Bright Stars

I’ve been making baby quilts for two arrivals expected any day now.

I’ve just finished my second one. Take a look at the first one here.

For this one, I wanted it to vaguely match one I made for their sibling a few years back. It was rows of hearts in brightly coloured fabrics.

Because I had a bunch of fabrics left over from this one (and a whole bunch more that would fit in perfectly) I decided to use the same/similar fabrics for it. But to make it different, I decided stars might be a nice addition to the hearts.

After a lot of umming and ahhhing I settled on a paper foundation pieced star. The pattern is a free one by Threadbare Creations and can be found here. I changed it a little. Because I didn’t want two tone stars, I did the star bits in one piece instead of two.

After making one star, my initial reaction was “hell no! I’m not making a whole quilt from those!” It was my first time trying paper foundation piecing. And it was a lot more fiddly than anything I’d tried before. But I love a challenge. And I’m a sucker for punishment. I took it as an opportunity to explore this technique further.

I made a lot of mistakes, there is a whole bunch of areas I have “fixed” by adding more fabric when the piece I was using didn’t quite fit.

I had my heart set on making nine stars. Then just keep adding borders until it was big enough. It wasn’t until my mum came and told me that I should make 12, that I relented and made more.

I machine quilted this one. Around the sashing and around the stars. And that green fabric I have used in the sashing and the binding, its one of my favourites. This is the third quilt I have used that fabric in!

And all completed! I put a lovely rainbow fish flannel on the back for the warmest snuggles!

 

I’m so excited to meet the recipients of these quilts for the first time!

Lego mat bag

This was one of those “oh this won’t take long” tasks that turned into a cussing match!

A week or so ago, a friend approached me to see if it was possible to make a Lego mat/bag for his children. Now, I have a pretty big soft spot for his kids, and will take any opportunity as an excuse to go fabric shopping, so off I went!

I ended up in the furnishing fabric section. The dimensions we were talking was 150cm diameter, so I needed wide fabric. I found a nice bright patterned fabric for the outside, then went questing for something plain for the inside. I stumbled across some velvet. I ummmed and ahhhhed for a bit. It was super soft and squishy and would be really nice to sit and play on. But I thought it might be a bit hard to work with. I got it anyways.

So with my two fabrics, the next steps should have been easy.

Making circles of fabric. To do this I fold one piece in half, then half again. Measuring for the folded corner, mark out the radius, then cut. For this bit I managed to measure too far, and went over the selvage. I had to go back and do this step again, taking another inch off the edge. Simple fix, but lesson learnt. Always check your measurements!

Once you have one giant circle of fabric, lay it on top of the other piece of fabric. Cut around it. Now you will have two giant circles of fabric.

Now for the casing. I thought this was going to be easy. I was even patting myself on the back when I remembered there was a way to work out the circumference of a circle, so I could work out how long my casing strips need to be! (radius times pi) But it took me two goes! The first casing I made was from the velvet and only 2.5inches wide. This was too bulky and not wide enough to comfortably take the cord, and resulted in a lot of unpicking and cussing. The second time around I cut the casing from homespun (much thinner than the velvet) and at 4.5inches wide. This allowed more room for the gathers to sit. If I made this again, I would actually consider pushing this out another inch, as the gathers are still bunching up a bit from the bulky mat section.

Even with my silly mistakes this was a fun make. I learnt a few things (especially how gathers need room to do their thing). This is going on my “list of things to make for kids birthdays”

Lego mat ready for play!
Lego mat, gathered into a bag, all tidied up!

Shopping Bag

When they banned single use plastic bags in Canberra, I decided to start making my own cloth bags. I based the pattern off a single use plastic bag, so I knew they would hold a fair amount of shopping! Since then, I never fail to get compliments on my bags, especially at the super market! I found that having bags that were awesome and that match our personalities really went a long way to smooth the transition to no plastic. That and actually wanting to make a change in hopes of creating a better future for our environment.

With NSW currently going through the transition, I thought it was about time I shared my pattern with the rest of the world! It might not be the simplest of patterns, the bias could be a bit tricky, but it makes a super bag that folds down small enough to stash one in your handbag.

Material – I like to use poplin. It comes in an awesome range of prints and is nice and lightweight. I have also used quilting cottons and drill. Of course the heavier fabrics will be much more sturdy, but Guy manages to stuff 6 2L cartons of milk in one bag without breaking it, so poplin has been more than strong enough! I always buy 60cm of 112cm wide fabric. This gives me a little wriggle room. 1m of bias binding should be enough to edge the top parts, I usually buy it in 3m packs. A contrasting colour is nice, or pick out a colour that matches in with the design on the fabric. If your not too confident with bias, go with the wider stuff, as it will be easier to make sure you catch the fabric.

So first you’ll need to download my pdf shopping bag pattern and print it out. I put a 5x5cm square on it that you can measure so you can make sure it prints at the right size.

You will also have to tape these together and cut it out. The pattern already includes seam allowance.

Next up, lay out your fabric. The pattern calls for two pieces cut on the fold. I cut both at once, so I fold the fabric with selvages together, then fold in half again, so the fold is against the selvages. Place your pattern piece with the “cut on fold” up against the edge of the fold, and the other edge towards the selvages. Pin and cut out.

All going well, you should have two pieces that look like this –

Now for the fiddly bit – applying bias around the handles and top edges. Use pins. Lots of them. Some people have feet for their sewing machine that can help with this part too. I don’t. So I use lots of pins, and play close attention to the curved parts, really making sure its well on. Carefully stitch along the bias, staying close the the edge of the tape.

Now it’s time to start stitching the bag together. Lay the two pieces right sides together. Pin along the sides, and the top of the handles where we did not put bias. Sew along these edges. leave 1/2 inch seam allowance. You can overlock these seams. I don’t have an over locker, so I stitch the seams first, then go back and do a zigzag along the raw edge to stop it from fraying.

Turn the bag right sides out and press. Now we work on the bottom seam. To do that, first we need to fold each side in. Fold the handles in half, bringing the edge furthest to the outside, under to meet the edge towards the centre. Press the rest of the fabric to sit flat into the fold. You should have a fold of fabric approx 12cm. Pin. Repeat for other handle and side.

The outer edges of the handle fold under and the edges fold in

A more detailed photo of how the handles fold in and under
You can see that I have folded and pressed one side and not the other. This is what it should look like.

Stitch along the bottom leaving 1/2 inch seam allowance. Trim as necessary.

Turn the bag inside out, making sure everything is sitting flat. Pin the folds down so they don’t move. You will stitch along the bottom edge again, enclosing the previous seam.

Turn the bag right sides out again. Put a couple of stitches along the handles to make them stay folded, and your done!

They fold down neatly so you can stash them in your handbag

A tiny selection of previous bags. These ones have been in circulation for about 5 or so years now.

Bright and White

I have finished the first baby quilt!

For this one I chose a black and white panel “Thicket” by Gingiber for Moda.

Then for the sashing I cut strips from a batik jelly roll into 2.5 inch squares.

A white border and some more rainbow batik squares extended it further.

I usually machine quilt my baby quilts, but this one was insistently asking for some big pearl cotton number 5 stitches! I think they really bring the whole piece together.

I only used about half the roll of batik fabrics, so I used some of the leftover strips for the binding. The backing is a lovely flannel with a farmyard print.

All in all, I’m super happy with this quilt. It is simple, but bold!

The panel came with two sets of the animals, so I plan on making them into stuffed toys, piecing the leftover batiks together and using them as a back.

Now we await the arrival of bub! I will embroider their name and birthday before I deliver it 🙂

I better get cracking on the next one!