Friday, March 28, 2008

Tutorial: Spotty Spring Drawstring Bag

One of my dream jobs would be to be a professional wrapper - you know the people that get to wrap up parcels all day in pretty paper and tie satin ribbons around them to make them gorgeous ... ok maybe after the 1,000th parcel I might have had enough ... but I love to wrap things up and the presentation of a gift (to me) is half the joy. Each cuddly little softie from Rachael Rabbit is sent to its new home in a little cotton sleep sack (gift bag) and the cotton bags really do add a little something extra.

I've also been made rather happy by dots recently - on a search to find a pretty baking dish to make cobblers in etc - I found these gorgeous dishes from Spode's Baking Days line. Every time I look at them in my kitchen I am inspired to bake something yummy and wholesome.

So it is now officially spring (we don't have any daffodils in bloom yet) and I've been inspired by dots or spots ... I made some Spotty Spring Drawstring Bags! These simple drawstring bags have so many uses - I use them for storage or yarns/craft items, protecting shoes and handbags, packing small items for holidays, laundry and as gift bags.

TUTORIAL: Spotty Spring Drawstring Bag
(Time: 30mins to 1hr) Finished Bag measures 21"l x 16"w.

1 x piece of fabric 45"l x 17"w
2 x strips of ribbon 36" long
circles of cotton (mine are 4.5" in diameter)
Cotton for sewing
Mistyfuse (optional)
  1. Make casing for ribbon: In all 4 corners along long side of fabric fold 1/4" in and then fold 1/4" in again - press and sew for 2.5".
    Along short edge fold 1/2" in and then fold 1" in again - press and sew across entire length of short edge.

  2. Embellish: Fold your piece of fabric in half and arrange your spots on the front of the bag. Secure with mistyfuse if you prefer. Sew around each circle (I used a satin stitch.)

  3. Finish Bag: Fold fabric with spots facing in and sew down each side of bag. (Once the seam is sewn I also like to use a binding stitch to prevent fraying.) Turn bag right-side out and press.
  4. Thread Ribbon: Use a safety pin or sturdy needle to thread ribbon through casing. Once threaded tie ribbon in tight knot at each side.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Recycling for Rabbits - Bunny Quilt Series

Do you remember the baby quilt that I made from recycled cotton shirts? Well this was the first baby quilt in a series of three. I have to say that I have loved all three very much. Maybe it is the pleasing simple blue and white colors or the bunnies all over them ..... or how incredibly soft all the materials are.

The first quilt had soft white bunnies on it made from a old fake pashmina which was an emergency warmth purchase in a Hong Kong market.
The second quilt had soft brown bunnies on it - the bunnies are cut from a pair of Nana's old tan trousers! One lucky bunny has a yummy orange carrot. This quilt sold as soon as I posted it.
The final quilt was finished for baby Nicolas Koltai who was born on March 23rd (yes Easter Sunday) at 2.30am at a healthy 8 pounds. This version had one bunny and a carrot in the bottom corner and extra quilting on each white square.
As I was finishing this quilt for Nicolas - I began to feel rather sentimental about all three of the baby quilts - so I took the first quilt off my shop page and I have put it safely in a dresser drawer. After parting with my dear bunny boy - I really have learnt that I have to keep the odd thing here and there.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Busy Week and a Baby Quilt

Its been a busy and fun week filled with birthday's, 3rd wedding anniversary's, two parking tickets (I'm innocent), visits from lovely friends, rescuing rather a lot of ladybugs, cooking a dinner party for more lovely friends (Martha's dessert recipe did not lie this time) and raking the leaves of the entire garden (yard) until you get a blister (ouch!) And today I finally got the chance to sew some more patches made at last weekends Denyse Schmidt's workshop into a bright and breezy baby quilt.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Denyse Schmidt Quilting Workshop

Yesterday Bernie and I took a road trip. We got in the car and drove to Bridgeport, Connecticut to Denyse Schmidt's workshop where we were taking a quilting course organized by Make Workshop. The course was SO much fun I can not begin to explain how liberating, fast and fantastic it was. I gave it a 10 out of 10 - I would gladly (speedily) go back - or perhaps beg Denyse to let me live in her workshop so I can engorge my greedy self on inspiration. You can see how much sewing we did in 5 hours from the little green piece of fabric I used as my thread saver.
Here is the first block of the day .... as soon as I saw it (it was so incredibly not me at all) ... I was proud as punch and immediately decided that it had to be made into a cushion (that's a pillow in the US ... or as we call them in our house "sofa slugs"!)
Today I got to finish the cushion. I bordered the block with bright turquoise and machine quilted the front using the same red cotton that just happened to be on my machine during the quilting class.
My only wonder is if whether I should have quilted across the green patches in the middle ... hum ... but I'm still rather proud of it. It is so bright and springy ... perfect for a garden chair ... sitting in bright green grass on a sunny day (has it stopped being cold yet?) I'll be putting it my Etsy store tomorrow.

The most liberating bit of the class was how we chose the fabric ... or rather the fabric chose us. (It was so hard not to cheat ... I did cheat a little ... sorry.) We had to pull the fabric blindly from big paper bags. I loved the process (despite trying to cheat) - so in my little workroom I now have 3 paper bags on my desk and every time I find or cut a scrap of fabric I am popping it into its size appropriate bag. I can't wait to see what comes out!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mother's Day Madness with Sock Monsters

Mother's Day in the UK and the US falls on different days. This year Mother's Day in the UK fell on Sunday March 2nd - and it so happens that my mother is currently visiting us - so it was lovely to be able to celebrate the English Mother's Day with her this year!

Not only did my mother bring over the requested cans of Tesco's value baked beans (call me odd) but she also brought me a craft book called Stupid Sock Creatures: Making Quirky, Lovable Figures from Cast-off Socks by John Murphy which was quite strange as only the week before I had been given Sock and Glove from the Martha Stewart Show ... something was telling me it was time ... time to make something from socks. Never one to hog all the fun to myself I suggested we should spend the afternoon making sock monsters. Yes - as you can imagine - my mother and my husband were thrilled with this suggestion ... well they couldn't wait to get sewing.

I found some discounted socks at Kohl's ($1 each - bargain) and off we set ... making our sock monsters ...
Finally we finished aren't they sweet!
Introducing Lucky the Dog (Aaron's dog - pattern from Sock and Glove) ...
... Angus the Angry Turtle (my mother's own design) ...
... and the Snuggly Socktopus (my own design).
It really was a fun afternoon and I know my husband scored top points and hundreds of gold stars from my mother and me for joining in so gallantly.