Saturday, September 17, 2016

Gypsy Wife - the Beginning!

Whilst waiting for the new patterns and fabrics to come out for the fall, I thought I'd try my hand at a bit quilting.  It really is 'big' in Canada - much more so that in the UK (where I hail from originally), and in fact the first Canadian dollars that I earned when we moved here in 2004 was from working in a quilt shop, cutting fabric.  As you can imagine, I was handing over most of my wages each month to my employer to pay for the fabric, books, notions that I had bought!

So, what to make?  I have made a couple of quilt tops, or 'flimsys' as I have heard them referred to, as a result of buying a 'class pass' from my local quilt shop and attending some classes, and now I wanted to try something different.  Somewhere on the net I saw some photos of a pattern called Gypsy Wife by Jen Kingwell.  Oh man, what a riot of colour and pattern!  And best of all?  You can use up scraps.

I bought the pattern online via Etsy from a seller in Australia - and I would thoroughly recommend her.  I did a bit of research checking pattern cost & postage, and she came out top, saving me over $20 on some of the other sellers.  Some people have written reviews about the pattern (mostly on Amazon) commenting about the content, and as long as you go into this knowing that you will NOT be held by the hand, I think most people will be fine.  And of course, thanks to the interwebs, there are lots of blog posts to help you out - and I used these two blogs that were actually a quilt-a-long.  There are some excellent documents that list the size of the different blocks in the different units - I found it very helpful.

But first, what colours?  I was tempted to do the full 'scrappy' look, but thought it wold also be fun to have some kind of colour co-ordination, so over to Design Seeds for some inspiration.  I love this blog - and if you ever need some help with colours - this is a great place to start.  After lots of mooching around, this is the photo and colours that I plumped for:

Very Mediterranean with quite a few colour choices.  Love it!  And here is my selection:

There is a real mixture here, Amy Butler, Riley Blake, Moda, Wal-Mart, Fabricland, fat quarters, jelly rolls, charms squares, and scrappy scraps!

Once the colour choices were made, it was time to play!!

The pattern book itself has you make up all the blocks - pinwheels x 6, hourglass x 2 etc., and then link them all together in their ten sections with the long strips, finally sewing the 10 sections together.  I found it easier to make one section at a time, including the strips, starting on the left (sections 9 & 10) and working towards the right (sections 1, 2 &7).  Here are my first few blocks:

Which when put together, made this sections 9, 8 and 10):

The colours are really rich and it amazing how they all seem to 'go' together.  I tried not to have two fabrics the same touching, and I wanted to have all my strips at the bottom to be different (60 in all!)

Close up you can see more detail (well, duh!)  I have NEVER made any of these blocks before, so although I would count myself as an experienced dressmaker, I am definitely a beginner quilter.  There are a couple of differences in my blocks - sometimes because I didn't read the instructions fully, and at others for aesthetic reasons - for example the blue heart below.  The pattern directs you to have more contrast/background in the middle section where the triangles are, but I wanted mine to have a more solid appearance.  So that is what I gave it!

Well, that was my first weekend's sewing.  I am absolutely thrilled with the progress.  My camera doesn't quite capture the vibrancy of the project so far.  I will work on that for the next set of photos!

And in the meantime - ooooh, new Tina Givens patterns and autumn fabrics to play with.  I really like this look by Kaliyana called the 'Anti Suit:

Watch this space!

Have you started your Autumn sewing yet?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Adding to the Collection - a Singer 15-88

I've been a good girl for quite a while, and then for some reason I found myself taking a mooch at Kijiji, and what should I see - a handcrank Singer sewing machine.  This was actually my very first sewing machine that my parents bought me (a couple of years ago, honest, and for just GBP12).  Sadly I don't recall what happened to it, but seeing this one for sale made me think about it.  So I made a offer, and this lovely lady came home with me:

Cinders (I will be transforming her into the Princess that she truly wants to be!), is a 15-88 and was made in Prussia.  Her serial number is C3390349.  Unfortunately as the Russians invaded Prussia during WWII and cleared out the factory, there is no information on her exact age, but that is OK with me!

She is really grimy - I'm thinking that it may be nicotine (although it doesn't smell at all), and I'm slowly getting her cleaned.  She has a really smooth action, although I need to replace a wire guide on the tension control.  There is a bit of rust and some chrome missing on the hand-wheel, but once this is done, I'll be able to sit at the table and sew away whilst watching TV with Mr. SDSC.  I'm aiming for a sewing machine in every room - I don't think he has noticed yet!

Incidentally, this is a great site for help and instructions to overhaul handcranks and treadles.  It is from a UK site that refurbs machines for transport out to Africa.

I really love these old Singers, I use my Featherweight for doing buttonholes as it is much better than my Pfaff, and I have a couple of others that just are so lovely to look at - what fabulous stories they could no doubt tell.  Oh, and Cinders has a working reverse stitch.  A hand-crank with a reverse stitch!  The one on my Pfaff died years ago so it will be quite a treat being able to reverse!

So you have a soft spot for older machines>  Do share!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tuffets and Bargellos

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had bought a class pass for the Summer that allowed me to take as many sewing classes (at one of my local quilt shops), as I wanted for no extra charge - well apart from class supplies . . . . . !  And I have now taken two more classes that were great fun!

The first was a 'two fabric bargello' and I saw one of these at the quilt show I visited in May (fourth pic down) and when I found out that there was a class - I was all over it like a rash!

As I don't really have much of a sense of colour, I chose a fabric kit, and got sewing:

This was yet another fun sew, and only took two fabrics (the clue was in the pattern name!) and some plain black for the borders.  The main red/orange fabric is a kind of ombre, and the bubble fabric just co-ordinates with every thing.  You essentially sew a band of the bubble fabric onto each end of the ombre fabric to make a tube, and then lots of cutting later you have 30ish strips of fabric that are sewn together in a particular manner to get the 'tick'.  I have to say that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  Each stripe has to be carefully numbered, and there may have been a bit of 'fricking and fracking', but I am really pleased with this.

The black fabric looks a rather shiny - I was trying to get a photo on the deck and it was probably a bit too sunny.  It is matt black, and I will use this plain black for the binding.  There are a couple of shows coming up and I will try and get this done and entered.  I can dream!

My next class was over two Sundays, and resulted in a tuffet!  Now I know my British buddies will understand what a tuffet is - just think 'Little Miss Muffet', or as we used to call them as kids, a pouffe.

This is the underside, eventually the feet will be screwed in here and the button will be tied off.

And here is it, all covered.  The fabric I used was from a jelly roll of Canadiana fabric.  The strips are sewn onto a foundation piece that acts as a shaped pattern.  Oh and I added a label - well, you would, wouldn't you!  I also wrote my name and the date on the wooden base - just in case in years to come, someone re-upholsters it!  And this is what it looks like right side up!

I love it!  It has a diameter of about 18" and is about 12" tall.  It is a fully upholstered piece of furniture (unlike cheaper, inferior versions, we were warned!)  I will likely make another one - but it was rather expensive to make.

And these are the ones made by my class mates:

A lovely mix of different width pieces of fabric.  The cover is made up of 8 sections, so with a bit of maths, and you can alter the width of the strips.

The one above reminds me of liquorice allsorts.  It is interesting to see how fabulous the highly patterned fabric transformed into a rather sophisticated tuffet.  Just three fabrics were used for this version.

This red, white and black version was also made with a jelly roll of Canadiana fabric.  This time the fabric is batik and it is very striking.

The last one to show you is from a very soft palette of colours and the button in the middle has been embroidered with the makers initials.  Gorgeous.

It really has been a great summer of sewing.  I've made loads of small pouches and other odds and end for charity, as well as quite a lot of dressmaking.  

I have a few garments to share - mostly variations on a theme as I am thoroughly entrenched in my Tina Givens/Lagenlook style, and she is advertising that she has a lot of new patterns for Autumn - so I am looking forward to that!  I am also thinking of something similar to the Kaliyana Anti Suit, oooh, so many plans!

Before I go, just a reminder that I am selling off one or two patterns on Etsy (cough, cough, about 400), so please help a fellow sewing buddy out and take a look and grab some bargains.  Postage has been a bit of a nightmare to calculate - and I have credited a couple of orders where it actually worked out cheaper than my calculations (this has happened on a couple of orders of multiple patterns) - so feel free to contact me for a postage quote if it seems a bit expensive. Oh, and 20% off until the end of August with the code SDSC20.

That's about it for me - how has your Summer been?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Green Caterpillars and Bramble Stripes

When I was younger, cotton reels were wooden, and there were lots of crafts to use these.  I remember one was collecting quite a few, painting them green, threading some elastic through the middle and turning them into a snake or a caterpillar.

Another was to make a 'knitting nancy' - remember these.  What a slow way to make an iCord.

Fast forward a few years, I am now an adult, but where are all those lovely wooden cotton reels for me to make into something else?  Yep, replaced by cheap plastic ones.  Argh.  What is a girl to do?  And then I saw a project (I'm really sorry, I can't remember where I saw this first), and this is what my empty plastic cotton reels look like now:

Pretty cute right?  Little scraps of some of my favourite fabrics, wrapped round and glued down.  They reside in glass jar in my sewing room looking very cheery.  I made two or three and I was hooked, so I went through my hoard of threads, got rid of those last few yards that I would never use, and now I have quite a few.  I thought it would be fun to use fabric in the same (or similar) of the thread that was on the reel.  Just because!

So there you have it, not quite green caterpillars or 'knitting nancy's', but I rather like them!  And, a few less items in the landfill!

Oh, and I'll just let you see some more socks that I have just finished.  I love purples and greens, so this Patons Kroy in Bramble Stripes is pretty much perfection!  More details on my Ravelry page.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sewing Pattern Sale - Discount Code

OK, so I have a couple of sewing patterns hanging around, and it is about time to share the love!

Since I have fallen down the LagenLook rabbit hole, my tastes have changed (although there will always be some totally unsuitable patterns that will stay with me) and these patterns are are patiently waiting to be loved in a new home!

I have started listing them on Esty - I am up to 100 so far (how many?) so do drop in and take a look.  I am selling them for $4 (regular patterns, many OOP), - $10 ('fancy dan' Vogue OOP designer patterns) and postage at cost (although the UK comes in at $10).  Loads of bargains to be had - postage will be combined :)

And to make a sweet deal even sweeter, if you enter the discount code SDSC20 . . . . you will get another 20% off.  Woohoo!  This runs until the end of August.

I live in a smoke free home/don't smoke so no 'nasty niffs' and the patterns I'm listing are all 'factory folded' although there is some minor wear and tear on the envelopes.

Come one, come all - I'll be listing them for the next few weeks, I'm sure!

You can get to my shop via this link, or click on the 'Etsy Page' on the right of this post.

Anyhoo - can't stop, I've got some Vera Wang, Belville Sassoon, Anne Klein, Calvin Klein and DKNY to list!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Sewing Room - Sewing Classes - Class Pass

One of my local sewing stores, My Sewing Room, is offering a 'pass' for sewing classes this summer.  You buy a pass and then can attend as many 'class pass available' classes as you like during the summer.  It looks to me as though pretty much all the classes are covered, and as after 2-3 classes the pass would pay for itself - I signed up.  I have taken a few dressmaking classes in the past and learned a huge amount about fit etc., so thought this would be fun too.  I am signed up for about 6 classes including four where I will make a quilt top, one making a 'tuffet',  and another making the Spicy Spiral table topper that I took last week.

This is a seriously clever pattern and has been a hit for many years.  I have been trying to get hold of the pattern but it is only available in print and has been hard to track down.  I managed to get the ruler that is needed, a 10 degree wedge ruler (actually, the pattern calls for a 9 degree wedge ruler, but the difference is not an issue) pretty cheaply for $20 at the Heritage Quilt Show in May and waited patiently until I could find the pattern.  Then guess what - yep, it was one of the patterns offered by My Sewing Room.  Woohoo!  After rummaging through my stash I was able to use up 8 fat quarters in blue and yellow.  To be fair, you do not use up all the fabric in the fat quarters, so more scraps to play with!

This is where I have got to so far - I 'just' need to quilt and bind it:

The wrinkly white fabric is the batting, I'll trim it up after quilting.

Doesn't this look super complicated?  Actually it isn't.  It really is very simple.  All straight line sewing.  The key is the wedge ruler and the cut pieces.  If you get a chance to try this pattern out - I would highly recommend it.

Once it is done, I'll share some more photos.  I think would be a great table topper in Christmas fabrics too.  One lady in my sewing class was using batiks in rainbow fabrics, and another used Laurel Burch blues/purples.  I really don't think you can go wrong with this pattern!

Do you have any 'go to' patterns that are a lot easier than they look?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Seriously, More Bags?

Said my husband when I showed him my latest makes.  In my head it makes perfect sense.  First of all I bought some lovely yarn from Caterpillargreen Yarns.  I had already made a pair of socks from their yarn previously and I could hear some more skeins calling my name!

This yarn is seriously gorgeous.  The yarn is dyed in stripes (and having dyed yarn myself I know how labour intensive it is to dye stripes).  It is not cheap, but it is lovely!

This yarn is has grey stripes with one bright pink stripe.

It looks very nice 'caked'.  I had started a Noel scarf, it is an asymmetrical triangle with garter stitch stripes interspersed with lace stripes.  The knitted stripes can tie in with the dyed stripes for more impact and when I get to the pink - that will be in lace.  I may also have one of the grey stripes in lace as well.  I think that will really reinforce the quirky shape.

But I have a problem.  I can't put grey and pink yarn in a blue or a red or a green knitting bag . . . . so I made a grey and pink one!!  It is based on the Noodehead Wide Mouth Pouch.

Phew, that feels much better!  The fabric is quilting cotton that I have had had for years.  I think the pink is from Wal Mart/Fabricland and the grey was leftovers from a wall hanging I made about 10 years ago.  The lining was a fat quarter I picked up on my trip to Australia in 2013.  I liked the aboriginal print, but was put straight by the shopkeeper who advised that the other fat quarters I had purchased were aboriginal prints, but this one was a 'white man's' version.  Oh well, I still like it and it contrasts really well with the pink and grey so it all worked out!

But that is not all.  Once you start making these pouches, all sorts of fabric combinations jump out at you and beg to be made.  Like this lovely fresh, green version:

And a very cute one made from glorious Tula Pink fabric.

And talking of Tula Pink, here is a lovely little coin purse from the same fabric:

So yes.  Seriously more bags!