Saturday, 12 November 2011

I have had an incredible urge to create quilts lately. For months, I have been piecing together a queen sized quilt for my mom, involving hundreds of small squares. Because it is such a long process without an immediate result, I developed a strong desire to make a few quick-ish baby quilts that I could put up in my shop too. My style is usually very modern and somewhat minimalist, but I'm drawn to vintage fabrics and very traditional motifs too. So I decided to use a pattern from Jelly Roll Quilts that had a floral design that was both traditional and modern, at least to my eyes. Certainly, it's the most traditional quilt I've done, because it's really got that old-fashioned quilt look. I enjoyed putting it together and really love how the high-loft batting gives it such a squishy feel and soft look.

I used a mix of vintage sheeting fabric and some new reprints of 1930's floral designs. Can you tell which are new and which ones are vintage?


I really like how the binding and motifs puff out after the stitching. I added a number of hand-tied bits of embroidery cotton to it and the ties come out at the back, leaving an interesting cross stitch on the front.

A friend recently remarked on how she goes through sewing spurts of creativity that quickly die down after a few projects. As for me, if I had nothing else to do, I could just sew, and sew, and sew all day, every day. So it's possibly a good thing that I have many other things to take me away from it!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Crewel Work

tapestry work on church cushions, Wansford, England
  As the days get shorter (and in England they get pretty short in winter!), I tend to spend more time on the couch watching series box sets and working with my hands, rather than spending the extra time on my sewing machine. This autumn I have been teaching myself more crochet, embroidery, and...crewel.

a different motif, each taking hours and days to complete

The art that can vary from fabulous to ugly...or maybe just misunderstood. When I think of crewelwork, I think of thrift store cast offs in terrible browns and yellows. But when I found this book, I discovered it could be something different. And learning the techniques, I have found a new appreciation for hand work that I may have found dull in the past - dull, maybe because I didn't really understand it.

Wansford Church, a local and surprising source of inspiration 
my current effort, split stitch and turkey work techniques

I did some poking around Etsy and found crewel work to be very under-represented there, but I did find a 1970's DIY kit for just $8 on Etsy. The finished piece is meant to be wrapped around a brick for a bookend or doorstop - honestly, if I had more wall space I would frame it. You may find them terribly ugly, or terribly cool, like I do. In truth, I find this piece unapologetically retro...and it's totally possible that it is a piece only a mother could love. 
16th Century worn tapestry cushion, Haddon Hall, Bakewell

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Prudent Baby Dress

Prudent Baby is one of the most inspiring craft blogs I read. Spending a few minutes there usually sends me up to my sewing studio full of ambition. Jaime's "One Shoulder Dressy Dress" caught my eye all the way back in July of last year and it has taken me this long to come around to it. But I finally cut into that beautiful Laura Gunn dogwood fabric I've been hoarding...I'm so happy I did!

I know I took the process pledge, but I've been hard at work this week doing a lot of finishes. So, I have just gone with the flow, neglecting to photograph along the way. This dress was slightly tricky because the tute wasn't super precise - there was a lot of eyeballing measurements (especially since I had to size it up a bit from her original 2Tin the tutorial). My favorite technique here was using bias tape to line the arm-holes; I'd never seen that before and I think it adds a really professional finish.

Want to make your own version? Check out the tutorial here. I love the generosity of the online crafting community!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Rocking Pillow & Tutorial



So I bought this great little chair at a local thrift shop - it was handmade, heavy-duty woodwork and I even liked the sweet little floral detailing at the top of the chair. However, even though someone had gone through all the trouble to create this charming little rocking chair, they did a terrible job staining the wood - there were thick blobs of stain in various spots and lots of ugly irregularities in color - plus, the floral detailing was off center, and that bugged me. Because I already have a hard-core sanding job still unfinished (sigh), I decided to paint over this mess for any easier fix. It worked well for this project: none of the staining blobs show through the new layer of paint, which could have happened in the absence of sanding.

I decided to include a simple tutorial in sewing your own custom made cushion with piping. The piping adds a slight challenge to the sewing, but if you're well prepared with pins and a proper foot for machine sewing, it'll be a cinch!
What you will need:

firm foam in desired thickness - I used 1.5"
sharp scissors or rotary cutter
ruler/measuring tape
fabric and thread
ready-made piping in appropriate yardage
zipper-foot or piping foot for your sewing machine

First, measure your chair. I wanted a tight fit so I used exact measurements because there is no where to attach strings to keep the cushion on the chair, so it needed to fit snugly. Next, outline your cushion measurements on the foam and cut it out.

Get out your fabric, rotary cutter, and ruler. Take your measurements from the chair seat and add an extra one-inch to what you'll need to cut from your fabric. For example, my seat measurements were 11" x 12" - so I cut two squares at 12" x 13" - because I planned to use a .5" seam allowance. Next, cut four pieces for the sides of the pillow, adding an extra inch as before. The sides of my cushion were 1.5" thick and the lengths were 11" and 12" to match the top and bottom of the cushion. So I cut two strips at 2.5" x 12", and one more strip at 2.5" x 13". The fourth strip will need to have a wider width to accomodate a zipper. For this cut two more strips of fabric and insert your zipper, ensuring that the final measurement of this particular strip is just like your longest side strip you previous cut.

I neglected to photograph zipper insertion on one of the side strips. There are many good online tutorials for zipper insertion, such as this one.

Next, sew the four side pieces together, end to end. You may be wondering why I didn't just cut one long strip to fit - but I wanted straight up-and-down corners that wouldn't round out at all, which may happen with one strip.

Now pin all your piping in place, with the piping that will show on the cushion facing inward.

Then pin in place the side strip, being careful at the corners - use plenty of pins to ensure nice flat seams and square corners. Make sure your zipper is left open so that you can easily turn the cushion cover right-side out when you finish sewing. Double check that your cushion cover fits snugly over the top of the cushion before sewing on the rest of the fabric - make adjustments as necessary. Once this is done, do the same for the bottom of the pillow.

And you're done! Piping really does add such a professional touch to upholstery and I think it's well worth the added effort!

As for the fabric choice, I was lucky to have travelled to Sweden last year and I picked up some gorgeous home decor weight fabric in this cute fox and berry pattern. For transforming old furniture with spray paint,  Design*Sponge has a good tutorial here. For stenciling ideas, I was inspired by Lotta Jansdotter - her simple Scandinavian aesthetic is just my cup of tea.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to you!