Dec 14, 2012

Singer bag sewing love

The Janome's packed away for a bit, so this little girl has come out for a while.  Oiling her seems to take forever, but I love it.  Feels like I'm getting to know all the little bits that make her run (unlike the modern machines).  And she's been making bags.

Of course more of the Michelle Patterns Grocery Bags that I've been making lately.

This one's a medium size as I wanted a little left over tree fabric from my half yard.  I wish I bought more of it.

The lining fabric is a very thin weight cotton from Spotlight (no, not a remnant!).  I love scratchy look black fabric, but I wish it was a heavier weight though.  The trees are from Robert Kaufman's City Centre range.

I also made the smallest size in blue.

Blue spot from Spotlight a couple of years ago and floral fabric from a Big W remnant.

Here's a size comparison:

I'm still loving the pattern and I love sewing it on my Singer 222k.  Beautiful little stitches (as long as the bobbin's wound well!).  I should make a bag to actually fit the Singer in as the box she came in has truly had it (she's been living in a plastic bag of late).  I've heard people use cooler bags to store them in as they're padded.  I might look into that and toss the unusable broken box.

By the way, my Janome is no longer in time out due to it's self sewing behaviour - I worked out the foot pedal was on an uneven bit of flooring and that caused the poltergeist sewing.  Put the pedal on nice flat floor and all seems well (for now).  I've put her away so that my other machines get a look in (and therefore a little maintenance) every now and then.

So, should I make some more of these?  I usually have about eight 'green' bags with me when I do my weekly shop, so a few more won't hurt right?  I can use my ugliest fabric that will never be a quilt!

Dec 11, 2012

Authentic Plus Quilt Top

My quilt top is finally pieced!  It hasn't been ironed yet - I know it's going to be painful on my tiny ironing board, so I'll wait until I have the backing and batting sorted.  I was a little lazy with my seams, so let me just say it's not my best work.  I really needed this done quickly as I'm sick of having my winter bed cover still on.  The worst seams are on the green fabric for some reason.  Maybe it stretched more than the others.  In some spots there's more than a quarter inch seam difference around the green fabric and then it somehow sorts itself out for the rest of the row.  I thought about unpicking, but it doesn't bother me and I can live with it - moaning and groaning done.

I'm really loving the colours and all the text and number prints.  I left off all the chunky text fabrics though as I don't think they really worked.  I can't wait to see this finished and on my bed.

Now to just find somewhere in my house to do the quilt sandwich - and someone to do a little babysitting!

Dec 3, 2012

teacher gift fail

Hello again.  Second round of teacher sewing here.  I knew I'd want to keep the grocery bag I made last week, so I made something new.  Pity I didn't reset the tension knob after doing the gathers and all the stitching is quite loose.  I blame school pick up for interrupting me.

This very cute little zipped pouch is Noodlehead's Gathered Clutch.  Very easy to sew - this is the second (ever!) non separating zip I've sewn with.


See those loose stitches on the lining?  They make me very sad.

Will the teacher notice?  Probably not, but I don't want it to fall apart on her.  It's not the biggest pouch - only pencil case size, so the fabric will get pushed and tugged a lot.

I love this fabric.  There was only about half a metre of it left at Spotlight on the weekend.  I did get it for 80 cents though (love a remnant).  It's cotton drill and luckily there's plenty left over for the next one I plan to make to give to the teacher...  Practice makes perfect!

Nov 25, 2012

Buy a pattern for $5 and make bags forever

It's been a weekend for bags.  And pot holders.

The big guy asked for a bag - one for his Pokemon books of course.  He dug through the plastic fabric tubs and decided he wanted the monochrome fish.  No worries - white is such easy going fabric choice for a six year old.

Anyway, the fishy fabric is from Spotlight.  It's cotton drill that I bought about six months ago just because I liked it.  The bag is almost as big as he is.  Spotlight has some really amazing drill fabric prints now by the way.

No pattern, just a couple of rectangles for the body and leftover strips for the wide handles.  Sewn with French seams (so no fraying!).

The next bag is the Grocery Bag from Michelle Patterns.  I bought this and the Two Zip Hipster pattern during the week on sale for $5 each.  I love her patterns (remember the Messenger Bag addiction I had?).  Thank you for the bargains (and great patterns) Michelle!

This is the second one I made,  I think this might become a teacher present.  I say might because I really love the fabric.  It's Summersville by Lucie Summers for Moda.  I have a little bit more so I could possibly make another.  I love the fact it's reversible.

It just makes you want to colour it in hey?
The black fabric is a remnant from Big W -  you know those bundled up ones that give you no idea about the fabric content.  I liked the swirly white spots on black.

This is the first one I made.  It has windmills and little red pigs on it.  It fits quite a lot of stuff in it.  At least as much as those 'green' bags you get at the supermarkets.  I will be making a few of these to replace my current set (which are not washable).  I wonder how the checkout people will like them in Coles?

And lastly, I made a couple of pot holders from the book Zakka Style.  I actually bought the book only for this pattern.  They're not too bad (except I got lazy and machine sewed the bias binding - which then turned out a little ugly because I never end it properly).  I think these might be sized for men's hands though, as they seem a little bit big and the hand holding pockets at the back are a little loose.  Next time I'll make them smaller.  I even added some insulated batting to the quilt sandwich so I can use them as trivets instead.

There you go.  It's amazing the things you can sew when the kids mostly behave nicely on the weekend.  I just need to get stuck into my bed quilt as it has gone nowhere!

Nov 14, 2012

What I've been cooking lately: Dark Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti

Another biscuit I can't stop making.  Just like the Walnut Crescents they taste better as they get older!  I love the combination of slightly sweet dark chocolate and sour cranberries.  I also make these with white chocolate and cranberries (which the kids love) or dark chocolate and roasted hazelnuts (use about 150g of roasted and chopped nuts), yum!

These being nut free make them great for a school lunch box treat.  You can easily reduce the amount of sugar (to about 3/4 cup), especially when you use white chocolate.  I'm thinking of making dried apricot and white chocolate next.

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti

80g butter
1 cup castor (superfine) sugar (or 3/4 cup if you use a very sweet chocolate)
grated rind of one orange (or lemon)
few drops of vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups of plain flour
1 and 1/4 cup of self raising flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
150g dried cranberries (or roasted and chopped nut of your choice)
200g dark chocolate chips (use less if you wish)

Beat the butter, sugar, rind and vanilla together for a minute in a mixer (or by hand if you're feeling up to it).  Add the eggs followed by the rest of the ingredients.  The mixture will be sticky.

Divide the mixture into 4 and make logs with them on a lined baking sheet (see the photos above).  Flour your hands if the mix is too sticky.  Bake the logs at 180 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes, or until it is lightly golden brown and mostly firm.  Leave out to cool for a few minutes.  Lower the temperature in your oven to about 150 degrees.

Remove the logs onto a cutting board and slice them about half an inch thick.  Replace back on the tray with a small space between them.  Let them dry out in the oven for about another 20 minutes.  Open the door to the oven regularly to let out steam and don't let them burn!

Cool and enjoy the next day (if possible)!  They last for ages in an airtight container.

Nov 10, 2012

What I've been cooking lately: Walnut Crescents

I can't stop making biscuits lately.  These are biscuits I ate on special occasions growing up.  They're beautiful to look at and taste better the older they become.  My eldest has become addicted to them.  They go great with a coffee as well.

Here's the (lovingly handed down family) recipe:

Walnut Crescents

200g butter
80g castor (superfine) sugar
350g plain flour
200g finely processed walnuts (or pecans if you like)
few drops of vanilla extract
rind of one orange or lemon
2 egg whites (medium sized)
icing sugar (powdered) for coating at the end

I also like to add half a teaspoon of cinnamon (I sneak this into most recipes) but this is optional.

Mix it all together (except for the icing sugar) in a mixer or by hand.  Roll small walnut sized balls into crescent shapes - make them as small or as large as you like! Place them on a baking paper covered tray.

Bake them at 170 degrees until they are lightly brown and firm (time will vary depending on the size you made them).  Leave them to cool for a couple of minutes and then smother them with icing sugar.  Let them cool on a plate.

They taste pretty bland on the first day, so try to wait.  They last for weeks in an airtight container (if they're not all eaten first).

My other favourite biscuit recipe will be coming along soon, and it's much lower in fat!

Nov 9, 2012

One pillow is dressed

Yeah!  I've done my first quilted pillow sham.  It was super easy - quilted top piece with two squares of overlapping fabric for the envelope back, sandwiched between some regular binding.  All sewn right side out, so no hard to turn corners!

I added a little red binding to the back edge to add some interest.  It fits perfectly, but I forgot to make it a little bigger to allow for shrinkage in the wash.  I'll remember for my next one - it's going to have little owls on it.  

This is all the sewing I've done this week as my Janome has gone crazy.  It's been sewing on its own, without my foot on the pedal.  The only way to stop it is to turn it off.  Sigh.  I've pulled apart the pedal and it's all clean, so I don't know what the problem is.  I don't think I'll ever buy a computerised sewing machine again - too much to go wrong.  I might make it jealous and use another machine for a while to see if it gets better... doubt it though! 

Nov 1, 2012

Quilt Complete

The Lumiere de Noel sofa quilt is now finally bound, washed and complete!

It's 57 x 77 inches in size.  It needed to be a couple of inches bigger to fully cover the sofa seat cushions.  Oh well.  I'm going to make another quilt for the wing back chair with the same design, but it won't be any bigger as I've run out of fabric.

And now for a little look at my baby quilt progress.  I've been thinking about setting up an Etsy or Madeit store but I've been procrastinating.  If you search for baby quilts on Etsy you get over 22 000 results, so hmm I might just see.

Here are some in various stages of completion:

The pink hourglass quilt is ready for the binding to be hand sewn.

And I know I wasn't going to buy more fabric (and use what I have) but I couldn't pass up 40% off quilting fabric at Spotlight on the weekend.  These half metres of solids came home with me and a bit of camo drill for some boy shorts too.  I could have gone crazy but I was there with the kids.  There's only so many bolts of fabric you can balance on the sun visor of a Maclaren stroller.

And this little lamb was shorn, poor thing - I never know how to do his fringe (or now lack thereof).  I think kids hair grows too fast!

Oct 25, 2012

Quilts in use

Just thought I'd share photos of the boy's bed quilts in use, if only to encourage me to make matching pillow shams.

Bed one, starring Barney the dog, a kiwi and Pikachu.

They're actually red gingham not pink sheets (not that there's anything wrong with that)!

Bed Two, starring a Pukeko and a denim pillow from Spotlight.  No, we aren't from New Zealand.  We have family who like to travel.  The bird does match nicely though.

There you go.  I love them both.  I still want to make another red, white and blue quilt with the leftover fabric - just in case we ever move the boys in together.  No more zig-zags though!

Oct 24, 2012

Getting Ready for December 1

Step 1.  Buy Advent Calendar Panel from Spotlight.  Last year.

Step 2:  Cut out 24 cute little pockets and iron them to death (include burning fingers folding over seam allowances).

Step 3.  Sew all 24 pockets with a two year old on your lap.  Try not to sew his fingers.  Add a little bit of quilting for texture.

Step 4.  Listen to the excited little ones when they see the finished product that's just 12 months overdue (they don't know that).

Step 5.  Work out what teeny tiny things I can put in those microscopic pockets on December 1.  Realise they're even too small for a toy car.

Step 6.  Think about making 24 little treasure maps to fit in each of the pockets for the boys to search for the goodies, as goodies won't fit in those minuscule pockets.

Well, it might not be too practical, but at least I made a matching Christmas decoration - I have the coordinating bunting that I DID make last year. That penguin on day 16 is very cute.

Oct 16, 2012

Finally, a quilt for my bed!

Ok, it's early days.  Only the simple chopping done:  five inch squares of my favourite fabric range ever!

It is of course Authentic by Sweetwater.  This was purchased in my very first online fabric order along with the 1974 fabric for my first quilt.  I purchased this as layer cakes, I wish I bought the fat quarter set now as I might not have enough.  I paid heaps for it as I bought it here in Australia.  I had no idea about buying fabric half the price overseas... I guess the Aussie dollar wasn't so good back then either.

Anyway, this has always been earmarked for use as a summer quilt for my queen sized bed.  I finally decided on a pattern and had the guts to cut it up (that is, after realising I no longer have a summer bedspread as I threw my old one out instead of washing it at the beginning of the year).  I'm going to make a plus or cross quilt with the five inch squares.  I think it will be 20 x 20 squares in size.  I hope I have enough of each pattern as a 'plus' uses 5 squares of the same pattern.

I'm going to put it together in sections as I have nowhere to lay it out first.  I hope it all works and I hope I like how the black looks with it all.  I'm a white/cream/neutral coloured bed sheet kind of girl, so I hope the dark fabric doesn't dominate too much.

I'm going to take my time with this one as I'm going to have to look at the finished product everyday for a long time.  Really big quilts can be hard to do!

Oct 13, 2012

Pears of Pants

Oh dear, so much for the great effort I was going to put in to the Kids Clothing Week Challenge.  I made a total of five pairs of basic shorts, with not even a matching t-shirt in sight.

These are all destined to be pyjama bottoms as my children won't be allowed to wear them in public.  Fabric for all are cotton jersey from Spotlight.  I love that pear print - I sadly have none left.

Some have faux cuffs as I was too lazy to use the sewing machine.  I feel a bit sad to have missed a good sewing opportunity like KCWC, but first week back at school, exhaustion from lingering sickness and apathy toward tracing new patterns has resulted in the above.  At least I made something, even it it's only one of seven days' worth of sewing!

I did get to take the above kid to a roller skating party today instead of sewing.  I'm terrible at it so he seems to get his balance from his dad.  Love that tiny gap in his smile.

Oct 5, 2012

Baby Quilts *beware* Spot Overload

I've been having heaps of fun putting these together and it feels good to see all that fabric in use, even that tiny bit of owl fabric I had saved.

These are all just simple squares.  I'm thinking about some zig-zags and plus quilts next.  I have some cotton kids IKEA fabric that might be used too.

These ones are ready for quilting and binding.  I really should make more for girls, but boyish ones are more fun.

My sofa quilt even got a look in.  It's been quilted (I tried to stitch in the ditch as best I could for the first time since my first quilt) and is ready for some binding in red.  I used a brown spotted cotton sateen double bed sheet from Spotlight for the back.    It matches the colours perfectly and I got to add in a little spot fabric too.  If you haven't worked it out yet, I adore spots.

I was going to stipple the quilt, but the industrial machine I've been using has decided it no longer wants to do free motion and would rather be a straight stitch only machine once more.  I would get about 10cm of quilting done before the thread around the needle frayed and then broke.  I guess I must have done something to it at some stage and it's really not worth it getting looked at and fixed as it would be a costly home visit.  It's not meant to do that type of thing anyway, so the feed dogs and presser foot are back on.  Luckily she sews straight stitch super fast and beautifully still.

Where did I get all that quilting time you may ask?  Being a slack blogger Sick children on school holidays.  They sat in front of the television watching Howl's Moving Castle and Arrietty over and over.  Arrietty actually makes the little guy sleepy, which is always a bonus when he no longer sleeps in the day.  It's also quite amazing how much sewing you can get done before the kids start asking for breakfast.  I do most of my sewing before 7:30am (the little guy gets up at 6am).  I know when it's time to stop as the little one comes over and turns off my machine.

One exciting thing has happened on the holidays though.  Not the arrival of a new paper aeroplane book (100 paper aeroplanes to make or fly which actually has - disappointingly - only  4 patterns in it) or the single bed quilts I made them actually being used on their beds?

No, the big guy lost his first tooth!  Actually, I ripped it from his mouth.  After I did it he told me he knows I'm the Tooth Fairy and Santa (what? I thought daddy was Santa).  I suspect he's never believed in Santa.  Darn, such a Capricorn (like his mother)!

So, two more days before school starts and I know I won't be spending it in front of a sewing machine.  I may be hunting around for fabric for a small portion of it, but spending the rest of it with the kiddies and my now sick husband.

Whilst filling up a giant bag full of clothes for charity, I had a good look through both of the kids chest of drawers and noticed they are lacking in 'play' pants and have lots of t-shirts.  Luckily next week is the Kids Clothing Challenge, so I'll be making knit shorts, the kind they'll wear around the house and in the sandpit.  I should be looking at patterns but I think I might save money trace my own from what already fits, or  I could go to BigW and buy some for $3, but where's the fun in that?