finishing off my finishes #January

Last year, around September time, I set myself the challenge to stop leaving projects half-finished in drawers and to tackle a finish a month.  When I say half-finished, I mean that pile of finished cross stitch pieces which are waiting to be made into something special. Or those quilt tops still in need of quilting & binding.

For 2018 I aim to carry on in my efforts to actually finish off projects . . . and for January, I am proud to present a finished lap quilt.

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A lap quilt size seems to be the size I’m most comfortable making.  This one measures 124cm x 95cm.  I started piecing this way back in August 2016

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working my blocks around central printed vignettes which I had had in my stash for years.  I kept things simple

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Using an ivory, a very light marbled green and a gorgeous gold/green/mauve fabric which I bought from a stitchers’ flea market in 2015. 

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On the back I’ve used a solid “ milk chocolate” cotton and did some basic machine quilting.  This will be flung over the back of a sofa in the living room and probably covered in cat hair very soon.  But that’s not a problem.  Everything I make gets used and goes in the washing machine when dirty.  Anyway . . . I’m happy dancing with my finished lap quilt, and already planning which project to finish off in February.

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a January 2018 finish (not mine)

I hope that, like me, you were lucky enough to see family over the festive season?  We had eldest son up for Christmas then just this past week, we had more visitors: second son and his girlfriend, N, came for a week.

Now, I managed to get N hooked on cross stitch a couple of years ago, and she’s been attempting to take her first steps in some machine patchworking recently too . . . but apparently not with great success.  She bought herself a second hand basic Brother sewing machine and is having difficulty getting to grips with it, especially the pedal.  It doesn’t have a speed control or any of the other useful gizmos you get on more expensive machines.

Anyway, she recently finished a new cross stitch project and, knowing they were coming to visit in January, asked if she could bring it along for me to finish as a cushion cover.  I said “bring away!” but warned N, she would be the one doing the sewing, because I would take the time to teach her.  And I did!

Juki is an excellent machine to learn to sew on because it has so many gadgets that make life easier, including the all important speed control for foot pedal.  I did all the fabric prep, but N did all the piecing.  I did the quilting, but N did the cushion cover assembly including button holes on the back (Juki has an intelligent automatic button hole option so it’s really a question of just letting Juki do the work).  And, ta da!

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Cushion cover is a perfect 17” square (although it looks a bit wonky in photo, it isn’t!).  Not sure where N found the chart for the cross stitch design, but she obviously had fun stitching that.  And I did a sort of “tetris” like quilting in black thread to keep the gaming theme going throughout.

Edit: to give credit where credit is due . . . the cross stitch design Cat Tetris is by SpaceNonasStitchery and for sale on etsy.

wall-hanging – step by step

A step-by-step following a request by restingwhippet . . . I hope it might be useful to a few other people too.  A “how to” make a wall-hanging, which I always find is a nifty way to finish off some of those small cross stitch projects we finish and stuff in a drawer.

I give no specific measurements, and I have assumed you have some basic knowledge of sewing.  Measurements will depend on the size of your project.  You’ll need a couple of fabrics that blend or contrast nicely with your cross stitch, some wadding/batting, cutting tools, sewing maching, sewing threads , some kind of wooden rod (I’ve used a Chinese chopstitck) and your faithful iron.

The first most important thing (and this is going to sound silly, but it isn’t) is to wash & iron your cross stitch piece to get rid of all creases, then slice it to size.  I leave a 3/4” border so that when sewn, my central panel with have a 1/2” border (it hasn’t been cut down to size in the first photo).  Then I always take time to place on possible fabrics and stand back, because you want to set off the cross stitch, without it being over-powered by the fabric.

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I was originally going to use the dark turquoise (lower left) as my main fabric, but it seemed to dominate too much

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So, as you’ll see, I went with a lighter one. 

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First step is to cut two bands for the sides.  Mine are 3” wide because my central panel is only about 6” square.  Lining up edges, right sides together, you sew a seam using a 1/4” foot (if you have one).

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I forgot to take a photo of next stage (oops) but . . . you press out both sides then cut 2 bands as long as your new width for top & bottom.  Again, you line up edges, right sides together and sew using a 1/4” seam.  Then press.

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Here’s mine, so far, just lying on fabrics ready to choose binding & backing fabric.  You’ll notice I have used a 3” band on the top, but a lot wider on the bottom.  The width of your fabric bands depends entirely on what you want, and also on how much fabric you have.  I was using a long quarter and needed to keep my pattern going the same way, so I cut 3” for the top and added 7” to the bottom.

I chose the solid turquoise for my backing fabric. So next stage is to cut a piece of backing fabric & wadding the same size as the front panel.  Make a sandwich: front panel (right side up), wadding, backing fabric (right side down).  Pin your sandwich if you need to, to keep layers from slipping, and back to the sewing machine. 

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I use my walking foot and sew a border, about 1/4” inside, onto my cross stitch fabric.  Cross stitch fabric is usually heavier and more rigid than patchwork cotton, so this just keeps the central square nice and flat before the quilting part.  You can miss out the quilting part, if your wall-hanging is only small, but it does give it a more “finished” look.  Still with walking foot, therefore, some simple quilting (but avoiding the cross stitched piece).

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And then you square up your piece.  You can keep your top with 90° corners, like this, or you can decide to alter the shape slightly.  I decided to slice off bottom corners for a pointy finish.

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And kept one of the triangles, sliced in half again for the back.  Now it’s time for binding.  I always make my own, but you can use shop bought binding.  For my binding, I cut a long band 2 and 1/4” wide, (length needed is going to depend on the size of your quilted piece) and pressed in half to have a length 1 and 1/8” wide.  I added a short strip of this binding along the long side of both triangles.  Then pinned into place.

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Then, turning my hanging over, I sew the binding (raw edges lined up with raw edges) onto the front of my piece, taking care to fold and turn at each angle.  I go back to my 1/4” foot for this but some people prefer to use the walking foot or the normal sewing foot.

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Front & back views after machine sewing the binding.  And then it’s time for some hand-sewing, folding the binding towards the back.

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The advantage of these little pockets on the back . . . it makes for an easy hanging system.  I have slid a wooden chop stick into place.  It will stop the hanging from drooping in the centre. 

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You can then add a little loop of ribbon, to hang.  And, if you want to add  a tassle for embellishment . . .

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Voilà! 

another finish #November

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Such a Spring-like happy dance in the house today, with a brand new finished project – yay.  You’ll remember this small butterfly design I showed you not long ago (a very easy kit by Dimensions).  I bought it because my sister loves butterflies and I thought it would be excellent as a gift for Christmas. 

When I first finished it, I had a cursory rifle through my fabric stash and was originally going to use a much darker fabric

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Here is the butterfly stitching just lying on a large piece.  It looked very effective, I must say, but after further rummaging, I found this piece

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Where the green in print just happened to match the green threads of the cross stitch, so that is what I chose to use for my borders.  Now, when I said I’d be making a wall-hanging, I had a few comments from people interested to see how I go about that . . . so I’ll be posting a step-by-step account of that tomorrow to show you in more detail.  For today though, I just wanted to share.  Back view, of the little hanging (in case you’re wondering how it will hang), looks like this.

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I usually make loops which are visible from the front through which to slide a wooden rod. On this one I’ve made triangular pockets which can take any thickness of rod (here a wooden chop stitck) and will keep the top of the hanging nice and rigid, so it doesn’t gape when hung.

Anyway, stay tuned . . . step-by-step coming tomorrow.

“Warning”–finish one a month #November

Earlier this month I showed you a sneak preview of a finished cross stitch & quilting project . . . showing only a full photo of the back.  I can now show you the front!

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This is an original design by Lindashee and the chart is now available to buy as a pdf download in her etsy shop LindasheesStitches

She has also designed a warning sign for cat lovers.  So dog-lovers and cat-lovers, hop over to have a look.

I stitched on 20 count aida, in 1 thread, because I wanted to keep the cross stitch panel small enough to have fun with contrasting fabrics and make a 16” cushion cover. But the design can be stitched on any type of aida/evenweave and is perfect for beginners because there are only full stitches and no backstitch.

When I first started the patchworking, to make my cushion cover, I originally made it like this.

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However the outer fabric kept making me go cross-eyed because of the white on black, so I ripped apart and added a softer grey instead.

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let the present making begin!

Like many crafters, I enjoy the run-up to the seasonal festivities because it’s a good excuse to have some quality crafting time.  And rather than crafting simply because I love crafting, it’s the time to come up with a few ideas and make gifts for friends or family.

This year the present making has begun.  So no actual seasonal crafting (although I will soon be making some tree decorations) simply making things that can be used all year round.  At the moment I’m concentrating on cross stitching, patchworking and sewing, but I may find time to add knitting and crochet to the list of pressies to be made.  The following photos are gifts for two sets of people who never visit my blog, so I can safely share.

On the cross stitch front, I’m busily working on a butterfly

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This is a very easy Dimensions kit I bought because I was looking for something fairly quick to stitch for a butterfly lover.  Leaves & backstitch to come . . . then some patchwork & sewing to make the actual gift – in theory, a wall-hanging.   And a sneak peek . . . 

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of a finished cushion cover which I’m very excited about. 

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You’ll notice I’m not showing you the centre panel . . . just the patchwork and quilting detail.  This is because . . . the cross stitch design I stitched is a brand new design by my daughter, aka Lindashee, and has not yet been made available in her new etsy shop:  LindasheeStitches.   From what she tells me, it should be available in her shop by the end of November.

I offered to be her proof stitcher and thoroughly enjoyed stitching this new chart which is perfect for dog-lovers.  So, while I can’t show you the completed front properly, you are allowed to see the back of the cushion.

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Made using a velvety silver-grey fabric with contrasting red poppers to fasten.

I am also busily making a few small un-birthday gifts for November – hope to get them posted very soon.

happy un-birthday (October)

This month I decided that Tony, of The Yarn Blabber, would be the lucky un-birthday boy because I wanted to make something to coincide with Hallowe’en. Aside from being a talented knitter, crocheter and cross stitcher, Tony is also an English teacher, living in Spain.  He mentioned a couple of months back that he was planning on doing some seasonal crafting, to have a little display for various festive occasions.  Hallowe’en being one of them.

I found the perfect little design to stitch on Cyberstitchers.  A freebie by SanMan Originals.  And delved into my stash of scraps to make a dash for the finish.

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I originally toyed with the idea of making a wall-hanging, but ended up making a bag.  That way, Tony can go “trick or treating” if he fancies, or simply hang the bag up (and it’ll look like a wall-hanging).

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Posted along with a packet of paper drinking straws . . . hope they arrive without being too squashed!