Thursday, 19 December 2013

Homemade Novelty Christmas Jumpers

We're going to a Scandi Sparkle themed party this Christmas. I contemplated if my sewing skills were up to a Bjork swan dress re-enactment, but decided on Scandi themed novelty Christmas jumpers instead.

Here's mine, the hubbies is still to make, I'm thinking a reindeer. Such fun!


Jumpers:                                         £1 each from the charity shop in the village
Sparkly bits:                                   £3 Hobbycraft
Fun to make and wear:                   Priceless

Merry Xmas!
debs x

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A Homemade Christmas

After a two night crafty Christmas TV marathon ( Kirstie Allsop and The Great British Christmas Sewing Bee) I'm all set for a little bit of home made Christmas crafting myself this week if I get the chance. The weather is bleak and cold and perfect for staying home with the twinkly Christmas lights and getting some Christmas spirit going. (Obviously in reality that picture perfect scenario also involves sourcing 100 sausage rolls that have to be warm and delivered to school at 8.30am, plus various other school based requirements which kind of have the opposite effect on my Christmas spirit if I'm honest ( bah humbug!)).

Did you enjoy the Great British Sewing Bee? I have to confess ( and i feel a bit guilty saying so) I did think some of the homemade gifts they made were kind of the reason why many people go cold at the idea! I did love Patrick's deer jumper though. On Kirstie's show I loved loved loved the gypsy neon wall art too! Wow that wasn't quite in the category of easy to achieve at home with a few tools kind of craft though was it?!

Anyway, this year I have only managed my Christmas quilt which i'm super pleased with. But over the years I have started to build up my homemade Christmas items. Now i'm not pretending that all my decs are handmade and lovingly crafted. I can't make it through my local garden centre grotto or John Lewis's Christmas store without a purchase or ten, but I do love my homemade stuff the most.

I thought I'd show you a few of the crafty bits and bobs we have made over the years. I love that they are a kind of story of the crafty obsessions that come and go!

There was the start of needlefelting:

Always room for more robins over the years!

Obviously a Christmas stocking each

Easy felty decs made by the kids when they were smaller

Last years operated on ankle over Christmas meant i got a lot of seasonal cross stitch done

My stocking I made when I was 8 with my nan

On my Christmas - one-day-things-to-do list remains a tree skirt, some festive cushions, I would like to make a stuffed moose head out of felt....erm...what else do you fancy making in the fantasy 'week before Christmas' if you weren't tearing around Tesco looking for sausage rolls? x

Friday, 13 December 2013

Friday Binding Marathon

Today I picked up two quilts from a local long arm quilter. I've never had anything long arm quilted before.I am a dyed in the wool hand quilter. I'm quite passionate about how wonderful the process of hand quilting is, and am constantly amazed how many people think it's a bit luddite and old fashioned, where as I think it's super progressive and forward thinking!

However, i'm all about horses for courses, and walking in other shoes, lot of people LOVE machine quilting. They love the flatness of the finished quilt and it's durability, and I can agree that it's definitely a different quilting beast. Not better or worse, just a bit different. I also understand that often the piecing
machine goes faster than the quilting one! I have a permanent pile of quilts reproachfully awaiting their moment in the hoop. I have learnt to be OK with that, but it does sometimes stress me out.

I took two quilt tops to be long arm quilted as demos for my class students. Making your first quilt is so daunting that when you get to the finished quilt top point - sometimes embarking on a second hand quilting journey can be too much. Also sometimes you just want it done fast. Sometimes you want a quick functional quilt that will stand up to rough treatment. Often the machine quilting can add a different style of quilting that suits the design you've carefully pieced.

This weekend I plan anther binding marathon, then they'll get the washing machine treatment and I'll'll show you how they look.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Evening Classes 2014

It seems that there's lots of you out there suffering from varying degrees of Sewingmachine-a-phobia and I'm afraid that My Get To Know Your Sewing Machine class for Jan sold out in a flash.

However if you've missed out this time, just to let you know that Jeanne and I are going to offer this class again in the spring, in the evening to accommodate those of you at work or tied up with lovely little peeps during the day.

The dates will be the 4th and 11th of February and the class will be held at our favourite Buckland Village Hall ( where I run my Retreat Day) just outside of Aston Clinton. The class will be 7.30pm til 9.30pm and will be £55 in total. Again the class will be limited to 6 so we can give 1:1 instruction, so do sign up early if you'd like to come.

Jeanne and I have been working through the class plan this morning drinking tea at Whitewaters Cafe and having such a lovely time. We are so excited about giving this class as I know it's going to really change some sewing lives! We both agree that we'd have loved to come on this class when we were starting out, we hope you love it too.

I will also shortly be announcing more evening classes through the spring and autumn of 2014. I'm planning to run my Simple Sampler class for beginners as well as making Fabric Covered Lampshades, Fabric Baskets and a new fun class with Jeanne turning orphaned Quilt Blocks into smart piped and zipped cushion covers. Lots of you have also asked about making your sewing machine a quilted cover of its own so I will also be working up a pattern for that. Phew! Too much sewing inspiration for me, I'm off to make 8 Elf based Fabric Party Bags for my little Pixie's birthday party this weekend.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Simple Sampler Class of Autumn 2013

A huge well done to the lovely lovely ladies of my absolute beginners Autumn 2013 Simple Sampler course. We had our last class of this term today and would you just look at the fantastic quilts taking shape! Time for a well earned Christmas break (or a marathon 2 week hand quilting stint?!) Thank you all for making my job the best job in the world!

Claire's gorgeous Strawberry Sampler

Charlotte's fabulous Provençal wedding sampler trying out some different sashing choices - we settled on a soft yellow - can't wait to see it finished!
Julia's classic fresh Sampler, gorgeous!

Amy's wonderful story quilt for her little girl 

Maggie's beautiful classy sampler getting it's soft pink sashing added

Mary's fab funky seaside cottage quilt

Colour Pop HST Quilt

Wow - look at this colour bomb in my kitchen today! I'm finishing off my first half square triangle sample quilt for a HST class I'm working on at the moment for next Autumn. It's a riot of amazing colour and shape. I can't wait to show you properly!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Wonky Log Cabin Finish

It's a glorious winters day today here in the Chiltern hills. The sun is shining, it's almost warm, all my Christmas lights are twinkling, all is well.

Last night a Strictly/Xfactor/I'm a Celebrity marathon TV stint meant I really motored through some hand sewing, it's great when you don't actually need to WATCH the TV to get what's happening. I've been quilting this Wonky Log Cabin for January's class on and off all autumn actually in between my Heather Ross Hexey Honeycomb Quilt and my third version of Modern Appliqué ( which i don't think I've shown on the blog yet, but I must!).

Last night I finished quilting it, bound it and whizzed it through the washing machine to get those quilty wrinkles I love. Reality TV is definitely good for my productivity!

Ohh look, there's my dog.
You'll perhaps remember my early summer Log Cabin frenzy (before the English Paper Piecing vibe kicked in!). I now have only my Pony Picture Frames Log Cabin Quilt still to get hand quilted before my class so I have just basted it all ready to start - only a week or two left of TV trash to sustain this sewing pace before some classy period dramas take over in Jan and I have to start actually WATCHING the TV on a Sunday evening!!

I hand quilted this quilt ( I hand quilt all my quilts actually)using an orange peel design that mirrored the fabric on the back. I usually like hand quilting for its flexibility, allowing  you to vary the quilting to suit different areas of the quilt, but this time I wanted an edge to edge look to the quilting and this was fun to do.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Quilted Sewing Machine Cover

I made my new baby Bernina a quilted Sewing Machine cover. It had to happen. I was underwhelmed by the plastic cover that came with it, and I pretty much never miss an opportunity to find a way of working quiltyness into my life! It's basic patchwork squares, two layers of wadding and an inner, bound at the bottom with my favourite linen mix tape measure fabric that always makes its way into any sewing room related project. I added a pouch on the back for the awkward shaped sewing table that clicks on to the machine to be stored in. I'm considering popping off now and adding a little handle to the top so I can hang it up on my peg rail when it's not in use. Happy days. x

Monday, 2 December 2013

Dear Santa.............

 I have a lot of books about quilting. I try and justify this by saying that most of my sewing skills have come from the faithful perusal of these lovely books. Also lots of them have been gifted to me, I love those kinds of quilting books, out of print now and full of old but new ways to do things. I can't pass up a quilting book in a a charity shop or at a table top sale, and I do have a busy amazon footfall, although I do try and limit that a bit these days before my bookcase falls apart at the seams!

I'm often asked if I can recommend 'a' book for a mum/auntie/wife etc taking up patchwork, and I LOVE recommending books! Always book(s) never 'a' book, mind you!

Given that it's almost Christmas, and I know you don't REALLY want to get a chopping board or a kitchen timer in your stocking again(!) I thought it might be timely to do a little run down on my most recommendable patchwork and quilting books for you to use as useful hints to those who buy your pressies!

Now in the interests of trying to be succinct I have limited my list to 10 and a couple of embroidery books, which I just couldn't live without, or I think you shouldn't try and live without! Most of these books still get used every month. In fact some of them never make it back to the shelf as they are always propped open at some inspirational page on a quilt I'd make if i could slow down time and make dinners cook themselves and floors hoover themselves etc! All of these books have inspired me in some way, many of them I would credit with showing me the way. I've picked what I consider the classics. There are a lot of new releases now, and lots of them are good, but you could buy these books below and that would be you done for life, honestly, you probably don't need another book. I really love these books!

The first one is Quilting by Sarah Fielke and Material Obsession by Sarah and Kathy Doughty. I couldn't just choose one of Sarah's books, so have limited it to these two. I love Sarah's quilts, when I received her first ever book I literally jumped for joy. It was one of the first really modern quilt books that came out and it blazed a trail for modern quilt making. Sarah loves hand quilting and her quilts are the most perfect combination of history and modernity. I love everything she makes.
The second is Patchwork and Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. This book is just a joy. I have made so many things from this book. Every pattern works, it's all just so tasteful and lovely. It's a book to savour.A perfect gift for someone if you can bring yourself to give it away.

Next The Gentle Art of Quilt Making by Jane Brocket. I am a super fan of Jane Brocket. She's clever and kind and all round wonderful. I loved her The Gentle Art Of Domesticity which literally kind of gave me the intellectual permission to be a happy home maker for the first 10 years of my kids lives and I love her quilt book for it's wise and sensible balance. Her style is bolder than mine, but I do love the luscious flower prints and the simple geometry. Most of all I love the real spirit of quilt making in her books, re using, repurposing - perfect.

Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg. This book is a recent favourite, most of the others i've owned for years, but so much about this book makes it an instant classic in my eyes.It's all about reusing scraps and making them into things of beauty. Her quilts are all about quiet perfection, understated and elegant even though made from scraps. I love this book and the simple patterns in it. Plus you'll never throw away another scrap!

Modern Quilts: Traditional Inspiration by Denyse Schmidt. Anyone who reads my blog knows I love Denyse Schmidt. I love her fabrics and her eye for colour. I also love the aesthetic that looks at the history of quilt making and cleverly makes it modern. This book is a total classic. One day I will make all of the quilts in it, one day.

The Practical Guide to Patchwork - Elizabeth Hartman. This is the book I most commonly reccommend to new sewers. Its just such a perfect no nonsense introduction to the main skills you need in quiltmaking. No insistence on doing things a 'right'way, just lots of practical tips about how to use colour, how to choose fabrics and how to make lovely quilts. Worth every penny.

Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!! by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes. This book is out of print now and it does look a bit dated in its pictures, but if you can get your hands on an old version at a reasonable price no one does the basics better than this book. 10 years ago I literally spent 3 years making everything they told me to in order! I have a very big soft spot for this book, but if you cant get it Elizabeth Hartman's book above does a very good modern version of the same.

***Edited to add - Thanks to Cynthia who has just e mailed me to say that this fab book has just been re-released with all new samples and piccies. Fabulous x
Liberated Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston is a fab book. It made my head spin the first time i read it. Throw out the rulers and the measures and your fabric conformity and let creativity in! You will need sunglasses to read it - these quilts are no holds barred but for sheer joy and optimistic exuberance you can't beat this book!

Lastly two lovely, not strictly quilty books but very dear favourites never the less. Scandinavian Stitches by Kajsa Wikmen and The Embroidery Companion by Alicia Paulson. Lovely books, full of projects that are never vanilla and always have a kind of gravity to them, like someone really made something that they wanted you to LOVE rather than just to fill a book pages?

I really hope that this gives you some Xmas list ideas and that you love these books as much as I do. If you have another Modern Classic that I have missed off the list do let me know!

In the interests of full disclosure, if you click onto any of the Amazon links and buy a book I get points towards my next must have quilting book. I kind of feel bad about that after watching this weeks Amazon documentary, but I suppose at least my whole shopping list of books must be down one aisle so less distance to run, poor things. dx