Monday, 23 April 2012

Don't get Shirty!

My blog posts have been lacking the last few weeks.  This is due to moving home and trying to sort out the chaos.  One of the things required was that hubby thin down his clothing, or there would be no room for any of mine in the fitted wardrobes.  At the last count he had well over a hundred shirts.  Ridiculous.  Under strict instructions to free up half the wardrobe space for me, he set to with bin bags, to turf some out for the charity shops.

With a large selection of shirts ousted, I started looking at the fabrics and wondered if I could make use of them myself.  There's a surprising amount of fabric in a mans shirt, particularly an XL one.
After cherry picking the ones that were all cotton and nice fabrics, I sat down and scratched my head for inspiration.

My first of two makes is this pillow.  When I began I had no real vision of what it was going to look like.  I just knew that I wanted to use some of the front pockets, and make a feature of a cuff or two.

After a quick draft on paper, this was the result.  The finished pillow size is 19 inches.  Until it was finished and I popped it on the sofa in the lounge, it hadn't occurred to me that I had inadvertently made a receptacle to hold some of the multitude of remote controls we have.  (I am married to Gadget Man).

I really like how this has turned out.  I love the combination of the blues with the touches of white and sage green.  It's even given me inspiration for how I want to decorate the room - I'm thinking one graphite grey feature wall which will display all my pictures.  A denim blue wall, and a bit of wood panelling which will be painted an eu-de-nil colour.  It works in theory after collecting some paint-chip cards!

For the pocket patches I simply cut around to make 6 inch squares.  I machined two cuffs onto contrasting squares of fabric before joining together.  One had a particularly fancy lining to the inside of the cuff, so I turned that back before stitching down.

In order to square up the cushion I was left with a few odd sizes.  By now up-cycling had me firmly in it's grasp, and I was loathe to waste anything.  So I simply cut the buttoned section off the shirts and added as thin panels.  There's one going across the width of the top and bottom of the pillow, and a shorter one in the middle section.  I love how it's turned out. 

I used 4 different shirts for this make.  Along the top of the pillow I joined patches together.  For the chenille patches, I used 4 layers (one of each together), sewing in vertical lines roughly 1/4 inch apart.  Once I'd sewn lines across the whole patch, I cut through the centre of the top three layers.  Once the pillow was complete, I dampened the chenille patches, roughing them up a bit with a nylon scourer, before chucking into the tumbler dryer for chenilling magic to be performed.  You would hardly believe how many threads come out of two little squares measuring 5 x 3!

For the first time ever I have had a go at free-machine embroidery.  I began by drawing a simple collar and tie using an air-erasable pen, and just doodled over the top with the feed dogs down.  Simples.  Yes - I know it looks simples too - but this is a whole new thing for me.  And I love it!
I may never embroider by hand again.

This free-machine lark is fun!  And I had a big striped panel in the middle of the pillow that needed some form of decoration.  It looked to me like lined paper, so I decided to try to "write" on it free-hand.   The deep navy and black combo of the shirt was too dark to show up with the air-erasable pen, so I gritted my teeth and started to write.  For a first attempt it's not half bad, and looks vaguely similar to my hand-writing (after several gin and tonics).  I see definite possibilities for future projects!  In between the "writing" I lifted the needle and carried the thread forward, only snipping between the words after I'd finished and ironed a piece of light fusible vilene onto the back to hold the stitching in place.

The back of the pillow was a dream!  A shirt front makes a brilliant pillow back.... with built-in opening.  Wonderful.  I now have a whole pile of them cut up and ready for future makes.  I must look out for ones with really fancy plackets in charity shops - think how nice a frilly dress shirt would look as the backing of a bedroom pillow?  Fancy, simple, and cheap as chips into the bargain.

I've also got a whole heap of cuffs too.  I think a pillow would look rather lovely just made out of patches of these in different colours.

To edge the pillow, I cut 1/34 inch strips from what remained of a shirt front to make binding.  No hand sewing here, it's all machined firmly down.  I find a narrow binding the simplest way to put a pillow together.  It means you can lay down the front and back of the pillow with wrong sides together, and just whizz around close to the edges to hold in place before you sew the binding on.  Very quick.  No raw edges left inside.  The finished result looks very similar to piping, but is much faster and simpler to achieve.

The result....  A very cheap and fun way to make a quirky pillow.  As a quilting project, it would make the perfect gift for a man, as it's certainly not girly in any way.

I wonder if I'd just helped myself from the mahoosive shirt collection, if he'd have ever noticed?

I want to make a similar one for the other side of the sofa.  This one may well read "Don't get shirty with me!"

Happy Sewing

Coming up next - another shirty make

Raggy Stars Quilt

Sewing my way through life one stitch at a time

Mitred Corner - Quilt Binding Tutorial

Adding binding to a project is something I rather enjoy.  Not only reserved for quilts, I've also been finding it pretty useful when making pillows.  It makes putting a pillow together a doddle, is quick and easy to do, and is a whole lot less fiddly than messing about with piping.

After talking to a few quilters, including some who have been sewing for years, I've realised that not everyone knows how to sew a mitred binding.  It's dead simple, and easy to master.   If you haven't attempted it before, do give it a bash.  You'll be adding binding to everything in no time!

Many quilting patterns say to cut binding in 2.5 inch wide strips.  I find that 2 inches is ample for any quilt, and looks neater.  With the recent pillows I've been making, I've reduced it to 1 3/4 inches - giving just enough fabric to turn over and stitch down.

Anyways...... lets get on with the info.......

Start off by cutting enough strips to go around the outside edge of your quilt.  Remember to add a couple of extras to allow for joining/corners.  There is no need to cut the fabric on the bias.  I cut straight across the width of the fabric.

To join the strips together, pin one strip at right angles to the other with right sides together.  Sew across the diagonal.

 Trim the corner off to leave a neat edge (no need to use pinking shears, twas the first thing grabbed on my desk).

Continue joining on strips until you have one continuous length large enough to go around the binding, plus plenty spare.  I tend to chain piece all mine together to save thread, but if you do this, do take care that you have remembered to turn the last piece over to the right side before adding another.  I ALWAYS forget to do this at least once each time.  

Next press the joining seams to one side, and then carefully press the whole strip in half - wrong sides together, and you are ready to start attaching to your quilt.

With the raw edges of the fabric next to the edge of your quilt, begin to sew your binding strip using a quarter of an inch seam.  You will be sewing onto the right side of your work.  Before you start to stich, turn over the edge of the binding towards your seam at 45 degrees and finger press. (sorry - forgot to do this before I took the photo).  Pin in place, and begin your stitching just after the fold.

Continue sewing until you reach a quarter inch from the corner.  Secure your stitching and remove from machine.   If you're not confident about judging a quarter inch, mark lightly with a pencil, as you do need to be accurate at this stage.

Next  fold the strip up and away from you so that it is in-line with the right edge of your quilt.  Finger press, and then fold back down.  It will be neatly squared, and you will have a triangle of fabric in the middle.  Ensuring the fold is turned to the left, pin in place.

 Begin to sew the next side, again starting your stitch a quarter inch in from the edge.  If you haven't done this before, you are probably thinking it looks rubbish at this point.  Don't panic, as long as your stitching is even, and you have folded your binding with care, it will work like a dream.  (You may even find this so simple you can be blase and not use pins after a while!)

Continue the same process at the remaining corners.  When you are nearly back to the beginning, you just need to take a little care to ensure the join will be neat.  Allow the binding to overlap a little behind the fold you create at the start.  Pin, and sew neatly in place. 

Now it's time to fold the binding over and secure on the back of your quilt. 

As you fold your binding over, the corners on the front of your quilt should look like this.  All neatly mitred like magic!

Nows the time for a touch of hand stitching.  It doesn't take too long, as it's only a quick slip-stitch in place.  (I have been known to cheat whole-sale at this point and machine in place.  This is a totally slap-your-hands option, and I am a lazy trollope of a seamstress for doing so - just thought I'd let you know it's possible.  If you machine carefully, it will still look neat on the front - and no-one who's not a seasoned quilter will ever notice.  Ideal for quick makes and things which need to survive multiple washes - not heirloom pieces!). 

The back of your quilt at the corners should look like this.....

The fold that was included when sewing down, means that there will be enough to fold to make a mitred edge.  Fold carefully, finger press and pin into place.

All that's left to do is to slip stich in place, taking care your stitches don't go through to the right side of your work.  At the corners, ensure you add a few stitches to secure the fold.  The binding will easily hide the machine seams underneath.

I do hope this has made some sense, and doesn't read like double dutch!  At least the photos may be useful.

Happy Sewing

Coming up in the next blog-post ......

"Don't get Shirty"

Two projects to make using the other half's old shirts. 
(1 currently finished - 1getting there).

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

French Boudoir Pillow

 I've called this my French Boudoir Pillow, as it does have a bit of a French theme going on, and I reckon the only place it can go is on my bed.  

(Boudoir it ain't - but it sounds good).

I think this is the most fun I've had with my sewing machine for ages, and considering the "gay abandon" with which I attacked this project, I don't think its turned out too badly.

From Moda - Curio range
 You see I had fallen in love with this piece of fabric, and wanted to do something with it.  Due to the overall stripe pattern, I didn't want to cut it up.  However, just a plain pillow seemed very boring.  How to jazz it up?

In the end I went a little bit mad.  Grabbed a bag of vintage lace and started attaching.  Then I printed off a few French themed vintage images onto printable fabric sheets.  Three vintage doilies for good measure, a handful of ancient buttons and a few bits of broken jewellery later - I had a cushion front that looked very random but okay.

A vintage photo reduced and a bit of broken necklace

 As for the quilting?  Um.... well that's delightfully vague too.  I've done lines, swirls and squiggles using the fabric and positioned shapes as a guide.  Any seasoned quilter who spends hours hand quilting.....  I know!  But - this was super quick, and it doesn't look half bad.

I used WordArt to add text to a vintage label image
For once, I thought I'd give the machine a rare treat, and allow it to use a few of its many stitch patterns.  Goodness knows, they are seldom used.  Some of them are really pretty.  Again I've followed the lines of the fabric, and meandered around a few shapes.

I love the randomness of it, and the lacey fabric
The back of the pillow is far more reserved.  I've used toning fabric to make an envelope opening.
I couldn't resist adding a bit of zing with a ric-rac, lace and pom-pom trim combo.  It's a smiley pillow!

To finish the edges, I have used binding as you would for a quilt.  I cut the binding at 1 3/4 inches and pressed it in half.  Using a quarter inch seam, it worked perfectly.  I intended to hand sew the seam down at the back (I did - honestly!), but....  it was just too tempting to pin and machine.  From the front it looks as though it has been quilted "in the ditch".  (Doing that again!).

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Ok.  I'll admit it.  I had no idea what "Liebster Blog" meant, although I've noticed it on a few blogs I follow.   Apparently,  "Liebster Blog" is German and means something like "My favorite blog".   

How lovely to find myself nominated.

Thank you Cindy for nominating me, it's such a great idea to help us smaller blogs get noticed.  Do please check out her
Tops to Treasures blog, it's a lovely one to follow.

By accepting the award I have agreed to the following...

  1. Thank the person who gave you the award
  2. Link back to their blog 
  3. Copy and paste the Liebster award to your profile
  4. Pick 5 blogs that you feel deserve to be in the spotlight (they must have under 200 followers) 
That was simple work!  Now to find 5 blogs to nominate.  There's so many I follow, but until I investigate, I can't say I've ever paid any attention to the number of followers. 

My Liebster Blog nominations.....

(In no particular order)

1.  Sally and her Lavender Attic blog.  With a profile that I could have written myself, how could I not follow?

2.  Sarah and her So Sarah Sews blog. For bright fresh and colourful quilting.

3.  Making Rebecca Lynne for interesting posts - and having just clicked on the latest one - can't wait to have a go myself!

4.  Kathy's Crazy Moments for a lovely looking craft inspired blog.

5.  Candie Cooper and her Savvy Crafter's Journal  An eclectic mix of crafting bit and bobs.

(If anyone does have more than 200 followers - apologies)

Love Charm Pack Pillow

If you have a pretty charm pack in your fabric stash that you're wondering what to do with......

Why not quickly make up a charming little Love pillow?

 Extremely quick and simple to put together, you can run one up in next to no time.  The finished width is the perfect size to place on the bed in front of your pillow.

To complete this project I used 28 squares from a charm pack.  (Curio by Moda).  Simply sew 10 together to form each side.  I then drew the letters onto bondaweb and ironed on to 4 of the squares.  These in turn were ironed onto 4 plain squares.  I then cut around leaving about a 1/4 inch border without going into the fiddly shapes of the letters.

If I'd had enough bondaweb left I would have attached the letters to the pillow that way, and hand-stitched them in place.  I didn't, so instead I used spray adhesive to hold them in place whilst I stitched around the edges by machine.  I then did a quick running stitch by hand, using Perle 12 thread, close to the edge of each letter. 

As it's only for decoration, there is no opening to the pillow - it's simply stitched together.  With right sides together, I pinned all the way around including a bit of vintage lace as an edging.  (remember to have the lace tucked inside when pinning).  Luckily I had just enough to go all the way around.  I then stitched around by machine using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, leaving the middle square at the bottom open, to allow room to turn.

After that it was a matter of moments to stuff and then slip-stitch the opening closed.  I didn't realise at the time, but it matches my bedspread perfectly!