Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Anniversary Quilt - The Fabric

Its arrived! THE most gorgeous package of Lecien fabric all the way from America courtesy of the lovely people at Whimsy Quilts. This fabric really is so so pretty. The perfect choice for my Anniversary Quilt although I'm not sure I can ever cut into it because its so lovely.

The fabric arrived really quickly and the best thing was that I didn't get charged ANY import duty on it at all. What a result!! I am soo pleased. I would highly recommend Whimsy Quilts. They were so helpful and the fabric arrived in beautiful condition. They have also very kindly offered all my lovely blog readers a 5% discount on any fabric from their shop. You just need to use this code - TYFBAWQF. Hurry though the Lecien fabric is selling out fast. I'm not surprised as its so gorgeous!

Whimsy Quilts stock lots of other lovely fabrics too. I love these new Riley Blake Dots and Chevrons designs.

and this fabric bundle is gorgeous too.

Right I really need to get off the computer and start making this quilt! This is what I will be attempting to recreate. No pressure then!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Felt Tip / Pencil Roll Tutorial

We love pencil rolls in our house. They come everywhere with us. In the car, on holiday, to restaurants, on planes, to the doctors. Guaranteed to keep the children entertained (for a little while at least!). They are also perfect for giving as presents along with a pretty little notebook. You can make them to accommodate coloured pencils, crayons, felt tips or gel pens - whatever your child prefers. You just need to adjust the size a little bit. These are super special because I have also been able to use some of my lovely new Jane Means Ribbons to make them. Its lovely having a proper stash of ribbons of all different shades to use for projects like this. The ribbon ties make them look so pretty.

You will need
Two 10.5 inch x 6.5 inch pieces of fabric
One 10.5 inch x 4 inch piece of fabric
(See photos above for different fabric combinations)
25 inches Ribbon
10.5 inches Bias Binding
A set of felt tip pens/pencils/crayons (I used felt tips pens from Asda as they were only 33p!)


The pattern template really depends on what size pens or pencils you are using as they all seem to be different lengths in my experience. The coloured pencil rolls I have made before are much too tall for felt tips and gel pens for example so I needed to make a new template.

To make a pattern template, I just found some thin cardboard. To measure the width, I counted how many pens I had and allowed 1 inch for each pen. My set has 10 pens so it was 10 inches. I added 1/4 inch on each side for the seam allowance so the total width for my template was 10.5 inches. To measure the height, I placed one of the pens on the card and gave it a little bit of space at the top and bottom and then also added on another 1/4 inch seam allowance for the top and bottom. In my case this worked out to be 6.5 inches so I cut out a rectangle shape measuring 10.5 x 6.5 inches.

I find it quite helpful to mark the seam allowance and inch spacings on the template in pen. You will see why later! You then need to make a template for the pocket that holds the pens. Its the same width as above but you just need to decide how deep you want it by deciding how much of the pens you want to show. I choose a height of 4 inches including a 1/4 inch seam allowance (you don't need a seam allowance for the top of the pocket as we are using bias binding). I know this all sounds very complicated but it really isn't! Once you have a template you can use it again and again if you use the same pens. See below for mine.

Cut out two large rectangle pieces of fabric and one pocket sized piece of fabric. You can use lots of different fabric combinations. You choose!

Cut a 10.5 inch piece of bias binding and 25 inches of ribbon

Sew the bias binding along the top of the pocket piece of fabric.

Pin the pocket to the right side of one of the rectangles of fabric.

This is where the one inch marks on your template come in handy! Use it as a guide to pin along the bottom of the two bits of fabric. Place a pin every inch. This is to guide where you will be sewing up and down to make the individual pockets. Its worth putting some pins along the top of the pocket too to keep it in place. Its helpful to have the seam allowance marked on your template. You don't need to pin or sew the seam allowance at this point.

Starting at the left hand side, sew along very close to the bottom of the pocket. At your first pin, turn and  sew up to the top of the pocket, turn and sew back down over the same line. This helps reinforce the pocket. When you get to the bottom, turn and continue along the bottom until the next pin and do the same all the way along. Remember you DON'T need to sew the two edges as these will be sewn at a later stage.

See now you have individual little pockets. Cute!

Fold your ribbon in half and place facing inwards on top of the bias binding on the right hand side. Leave a small amount hanging over the edge.

Place the remaining piece of fabric face down over the pocket and pin all around the edge of the rectangles remembering to secure the ribbon (tuck the remaining ribbon away from the edges so it doesn't get caught up). Remember to leave a gap large enough to turn it through later. Make sure this is in the top half of the rectangle ABOVE the pocket. Sew all around the edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Clip the top corners.

Turn inside out, make sure the corners are neat and carefully press. Make sure that the opening is neatly folded under and pressed. We can close this when we top stitch around the edge. Top stitch all the way around as close to the edge as you can go to finish. Be careful as you don't want to make the 2 end pockets too small for the pens!

Add felt tips and admire your handiwork!

I hope this makes sense! Please let me know if you make any pen rolls from this tutorial and I will feature them on my blog. Good luck (you may need it!).

Monday, 17 September 2012

Sherry is the way to go!

I've just realised I haven't got round to blogging about my amazing 2 day freehand machine embroidery workshop with Louise Gardiner yet. It was absolutely AMAZING. I met a lovely bunch of ladies and we spent most of the time staring in awe at Louise literally painting pictures with her sewing machine in front of our eyes. I would soo recommend this course. I came away feeling totally inspired.

For those of you who don't know, Louise Gardiner is a textile artist who uses freehand machine embroidery alongside drawing, painting and applique to create beautiful pieces of art. I first became aware of her work at Bristol Children's Hospital of all places where some of her work was being displayed. Its a long story which you can read about here. I immediately went home and googled her (as you do!) and was very excited to see her featured on Kirstie's Homemade Home a few weeks later. Kirsty described freehand machine embroidery as the 'crack cocaine' of crafting and I have to agree. Its pretty addictive. I must have dropped some pretty big hints because for my birthday this year, my other half booked me in for one of Louise's 2 day workshops at the Bedruthan Steps Hotel in Cornwall (a gorgeous family friendly hotel with Spa). The whole family went for a 3 day holiday. Jon entertained the children while I sewed!

I knew that I would l like Louise as soon as she offered me sherry at 10am on the first morning. My kind of gal! This was to get us all loosened up ready for what was to come next....

Add in a bit of Drum & Bass music and we were all ready to go but not with sewing machines!

The first part of the course was about mark making and drawing and letting yourself go. It was about experimenting with different textures. We were all given a pen and had to mark make to different types of music with our eyes closed!!

Yes really! Its actually really liberating. Try it at home. I was really put off art at school because I couldn't draw perfect photographic representations of things so I never draw at home. This was all about having fun and having the confidence to do what you like. To draw a bit like a child would draw I guess without being self conscious.

Worse was to come! We then had to draw the person opposite us without looking down at what we were drawing and without taking the pen off the paper. Its was really hard and also pretty embarrassing staring at someone you've just met whilst trying to draw them! Louise was great and gave us all the confidence to give it a try even when our finished versions looked like this. Below are my 3 attempts. She then informed us that we would be sewing over one of our drawings and making it into a portrait. I have to admit to being horrified at this point. Had she not seen my drawings?? I desperately wanted to sew something else instead. Its actually very clever to do this because it makes you do something outside of your comfort zone. I wasn't allowed to do flowers or hearts or cupcakes or whatever safe thing I would have gone for. It was about challenging myself.

We are all in shock!

Lower those feed dogs and let the sewing commence.................

The next stage was to sew a border for our pictures. Basically just sewing like crazy round the edge of our canvas fabric. No plan or design. Just trying out new things, different textures and shapes. At one point Louise said that if the back looks interesting then turn it over and make the back the front! This was quite hard for me. I like things being ordered and tend to follow instructions to the letter. This was all about letting go and knowing that you can do anything you want to. There are no rules!!

Each stage was broken up with demo's from Louise where we basically all just stared in awe at her amazing skills with a machine.

We traced our pictures onto tracing paper and taped them to the back of our canvas with masking tape and then machined around the picture over the tracing paper so we had a basic outline in stitches on the front. Then we needed to add fabric and stitching and colour and texture.

We practiced painting techniques to add colour

and stitching and applique skills

Look at the detail on this eye (clearly not my work!)

Little details which bring the pictures alive. We were encouraged to turn our portraits into caricatures and give them personalities and quirky characters. This allowed us to go off and do mad things with colour and texture.

We added fabric. Louise simply taped bits of fabric on the front of the canvas and then turned it over and used the tracing paper drawing on the back to know where to stitch around each detail. She then trimmed the fabric by hand using tiny scissors. No normal applique techniques here!

The texture in her characters hairs below was made by simply chopping up bits of fabric and stitching over them in a completely random way using gold thread.

This feather earring was a piece of fabric with greeny gold thread sewn over the top. Completely sewn by eye without a pattern or drawing.

More fabulous machining on the bow tie.

Want to see our finished works? A completely mental gallery of mad women!!

This is mine (I have a love/hate relationship with her!)

and this is Louise, the Queen of Freehand Machine Embroidery and the nicest, loveliest, most confidence building  teacher EVER. It was a great course. Hard at times but Louise has a way of encouraging you along and you finish feeling totally inspired and wishing the course could go on for a week.

All that was left was for me to do was this

and a bit of this

Louise is running 2 extra workshops in November and December in her studio near Manchester. You can find out more here. Drop some BIG hints!! She is on Twitter too so go and say hi