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