Monday, 5 March 2018

Chugging along

I've been working away on the My Small World quilt, all the components of part three are complete and just need to be stitched together, after I've checked the measurements that is.

Looking at the photo there is one section that I'm not totally happy with, as I think there might be a better fabric choice somewhere in my stash.  It will be a fairly easy fix as it is only a couple of bits of fabric that need to be swapped.

There are a few bits of applique and other handwork in this quilt so while I was at the SA Modern Quilters sit and sew at Hettie's Patch I occupied myself stitching together hexagons (½" ones this time) for the hill in part five, the clamshells below are for part six which I hope to start on tomorrow.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

365 Challenge scraps sorted

It took me about an hour to sort and clip all the scraps of fabric for my 365 Challenge, and then I made the block above, it was so much easier as I first looked in the scraps to see if I had a piece that was the same (or a similar) size and then I just needed to trim to the right size and start sewing.  I wish I had done this before, although it has used up a lot of my Clover clips.

I've also been thinking that I should be finishing a few things off instead of looking to start something new.  The SA Quilters' Guild Festival of Quilts will once again be held in conjunction with The Sewing, Stitching & Handcraft Show on July 6-8 2018  and I always like to enter at least one quilt to support the guild.  I often hear people say their quilts aren't good enough to enter but it isn't a competition it is an exhibition and without members' quilts we wouldn't have a show each year.

So with that in mind I pulled out the My Small World quilt which I started in May 2015  it suits me to work on this now as it is another quilt with small piecing and my brain seems to prefer small piecing at this time.  It isn't a large quilt - only 33" by 52" so I'm about halfway there with three more full sections to make plus this one which I'm about quarter of the way through, it is mainly flying geese and various blocks that have to be made in this section so nothing too onerous. 

I didn't follow the pattern exactly for this part as I couldn't be bothered with y seams, it was a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle.  I had forgotten about all the small squares that make up the sky, they may be swapped out for some more larger squares, will see how I feel when it comes to stitching that part together.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Falling behind

The past week I had fallen behind with the 365 Challenge blocks, I told myself that it didn't really matter as I was still working on the 365 Challenge because I was making the centre block and the borders that surround it.

Even though the blocks are small (3½") some of them take longer to make than others :(
The bottom left was one that took a little too long, which meant it was a pleasure to make the two right hand side blocks, they were done in less than 30 minutes.
Now that I am up to date with the 365 Challenge I need to have a bit of a tidy up, all those small pieces of fabric tend to pile up and make a bit of a mess.  I have been keeping the larger pieces of fabric folded on a tray and the small ones in that red basket, but I think a different system might be required for the smaller pieces.

I think I will try clipping the same fabrics together, then put them on a tray.  My usual method of finding the right scrap is to tip the basket on the floor and scrabble through looking for the right sized piece, if they are clipped together it should make it a bit easier and there will be no threads to vacuum up.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

A finish

My first finish for the year!!  Very happy with how my Goin' Uptown Tote turned out.  I'm not sure if I will make another one anytime soon as it was quite hard on my hands manipulating all the layers of the bag at certain stages of the construction.

The inside of the bag, I added another pocket on the other side, after all you can never have too many pockets.

Plenty of room in here, I have my iPad, a drink bottle, my Necessary clutch and a small zip pouch in there.  I could probably fit plenty more in but I'm a fan of minimal contents in my bags and I do have to carry it as well.

My phone (iPhone7) fits into either of the side pockets perfectly, there is about one inch leeway at the top and the same each side so no worries about it getting lost in there.

The bag closed up, I added a litte zipper pull, not sure if I will leave it there or put it on one of the side pockets. Instead of sewing the handles down I used Chicago Screws similar to these for fixing the handles on, if for some reason I need to change the handles then it should be an easy fix.

I gave my bag two coats of Scotchgard which will (I hope) keep it a bit cleaner. I don't think that my Necessary clutch really works with the fabrics in this bag, but I think I might have just enough of the Alison Glass and Essex linen fabric to make another one, not just yet though, I'm a bit over bag making.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A bit more catching up

Finally I'm caught up, I've finished with bag sewing for a while so I changed my needle and thread back  to my usual sewing set up so I can get on with some other stitching.

We are now making variations of quarter square triangle units, I think they will get smaller yet, will have to wait and see.

I printed out a calendar so I can cross off each day as I make the block, much easier than trying to remember where I'm up to.  Even though I save the emails sometimes I forget to delete them after making the block and then get a bit confused as to which block to make.

This is what I have made so far, we will be making 6" blocks to go in the corners and then I think there is a large centre block.  I just threw the blocks on my design wall, when it comes time to put them together I will probably move some around.  I'm liking how the black is creating different secondary patterns.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Playing catch up

My stitching time during the weekend was mainly spent catching up with the 365 Challenge blocks although I did manage to spend a bit of time on my Goin' Uptown tote.

There were a lot of triangles in a couple of these blocks (the ones on the right hand side of the photo) and the blocks seemed to take longer than usual.  The block for today was easy  (the bottom left of the photo) it took me longer to thread the machine up than it took to stitch it.  I'm hoping the next few blocks are easy ones too.

After changing threads on my machine I started on the recessed zipper pocket, I'm pleased with the way it has turned out as this was the first time with this particular technique.  I didn't read the instructions properly and marked the cutting and stitching lines incorrectly on the right side of the fabric instead of the wrong side, you can just make them out on the lining fabric in the photo below.  I figure that as it is inside the pocket it isn't really going to make a difference. 

This fusible web from Clover has been a real help, I've used it quite a bit instead of pinning and it has made the sewing on some of the fiddly bits much easier than using pins, Clover clips or glue. It pulls apart quite easily if you need to readjust something before you stitch.  I know there are other types of  fusible web around but this was all I could get at the time.  You just need to make sure you take the paper off before fusing :)

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Very happy with the progress on my bag today, it is looking exactly how I hoped it would.

I was able to use my blind stitch foot for a nice straight topstitch, I move the machine needle to the left, line up the blade with the seam and start stitching.  I find it works quite well although care needs to be taken when approaching thicker seams which is where this clever tool comes in handy.

I deviated from the pattern instructions, instead of cutting separate pieces of fusible fleece I waited until I had the front and back panels completed, then fused Matilda's Own Fusible Foam to the complete panels. The panels are nice and smooth and I didn't have to worry about stitching through thick seams.

Completed front and back panels

I topstitched through all the layers, it was fairly thick so I stitched slowly and used a size 16 needle.  In previous bag making attempts I have probably gone too fast and used a needle that was the wrong size. I've found when sewing thick layers the machine copes better when a stitch length of 3.00 is used and for topstitching 3.50 works well (plus if any unpicking is required it is a lot easier)

The back of the panel after topstitching.

After more pressing, the piping was put on ready for the next stage - making the side gussets and the base, which is then stitched on to the front and back panels.  I'm hoping that part won't be too difficult and then I can progress on to making the bag lining.

Monday, 29 January 2018

A long, hot weekend

The long weekend has come and gone, we had three days of "the hot" (40°/104°F plus) so it was go slow time, a lot of reading interspersed with a bit of bag preparation and some stiching of my 365 Challenge blocks.

I cut all the fabric and interfacing pieces for my Goin' Uptown Tote and decided that I would do a bit of the fusing as well. Most of the fusing was done in the morning while it was still reasonably cool, I did start some fusing late in the afternoon but decided to stop as it was just too unpleasant labouring away over the hot iron.

all good to go

The pattern came with a page of labels to cut up, they were very useful as they allowed me to keep track of where I was up to in the cutting out and for a final check to ensure everything was cut, fused and ready to sew.

Making this bag will be a slow process, it is slightly more complicated than other bags I have made and there are a couple of different techniques (inset zipper) that I have not tried before.  Today I tackled the outside zip pockets, and they are finished and ready.  The next part to make is the outer panels and the fixed handles and then I get to stitch the panels to the pockets.

As I write this I can hear some very welcome rain on the roof, the temperature has dropped markedly and there is a lovely cool breeze flowing through the house.  We have been enjoying some beautiful sunsets lately, this photo was taken from the back yard a few nights ago.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

A finish of a kind

While swiping through Instagram a few weeks ago I came across this post from @lorena_in_sydney
Sadly I was a couple of weeks too late reading it so couldn't purchase a kit, but I remembered that I had some of the very same letter fabric  (a Cotton and Steel 2014 release by Melody Miller, from the Playful collection - Wordfind in Navy), I had a magnetic name tag badge which I had bought a year or so ago with a vague idea of using it for another name badge I had made (I went with the easier option of stitching on a brooch pin instead) and I had a packet of 1/4" paper hexies (purchased for a project that is long forgotten) so I was all set to make my name badge.

hexie name badge with a Clover clip for scale

I made a little fussy cutting viewer from card and started marking out hexies.  In one way it was quite easy to make but in another way it was a PITA, mainly because of the tiny hexies which were awkward to glue baste to the paper pieces and then to stitch together.  I used a Clover clip to hold the hexies together for stitching which made it somewhat easier.  I added some interfacing to add body r and also stitched some felt on the back, I think it looks really cute.

My next project will be the Goin' Uptown Tote by Andrie Designs. The exterior fabric is picked out  - an Essex linen and some Alison Glass Ex Libris, the piping will be either black or charcoal grey (so it won't show the dirt) and the lining fabrics have yet to be chosen.  This coming weekend is a long weekend so I hope to make some progress on this bag.

The latest batch of the 365 Challenge blocks, these have started off with a simple half square triangle (HST) block and then moved on to variations of HST blocks, I think there will be a few more HST blocks to come.

Friday, 19 January 2018


 I have made falafel twice in the last week, they are fairly easy to make so long as you remember soak the dried chickpeas the night before.  Falafel make a nice addition to a vegetarian meal and this recipe is also a good option for the gluten intolerant.


150g dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
500g packet of frozen broadbeans (defrost then remove the tough, outer pod) or
300g shelled fresh broadbeans (or 150g dried, skinless broadbeans soaked in water overnight)¹
1 ½ cups coriander leaves and stems ²
1 clove garlic grated                               1 tsp chilli paste or you can use cayenne pepper instead
3 tsp ground coriander                           3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ medium onion, chopped finely
Oil for deep frying

The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas, (if using dried broadbeans do the same) place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely minced (not too fine, you still want a bit of texture)

Make small balls or patties and place on a tray lined with baking paper, chill well and then deep fry in hot oil, (182-190°C/360-375°F) about 3 minutes per side or until they are golden brown. Remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon.  Drain on paper towels, best served hot

Serve with yogurt or hummus (I used this recipe)


¹ I used a 500g packet of frozen broadbeans, once the tough outer pod is removed there will be a bit more than 300g of broadbeans.  I have also made falafel without taking off the tough outer pod, but the falafel aren't as nice.

² I roughly chop the coriander and put into a measuring jug, close enough is good enough.  Parsley is also another option.

The first few times I made these they started to fall apart when being deep fried, I found that by chilling or even freezing the falafel, they kept their shape when deep frying. 

I do my deep frying in a wok, it doesn't take too much oil and there is a larger surface area so I only need to do two batches.