Saturday, 28 January 2012

More Cooking than Stitching

I've kinda lost my way a bit this week with the stitching.  First off I removed the paper from the back of the patched sleeves and noticed a lot of the bottom stitching was quite loose ..........a huge disappointment with myself for not checking earlier!  Thankfully it was only a top tension issue and tightening it up a notch seems to be ok.  I just need to get on with it!  The elephant is stuffed though ................

Cheese and bacon whirls (of which I ate far too many) ..............

Basically a cheese scone mix (salt, white pepper and mustard powder for plenty of flavour) mixed with egg and milk and with more cheese and minced lean unsmoked bacon laid on top before being rolled up and cut into slices.  A great use for Sainsbury's cooking bacon (£1.09 for 660g) as is the Bacon and Onion suet pudding we had for dinner last night.  I was going to take a pic this morning but the remaining portion in the fridge has gone!  For a cheap and easy dinner if anybody is interested .......

Bacon and Onion Suet Pudding
250g SR flour
125g Suet
Pepper, mustard powder and a little salt for seasoning
225g lean unsmoked bacon (rashers, chopped or minced)
1 large onion chopped

Mix all dry ingredients together with water for a manageable dough and roll out on a floured surface to about (guessing here) 9" x 12".  Place bacon and onion on top and, starting from the short end, roll up like a swiss roll.  Parcel in foil and, making sure any joins in the foil are on top, place into pan and steam for 2.5hrs.

We had apple shortcake this week too, here's one I made earlier:

I can't remember which recipe I used for the one in the photo but this week it was from Nigel Slater's "Kitchen Diaries" .............. just as he says except I don't caramelise the Bramleys too much as I prefer the crisp clean look of the apple and cooked for a little longer (more like 1hr rather than 40 minutes but that could be my oven and the fact I placed the baking tin on a tray) to prevent a soggy middle ............ the apples keep it moist anyway.  Oh, and I've ate far too much of that as well!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sorting Out

Today was a tidy up day.  At the back, fabrics for the jacket and some small pieces that will fit in somewhere ........

Bottom left a small pile from which I should be able to do something ...............

He needs ears attaching, stuffing (when I remember where it is) and some adornment before he's off to a new home (more about that later).  The pile of fragments left (I can't really call them scraps) will go in the bag with kilos of other fragments to make pictures when I've no fabric left to do anything else if we get any more energy bills like the one we've been hit with today!!

The jacket fabric pile looked very depleted with the two fronts and back still to go so I had a hunt for some bits that I could overdye turquoise .........  

Some worked better than others but at least I have some more to choose from which should keep me going for a bit ........

In the cupboard was a bottle of salt solution (labelled), one empty bottle and one nearly full bottle of another solution.  Was it Urea or Soda?  No idea, so I made up another bottle of Soda.  What was the point of putting the unlabelled bottle back in the cupboard then?

Angela, the free bag tutorials I've just found by googling for free bag tutorials or searching for free sewing patterns in general just to see if there's anything that I may like to make at some stage.  If and when is another matter lol!

Friday, 20 January 2012

"Hidden Lives"

That's the name of the patchwork jacket ............ .  The last two days have been busy.  I've drawn out all the pattern pieces to size on the foundation paper and finished piecing another sleeve.

I worked out what was wrong with the baking parchment on the machine ............. nothing!  Having switched to greaseproof, was stitching strips together to make pieces large enough for the pattern and had the same problem ........... it was the sheer volume of the stuff causing drag or rather my failing to support it properly to the front, rear and/or side.  It's not ideal working on a round table in the kitchen but it will have to do until it's a bit warmer and I can retreat to the conservatory ............ well until it gets too hot in the summer!

On the 1st of January, I said that the bathroom blind was priority ..........  I did start drawing some of the blocks onto paper!  I have 2 more blinds to finish and another to make.  There are three seascape bits that could do with being put to bed and a quilt that needs making up.  I quite fancied having a go at the Free Motion Quilting challenge but am being sensible about putting too much pressure on myself.  Then I find the Sewing Room sewalong with a relatively easily achievable project each month.  January's is a sofa/armchair sewing caddy and I could really do with one of those (mustn't forget the one my husband has asked for to house his remotes though).  It's just as well blogger wouldn't let me comment!!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

25 Free Bag Tutorials

I'm always cluttering up the "bookmarks" with stuff that "might come in handy" or that I "might" want to look at again when I've got more time.  There's hundreds of free bag patterns and tutorials on the web but here's some of the ones I've bookmarked:

Owl Bag

Toddler Backpack
(the pic is my version) 

Bird Purse

Car Caddy

Cosmetic Bag

Spring Felt Bag

I've only ever used one of them and that was for the toddler backpack!  My husband quite fancies the "car caddy" and I shall make him one when I've thought up an alternative "lining".

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The First Sleeve

Yes, stop thinking!  Two days hard work and I have one patched sleeve excepting a couple of bits that need hand stitching down and with which I was rather pleased until I put a picture up ............. they show all the flaws!  Perhaps the other side looks better but I'm too tired to go and look now.  I wanted this to be very much "as it comes" though did remove one rogue patch early on - I've taken all the "blue" blues out of the mix.  If I take out more then it'll be something else that stands out and we'll be going into contrived mode which is far removed from the original idea so I'm being brave .......... or stupid!  I've just this minute realised that I might need to think about the positioning of fabrics where the sleeve meets the armhole.  Not exactly stress free!

I've changed the pattern a bit.  I'm using the width and the neckline for the Vogue one but the sleeves were rather fitted so I've changed them to a less fitted version with a wider shoulder.  The sleeve is wider too and I've worked out, I think, that if I quilt as on the armchair caddy then I'll be ok shrinkwise.

The overall starting width was 16.5" and I cut the patch pockets at 7" wide so looking at the picture I've probably lost a bit less than an inch!   The safer option?  I'm aiming at cutting before quilting now ........ we'll see!

The Juki does not like the baking parchment foundation - it needs quite a bit of help!  I'm beginning to wonder now if it was greaseproof paper that I used on the Bernina without problem ............. if it weren't for the automatic thread cutter I'd get it out ....... all those ends to push through isn't appealing right now not to mention all the extra thread used.  I should have thought to get some greaseproof at the supermarket earlier today.  I'm not supposed to be buying anything extra for this but think I will need to get some thread.

Thankyou for all your comments ............ I do read (and listen)!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Starting "the" Jacket ............ tentatively

Selecting the fabrics is the easy bit!  There won't be enough of the batik to line the whole but that's ok, I quite like that different parts will be lined with different fabrics. The more mishmash this is the better.  I have lots of different fabrics but I don't have a lot of many of them.  There are a few half yard pieces that are new as is the batik (I would have purchased enough to line the whole jacket had there been enough) but much is scrappy bits left over from other stuff.  This is what delights me the most, using up what I have and trying to make it all work together!

Not sure yet but it might need some further colours ..........


Now for the uphill struggle!  How many more days can I spend thinking about this before getting started?  I can't think of a better alternative to paper piecing for now .............. a) I'd rather there wasn't anything between the main fabric and batting for smoother quilting and b) probably the less layers the better.  The Pillsbury Doughboy I could be but let's try not to get to Michelin Man!  The more I quilt it the less puffy and quilty looking it will be right?  Well that's what I'm hoping!

The baking parchment isn't wide enough for the pattern pieces so I'll sew sheets of it together.  It's quite strong yet does tear ok when needed ............. I don't want to be rustling like a packet of crisps walking along the road if I can't get it all out!

Using Vogue 2915, I shall crazy quilt the pattern pieces onto paper (back, fronts and sleeves) extending the pattern a couple of inches all round to allow for shrinkage when quilting ........ except for the length of the sleeves which drown me already!.  The random patches need to be upsized from that which I'd normally use ............. nothing smaller than 3" perhaps?  That might actually be a challenge!

I plan to free motion quilt the top fabric onto the wadding and lining.  Although I'm not actually there yet, this is where I'm stuck.  I don't want the quilting to extend into the seam allowance so that I can stitch the side and sleeve seams through the top fabric and wadding only if that makes sense.  It would leave less bulky seams plus I could neatly hand stitch the lining in place where applicable.  Problem is, as the quilting is going to "shrink" the pattern piece, where is the seam line going to end up so I know where to stop the quilting?  Oh and there's another thing, should I carry out any embellishment before or after the quilting?  Maybe I should make a mini jacket first ............ and hope it doesn't put me off!  Perhaps starting with a square ie. cushion size would be easier for measuring thus more helpful for sampling?  I've had the pattern cut out for two days now but I seem to be making this all sound rather complicated .............. thought processes take time.  Searching for answers one finds other stuff ............ pretty stuff that one can "pin" rather than clog up the laptop with so many bookmarks that other people can't find their stuff ................  getting addicted to "Pinterest" was not part of the plan and, I am quite sure, will not help stitch the jacket!!


Friday, 13 January 2012

Thinking about "The Jacket"

Wearable art or wearing a quilt?  There's a very fine line between the two and I've got to be careful not to cross over to the latter ............ particularly a crazy quilt!

I know what shape of jacket I'm going to do and I know the theme (think sea) but I'm still undecided about which technique to use to create the fabric.  Foundation pieced crazy quilting?  What to use for the foundation?  Something light that is going to behave when freemotioned with the wadding (I'll be using Hobbs 80/20) and backing.  It's got to behave in the washing machine so muslin is out!  I have some cotton lining which is rather stiff so I could wash that to see how that comes up or perhaps piece onto paper ............ I'm sure I could get some help to remove it all!!

Square and/or rectangular patches would be easier.  No need for a foundation, much quicker to make up and less wastage of fabric!  Hmmm ........... not reknowned for taking the easier option I really do need to think about this.

I've ordered a book hoping that there might be some useful hints and tips within.  I couldn't find much about it on the web but it was cheap so not too much to lose if it's not helpful. 

Yesterday, as part of my birthday treat, we went to Goldhawk Road.  It's not the sort of place where I'd want to hang out for any length of time but, for anybody that doesn't know, it is fabric shopping heaven!  A One fabrics (right next to the Shepherd's Bush market entrance) was the first stop.  Much of their stuff is priced unlike some of the others nearby - I find it somewhat offputting when picking up a roll of fabric, being told it's £3.95 a metre then you can have it for £3.50 when you put it back.  I'm sure you could haggle well in a few of these places if you're that way inclined though.  Anyway, amongst the dressmaking cottons were some quilting fabrics, mostly Woodrow ............. who could resist at £3.50 a metre?

A Cooke's Pie and Mash shop next door is a treat for the husband (no bathroom there though) ............ photo from a previous visit

A few doors along is Unique Fabrics where they had cotton solids for £3.95m ........ they would be £6.50 to nearly £10 at the shops nearest to me.  I had all the bits I needed so didn't even venture into the shops over the road yesterday but I have been in all of them before!  The small market is also worth a visit ........ chillis and other veg that's on the more expensive side in the supermarkets here are ridiculously cheap ......... it's worth taking a cool box just in case!!

As an aside, has anybody used the V&A's Patchwork pattern maker with any success?  I need to find the "right" photo to have a play around and remember that it's not going to convert into an intricate cross stitch chart lol!

I'm off to do some tidying up, put the washing on and THEN I can start sorting out some fabrics for the jacket and hope the postman hurries up with my book.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Patchwork Mania!!

I'm a bit, well erm, besotted with patchwork (particularly patchwork clothes) right now.  I think it's one of those things that's been with me forever and just emerges from time to time.  When I was little, in the 60s, my nan had a little bundle of pinked flannel nursery squares which I played with and stitched together for dolls blankets.  If I remember rightly they were samples from a time when she worked in a small local department store.

I loved this faux patchwork cotton print dress that my mum made me c1972/1973 .........

For many decades patchwork eluded me.  The angular symmetry and often dowdy colours in abundance had no appeal whatsoever.  I bought some templates and Laura Ashley pre cut squares back in the 80s but ended up stitching them together as they were to line a toy basket and have never used the templates.  I did the obligatory pieces for C &G and a few more recent bits that I've blogged about but nothing much.  I seriously thought about doing a patchwork jacket for my large scale C&G piece but knew I would make the embroidery so involved that I would never finish it.  I was going to use my Indian jacket for the main pattern.  I haven't worn it for years .......... it had an accident in the washing machine when a viscose velvet patch came away at the seams.  I'm sure I can find something somewhere, dyeing if need be, to make it wearable again.

Sitting round the kitchen table a couple of days ago coversing with my husband, mum and dad, my head was full of "what to spend my birthday money on".  Saying that I'd ordered a pattern for a coat mum remarked "patchwork I expect".  No, but I do intend on making a patchwork jacket at some point.  "Ah, Dolly Parton and her Coat of Many Colours" said dad who proceed to tell of the story behind the song.  I didn't even recall the tune let alone know that it was true.  I'm well and truly hooked on the song at the moment and I AM going to make my patchwork jacket!!

It's the domesticity and resourcefulness of patchwork that is so appealing.  A short while ago we visited a local quilting exhibition where there was some very nice stuff but most of it would have been made for the "show" and, although very nice and well made, had little appeal to me.  There was one quilt that stuck in my mind and it's the only thing I can remember much about .......... worked by a WW2 Canadian war bride in whatever fabrics she had to hand.  It was stitched with love and care and for a real purpose ............ the emotion almost weeping from the fabric and stitches.

I absolutely adore Jane's dress at the Museum of Childhood, lovingly made by her mother who sat up all night stitching these pieces of fabric together so Jane had a dress for a party.

I've kind of been losing my way a bit for quite a while, longer than I care to think about actually, but I'm sooooooo excited about this patchwork thing at the minute I am going to explore further and get the stuff sorted for my jacket!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Free Motion Quilting

I wanted to try free motion quilting on the Juki Exceed and got a foot for my birthday.  It's not actually my birthday yet (well it wasn't when I started!) but I needed a present for my dad's birthday.  My husband suggested an armchair caddy for the remotes.  Ah, I could make one ........ a good excuse to try the foot out!  The manual suggested keeping the stitch length on 2.4 but I found some of the stitches a bit big for my liking .........

so I switched to "0" which I was more comfortable with. 

It's not perfect but it's not bad (even if I do say so myself) for my first free motion quilted project.  I've done plenty of FMB and a couple of small bits of FMQ back in C&G days but nothing on this scale.  The dark sludgy grey thread on the front looks quite light but it will have to do.  The back ...........

I did find that the fabric didn't always move too smoothly over the plastic parts of the machine which I'd look into more if I plan on doing a serious amount of quilting.

A couple of design faults (I realise now how I could have made things a bit easier for myself) and I've been advised it might be a bit on the large side but, hey, I really didn't have a lot of time to think about it having only decided and started on Saturday.  I like the quilting though, and the fabric which, although floral, isn't too masculine and something I'm  sure mum won't mind having in her home.  That, too, was part of my birthday present but they deserve it!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Plans ..........

But first ............ from the Amazon wish list ............. "The Sewing Accessory Bible".  I love it!  Relatively inexpensive and quite a bit that's second nature but good for refreshing and deciding whether particular additional feet will be of use to me.  I'd never thought about using some of my automatic stitches for faux candlewicking either!

"The Artful Bird".  Many of the patterns need some enlargement on a photocopier so I haven't really had that good a look yet as it's a "want to dive straight in" kind of thing .........

Amy Butler's "Style Stitches".  Not that I actually need any bag books but my daughter should actually like some of them!!

I don't remember this being on the list but I had borrowed it from the library (yet to look) and I do really like "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" .............

Lastly, one I actually ordered myself  ............

The plan is to get the house in some sort of order (I've probably said that before!!) so the "Chelsea" blind is now in the bathroom ...........

I need to make a matching smaller one so a few hours today establishing the size and number of blocks needed via the "Quilt Assistant" design tool ............ it's much easier than drawing it out on paper when it comes to moving the blocks around to establish easy straight runs for stitching them together!

Three jobs imminent now then ................. draw out 109 log cabin squares, find the couple of squares that I know were left over from the last one and see which fabrics I can still match up from my stash!  I wrote that the other one took approximately 200 hours so this, in theory, should be about 80.

Wishing everybody a happy, healthy, peaceful and creative 2012