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.

banner

tree

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tree2

Next up is ‘Woof!’

cover2

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! 🙂

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

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

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

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!