Thursday, 1 December 2016

Polar Bears Everywhere!

The last time I mentioned my polar bear cushion (I think), I was having a bit of a dither about what to use to fill the spaces where I didn't have enough polar bears and snowflakes and had decided to start piecing and leave gaps where I thought something might go.  It turns out that piecing gaps is harder than you might think (I kept thinking I'd leave a gap and then finding I'd filled it!) so I decided to scrap all my ideas of using grey or turquoise fabric for the gaps and instead sacrificed part of the remaining polar bear fabric I was (still) hoarding, and cut more polar bears and hexagons.

Once the hexagons were pieced, I checked that my plan for the trapezia and triangles round the edge would work (I'd deliberately kept the red snowflakes away from the edges so I wouldn't end up with two prints together):
All of the hexagons are joined together in my first #Christmascushionalong cushion. I'm going to straighten the edges by adding triangles and trapezia in that red snowflake print (not fussy cut) and then I'll add a border of the red in white stars. I'm ho

 And hand pieced those in place before choosing a border, which was attached using the machine:
The centre panel of my first #Christmascushionalong cushion is complete. It just needs a good press before I can add the red star borders to bring it up to size (and make it square) and then it will be ready to layer and quilt. How's everyone else getting

I pressed the seams and marvelled at the polar bears' neat backside(s):
It seems that polar bears have neat backsides #Christmascushionalong

And then admired their front(s), with Eddie standing guard in case one of them wandered off:
The polar bears have borders. I'm going to set this one aside for now and start piecing the second of my #Christmascushionalong cushions (penguins) as then I can layer, quilt and assemble them at the same time and just do one lot of thinking/cutting/trimm

I then marked vertical quilting lines (using a hera marker) and layered up the front and back pieces.  I machine quilted in Gutermann white thread (which is lovely to use) and then added the binding.  I didn't have enough to bind the whole cushion in the stripe, so added a couple of strips of red snowflake to make up the shortfall:
My first #Christmascushionalong cushion is finished! I hand pieced the hexagons, attached the borders on the machine and machine quilted the front and back. I didn't have enough of the stripe to get all the way round, so added the red snowflake to make up

The back is quilted with wavy lines (no marking, just set off at a clip and wave from side to side like a boy racer until you get to the far side) and has a covered zip:
And the back of my first #Christmascushionalong cushion.

This is a finish from my Q4 FAL list and I must admit that I'm rather chuffed with it!

2016 FAL

Archie grabbed the opportunity for some sunbathing the other day:

I do love the feel of the sun on my back, even if the ground beneath my tummy is damp.
I do love the feel of the sun on my back, even when the ground beneath my tummy is damp.

Thanks for popping in!  I hope you're all getting on well with your Finish-Along lists?  Do shout if you need Archie to come round with his big stick...

Monday, 21 November 2016

Pulled Thread Hoop

On Friday, I knocked something else off my Finish-Along list and considering it's been on my list since Q3 2015, it didn't take long to finish.  Less than an hour, in fact *hangs head*

Here's how it looked at the start of the quarter (it's item four on my list), when it was going to be turned into a pin cushion:
Pulled thread

I decided that I didn't really need another pin cushion where I had to be careful of where I'm putting pins.  In the end, I decided to stretch it in a hoop so it could be hung on my sewing room wall.

I found a strip of turquoise solid that was almost but not quite wide enough to go behind it, so I pieced another bit on with a quarter inch seam and then top stitched it to make sure it would tolerate the stretching required.  I then stretched it over the hoop and secured the back. You can just make out some of the seam at the bottom of the hoop:
I've got the backing layer for the pulled thread stretched over the hoop and secured, just the evenweave to do now. I was about 1" short on the width on this beautiful turquoise (not sure which brand it is but it's not Kona or Bella it's much finer than t

I then did the same with the pulled thread work (after giving it a quick press), but used a pale pink thread to secure it so I could easily see which thread to pull when tightening it:
Finished! I used a different colour thread for the evenweave layer to make it easier to spot which thread I was tightening. This is my fourth finish this quarter, I wonder which will be next to leave the list? #2016fal #ridiculouslylongFALlist #ridiculous

And here's the finished hoop, hanging out with the sweet peas (yes, I still have sweet peas hanging on through the frost!):
This is the front of my pulled thread hoop (you can see the back a couple of posts back), I'm so pleased I managed to use that turquoise plain behind it (if you zoom in, you can just see it peeking through the evenweave) as it's just the right shade. This

I'm really pleased with how this worked out, and it's nice to be able to finally say it's finished!  When the time comes, I'll be linking up with the Finish-Along:
2016 FAL

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a cup of tea and a nap calling my name.  And several penguins clamouring for attention and wanting to be made into a cushion front, would you like to see?
Thirty-six penguins #contrarytoexpectationsitturnsoutIdidntmakeanextraone #Christmascushionalong

Or maybe they should be jumbled up so the cushion has no right way up?  Let me know what you think!
Thirty-six (jumbled) penguins

Eddie's come to stay for a couple of days, and Archie thought he'd try out the cage for size.  Eddie didn't want him getting any ideas:
Archie thought he'd try Eddie's cage for size. Eddie didn't want him getting any ideas.
No, I won't shuffle back, I didn't ask you to come in here with me to show me round, please get out.  Or stay there, because you make a very good head rest.

And Eddie can't quite believe what a relaxed attitude we have to teatime:
Archie: I'm telling you, it's not time for tea yet. Eddie: It must be! I'm famished! Honestly, my stomach thinks my throat's been cut. Archie: Too early. I've heard that many times before and I know the signs. Eddie: No, I don't believe you. If we sit her
Archie: I'm telling you, it's not time for tea yet.
Eddie: It must be!  I'm famished!  Honestly, my stomach thinks my throat's been cut!
Archie: Too early,  I've heard that many times before and I know the signs.
Eddie: No, I don't believe you.  If we sit here for long enough and look appealing enough, she'll give in.
Archie: (sighs) She won't.

Thanks for popping in!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Kate Dress - The Pinafore Version

Earlier in the year, I bought some lovely navy floral needlecord from a local fabric shop for about £6 a metre and from the outset it was destined to be a pinafore.  At that point, I hadn't even finished the toile of the Kate dress (pattern by Sew Me Something) but I already knew that it was going to be a pattern that I would make and make again, with variations to make different dresses but with the same basic pattern.

Once I'd made my toile (see it here) and established the changes I needed to make to the basic pattern to get the fit right, I traced it again (I'm a big fan of keeping the original pattern intact and tracing onto tissue paper - it's a bit of a faff, but I find it works for me) and altered it so that it became a pinafore.  Essentially, I lengthened the arm hole so that it came quite a bit lower, narrowed the shoulder a little at both the outside and inside edges, and created a softly curved v neck instead of the round neck.  I also drafted the facings.

This is the first time I've made a sleeveless dress, but my good friend B steered me in the right direction and I'm pleased to say it's finished!  I've shown lots of progress photos along the way, but bear with me while I put them here, for future reference!

At the start of this quarter, when I added it to my Q4 FAL list (item 28), it looked like this:

I made the pockets, but rather than having gathers across like the toile version, I put an inverted pleat in instead:

I stitched the side seams on both the dress and the facing, and then attached the facing to the dress:
Facings attached, ready to grade seams and clip curves. That's a job for a less tired day, though.

I then clipped the curves, graded the facing seams, pressed them and understitched, before joining the outside shoulder seams by machine and the inside ones by hand.

Then there was just the hem to do:
Just the hem to go and my pinafore version of the @sewmesomething Kate dress will be ready to wear. That won't be today, though!

Once I'd established that it was hanging level (and therefore didn't need someone else to pin it for me), I turned up and pressed a 3/8" seam before turning up another 5/8" (so 1" in total) and stitched from the inside using the edge foot to keep me straight.

And here's how it looks on (I'm not good at selfies, as you can see!):
It's an appalling photo*, but my pinafore hack of the @sewmesomething #Katedress in needlecord is finished! (I need to either line the next one or get a longer petticoat as the hem creeps up my tights when I walk, which is a bit irritating. I wonder wheth

The only thing I need to do is get a longer petticoat, as there's about a 5" gap between the hem of those I have and the hem of the pinafore and it means the cord likes to walk up my (woolly) tights, which is a bit irritating.

I have some more needlecord to make another one, I just need to decide whether to keep the neckline the same or go for a rounder shape.  Decisions, decisions!

I'll be linking up with the Finish-Along when the time comes:
2016 FAL

After making him pose for a photo in the lashing rain last week, I was surprised when Archie agreed to another outdoor photo shoot:
You were right, I do need to practise my ruggedly handsome poses in some different places - pity they won't be able to see the sea for the fret, but you can't have everything! #thisposeisalsoknownaswherearetheygoinganddotheyhavebiscuitsabouttheirperson
You were right, I do need to practise my ruggedly handsome poses in different places.  It's a pity they can't see the sea behind me for the fret/cloud, but you can't have everything.
This pose is also known as 'where are they going and do they have biscuits about their person'

Thanks for popping in!  I know I've been appalling at replying to comments, I promise to try harder!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Sunday Summary Of An Odd Week...

...but I don't know why it's been an odd week so I'm going to blame the clocks going back!  I also don't feel like I've got anything done, so let's see what I can pull out of the hat, eh?

I reached a couple of milestones on the blue and white quilt's hand quilting.  Here's Mini Archie helping me celebrate the first one:

This is #widn, @two_wednesdays! Mini Archie and I are having a wee celebration because I've just hit the three-quarters point on these stars! (Archie is upstairs in bed and so is missing out on getting to try my thimbles for size.) Tagging @lilysquilts, @
Three quarters of the way there!!!

And here's Archie wondering whether he'll get his tea before I reach the next milestone:

Another Saturday, another star and another round of 'is it teatime yet?' Joining @charmaboutyou for the #saturdaynightcraftalong #handquilting
I'm sure it's teatime.  Tell me it's teatime.  
A while later, after Archie's tea, I hit the milestone!
And that makes one hundred! 'Just' twenty-seven to go, but I'm not starting them tonight, I'm swapping to my #Christmascushionalong hexies. Joining @charmaboutyou for the #saturdaynightcraftalong #handquilting
One hundred stars quilted!  (Just 27 to go!)

I've even bought the binding fabric, as I had a discount code for Simply Solids and wanted to use it before it ran out.  It arrived yesterday and I think it's going to work well:
Binding for the blue and white quilt, from Simply Solids.

I'm now aiming to get it finished for either Christmas, or Mam's birthday in early January.  I was doing two stars a day during October, but dropped to one a day from 1st November so I can get some other sewing done, particularly the two Christmas cushions I want to make (and a table runner from the leftovers) and I'm also going to start quilting my Christmas quilt again, once the Christmas fairy visits with some Christmas feeling...  (It's too early!!)

I have managed to spend some time piecing the polar bear hexagons for my first Christmas cushion and it currently looks like this:
I'm making progress with my first Christmas cushion!
In need of a good press

I seem to have either miscounted the hexagons (I had enough a couple of nights ago!) or I've lost one, so I need to cut another to go above that red snowflake in the top right corner.  It might be stuck to the blue and white quilt, I'll have to spread it out and check!

I've finished the facing on my needlecord pinafore version of the Kate dress by Sew Me Something (the pinafore version is my own alteration to the pattern, not one available with the pattern) and joined the shoulders, so I just have the hem to do and I can wear it:
Just the hem to go and my pinafore version of the @sewmesomething Kate dress will be ready to wear. That won't be today, though!

And I finally managed to re-pot my bulb pots!  I emptied them all out (couldn't remember what was in each one) and then separated them and re-potted them in fresh compost.  For the past few years, I've had layered pots, but this year I couldn't see the crocus flowers for the tulip leaves so decided to go for single pots instead.  The problem is that my bulb identification is not as good as it could be so somewhere along the line I've 'lost' about 25 dwarf iris bulbs, I wonder what I put them in with?!  I managed to identify the tulips, crocus and grape hyacinths, but I suspect the dwarf iris and dwarf daffodils are all mixed up together.  Still, it'll add interest in the spring...

That's the layered pots emptied and the used compost scattered as mulch on the raised beds. Time for a pot of tea and a biscuit before I tackle the sorting. I'm going back to single layer pots as I think they're easier for me to manage. #gardenersofinstag

Someone asked if Archie ever looked happy in photos, so we had a go this morning.  Turns out it's hard to look happy when it's hoying down and bozo is pratting about behind you, so he settled for a wink:
I know you wanted me to show my happy side for @jaeuckens, but it's hard to sparkle when it's hoying down and bozo is pratting about behind me. How about I wink at her instead?
*sigh* There's always someone trying to photobomb...

Thanks for popping in!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Sunday Summary Christmas Cushion Confusion


(I know, I'm here again!  I can't quite believe it...)

This week has been a week of dithering and hand quilting yet more stars.  I've quilted just over two-thirds of the stars on the blue and white quilt, here are the latest two:
That's my daily quota done! A bit later than I'd hoped, but I'm going to sneak in a bit of hexy piecing before I go to bed. Joining @charmaboutyou for the #saturdaynightcraftalong

I started cutting the hexies for my first Christmas cushion, and discovered I was eight hexies short of a cushion (a phrase I'm hoping passes into common usage!):
Not the final layout and I'm eight hexies short of a cushion, but here's what my polar bear #Christmascushionalong cushion will look like. It's going to have a plain border (white? Red? Turquoise?) and partial hexies in the same colour to straighten up th

so I set about trying to work out what to put in the gaps, which is where the dithering started.  First of all I removed the plain hexies:
I think I prefer it without the plain teal/turquoise/grey hexies (see previous photo for comparison), but what should I put in the gaps? Veering towards white, I think. #Christmascushionalong
which I liked, but something's going to have to go in the gap so I searched through my stash and found some options:
#Christmascushionalong options for the gaps: white hexies (probably some with an embroidered snowflake on), shiny grey (it has a bit of rayon in it so gives a subtle sparkle in the right light), plain grey, stripes, teal snowflakes, red snowflakes, red/wh

and the only thing that helped me decide was that I'd use the stripy fabric for the binding.  (Thanks, Clare!)

I thought that laying the hexies over the options might help (that was less fun than you might think!, but it didn't:

#Christmascushionalong polar bear cushion: yet more options! Anti-clockwisef from top left: grey, shiny, white, grey and teals. I've had enough now!
but it didn't stop me trying again:
Last one! I think I like the options best when the teals are in the mix, so I thought I'd see what it would be like with teals and another colour. So, anti-clockwise from bottom left: red stars, grey with teals (as previous photo), red stars with teals, w
Still no decision.  In the end, I've decided that no decision is my decision for the time being, and I've started piecing together the hexies I have, together with gaps for the to-be-announced hexies.  It's harder than you might think to piece gaps!
I made a bit of progress on my #Christmascushionalong hexies last night. I'm leaving gaps for whatever I decide to use for the spare hexies, but it's harder than you might think to sew gaps and I think I need a map to keep me in track as I'm currently hav
I think that upside down polar bear on the left is the bottom left corner of the panel.  At least, it was when I started!

On Friday, I did some more dithering when I had to choose between the two darker greys in this photo:
Trying to decide between the dark and medium grey #Oakshottfabric #gettingreadyformyFALtutorialdateinJanuary #dithering

I went for the dark one, as I felt the tone went better with the pale grey background.  This is for a technique tutorial (not a pattern!) I'm writing for the Finish-Along (for January), so I remembered to take some photos as I was piecing.
Making (slow) progress. The dark grey was definitely the right choice, thank you!

A sneak peek, before borders:
Sneak peek

Ta dah!
Ta dah! Just in case you're wondering, it's a table runner! It's currently about 18" x 36", but the borders are deliberately oversized so I can square them after quilting. Strips are 1/4" wide and there'll be a tutorial on my blog in January about how to

And a closer look at those stripes:
A closer look at the strips #ridiculouslylongFALlist #ridiculouslylongFALlistgang #Oakshottfabric #Aurifil

At which point the next dither started: how on earth do I quilt it?!  I have a couple of ideas, but would love some suggestions!  (I don't do FMQ, so please nothing that can't be done with a walking foot!)

I realised I haven't shared many photos of my garden this year, so here's a couple I took about an hour ago:
Garden 30th October 2016

A touch of autumn colour and plenty of flowers #gardenersofinstagram

I'm amazed at the number of flowers I've still got!  That packet of wildflower seeds was well worth scattering in June!  As were growing some cosmos from seed, even though the birds ate loads of them.  As were the nasturtium seeds I picked up on a whim.

Eddie had a haircut, I don't think he was that impressed:
Eddie's had a haircut (and wash and blowdry) and they've given his ears a really good trim and thin. I don't think he's that impressed. Or maybe it was the tick and flea treatment I went round to administer which made him miffed #andIthrewhisstickoutthewi

And it turns out that Archie doesn't have all the answers...
No, I don't know what you should use for your extra Christmas cushion hexies either.
No, I don't know what you should use for your extra Christmas hexies, either.  It's a proper puzzle all right.

Thanks for popping in!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Saturday Summary And Another Finish! (AKA Don't Start Thinking I'm Going To Manage A Finish A Week!)

I've done it again!  Yes, two weeks on the trot see me sitting in front of my laptop with a pot of tea by my side, ready to think about what I've done in the week.  It must be a miracle!

First up is my second finish from my Q4 FAL list, socks for me:
As you can see, they don't quite match.  I think I used a slightly tighter tension on the heel flap of the second sock and that's why they're off.  I'm going to ask Father C. for another set of dpns (and a matching set of a smaller size for 4ply yarn) so I can knit the next pair in tandem in the hope that I'll be better able to keep an eye on the colour matching.  I used Adriafil Knitcol in Kandinsky, which is a dk merino yarn.  I used the basic top down pattern which came free with Regia sock yarn many years ago (and probably still does!) with the addition of a reinforced heel (S1 K1 on the knit rows, rather than all knit).  When the time comes, I'll be linking up with the Finish-Along
2016 FAL

Speaking of Fr. C., Lynz and I realised last year (earlier this year?) that we needed some Christmas cushions and decided we'd make them together.  And so, we've spent the entire year not making them, as you could have predicted!  In order that we have new cushions for this Christmas, we're starting an informal (very informal!) Christmas cushion-along on Instagram (see photos here).  There are two rules: try to have your plan ready by tomorrow (Sunday 23rd October), and then get sewing.  You can sew as fast or as slow as you want, you can start new cushions from scratch or you can finish a WIP, you can make as many (or as few) cushions as you wish.  See?  Very informal!

We started out with the pair of us, recruited Nicky (@nickyeglinton) and Sheila (@budsmam) and then a few more joined us.  We now have nineteen people in total, with a couple more dithering - I'm hoping they'll join us though!

I know not all of you are on instagram (find me here), but please don't let that stop you joining in if you wish to.  As I said, we're starting to sew any time from tomorrow/Monday and we're aiming to have the cushions finished for this Christmas.  If you fancy, you could leave a link to your plan in a comment and then I can see what you're up to!  (If you have Google+ comments enabled on your blog then I won't be able to comment, sorry about that!  Same goes if you have a Tumblr blog.)

Here are my plans:
@ochil_lynz and I are planning a very informal CCAL (Christmas Cushion-Along) because we're both short of Christmas cushions. We've managed to drag @nickyeglinton and @budsmam into the fun and you're more than welcome to join us! We're going to have our p

The first cushion is going to hand pieced from 1" hexies and I'm going to fussy cut as many polar bears and snowflakes as I can.  The rest of the hexies will be made from white fabric (probably plain white, but the odd one may have a snowflake embroidered on it) and I'll then machine quilt it.  It'll end up somewhere around 20" square.

The second cushion will be made from fussy cut penguins which will have a white frame around them (and white corner triangles so that I don't have another penguin's hat peeping in) and then the other frames will have the other prints in them (I won't have enough penguins, I don't think, but a friend has some on standby, just in case).  Again, it will end up around 20" square.  I think I'm going to machine piece and quilt this one.
And here's my second #Christmascushionalong plan - octagonal penguins! They'll have white frames round them and I doubt I'll have enough penguins for the whole cushion, so some of the other prints will also be used. Again, it'll end up around 20" square.

From the leftovers, I'm hoping to cobble together a table runner which will just be out for the relatively short time the tree is up (about 21st December through to around 3rd January).  It'll be made from strips and squares and, probably, the odd disembodied polar bear or penguin.

I've made progress on my pinafore dress and have attached the facings:
Facings attached, ready to grade seams and clip curves. That's a job for a less tired day, though.

Since this photo was taken, I've graded and clipped the seams and it's now ready for pressing and understitching.  Maybe next week I'll have the shoulder seams joined as well?  I really fancy some thick woolly (although not actual wool!) tights to wear with this, preferably with a cable or something on them.  Any ideas where to look?!

It's starting to get tedious, but I've been plodding on with the stars on the blue and white quilt and passed the halfway mark on Monday, which I celebrated by taking an awful night-time photo:

Since then, I've managed my target of two stars a night (just), and am now (I think) on row ten of seventeen.  And believe you me, row seventeen seems further away than ever!!!

I decided to admire my progress in the week and no sooner put it on the floor than Eddie (who was visiting for the day) started rolling round on it.  Seeing this, Archie decided to stake his claim and show Eddie how well brought up dogs behave when a quilt is on the floor:
I'm going to spend the afternoon in front of a box set and quilt some stars (unless I go to bed, which is looking more likely by the second) and thought I'd lay it on the floor to admire my progress. Archie, Mini Archie and Eddie had other ideas...
What do you mean, we're not supposed to be on here?  We've all got clean paws!

Thanks for popping in!

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