had to, right? Right.

With all these new additions to my stash, it really is time that I used up some of my existing stock, so to speak. I’ve been working on a little set of fabric storage boxes, which I’ll share with you in my next post.  But until then, here’s a little peek at my progress so far.

aqua fabric storage box progress

Happy stitching everyone!

Liebster Award

liebster

I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by the lovely Irina over at El Petit Taller.  Thank you Irina!

If you’ve never heard of this award before, it is for fledgling bloggers like myself and is a way for them to get to know others, get more followers and discover other blogs that they might like!

To accept the award there are a few rules to follow:

  • Each blogger should answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
  • Choose eleven new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
  • Create eleven new questions for the chosen bloggers.
  • Comment on their page to tell them about the award.
  • Each blogger should post eleven random facts about themselves.
  • No Tag Backs!!!

These are the questions Irina has asked me:

1. what person do you most admire?  My Mum! I admire her for many reasons,  not least for her courage, her boundless energy and her capacity to always put others before herself.  She has taught me the value of family, friendship and love.

2. what’s on your bedside table right now? A reading lamp and a photograph of me and my son when he was about 4 years old (he is 19 now).

3. what’s your favorite cooking recipe?  I have a really sweet tooth, so my favourite recipe is for Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Cake.  It’s super easy – plop everything into a bowl and mix! Never fails – yum!

4. is there a sewing book you would recommend? The first sewing book I ever referred to was ‘The Sampler Quilt Book’ by Lynne Edwards. It was the perfect introduction to patchwork and quilting! I also like Strips & Strings by Evelyn Sloppy.

5. what’s your favorite journey? Home. My favourite journey always leads me home.

I would like to nominate these lovely blogs for a Liebster Award:

And these are my questions for them:

  1. Sweet or savoury?
  2. A few really good friends or lots of acquaintances?
  3. City girl or country?
  4. Morning person or night owl?
  5. What is the most unusual thing you have ever eaten?
  6. What is your earliest memory?
  7. What is your favourite smell?
  8. What 3 words would you choose to describe yourself?
  9. What qualities do you most treasure in a friend?
  10. How did you choose a name for your blog?
  11. Is there such a thing as ‘enough’ fabric?

Now for some random facts about me:

  • I cannot walk in heels to save my life
  • As a teenager, I once fell asleep on a bus – standing up!!
  • I lived in Cyprus for 3 years from the ages of 3 to 6
  • I went to a total of 14 different schools when I was growing up
  • My favourite chocolate is Lindor by Lindt 
  • I love to bake
  • 24 years ago I had a holiday romance and I’m still married to him!
  • I am a self confessed fabric stroker
  • My favourite book is ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd
  • I love the sight of bluebells in the woods, so beautiful!
  • I have a miniature Yorkshire Terrier called Beebo

Beebo

Now all that’s left for me to do is to pop over to my chosen blogs and let them all know that I have nominated them for this wonderful award!  But before I do, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of a quilt I made from the ‘Strips & Strings’ book I mentioned earlier.

strips & Strings1

strips & Strings2

Happy stitching everyone!