Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Plaited Patchwork Christmas Wreath

I am kicking my heels, suitcase in the hall, excited, all ready to go off, itching to get off for my flight to Germany but have an hour or so to pass so I thought I'd post my latest Christmas make. 
I am not fussy on the colour scheme as I don't like the yellow fabric in there but it's a prototype.
This still needs a bit of adjustment and finishing off but here it is....
I don't know whether to make additions of berries, leaves, buttons, bells or such like but I will have to play about when I get back home next week. Here's the basic wreath in case anyone in blogland would like to make one. no pattern, no exact measurements, as usual, I just "winged" it in my own sweet way. 

You'll have to just judge for yourself and it could be sized up or down by adjusting my approximations.

I cut diagonal strips of fabric 4.5 inches width by about 4 feet long.

I folded in half and sewed down the length and turned the strips inside out.

Then came the mammoth task of stuffing them, but not packed too tightly.

Next I safety pinned thhe three long "sausages" together at one end and plaited them. A helpful hand is useful if you can get someone to hold one end whilst you plait.

Because they are cut on the bias the plait will curve readily into a circle. 

 I then sewed together the ends, tucking in the stuffing, and finishing the wrong side as best I could.

I didn't worry too much as the big bow I made hides any imperfections and after all it is only a decoration not an exam piece of sewing!

Remember, the bow can be at the top or bottom of the wreath.

The wreath can be made entirely from one fabric and any design elements can be added to your own choice.  I am sure someone will be able to make a more complex plait (braid) by making several narrower strips, think  but I think this one is enough for me.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Liberty Tana Lawn Random Patch Quilt

I managed another finish yesterday so I could post it off before I leave for Germany. 
My daughter who was married in September wanted to thank her friend who kindly made her wedding dress and knew that she would love and treasure a traditional patchwork quilt. Mother was volunteered to do the honours and I was happy to make it as it is always a treat from me to sew Liberty Tana Lawn. 
It handles and goes together so well and no matter what designs come out of the basket of cut squares, they all blend beautifully. 
The only selection I made was to not sew two identical squares next to each other and, by chance, it never happened as there are over 40 different patterns in this quilt. It was really relaxing to stitch together and not to have to worry about a complex design.

Can you spot the designs in the darker blue and brighter pink squares in this close up? Look close and you may see teapots, cups and saucers. 
The dark one top second left is "the Strawberry Thief", one of my favourite traditional Liberty patterns.

It was machine quilted very simply with diagonal lines in both directions and will fit a wide single bed size or could lay on top of a double bed as a topper.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Christmas Tree Quilt Finish, Patchwork Christmas Wreath & Friday Smile

When we visited the Lake District last week I took my sewing machine to keep me company in the evenings whilst DH was watching TV in the lodge. I made good headway on a new Liberty Quilt which I will show soon but I need an extra large table to sandwich the layers so it may have to wait until my next group meeting. I also managed to finish the foundation pieced Christmas Tree quilt I started at our group workshop with our guest tutor, Maureen. I made extra blocks and transformed them into a small sofa quilt instead of just a table runner and I am pleased with the result. 
 Each year I "rescue" a Teddy Bear from a charity shop, to spend Christmas with us, and here is this year's little character, called Carnforth because that's the name of the little town where he was rescued. 
He will soon get a new hat and scarf and sit close to the fire over the holidays but for now he is pleased to show off the reverse of my new little quilt.
Carnforth is just on the border with the Lake District and Carnforth Station is where the famous, classic, 1945 David Lean film "Brief Encounter" was filmed. There is a museum and visitor centre there which recreates the period and tells the story of the film.
 I also made another wreath from the extra left over pieces I prepared for my first one, that we made with Maureen. I wanted to gift one to my lovely neighbour who has sadly had two recent bereavements so I thought it would cheer her a little.
I haven't joined in Friday Smile with Annie for a while as I have had so much on that I have hardly been on the computer but I'm popping in this week to share this pic of some of my recent baking.....
There's Fred on my Homepride silcone rolling pin and my spotty pastry.....
How did I do that you might say?
Well the blackcurrant pie was just about to go into the oven when I realised I hadn't sugared the fruit and I didn't relish sour blackcurrants!! It was the last of the pastry, so I carefully whipped off the top and this was the result. It cooked really well nonetheless but I forgot to photograph the "after" pic!

Thanks for popping in to visit even though I don't post so often nowadays and today I'll do my best to get round all the other smiles.
You can too if you visit Annie over at astitchintime, you'll smile too!
I am making a solo trip next week to visit the German wing of my family and to visit the Christmas Markets. I've been stocking the freezer with home cooked meals for DH... including a spotty pie!! He won't mind as blackcurrant is his favourite.

Hope everyone is keeping warm and cosy and weathering the ravages of Winter, I'll be going to deep SNOW in Germany!
Have a great weekend.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Easy Christmas Wreath & Paper Pieced Trees

Last week I attended a workshop at my quilting and patchwork group and we were set a couple of super Christmas projects. It was a lot of fun thanks to Maureen our tutor for the day but (as I talk too much!) I didn't finish my two items until I was home.

First we made a simple but really effective Christmas wreath, (above) from scraps of fabric. They didn't have to be Christmas prints as long as they blended in with the overall colour scheme and mine were all different greens.
Squares measuring 5 inches were sewn in half leaving space to turn inside out. I realised quickly that they did not have to be exact and it wasn't necessary to sew up the side gap when they were stuffed with wadding.

We also started Christmas tree blocks for a hanging panel or table runner and here's Maureen's lovely
 sample, above. They are paper pieced which I had never ever found easy but I was determined to succeed.
I made an unsuccessful start in the class but managed to master the technique at home the next day. 
I was happy with my first one then really enjoyed my second one.
I ended up making four so I have decided to make a few more and turn them into a small Christmas lap quilt. I've found some red tartan for the sashes which will transform the blocks into a worthwhile finished item.

Pop over to my group's blog  (Here) to see photos of the workshop progression

It was such a good day and thanks again to Maureen.
We will be visiting the West Kirby 20th Anniversary this weekend where Maureen will be exhibiting so, if you can, get over there as they are always good shows and this one should be extra special.
Westbourne Road, West Kirby, Wirral, CH484DQ Cheshire
Friday 11th, 12 to 5pm and Sat 12th 10am to 4pm

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Malvern Autumn Quilt Show 2016

by Christine Porter of Bristol

The quilt group that I attend made a mini bus trip to the Malvern Autumn Quilt Show last weekend and, whilst it was a long return journey, it was well worth it to see all the fabulous exhibits on display. There were also many excellent retailers in attendance with quite a few bargains available making us all very happy and our purses much lighter.

The skill and artistry that went into many pf the exhibits was astounding and this triple hanging had already won World Best in an American show.
Stephanie Crawford of South Gloucestershire was inspired to create this by a trip she made to China. 

The three pieces of Lindisfarne are also made by Stephanie.
Quilts modern and traditional and here are several unusual and varied examples by Val Thomas

I loved this Attic Window by Elma Richmond. She found this perfect panel on a trip to America
Birds of the World by Gail Lowther of West Sussex
This random scrap quilt on one of the trade stands was so vibrant. 
Spring's Magic by Val Thomas

Christine Porter of Bristol had so many gems on display

Blooms Birds and Berries was by Jean Coumbe
These patchwork clocks are such a novel idea and look quite simple to make.
Irene Wilcox bought some beautiful silk on her holiday and transformed it into this Goan Beauty.
This huge panel of 1 inch hexagons was so effective and a lovely backdrop to one of the trade stands.
We really enjoyed the visit to Malvern and now look forward to Harrogate at the end of November.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Christmas Holly Patchwork Table Centre Instructions

I can't believe that I haven't posted or sewn since July! Here I am back in action after house renovations, a daughter's wedding, trips away, visitors, and all in all just being out of the action and worn out with no time for the computer!

I spotted this idea last year but couldn't find any patterns so decided to have a go making my own.
Here is the pattern I drafted after playing around with various shapes and sizes. This makes a table centre approximately 58cms in diameter. with the centre aperture big enough to take a pillar candle. It is far easier than it looks so have a go and let me know how you get on or shout if you have any problems!
I've just had new spectacles and they are vastly stronger than my old ones and I am finding difficulty seeing until I adjust so please bear with me if you find any mistakes.
For safety I fix a battery operated nightlight at the top so there will be no naked flame and wax will not drip onto the fabric. 
These nighltights are widely available, quite cheaply, in £ shops and supermarkets.
TWO METHODS to follow.....
NOTE....The centre can also be made with only 7 (instead of 8) segments, and the size adjusted, to make a Christmas Tree skirt. By using one less segment the skirt will shape up to fit a tree base.

Allowing a quarter inch extra all round for seams, cut 8 pieces each of green fabric (for the back which fold back to form the front holly leaves), and a contrast fabric (here I chose red) for the front.
Cut out 8 pieces of medium iron on interfacing (eg., Vilene) to the exact size of the template with no seam allowance.
Iron interfacing on to green fabric and position the two fabrics, right sides together, before stitching a quarter of an inch in around the edge.  
Remember to leave an opening to enable each segment to be turned inside out, then press and stitch the openings. (I machine the opening with a zig zag using invisible thread).
Hold together two completed segments (with green sides together).
Fold the template over along the dotted line and use this as a positional guide to sew together the holly leaf shapes.
This is how they will look and you will see the holly leaves forming.
Continue sewing the segments together in this way until all 8 segments are joined and then stitch together the last two leaves to form a circlet.
Press the seams apart using the tip of the ironYou can add red beads or buttons, as you prefer to represent berries, before you place a candle in the centre, just remember the previous safety advice. As an alternative to a candle, a small dish can be placed in the centre to hold sweets or small gifts.This next Alternative method is somewhat easier as the segments do not need turning inside out.Here the interfacing is ironed on to the reverse of the green fabric.Draw around the template 8 times times onto the RIGHT side of the red fabric. Do not cut out until you have sewn around the edges.

This is then laid onto the the green fabric with the reverse sides together sandwiching the interfacing with the two fabrics.
Next using a buttonhole or satin stitch and a metallic thread(as shown below) machine around the template shape which is marked on the right side of the red fabric. 
I find Madeira metallic machine threads work best for me.
It is far easier and neater to sew first and then trim than to try to machine around a cut edge.
Trim around the segments neatly, close to the stitches then join the holly leaf shapes together as in previous instructions. The finished result is still neat and effective. 

Below, I have pinned braid around the front points and these can be machined in place as an extra detail.
Reverse side. 
TIP ... I used white interfacing here and it shows a little so I will disguise it with a green marker pen. 
Grey or black interfacing is better as it will not be as noticeable as the white.
Any queries please leave a comment and I will do my best to help.