Friday, 28 December 2018

Christmas Sewing: Decorations

In the past I have made the kids decorations to go on the tree. For Mia for her first Christmas, for Jess for her first Christmas (and one for Mia at the same time). I had planned to make them one every year, but last year it just didn't happen and they had shop bought decorations in their Christmas Eve boxes. When we first decorated the Christmas Tree this year, Mia pulled out the handmade ones from previous years and gave them a kiss and excitedly hung them on the tree.  When the shop bought ones came out, they showed no interest in them whatsoever: a pretty good indication that Mummy needs to make handmade ornaments!

So this December some handmade felt ornaments were definitely on the to-do list. I picked a pattern that I'd saved on Pinterest ages ago: penguins - pattern by Casa Magubako

I took inspiration from the colour ways in the pattern and made one in pink with a purple scarf for Jess

And a grey one with a red scarf for Mia.

That was me done - ticked off the to-do list. Two little penguins all ready for the Christmas Eve box. Then I sent a few hours going through my low volume stash and found a fabric from Little Town (Art Gallery) which I bought a year ago with the intention of making some Christmas decorations. So the evening before Christmas Eve, I knocked these up.

Quite pleased with all four decorations and I really enjoyed making them... but I may have to restock my felt collection before then as I have a pink-lover in the family and very little pink felt left!

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Hidden Agenda

You all know I love a quilt along, and you probably are also aware by now that I have developed quite the enthusiasm for Tula Pink fabrics over the last 10 months. So when the Hidden Agenda pattern was released by Angela Pingle, I did think how good Tula fabrics would be for it. And then she announced a quilt-along and I was sold.

This was absolutely the most fun quilt to put together. Obviously with Tula Pink, and obviously in a rainbow. There was quite a lot of laying out and rearranging to get the rainbow effect, but it was definitely good fun.

I tweaked the pattern a bit and decided not to include the quarter-square triangle units, so I could display more fussy cutting, but this was one of the easiest quilts to create and I love the finished quilt top.

But why isn't it already quilted? Well. While I was making it, I happened to be rummaging through my low volume stash and I though wouldn't it be great to make a low volume version. And then rather than upset the Committee with yet another quilt added to The List, I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to have Rainbowfied Tula on one side, and quiet low volume on the other. The low volume quilt top is started and all the square in square units are done. Theoretically it should be easy to get put together from this point.... except then a good friend had a brainwave of her own.... why don't I put it together in a mirror image and then when I baste it, it will be easy to line up and truly match on each side.

Bearing in mind I'm 33 weeks pregnant and basting anything is nigh on impossible at the moment, I laughed at her. But it's an idea that has festered. So that's the plan. Once baby is here, that same good friend with her good ideas, will be helping me baste it! Watch this space for what may be my favourite quit ever!

Friday, 14 December 2018

Bjorn Bear [A Finish]

Back in September I started piecing a Bjorn Bear quilt for a little boy. It took me a while - not helped by forgetting to cut some pieces to take on retreat with me, but once I'd finished, I really didn't like it. And because of who it was for, I knew it had to be special. It was definitely not special.

I sat on it for a month, hoping it would grow on me but it never did. I couldn't even think of a way to salvage what I had done and improve it...So in the end I resigned myself to starting again. The little boy who will get the quilt is half Japanese, so I wanted to be careful that I didn't pick colours or items that would be inappropriate - I'd already sussed out the bears, so stuck with them. Research on number told me that nine was unlucky, so I'd already planned 12 bears, and so I stuck with that. Further research told me red was lucky and white wasn't, so I give you 12 red bears!

And I couldn't be happier with it - I love it so much more than the first version. The grey is Gotham Grey from Kona, and the reds are a Makower Linen texture (?); Makower Dimples, Moda Grunge and Moda Grunge spots. Kona White and Black Dimples complete the collection. The backing is a duvet cover from Dunelm. It's quilted in a cross hatch done with my walking foot. And then machine bound in more red!

The original blocks will sit in disgrace in my cupboard for a little while longer, but intrest has been shown in them from another party, so I think one day they will become a quilt of their own. So whilst this is a finish from my Finish Along list - I have completed a Bjorn Bear Quilt, sadly, it's had the result of adding another quilt to my list - don't tell the committee. You can find my original FAL list here.

Marci Girl Designs

Friday, 2 November 2018

Floral Field [A Finish]

An embroidery finish! I started this hoop in July last year. It's sat ignored for long periods, but a final push in October and it was done!

The pattern is Flora Fields by Threadfolk - If you haven't come across her Instagram account @threadfolk, I can thoroughly recommend it - there are definitely some other patterns in her collection I intend to embroider!

It's been a while since I did any embroidery and I really enjoyed getting back to it. It's stitched entirely in DMC 6-stranded embroidery thread, and I used two strands for most if it, with a just a few of the details on the house and the people in one strand. I changed the colours from the original to make it more summer-garden-like, but it was a bit of a gamble knowing how it would turn out!

And some hoop guts for you as well - I'm always intrigued by the back of people's work! Yes - I did drag my thread fairly long distances across the back - that was really the nature of the design - If I'd stopped and started every time, the back would have been very bumpy, and I would have never finished it! I can get away with it because I always use an iron-on interfacing on the back of my embroidery which prevents both puckering and those threads being visible on the front. The interfacing I use is SF101 - it's lightweight and woven, so forgiving and works with the fabric.

This is a Finish Along finish. You can find my original list here

Marci Girl Designs

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

De La Luna Brimfield

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that over the course of the last 8-10 months, I've developed a bit of a thing for Tula Pink fabrics. I've curated quite the stash of her older fabrics, loved using Spirit Animal in my Mandolin quilt, bought nearly all of the All Stars fabrics and found a love of fussy cutting. In summer this year, she released a Halloween line called De La Luna. We don't really celebrate Halloween in our house, but Mia is fascinated by it (helped along by Fireman Sam's Spooky Adventures...). And the fabric range didn't scream to me. Until I started seeing it used in Brimfield blocks. This is an English Paper Pieced, curved, block with a great opportunity for a large fussy cut in the centre.

And it just so happened that I had an open order with a fabric shop in the US, and adding on a fat quarter bundle was very reasonable. My plan was to order a fat quarter bundle from the US, and then order a few extra pieces once available in the UK. I could use those extra pieces to put together a single, test, block, and see if I liked it. If I didn't like it, there would be plenty of opportunity to sell the complete fat quarter bundle at a later date.

When the fabric was released, inevitably I loved it! I still feel that some of the fabrics (the eyes) need to be used sparingly and carefully so the quilt doesn't freak me out, but generally speaking, the colours are fabulous, and it's a little bit Harry Potter-esque... (which is ALWAYS a good thing  - get it?). This weekend, with Halloween approaching, I finish that first block.

My plan is to make 12 blocks in total (once appliqued each one will be about 16" square). and I'm going to construct the quilt in the same way I constructed Round We Go - applique each block as I go, and quilt each block as I go, then pop it all together nice and easily at the end to get to a quilt 48" x 64". But I can't decide what colour background fabric to use. I did some mock ups, using just the one block - but each block will be pieced differently.

I think I've narrowed it down to two options: all black, or a black and pink chequerboard. Maybe I'll buy the pink I need whilst I can (it's a Tula Pink Designer Solid in Cosmo), and then make a few more blocks before I actually decide. I think it's safe to say this quilt will not be finished for Halloween 2018, and is looking unlikely for Halloween 2019!

Oh and yes, I loved and bought a full fat quarter bundle, and then some, of Tula Pink's Zuma, which was released recently, and I'm pretty sure the new range, which we're seeing sneak peaks of, Pinkerville, will also be added to my collections - I means, it's got unicorns in it! And whilst baby number three is looking like it will be a blue one, I still have two girls who love unicorns (and boys can love unicorns too).

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Sloths and Unicorns [A Finish]

Sloths and Unicorns - not a common combination.... but they happen to be my sister-in-law's two favourite things, so why not put the two together in a quilt? Especially when a favourite designer has two very good patterns! My sister-in-law, Jane, turned 30 this year - back in June, if I'm honest, but quilted gifts made by me are rarely on time! Earlier in the year, I showed her the Lisa the Unicorn pattern by Elizabeth Hartman, and some very unsubtle comments were made about how she'd love a quilt like that! I then remembered the sloths pattern and asked her which she preferred. The obvious answer was that she liked them both!

She also likes pink. Pink and grey seemed a reasonably workable palette, so I give you Sloths and Unicorns in pink and grey (with a bit of glitz for the unicorn's horns)!

The Elizabeth Hartman patterns are, as always, fabulous. Both of these blocks are more involved than many of her other patterns, but they finish up as 24"/26", so I only needed two of each. And all of the fabric, except the pink border, came out of my stash, which is another win!

The quilt is entirely double sided - my mother-in-law pieced the reverse using an Alice in Wonderland layer cake (another of her favourite things), with a few extra squares from my stash. It's quilted in an all-over stipple using pale pink variegated Aurifil thread. It's been sitting waiting to be quilted since the end of May - I just didn't have the energy. When I finally made the effort to get it done, it only took a few hours but felt like a huge accomplishment.

The bright pink binding wasn't in my stash, but I think it finishes the quilt off beautifully! The quilt finishes at 60" x 60" and is another finish from my Q4 finish along list, which you can find here.

Marci Girl Designs

Monday, 22 October 2018


You may recall that for the last two years I've participated in the Instagram-based quilt-along for Tula Pink's City Sampler hosted by Gnome Angle. The basic premise is that that you post a block a day from the book in order each day for 100 days. And of course by day 100 you have a pile of 6" blocks!

The 2016 blocks remain in piles, unsashed and unfinished. However,the 2017 blocks were finished quite promptly after the end of the sew-along as Christmas quilts for Mia and Jess. The 2018 quilt-along started in July when I was feeling particularly rough with this pregnancy, but I forced myself to join in - it was the push I needed to do at least a little bit of sewing, and I figured that by the end of Summer, my energy and sewjo would be back and I would regret not joining in. My energy and sewjo are only just coming back now, as we post our final blocks, but I don't regret joining in at all. I'm glad I did some sewing over the summer!

Rather than start a new project, which I knew would get me in trouble with The Committee, I decided to earn some brownie points with The Committee and use this opportunity to make progress on a quilt I started *a while ago*.... I've looked back through blog posts and it would seem that this start was pre-Mia - January 2014! I started making 6" blocks in Architextures and Botanics fabrics by Carolyn Friedlander. I made 28 blocks using patterns from a variety of sources, and then didn't touch them again.

But 100 days after picking them up again (and adding in some of Carolyn's later fabric lines), I now have 130 blocks and this layout. And it's all pieced! I confess that I didn't love it at first, but it's definitely growing on me!

Now all I need to do is get this quilt finished - pick a backing, buy some wadding and quilt it! Not adding sashing definitely helped me get to this point. And it's on my Q4 Finish Along list!

Friday, 19 October 2018

Bjorn Bear [A Group Finish]

Back in April this year, a sewing friend had a baby boy. Four of us decided that this called for a quilt! We settled on the Bjorn Bear pattern, and started by selecting a backing fabric and working with the colours from there - duck egg blue, orange and grey (to match his nursery).

We split the piecing of the bears between us, Jules sashed it, I quilted it (just a cross hatch), Rose bound it, and Dona created the label!

It so happened that the backing fabric we picked also comes in peach, so we bough a half meter of this colour-way and made his big sister a matching cushion! This is such a good pattern and I love the bear's glasses! I'm making a rainbow version for a different baby and I have to say, even as a rainbow lover, this quilt definitely looks better in a limited colour palette... I need to do something about the other quilt, but I haven't decided what yet... so no photo!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Sewing Date Traveller [A Finish]

I have to confess that when I first wrote my Finish Along list for this quarter, I wasn't sure if this project would actually be made, let along be one of my first finishes! But here is my finished Sewing Date Traveller! I first came across the pattern at the start of the summer and mentally added it to my list of one-day-I'd-like-to-make things. Then at the Sewing Shindig, I saw a few in real life, and it was added to the list for certain. I'd already picked up some Essex Yarn Dyed Linen with this project in mind, and the Shindig weekend convinced me to use Tula Pink's Zuma for the rest of it. This can be blamed on @rosedahlia who made a beautiful Sew Together bag in Zuma over the weekend, and Olive and Flo Handcraft who had a pop up shop with, you guessed it, Zuma!

The interfacing on this project scared me a bit - and was the main reason I wasn't sure it would get done. The pattern  (which is free!) calls for Pellon 65 which I couldn't source in this country. It was suggested that Soft and Stable would be a good alternative, but that's not cheap (for the 2m called for in the pattern, the price was heading towards £50!). I did some research at Shindig, and felt up a few bags and baskets, and decided that Bosal R was very similar. And much cheaper. And wider, so I needed less of it! Winner! I bought a meter for under £17 and maybe have enough left to make another one!

I cut all the fabric and interfacing out before our NEMQG Retreat, and quilted the outer panels in organic lines in pink thread. This meant when I arrived on retreat I was ready for construction! My machine was not keen on multiple layers of the interfacing, and I swore quite a lot, but a change of needle helped (quilting needle). I managed to get my top-stitching finished neatly and all the pockets attached. However, the side seams and boxing seams were a bit of a nightmare.... the centre zipped pocket also has Bosal R in it, making it very stiff and hard to get accurately under the machine. If I made this again, I would use a heavyweight, but not foam interfacing for this pocket, as I don't think it needs as much structure, but those seams do need to be better!

I had a bit of an issue with the handles... as in I didn't cut the fabric correctly and didn't bring it with me to recut. Luckily the binding fabric is cut far longer so I had plenty left over to patch the handles, and actually ended up making them about 2" longer than the pattern called for. I didn't however, making the interfacing in the handles longer, which means where the handles meet the bag and are sewn in the lining, I was one layer of Bosal down on what I should have been, which I think allowed for a much tidier finish at this point. Definitely a "mistake" I will be repeating should I make it again!

The lining was a bit large for the basket, but I folded it down and tacked it in place before adding the binding, which in turn made the binding much easier to attach. It's finished off by hand sewing the binding on the inside.

I love it! I can fill it with so much crap. It's easy to carry, and feels sturdy. It was like I gave myself a present and I'm already using it. And whilst it seemed like a big make when I first started, the techniques are straightforward and once prepped, it only took me maybe 6 hours to get it all together. Whilst I said at the time, I would never make one again, a few days have now passed and there may well be more in the future. There are also great opportunities for personalising it, especially on those external pockets!

This is my second finish of the quarter - you can find my original list here.

Marci Girl Designs

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Another Retreat and a Wee Braw Bag [A Finish]

A promised in my Finish Along Q4 plan post, the wee braw bag is my first finish of the quarter. It was made as a swap for our North East Modern Quilt Guild Retreat, which took place last weekend. We spent the weekend in a beautiful cottage in the Northumberland countryside, sewing and eating cake. The cottage kitchen/diner was perfect for sewing with a big table, space for a few extra tables, a sofa for hand sewing and tonnes of floor space for laying out blocks. And there was a separate living room for Strictly! Everyone was very productive and the projects we were all working on were gorgeous. We won't discuss the spiders at length, suffice to say they were HUUUUUUGE!

Picture stolen from @lupilotty cause I forgot to take any photos of the cottage
But back to the Wee Braw Bag....I was making for Tina, who I know very well, but that didn't make it any easier to pick out fabrics. Until I remembered I had this sugar skulls fabric (it's from Michael Miller, but there was no other information on the bit of the selvage I had left). I teamed it with some solid pale blue, and a bright pink fro Libs Elliot's Mix Tape range, and some black tone on tone for the lining.

I didn't have enough of the feature print to use it for the main body of the bag, so used it as an accent on the front pocket, and then appliqued the scraps onto the reverse with some embroidery stitches in Finca #16 Perle Thread. I even pressed it after I'd taken this photo!

I couldn't believe how smoothly and quickly the bag went together, and the resulting pouch is a really satisfying size, that sits open beautifully. Mega useful!

I added some chocolates and a pretty pair of scissors as the little gist inside - Tina has a bit of a thing for scissors! Sarah @lupilotty made a Wee Braw Bag for me - Alison Glass and hexagons! Perfect. And a Unicorn, which I will not be sharing. And chocolate. Ditto.

And here are all six of the swapped items together - it was amazing how many of us used pink for the casing at the top of the pouch!

The Wee Braw Bag pattern is by Laura Cunningham and comes with two size options. This is the larger option, but I definitely fancy trying out the smaller one soon!

This is a finish from my Finish Along list - you can find that list here.

Marci Girl Designs

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Sewing Folio and Needlecase

If you have read my previous blog post, you'll know I've recently attended the Sewing Shindig retreat in Shropshire. Part of the retreat was a swap between Room Mates. You can see what Andrea made for me in my original retreat post. So here's what I made for Andrea. We decided to keep things simple as I'm lacking in energy and she was lacking in time, so we agreed on one pouch from Aneela's Stitched Sewing Organizers book, and then a couple of little extras to go with it. I started by making the fold-up sewing folio.

I wasn't sure of Andrea's tastes in fabrics, so I thought this print was inoffensive and pretty. I then went a bit bolder and paired it with lime green and a coral!

I also made a matching needlecase - the pattern is from the same book.

And I added some delicious chocolate truffles! I have made both of these items in the past for myself and find them very useful - I hope she does too!