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The Genial Hearth
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Archive for Sewing

My Inspiration!

The Virtual Quilting Bee is getting closer to the end! I’m nearly the last to send my fabric!sept2010

I finally had it all packaged up in preparation for sending out, when after sealing all the envelopes, I realised I hadn’t actually included any information about why I chose it:-)

I used to do bellydancing. During that time, I fell in love with the Moorish aesthetic found in places like the Alhambra, and the wrought iron work of some of the room dividers (I was also teaching metalwork at the time… so the work involved was really obvious!), and henna.

The two fabrics remind me of those images. The brown one particularly calls to mind henna designs, as well as Alhambran arches. The floral is reminiscent of some of the room dividers (sadly, I can’t find any images of the ones that particularly struck me!)

(Not that you need feel obliged to use this information! But given I was attracted to them for a particular reason, I did want to share:-) )

2009, the year that was

In spite of the evidence of my blog, it’s actually been a pretty productive year! But it was rather one of those ‘if you’re doing, there’s no time to be writing about it’ years.

I had (as has been the case the last couple of years) resolved to make more music and play more games. Although we sang a little less than we have been (basically in the last couple of months, although, I’m getting better again now), we did do occasional ‘Music Nights’, and I did a lot more recorder with Puggle (and Bilby:-) ) Thanks to Swancon, and their fabulous Gaming Stream, I played a lot more games than usual—sadly, I didn’t really maintain the momentum for the rest of the year…

I hadn’t ‘signed on’ for the Handmade Holidays challenge, but I did kind of decide to attempt it. I did pretty well when it came to kids presents! (I think) I basically made all bar 2—which were both a couple of days after Swancon. Certainly that was the case for other people’s children. I made some stuff for ours, but I’m not making books yet, and lego is still beyond me:-)

I didn’t do so well on regular blogging (obviously:-( ) But I am still thinking about it, so I anticipate returning:-) I took more photos, and managed to upload a number—haven’t managed our usual family photo calendar yet, but I hope to very shortly (it’s a great way to actually use some of the photos:-) )

Aside from the handmade presents, most of my crafting this year has been patchworking. B and M’s wedding quilt got me enthused enough to start a Virtual Quilting Bee. We’re in our fifth month now, although I’m still finishing block 3:-(

All up, it’s been a pretty reasonable year:-) It is of course a constant learning curve with the kids, just as soon as you think you have a handle on where they are, they go and change… but mostly it’s been good:-)

Christmas 2009

A couple of years ago, the Advent season was when I started blogging daily (or nearly so). I maintained it until probably May-ish last year, and then a few times a week for about another 12 months. This year? I think I managed a couple of Food Posts through Advent, and that’s about it.

Mind you, this Advent has been lacking in a lot of my usual preparations! I have Ice Cream Plum Pudding in the house, because that’s essentially what I was doing for our family Christmas dinner. I have Gingerbread Dough in the freezer, because I made a double quantity when we made gingerbread houses at Halloween. I have the makings of Fruit Mince Pies (pre-rolled pastry in the freezer and a bottle of mince). We’ve read a pile of Christmas books. We made an Advent Chain. But that’s about as far as any similarity to previous Christmasses goes.

Before I get too disappointed though, I should point out that we have made quite a few presents this year! There should (I hope!) be several individual posts, once I download photos, but Puggle and I have been woodworking, and Bilby and I have sewn. Puggle made a small wooden boat for Cygnet, and a set of stilts for Bilby (as well as a pair of stilts for his Secret Santa, and he helped to sew an apron for Cygnet’s Secret Santa). Bilby made a woodworking apron for Puggle, five balloon juggling balls and a grab bag for her Secret Santa, and some Chocolate Coated Almonds for her grandparents. Me? I have finally finished the Pink Tower and (almost! still have to put the finish on) the Brown Stair. I’ve made (with some help from Puggle) several sets of Tree Blocks for some of the smaller children of our acquaintance. I have made three Bench Hooks (two to suit western saws, and one for japanese saws). And I’ve made a wooden forest (barring the dye-ing and finishing) (like blocks, but shaped like trees, rather than trees made from tree branches). I’ve sewn bags for the tree blocks (I still have one more to go, and a similar bag for the wooden forest), and three apron/chef’s hat sets… with accompanying bag. I’ve also been painting the IKEA abacus we got for Cygnet, to match the colours of the Right Start one:-) We did also make jam as part of our Christmas preparation.

I’m still anticipating doing our usual family calendar, and I’m hoping we’ll get to the cards—but obviously that won’t be happening by Christmas time!

So, a bit of a hit and miss. I keep reminding myself though, we can’t do everything! And we have been doing a lot of French during this time:-) Reminding me of more posts I have been meaning to write!

Hope your Christmasses were all lovely, and that the rest of your Festive Season is safe and joyous!

October Block

Redbraids' Block
I had other ideas, but finally decided that the front runner was a particular one I’ve had my eye on. I delayed starting it though, because at the size it would end up, it would either be really plain, or excessively fiddly. Then, other people started posting theirs, and there was a definite theme:-) (Unsurprisingly, there were a couple with Japanese motifs… given the inspiration information referenced ‘The Wave’:-) ) I went searching, but still hadn’t found anything else, so I went and bought the third material I’d need for my design.

Then inspiration struck:-) I decided to do a Zen Rock Garden:-) Half an hour to find some specific images to set me going, and I had it plotted out and cut out. It took very little time to appliqé the rocks on (and oh my goodness! How much easier appliqué is when you use Vliesofix!) and probably an evening to blanket stitch the edges of the rocks.

Then, I just had the ‘rake’ lines to embroider.
Redbraids' Block

In my original searching I’d discovered Sashiko embroidery. I thought this would be a good idea for the rake lines. I think I was right… but it did take a while! I finally finished the block a week into November!


And here’s a sneak peek:-)
b's teaser
(More once B has seen it:-) )

Virtual Quilting Bee

We finally began Virtually BeQuilted at the beginning of this month. The fabric arrived the day after posting, and I got to work:-) (My mum was the first to send her fabric, so I’d had a sneak peek, and had already chosen my design:-) )
I blithely cut it all out—only to find I was a little short of one of the fabrics:-( My design was mostly green, and with all the seam allowances necessary, it just wasn’t going to make it:-( Fortunately, I was able to aquire sufficient extra, but that held me up a bit, because I hadn’t considered the possibility when cutting, and some key pieces were left uncut until a couple of days ago.
Geese block for mum

I had seen the circling geese pattern some where on Patchy Work of Mini Grey‘s blog, thanks to a pointer from Feebeez (or at least, I think that’s where I found it). The version I saw only had eight birds though, so I was all set to draft up my own pattern, when Redbraids posted a link to this collection. The very first image was a picture of exactly what I had planned to draft—and a link to the pattern! A few minutes fiddling with the printer to get the size just right, and I was set. I printed four copies (one for each quarter of the block), and one more just for the record… Oh, how glad am I that I printed that extra copy!
I had originally planned to use English Paper Piecing… but realised I was avoiding basting the pieces (narrow seam allowances, and points far away from each other meant I really was going to need to iron them). I finally decided to revert to Foundation Piecing. So I retraced my steps, to print out extra patterns to use for the sewing. I thougt it would take me the first couple of minutes of this month’s Craft Sunday, and then I could start sewing…
I have no idea what the problem was, but nothing I tried would allow me to get anything like the same size block! Printing it at 94% of the original was a couple of centimetres too large, at 93% it was a couple of centimetres too small… even scanning my correctly sized copy and printing that didn’t work, even when I adjusted the print size of that as well:-( In the end, I reverted to tracing my correct copy! At that point, I was able to get half of it done by the end of the afternoon. Another small block in the evening, and all the sewing was done. I was rather dreading trying to remove all the paper, as I’d seen comments that it could be difficult, but I’d followed the instruction to use a very short stitch, and it pulled off really easily. A touch of ironing, and it was ready:-)

Bonus Block for Mum
And just because I could, (and I rather liked the look of the wonky trees here) and I had some material left (the green in this is all that was left from my original green! I cut about five very narrow pieces for the geese from the extra that I got). A Bonus Block, a Wonky-ish Tree:-) It’s not the right measurement, but I don’t know that it’ll be used for the tablecloth… (although, if I’d been a bit more thoughtful about cutting the white bits for the tree, I probably could have made it the correct size!)

I couldn’t wait to post it, so we dropped it off at dinner last night:-)

And Another!

Bonus block teaser for mum
Just because I can:-)

A Teaser for Mum!

teaser mumI’ve finally (almost… just need to remove the paper, and iron) finished my block for the Virtual Quilt this month. I thought I’d let you have a peek as I get ready to post it:-)

(Somewhat) Virtual Quilting Bee

I’ve been all inspired recently (for a range of reasons… so many pretty things!) about patchwork and quilting! So now, I’d like to try a (Somewhat!) Virtual Quilting Bee (I’ve been watching this one for a while). (Melissa talked about some of the others here.)

Basically, each person signs up and is assigned a month. They send some material to each other participant in time for their month. If you like, you can nominate a theme (I’ve seen Nature, specific colours, specific patterns). Everyone uses your fabric, and supplements however they choose, to complete a block (other fabrics from their stash, embroidery, appliqué etc). Then they send this back to you after your month. This means you get to sew with others, without having to actually get organised to be in the same location:-)

Essentially you will complete a block a month, and end up with (hopefully! depending on numbers!) a quilt’s worth of blocks. It’s then up to you how you use your blocks, whether you make them up as a quilt, as cushions, as a pair of laprugs, turn them into a bag—or leave them to sit in your to-do pile:-)

You do not need to have done any piecing or quilting before (it’s probably a good idea to have done some sewing before…. but if you’re keen, the lack probably wouldn’t stop you! In fact, this may be an ‘approachable’ way to give it a go:-) ) You may choose to hand sew or machine sew (I’ll probably do most of mine by hand… because that’s more convenient for me, but there’s at least one that I’ll be considering that I’ll do by machine).

I’d like to ask that all blocks are put online (probably not until after the recipient has received them though!), and it would be nice if you put up pictures of your finished object(s). This could either be on a blog, or on flickr or something else like that. However, don’t let the lack of your own space be a hindrance to this… I’m happy to post photos for anyone who can’t!

So, specifications are as follows.

2 or 3 pieces of fabric, about 10 cms (1/8 yard) of each (or half a fat quarter). (Please stick to cottons to assist with washing).
Block size 32 cms x 32 cms (finished size 30 x 30). (That’s near enough to 12.5 in square, with 12 in. square for the finished size.) If you would like a different size, just ask for it (you may need to send more material if you want something dramatically larger!)
Notes? (Theme, any specific requirements or things to avoid—for example, if you’re intending to use it with a baby, you might request no 3d items, like buttons or beads).

Let me know if you’re interested, and we’ll sort out months—I figure we’ll use August to sort it out, and get going in September. I was going to suggest Craft Sunday as the handover, but seeing as I’m putting it out on the blog, there might be some non-locals involved, so posting may be the way to go.
I’m really hoping to have about a dozen participants, but I guess we’ll wait and see! Feel free to pass this information on to anyone else who might be interested, all replies to the blogpost.

Some block tutorials, to give you ideas (I may have gone a little overboard!)…
Nine patch
Disappearing 9-patch
Crazy 9-patch
Shoo Fly
Variable Star
(actually, there’s a whole pile of directions here!)
Amish Dahlia
Scrappy Hedgerow
A number of different blocks
Flying Geese
Come Over to My House (a whole quilt’s worth of block patterns, only some will be accessible)

There’s a mass of beautiful quilts linked here.

There’s a tutorial on appliqué here.

(Oh Fransson has a number of quilt related tutorials, for once you have your finished blocks!)

So, who’s joining me?

New Additions to the Archives

I’ve just gone through and added a number of posts that I have been meaning to post for a while… so far back that they may not have shown up in your feeds. Some of them were things I really wanted to share (but I also wanted the timing to be correct…), so I thought I’d post links to them all, here. I’m not promising scintillating reading though… I’ve forgotten much of the nuance, so these tend towards the bare-bones details:-(

Museum Visit
Mum’s Laprug
EChO Concert
Art Prints
Puppet Theatre
Progress 2008
Planning for 2009
Our January Wine Dinner

Upcoming Dates (Craft/Pancakes)

Hopefully a reasonable amount of notice!

Craft Sunday will be on the 15th of February, from 1.30. No idea what I’ll be doing at this stage… but I have a number of projects currently on the go…

Shrove (Pancake) Tuesday is the 24th of February. We will be doing the usual. I’ll make a number of batches, you bring the toppings (savoury or sweet…) and whatever you like to drink. Turn up anytime from about 5pm onwards. If you’re anticipating coming, it would be helpful to know (so I can calculate just how many batches to make:-) )… and if you have allergies, you should remind me (I think it’ll be one dairy/wheat free?) I’m going to have some paper plates, (and hopefully some elastic) and glue, and maybe some stuff to use to decorate them, if any of the kids feel like making Carnival masks.

Hope to see some of you at both of these:-) (If you can find my address, you’re most welcome to join us… )

Child’s Apron

apronsI’ve made a number of aprons over the last couple of years. I mostly use one when I’m cooking, and I definitely encourage the children to do so as well! For most things, I’ve found a chef’s style apron works fine for me, it’s basically a rectangle, with ties on the top, that goes around your waist. The ones I’ve made fit most adults. (Baking is the one thing that doesn’t really suit this style of apron… I have another plan for that—one of these days!) I’ve made the kid’s aprons the same, just cut the size down (I think I get about three out of the same fabric as a single adult one). But really, this style isn’t as effective for children. Their waists aren’t necessarily suitable for holding up an apron:-) And they’re as likely to get stuff on their upper bodies as anywhere else:-) So something that covers their chest is really necessary. I’ve made do with simply tying the apron just under their arms, but it does tend to slide. I’ve been looking for something better. I wanted something that went around their necks, but I don’t like having to tie behind their neck, because their hair often gets caught. If it’s a fixed loop, the apron often hangs too low on their chest and isn’t especially effective.

I was reading Fiona at Feebeez last week, and saw a post about her daughter’s birthday. She made the children an apron each to take home. That apron was a revelation!

apron-wornIt covers their chest, it’s adjustable! It seemed to be just what I was looking for! The next day however, Meg at Sew Liberated (who used to be Montessori by Hand) posted a link to her children’s apron. Of course, that reminded me that having the apron able to be done up by the child was really a Very Good Idea!

And then I realised that we were going to a 2 year old birthday party and I wanted to make something:-) Puggle suggested a feltboard… but I wanted something different:-) Of course, the birthday girl is actually Feebeez niece, so it crossed my mind that she might already have one of the aprons—but fortunately no:-) So I went ahead with an amalgam:-)

I took the Joann’s pattern, and simplified it a little. Instead of doing the casing, I left gaps between the layers when I bagged it out, where the casing would have had an opening (it did make the sewing around a little more fiddly, as there was stopping and starting… but I think it simplified it over all). And instead of doing a fabric tie, I used twill tape. In the end, I sewed the tape in place at the openings on one side (waist and neck) and just let it run free at the other. I sewed velcro to the other end of the tape (the scratchy piece) and soft pieces of velcro onto the apron at the appropriate place. It is flexible enough in size to be worn by both my two year old and four and a half year old (and probably for some time ahead of him). I also added pockets to both sides (both the photos show the same apron—it’s fully reversible).

apronOn reflection, there are a couple of changes I’d make. The twill tape I was able to get (much more difficult than I’d anticipated!) was wider than I’d planned. This meant that it didn’t fit through the holes as well as it should have. I’ll adjust the width of the gap in future (and stock up if I see narrower twill tape!) Looking at the apron on N… I realised that for younger children, the body part could stand to be shortened by about five centimetres… I’ll try that when I make Bilby one (when I’m through my current lot of sewing, I plan to make one for Puggle and one for Bilby). I’ll probably do a patterned and a plain side in future, rather than both patterned (that was just the fabric I had to hand).

But all up, a child’s fully reversible, adjustable, self-attiring apron. I was pretty pleased:-) (And my sister even complimented me on my piping:-) )

Christmas Dresses

christmas-dressesPresents for Bilby and my oldest niece, BG.

Craft Sunday

This week… I’ll be sewing up a storm. Come by anytime after 1.30.

Birthday Dress

I’ve been meaning to post this for a few days now. I do need to re-do the neckline (I pulled the bias binding too tight), but otherwise, I’m pretty happy with it:-)

Simplicity 7189 (final one on the page).

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