Friday, 28 May 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side is again hosting a Blogger's Quilt Festival this year. I thought I had missed the deadline, so haven't yet participated. I was wrong! Today is the last day, so I thought I'd add a quick entry to the list.

So this is my entry for the festival. I've talked about this quilt before, but I've been thinking about it recently because of my hexagon project -- a few of the scraps left behind from this quilt are making it into my hexagon box, and I had forgotten just how much I love the antique look of some of the flower fabrics.

I started this quilt with absolutely NO knowledge of how to quilt. At all. I cut my triangles haphazardly with scissors, didn't sew with accurate seams, and encountered any number of frustrations along the way as a result, of course!

However, this is the quilt that started it all. It was hiding in my "to do" pile for YEARS, and it wasn't until the beginning of this year that I decided I was brave enough to tackle it and actually finish it.

And I did! It led to me finishing off the new baby's quilt (which I technically started before I finished off this quilt, but then when I messed it up with my dire machine quilting, I realised that I couldn't let the baby's quilt hide away in my "to do" pile for as long as this one did! I was brave, and I redid half of the quilt; I was learning...), I sewed an I-Spy quilt for my son, and a filmstrip quilt for my younger daughter.

I was on a roll, and obsessively reading through the many, many quilting blogs out there full of fantastic tips, hints and tutorials to help me along the way. In fact, I've gained a bit of a reputation among my friends as the intrepid quilter; we've had quilting days and evenings, where I've taught them the techniques I've learned... a bit like the blind leading the blind, but no matter! We're having a good time. :)

My current unfinished projects are my husband's quilt, a wonky star quilt, and of course my mystery hexagon project. Current physical limitations associated with late pregnancy are preventing me from sitting at my sewing machine right now, but I'm hoping to have this baby VERY SOON (did you hear that, baby? SOON) and I'll be able to get some sewing done again at some point, right...?

When I started quilting at the beginning of this year, I thought I would make a quilt for each of my children and then put the sewing machine away again for a few more years. I've now realised that sewing and creating is a big part of me and what I love to do with my time. It's strange, because I'm not a particularly neat, organised or detail-oriented person, but I love the satisfaction that comes from pressing an accurate seam and putting together a quilt top with every corner matching together perfectly. I love the colours, the texture, and the practicality of a quilt. It is meant to be used, not just looked at; quilting is the perfect mix of art and function.

And I love it.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Hexagon Update

Hexagons Sewn: 141

Hexagon Papers: 248

The Plan: Unknown

For whatever reason, I'm really enjoying the process of sewing these little shapes. My husband thinks I've gone bonkers in this late pregnancy brain of mine, but I think it has a lot to do with the ability to put my swollen feet up and still get sewing done. Unfortunately, sitting at a sewing machine for too long causes all sorts of aches, pains and swellings to happen in my body right now, so I'm focusing on hexagons for the time being.

I have no idea what I'm going to end up with after all this. I don't even know if I'll carry on after the baby is born, to be honest. I have a feeling that nursing a baby and sewing with a needle and thread are two activities that won't mesh very well! I don't even know how many hexagons I would need in order to make a decent sized quilt. I should figure that one out, because I'm sure it's going to be more than 400 or so!

I love that it takes so little fabric to piece together a few hexagons. I have lots of little scraps that I'm hanging onto to teach my daughter how to stitch, and have been able to skim off the top of that pile a bit to add to my collection.

Here's something weird about me: If I have a bunch of the same fabric for hexagons (if you look closely, I have repeats of up to 8 at a time), I have to give myself a break from sewing the same kind of hexagons too many times in a row. Like, three or four of the same fabric in a row, max. I then have to mix it up with something else, to fend off fabric fatigue or something. See? Weird.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Feeling desperate....

I am a week away from my due date, and yesterday afternoon/evening was the first time I could have honestly said that I might have been possibly, maybe, could-have-been-but-not-quite-sure, kinda-sorta in labour.

I am planning on a home birth, so last night before I finally went to bed I laid plastic down on the floor, pulled out all the old towels, got baby's clothes ready, and double-checked where the camera was hiding. I was ready for things to happen.

I went to bed listening to my hypnobabies CD and hoped for the best, knowing that I had probably jinxed myself by preparing for the labour so thoroughly. And, ugh, wouldn't you know it? I didn't sleep very well due to the anticipation of it all, and I've woken up to a new day and am still pregnant. Boo. Hiss.

It's not that I'm trying very hard to get the baby out; I am a firm believer in babies staying put until they are good and ready to be born. However, it would have been nice if this baby was good and ready to be born LAST NIGHT, or EARLY THIS MORNING.

A good friend of mine recently trained to be a Doula, and she is hoping to attend my birth as part of her qualification process. She is so excited for us, which is lovely. I wouldn't describe my current feelings as excited, though... frustrated, tired, fed up. Looking forward to holding the baby in my arms, but after the long drawn out contractions of yesterday, not particularly looking forward to the real thing.

It's amazing how much you forget between babies. This is my fourth child, and I was sincerely hoping that the labour would be a simple affair. (hence the home birth scenario) My friend would put a positive spin on it -- after yesterday's practice session, my body will birth this baby with no troubles at all!

At this point, I'll take anything I can get....

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Victorian Girl Costume

Take two large white tea-towels, a bit of lace from an old net curtain, and a length of elastic to make a frilly hat and apron, thus:

Total time taken for project: 1 hour, give or take.
Total cost: Negligible. Everything was taken from stuff lying around the house.

I was going to make an all-black skirt, instead of having her wear a black skirt with a colourful design on it, but I'm too fed up with life (eg, being pregnant) to sew anything else right now. We're not going for 100% historical accuracy with this thing, anyway!

I have to say, I am in love with the hat and may just make one for myself....

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

I'm finished sewing baby things for my friends who are due with their own babies a few weeks after me! I was going to make some stuffed, stackable fabric boxes, but I've lost a lot of steam for fiddly sewing jobs recently (can't imagine why!), so that project is on hold for now.

However, I did do some experimental sewing of the baby wrap blanket variety. I really like to swaddle my babies when they are small, but never bought any special swaddling blankets that are out there. I was taught how to swaddle my babies with a normal blanket by the midwives at the hospital where I've had all 3 of my children, and their methods work fine for me. However, I thought it would be fun to sew a special swaddling blanket for my friends, just to see if I could. I poked around on the net for ideas, and with a rough plan, sort of made things up as I went along. The design of the blanket has some flaws, but I think overall it could work well for the baby who enjoys being wrapped tightly.

Materials Used:

-- fleece baby blankets
-- sheet fabric for lining
-- sew-on velcro

Total Cost of Blankets: About £4 each, probably less.

I made two blankets, one pink plaid and white, and one plain blue and brown.

Pink back:

Pink front:

I wouldn't dare attempt a tutorial on these blankets, since the design changed so much just between blanket #1 (pink) and blanket #2 (blue) in my attempts to make it better. I still can't sew that slot for the long arm of the blanket without leaving frayed edges behind (grr)! However, for those of you interested in seeing pictures of the blanket "in action" as it were, I've created a little step-by-step account of how to use it, with my daughter's doll in place of a live baby (currently far too happy inside to make an appearance). Feel free to copy my design and better it to your heart's content. If you do, let me know! I'd love to see what you come up with....


Step One: Place baby inside blanket "pocket."

Step Two: Fold over long arm of blanket, across baby's body.

Step Three: Insert long arm of blanket through the slot.

Step Four: Turn baby over to see the back of the blanket.
Disclaimer: Do Not Place Baby Face Down On A Table As Shown;
This Is Only A Doll Used For Demonstration Purposes! ;)

Step Five: Wrap long arm tightly around baby's body,
securing at the back of the blanket via the velcro fastenings.

Step Six: Pull short arm of blanket tightly across baby's body.

Step Seven: Locate velcro fastenings for the short arm of the blanket at the back.

Step Eight: Secure short arm of blanket.

Step Nine: Turn baby over again!

Step Ten: Tuck the bottom part of the blanket under the folded
arms of the blanket to secure baby's legs within the wrapping.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Quick Question Re: Quilting Foot

I do not own a quilting foot for my machine. I would like to buy one, but have no idea where to look, or what would be good quality!

Could anyone give me some advice? I have a Janome RX18S. Help!

PS -- How do you pronounce Janome? Is it Juh-nome, Jah-nomey, or something else entirely?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Roy G. Biv

My rainbow fabric finally arrived, after a loooong delay due to the Volcano-That-Can't-Be-Pronounced. So happy! The fabric is very pretty, and I'm looking forward to sewing all the triangle squares into something special.

Haven't decided on a design yet, but I'm liking the look of things so far!

I'm still plugging away at my hexagons, and had fun searching through my scraps to find more fabric I'd forgotten about that is just the right size for cutting a few hexies out of! I'm also working on some other baby gift projects and still need to finish my husband's Man Quilt.

Baby is due in 2 weeks, 2 days. Y'think I'll make it?!

PS -- Today is giveaway day all over blogland, and sewtakeahike is participating as well! This is a seriously awesome giveaway: a chance to win $60 to spend at Superbuzzy, a supplier of Japanese fabrics and crafts. If I had the privilege of winning? I would certainly be grabbing these hedgehog fabrics. Too adorable for words!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

New Items in the Shop!

I printed up a set of baby onesies for sale on my Etsy shop. There's nothing else there right now, but hopefully I'll get other projects going soon enough.

The button for the shop is under the "about me" section. Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Other Baby Items I've Made!

My creative side is in full swing lately, and after reading up on ideas how to make a crinkle teething square for a baby, I decided to make a few myself. As mentioned before, I have a couple of friends due with babies only a few weeks after me, so I'm putting together a few small gifts for them.

The crinkle squares were a lot of fun to make! Aside from the animal appliqués, the square itself was simple and easy. I used a non-biodegradable plastic bag, cut out two layers and sewed it in between two squares of fabric. The squares make a lovely crinkly sound; hopefully the babies will enjoy them in a few months!

I made a little bib out of the same fabric I used for the animal appliqués. They are mostly for show, as I didn't add a terry layer to them so they won't be particularly absorbent. Ah well! Hopefully the pretty fabric will distract the receivers from noticing....

The hedgehog set is all for meeeee!

Using Freezer Paper to Create Images on Clothing: Tutorial

Firstly, to all my UK readers, freezer paper is not widely available in this country. I bought some on eBay for about £2, and the pack I received is about the size of an A1 sheet. Not overly expensive, but I'm not planning on mass producing anything at this point. However, it's a great little tool and I highly recommend it for this use!

I wanted to decorate some baby clothes for two of my close friends, who are not only American living in England like me, but who are also due to have their babies in the same month as me! (I'm due first though, haha)

They are new to the country compared to me (less than 2 years compared to my 11), so I thought it would be funny to give them a onesie with the English flag, saying "Made in England." This is how I did it!

Firstly, I designed a simple image on the computer, and printed it out several times before I got it down to the right size... my printer wouldn't print directly onto the freezer paper (I've heard that this is possible, but no dice for me), but luckily freezer paper is easily seen through and I used a craft knife to cut the design.

Be sure to cut the design with the shiny side DOWN. Cut it out just as you want it seen, removing all the black from the design.

Iron your item of clothing, then iron your freezer paper design onto the clothing, shiny side down again. The waxy side of the paper will (temporarily) stick to the clothing. I suggest that you don't move the iron back and forth across the paper, but rather "press" with it. This is especially important if your design is intricate; the little paper pieces could get moved around before they are securely ironed to the fabric.

Once the freezer paper is ironed/pressed fast, start a-paintin'! I used Anita's All-Purpose Acrylic Craft Paint, which is suitable for fabrics along with a lot of other things. I haven't put any of this in the wash, though, so I may eat my words in a few weeks!

I used a small paintbrush for the design; nothing special.

Be sure you paint right up to the edges of your design. Do you see those white spots peeking through along the straight edges of the English flag? I painted a bit more there in order to have as crisp an edge as possible.

Impatiently wait for the paint to dry COMPLETELY, and then carefully peel the paper off the fabric. Ta-Da!

I admit, I was lazy with the lettering and didn't put white space inside the D's and A's in the wording. I think it looks okay, though!

I also painted a tree design on some other baby onesies; I like to think of them as Family Trees, a nice little symbol for a new baby!



I looooove the green tree. Aah!


This is my first attempt at a tutorial, so I hope it's interesting and helpful! Please let me know if I've missed anything - I'm sure I have!

Beginning a New Obsession....

Oh, yes, those are hexagons you see before you! I've been considering taking up this little sewing project for some time, and when I found some card paper hiding in my box-of-things-I-ought-to-organise-but-haven't-yet, I decided to take the plunge. I printed some 1.5 inch hexagons, and got cutting.

Reasons to like this project include: sewing while watching tv, portability, cuteness factor.

Reasons I shouldn't have started: I have no plans on what to do with them yet, this will take me forever to complete, I'll probably never get back to it once I have the baby (which will be soon, I hope!).

Unfortunately, starting this project has given me the excuse to buy more fabric! If these hexagons turn into a quilt, it won't be a true scrappy quilt because I just don't have enough fabric in my possession to make every hexagon from a different pattern. I'm just enjoying the process for now, anyway. :)

Monday, 10 May 2010

How Much Do You Love Giveaways?!

There is an amazing giveaway over at V&Co this week; Burgundy Buttons is offering a massive bundle of fabrics: 1 Half Moon Jelly Roll and Charm Pack, 1 Bella Solid White Jelly Roll and Charm Pack and 1 yard of corresponding Half Moon Yardage. The retail value of this giveaway is $87.00.

Just today, as I was perusing the fat quarters that were on sale at my local fabric store (ssshhh, don't tell hubby), I was thinking about making a black and white quilt one day. They have so much impact and are very beautiful in their own right.

How much do you want to win this giveaway? Go over to V&Co and enter!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Cakes, Cakes, Everywhere

Some friends and I are putting together a surprise birthday party for another friend in our group; she's a cake lover, and we had the brilliant notion of baking her 30 different kinds of cakes for her 30th birthday! Not entire cakes, mind you, just half or a quarter of the recipe to make a few cupcakes to bring along as a taster session, as it were.

Well, 30 cakes is a LOT of cake. I should know! I started that blog two years ago, and by the end of the 30 days, I was knackered. And totally sick of cake, if you can possibly believe it!

Unfortunately, we didn't have the stamina to bake 30 different kind of cake; I think we made about 15. However, considering that two of us baking are in our third trimester of pregnancy, that's not too bad, right?

This week I've made the following cakes:

1. Praline Turtle Cake

2. Confetti Cake (no recipe for this; I simply used a yellow cake mix and added a bunch of sprinkles!)

3. Angel Food Cake (from a mix as well)

4. Coconut Angel Food Cake (I divided the above box mix and added coconut with a bit of green food colouring because, why not?)

5. Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

6. Triple Chocolate Muffins

7. Coconut Cherry Cake

8. Red Velvet Cake with coconut icing

9. Georgia's Tennessee Jam Cake

10. Honey Cake

I haven't updated my cake blog in a long time, but it was fun while it lasted. After I have the baby, I plan to remove sugar from my diet completely, so a cake blog doesn't really jive with that lifestyle choice....

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Beautiful Music! Dangerous Rhythm!

For the past several months, not only have I been growing a new bean, I've also been rehearsing for a concert with a local operatic society.
This is me, in all my chubby-cheeked, fecund glory! Not too keen on the sparkly jacket/sack I was required to wear, but meh. It's just a costume! In this picture, I'm singing a solo from the song "I Will Wait For You". It's a French song, so my solo was sung in French.

Just for the record, I only took one year of French, my senior year of high school. It was just for fun, and I remember pretty much nothing of the experience. I was a tad nervous when I was asked to sing it!

Thankfully, all went well, and the show was a success overall. I have so much fun performing, and can't wait to get back into it in a year or so. Life will be busy when the baby comes, but once she's a year old or so, I'll be able to do their Gilbert & Sullivan production, Yeoman of the Guard. That should be great!

But the next thing on the agenda is to collapse in a tired, tired heap. Happy weekend, everyone!