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.

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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!).

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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!

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Harriet1

Harriet seems content in her new home 🙂

Natalie x

 

 

‘sweet dreams’

Cover sewing room secrets.It’s funny where we get our inspiration from sometimes. I can’t say for sure exactly where mine comes from, it just kinda finds me somehow. Sometimes it’s a colour or a memory or just because I have a ‘need’ for a certain thing, so I try to figure it.

The inspiration for my latest little embroidery design came from an old sketch that I stumbled upon, in amongst some old photos recently.

Sketch

It was Christmas 1983 when I etched that little scene in my jotter at school.  I remember I was on ‘Library duty’ in the sixth form centre at the time and should have been using the time wisely to revise French.  But, as you can see, I had other things on my mind!

I should explain that the sixth form library was a partitioned off area in the corner of a much larger room. The partitions were made of floor to ceiling glass panels so you could see in and out of the library into the larger room/study area. There was always a teacher present in the study area to ensure that students were using the time productively to study.

Now I have no idea why I thought that the library was sound proof (call me naive or stupid – you choose) but that day, as I sat in the library on my own sketching my little Christmas scene, I began to sing ‘Jingle Bells’ at the top of my voice.  Oblivious to the fact that the entire sixth form could hear me, I then went on to sing other Christmassy tunes. I had belted out several renditions of ‘Rudolf’ before the teacher on duty got up from her desk and walked towards the library door.   As she stood in the doorway and barked “We can all hear you!!”, the entire room erupted with laughter (including me). Needless to say, I got a detention that day for my shenanigans, but on the up-side I managed to hide the little drawing and I’ve kept it all this time … 🙂

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And now, more than 30 years later, I have sketched that little sleeping mouse again – only this time as an embroidery design. He looks like such a peaceful little soul, that wee mouse, gently snoozing under his quilt.

Sleepy head

I added some mini bunting above him, just for fun!

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I simply l-o-v-e-d stitching his little patchwork quilt. Cute, cute, cute!

full quilt.

I am gifting this little piece of hoop-art to my God-daughter to hang on her bedroom wall. I can’t wait to give it to her … hope she likes it.

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I’ve popped the pattern in my Etsy shop – it includes instructions on how to decorate your embroidery hoop and how to finish your hoop-art at the back too!  (I also think this little design would look super cute on a pillow or as a panel on a little tote bag )

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 Happy stitching and ‘Sweet Dreams’ everyone!

Natalie  xx

 

 

fabric iPad sleeve tutorial

 

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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 …

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 😉 )

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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)

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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

 

vintage-style zippered pouch

I have been on a wee bit of a sewing spree just lately. Not a marathon session or anything, more a case of a few stolen moments in my sewing room …

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Anyhow, the result is that I have FINALLY managed to put together a pattern for my little vintage-style zippered pouch, which is now available as an instant download in my Etsy shop.

The pattern for this vintage-style zippered pouch is available in my Etsy pattern shop

I’ve written it in the style of a step-by-step tutorial and have included almost 50 close-up colour photos to help you along, The cool part about it being a digital file is that you can zoom right on in to the photos on your computer if you want to see the details even more closely!

Yo-yo

I have made lots of these little cuties for friends and family now, but this one I will definitely be keeping for my very own 🙂

Inside

Cosmetic pouch patter npics 200.

Suffolk puff embellishment2

Vintage-style zippered pouch1

zip open

And whilst I was in a creative mood, I came across a great tutorial for a fabric notebook cover and enjoyed putting together my own version from the left over fabric scraps.

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Add second accent strip Collage

Quote

They make a lovely set … don’t you think?

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 Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie x

 

 

santa basket

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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

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

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11. Trim any excess fabric.

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

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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.

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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.

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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! 🙂

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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

catching up …

… my recent holiday seems like a distant memory already and I have only been back a couple of weeks!

I had a wonderful time away, staying in a charming little cottage in Shropshire in the picture-postcard village of Ashford Carbonell.

Cottage

Grazer's Cottage

The trip was arranged as a way for Mum and I to spend some ‘girlie’ time together and we plan to make it a regular annual event. It was a lovely way to enjoy some good old mother/daughter bonding – we walked, we talked, we cooked (and ate too much!), we laughed and generally enjoyed each others company.

Shropshire is such a gorgeous part of England – unspoilt and uncrowded. Quaint little villages with a wealth of historical black and white buildings, charming tearooms, lots of quirky independent shops and stunning countryside.

One little tearoom we visited in Bridgnorth was a quilters dream!  Not only did they sell the most delicious home made cakes, but the whole place was adorned with stunning patchwork and quilted goodies.

Outside Number One

Inside 'Number one Tearoom'.

Lizard wallhangings

Wallhanging and cushions

Quilted hanging coneMaureen Shenton was the talented lady responsible for a lot of the quilted items in the shop and I had a lovely time chatting with her about her passion for quilting. Maureen also teaches workshops and offers a long arm quilting service.

There were lots of antique & vintage shops in the area and whilst browsing through one of them, I stumbled upon these two miniature brass keys.  I’m pretty sure that they aren’t actual antiques, but I snapped them up anyway, thinking that they will make really cute charms for home made gifts. Cute aren’t they?

Key charmsAnd, of course, no holiday would be complete without a visit to the local patchwork shop to pick up some ‘souvenirs’ 🙂

fabric findsI didn’t do any sewing whilst I was away but I have been getting back into the swing of things since getting back home.

Ever since I opened my Etsy Pattern Shop a few weeks ago, I have been very conscious of the fact that there were only two patterns listed in it (not much of a window display huh?), so I have been beavering away drafting some new ones to stock the shelves!

My ‘Crafty Creatures’ pattern is the newest addition to the shop.  Five fun little characters, filled with rice and each with their own personalised mini quilt! These little guys just love hanging around 🙂

Crafty CreaturesThere is Crafty Cat …

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And Crafty Dog …

Crafty dawg

Crafty Sheep…

Sheep

And Crafty Frog …

frog

And poor old Crafty Pig thinks he’s a mug rug, bless him, … but you know what, as long as he’s happy an’ all, I’m just gonna let him be 🙂

Crafty Pig

I love having these little guys around, they just make me smile. Feels like I’m 8 years old again and living with Dr Dolittle!

I’ve also designed one more little ‘Harriet’ project in the form of a wee wallhanging with a simple patchwork border. This one shows the cheeky side to her character as you can see … perfect for a little girl’s room!

On white

And, whilst I had my scrap bag out, I found a neat little hexagon coaster tutorial over at Canoe Ridge Creations, so I ran up a set of them using some pretty scraps and linen. I am just adding a simple running stitch to the centres and tomorrow, I’ll wrap them up in tissue paper and tie them up all pretty with ribbon – a little ‘gift-ette’ for a friend I’m seeing this weekend 

twisted hexagon coasters

…and so, as the summer of 2013 draws to a close, I can feel a distinct autumnal nip in the air and I’m thinking maybe I will be needing the patchwork quilts out of the airing cupboard soon, to snuggle under when the nights draw in…

… autumn and winter have their up sides too 🙂

Happy stitching 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.

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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

little hexie needle caddy

If you have been following my blog for the last however many weeks you will know that I have been afflicted with a bad case of ‘hexagon-itis’ and my wee pink tin of 1/2” hexies has been my constant companion.  I have really enjoyed re-acquainting myself with the simple pleasures of making hexagons (something I haven’t done since I was a child!) and I can at last reveal the final resting place for all those little six-sided cuties!

Needlebook on fabric pile

My wee pink sewing tin is empty – almost! Just a few lonely little hexies left languishing at the bottom for another day …

pink tin empty2

It has been a very interesting and rewarding mini-hexie-adventure, which began with a neat little pile of the prettiest fabrics …

fabric pile 2

which turned into these …

Hexie tower2

Hexies before joining

which were sewn together like this …

Hexies

which grew into this …

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and was appliqued on to linen and embellished with pretty beads and the simplest of embroidery stitches …

Hexies long row with embroidery

and framed all neat and tidy with some dotty aqua binding …

Needlebook binding

to create the perfect home for all my sewing needles 🙂

cover

fully open with needles

Needlebook Open with needles

slope down to the right with needles

When I started making all those wee hexagons I had no idea what I was going to do with them all.  I just liked the cuteness of them and the fact that they require no special tools to construct, just paper, fabric, needle and thread.  No special effort or concentration … a way to just sit, be still and stitch for the love of it.

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cover angle flowers

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It’s been interesting sharing my love affair with hexagons here on my blog and on my facebook page, as it has revealed to me that people are ‘hexagonating’ all over the world! And loving it! It seems we all have a certain fondness for the humble hexagon.

I have written up a pattern for my little needle caddy and it will be listed in my Etsy shop from midnight on Thursday 15th August 2013. I have loved working on this sweet little design and it has been made even more fun by having all of you hexie lovers along for the ride, keeping me company in all my little sewing endeavours, during what has been one of the most glorious British summers for many a long year! Thank you, and happy ‘hexagonating!’!

close up thimble

I am taking a little summer break from blogging and facebooking, but I will be back in September again :). Whilst I may be absent from cyberspace for a few weeks, I will still be ‘around’ stitching and  creating .

Until September then … happy stitching!

Natalie x

hexagons for harriet

….. my ‘hexagon-itis’ continues to worsen and I fear I may be well on my way to a diagnosis of hexie-mania!

I really have got it bad! I sneak them everywhere with me – my wee pink sewing tin fits discreetly in my handbag and I find myself whipping it out for a quick fix any opportunity I get …(please don’t judge me)

Hexies in a tin

tin & hexies2

I’ve even been ‘hexagon-ating’ in public … yep, in the dentist’s waiting room, at my desk in work, on a park bench, in the garden  …

Garden table

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Hexies on the grass

On the plus side, I find that each time I make a few of these six-sided cuties, it seems to ease the symptoms … if only a little 🙂

Hexy flower with scissors

The recent heatwave in the UK has made it difficult to do any serious sewing as it has just been too darn hot! However, the last couple of days have seen a drop in temperature, which has been a welcome relief and I have been able to work on the cushion I was making for my sewing chair, using my ‘Harriet & her Teddy’ embroidery design (available in my Etsy shop).

Harriet before applique

Harriet side view

If you are not familiar with the English Paper Piecing method for making hexagons, there are oodles of great tutorials out there, so I won’t re-invent the wheel by doing another one here. For small hexagon paper piecing, I can recommend this tutorial from V and Co – it has lots of great close up photographs and easy to follow tips and advice. And for those of you who want to go to the next level and learn some imaginative and creative ways to use hexagons in your quilts, I would highly recommend a visit to Faeries & Fibres for lots of tips, tutorials and hexie inspiration.

Hexy flower side view

Hexy flower very close

Hexies close up

When joining one hexagon to another here are a couple of tips that work well for me:

  • I like to use a fine needle (size 10) so that I can easily catch the fabric as close to the edge as possible. This helps to make sure that your stitches don’t show up as much on the right side of your work.
  • I prefer to use ladder stitch rather than the more usual whip stitch for the same reason, that it helps to hide your stitches.

I also like to use a paperclip to hold the paper in place whilst tacking down the sides, but some people use freezer paper or even a glue stick to stabilize the paper template. 

hexie paper clip

I always think that a cushion looks so much more polished and professional when edged with some piping, don’t you? But I get put off at the thought of having to make all that bias binding and usually just end up doing the standard plain edge finish. But not this time…. 

cushion side on

Sewing is a continually evolving journey.  No matter how long you have been stitching, there is always a new technique to learn or a fresh way to look at something you thought you already knew.  I had come across tutorials in the past on how to make continuous bias binding, but had never tried it out for myself.  This technique is basically a way to eliminate the tedious task of having to join all those bias strips, end to end, to get the length you need. I used this tutorial by Sew Mama Sew to show me how and, oh my goodness! Why have I never done this before?  It’s pure magic! I don’t think I will ever make bias binding any other way!

Piping cord covered in continuous bias binding

Piping cord covered in continuous bias binding

I machine appliqued a row of hexies to decorate the back

Hexy border

back border

Cushion back

And so, my little Harriet now adorns this cute little cushion on my sewing chair …

Cushion on sewing chairUp until now, Lola has been ‘my girl’, but I know that there is room enough in my heart for little Harriet too 

Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie x

every path has it’s puddles ….

Harriet & her Teddy

I am writing this post long-hand.  I decided that today was just too sun-shiney to be indoors on the laptop, so here I am with pen and paper writing down my thoughts the old fashioned way.  Of course, by the time you read this I will have typed it all up neatly on my trusty keyboard; but that will happen much later, when the sun has gone to bed.

As I write, this is the view of my little piece of sky, lying here looking up to the heavens from   a sun lounger in the garden.  Ahh, dappled sunshine … my favourite kind! 

dappled sunshine

Lying here in the sun, you could say that life is pretty good right now … and so it is.  That’s the funny thing about life, some days are just better than others 

In my last post, I promised to tell you the story behind the stitches of the little embroidery pattern that I have been working on, featuring Harriet and her Teddy.   I wasn’t crazy about my original choice of background fabric or colours, so I experimented a little until I came up with something that I am now happy with. It has taken a little longer, but I think it has been worth it in the end and the pattern is now available for sale as a PDF download from my Etsy Shop.

Harriet's face & hat detail

Whilst stitching this watery little scene, it has made me think about how life ebbs and flows.  How sometimes, things are just peachy (like today) and at other times you wonder how you will get through the tough times.  I don’t know how it is for any of you, but as I’ve grown older, I have realized that life is often all about perspective and going with the flow.

when it rains

At the moment, Harriet is lying on my work table waiting to be stitched into a cushion for my sewing chair.  The idea being that next time something goes awry in my life … when I’m feeling stressed by a million things that all need to be done RIGHT NOW or I feel like I’ve encountered an insurmountable problem, it will remind me that I can just stand in the rain for a time and not let it pummel me. I don’t have to panic or shield myself. I just need to ride it out, to take what comes, knowing that I’ll handle it and it will all pass by soon enough.

I can follow Harriet’s example …. let go of the umbrella and just get a little wet!

When it rains2 Happy stitching  

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!

zakka style

Copy of fabric boxes2

A phrase that keeps turning up a lot in sewing circles lately is “Zakka Style”.  Zakka is a type of Japanese design that uses the art of the handmade to create fresh and modern items for your home. Everyone’s take on Zakka is a little different and that is what makes it so versatile and fun!

Last month at my sewing group, a quilting friend brought along a little book that she had recently purchased containing a collection of various Zakka style projects from some of the most talented designers the stitching world has to offer.

Copy of fabric boxes 3

I was immediately oohing and ahhing at the image on the cover – a set of 3 nesting storage boxes designed by Laurraine Yuyama of Patchwork Pottery.  Next thing I know, I have abandoned the project I had brought along for that day and made a start on the first of these cute little fabric boxes.

Copy of fabric boxes1

I started with the medium sized one first

fabric boxes9

I added beads to the centre of the flowers just to boost the ‘cuteness’ factor

fabric boxes 18

and, for a while, this lonesome little fabric box made a very comfortable home for my knitting yarns

fabric boxes8

fabric boxes 7

After being side-tracked for a time with other projects (that kinda happens with us stitchin’ folk :)), I have finally finished the set.  Ta daa!

fabric boxes 10

I was going to use them as storage bins in my sewing room, but I rather like them in the bathroom.  The cool aquas and greens seem to be quite at home in there, so that’s where they are staying …. at least for now.

fabric boxes11

fabric boxes14

The dinky tiny one is real cute don’t you think?  I might use that one to keep cotton wool in.

fabric boxes15

fabric boxes13

fabric boxes17

fabric boxes16

Trouble is, the towels suddenly look rather ‘tired’ now that these refreshing little items of ‘newness’ have appeared in the bathroom! Time for new ones, me thinks 🙂

Happy stitching everyone!

a parcel and a swap

I posted my ‘wee sheeps’ pouch to Lindsay today. Exciting to think that those ‘wee sheeps’ will be travelling all the way across the pond to Pennsylvania! My! this blogging stuff really can take you places!

Wee sheeps parcel

Next up…. is the Very Berry Handmade Textile Artist Trading Card Swap (phew! try saying that after a few glasses of vino!). I have until the end of May, or there abouts, to design a 2.5” x 3.5” textile card to swap with someone else in the group, so I’ve been looking through my stash for inspiration.

Fabric inspiration

The theme for the swap is “Something New”, which pretty much gives me infinite scope, since the whole process of blogging and swapping is all pretty “new” to me! I wanted to make something that will bring a smile to the person receiving it in the mail and I hope this little offering will do the trick 🙂

ATC borders

ATC final

It’s been fun making this little example of teeny tiny loveliness and, if I get time to try out a few more designs before the swap deadline, I’d love it if all of you would help me choose which one to swap! 🙂

Happy Stitching Everyone!

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it’s giveaway time!!

OK, so here’s the thing – I’ve just got wind that there is a mahoosive giveaway taking place over at Sew Mama Sew (yes, I know, I’m probably the last to know *hangs head in shame*).  Anyways, I’ve decided to join the party, albeit a little late!

I’m going to give away my ‘Wee Sheeps’ pouch that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

wee sheeps

sheep3

pouch back

sheep9

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment below in answer to this really tricky question:

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

For a second chance to win (optional), follow ‘Sewing Room Secrets’ on Facebook or Bloglovin (or both!) and leave a second comment below telling me which way you are following.

That’s it!  The giveaway is only open until 10th May 2013 at midnight, GMT so get your entries in quick and spread the word if you can (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc), so others can enter too. I will announce the winner on 11th May. Oh, and don’t forget to visit Sew Mama Sew for loads more chances to enter the other fantastic giveaways.

Good luck everyone and thank you for entering!

 

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!

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.

sheep10

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!

happy st patrick’s day

……. from me and my wee leprechaun 🙂

Caught this little fella riffling through my button collection! Says his name is Michael Finnigan and he’ll grant me 3 wishes if I let him go.    Mmmm …. what shall I wish for?

Michael Finnigan | © Sewing Room Secrets

…..as this wee character is my own design, I was thinking that I might offer the pattern for sale as a PDF download, if enough people like him!  (Michael Finnigan said he would allow me to do this as one of my three wishes – cheeky monkey!)

Happy Stitching folks!

button love

Buttons6

I don’t know what it is about buttons that makes me want to squirrel them away for a rainy day. I’ve always had a fascination with them – I can’t throw them away, so I cut the spare ones off new clothes – you know, the ones that are sewn to the care label – and I save them in my button bag (is any of this making me sound crazy?!!).  Ironically, I don’t think I’ve ever had to use one of these ‘spare’ buttons, but I always keep them ‘just in case’.

Buttons7

I use buttons quite a bit in my sewing though, so it’s not like they don’t serve a useful purpose 🙂  

Tiny buttons used as flower centres

Tiny buttons used as flower centres

 I like to use them in fun and decorative ways and am always on the look out for unusual or cute buttons.

Buttons2

I spent a couple of hours in my sewing room the other day,  just organizing my button collection. I sorted them all into colours and then placed them in cute little jars that I came across at IKEA.  They are supposed to be spice jars, but what the heck! I use them for buttons!  The jars have a wonderful pot-bellied shape and aren’t too big, which I like.

Buttons5

Even with all these buttons, I still buy more any chance I get!  I mean, just look at these little beauties – who could resist those?

buttons

I featured a little button pouch on my face book page recently and promised to do a tutorial to show you just how easy it is to make one.

Buttonsy

Buttons4

Buttons12

Embroidery and buttons

I promise to write up the tutorial for the little button bag in a day or two, so pop back often – you won’t want to miss it!

In the meantime, have fun and happy stitching!