Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christmas Crafting

Now for the record I do know that I should be spending any spare precious crafting time that I have working my way through my rather long homemade Christmas gifts list, but sometimes an idea pops in to my head and I just have to make it!

That is exactly what happened the other night.  I had been working on my Christmas Quilty Fun Blocks (ok so that's another project not on the To Do list.....but these blocks have been so much fun to make, so I think that's an acceptable excuse).....this by the way is what my over stuffed make shift design board currently looks like....

Anyway I digress, as I was merrily stitching away I decided that it would be rather sweet to make a Christmas Tree mini quilt to hang on my kitchen door over the festive season.

Having been inspired by Lori's block, I did some quick maths and reduced the block size pieces, which then enabled me to add on some extra branches.  With the addition of some pretty cotton lace, a little embroidery, some cotton ribbon and a few precious vintage mother of pearl buttons from my stash, this is what I can up with.......


One of my favourite buttons ever takes pride of place at the top!
The fabrics for both these projects are in the main a mix of Tilda's from collections old and new.  I know I've said it before, but one of the principle reasons why I love Tilda so much, is the fact that each collection works so coherently together.

It was also so lovely to do some embroidery again, it seems an age since I picked up some floss!
Whilst talking of Christmas crafting, I don't think I ever showed you the Christmas box I made using some of the squares from the Moda 'Winter Wonderland' panel.........
This is such a gorgeous panel and redwork designs are just so timeless don't you think?   

I loved this panel from the moment it arrived.  You could of course use it as a centre panel on a Christmas quilt, but I have had such fun cutting it up and using the sections separately.   In addition to the box, I've also been adding some embroidery to one of the little squares....I'm planning on hanging this once its finished on the front door on Christmas Eve....

Mum's also been having some stitchy fun using the little line of snowmen from the bottom of the panel  ......

I have plans to turn the remaining squares into Christmas mats, but that will be a last minute project, once I've worked my way through that list!
 
'A little happy' shop news......

If you fancy a little Christmas crafting, our Christmas Shop can be found here, to be fair it is a little depleted, but hooray.....bells and ribbons have been restocked and you can find the Winter Wonderland panel here.  All our pretty Tilda fabrics from collections old and new can be found here and finally would you believe it........Christmas Fabrics for 2015 have been ordered...how scary is that!   

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Little Happy Patchy Heart Quilt Along ~ Week 4 Quilt Binding



Welcome back for the final installment of the Patchy Heart Quilt Along.  Today I'm going to show you my favourite method for binding a quilt.  I've tried various ways, but for me personally I always get the best results with this method.  So if you're ready, lets go!

Binding

Firstly we need to join the four 2 1/2" by full width of fabric strips that you cut from your binding fabric. (Just to clarify, the fabric used for my quilt bindings is printed with a diagonal stripe and my binding strips were cut horizontal across the full width of fabric and not cut on the bias)

To do this take two strips and place them right sides together at a right angle, make sure that the selvedges are positioned above and to the side as shown. (You can if you prefer cut them off before you start)  If you have a quilting mat, I find it helpful to use the vertical and horizontal printed lines on it to help give a perfect 90% angle.  Pop a pin in. (step A) 


Now draw a diagonal line at 45%.  Again if you have a quilting ruler, use the lines printed on it to help with the angle  (steps B and C)  

Stitch along along the line (step D) and then cut away the excess leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. 


Repeat this process and  join the remaining two strips and press the seams flat.  

Finally fold the strip in half lengthways, wrong sides together, raw edges meeting and press.

You should now have one long strip ready to bind your quilt.


We're now ready to get stitch the binding to your quilt top.  Take one end of your binding, open out and fold over the end as shown below

Place the opened binding on to the top side of your quilt, right sides together, matching the raw right hand side edge of the binding with the trimmed edge of your quilt.  Stitch with a 1/4" seam allowance (or as close to this as possible if you do not have a 1/4" foot) for aprox 4".

'A little happy' tip ~ I generally start my quilt bindings on either the right hand edge or the bottom edge of my quilt top, aprox 2/3rds of the way down/across, I find this way my eye isn't drawn to its position once the quilt is completed.
Sorry I forgot to photograph the next picture, so this is a different project, but the process is the same.  Refold the binding (you should now have both raw edges of the binding matching the cut edge of your quilt)  and start sewing the binding to the quilt top aprox 3" lower than the starting position of stitching in the previous step, this creates a little opening.  Again use a 1/4" seam allowance or a close to this as possible.
Continue sewing until you reach the first corner of your quilt......STOP stitching 1/4" from the corner (as indicated by the arrow).  Cut your threads, but NOT the quilt binding.
 Fold the binding upwards, making sure the raw edges of the binding are in line with the edge of the quilt top.  Can you see that nice 45% angle on the fold line of the binding.......
 Now bring the binding back down so the the raw edges now meet the side of the quilt again and the fold across the top of the binding is running in line with the top edge of the quilt that you previously attached the binding to (as indicated by the dashed line).  You're now ready to sew the next side.  Start 1/4" lower than the previous stitched edge (as indicated by the arrow)
Repeat this process until you have stitched all four sides and you are back where you started.  As you approach your start position, gently unfold the little pocket opening that created at the beginning and slip the tail end of your unstitched binding in to it,  trim away any excess binding that goes beyond/exceeds your 3" opening.  Refold the pocket binding and make sure that all the layers are laying flat......
 Continue sewing until you reach your first stitches (as shown in the circle).  That's it your binding is now sewn to the front side of your quilt.  By the way, can you see that little pucker in the binding, where I finished stitching..... oh how cross was I........
.....luckily this was just on this side and when I checked underneath, the seam line between the binding and quilt was lovely and smooth, so no action was necessary as this eventually was hidden when I folded the binding round to the back.

This is what the join line should look like on the front of your quilt.....
Grab yourself a cuppa and find a nice comfortable place for a spot of hand stitching.  I love to stitch bindings on an evening with something good on tv!

The final step is so hand sew the binding to the back of your quilt.  Starting from the point where you began machine stitching the binding, fold the binding over to the back of the quilt this overlaps and hides all the raw edges.  Bring the edge of the binding past your seam line from where you stitched the binding to the front, so that this is hidden and whip stitch in place.

To whip stitch, inbed your knot in the underside of the binding, then take your needle through the quilt backing and into the wadding for about 1cm (as shown in the main picture below), make sure you do not pierce the quilt front, then bring the needle back out and into the binding, as indicated by the cross, then repeat.  You can see from the inset photo how this stitch looks in progress.
This is a lovely stitch to use as it is almost invisible apart from tiny stitches going from the binding into the backing every cm or so. 
When you reach a corner, you will find that the binding naturally creates a 45 degree angle on the fold as indicated by the arrow (step A), to create the mitred corner, fold the binding on the next side of the quilt over to the back (step B),  catch the corner in place with a couple of neat little stitches (step C) and then continue whip stitching (step D) until all your binding is  neatly sewn in place.
'A little happy' tip ~ when you need to change your thread, secure your stitching and then take your needle in to the wadding bringing it out aprox 1" away.  Pull on the thread so that it is taught and snip close the backing fabric, the thread end will then slip back inside the quilt and out of sight.
Hooray.......that's it you're done, you should now have your very own Patchy Heart Quilt to snuggle under.



As always, if you have any questions, please do pop me an email or leave a comment below and I'll do all that I can to help.

I would LOVE to see pictures of your finished quilts, so if you share any on Instagram or Facebook, tag me or use the hashtag:

#alittlehappyqal

or send them to me by email.

Thank you once again for joining me on the Patchy Heart Quilt Along and I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did!!

Monday, 17 November 2014

PJ's for Poppy

To fund raise for Children in Need, the children had to wear PJ's for school on Friday.  No problem, you would think having so far this school year rustled up costumes for Victorian day, Roald Dahl day, Pirate day and Red, White and Blue day..... that is until early last week when I actually looked at Poppy in her PJ's and realised that her trousers were half way up her shins!!

Quick phone call to Nan (Penny) and before you could say Jack Robinson, she had sewn some pretty PJ bottoms for me.  She adapted the pattern she had used for Poppy's shorts this summer and she used the gorgeous Michael Miller Berry Ta Dot .  The t-shirt was a plain one we already had and I added the matching star using bondaweb and then machine stitched it for durability.

I tried to get some good photo's for you, but having left it until 2 minutes before we should been on our way to school and the concept of standing still not coming easy to a 6 year old, they're not the best............



 and it would appear that standing in a relaxed manner, is equally difficult.....
but sitting still....yes much better!

Having learnt my lesson, I'm super organised for red, green or gold day coming up later this month, (fund raising for the PTFA)... Nan has worked her magic again and made Poppy this very twirly skirt from Michael Miller's Yule Trees, which just so happens to co-ordinate perfectly with the Berry Ta Dot.......

This time, I decided to go with a pretty hanger shot....so much easier....

 and can you guess my thinking..... remember the PJ top.....
 ....... well now we have a star on top of a Christmas tree!

I hope that you had a lovely weekend.

(Our fabric manufacturers recommend that their fabrics are not used for childrens’ sleepwear, Poppy will therefore be wearing hers for slouchy weekends!)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Little Happy Patchy Heart Quilt Along ~ Week 3 Layering and Quilting


Welcome to week 3 of the Patch Heart Quilt Along.  I hope that you enjoyed sewing all your hearts and piecing your quilt top together.  This week we're going to be layering and quilting.

Layering

For this step you will need your backing fabric*, your wadding/batting* and your quilt top.  Both your backing fabric and quilt top should be well pressed.

* If I were making a larger quilt I would always allow for my backing fabric and wadding to be at least 4" larger all round than my quilt top.  For this quilt I allowed 2" all round which  made it possible to make the quilt using 1.25m of backing fabric and wadding with very little wastage.

You're now going to make a quilt sandwich.......

First off, lay your backing fabric right side facing down on a flat clean surface, ideally one that isn't carpeted is easier. Smooth it out so that it is laying nice and flat without any wrinkles, then using a low tack tape (masking tape is ideal, but I couldn't find any to hand so I used washi tape...what a waste!) tape all four corners and at intervals along the sides to hold it in place.

Now lay your wadding centrally on top, again smooth it out so there are not any wrinkles.  You'll find that it will start to naturally stick to your backing fabric.

On top of this lay your quilt top, right side facing upwards.  Make sure that it is centred up with an even border of wadding and backing fabric visable all round.  As before smooth it all out so that it is laying nice and flat.


Grab some safety pins and starting from the centre of the quilt pin through all three layers.  Working outwards pin at regular intervals, you can never have too many, one at the centre of each block would be good.  Once you've done this you're ready to quilt!


Quilting

When it comes to quilting, I am definitely a straight line quilter by nature for both hand and machine quilting.  One of my goals for next year is to find my curvier self and explore fans and scallops etc.  But as you can see from the picture below, machined straight lines were the order of the day, by all means quilt yours as desired.

'A little happy' note on quilting.....For machine quilting I switch to my walking foot on my machine.  This type of foot allows the three layers of the quilt to move more evenly and prevents them from bunching up.    If you do not have a walking foot, do not despair, when I made my Tilda brick quilt last year, I didn't have a walking foot, so I used my standard machine foot, you can see the results of this HERE.  If you take to quilting, then I would highly recommend investing in both a walking foot and a 1/4" foot for future projects.



So if you would like to quilt your quilt like mine, here's a little more detail for you.  I set my machine on a slightly larger stitch than I normally use for general sewing and personally I like to use 100% cotton thread to match my fabrics.  I quilted horizontally and vertically using the seam lines on the 4 patch and heart blocks as a guide, with the edge of my machine foot following the seam line.  This gave a lovely grid effect.  Sorry the second picture is a different project, but can you see what I mean with the edge of the machine foot?

Here's a little graphic which hopefully illustrates the course I took.  I started in the centre of my quilt (green arrow) by starting in the middle and smoothing the fabric as you go helps prevents bunching and stitched horizontally, either side of the blocks (as indicated by the red arrows) moving towards the top of the quilt (ending at the yellow arrow).


There's no need to stop stitching and cut your thread at the end of each row, simply stitch outside the quilt top in to the excess wadding and backing fabric, moving from one row to the next.  

Take your time and take a break if necessary.

I repeated the process for the bottom half starting at the pink arrow, working downwards until I reached the aqua arrow.


Now you could stop there and simply have the horizontal lines, this would look lovely (my brick quilt has horizontal lines only!)  or you could as I did, repeat this process for the vertical quilting, remember to start in the middle working outwards to the right and then repeat from the middle to the left.

You can see the grid pattern on the back .....


'A little happy' Tip.... I wear a pair of gardening gloves (clean ones!) with those little sticky palms, they really help to move the quilt about whilst stitching.


You can see more pictures of quilting in progress HERE.

Now just in case you think that my quilting was perfect and went without incident, well as you can see mine does have the odd little bit of bunching....... so if that happens to you, either grab your seam ripper and try again or if it's just a little imperfection, grab a cuppa and move on, believe me when it's all completed, you will not see this little blip, it is after all handmade and none of us are perfect!!


The final step this week is to trim away the excess wadding and backing fabric so that they are even with the edge of the quilt top and that's it your done!  Next week for the final instalment we'll be adding the binding, so I look forward to seeing you then and don't forget so that I can take a peek, if you share any pictures on Instagram or Facebook please do use the hashtag:

#alittlehappyqal

Happy Quilting!