Weekend finishing frenzy

I had planned to get acquainted with my sewing machine over the weekend, but the end results weren’t actually what I’d planned … for some reason I got a serious urge to get some of my finished projects sewn up into pillows etc – it ended up being an exceptionally productive weekend on that score, with 9 pillows and a scissor fob completed, along with a little mini-quilt that just needs the binding to be hand-stitched … plus I also made some minor amendments to a lovely wall-hanging that Sylvia gave me years ago.  Anyway, here are the end results – I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

The Stitcherhood-Autumn LizzieKate-Fall Nathalie-Chatrouille freebie
Erica Michaels-Random Hearts LizzieKate-Boo Squared
Peacock pillow Plum Pudding Needleart-Love freebie Heart in Hand Needleart-Wee Valentine Bird Mosey 'n Me-Love February freebie
Pumpkin scissor fob Pumpkin scissor fob

This one just needs the binding to be stitched down 🙂

halloween-mini-quilt

Sadly Sylvia’s lovely wall-hanging was folding up due to the high humidity, so I chopped up the hanger into pieces and stitched it in 4 places directly onto a pretty wee wire hanger 🙂

2066036870047689748QjuOfx_fs

This is what first got me into “sewing machine mode” – the first month’s BOTM fabrics and instructions for my Piece and Plenty quilt … sadly it doesn’t come with any specific instructions for each block, and I’ve ended up spending a fair bit of time rummaging through my quilting books and online tutorials trying to work out how to do paper piecing – once I’ve got a bit more comfortable with my sewing machine I’ll be ready to start this one 😀

2130461710047689748JTKeNO_fs

Pin Pillow Tutorial #2

Boo-Tyme-pillow

You will need:

  • Stitching for the centre of the cushion
  • Coordinating fabric(s) for side strips and backing
  • Sewing machine with coordinating sewing machine thread to match your fabric(s)
  • Scissors/rotary cutter and mat
  • Pins
  • Ribbon/lace/button embellishments (optional)
  • Polyfil stuffing (or something similar)
  • Sewing needle and thread to close up the seam opening

Pin-pillow-tutorial-2.1

1. First of all trim your stitched piece, and cut your coordinating fabric to your preferred length and the approximate width of your sewing project.  In my case I have chosen to have my coordinating fabric at the bottom of my stitched piece, and I prefer to have the quilting fabric slightly smaller than my stitched piece so it doesn’t take too much attention from the stitching – I have, however, seen some stunning pillows with the stitching taking up just a small amount of room at the top of the pillow.  The only difference is down to your preference, as the finishing process is exactly the same.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-2.2

Pin-pillow-tutorial-2.3

2. Pin the fabrics together, with right sides facing, and stitch a normal seam allowance (alternatively you may prefer to just a quilters 1/4″ seam).

Pin-pillow-tutorial-2.5

3. At this point I cut off my excess fabrics on each side, and trim my seams to 1/4″.  This is also the time when you should open up the seam(s) and give a quick pressing with the iron.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-2.6

4. If you have decided to have fabric on both sides of your stitching (either top and bottom, or left and right) this you will need to repeat the above process a second time for the additional piece of fabric.  Once you’ve finished attaching the coordinating fabrics, check the edges to ensure they’re all even, and give it a quick trim with the rotary cutter if needed.

5. At this point I add any seam embellishments to the pillow front.  For this particular pillow I just wanted to add one row of matching ric-a-rac.  This can either be attached by the sewing machine or by hand (I ended up adding this one by hand, as I didn’t have a matching brown sewing machine thread).  This is also a good time to add any buttons or other trims you want to add, prior to constructing the pillow itself.  Alternatively, you can add your ribbon at the very end once the pillow is finished, but just wrapping it around the pillow and tying a bow to hold it in place 🙂

Pin-pillow-tutorial-2.7

6. Now you need to cut your backing fabric the same size as your finished article, and pin them together with right sides facing together (the right side of the stitching will be on the inside of the sandwich).

Pin-pillow-tutorial-2.8

7. Stitch a seam allowance around the edges, but leave an opening at the bottom so that you can turn your pillow inside-out.  I tend to leave about 1 1/2″ opening and that’s normally enough room to allow for turning.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-2.9

8. I use a chopstick to help push the corners into a nice shape from the outside – you just have to be careful not to force the seam stitching too much!  Once you have turned your pillow inside out, it should look something like this.  Now all you have to do is stuff it to your preferred thickness with your favourite stuffing.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-2.10

9. I close my pillow openings with a ladder stitch – and the following is taken from a previous Christmas ornament tutorial, but is the exact same instruction for closing the pillows.

As you can see from the photo below, I start off by slipping my needle into the seam of the backing fabric, then coming back out about 1/4″ along the seam (about 3mm) and bring my needle out.

Christmas Cheer 20

I then take my needle directly opposite where I just came out of the backing fabric and slip my needle into the linen and follow the seam along for about 3mm and bring the needle back out again.

Christmas Cheer 21

I’ve left the stitches nice and loose in the photo below to help illustrate how the stitches follow along opposite each other, like rungs of a ladder.

Christmas Cheer 22

When you pull the thread tighter, the stitches almost disappear into the fabric, giving a really nice clean finish – this is definitely my favourite stitch for closing up openings for that reason!

Christmas Cheer 23

Once you reach the end of the seam opening, you need to finish off your thread with a couple of teeny stitches – I then bury the needle into the seam and come out somewhere about an inch way and bring the needle back out again – then clip the thread close to the fabric so that my thread tail does’t appear easily.

And here’s the final seam all finished off – see now nice and tidy that ladder stitch is in the opening? :D

Christmas Cheer 24

10. And that is the final step in your beautiful new pin pillow coming to life.  Now all you need to do is to find somewhere to display it where it can be admired by everyone 😀

Boo-Tyme-pillow

Pumpkins-pillow Halloween-pillow P1030899

Pin Pillow Tutorial #1

While I was finishing my wee pillows last weekend, I took a series of photos to create some basic tutorials. Here is the first one:

PILLOW/PIN PILLOW TUTORIAL #1

Boo-pillow

You will need:

  • Stitching for the centre of the cushion
  • Coordinating fabric(s) for side strips and backing
  • Sewing machine with coordinating sewing machine thread to match your fabric(s)
  • Scissors/rotary cutter and mat
  • Pins
  • Embellishments (optional)
  • Polyfil stuffing (or something similar)
  • Sewing needle and thread to close up the seam opening

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.1

1. First of all cut your coordinating fabric into equal width strips, and approximate width of your sewing project.  In my case I have chosen to have two different fabrics on the front of my pillow, and have started with a narrow strip of bright rust fabric for the inner border.

Pin the first strip with right sides facing to your stitching (I prefer to start with the pieces attached to the left and right sides, but you may prefer to start with the top and bottom sections first), and stitch a normal seam allowance (alternatively you may prefer to just a quilters 1/4″ seam).

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.2

Once you have stitched the first seam, attach the 2nd strip of fabric to the opposite side of your stitching and stitch another seam.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.3

2. At this point I cut off my excess fabrics on each side, and trim my seams to 1/4″ – I usually prefer to do this because I don’t trust myself to get things right the first time!

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.4

3. You finish with nice tidy edges, ready to attach the last two sides of fabric.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.5

4. Before we do that, though, we need to open the fabric sides up and give them a quick press with the iron so that they sit nicely.  If you want to you can also do a row of top-stitching to assist with holding the fabric nicely, but I don’t normally bother.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.6

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.7

5. Now we attach the top and bottom sides in exactly the same way as we did with the first two sides.  Once all sides have finished, I normally check the side strips to ensure they’re nice and tidy and even, and if not I give them a quick trim all round with the rotary cutter.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.8

6. In my case I decided to just have a narrow strip of bright rust fabric as a contrasting focal point, then added some wider strips of fabric for the outside edges.  These are attached in exactly the same way as the rust strips, they are just cut into wider pieces.  You just need to remember to add the next lot of strips in the same order as you did previously, which was in my case left and right first, followed by top and bottom.  Once I had ironed my finished strips I decided that little buttons would be nice in the corners, so I added these before adding the backing fabric.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.9

7. Now you need to cut your backing fabric the same size as your finished article, and pin them together with right sides facing together (the right side of the stitching will be on the inside of the sandwich).

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.10

8. Stitch a seam allowance around the edges, but leave an opening at the bottom so that you can turn your pillow inside-out.  I tend to leave about 1 1/2″ opening and that’s normally enough room to allow for turning.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.11

9. I use a chopstick to help push the corners into a nice shape from the outside – you just have to be careful not to force the seam stitching too much!  Once you have turned your pillow inside out, it should look something like this.  Now all you have to do is stuff it to your preferred thickness with your favourite stuffing.

Pin-pillow-tutorial-1.12

10. I close my pillow openings with a ladder stitch – and the following is taken from a previous Christmas ornament tutorial, but is the exact same instruction for closing the pillows.

As you can see from the photo below, I start off by slipping my needle into the seam of the backing fabric, then coming back out about 1/4″ along the seam (about 3mm) and bring my needle out.

Christmas Cheer 20

I then take my needle directly opposite where I just came out of the backing fabric and slip my needle into the linen and follow the seam along for about 3mm and bring the needle back out again.

Christmas Cheer 21

I’ve left the stitches nice and loose in the photo below to help illustrate how the stitches follow along opposite each other, like rungs of a ladder.

Christmas Cheer 22

When you pull the thread tighter, the stitches almost disappear into the fabric, giving a really nice clean finish – this is definitely my favourite stitch for closing up openings for that reason!

Christmas Cheer 23

Once you reach the end of the seam opening, you need to finish off your thread with a couple of teeny stitches – I then bury the needle into the seam and come out somewhere about an inch way and bring the needle back out again – then clip the thread close to the fabric so that my thread tail does’t appear easily.

And here’s the final seam all finished off – see now nice and tidy that ladder stitch is in the opening? :D

Christmas Cheer 24

11. And that is the final step in your beautiful new pin pillow coming to life.  Now all you need to do is to find somewhere to display it where it can be admired by everyone 😀

Boo-pillow

Pillows Galore!

The title sounds a little bit like a James Bond girl – however 007 has nothing to do with the title whatsoever … it DOES have to do with a mini finishing frenzy I’ve had this weekend (well, just today really).  This is what part of the sofa looked like earlier today as I was planning out the backing fabrics etc:

And here are the results of my efforts today – not quite everything finished yet, but still a lot closer to that goal than when I started (including three ornies that weren’t in the above photo).  Unfortunately the weather is rainy and revolting today and it was really dark in the lounge, so I couldn’t get really nice crisp light photos.  The first pillow is probably my favourite with the little black buttons – but truth is I’m pretty pleased with them all 😀

Waxing Moon Designs-Boo Pumpkin freebie

Homespun Elegance-Boo Tyme

The Trilogy-Halloween Spots

LHN-Pumpkins

Just Nan-Moon Riders

The rest of today was spent doing a mercy run across the road for some serious junk food to stave off my cravings (definite proof of what time it is for this female, as if I hadn’t worked it out already) … and helping my elderly neighbour by climbing up on a chair and lifting her suitcases etc back up into the top of her wardrobe (I got them all down for her yesterday so she could go through them and throw out what she didn’t want – tonight’s job was to put all the cases and bags back up again).

I haven’t done any stitching at all over the last few days – just too tired at the end of the day, I think … which is probably why today was so satisfying to me, as it was proof of still doing something stitchy even without actually stitching.

Anyway, I’ll sign off by saying thanks so much to everyone for sharing their stories and comments from my previous post – it felt really wonderful to hear such positivity and helped me to keep my spirits high this week, higher than they’ve been in months!  Thanks again everyone for your candour and your acceptance 😀

And on that note I’m skulking back off into the lounge to do a bit of a tidy-up session before Katie comes back from being out of town (which is usually the only time I get into ‘finishing mode’) … and to polish off a bit more of that junk food 😛

Autumn Exchange

This month I took part in a private Autumn Exchange, and Lisa V was my ‘victim’ for some autumn goodies. I just heard from Lisa that my little parcel has arrived safe and sound on the other side of the country, so I can now share my finishes. As this was a no-extras exchange, my little postal box to Lisa contained two items … the little humbug REALLY wanted to stay home here with me, so I’ll just have to restitch this one for myself I think 😀

<JBW Designs-A Very Merry Autumn
“A Very Merry Autumn” by JBW Designs
stitched on 28ct Antique Ivory Cashel linen
with Crescent Colours threads

Just Nan-Hootzi Humbug
“Hootzi Humbug” by Just Nan
stitched on 28ct Antique Ivory Cashel linen
with recommended DMC threads and Delica beads

Exchanges, WIPs and Finishes

In my overflowing mailbox this week I received an exquisite exchange from Elaine in NZ (this was an exchange hosted by the StitchNZ Yahoo Group).  I’m absolutely thrilled with this exchange – I really adore hardanger, although I still haven’t kicked myself in the pants enough to get back into it myself again … and this one is just gorgeous!  Elaine made it into a stitching pocket so I can hold my needlework tools and supplies – and sent along a matching wee pincushion (so gorgeous!) and packet of needles.  I’ve taken loads of photos so you can share in the beautiful stitching detail of this piece – while photos never do stitching real justice, I’m sure you can imagine that the finished piece is even more exquisite!  Thanks Elaine for a wonderful exchange! 😀

StitchNZ exchange 3

StitchNZ exchange 6

StitchNZ Exchange from Elaine July 2010

StitchNZ Exchange from Elaine July 2010

My exchange piece unfortunately left a little bit late (actually a whole week late, ahem!) … thanks to not being able to get to the Post Office.  As I’m pretty positive the recipient doesn’t read my blog, but perhaps I’d better play it safe and not post details about it yet … I’ll tempt you with a photo of the ‘backside’ in the meantime, and will post more when it’s received 🙂

P1030800

What’s next???  Oh yes, yesterday I sat in the lounge with Katie watching Dark Angel DVDs, and doing a teeny bit of finishing – I managed to get the Christmas Ornament tutorial photos completed (very basic ornie) which also means one more ornament off the finishing pile, my Just Nan Ladybug Santa is now in its little Whimzi frame, and I completed the Periwinkle Promises January Sampler Accent into its little pillow, complete with little corner tassels (I ran out of silk for the backing fabric/joining, but luckily had a skein or two in my stash that I was grab to finish this one off).

Christmas Cheer Ornament finished

Just Nan-Ladybug Santa framed

Periwinkle Promises-January Sampler Accent finished

Tassels

As for my WIPs themselves, I’ve done very very little stitching over the last week or so – I managed to put a handful of beads into Chatelaine’s Egyptian Garden Mandala (3 nights of beading and I’m still not even halfway finished the one band of beads – the row on the edge of the lotus flowers) – it doesn’t help that the beads don’t sit nicely with that poxy fabric that I’m using, so I’m having to squeeze the beads in and offset them every 6 or 7 beads:

EGM 23Jul10

Then yesterday I managed to complete some more of the border of the Quaker Huswif, and am now working on the bottom quaker band.  Once this section is finished, I’ll be flipping the design upside down and unrolling the scrollbars to work on the final two sections at the other end – I think at this point in time I’m pretty much sitting on the halfway mark of this piece 🙂

Quaker Huswif 24Jul10

And that’s pretty much it for now … not sure what I’ll be stitching on this week, if anything … I’ve got some big deadlines at work over the next fortnight, so I may be putting in some longer hours, which means less mental/physical energy for stitching …

Final day of finishing

Wow, what a spectacular weekend I’ve had finishing-wise – I’ve really enjoyed sitting around in my PJ’s and scruffy clothes on my own all weekend and concentrating on my finishing efforts.  As the hours went on, I felt more confident again in doing finishing – and I’m thinking perhaps I should assign one weekend a month to doing the same thing …

Here are the final efforts from today’s finishing session – there is still one pincushion left to show, but I still have to stitch on the cord edging before I can claim it as being finish-finished 🙂

1 more Christmas ornament
(excuse the greenish tinge, it’s actually white fabric!)
Christmas Ornie

1 tie-on Easter pillow (certainly not my best ever finishing!)
Easter pillow

My first Pay It Forward completed (with my tea-dyed lace)
(name removed so the recipient can be surprised)
Pay It Forward 1 Incognito

1 Tin Topper – LOVE this one –
I’ve been meaning to turn this into a tin topper for EVER!
(now I just need to find some magnet strips for the lid –
I’m sure I have some hiding away somewhere)
Tin Topper 1a

Tin Topper 3

And I also ‘forced’ myself to sit and watch a bit of vintage TV tonight while I sat and stitched for about 2 hours … I’ve been working my way through The Professionals on DVD – from waaaaay back in the 70’s, this used to be one of my absolute favourite shows in my youth.  I had the biggest crush on Bodie (Lewis Collins) at the time … and now just giggle a bit at the outlandish clothes and tight pants 😛

At least that vintage TV session gave me chance to put a few more stitches into Just Nan’s Ghastly Ghostly Ghouls – I managed to complete one side of the garden fencing, and planted a tree (well, OK, maybe HALF a tree!) 😀

And do you remember I said I’d mislaid my teeny white buttons for Lizzie*Kate’s Boo Club? Hmmm, I guess I was a bit smarter than I thought – I found them hiding where they actually should be … in my embellishments box … hmmm.  Anyway, I’ve now thrown in my little black buttons with them too, so during my next stitching session I’ll be tossing up between Sapphire Star, Ghastly Ghostly Ghouls and Boo Club – oh, decisions, decisions 😛

Tomorrow it’s time to back to work again – where I will be putting my hand up for another 12 month secondment (that is of course if I actually get offered it) … it’s basically doing the same job that I’m doing now, and working within the same team, but being paid for by another department and working purely on their projects for 12 months – which means additional exposure to a different side of the business and chance to become more focused (plus it’s a side of the business I’m the most knowledgeable about).  It’s going to be a massive 12 months, going by what I’ve heard about so far, but at least it’ll be a subject I enjoy … I guess I can only stick my hand up and say I’m interested and then see what happens … 😀

It’s no wonder the weather has changed!

I’ve been little Miss Homemaker on my time off … up early this morning (although still in my PJ’s now at lunchtime haha) I yanked the shower curtain off the rail and chopped about 3″ off the bottom, then turned up and stitched a new hem on the machine.  Our shower curtain has needed a trim since we moved in in January, but 6 months later it is finally done.  That means once Lisa and I have had our showers today it can go in the washing machine, and for once we won’t be tripping up on it in the bottom of the bath!

After finishing the shower curtain, I was all set to put a beef and red wine casserole mix into the slow cooker, but alas the meat still hasn’t defrosted yet, so a change in dinner plans tonight, I guess.  What I did manage to get done, though, is my first ever flanged pillow – I think it’s WAY too over-stuffed, but I guess I’ll know better next time.  All the same, I still think it turned out cute.  If you’re interested in knowing what the design is, you’ll have to look back through previous posts – for obvious reasons I’m not re-posting that information now.  I think I’ll have to re-do the girls’ hair ribbons, though, as they got a bit mutilated while I was turning the pillow inside-out.

Can Can Pillow 1

Can Can Pillow 2

I also managed to take some clearer shots of the Block Roll, including one of it opened up – half a dozen projects are now comfortably residing in the rolls, ready to have some more playmates once my needles get back into action again.  (I’ll go back and replace the photos in the previous post as well.)

Block Roll 2

Block Roll 4

Block Roll 5

Updated to add:  Thanks for the question, Joanne – the centre of the roll is a pool noodle cut into an 18″ length.  I think I might make another longer one so that it’ll cater for my Mirabilia finishes (once I have done!).  The white fabric is actually felt, which grips like glue onto whatever you place on it … not entirely sure how much I like that, but at least they won’t slip and slide while rolling it up!  Each pool noodle will give you enough length for 3 block rolls, so it’s likely you’ll see another one or two popping up on the blog at some stage … especially as the noodles came in a pack of 3 as well! 😀

As for ‘what now?’ … I’m not entirely sure what I feel like doing – I know I have a whole bunch of ornies to be finish-finished, but I think I may have a break from finishing today and do a tiny bit of stitching on my Sunflower Sampler – hmmmm, perhaps I should have my shower and get dressed then decide … I really do need to get those ornies finished … hmmm …