14 December 2015

1930s Farmer's Wife QAL ~ #27 Dinah



I'm very excited today to join Kerry as a guest blogger for the 1930's Farmers Wife QAL.  You can read more about the Quilt Along on Kerry's blog HERE, where you can also see the amazing blocks that Kerry has been making, plus the tips that she has been generously sharing.  You can also take a peek at the other talented bloggers who have joined Kerry making blocks and sharing their top tips!

As some of you may remember I started sewing blocks from the original book back in February last year.  Progress has been slow and steady...... it's one of those projects where I have a flurry of focus and then it gets pushed to one side.  To date I have made 50 blocks......


I was however rather thrilled when I spotted the new book 'The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird' earlier this year, having chosen 1930's reproductions for my original blocks, I was instantly drawn to it, plus I love.... love.... love the layout.... I know I'm getting slightly ahead of myself here, but I'm definitely going to use this setting for mine....

I decided however, rather than start a new quilt (even I thought that would be one to many WIPS!) it would be fun to combine blocks from both books in to one quilt.  These are my blocks so far from the new book.....


So I digress, back to my block for the QAL.  I chose Block #27 Dinah, it's such a pretty block, but boy, it has a lot a pieces squeezed in to a 6"...... 52 pieces... so as you can imagine some of them are small!  Having used quilty maths for the majority of my blocks so far, it became clear that for this block, I would need to to used the templates.  These for those of you unfamiliar with the format of the book, the templates can be found on a separate disc included with the book, you simply decide if you're going to Foundation Paper Piece or English Paper Piece and print the appropriate templates.  Two things to remember, which I know other bloggers on the QAL have mentioned previously, but just saying (ahem 'cause I would never make this mistake ahem) make sure you print them to the correct size... 
 and when you're cutting them out, don't use your best fabric scissors or rotary cutter......I have a spare cutter for paper!  I also cut off the corners as shown on the templates, this really...really helps when it comes to piecing.
I also found it useful to colour in the little block diagram ...... I mean who doesn't love a bit of colouring. 

I was inspired by the little pin wheel in the centre of the block and what to me looked liked Christmas crackers (just go with me on this), to choose Christmas fabrics.  I had some scraps of 30's inspired  Little Joys left over from my Simple Squares quilt, I also added in some Kona Snow and Kona Peony.

Generally when I cut fabric to speed up the process, I normally cut through 2 to 4 layers of a fabric at a time (apart from fussy cutting that is). I found for this project, cutting through two layers of fabric worked best for me due to the teeny pieces...any more and it was a little tricky.  I've also got a rotating cutting mat, which I found was rather useful, when cutting such small pieces.
Throwing caution to the wind, rather than English paper piecing as I had originally planned......time has somewhat run away from me this week...... I machine pieced.... having cut off those pesky corners really helps!  I pressed my seams open on the pin wheel, I used lots of starch  ( I use Best Press ) and I tried hard not to handle it too much, so as not to distort the delicate little pieces.
 I would be lying if I said it was a speedy block to make, but just look how cute and teeny it is......
and yes it's a little wonky, which does play havoc with my OCD nature, but breath.......... it is after all meant to be fun...... I think that bottom cracker has had a little to much festive fizz!

So what do you do with a Christmas 6" block I hear you ask........... 
Make it in to a little Christmas mini quilt to be brought out and loved each year.  Rather than bind, I added some cotton lace in between the layers and finished off with some hand quilting in 12 wt Aurifil.


Thanks again Kerry for letting me part of the Quilt Along and I look forward to making more lots more of these gorgeous blocks!  If you fancy joining in, remember it's not a race, more a gentle stroll.

10 December 2015

Christmas Quilts and A Little Happy Simple Squares Quilt Pattern


I have for some months been feeling the 'need' for a Christmas quilt in my life.  Christmas fabrics start arriving for the shop in May and dare I say, we have already started ordering Christmas fabrics for 2016!   I made this little one early this year using French Generals Joyeux Noel using the Fresh Cut Pines pattern from Sherri Falls, fabulous book Winter Wonderland.  It's such a lovely book, full of really gorgeous patterns (which of course would look amazing in non Christmas fabrics!)   I tried not to take offence when Andy (my husband) said it was the nicest quilt I had ever made...... he swiftly backed this up with "not that I don't like your other quilts, it's just this one isn't as flowery as usual" ..... I'm thinking it was a compliment...right?!

Any how, mum had reserved this one for herself so my 'need' for a Christmas quilt still remained unfulfilled.  Then last month, we had a restock of Elea Lutz gorgeous Christmas range Little Joys, so I swiftly cut a selection of fat quarters to come home with me.  Time constraints meant that I needed to keep it simple, and lets face it the fabric is soooooo gorgeous I wanted it to be the star of the show.  I contemplated 4 or 9 patches, surrounded with sashing, but then had a complete change of plan and went for an even more simple layout 196 squares, surrounded by borders and cornerstones.  I love it.....here it is........

I backed it using a super soft Stof Ginghams... plus they are extra wide, so no need to join lengths....win win.  The binding is the plaid from Hazel, which picks up on the greens in Little Joys perfectly.  I can not wait to snuggle under this one in the holidays and I know it will bring much pleasure for many Christmases to come!


If you would like to make your own Simple Squares quilt, I've written a FREE 'little happy' pattern which you can find HERE.  Any problems viewing it, just get in touch and I'll email the PDF to you.


In other news......if you're a fan of Little Joys and Elea's previous collection Milk, Sugar and Flower.....rather excitingly Elea has both a new collection called Strawberry Biscuit due April/May 2016

 and also a delightful new book Pretty Playtime Quilts.  

We will (of course!) be stocking ALL the fabrics from the collection and the book, which can pre-ordered, pop me a message if you would like to do so.

I hope that you're all finding time to do some Christmas crafting.... I'm so looking forward to the school holidays and doing some festive making with Poppy and Jamie!  First though, there is the little matter of a Movie Birthday party to arrange to celebrate Poppy's 8th Birthday.

Back soon!




4 December 2015

A little happy tutorial ~ Christmas Wreath



Oh what fun I've had making our Christmas window displays for the shop! I shared some little 'in progress' pics on Facebook and Instagram, but as promised, here's a little happy round up of what I did if you would like to make one.......

First off I grabbed a selection of some of my favourite green fabrics and woolfelt® from the shop.  I then drew a simple holly leaf shape (mine measured about 2 1/2" long by 1 1/2" wide) which I then created a template of using cardboard from a cereal box.

Having added Bondaweb to the back of my fabrics I then traced lots (and lots) of Holly leaves (I've made two 12" wreaths).  Now I'm sure you're thinking ok so how many holly leaves Sarah....... I would like to say that I had meticulously planned this project and knew exactly how many holly leaves I would need....ahem........ NO.......but to give you a guesstimate for my 12" embroidery hoop and it took aprox 100 leaves to cover the front side (I was going for a full on covered wreath)...I then layered up more on the back, but more of that later.  Obviously a smaller hoop needs less leaves or you could decide to only cover a portion of the hoop....oh the possibilities! 

Once I had drawn out my leaves, I then cut them out using a sharp pair of little scissors.  This bit took ages.... actually the entire length of the first Harry Potter film.  Andy and I are currently re watching them all again...well actually I've slept through some...tonight its the grand finale Deathly Hallows Part 2...my favourite, so I will try to stay awake!

Anyway I digress....once I had cut out all my leaves, I then removed the Bondaweb, I'm sure you know this neat little trick, but if you scratch the bondaweb with a needle or pin, you can then peel it away really easily.

 I thought the papers looked like little icicles!
I then ironed my leaves on to different shades of felt, leaving an approx 1/2" gap in between.
Then with my sharp little scissors I cut the leaves out again, aprox 1/4" larger than the original fabric leaf.  However, having had the most awful cramp in my hand in the night after the original cutting out session.... I did this in stages rather than one massive cutting session....be warned!
I wanted to add some veining to my leaves and did, in a moment of complete madness consider doing this by hand, but then having seen sense I machine chain pieced the leaves.....
I can not tell you how sweet these looked, .....guess what next Autumns window display will be!
Rather sadly, I then cut the threads in between each leaf and finally I was very nearly ready for a bit of sticking and gluing...I mean who doesn't love a bit of glue gun action!

As I mention at the beginning, I use a 12" embroidery hoop, which I had laying around at home.  I needed two wreaths, so I simply separated the inner and outer hoop and used both pieces individually.  I covered these in fabric strips in exactly the same way as I did in this little happy tutorial.  At this stage, I also securely tied a length of ribbon to hang my hoop........


 ...and then the fun began, ably assisted by Poppy (my daughter who is equally as keen on sticking and gluing!) I glued the leaves on in little clusters.  I tried to build up the layers with some leaves overlapping others and some in the foreground.

 Once I had covered the entire front of the hoop, I then moved to the back.  My hoops are hanging in the shop window, both sides are visible, so I needed the back of the hoop to look pretty as the front.  If you're planning on hanging yours on a door, you maybe do not need to be quite so thorough!  I'll leave that one with you for you to decide.

As a final flourish, I added small red polka dot buttons to represent the berries and some gorgous candy cane stripe ribbon, which I made in to a large bow.  I did this in sections, the bow, the centre and the tails, in a similar way to how I made these felt bows, but I glued rather than handstitched......
 .....and that was it..... Ta Dah.....one homemade Christmas Fabric and Felt wreath!
 Have you spotted the rather festive quilt..... more of that next time!
I hope you enjoyed my little happy tutorial, if you decide to make your own version, please do email me a picture I would love to see.  Alternatively, if you share a picture on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, please do use the hashtag, #alittlehappytutorial so that I can take a peek!

Have a super weekend.