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Busy week

May 8, 2011 Leave a comment

.. well, it feels like it’s been busy, anyway! Only 4 days at work, but it’s flown by. I managed to finish a few things though – first a couple of little tote bags for a friend

The red one has a lovely spotty lining and a few yo-yos on the front. I love red, white and aqua together, and I had some material left over from the aqua and white striped lining of the leaflet bag I made last week  so I decided to use that along with some spare red and white spotty lining and some matching teal and white spotty fabric that I had laying around (my fabric stash is overflowing the storage space now, but it’s great that I can usually find some bits and pieces for whatever I’m working on – well, that’s what I tell myself anyway!)

Yo-yos (also known as Suffolk puffs (steady!) or Rosettes) are really easy to make – they’re just circles of fabric turned over at the edge with a running stitch and then you pull the stitches up, so that the material gathers up and sew them flat onto your project, gathered side up. Amy Butler Designs has a great free quilt pattern which uses them, as you can see here 

I saw a version of this quilt at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC a few weeks ago , along with lots of lovely ladies who were busy making things from a range of Amy Butler fabrics and applying yo-yo’s to them (wonder what else I can stick them on???) You can see the ones I made a bit more clearly here – really pleased with how they turned out! The first ones I made were about the size of smarties, so if you plan on having a go cut your circles out quite large to begin with, so that you end up with decent size yo-yos. Some of the ones on the Amy Butler quilt are huge!

The other bag uses some of my favourite pink fabric – Charlie has a shoebag made out of it, and I’ve made a few other things from it too – it’s a great colour and it has a nice heavyweight feel to it. I think it’s a Kona cotton – the cloth store in town stocks a few of the Kona colours, but not all – luckily this is one of them. I’ve also used some of my favourite lining fabric, a purple and white large check gingham, which you will have seen cropping up on a few of the things I’ve made lately (ooh, let’s see – christening quilt, bunting, cot bumper, shoebags – I could go on…) -I think it always looks nice and crisp.

In fact, talking about versatile – here’s that gingham again on a blanket I made this week for Charlie’s teacher, who has just left school to go on maternity leave

I bought a piece of white fleece fabric and used the gingham to bind it – I just love it with white, so pretty! There was also plenty of it left over to cut some circles out of and applique them onto the fleece, along with some other lilac and green scraps,  some of which are bits from the first quilt I made, for Charlie – lilac and green work so well together.

The blanket turned out a bit more complicated than I expected  – I cut the circles out to start with, in various sizes and then pinned them to the fleece. I did intend to turn the edges under and then sew them on, but as I was a bit short of time (I always seem to be a bit last minute with these things!), I tried just sewing the circles on with a running stitch at the edge. This left the circles a bit floppy in the middle, though, so I unpicked them and ironed them flat again – then I decided to fuse them on with bondaweb, so I cut some circles of that out and stuck it to the fabric circles and then tried ironing them to the fleece – I was really worried I was going to burn the fleece though, and some the sticky stuff ended up on the iron – aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgh! I got there in the end, though and all the circles were stuck down with no burn marks (phew!).

I wasn’t sure what to do next, so I put some invisible thread on the sewing machine, with some white cotton in the bobbin and tried free motion embroidering a seam around the edges of a couple. That was ok – a bit wonky, but ok – but it still looked a bit boring, so on the next couple I tried doing spirals – and even though my sewing is still a bit wonky, I’m really pleased with how they turned out – they look a bit like lollipops 🙂

I got the blanket finished in time to give to Charlie’s teacher anyway – hope she likes it!

I had a go at some more free motion embroidery this week – on this cushion cover for another friend

I took this picture before snipping all the threads between the letters and, as you can see, I’ve just moved the needle from one letter to the next as I’ve gone around the picture. I’ve seen a lot of work done in this style (think Poppy Treffry amongst others) and have really admired it. It looks simple and rustic but I was expecting it to be quite hard to do – in the end, though, it wasn’t too bad and I was happy with how this turned out too. Most of the time, I think you just have to give things a go and you’ll probably surprise yourself.

Before I started I did a bit of browsing on the internet and found some useful posts on raw edge free motion applique (sounds thrilling, doesn’t it – sky diving or raw edge free motion applique – not much to choose between them, is there – edge of your seat stuff this!) As in anything else, people have their own ways of doing it – some use embroidery hoops, some use a stabiliser on the back, some alter the tension. I just dropped the feed dogs on the machine and put in a darning foot – I lef the tension where it normally is (a 3 on my machine, which is the middle setting) – I did turn the stitch length down to ‘0’ though, which I saw recommended and which I haven’t done before. I’m not sure what difference it makes, except that with the setting at 0, the stitch length is entirely down to how fast you move the material under the needle – I think I like it, so I’ll try that again 🙂

    Here’s a close up of the little house – so chuffed with this! Now, what can I try next?