Tuesday 24 January 2012

The Garden Wall. Embellished Felt.

Hello all, it's been quite yukky here in in the clouds today, snow on the hills, low mist, and wet, wet, wet...So I thought I'd bring you a taste of summer in the shape of my latest felt picture. It started life as a very rough pencil sketch from a little magazine picture. I add a few splodges of colour and scribble a few notes down in the margins.

Next I make my base fabric by wet felting Merino wool. This is always a bit hit and miss as you only have a certain amount of control over the felting process. You can never be totally sure where your fibres will have moved to during all that rubbing and rolling!
As I'm quite a control freak I think it does me good not to have complete control. It makes me have to find ways to work with what I have rather than what I would have liked, which in turn stretches me and makes the whole piece more organic, it has to grow rather than be designed and just made. Once the felt is dry...
the good bit starts...the embroidery! I always have a little panic at the start though, it's that blank piece of paper syndrome; where shall I start, what colour and type of thread shall I use! You wouldn't believe how long I put this bit off sometimes!

Once I have a few patches of embroidery started and I've 'tasted' a few colours, I'm ok.

All these tiny little flowers are made from pure silk which I hand dye myself and then shape and individually stitch into place.

I try not to use too many different embroidery stitches as I don't want the piece to be an 'embroidery' as such. I just need the stitches to add texture and accentuate the shapes and colours already in the felt.

I absolutely love the dry stone wall in this piece, and the little clump of trees in the background, I think they worked really well. I've never done anything 'hard' like the wall before, I've only ever done soft vegetation and flowers so every time I see it I want to dance a little jig while my heart does a little squishy thing in my chest.


Here it is, complete and in all it's glory!
A true Ta daa! moment.

Till next time

love fi x

Saturday 21 January 2012

1930's style patchwork cushion.

Ooo...you are a lovely bunch, thank you for all the Granny Pilley quilt love and Sally...get your great granny's quilt top out and make it into a quilt anyway you can! I'm sure if your great granny had a sewing machine at the time she would have used it. You need to give it life so that it can be loved and used as it was meant to be. Go on you can do it, we're all behind you.
After my first little experiment with joining hexagons by machine I thought I'd have another go, so I used some lovely 1930's style fabrics that I had left over from a previous project.

As you can probably tell by the photos, it's a little bit fiddly, but still certainly quicker than piecing by hand.

This the front before I pressed it.

There we go, pressed and a border attached basically so I could see the hexys framed. I only had a few squares of the 30's fabric, that's why it's only a small patch of hexys.

Not sure what to do next or even what I was making, I cut little 1 x 2 inch rectangles from the scraps of fabric left from each one of the squares that I'd cut the hexys from. (I hate to waste anything, lol.) And then I stitched them together and attached them around the edge. Once I done this my piece was almost large enough to make the front of a cushion cover, so another little trip to my fabric cupboard and another round of edging and I was ready to quilt my piece.

I chose to quilt the patchwork as I don't like to have all the raw edges of the patches inside my cushion cover, I like to have a backing on it so that all those raw edges are hidden away. So as I was putting a backing fabric on I thought I might as well put a piece of wadding in between. I laid my patchwork on a slightly larger piece of wadding and then laid these both on a larger piece of muslin. It's done this way because your work will shrink up slightly as you quilt it and you don't want to find that you're loosing your backing behind the edges of your front!

Once I'd finished quilting the front I trimmed off the excess muslin and wadding and stitched on a simple envelope back, and Bobs your uncle!

A 1930's style patchwork cushion, lovely in the kitchen or perfectly perfect for a little persons playroom, very soft and snuggly.

Next time we really must catch up with some felting before I forget about it completely!

love fi x

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Granny Pilley's patchwork finished at last!

Do you remember many moons ago I found a box of treasure in my local charity shop? The unassuming brown cardboard box had the words 'Granny Pilley's embroidery' written on the side. Words that made my eyes twinkle and my heart race. I could hardly hand over my pennies quick enough to secure the box as my own.

And do you remember this higgledy-piggledy chunk of patchwork hexagons that I found inside that unassuming cardboard box? See... I told you it was a treasure box.
You may even remember that I unpicked and restitched the hexagons adding a border made from fabric I'd also found in a charity shop and a backing made from my Mums old sheet that I dyed pink.Well I have to say if you can remember all that you must have a memory like an elephant! I've just had to check back and I originally showed you 'Granny Pilleys' embroidery box way back in this post in October 2009! How embarrassing that it has taken me sooo long to get it finished. Yes you heard me right I've finally finished the quilt, HOORAY! I did have difficulty quilting it though. I started off quilting by hand and ended up quilting it on the machine and even then I got bored with that too! lol.

I've spent the last few days stitching together strips of fabric for the binding.

Look! How neat is that join? A pleasure to behold for sure!

I pressed it all in half along its entire length, this is the only kind of ironing I do, teehee.

I then pinned the binding to the edge of the quilt.

And stitched it in place moving the needle position on my sewing machine to the right so that I could run the fabric up the edge of the presser foot giving me a 1/4 inch seam. If you can't change the needle position on your machine you can buy a 1/4 inch foot or as you can see in the picture (the grubby beigey patch), stick a strip of masking tape on the foot plate 1/4 inch away from your needle and then use that to guide your fabric against.

I carefully stitched along each edge stopping one 1/4 inch from the end to make a neat corner. (I'll give a link at the end to a fab tutorial for binding quilts) Finally I stopped leaving a gap of about 10 inches and here comes the really clever part.

You trim your strip so that it overlaps exactly the same amount as the width you cut the edging in the beginning. So my edging was 2 and a 1/2 inches wide, so I overlap the ends by 2 and a 1/2 inches.

Then you overlap the two ends like we did when we joined the strips together and stitch at a 45 degree angle. Don't worry the tutorial makes this far simpler than I'm making it look.


Isn't that just perfectly perfect! It's at this point you can dance a little jig if you wish.

Now comes my most favourite part of all! OH how I love doing this bit!

We flip the edging over and...

hand stitch the binding in place allll the waaaay around. Yummy! Don't forget to neaten your corners and stitch them in place too.

Ta daa!

My totally thrifted quilt!

Well where ever Granny Pilley is now I hope she's pleased with what I've done.
She can rest safe in the knowledge that it will have a very happy and useful life here in the MarmaladeRose household and is already loved very much. As promised here is the tutorial I use to bind my quilts, beautifully written by a very talented lady who's blog is called 'Don't look now'.

Till next time

love fi x

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Patched Hexagon Pot Holder Tutorial.

Hello all, here we are at the start of a new year and I don't know about you but I'm really quite excited. The Christmas decorations have been packed away, hooray and the last of the festive food has been finished (apart from the obligatory handful of left over toffees). #1 has returned to uni and #2 is back at school. Visiting relatives have been hugged, kissed and waved goodbye, all that's left to do now is a bit of 'start-as-you-mean-to-go-on' tidying and sorting. Starting with my fabric stash, well part of it. My lovely mum helped me sort and refold the bottom 3 shelves of my fabric cupboard; so previously I was forcing fabric in willy-nilly now it looks like there could even be room for some more! ;) My first bit of stitching of 2012 was a little experiment joining patchwork hexagons by machine. A little bit fiddly but certainly quicker than by hand. I think I'd need another practice session before I made anything larger.Here's the back looking pretty much as you would expect the back to look. Over all a pleasing result to my experiment but what shall I do with this little piece of patched hexies. While I was wondering what to do with it I turned under all the outer seams and machine stitched them in place.I know lets make it into a pot holder!

Would you like a little padded pot holder tutorial?

Good. I shall proceed.

This will be a round pot holder, padded and decorated with our hexy patchwork. Firstly place 2 pieces of cotton fabric right sides together on top of some thin wadding or wool fabric or something like that, I've use a piece of acrylic fleece fabric left over from making my christening cake.

Draw a circle on your fabric slightly bigger than your hand, mine was about 8 inches in diameter. You can't see it here but I've tucked a little hanging tab in between the two top fabric layers so that it gets sewn in. Stitch around your circle making sure to stitch over the hanging tab but leaving an opening for turning.

(I have no idea why this photo is on it's side. It wasn't before I downloaded it!)

Trim closely around your stitching line leaving a little more fabric at the opening as you need to turn this in and it will be extra fiddly if you don't leave a good half inch of fabric. Trim the fleece into a nice circle though, you don't need the extra fleece at the opening.Turn right sides out. Here you can see our fleece padding neatly sandwiched inside and the little hanging tab...well...hanging.

Next tuck in the fabric around the opening and pin.

I chose a dark pink thread as it's quite nice to see the stitching on patchwork and we're going to make it very neat. Fill the bobbin with the same colour.

Sew around your pot holder quite close to the edge to close the opening and to help hold all three layers together, it also gives a neater flatter finish.

I then went around and did a second row of stitching between my first and the edge, but one row would be enough.

Centre your hexy patchwork on top and 'stitch in the ditch' around the centre hexagon and along the seams radiating outwards. Stitching (quilting) through all four layers of fabric will hold the layers together so you have no baggy, loose areas of fabric when you grab something with your pot holder.

Lastly stitch very close to the edges of the patchwork all the way around.Now because we've stitched very neatly in the 'ditches', the back should look like this...almost as good as the front...

which looks like this! This is the fourth pot holder I have ever made. Here is the first. I made this when I was 12 as I wanted to have a go a patchwork. I cut up an old three tier gypsy skirt I had been given by my auntie. I had no idea what I was doing but I carefully stitched the little squares together by hand and it turned out ok if a little bit thick but hey!, 30 years later it's still going strong!

This was my second go at hand stitched patchwork. I did this at a little sewing class I attended on a Friday morning while the children were at nursery. As you can see it's very grubby and well used, in fact I use it every day as it's nice and thin making it easy to grab lid knobs and handles.

Dosie Rosie may recognise my third pot holder as she won a giveaway quilt I made of the same design. This little square was printed on the fabric to show you what the large quilt would look like when finished. Well I couldn't waste it could I!

I even patched the back. This one was machine stitched.

Well, there you go! One pot holder pressed into action. The pan full of chilli is curtesy of Wonderful Man. It's his signature dish! lol.

love fi x