Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Uncluttering my head

I think I have overwhelmed myself with inspiration. Does that ever happen to you?

Every day, I read updates on my favourite blogs. That number has grown in recent times, and it is so lovely to see what different people are doing in their own unique style. Everyone seems to finish their projects so fast. It makes me want to have a go too.

I've got a lot on my mind that I'd like to achieve, and in an effort to empty my to-do list, I've just started making things. I've been rushing to fit all the sewing in teddy bear's nap times, and therefore botching things up. I'm really unhappy with the end results. Unhappy with colour choices, or techniques I've used. Also unhappy with how much time sewing has been stealing away from sitting and chatting with my husband, or at some times, my daughter. Insert a big sad face here!

Time for a reality check. Yes, it's ok for somebody else to make an amazing quilt. I don't need to make one as well, to make me happy. I don't need to fill up every spare second of my free time with 'doing'. I don't need to reinvent the wheel, or create a masterpiece in a day.

I'm not really sure what the exact point I'm trying to make is. I guess part of me needed to admit out loud that I need to slow down. When a passion becomes an obsession, step back and settle down. It's not worth burning out for something that is meant to be fun!

So in the spirit of simplicity, the last couple of things I've made were functional gifts. For my mother, I made a heat pack filled with linseed and rice for her sore back. For my mother in law, I made an oven mitt. Both projects were made from things I already owned - fabric from my stash, cotton batting (wadding) scraps that I sewed together to make wider pieces, even old tea towels that were sliced up. I can see why quilters get such satisfaction out of making scrap quilts, it feels great to be resourceful! Not that I had much choice, as at the moment our discretionary spending has been severely limited (ie. we're broke!!). I didn't get a picture of the oven mitt, but here is the heat pack.

I've tested the heat pack out and it took one and a half minutes in the microwave to get hot, and retained heat for about 45 minutes. There is approximately 600 grams of linseed & rice in there, for a rough guide.

On a much more cheerful note, I actually won a prize in the Sew Mama Sew giveaway! The lovely Gina who blogs at Party Of Eight: Our Story sent me an email to let me know that I'd won 3 fat quarters and a mini charm pack. I'm absolutely over the moon, I'd never won anything before! So a big, public thank you goes out to Gina! I'm grateful also to be able to ponder what I'll make with my prizes as I wait for its arrival from the States.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Swamped by Giveaways

It's a good thing.

I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of freebies being given away by so many generous bloggers all over the world. It's so much fun to discover new people, enter their giveaways, and make new friends :-) The creativity out there just blows my mind!

Please check out the fun happening over at Sew Mama Sew, it happens only twice a year.

I'm heading back into the blog list! xxx

Monday, May 6, 2013

Kombi Cushion {Tutorial}

My poor husband. In all the years I've been sewing, I haven't actually made anything for him. (I'm sure he's really sad about it, haha). He's been away for work over the past week, and I took that opportunity to make him a cushion. Our old ones were all ruined in the move, and since I don't have a style to match it to, I went all out and made one I thought he'd like. A funky old VW Kombi. It's not rocket science, but I wrote up a little tutorial in case anyone would like to have a go at making their own, and needed some pointers.

Start off with a sketch of what you'd like to make. It doesn't have to be too pretty, but the more accurate it is at this stage, the easier it will make your life later. Keep in mind that whatever you draw will be reversed as an applique (important to know for letters). Then trace each individual component onto vliesofix, or any other paper backed, double-sided adhesive. For example, I wanted the bottom body of the van to be green, and the top to be yellow. So I traced each section separately onto vliesofix. Cut roughly around the traced outlines, then iron the vliesofix to the wrong side of the fabric.

This is a really great project for using up scraps, as you can see!
Cut around each piece now, on the drawn lines. 

Here is a look at the pieces cut out (minus the headlights). I was pretty happy with the result at this stage, so I went ahead and started piecing the cushion cover.

I thought a beach scene would be cool to attach the kombi van to, but it would also look good on a plain background if you prefer. You probably won't know this, but curved piecing was always one of my fears, something I was scared to even try. But I had nothing to lose here, so I gave it a go, and was so glad that I did. It wasn't that difficult, it just helps to be patient, go slow, and have a hot iron handy. If you are piecing a background, make it about 3-5 inches larger around all sides so you can trim it square.

Attach the kombi to the background by ironing it down. I find that the vliesofix doesn't bond permanently, so I like to stitch shapes down soon after ironing them. Here I used a regular stitch and raw edge applique with black cotton. I went around each edge three times, messily keeping the lines separate so that the end result yielded a 'sketched' look. It's probably my favourite detail.Next was to embroider on the VW logo and some windscreen wipers. I added a black and white striped border to echo the black stitching, and a sun in the sky because that corner looked bare! The cushion top at this stage measured 1/2 an inch bigger than the cushion insert around all edges.

I then lay down some plain white backing, cotton batting, and added the cushion top. Baste the layers together, and quilt in any way you like. I conquered another fear at this stage, free motion quilting! Gave it a go, and although I was happy enough with the result, I can't say I've mastered the skill yet. But I am so keen to keep using it! If you aren't confident with FMQ, I'd recommend using a thread that very closely matches the fabric colour, so mistakes aren't so obvious.

Last step is to add the cushion back. I used an envelope style closure, but any will do.

And there you have it!

Honestly, although I'm happy with the result, this was so hard to make because I couldn't add any pink, purple, or floral. It's not very 'me'. But it's very 'him', and that's all that matters!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Teddy Bear's Roses - A finished quilt

The quilt is done, and only four days too late.

I ended up straight-line quilting it. FMQ is something that I'm yearning to try, but given my trouble getting SL right, I may just need a bit more practice first! If you look really closely (or just enlarge this picture) you'll see the distortion where the top has been pulled by the process of quilting. It kind of looks like an optical illusion, which could be cool if it was the look I was going for. 

When you turn it over you can see that the quilting pattern is a quasi-Union Jack. That came about because I was getting discouraged with the long, straight lines pulling the fabric out of shape. So I switched it up, and I'm glad I did! 

The binding is my favourite part. I had trouble choosing what to use, as I wanted to use something existing from my stash. My stash isn't huge! But this raspberry red solid just made all the other colours pop, it framed the quilt like a picture. Best of all, it matches the front and the back. I used this tutorial by the amazingly talented Rita at Red Pepper Quilts, and it worked an absolute treat. I'm so grateful for her clear instructions, it made binding so enjoyable. It's the only part of my quilt process that went without a hitch!

I have a very long way to go with getting my quilts perfect. But that's ok. If you have any tips for me, please feel free to share them. Until then, I will keep practicing, sewing, making - sounds like a good excuse to have more fun!

Teddy Bear was sick this afternoon so we spent lots of time cuddled up here, cozy and warm. Doing nothing but peacefully watching Play School. Poor kiddo, but Mummy was happy to get some peaceful cuddles from her go-go baby!