Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Tutorial - Making a Baby's Blankie Soother

These are always appreciated as gifts for new babies or for your own child.  It is better to make your own so you can always make a replacement when the much loved favourite gets lost or left on  a plane (for example).  Here is one I made.
I have made a few of these and earliest versions had a problem with the ribbons coming off.  The satin ribbon is so fragile that stitching through it a few times in one place to try to anchor it weakens it and this is the place where it ends up breaking.  So I have thought of how to stop this happening.  I bought a piece of minky which was 72cm x 48cm and was $6.99 from spotlight.  I didn't use it all and cut out two squares which are approximately 36 x 36cm.   I got hot pink.  Then I bought an assortment on ribbons.  I used single and double sided satin of about 2.5cm wide.  I have some thick pink striped ribbons also that I wanted to use but couldn't find it.  Hate that.  First take the ribbons.  I cut mine into 17cm lengths and I cut with pinking shears.   Then I took some fabric and cut small rectangles to go around the last 2.5cm of the ribbon once it is doubled over.  I then sewed this using zigzag stitch back and forth on the ends of the ribbons.  So now you have the ribbons loops.
I wish I had used contrasting thread so you could see I have zigzagged back and forth covering about 2.5cm of the ribbons length at the end.  I tried not to go over any one part more than once as this weakens it in that area.  You can see that the ribbons cannot ever be pulled out of the fabric reinforcement.
I then sewed all the ribbons onto the right side of the minky wherever I wanted them and I sewed through the fabric and ribbon.  The fabric and ribbon was hanging off the sides of the minky as shown.  I then placed the other minky square on top with right sides together and sewed around leaving a gap to turn it.  Make sure all the ribbons are pointing inwards and the fabric cannot be seen once turned the right way.  You could also use flannel on one of both sides or whatever soft fabric you choose.
I then turned it the right way out and sewed up the hole.  I then stitched all the way around about 1.5cm from the edge using a contrasting colour and zigzag stitch.  This will grab the fabric and ribbon ends again and just neatens it up.  Mine isn't completely straight and my ribbons are not all lined up perfectly.  I don't mind this...I think.
So now it can be wrapped up and given to someone who might just cuddle and love it and hug it more than anything else they have for a few years.  How amazing is that?

Monday, 29 April 2013

Finished Bedside Table

I finished the bedside table I found!
I showed it to you first here.
The before photo does not show how yellowed the paint was.  It must have been oil based as this yellows and water based paints do not.  This and cleaning the brushes is why I don't think I will ever use oil based paint again.
What I cannot believe is that I bought the paint first and then found the knobs afterwards! I can't get over what a  great match they are.  I wasn't really looking for pink knobs, I would have settled on white or crystal or something but I found those little pink ones and loved them.  They are ceramic.  The pink is a british paints colour called Riot mixed with semigloss water based white.  Paint in Australia is really expensive so I bought a tester pot in a dark colour and watered it down with white.  This is great when you need small amounts like here for the drawers.  The tester pot was about $5 and I hardly used any of it, and the knobs were $12, so project total cost was less than $20.  After mixing the semigloss with the matt/flat tester pot paint I found it wasn't very glossy, so I used a water based varnish over the top to give it a bit more sheen.  I used Cabothane satin.
The bedside table is for my daughter but she is still in a cot so I have put it beside my sons bed to show it in situ.  I haven't yet made a single pink quilt that will go with it, so I used the one I made for my son, but it doesn't really go.  I love his bed.  It is all wooden and of course was orangey brown wood when I bought it from a second hand furniture shop.  It was a bit hard to paint, just because of the turned wood, but worth it.
I think this shows that even the simplest paint jobs and hardware changes can make something boring into something that is a real asset to a room!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Girls Bedroom with Quilted Letter

I have finished the quilted letter.  I was put a piece of plywood in to stiffen it which my husband cut to size as it was what he had lying around.  I suggested he use hardboard but we didn't have any.  It is only 3ply so very thin.  It did splinter a lot so I put a thick PVC tape around the edges and it slid in easily.  I was thinking that I can't do a tutorial for this because I don't know how I would do more difficult letters!  I will have to work that out.
This is my little girls bedroom.  I made the cot bumper and sheet using ikea fabrics.  I made that sheet and bumper at least 4 years ago and they have lasted really well but I decided it wasn't worth doing things like sheets, so I only ever did one. 
The hardest thing about making the quilted letter was definitely the binding.  That was really tricky and I did have to unpick sections of it to get it right. 
Overall I am really pleased with the result but it took a long time and was complicated to put together at the end.  With hexagons you have to enjoy the process of making them as they do take ages.  It is not all about the finished product with them.
Oh look, the bunting has crept in there.  You must think I have it in every room in the house! 
I like her room.  I think we all do our kids rooms a bit for ourselves, don't you?  We make them how we wish ours had been.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Quilted Letter for Child's Room

I have always liked those big letters on children's walls and wanted to make my own.  I always had in my mind that I could do a better version.  I wanted to do a patchwork one.  I started it a long time ago but it took ages and I also didn't have a clear idea how I was actually going to stiffen it so it could be hung on the wall.  I have nearly finished it but still have not really worked out how I will stiffen it.  Here it is nearly finished.
The hexagons are teeny weeny.  They are less than 1" across.  I started by printing off  a template and cutting it out in cardboard.  Then I pieced it together.
This took ages and ages because it is all hand sown. You could just use strips or squares and machine sew it so it would be fast.
 See how tiny the little hexagons are?
Here is the back.  Wow I am neat. The technique for sewing hexagons is called English paper piecing. 
Here are the fabrics I used.  I only used five different ones.  I don't know what any of these are as I got them from a market. None have selvedges and I got them a few years ago.
Once I was happy with the shape I took all the papers out and ironed it and then quilted it.  I just did horizontal lines but I don't really like them.  I may unpick them later.  They don't add anything.  I also sewed on a backing fabric and decided to bind the edges to get the exact outline I wanted and the definition.  I have left the left hand side unfinished so far as I will be putting cardboard or something similar in and maybe some wadding as I want it to look nice and padded.  I hope to have it finished and on the wall by the end of the week.

Monday, 22 April 2013

I Bought Some Supplies

I went to a jumble sale on Saturday morning. I love them as you never know what you might find. I haven't been to one for ages but I am intending to go to more of them. This one is a very large and organised one in a nearby suburb and the first thing I found in there was a lot of dress patterns! And they were 20c each! You cannot argue with that. Of course now I wish I had bought more.

There was a little girls one that I think had smocking on the front which I mainly regret not getting as I want to try smocking.  But my little one isn't a toddler and I think it was a toddler pattern.  I love the dress on the bottom left, but they are all pretty cute and don't really go out of date.
 I bought some for me.  I might make the top but maybe not the dress.
Then I got some ric rac.  I am not sure what I will use it for but it is always handy.  And only 20c per colour.
I also got two fairy skirts, a princess handbag and some lego, so everyone was happy.  Well husband wasn't bothered anyway.
I have been looking through my pattern books for children too and love all the dresses in vintage style for kids by Fiona Bell.  I love that they are classic little girl dresses.
Must get to a fabric shop I guess.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Granny Squares Quilt Finished

I have finished my granny squares quilt!  I am pleased with it now it is all together.
I hand quilted around the squares and added a thick border and machine quilted that in lines.  I did round corners.  The advantage of  round corners is that it is easier to bind, the disadvantage is that you have to use biased binding which is harder to make that non biased binding.  But I think it is worth it.
The back is made from some strawberry print which is very thin and was cheap - only $3 per metre and ikea fabric which is pretty thick and great for backing.  The thin fabric was a pain because it was hard to get flat before quilting and I had to constantly check it wasn't getting rucked.  I also basted and took it all out and did it again which is always annoying.

 I made my binding 2" wide and I love skinny binding.
So I have finished it and I want to put it on my nephew's bed when he comes to visit from the UK in a few months.  But what to work on next?  I have decided I want to make some clothes.  I want to make at least one dress for myself and a dress and skirt for my daughter.   I am totally inspired by The Great British Sewing Bee on UK television.  I can make clothes but I haven't done it for age and I know I'll enjoy doing it again.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Quilted Dolls Blanket

I wanted to make a present but now I have made it I love it so much I don't want to give it away! I made this dolls blanket using my newly acquired skill of trip around the world piecing.
Or maybe one block like mine is just called a trip I am not sure. To make it I took 8 strips of fabric which were all 2.5" wide and just over 15" long. I sewed them all together to make a block of strips.
 Then I cut a 2.5" wide sash which had a square of each different fabric in it. Then with the remaining block, I sewed the first and last strips together to make a tube. Then I cut the tube into another 5 loops each with 8 different squares of fabric. I put the first strip down and unpicked one seam of the first loop, at a different spot to where the first strip started, the next square down became the top square and so on until you have unpicked one seam on each.
Then it looks like this.  Really easy and also looks great I think.  Then you iron all the strips.  You have to alternate ironing the seams one way and then the next so when you sew the strips together you can line up the seams by feeling that the ironed seams nest together.  This is the secret to getting those corners perfectly lined up.  That and also cutting accurately.
Once I had my top pieced I made a quilt sandwich with a layer of batting and a backing fabric and I quilted it by sewing in lines 1/4" away from each seam. 
Then I made a stripy binding which I did not cut on the bias.  You don't need it bias cut if you aren't doing any rounded corners.  I decided to try my hand at machine finishing the binding.  I always sew binding onto the front of the quilt with the machine but have always hand sewn it to the back before so I decided to try something different. 
Here is what it looked like from the front. It is the extra row of stitching next to the binding.  It was so fast - I did the whole thing in an evening.
Here is the back.  I wish I hadn't used this backing fabric.  It looks cute but it must have quite a bit of polyester in it because it is not soft and just doesn't have the right feel. 
After making this dolls blanket I realised my daughter does not have a dolls cradle so I am on the look out for one.  So currently this little blanket is a dolls picnic rug.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Case for Tablet

When I got a Samsung tablet a few months ago I still had a job and I took it into work to show some colleagues who were thinking of buying one.  One of them said I need a case.  I said yes, I thought I would sew one.  He said 'oh no! get a decent looking one!'
Well I ignored him.
That is a cup of earl grey next to it.  No sugar and I guess you would call it milky.  Well it is milky in Australia but in the UK (I am a Brit) that is not milky, just normal.  Love tea!  Cannot get enough of it.
So I made my tablet case from leftover scraps of children at play by Sarah Jane which I made my sons quilt from.  I had these tiny strips so I just sewed them together and had it lying around for several months waiting.
Here is it before I did the binding.  I am definitely improving my binding skills.  I quilted it with straight lines and used batting and a nice lining fabric.  
As you can see the tablet case is a bit wonky.  I like it like this but I think it should really have been more wonky as it is only halfheartedly wonky and could be mistaken for just being put together badly.  Heaven forbid.
I used this really bright and vibrant fabric for the lining.  I love it.
So that is my finish for this week.
I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Renovating Old Doors

When we moved out to have our house turned from a one bedroomed house to a 4 bedroomed house we took the one original door that we had had in the house and planned to strip it and use it again. We only had one other door in the whole house and that was not worth using again.  During the 8 months we were living in a rented house and our house was renovated I was on the look out for a whole set of victorian 4 panel doors for us to use.  I ended up having enough and even had some extras as they can be warped, won't fit and many other reasons builders refuse to hang them.  I got them on ebay mostly but also looked on gumtree and we even went to Kimbriki resopurce recovery centre (tip) and had  a look there and managed to get one door which we ended up using on the under stairs cupboard.
It was supposed to be my job to strip and paint them but I failed miserably in that endeavour.  It has now been passed to my husband and he is doing it.  He did 3 and the under stairs one in his first burst of enthusiasm and I am happy to say he is now on his second wave.  I hope it lasts a long time.
When done they look like this and I absolutely love them.  I think they are worth all the pain and hard work.  I mean it is hard work for me to motivate P Daddy to do them! ha ha.
We could have had new hollow doors for slightly more initial outlay and no work on our part, but I would not have liked them.  The builders cut the old doors to size and hung them and they complained a little and thought we were mad I think.  If they had been new doors they would have hung them, painted them and put the door furniture on.  But why make life easy for ourselves?
Here is the one being worked on at the moment.  Yikes. It needs a lot of filler and sanding, and that is after you have got the paint off.  To get the paint off I tried the chemicals.  They are pretty hopeless and some paints just won't shift at all.  P Daddy ended up scraping it off and wearing a mask as some of the paint will be really old.  The filler we use is builders bog.  It is 2 part and so it is epoxy and a tiny bit more flexible and less brittle than normal filler.  It probably also sticks better.  This door is dark brown because it is hardwood.  Australia only used to grow hardwood so all the old ceiling beams in the house were hardwood.   It is very hard to cut or drill a hole in it.  Once it is sanded and smooth P Daddy uses a sealer so no old stains come through the paint.  Then he uses water based white semi gloss.
This is the downstairs bathroom door that we have been using for about 18 months.  I am used to it being like this but I will so appreciate having it finished!  At least this door has a handle and lock.  We had no upstairs handles until about a week ago.  But when this one is painted we will get a lot of satisfaction and  pleasure from it.  I think that is the trick with diy - enjoy the small victories and forget about the big list of other jobs. Otherwise it will never be enjoyable.
Oh, and I got my door knobs from gumtree. First I bought gold ones and I got most of them on ebay and bought a couple new.  Then we decided not to have gold and wanted silver and I saw them on gumtree - more than enough handles and the locks for only $20!  That was an amazing bargain.  Now I just need to offload the gold knobs.....

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Granny Squares Pieced

I have pieced the granny squares quilt top, or most of it.  I went out this morning to spotlight and got a fabric for a border and the backing fabric. 
As I was piecing the squares I was thinking that each one I did was nicer than the last one.  Then once I had them all done I looked at them and I didn't really like any of them.   Then once I laid them out together I thought they looked great together.  I think they look better from a distance instead of close up.
I definitely decided I don't have that many scraps!  I was running out of different ones.
I thought about making it much larger but decided against it.  Firstly I think that granny squares look great in quilts of 4 by 5 rows.  Also, I didn't want to make a lot more blocks!  I decided that with a border it would be big enough for a single bed.
I have the blue fabric for the border and the strawberries for the backing.  I will use a blue and white stripe for the binding.  I am going to do rounded corners.  I am also going to hand quilt most of it.  When I first saw a granny square quilt it was a hand quilted one and this is something that drew me to doing it.
This is my favourite block.  It is made from Tanya Whelan hatbox, some children at play by Sarah Jane and rainy days and Mondays and stripes by Riley Blake.