Projects, projects, projects!

It has occurred to me that I am trying to do 4 different projects at once. I think this may be a little too much, since I am bouncing from one to another without getting very far in any. I really need to prioritise and stick to completing one before moving on to another – please note that this may be wishful thinking! Here is my list (currently in no particular order):

  • Chair covers for a couple of childrens’ whicker chairs
  • Mum’s quilt
  • A Jelly Roll Jam quilt
  • My hexie quilt

Two of those, at least, are long term projects.

The most urgent is probably completing the chair covers as they are needed at my Dad’s in just over a week. However, since I won’t have access to my sewing machine for the next few days, I think that will have to be completed last minute before we visit Dad. Could be a long night!

The Jelly Roll Jam quilt will have to wait as I need spray starch before I do the next stage. I will have some lovely links for you with that one. Any suggestions on good spray starch would be gratefully received.

So, it is toss-up between Mum’s quilt and my hexies; flower-making or hexie-basting?

I prepped the fabric (or some of it) for my hexies over the last few nights. I have no idea how many squares I cut other than it being in 4 figures (eek!), but it still may not be enough. Don’t you think they are pretty though? (Camera and lighting do not do them justice – I really must refrain from taking photos at night with my tablet and not a decent camera!)

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Flower-making or hexie-basting?

I think I may see what mood I am in tomorrow!

Close-up – A Daily Post Challenge

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Rather conveniently, as one of my Blogging 101 tasks is to either join a blogging event or complete one of the Daily Post’s challenges, I have a make which fits this week’s photo challenge nicely. You can visit the page yourself for more details, but here is the summary: Close-up – This week, discover the hidden details that can only be seen up close. So above is my close-up. I had a play around with the cameras on both my phone and my tablet, and I was quite pleased with this considering the limitations of each camera. It shows the hidden sewing which goes into making the beautiful cushion cover I completed the other day (scroll down if you can’t wait to see the whole thing).

The picture shows the straight stitching (stitch length 2) with a quarter inch seam, attaching a strip of fabric to the lining of the item I was making. The fabric is a folded 2 and a half inch WOF strip from a Rolie Polie (Riley Blake’s answer to Moda’s Jelly Rolls). It is one of 21 half widths which make up the front of a cushion cover. I was given the idea when I found this tutorial on Pinterest a few months ago: Quilting in the Rain

When I spotted the gorgeous fabric from the Riley Blake collection ‘A Beautiful Thing‘ by Zoe Pearn, I couldn’t decide which patterns I preferred. There was no way I could afford to get all of the ones I like. And then I discovered Jelly Rolls/Rolie Polies, which are a great way to get all the patterns in a collection without spending a fortune on FQs (fat quarters) of each one. Moda invented them and include (usually) 40 WOF (width of fabric) strips in each. Other manufacturers do the same of make smaller rolls. Riley Blake’s are called Rolie Polies and include 18 strips.

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I used a spare piece of plain cotton fabric for the lining material, and a larger piece of one of the collection’s patterns as the back. I also alternated which side of the strip I started sewing from. I had seen a recommendation to do this a few days before I started the project, and the idea is to lessen the likelihood of bowing in the middle of the strips. It seems to have worked!

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First 2 strips sewn on

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Halfway through

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All sewn on

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Trimmed straight

The sewing on of the back was easy and the final cover when turned looks like this:

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With a nice fluffy cushion inside it : D

With a nice fluffy cushion inside it

To be honest, the part that took the longest was pressing the strips and then deciding on the order I wanted them to be in. The sewing itself was quick and straightforward, literally! Take another look at the close-up for confirmation of this!

And the remnants? They are going into my stash which is awaiting turning into hexies. Maybe I should do some close-ups when I sew those and compare the neatness of the machine sewing with the more rustic hand-sewing…

Bye for now 😀

In Due Time…

I am currently following a course called Blogging 101, run by Word Press to help new bloggers develop their skills and knowledge of blogging. There have been tasks each week day, and yesterday we were asked to use the Daily Prompt to inspire a post. As we were allowed to choose a random prompt, I clicked through a few and then this one popped up:

In Due Time: What’s your next, most pressing deadline? Are you excited, stressed, or ambivalent about it? What’s the first thing you’d like to do once you’re done with it?

I think it fits quite well for me, given the length of my project list and the fact that I am running out of time to complete some of those projects. In actual fact, my most pressing deadline hasn’t been a project but rather the impending date of my return to work after maternity leave

I have been incredibly lucky that I have had an extended time with Mini Mister, although I have got to the point that I no longer even have SMP. So the return to work is a blessing in disguise, since having no income means that not only can I not buy all the things I need for the boys, there is no way I can get away with indulging in my fabric or sugarcraft tool addictions. And there are some lovely fabrics coming out a the moment in preparation for (and I will say this quietly) Christmas. And I still haven’t had a chance to try out sugar lace, despite how long it has been on trend.

So, I am excited about the prospect of having an income again, but stressed about organising childcare for Maxi Mister and worrying about whether Mini Mister will settle in to nursery ok. I think I am going to have to restrain myself from spending the not very much money I will get this month, but if anyone else is after places to feed their addictions, have a look at some of the places on my Blogroll. There are more to add, but these are some of the places I tend to visit on a far too regular basis! Please don’t ask me which is my favourite, as I don’t think I could pick one. I go to different sites for different things.

As for ‘making’ deadlines, there are a few, as I said. I have some chair cushions to complete before we go on holiday in a couple of weeks (I think they will be a future post, so I won’t say anything more here), I have Mum’s hexie flowers to finish before then as well, so that I don’t lug her stuff around on holiday with me. And I have 2 celebration cakes to plan/design and make, but they aren’t needed until the end of September, thank goodness. Pinterest is definitely my friend for planning in this case.

I have just realised that I have completely failed to include any pictures in this post so far, so here are 2 for you. The first is my Mum and Dad. Mum is probably my biggest creative influence, and I wish she could see all the things I make (even the failures!). The other shows the fabric I am going to use for the chair cushions – Giraffe Crossing by Riley Blake – and this is a cot pocket I made for Mini Mister with it.

Dad and Mum about 15 years ago

Dad and Mum about 15 years ago

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Time to retire now, as I have a very early start tomorrow. For the first time in about 10 and a half months I have to set my alarm. Wish me luck!

Bye for now 😀

The hexie addiction begins…

So, a few months ago, an online friend started making mini hexies (hexies = patchwork hexagons). I thought that they looked pretty, but that was about it until I saw the start of her quilt top begin to take shape. Oh wow! So, so pretty! I thought about using some of my scraps of fabric to make some, but it got pushed down the ever-expanding project list, and I forgot about it for a while.

I decided that I needed a project for the summer. Last year it was knitting a blanket for Mini Mister, and I have knitted in previous years too. A new challenge was needed, mainly because I don’t want to do any more knitting for a while (too much garter stitch sends your eyes funny!). I remembered the gorgeous hexie quilt top and that made my mind up. Trawling the net for ideas, and ways to finish Mum’s hexie quilt which I have inherited, I came across some lovely versions of a pattern called Grandmother’s Knot Garden. I am still undecided as to exactly what my version will look like, but that is what I am aiming for.

Something else I came across was a rather cute little hexie travel kit on a lovely blog called The Zen of Making. Haley, who writes the blog, has created some excellent tutorials on the art of English Paper Piecing (EPP), the basics of hexie quilts, as well as the tutorial for the travel kit. She was also extremely helpful when I had a question about fixings, which gave me the confidence to have a go.

My kit is not as polished as hers, but it was very good practice for all the handsewing I need to do for a hexie quilt. Finishing basting my first hexies was stupidly exciting, even more so when I whip-stitched them into 2 little flowers. May be I am just weird to get excited over them, though!

Anyway, here is the first hexie flower prior to sewing and my finished kit (please excuse the appalling photos):

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I have followed Haley’s suggestions for little Altoid tins to keep the tools in, but thought about creating a mini thread-catcher, since I don’t want to lug around the one I made for my sewing machine (pictures of that and links to originating blog will be on another sewing page as soon as I can write it). Google threw up hundreds of hits, but most led back to a couple of original ideas. In the end, I went with a variation on one by Red Hen Fabrics from their Quick Projects page. The only thing I bought was the inner hoop from an embroidery hoop for the top, although several other makers suggested using Pringles tubes or something similar. Everything else was scraps, including the cardboard. My variation was to pad both sides of the base as I thought it would help the sides stand up better. Collapsed, it fits neatly in my kit.

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The final make was another with scraps, and again the result of a trawl of the internet. Having 2 small children around, the thought of having scissors loose in the kit worried me (and yes, I won’t be leaving it lying around for them to pick up, but they do both seem to find things they are not supposed to. The joy of inquisitive kids!), so making a closable cover for my small sewing scissors and my embroidery scissors was a must. There are some beautiful cases out there, including some you can fit all sorts if things into as well as your scissors. However, since I had already made the kit, I just wanted a simple cover. I found the perfect one on a blog called Cotton Cellar. It only uses 2 squares of fabric, and you only sew 2 seams (plus hand-sewing a closure). I made 2 in less than an hour, sizing the measurements up slightly for the larger pair of scissors. I love them! What do you think, especially as all 3 things use different colours of the same Michael Miller fabric for the outsides?

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I am all prepped for the summer now. I wonder how many hexies I will manage to make. I will keep you up-to-date on here. See you soon! 😀

Followers needed…or actually, correct settings needed!

I *think* I have managed to get the correct follow button on the blog now. If you are on a desktop version (or request your mobile device to use the desktop version), there is automatically a button on the bottom right of the blog. If not, I have now put an email sign-up on the sidebar (it just tells you when I have posted something new, you aren’t signing your life away). The little button below is for WordPress users and I have yet to work out if it needs to be there. I did say I was still trying to work out how to blog!

Keep an eye out for a proper post later! More makes to come 😀

Pickle Pie Mama???!!!

It has occurred to me that I have not explained the title of my blog or my blogging name. This is very remiss of me!

Most of what you need to know about me can be found here: About page

As for the name, well Pickle Pie is the name I gave my line of brush rolls when I started making them for other people. You can’t really call it a company, as it isn’t registered (yet), but I own a domain all ready for a lovely new website, should I get round to selling properly, and I have a FB page with the name. I even went as far as to buy custom-made labels to sew into the things I make to sell (note to self: I must order more).

So, since I plan on showcasing my makes on this blog, I decided to continue the use of the name. I couldn’t have Pickle Pie on its own as someone has already used that, so Pickle Pie Mama I became.

And why? Because I am a Mama to 2 Pickle Pies, the gorgeous and wonderful Mini Mister T and Maxi Mister A. Two conquerors of my heart, and two very pickley little boys 😀

So there you are. That’s me! Bye for now 🙂

Cake experiment

I haven’t made a cake for a while, despite having planned to try this particular one for a while:

Chocolate cake with Marmite Caramel Buttercream

It intrigued me. I love Marmite. I love chocolate cake. Would they go together?

The cake went well, although more long-winded than most cakes I tend to make, and reminded me of a chocolate brownie when I took the tins out of the oven. The smell was yummy!

The problems started when I tried to make the buttercream. It is not a standard recipe, although the creator has based it on a Primrose Bakery recipe (which I probably have somewhere). I really thought I had followed the instructions properly, but it just wouldn’t thicken. I am not sure if I boiled the initial mixture too long or not long enough, whether I should have got it much cooler before I added the final lot of icing sugar, or whether I just can’t make icing like that in this weather. If I had time and unending supplies of ingredients, I would experiment further to work out how to get it right (I hate failing!). In the end, I put it in the fridge. It was better, but still didn’t work well on the cake and produced a bit of a mess, to be honest.

At least I had finished it. We didn’t try it until tonight as it took me so long to sort out the buttercream. I left the whole cake in the fridge as the icing softened again outside, and that made the cake far too solid. It tasted nice but I didn’t like the texture (note, this is my fault for putting it in the fridge, not the fault of the original recipe). However, I had put a bit too much Marmite in the icing and I also found it too sweet.

Slice of my cake attempt

Slice of my cake attempt

I don’t think we will be doing this one again. It just didn’t work enough for me to want to correct the mistakes I made.

Chalk that up to experience – Note to self: Marmite and sweet things DO NOT WORK!

P.S. I think I am going to explore more of Lay the Table’s recipes as there are some lovely looking things on there: Lay The Table