Thursday, November 13, 2014

I did it! I finally made a quilt!

So my 'passion' for learning how to quilt was one of the ways I first justified buying my sewing machine. 4 years ago. I even bought a couple of quilting books and pinned plenty of beautiful quilts for inspiration but I failed in the one really essential part of quilting- that is actually making a quilt.

But September was the month it happened (and November is the month I finally do my blog post on it!). I can't believe it but I have finally made my first quilt! I'm relieved to say I also enjoyed every moment of it as well so I'm hoping it won't be the last I make! I've spoken before of how I tend to be drawn to crafts that can be completed quickly as I do tend to get bored and forget about projects that seem to go on. and on. and on. I can't help but feel as though I miss out on the process of 'making' by being focused on the end project so I have tried to challenge myself to stick at some longer term projects - my aim being to just enjoy the therapeutic nature of being creative. Knitting is one way I have tried to challenge this and quilting seemed like another good option - given my apparent dedication to it all those years ago!


 
 
 A close friend of mine was expecting her first baby and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally get down and learn how to quilt. Making it as a gift was also a good way to stop me from thinking 'oh it'll be fine' and take silly shortcuts that, let's face it, hardly ever work out.

I have a couple of books with patterns but after browsing Pinterest I decided to work out my own pattern inspired by this quilt by Whitney Deal. This was perfect for me because it helped me to learn and practice a basic but useful tool in quilting - half square triangles - in fact I made 120 of them so I feel fairly confident now!



I have no intention of teaching anyone how to quilt as I don't really have a clue - but I thought it might be helpful for anybody else thinking of having a go for me to share what I found helpful along the way...

1) Enjoy the process - it felt a long time before I actually started 'quilting', what with cutting out 120 squares, sewing them together and cutting them up to make 120 different squares, then measuring and squaring up the squares, pressing fabric, working out the design and then piecing it together. But I surprised myself by just being able to enjoy each step. Don't rush through the early stages, which leads me to the next thing...

2) Accuracy is key - I am guilty so often of rushing or skipping stages and making things up as I go...generally things do work out but I'm so glad I didn't do this here! Measurements matter so when cutting your original squares make sure they are at least the right size but you could also cut them bigger and cut them down to size later on. I think I'll do this next time as I had a mini falling out with my rotary cutter when cutting my original squares and a few of them ended up slightly narrower than I wanted (I'm pretty sure rotary cutters are meant to be simple to use so don't ask me how I managed to complicate it!). I didn't have enough fabric to recut them so had to make do but it did mean I had to adjust my measurement of the overall squares and quilt. If they were all exactly the same size it would have made matching up the chevrons in the quilt top a lot easier!

2) I had no idea what half square triangles were until I started googling tutorials...this tutorial for making half square triangles is really clear and helpful.

3) Square your squares - this was a step I was tempted to skip but I'm so glad I didn't - maybe it should be obvious how to square a square but I found this tutorial really helpful! It really is worth the extra time to make sure your squares line up.

4) Putting the quilt together - I used the book Material Obsession to help guide me through the process of putting the quilt together. I learnt that the backing fabric and wadding should be about 4" larger all round than the quilt top - I didn't read this before I ordered my backing (I went with flannel) or wadding but thankfully I had sufficient fabric! It probably sounds silly but I also really didn't know whether I should quilt before binding or after...so just in case you're also wondering - quilt before binding!

5) Binding - Again Material Obsessions was really helpful in explaining how to bind but they recommended the traditional technique of blind hem stitching the binding to the back of the quilt. I really didn't trust my hand stitching abilities so looked for how to machine stitch. This video tutorial helped as well as Kate Haxell's Me and My Sewing Machine. She also gives a really clear explanation on how to mitre a corner...I never expected my corners to look so neat! Binding was the one place where I ended up having to make it up slightly as the binding I had bought was quite see through so I had to be creative in how to make it thick enough so that the quilt top didn't show through - the only thing it meant was that I ended up still having to hand stitch a lot of the back to tidy it up...but in doing so I discovered that hand stitching isn't as scary as I first thought!

So there you have it, my first blog post in months - sorry for the how quiet I've been. I'm not sure how often I'll be making an appearance on here over the next few months. I'm currently in a knitathon to get some presents finished for Christmas so hopefully I'll be able to share my most recent adventures in knitting with you soon :)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Handwritten...

I've always liked the idea of being able to do fancy writing. The problem lies in the fact that my writing is just not that fancy - especially after writing hospital notes all day at work (although even then it is still infinitely better than the dreaded infamous doctors writing!). Over the last couple of months I've been spending time looking up examples of calligraphy and practising a couple of different fonts- I've come to realise that people, generally, don't just sit down and roll out the beautiful writing in just a few seconds. It takes time, which reassured me enough to have a go!


I am definitely still a novice when it comes to typography but I've really enjoyed practising and have built up a small stack of cards during my experiments! I thought it would be fun to share what I've done so far :)


I wish I could say this card idea was original - I love it so much but it was inspired by tee and toast.


After writing out the note I decorated this card by dipping the rubber end of a pencil into metallic turquoise paint and using it to stamp out these mini circles.


This card went to my husband because he really is very marvellous! I wrote out the phrase on a separate piece of paper and then adhered this to the card with washi tape in an attempt to not over-girlify the card!


This is probably my least favourite card out of the lot. I tried writing with a sharpie but I think it just makes the writing look a little clumsy. I haven't invested in any pens but I think this highlights my need to if I want to continue on with this!

You can find some of the tutorials and pictures I used over on my craft inspiration board on Pinterest - I would love to hear if you have any advice or tips...especially any pens you have used and loved!

Monday, June 30, 2014

origami gift boxes...

So now you've seen the little crafty gifts we gave at the party (clay stamped magnets, felt heart bookmark and fancy paperclips) all you need now is the box to put them in!


These boxes have got to be my favourite piece of origami yet - they are so simple to make but paired with pretty paper they make perfect gift boxes! I love that it is a closed box but only uses one piece of card - I always dread finding out that the separate lids to boxes don't fit - even after I supposedly measured it carefully! To open you just pull out one of the triangles that are tucked in to the top and the box opens before your eyes :)


I followed this tutorial over at Homemade Gifts Made Easy so do head over there to find out how to make these beautiful boxes. After a couple of boxes I didn't have to use the instructions any more, don't be daunted by the amount of folding involved, it really is very simple!

Happy folding :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

d.i.y. pretty fabric paperclips...

This is a really unessential piece of crafting, it's crafting for crafting's sake. I mean, these paperclips will work just as well without fabric...but when paperclips are involved in my life it normally means hours of boring organisation is also involved. So anything that makes it a little more bearable is always welcome :)


These were the final d.i.y. addition to the gift boxes (see here, here and here) for the party. Since everyone receiving the boxes are soon to be moving house I figured these pretty paper clips might help bring a smile when surrounded by the inevitable paperwork that comes with sorting things out for moving!

This is perfect for using up scraps of fabric and is so simple. I got the idea for these paper clips from Amanda Rydell's instagram feed, I recommend her for crafty inspiration, her photos are lovely!

Just cut a strip of fabric (mine was about 2cm wide) and tie it into a single knot around the top of a paper clip. Trim to your desired length by cutting the fabric at a diagonal angle.


Now all I have left to share are the pretty origami boxes for it all to go in to!



Monday, June 23, 2014

D.I.Y. felt heart bookmark...

I'm a chronic page folder...I know some consider it a crime but I like my books to look read so I don't mind. Not that I would dare do it to any books I borrow - the problem is I can never find a bookmark so I always end up spending time trying to remember where I last got up to! I saved this bookmark idea a while ago as a simple solution to my night time reading woes but then decided they would also make great additions to the party gift boxes.


As with the clay magnets I have no step by step photos but the instructions are really simple! Here's how I made them:

What you need -
Felt
Contrasting embroidery thread and needle
Scissors
Paper
Pencil


1) Firstly draw out a heart template on paper, making sure the point of the heart is 90 degrees. Cut out the template and pin to the felt.

2) Cut out a heart from the felt and repeat to make an identical second heart. Pin the two felt hearts together and trim if any sides mismatch.

3) Cut a length of embroidery thread and thread through the needle. Knot the end of the thread and pull through one heart (see photo below for a guide on placement) so the knot will lie on the inside of the bookmark.


4) Sew the two hearts together along the two straight sides of the heart. Next continue to sew around the edge of one of the hearts for the front of the bookmark until you reach the first stitch. Tie a small knot on the inside of the bookmark to secure the thread. The back will look like the heart on the right in the photo above.

And you're done! I thought it might not be obvious that these were bookmarks so I added a little explanation to help people out!


I have the practice one in my current book of choice and it's holding up well! I did worry that it might fall off the page but it hasn't so far!

For more on the gift boxes you can see an overview here and a clay magnet project here.

Happy sewing!

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