zippy fun – how to

Way back in February, I showed you a monster zippy pouch I had made, following a pattern in a French magazine.

magazine

green monster

I then went on to make more of the same, in different colours . . . and they were so much fun, I made some more!  Now, I don’t want to write a full-flung tutorial, since I don’t want to infringe on any copyright.  But I thought, I could at least show you some step-by-step photos, in case you were tempted to try this yourself.  I sewed by machine, but these could be sewn by hand, if you don’t have a machine.

I won’t give measurements, since it all depends on what size zip you use.  I’ll just say that I used a 5” zip and an A4 sized piece of felt for my main colour. Here is how easy it is.

First . . . you’ll need a zip, one piece of contrasting felt, a small piece of white felt cut into 2 circles (I cut mine free hand), two buttons, and (optional) a short length of ribbon.  I cut my felt in half, and then one of those halves in half again.

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zippy 02

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Don’t forget to open the zip before sewing front to back (right sides together) so you can turn it the right way out.

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Next, you play around with your buttons.  Depending on where you place them, you can totally change the expression of your zippy monster . . . like this

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like this

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or like this

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I find these zippy pouches great fun to make.  They’re quick and inexpensive to make . . . and I think they make fun gifts.

the “lean green runner bean”

My 14 year old niece, a budding musician, received an electronic piano for Christmas from her parents, and asked if Auntie Claire could make a patchwork keyboard cover.  Auntie Claire said she would give it a go . . . and asked “what colour would you like?”  The answer “Green”.

So, with that in mind, plus the dimensions of keyboard (14cm x 129cm) I put on my thinking cap.  “Green” covers such a vast range of shades, but I wanted to make something bright & fun, so I ordered in some of the “Dot Dot Dash” Moda range.  The hardest task was deciding on a pattern – something so long and thin needed quite small pieces, if I wanted to have a repeat effect . . . so I did a couple of sketches, a little bit of maths, and decided to do a braid, but in two segments, with a mirror effect in the centre.

lean green 01

The following will be obvious to experienced patchworkers, but I decided to take photos as I went, to show any newbies how easy this design was to achieve.

I wanted my bands to measure 1.5” when sewn, so I cut 2” white strips and sewed to my greens (green fabric was almost 10” deep)

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and sliced that into 2” bands so that I had my strips ready for the front of the patchwork.

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I could have cut at 45° to avoid wastage, but I prefered to cut at 90° and worry about squaring up my edges at the end.

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It was then a question of sewing things together in the correct order, from right to left, and then repeating.  I started with a white 5” square on the far right for my centre.

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I made my “runner” in two halves and then simply decided on a “cut” line across the 5” square on both sides, which I then sewed together to make my centre.  And added extra white triangles to each end to give myself more than the required width.

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I then batted and backed before quilting

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And then cut everything to size before adding white binding.

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I kept the brighter, dot fabric for the back . . . but it’s the front I prefer.

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And here it is . . .my “Lean Green Runner Bean” –  the perfect size.  The very bright greens and crisp white making a lovely modern contrast against the black of the electronic piano.

a spooky sewing session

I’ve been doing some spooky sewing.  I bought a couple of stash packs a while ago: Timeless Treasures Glow in the Dark, from Pelenna Patchworks (one of my favourite on-line shops) and October seemed the ideal time to cut into them!

spooky 01

First photo only shows you four of the prints in the pack.

I decided to document my sewing as I went.  I don’t profess to be any more than an enthusiastic amateur, but I thought some visitors might be interested to see how to make quick triangles (if they don’t already know).    So . . . I cut my fabric into 5” squares (and cheated, having bought some pre-cut white charms).

Next, I traced a line at 45° on each white square

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Then placing two squares right sides together I chain pieced my pile of squares, sewing 1/4” to the left of my line.

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Having a furry helper doesn’t make the job any easier, as fabric begins to mount up on the other side of the machine, but when you have cats, you adapt ^^

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Once the first seams were sewn, I snipped threads, and sewed the second seam, on the other side of my traced line.  Chain piecing again because it really is a time saver.

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Then it was time to cut along the pen line to obtain triangles

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And then iron fabric open, being sure to iron seams towards the dark fabric

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You can see the 6 different prints here – all very hallowe’eny ^^  However, I decided that, for the quilt I have in mind, the ghost print doesn’t quite fit in.  I’ve kept them to one side for a different project – they will not be wasted.  I had 16 new squares in each print . . . so then assembled into pinwheels.  The advantage of ironing seams to the darker fabric meant that seams were all lying the correct way for the pinwheel assembly stage.  It was Avis who explained to me the importance of seam direction – she walked me through my first pinwheel blocks and continues to offer encouragment and advice ^^

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This is the third time I’ve made pinwheels and I really enjoyed myself.  I knew exactly what I was doing so there was no anxiety or “what will go wrong?”.  What was new for me this time though, was keeping to a very limited colour range: black, white and a splash of red.

I love the fabrics!  The brightest fabric has little red spiders

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And I also love the skulls

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These fabrics are glow in the dark, so the white is more a creamy white than pure white, but I chose pure white for my solid fabric to really contrast with the black.

Next stage will be sashing.  However that won’t be just yet, as I have other projects demanding my attention.

quick & easy tree decorations

I’ve got blisters on my blisters, all because of my darn pinking shears, but it’s all for a good cause!  Title says it all . . . I’ve been a busy bee and begun my annual xmas decoration workshop.   I say annual – it didn’t happen last year because of the house-moving but for 2015 I’m back on track.

I thought you might be interested to see how I go about things, although it’s all very simple. So took photos along the way.  First, (for those of you who are new to my xmas decorations) . . . I don’t send out Christmas cards.  It’s been quite a few years, in fact, since I sent xmas cards, as I prefer to send out little tree decorations.  I’ve used different techniques over the years, but what is really important for me is to have something flat & light, so it can be posted as a letter . . . and because my address book is quite full,  it also has to be something quick & easy to make.  I avoid anything too fussy, and don’t add embellishments, but that’s because I worry it would clog up the automated postal machines.  Charms, buttons, etc could easily be added to make these decorations a bit more special.

The following is a technique I’ve used for several years. The only things that differ from year to year are the fabrics. Yep, even xmas fabrics go in and out of fashion, so each annual batch is made with a new lot of fabrics.

tuto noel a

These cat prints, for example, are a few years old and were hiding in the bottom of my drawer, so I’ll use them to explain how I do things.  First, therefore, you need some pretty xmas fabric.  If you can find “vignettes” like these then great, if not other prints will do.  I iron my fabric onto to iron-on interfacing  and then slice up

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Then (and this is the blister part) I cut down to size with pinking shears.

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If you can’t find these vignette type prints, then an option is to use xmasy print and make your own template . . . a heart, for example

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Very easy to draw on the wrong side, even on dark fabric, because of the interfacing.

Cut out (I did that again with pinking shears).

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You’re going to need felt.  Since it’s Christmas, I tend to go for traditional xmas colours, which match my fabrics and won’t look out of place in a tree . . . and you’re going to need ribbon.

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I cut mine into pieces, all ready to grab a length . . . I like variety, which explains the lot here ^^  Even though I’m “mass producing” my decorations, I do like each one to be unique.

Next part is simply to sew a fabric piece to a bit of felt, remembering to fold the ribbon in half and slide the two raw ends between the fabric and felt.  I like to match my thread to the felt colour, which means it doesn’t necessarily match the fabric on the front.

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Felt doesn’t need to be this big, since it’s going to be trimmed down to size

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And same thing with the heart shape

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You could use a proper appliqué stitch – I just whizzed around with a straight stitch.

So there you have it.  I can’t give you any sizes since it all depends on your fabric and what shape you want to make. The essentials you’ll need are: xmasy fabric, iron-on interfacing, felt, ribbon, thread and a pair of scissors or pinking shears.

I’ve made around 50 so far Rire  and that was with green thread in my machine and green felt.  I’m now off to change green for red, and start making some more.

And, just for fun . . . here are photos of batches from previous years . . . in 2013

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in 2012

3rd batch a

decos batch2

in 2011

more getting ready for xmas

There’s no stopping me lol . . . another piece of printed Christmas fabric and some more tree decorations to share with you. This time, I had my camera to hand for step by step photos though, so you get the enjoy my entire creative session.

First of all . . . a piece of fabric with lots of nice printed squares . . . so I cut out  squares and lengths of ribbon.

Folded ribbon to make “loop” and pinned to centre of one piece, making sure it was hanging down with edges of ribbon on edge of fabric.

Next (and this is something I learned from patchwork club) . . . in order to make sure pieces were properly aligned, I placed fabric right-side together and stuck a pin in each corner or one fabric square, then into corners of the second fabric square. If corners are spot on then all sides will be aligned too.  (Also moved the pins holding ribbon so that pins were all on one side.

First part of assembly was to sew three sides of the square. I did this by machine because it’s so much quicker, but of course, it can be done by hand. The main thing is to remember to leave one side open. I chose to keep the “bottom” open so began stiching with my open end (with ribbon showing) away from me and just zoomed round 3 sides. (sorry about bad lighting)

Next step was to cut off odd straggling threads, turn inside out (making sure to push corners out properly, stuff lightly and fold fabric in at the opening before pinning

Then, with a thread that matched fabric, a quick whip-stitch to close the last seam, and voilà

I had something of a production line going this morning, having allocated myself 2 hours sewing time and since I had 18 fabric squares, I made up nine of these decorations but of course I could have made 18 if I’d used a plain fabric for the backing lol.

easy bookmark tutorial

I’ve been making lots of bookmarks of late as gifts for friends using different methods. When I have time to stitch designs for both back and front, I do – and then assemble much the same way as I would a biscornu. However, sometimes there just isn’t enough time to stitch both sides, so then I choose a piece of matching fabric to finish off. I made a couple yesterday (using another Lady Kell design http://kincavelkrosses.wordpress.com/  ) and thought I’d take photos of the mounting process I use. Will probably not be very informative to some stitchers, but may give ideas to one or two stitchers out there as to a quick and effective way to make a bookmark.

You will need your stitched design, around which you backstitch a border using one strand; cardboard (which you cut to the same size as your stitched border); fabric and tassles or ribbon for embellishment. I made two, which explains why everything is in duplicate.

First of all you lace your fabric onto the cardboard. (I used black thread so it shows up, but it’s best to use one similar in shade to your fabric).

Then you trim off your cross stitch, cutting corners at angles.

Next you just fold in the edge of your cross stitch fabric, and slipping your needle under the backstitched border, you sew the two pieces together, just catching a small piece of printed fabric as you go for each stitch. I used blanket stitch, as I find it gives a neater finish.

Once that is done, folding corners in nicely as you go, you then add your tassle.

And hey presto – you have a nice neat, rigid bookmark (which cannot be washed however because of the cardboard inside).

avoiding disaster tutorial (or how to hide a botched job)

I almost had something of a catastrophe on my hands when finishing off a recent stitched piece for an exchange. The idea was to make a little tray, using my varnish glue method, BUT this time my tray was heart shaped and when it came to cutting a neat heart shape to fit in the bottom . . . things got horribly messy.  I had made myself a paper template but once I had cut I discovered not only was it a bad fit, but I had used biro and that was showing through the fabric.  Aaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhh!

So what to do?

I didn’t have time to begin again, so the only thing to do was find a way of hiding the botched job.  Initially I tried to simply glue some ribbon inside the tray, following the curves of the heart but this proved impossible as the ribbon wouldn’t stay in the curves . . . so another Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhhh!

Then I came up with another idea.  I reused my paper template to cut out some red card and then cut inside again to have a red frame approx 1cm thick.  Then, with needle and thread, I stitched my ribbon to the card frame, making sure I attached it well around all the curvy bits.  Once done, all I needed to do was glue my cardboard frame inside the tray (with superglue) . . . and hide the misery lol.