Wednesday, 29 February 2012

And the winner is.....!

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway!

So we put all the names in a hat, then I asked Miss Missy to pull one out...

And the winner is....

Drum roll please....


I will contact you about claiming your prize :-)

And if you missed out, you can still buy any of the items that were up for grabs, just click the "Shop" tab to visit my Felt shop, or "Follow me" to contact me via my facebook page.  Thanks for joining in :-)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Tutorial ~ Simple Machine Applique Using Vliesofix

You know that phrase "there's more than one way to skin a cat"?  (Always hated that phrase, btw, the poor cat!)  Well the same applies to applique.  There are lots of methods, but there are two that I use regularly: hand applique, and machine applique using vliesofix.  I'll show you how to do hand applique in another tutorial later.

Using vliesofix makes applique very quick and easy to do, and it looks great for things like T-shirts, bags, or jackets.  I personally don't like to use it when I am quilting, but you certainly can.  For kids quilts that have a more fun, funky look, it would work just fine.  I guess I just tend to go for a more traditional looking quilt, so I prefer hand applique for that.

What the heck is vliesofix?  I hear you ask.  It is a fusable web that comes on a backing paper.  You use your iron to fuse the vliesofix to your fabric, and basically turn the fabric into a sticker.

So, how do we go about it?  Let me show you...

To start with, here's what you will need:

A T-shirt (or something else to applique onto), fabric, a shape to draw around (ok, maybe I should also do a tutorial on how to make applique pattern stencils, would anyone be interested?), vliesofix (or another type of fusible webbing), a pencil, sharp scissors (but not your best fabric scissors, as you'll be cutting the backing paper of the vliesofix), and an iron (and the ironing board, but that didn't fit in the picture ^_^ )

First draw your shapes onto the backing paper (the smooth side) of the vliesofix.  I've got just one wheel pattern, but of course, I will draw two wheels.  If your shape is directional, you will need to turn it over to trace round it, so that it will end up the right way round, as you will be fusing it to the wrong side of your fabric.  This is particularly important with letters!

Cut roughly round your shapes, about 0.5cm from the line (don't worry, you don't have to be exact, but you do want to have a bit to trim away)

Place this on the wrong side of your fabric, with the backing paper up, and use your iron to fuse it to the fabric.  If your fabric has a directional design, do make sure that you have it the right way round!  You can see through the vliesofix, so do check what will be in your shape once you cut it would be a shame to find that you've cut off your favourite part of the motif, say, or all the heads, if it's a fabric with characters on it!

Now cut along the line to cut out your shapes

At this point, it is a good idea to give your iron a quick clean, by grabbing a bit of scrap cotton fabric (best if it is white, or pale coloured) and ironing it.  See those dirty marks on the fabric?  That's from a little bit of the vliesofix adhesive getting on my iron.  It would be a real shame if that got all over your lovely T-shirt!

Now, peel the backing paper off your fabric shape

Put it in position on your t-shirt, with the right side up and press to fuse in place.  If your design has more than one piece, you will need to fuse and sew the pieces in the right order.  For this design, I have the body of the car, and the wheels.  I will fuse and then sew around the car, before I add the wheels.  Just remember that anything that is in the background needs to be stitched before you add any foreground pieces (I hope that makes sense ^_^)

Now, you are ready to sew your applique.  Some brands of fusible webbing claim that you don't need to sew them, but I'm not sure if I believe that.  I'm pretty sure that the edges would peel away after a while, especially on something like a kids T-shirt.  Too much wear and tear to get away without stitching. Set your machine to zig-zag, with a fairly small stitch width, and a very small stitch length.  I have my machine set on 2.5 stitch width, and about 0.75 stitch length.  Do a wee test on a scrap of fabric.  You want the stitches to be nice and close together, like a satin stitch, and I like a narrow zig-zag.

Now, open the T-shirt up so that you don't sew the front and back together (that would be a bit of a disaster!) and place your work so that when the needle is on the right-hand zag of the zig-zag, it will come down just to the right of the edge of your applique piece.  Then stitch all the way around.

Pay particular attention when going around corners, especially any inner corners.  I had trouble getting a good close-up picture that shows this clearly, so I hope you can see what I am talking about.  See how I am sewing around the windows of the car.  I have just come to the corner, and I have carried on sewing past the edge of the window far enough that when I turn the corner, and the needle is on the left, it is the width of the zigzag away from the edge of the fabric.  Hope that makes sense!  

Once you've sewn all the way around, keep sewing for about 1cm over the top of the previous stitching. Pull your work out so that you have a long tail before cutting the threads.  Pull the threads through to the back,  knot, and cut off.  Next, if you have more pieces in your design, like the wheels in this one, then fuse and stitch them just as you did before.

Don't worry if the edges of your shape look a little wavy, just give the tee a good press, and it will be all beautiful!

And there you have it!  A beautiful applique tee!
(Yes, I know it's a different colour... I already made that one, so I couldn't photograph the process, but I just had to share this picture of the Young Lad in his Car-car Tee)

You might like to visit the patterns page for downloadable pdf patterns.  
At the moment, what I have available is a very cute love heart tee, and I plan to add more.
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, I have plenty more planned, so watch this space!


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Facebook 200 Liker Giveaway

Well, my facebook page just cracked the 200 liker milestone, and I promised a giveaway, so here it is!!

I just couldn't decide what to giveaway, so I am going to let the winner choose!  Just comment here on the blog and tell me which of these handmade treasures you would like to win, and you will be in the draw!

Would you like this beautiful Keystone?

I just love this scene of Lake Forsyth in Autumn.
On the back of the stone is a quote from Albert Pine which reads:
"What we do for ourselves 
dies with us.
What we do for others 
and the world remains
and is immortal."
Keystones come packaged in a handmade pouch.

Or would you like this cute T-shirt?

What little boy wouldn't love to have this sweet Car-Car Tee?  
100% cotton tee (made in Mexico) and appliqued by yours truly.
Currently available in size 2, 3, or 4, so you can even choose which size you would like.

Or maybe someone you know is having a baby, and you would like this Baby Gift Set?

Blankie Babies are so cute and cuddly, and with this handmade card, 
this makes the perfect gift for a new arrival.  
(If you would prefer pink, I could make that for you too, if you didn't mind
as little wait, as I don't have any pink in stock.)

Here's all the fine print:  Postage within New Zealand included, I don't mind if you enter from elsewhere, as long as you don't mind paying the postage.  All items are handmade by me, so some variations will occur. Family members are not eligible to enter ~ yes Mum, that means you :-)  

Please comment here on the blog to enter, you have until next Tuesday to enter, when I will draw a name out of a hat.  Remember to keep an eye on the blog for the announcement of the winner, and remember to include your e-mail so I can contact you.  Thanks everyone for visiting my page and my blog :)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Quilting Tutorial 2 ~ Chain Piecing

The other day I wanted to explain to someone how to chain piece quilt blocks.  As we were talking online, naturally I googled thinking I would send a link, but I was surprised to find that while there were plenty of tutorials claiming to be about chain piecing, I did not find one that actually explained the process fully.  So, thought I, I'll have to make one myself.

So here we are, the BK guide to chain piecing.

First, a word about seam allowances. When you are piecing patchwork blocks, always use a 1/4" seam.  Some quilters buy a special 1/4" foot for this, but you probably don't need one to sew perfectly good 1/4" seams. If you haven't done 1/4" seams before, it is a good idea to do a test first on some scrap fabric.  Simply move your needle to either the half-right or right position, and, with your raw edges in line with the edge of the foot, do a little test seam.  Measure this seam. You hopefully will find that by moving your needle, your machine will be able to sew 1/4" seams without a special foot.  It is much easier to keep your fabric in line with the foot and move the needle, than to line up the edge of your fabric with an imaginary line on the footplate!  And it is much cheaper than buying a special foot! On my machine, I have the needle at the half-right position, and it works a treat :-)

Now, before you begin, you will need to prepare your fabric, and cut all your squares to the size required for your project.

For this project, I needed one hundred  2 1/2 " squares.  (I actually cut a whole lot more than I needed, because I couldn't be bothered working out how many strips I needed to cut to get the right number of squares.  Never mind, I'm sure I'll find a use for the extras) 

Lay all your squares out, right side up, as required for your project.  If you are wanting a scrappy look, just move them round till you are happy with the arrangement.  Or, if you have an overall pattern, then this is the time to get everything in the right place.

Many methods for piecing quilts involve joining squares together to make larger squares, and then joining those squares.  In this method, we will join the squares together by columns.  Just so we are all clear, this is what I mean by a column:

First, turn all the squares in the second column over, and place them right side down on the first column, so that you now have a column of pairs.  If any of your pieces have a directional design, make sure you keep them facing in the right direction. 

Next, starting at the top of the column of pairs and working downward, pick up the first pair and place them on the next, then pick up both pairs, and place them both on the next pair, and so on all the way down the column.  You will have a stack of pairs with the pieces in the same order as they were when laid out.  It is important to keep them in the right order.  If your pairs are out of order in the stack, they will be out of order when you sew them together.  Also, make sure you don't turn the stack round ~ if you are worried, you could put a pin in the top right hand corner to remind you which edge you will be stitching together.

Now take this whole stack to your machine, and place them where you can easily reach them, right by your machine, or on your lap.  Pick up the first pair, and with the raw edges even, stitch a 1/4" seam.  (Did you do a test seam like I suggested?  Yes?  Good :-)  Then lets sew...)  

Sew the first pair together, stopping with the needle down, just past the edge of your fabric and not a stitch further.  Pick up the next pair, check that your raw edges are even, and place it under the foot right by the needle, so that when you start sewing, this pair will be no more than a stitch away from the pair before.  You do not cut the threads.

Sew the next seam, and then continue in the same way with the next pair, till all the pairs have been stitched together.  Only cut the threads when you have stitched the last pair, leaving a long tail.  (Don't back tack.  Once you have finished, you can knot the ends)

You will have something that looks a little bit like a string of bunting flags, with all your pairs held together by the thread.  (By the way, this was the point at which all other tutorials that I saw online stopped...but we've only just begun)

Next we press the seam allowances.  As we need the seem allowances to be pressed to one side, and we need them to alternate, I like the flip my "flags" in alternate directions, then when I open them up to press them, the seams will automatically be alternating.

This is what it will look like on the back (I just realised that if I'd used fabrics with greater contrast, it might be easier to see what I'm talking about, but I didn't have any projects like that to photograph, so hopefully you can see what we're talking about anyway)

Now, put your completed column back in place, and repeat the whole process with the next pair of columns, and the next, till all your columns are joined into pairs.  If you have an uneven number of columns, that's OK, just join the left over blocks in the same way as the others so you end up with one column of three squares across instead of two.

Now we need to join our column pairs to each other.  We do this just like we did with the squares.  Take the second column pair and lay it right side down on the first column pair.  Just make sure the top stays at the top, and everything else will automatically be in the right place for you.

As these columns are already joined together, we can't stack them up like we did before, so this time, we start at the bottom and concertina them up.  Pick up the second and third pairs from the bottom at the seam where they are joined together, and fold them onto the bottom pair, and continue in the same way till you get to the top.

Take this concertina stack to your machine, and starting with the top pair, stitch 1/4" seams on the right hand edge.  As you come to the end of each seam, stop with the needle down just beyond the end of your fabric, and you will find that the next pair will have come up into place ready to sew.  All you need to do is match your raw edges and stitch.

Press the seams to one side, alternating which direction they face just like you did before. Continue in the same way till all your columns are joined together.

You will then have all your squares in place held together by threads.  All you need to do now is stitch the rows together.  This will be very easy, as the threads keep everything where it should be.  All you have to do, is check as you go that your seams are matching, as some of your fabrics may stretch a little as you sew, so just ease them to fit.

Press your seams, and there you have it!  All your squares are now joined together!

This method can be used to piece quilt blocks, or to piece an entire quilt, as long as the pieces you are piecing are square or rectangular.  If you have triangles or other shapes in your blocks, these pieces can be joined together to make square units which can then be chain pieced.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

I Love Ponies ~ FREE Applique Tee-shirt Pattern

When I saw this fabric on our recent trip to Kaikoura, I just knew I had to buy some for Miss Missy!

I decided to make her a tee-shirt.  She really loves the mother and foal, so I decided to use that motif.  I like the way it turned out :-)

I've been thinking for some time that it would be nice to share some of my patterns, and as today is Valentine's Day, I thought, wouldn't it be just the perfect pattern to share?

Of course, it doesn't have to be I Love could be I Love Puppies, I Love Cupcakes, I Love Fairies, I Love Teddies...  You are limited only by the fabric you can find!  For the central motif, you need a fabric with a relatively large motif, the one I chose is about 6.5cm (2 1/2").  For the coordinating fabric, choose a tone-on-tone design, or a very small motif.  I first chose a dotty fabric which looked very pretty en masse, but when I tried it out, it looked a little silly, as not enough of the dots actually showed up round the heart.  So I chose instead to use the green, which has a slightly sparkly swirly pattern.  I bought the horse fabric here, and the green fabric here.  You will also need a blank t-shirt, of course.  

If you have never done applique, I'm planning to do a tutorial on it soon, so watch this space!

So... if you would like to make one of these yummy tees yourself, I have made the pattern available for FREE.  

This is the first time that I have created a pdf, and the first pattern that I have shared, and the first time that I have used this function to link a pdf to my blog, so I really hope it all works :-)

Happy sewing, on me!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

A Quilt for the Young Lad ~ Part 1

My quilting has grown with my children.  I finished my first quilt, for the bassinette, just a week or two before Miss Missy was born.  Then came the cot quilt, which I finished when she was about 5 months old.  Then I moved on to her single bed quilt, which I finally finished when she was 4.

And now it's time to make a quilt for the Young Lad.  As with Miss Missy's quilt, I want to make something that won't look too childish as he grows up, and I decided that a Four Seasons quilt would be the thing to make.  So the fabric collecting began.  On every family holiday, I always hunt down any quilt shops, and so the fabric has come from up and down the country...anything that said "nature" or "seasons" to me, I bought it.  It can be hard to shop for fabric for a boy...oh, there's plenty of cars, trains, and whatnot, but I didn't want that sort of can be very hard to find florals (which you really need for spring, of course) that aren't too girly, and that is when discovered fabric shopping on the internet... oh the fabrics I've found!  (If I could add multiple links at once, I would, I don't know how to do that though, do you?)

Well, the Young Lad is 2 already, so a couple of weeks ago, I decided that it was time to start sewing!  So then I busily washed, ironed, and cut...

...and then I sewed!

(If any of you are wondering how I got from there to here, stay tuned for my next tutorial)

This is just the beginning, of course.

It's a work in progress, and the next stage, no doubt, will take a lot longer, as it will involve a lot of applique, and I like to do that by hand.  It just has a nicer look than machine applique.  Plus I don't have a fancy machine that does buttonhole stitch.

And if I ever have any other projects that need any sky fabric, I think I've probably got that covered...plenty left over!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Quilting Tutorial 1 ~ Rotary Cutting

I know there are lots of tutorials on rotary cutting available online already, but since I am starting on a series of quilting tutorials, I thought it makes sense to start with rotary cutting.

Of course, before you get started, you will need to pre-wash, dry, and iron all your fabrics, you'll need to have the right tools, and you'll need to have plenty of space on your cutting table.

Got everything ready?  Yes?  OK, let's go :-)

First, lay your fabric on your mat.  You can cut several layers at once; I find four is a good number to work with.  If you are going to cut several at once, make sure you have the edges all lined up.  If you are cutting a larger piece of fabric, you can fold it lengthwise so that it fits on your mat, making sure that you fold along the straight grain.

You need to cut one edge off first, so that you have a nice, neat, straight edge to work with.  I like to start with the selvedge, since you need to cut that off anyway.  Line the edges of your fabrics up with one of the lines on your cutting mat so that your cut will be on the grain line, and remember that the edge you are cutting off is the one on the right.  If you are cutting off a raw edge, fold your fabric along the grain line, and line the fold up with the mat.

Next, lay your ruler down, lining it up with the lines on you mat, and have the right edge of your ruler far enough over that you will cut off all the selvedges (check all your fabrics, not just the top one, as some selvedges are wider than others)

Hold your ruler firmly in place with your left hand, and pressing firmly, hold your rotary cutter against the edge of the ruler, and cut away form you.

Of course, my left hand is holding the camera, that's why you can't see it holding the ruler
Before you move the ruler away, make sure that you've cut through all layers, all the way along.  If you've missed a bit, just cut again with your rotary cutter.

Now you will need to turn your mat round so that you can cut your strips.  This would be easy if I had one of those fancy rotating cutting mats, but I don't.  You can also use two rulers, or a ruler and square, to cut off the edge without turning your work round, and this is handy if you're cutting from a long piece of fabric.  But I find it easiest to put my board on the corner of the table, and when I need to turn the board, I just move to the end of the table and turn the board a quarter turn, like this:

(Doesn't my table look wonderfully neat and tidy?)

Next we cut some strips.  I am making 2 1/2" squares, so I need strips that are 2 1/2" wide.  Use the ruler to measure the width you need, lining up your freshly cut edge with the correct line on the ruler, then cut just like you did before.  This time, you are cutting the left edge of your fabric.

Working from left to right across your fabric, cut as many strips as you need.

Now working with your strips, first make sure that all your edges are lined up (if you are working with several layers, that is) and then you will need to cut off the rough end of your strip (the one on the right.)

Now, turn you board around so that you can cut your squares, working from left to right.  If you have just one strip, you can simply turn the strip, but if you have several layers, you want all your edges to stay lined up, so turn the whole board.  Line up the top edge of your strip with a line on the ruler, and the short left hand edge with the correct line for the size of square you want to cut, and cut away.

And voila!  You can quickly and easily cut hundreds of squares, ready to be made into a beautiful quilt!

In my next tutorial, I will show you how to chain piece, a really quick and easy method for joining your squares together. So please stay tuned :)