Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Reflections - Runner and Mini Pattern

A while back I made this table runner from some red and aqua fabrics I had in my cupboard. It was a spur of the moment thing. :) I designed it to fit a certain space in our dining room which is teal and aqua. It's called Christmas Reflections, which was my Mum's idea.


The runner was quick to cut and sew, and the little bit of applique was so relaxing to sit and stitch. I had so much fun quilting it. It's supposed to look a bit like snow falling from clouds and settling between the trees. 


The space between the stars and tree trunks had me stumped for a while, but after a sketching a few options, I went for this long swirl design, and I like it! The scale is tiny. There's just a couple of millimetres between the lines of quilting. 


Prior to any quilting on the runner though, I made a little mini quilt to trial a design on. I got VERY frustrated quilting this because my thread kept breaking. I think it was because I had the feed dogs down... It may sound odd, but my machine seems to prefer free-motion quilting with the feed dogs up and my stitch length set to zero. I've had no trouble with thread breaking since. 


The reason there are some wavy lines in with the swirls is because of that thread-break issue. I thought the thread might cope better with lines than swirls. I was wrong though - it still broke. 



The pattern for this runner AND the mini quilt (all in the one pattern) is now available in my Craftsy store, here. Or, click the button to buy now. You'll be sent an email to download the pattern after payment.

Buy Pattern Now

Thanks for looking, and Happy Sewing!

Hope


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Wander Through the Woods - A New Pattern

I am so excited to tell you that I've just published my newest pattern!


Wander Through the Woods is a jelly roll friendly lap quilt or wall hanging, full of pine trees that zigzag their way across the quilt. It's put together in rows, there are no triangles to cut, and no points to match (though you will want to be careful not to cut off the tops of the trees) - easy, right?


Made up in Christmas fabrics it's the perfect quilt for the festive season, but it would also work well at any time of year with a change of fabric. I'd love to see a whimsical version in cute fabrics full of fairies, mushrooms, and woodland creatures.

As well as the main quilt pictured, I've designed multiple variations all at the same lap size, 40.5 x 48.5 inches, plus there's a mini 12.5" square version, all included in the pattern with fabric requirements and instructions. One of my favourites is the ombré version:



And of course the mini:


I've really worked hard to make this pattern great value, and have written it with the beginner in mind. There are diagrams galore, tips and tricks for better accuracy, quilting suggestions and illustrations, full binding instructions... plus I show you how to make your trees whatever size you like.

I do hope you'll give the pattern a go. It really is a fun quilt that doesn't take all that long to make, and honestly is quite easy to sew. It's available now on Craftsy.

Let me know what you think!

Happy Sewing,

Hope x


Saturday, 20 September 2014

Waste Not, Want Not - Storage

I was cleaning up my sewing area today ready for the next WIP to be finished, and needed something to put my little binding clips in. So I rummaged a bit in my stock of 'might come in handy' items, and found a little Shrek lolly tin that I've had for maybe 7 or 8 years. Perfect! It got me thinking about the rest of my sewing storage solutions, and I was struck by how much is made up of re-purposed packaging. See?


My patchwork pins, the fine ones I use when piecing, are in a little pudding cup that had tiramisu in it. My basting pins (thicker flower head pins, not safety pins) are in a Pringles tube.

A project I am cutting out is kept organised in a (very well washed) meat tray and the little trimmings (which I keep - I'll tell you why another time) are put in the lid of a Ferrero Rocher box. The small, usable off-cuts from my Farmer's Wife Sampler are in a larger Ferrero Rocher box.

I store my sewing patterns in the plastic zip-top bags that some bed sheets came in, and hang them in my cupboard.


My cross stitch patterns and aida are in a sturdy plastic bag from a clothing store. My buttons are in a mustard jar.


I try my best to be "eco-friendly" in all that I do - though I don't always succeed - and that includes my sewing. Every purchasing decision I make is done after a long internal dialogue that weighs so many different considerations (mostly environmental and financial) it's a wonder I ever buy anything. I don't buy pretty storage. I never used to give it as much thought, so I do have some pretty storage items, but these days I make do.

I love the pictures of sewing rooms with all the pretty baskets, matching jars, decorative boxes... but I am lucky enough to have a cupboard to pack the 'less-than-pretty' things away into, so I'm more concerned with function than form. I can always pretty them up a bit if I choose, but I doubt I will.

And you? What do you use to store your sewing odds and ends in? Do you also hoard potentially useful packaging and find the perfect use for it years later? :)

Bye for now,

Hope x

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Sneak Peek

I have been working on a new pattern and it's almost ready for release. Just a bit more proof-reading to go, and it'll be done! Here is a sneak peek:


Trees, trees and more trees! I hope you'll like it.

Bye for now - I hope to be back soon with all the details.

Happy Sewing!

Hope x

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Find me on Facebook

So, I took the plunge and started up a Facebook Page. I hope you will come and say hello.


Bye for now, and happy sewing!

Hope x

Friday, 5 September 2014

Ella's Heart Quilt

I received a lovely email this morning from Sue, who has finished making a gorgeous twin size quilt using my ZigZag Love pattern. I just had to share it here (with permission of course). Look at all those hearts! Such bright, cheery colours, perfect for a little girl. A lot of time has gone into this quilt, and I dare say a lot of love. 


The quilt is for her baby granddaughter Ella. Lucky girl, I say, to have such a quilt to grow up with, and won't she feel special when she's old enough to appreciate how much time and effort went into it? 

Thanks so much Sue for sharing your quilt. 

Bye for now, and happy sewing!

Hope x 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Pretty Little Pillow

It has been so long since I've popped in here, hasn't it? I'm still around, but life gets funny sometimes and blogging takes a back seat. I thought I would quickly share a photo of a pillow I made a little while ago to go with the doll quilt my niece and I sewed together.


The back is the same as the front, minus the heart. It was so fast to put together and required very little fabric. Just four 5" charm squares (two for each side), a strip of fabric and a heart (cut from fabric fused to some interfacing).

To stuff this sort of thing I use the innards of an old, lumpy pillow. I machine-washed it, then cut an opening in the end so I can reach in and pull out the stuffing. Great to have on hand for pin cushions, little stuffed toys and the like.

Bye for now, and happy sewing.

Hope x


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Why I Pre-Wash my Fabric - Part 2

Greetings! I made this little quilt with my niece on Monday for her 7th birthday. My sewing machine is still away, hopefully being fixed up, but I was lucky enough to borrow my Mum's sewing machine for the occasion. While we were making it I remembered that I was going to do a post on why else I pre-wash my fabric. (The first post is here.)

The little quilt, fresh out of the washing machine.
You see, when we were pressing the pieces, there was a smell. Not too overpowering while making such a little quilt, but not particularly nice. I think it must be from the chemicals that are used to treat the fabric in the manufacturing process, I don't know. It's something I notice whenever I use pre-cuts, which are the only fabrics I don't pre-wash. After a while I get a headache from it. I also find that I get sore eyes, and the skin on my hands can become irritated (which also happens when I handle new fabric purchases when I get them home).

Now, I have a sensitive nose, and sensitive skin, so this probably doesn't happen to everyone. For me though, it's definitely reason enough to pre-wash my fabric. Actually, I'm seriously contemplating pre-washing my pre-cuts now too.

Do you ever experience the same thing? Craftsy have a blog post on the subject, here. It's interesting to read through the comments at the end and see what people have to say on the matter.

Bye for now,

Hope x

P.S. By the way, the fabric we used is Domestic Bliss by Liz Scott for Moda. I'm not sure about the purple - there's nothing on the selvedge, and I've had it for years.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Broken

I've been a little sad this past week. My sewing machine broke last Friday while I was quilting... so it's in for a service. I was going so well too, quilting echoing swirls on a table runner:


Since I bought my machine I've never had to do without it, and now I feel a little lost. I'm also a little silly apparently. Since I was quilting when it happened, my brain thinks that it's only quilting I can't do any more, so says things like: "Now would be a great time to finish your curtains!" or "How about you sew a mini block or a Farmer's Wife block instead". Hmm. No, brain, I can't do that because my sewing machine is broken. So silly.

I would guess I'm not the only person who feels lost without their sewing machine, right? What does one do? Well, I have started cutting more hexagons to make more of these:


This quilt will be made entirely from our worn out clothing - except for the white. It will be a mix of polyester, poly-cotton and cotton, and will no doubt take me years and years to complete. That's ok though, it's not a race. I'm more of a slow and careful sewer who enjoys the process than a "Get it done now!" sewer. If I want "instant gratification" I will sew a Farmer's Wife Sampler block, or a pin cushion. How about you? Are you speedy or slow?

I sometimes wish I was speedy, so I could get more done more quickly. I feel decidedly unproductive when I see how much some other people are able to get done. I doubt I'll change though.

Bye for now, and Happy Sewing.

Hope x

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Happy Heart

If there is one thing sure to brighten my day, it's having someone email me a photo of a quilt they've made from one of my patterns. A little while ago I was sent this photo by Mary Lou, and she was good enough to let me share it here on my blog:


Isn't it gorgeous? All those hearts, beautifully pieced... I love it. It's a twin size made for her granddaughter - lucky girl (and what a cutie she is too). Did you spot the heart-shaped label?

Mary Lou was also kind enough to put some photos up on Craftsy. If you click here, you can pop over and have a look.

Thank you so much Mary Lou for sharing photos of your quilt - it's beautiful.

Bye for now, I hope something wonderful happens to brighten your day.

Hope x

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Why I Pre-Wash My Fabric

Do you pre-wash your fabric? I most definitely do. I spent a couple of hours Monday morning washing my newer purchases. I usually do it as soon as I get it in my hands, but I let it build up a little this time and so it took me ages. It's completely worth it though. Have a look at these photos and you'll see just one reason why.


See all that colour in the water? Kind of pretty, but imagine if that fabric was in a quilt and bled into a different fabric. NOT a nice thought. It was't just the darker colours that ran either. Yellows and creams can run too, and a couple of mine did. The only ones that didn't really lose much were the blues and purples.

Here's how I pre-wash my fabrics:
  • Use a pale bowl or tub. It makes it easier to see any colour in the water. 
  • Wash in warm water with the same detergent used for all my laundry. While I'll most often wash my clothes in cold water, I always do my hand-washing in warm because I hate cold, wet hands. Plus, I give quilts away to friends and family, and they might wash in warm. It's best to treat the fabric as it will or might be treated in a finished quilt.
  • Wash by hand, rinse by hand, spin in the machine. How will I know if all the excess colour has come out unless I can see with my own eyes? Also, some fabrics can be problematic and no amount of washing or rinsing will get all that dye out. I have had to return fabric in the past because the water was deep purple even after five or six rinses! Make sure you rinse in your pale bowl too.
  • Rinse until the water runs clear. The reason here should be obvious. One thing to note: Sometimes you'll get little fibres that float in the water and try to trick you into believing they're dye. Usually they'll float on the surface so you can tell the difference. 
  • Don't leave your wet fabrics touching each other for too long. Even if your water is rinsing clear, there may still be colour transfer if you're unlucky.
  • Be vigorous. Agitate that fabric, make sure the water is really soaking in to the fibres and the colour is being forced out. Some fabrics bleed immediately on contact with the water, others will take a bit of persuasion. If you wash your quilt in the machine, it's going to be agitated, so do the same with your fabric.
  • Dry straight away. I always dry my fabric inside on a clothes horse. I know how my clothes can get tangled on the line if it's windy and I don't want that happening with my fabric. Also, I can easily keep track of how it's drying. I don't own a dryer, but wouldn't use one in any case.
  • Iron while slightly damp. It's not always possible, but if you can it makes it easier to get a crease-free finish and easier to square-up as you iron (if you need or choose to do so). Just be as gentle as you can. 

I know a lot of people tell you that it's not necessary to pre-wash your fabric for patchwork, that if you buy good quality fabrics then the colour is not likely to run. Well, I disagree. The fabrics I washed yesterday are all well-known brands. Moda. Free Spirit. Riley Blake. Lecien. I think most of us would agree that they are of a decent quality. As you can see, that didn't stop them turning my wash water distinctly colourful.

So what about colour-catchers? No, I still wouldn't risk it.

Anyway, that's just my opinion on pre-washing. Many people disagree, and have no trouble with their quilts. That's great. I prefer to err on the side of caution and wash every time. Well, almost every time. I treat pre-cuts differently, but more on that another day, and more on some other reasons why I pre-wash too. (That post is now up, here.)

Phew! That's a lot of typing. I hope I didn't lose you along the way.

Happy Sewing!

Hope x

Friday, 6 June 2014

Thinking about Christmas

I know it's only June, but in this home we celebrate "Christmas in July" (as well as the real Christmas). For us, it's a way to enjoy a day together filled with special moments and maybe a present or two, just for us. My other half is from England and used to the cold-climate Christmases, so it's also a way to enjoy Christmas like he used to as a child. Well, temperature-wise anyway.

Trying out hanging positions for one of our
presents from last year, a print by Jeremiah Morelli

When you're sweltering though 35 degree (Celsius), sunny days like we often get in December in my part of Australia, it can seem a bit ridiculous to sing about "dashing though the snow" and "a winter wonderland". In July, we can sing the songs, enjoy the warming drinks and spices, and snuggle under quilts showing snowflakes and snowmen, and it all feels right.

Aspen Frost Jelly Roll, all ready for cutting

I'm working on a new quilt to snuggle under this Christmas in July. It's made from Aspen Frost fabrics by Basic Grey, and will be a new pattern. The design isn't necessarily exclusively Christmas, in fact it has a couple of alternative versions that don't say 'Christmas' at all, but the fabrics I've sewn it in sure do make it feel festive.

Part of my quilt - such cute snowmen!

Do you celebrate Christmas in July? Do those of you in the Northern Hemisphere like to celebrate in July and experience a hot Christmas? I'd love to know. :)

Bye for now, and happy sewing.

Hope x

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Puss in the Corner

Sunday was a wonderful day for me, spent indulging in the things I love. It's been a while since I've had a day like that. I baked, I sketched, I stitched... and I sewed a Farmer's Wife Sampler block. It's my first for a while, and it felt wonderful.

I chose a quick block, looking for 'instant gratification'. It's Block 71 - Puss in the Corner. 


The book comes with templates, but this block was very easy to cut without them. Just some simple squares and rectangles with no tricky measurements to try and cut. I'm thinking a mini version of this block would be very cute. I mean, six inches finished is cute enough, but 1.5 inches finished would be ultra cute. What do you think?

Bye for now

Hope x 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Flatness and Polka Dots

Hello. :)

I'm checking in again after a long absence (more on that at the end of this post) to share a couple of things with you. Firstly, I have a new ironing surface!


I took an old table, covered the top in mylar batting and a small flannel sheet, secured with fold-back clips, and hey presto, I now have a FLAT ironing surface that grips the fabric. I am so pleased - my old ironing board really is decidedly wonky on top.

Secondly, some polka dots. Lots of lovely black dots on white, sewn up with a little Gypsy Girl by Lily Ashbury to make a queen-size quilt back. I do so love polka dots... Do you?


As for the reason I vanished for a while - it's the whole breast cancer thing I mentioned in my last post. I've been changing nappies, feeding children, doing the occasional school pick-up and drop-off, changing nappies... That close family member with breast cancer has children, four in fact, and all aged 6 or under. So, I've been helping out as needed. Who would have thought a childless thirty-something like me could become so proficient at changing nappies? :)

We're all getting into a new routine now, and my wonderful Mum is helping with the kids more often than not, so my time is more my own. I've been sewing, and writing patterns, and will have more to share with you more often. Promise.

Bye for now, and happy sewing!

Hope x

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Checking In

Hello! Just popping in to say boo. Things have been a bit rough here of late, with a yucky bug that had me out of action for a while and just held on, and much worse than that, a breast cancer diagnosis in a close family member (who is only 32). I think we take our health too much for granted sometimes and these things come as a bit of a shock.

Anyway, here's a peek of what I'm working on now that I'm mostly better. Don't you just love the colours? I have some black polka dots on white ordered for the back... :)


Bye for now, and Happy Sewing!

Hope x

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Welcome... and a Free Mini Block Pattern

Hello! Thanks for visiting my new blog. I've created this blog to be a source of information. Somewhere you can come to find out about:
  • My new patterns
  • My existing patterns
  • Free patterns
  • Tutorials
  • Patchwork and Quilting in general.
See the tabs across the top, under the header? They should point you in the direction you need to go. It's all very new at the moment, but I will be working on adding new and useful things, so do check back. :)

To kick the blog off, here is a link to a new free Mini Block pattern: Autumn Tints.


It is quite a simple block, just squares joined to squares, so why not give it a go? It only needs the smallest of scraps.


Mini blocks are a great way to hone your accuracy and to have a bit of a play without investing a lot of fabric. I hope you'll give them a try.


If you do make one, please show me! I love to see what people make from my patterns - it's one of the best parts of writing patterns I think. There are a number of ways you can share:

On Flickr: Join my Flickr Group and post a photo of what you've made.
On Instagram: Tag your photos with #hopesquiltdesigns or @hopetn

You can also click on the "Your Quilts" tab at the top of the page and leave me a comment with a link to your photo, or of course, simply email me.

Happy Sewing!

Hope