Sunday, 29 June 2014

Zipped pouch...

I hesitate to call this a tutorial... Some of my Bee pals asked for a demonstration of how I make my zipped pouches, using tabs at the ends of the zips. Although I showed them in person, they asked for a photo prompt to refer to later. So, here it is! There are many tutorials like this online, but if you want to use this one and anything is unclear, please do ask.

Firstly, prepare patchwork pieces for the front and back panels.Quilt these - I used my new favourite product: fusible fleece! The zip I used was an 8 inch, so I made my panels 11 inches wide, to allow an extra 1.5 inches either side.

To accommodate that extra 1.5 inches, I cut fabric which was at least 3 inches as it needs folding. Place the fold by the zip, use a zipper foot, and sew very slowly... Repeat both ends of the zip. Then take one lining piece. For my linings, I cut pieces exactly the same width as the front and back panels, but about a quarter of an inch shorter. This just helps them fit more neatly once inside the bag.

Arrange the zip so the top edge is exactly flush with the top edge of the lining. The pins in the above photo are just securing it, you won't be sewing anywhere near them. Now place the front panel face down on top - if it is directional, make sure the top is by the zip. Pin carefully through the front panel, zip and lining piece.

Now sew slowly, using the zipper foot and feeling your way along the edge of the zip.

It helps to open things out and move the zipper pull as you go, so you don't have to sew past the extra bulk. 

Above shows the lining, zip and front. Now tuck the lining behind, gently pulling away from the zip.

You now need to repeat the stages above, laying the lining down face up, positioning the zip - which is obviously now attached to half the bag - and then laying the back panel face down.

The whole piece should now look like this...

Time to trim away any excess fabric...

The single most important thing is to open the zip right now! 

Then position the front and back panels face to face, and the two lining panels face to face. You can just see my pink chalk marks on the lining, this is where you want to leave a turning opening.

You can then stitch all round the outside, apart from the turning bit. When you get to the zip ends, gently push the fabric tabs towards the front and back panels.

Use the opening to pull the bag through, and then sew it shut.

There we go, a simple zipped up pouch with neat zip ends!

Miss PatchyRose came running in with her Kindle, to see if it fitted - nope! Good, this one is actually for me :-) Lately I've cut back on making quilts for other people - hardly anyone would realise the expense and the time that go into them. So, we keep the quilts, but I make endless bags and pouches as gifts, and never keep them for myself. 

This one has now joined the shelf of good and special things in my sewing room...

Friday, 27 June 2014

3 in 1

Thank you for all the kind comments following our great quilty weekend, and the wonderful results of a year-long Bee! It was a struggle to come back down to earth this week, but I was fortunate to have a whole day off with no other plans on Wednesday...

First up, I urgently needed to finish this Plus cushion! This one is made with fabrics from our recent Florida trip, and also based on a design in the Pillow Pop book which I bought out there.

The cute backing is also from the Catnap range, and again I made a feature of the zip...

There will be quite a line-up on the sofa now, but fewer fights over who gets the cushions!

Next up, I finished off this cushion which I began on the quilt weekend, using generous Jen's scraps.

And lastly, the scraps which didn't make it into the cushion went into this little birthday bag, along with a few of my own pieces -

Not content with letting me loose on her scraps, Jen also donated this fabulous piece of lining fabric, so perfect for a little girl:

At the beginning of the day, I anticipated finishing these three and a couple of quilts too... Optimism is a wonderful thing, but three items in one day isn't bad!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Quilty Magic

About a year ago, Maria kindly organised a sewing bee and invited me to join. We each created a row of patchwork, 40 inches wide, and posted it on to the next person... Those initial strips have now been all around the country, and even to Jersey! This weekend the six ladies of the Strip Bee finally met up in person for the first time, ready to hand over our finished quilt tops...

We were so lucky in all being hosted by Jennifer, who turned her home into a five star hotel for the occasion. We spent Friday evening getting to know one another and relaxing over Pims and a lovely dinner :-) Some of the girls had asked how I do my zips in bags, so I put one together and they made their own:

On Saturday, the final member arrived by train, and the quilt reveal could begin! We drew lots, and Sarah won the right to go first...

I'm sure Sarah brought the glorious sunshine with her, all the way from Jersey, and we can't wait to take her up on her invitation to visit her there! One happy person later, and it was Amy's turn:

Amy is so talented, with a really unique style. She began this quilt with the middle-ish row, with a solid line and a square in the centre. I think we all felt suitably challenged to come up with something for this quilt, and were all relieved when we'd managed and enjoyed the process! Julie was next:

Julie invented a new block for her strip, the third one down. She has a wealth of experience, and writes brilliant tutorials on her blog. I hope she enjoys the variety in this quilt, all brought together by a common colour theme.

As if the sunshine wasn't bright enough, out came Jen's riot of colour! She began this with the third strip down, inviting us to go as wild as her own choice of yellow and pink. The end result suits her cheerful personality down to the ground :-)

Maria started her quilt with the cute row of houses, and I went next adding in the trees. This has gone on to become a really fabulous piece, with everyone excelling themselves! It is a small, but perfectly formed, quilt top, and a suitable piece to thank Maria for her superb organisation of the Bee.

Lastly, it was my turn, and I couldn't have been more delighted! I made the row of stars a year ago, and hadn't seen it since... Jen added the gorgeous row below, using lovely shades of grey and purple, my favourite colours! Amy did the fabulous crosses, using some of my favourite fabrics! Maria knew I loved her houses, and kindly gave me a whole row of them :-) At the top, Julie did those incredible hearts, and Sarah picked out some cute fabrics to showcase!

After all that excitement, we were ready to settle down and read through our notebooks. 

Each person had included a book with their quilt, and everyone wrote in it as they went along...

And if ever we were short of something to read, our perfect hostess has a magazine pile to rival most quilt shops, and kindly sent me home with a few to read on the train!

Hugely generous, Jen also invited us to pick through her scrap drawers. I cut up a selection of 2.5 inch squares, and whipped up a cushion cover as a birthday present for a little girl:


Other people's scraps are certainly more interesting than your own! Too soon, it was time to head home. I'm so grateful to all the girls for a fabulous weekend, and a whole year of fun.

One quick word of apology - I discovered today a number of comments had been left on my blog in the last few months which had never reached me! For some reason, they hadn't emailed through, and were stuck in the system. I'm so sorry if you were one of those people, and I never replied :-( Although I have managed to publish them all today, in retrospect, the technology won't let me respond individually...

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Florida fabric :-)

Thank you so much to everyone who left an opinion on my last post! I so enjoyed reading them, and realised that I tend to blog finished items and should think about getting feedback more often! That said, the majority vote went with my inclination, so the neutral spots have been added in...

I'm really happy with how it looks, and can't wait to use that gorgeous green pearl bracelet fabric on the back! I've been saving that for a while; in fact, the quilt top was deliberately sized to be the width of the green fabric :-)  Interestingly, a couple of people suggested white sashing. That made me realise that I have absolutely no plain white in my modest stash, and have only used it once before:

When this quilt was brand new, just back from being quilted (one of only 3 so far that I've had quilted professionally!) it looked beautiful. Now though, it's been through the wash a few times. Surprisingly, the white is still white, but the whole quilt has acquired that very crinkled look, and I don't feel white carries that off as well as patterns... However, it may be time to experiment with white a little more. In the meantime, the main purpose of the scrappy quilt was to clear the drawers for incoming fabric! We had a lovely holiday in Florida, a special and action packed trip. I took this favourite bag with me, and had kind of promised myself I would fill it with fabric, and no more...

Well, not far off! 

We discovered there was a Jo-Ann's near the hotel, and while I didn't buy fabric, they were great for books and templates, especially with a 40% off coupon.  It is so much nicer being able to browse books before purchasing, and I looked through hundreds before choosing.

This bright bundle belongs to Miss PatchyRose, who plans to make a row of beach huts! Fortunately the Simply Retro book has a good pattern for little houses.

I am loving this bundle of fabrics! The idea for a 'plus' cushion came from the Pillow Pop book, honestly it is packed with great ideas, there are several I will be trying out soon. Obviously the plus design is all over blogland and not difficult, but if you're feeling lazy, there's nothing quite like having the grid worked out for you...

Rather liked these, but not sure what I will make...

Handy bits for any small project - 

One of the shops we visited was doing 25% if you bought at least a yard... Kind of had to!

I deliberately went looking for low volume, and can't tell you how long it took me to find these! I definitely think low volume swaps are the way forward, I loved the charm square one I did. Essentially, low volume on its own is so boring, it's really hard to pick off the shelf! Finally got there with these few:

In between the fabric purchases, we had some wonderful days exploring nature reserves. An armadillo ran across the path, I nearly stepped on a very large snake, we rescued a large tortoise from the middle of a dual carriageway, and we saw heaps of manatees, dolphins and amazing birds.  We started out anxious about alligators, and were positively blas√© by the end of one walk, where we came close to several!

Miss PatchyRose enjoyed a wild few days doing the Disney parks:-)

Hope you are getting some sunshine too!