Adventures with Jan, Part 1

Who, you may ask, is Jan?

Actually, what would be a better question.

I need to get a picture, but Jan is my brand new sewing machine (Oh good grief, I named my sewing machine! It’ll be the car next…). It isn’t a totally random name as it is a Janome machine.

I have only had it/her (anthropomorphising- sorry Dad) for a couple of weeks. I spent a silly amount of money at the Festival of Quilts on buying a new machine because I needed more versatility for quilt-along.  Actually, trying out different makes of machine was a lot of fun, and highly amusing. Possibly another post… 

Anyway, my new machine arrived about 10 days later, at which point I realised just how big it is and how much more space than my current machine I would need for storage (I finally got a wheeled bag ordered on Friday, so hopefully that will help). On the other hand, I love the automated things it has which I didn’t have before, although I have reverted today to using the foot pedal rather than the Stop/Start button. And the main plus is the huge throat space and the quilting extension table which came with it.

I did a sampler thing to try out a load of the stitches which I thought I might use (I think there are quite a lot I won’t use), but on Saturday I decided to attempt my first project with the machine. I prepped a couple of mug bags the other day, adding the interfacing and batting on Saturday afternoon, so it was silly to not start sewing.

I have wanted to do a mug bag for a while, especially as I have been carrying a mug to and from quilting classes and groups, and at some point I will probably drop the bag it is in. A mug bag will hopefully give a little more protection. I eventually managed to find a pretty pattern (it turned out I had had this pinned on Pinterest for a while) and set about making it. The pattern is by Bronwyn of Red Brolly (Red Brolly’s Facebook page), but currently her website is unavailable due to personal reasons.

I have broken into my stash (shock, horror!) and found some gorgeous fabrics to attempt 2 bags. I went for some Tilda Candy Bloom fabric which I picked up at last year’s FOQ, and some Ella Blue Chirpy Lola fabric I got in a sale earlier this year. The Solids were Kona from my stash (still trying to work out which colours they were).

The pattern proved straightforward, and I have started to get used to using Jan. I have even braved using some of the auto-stitch features and experimented with needle position. I remembered how to thread the spool and bobbin threads, and am even getting the hang of the automatic threader (I have that on my older machine but never used it).

I finished the bags by hand-sewing the bags into the wraps today whilst Maxi was at school, Mini was at Playgroup (having started last week), the washing machine and tumble dryer were going full pelt, and the sides in the kitchen were drying.

Then I discovered that American mugs must be smaller than UK mugs, as most of my mugs do not fit! Eep! The one I take to class goes in sideways, so that is ok, but I have had to dig out a smaller mug to go in the other. Note to self: if I make these again, add about an inch to each measurement. 

Here they are. I love them regardless of their tight fit. The only thing I will change on them is that I am not so happy with the button/ribbon closure, and may change them for Kam Snaps. Other than that, what do you think? (Matching mug rugs next…)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Another Project Ticked off the List 😊

The tablet holder is done! And it isn’t perfect by any means, but I managed it and I love it!

 

The pattern and tutorial are courtesy of Caroline at SewCanShe. She originally designed the quilted ipad sleeve back in January. I had been looking for something for my (then) new Samsung Tab S2, but didn’t like any of the flippy  ones you can buy that turn into stands (too bulky) and didn’t want to pay for a soft case when I felt I could probably make my own. Caroline’s was absolutely perfect and the Blend fabric was gorgeous!

I was never going to be able to get the same fabric, but found some lovely fabric from Riley Blake, Lulabelle and Flutterberry, changing my mind several times about which design I wanted, before finally settling on some jewel-coloured cotton from Michael Miller. The designer is Tamara Kate, and the collection is Birds and the Bees. I have Feathered Flock and Love Bug, both in Navy. I originally bought them in a curated FQ pack from Elephant in My Handbag, which included a feather pattern from the same collection and 2 co-ordinating colours of Flurry from Dashwood Studios. They were used to make an organiser for a friend, and I loved the main fabrics so much, I decided they would be perfect for my tablet case. Now I just needed the pattern or tutorial.

 

Caroline is very busy with all sorts of things, but she did a downloadable tutorial in June. And yes, it has taken me this long to get round to utilising it! Having prepped last week, I sewed it this Thursday and Friday, choosing some stupidly hot days to work whilst Mini Mister was napping. All I can say is that an electric fan full on facing you, whilst you work at the sewing machine, is a definite need rather than an option.

 

I spray basted the 2 pieces of batting to the outer and lining fabrics, before spray basting the batting together, so I had a 4-layer sandwich. This meant I didn’t have to worry about pins or clips being in the way for drawing quilting lines on. Oh, and that was an issue as I couldn’t find any of my fabric marking pencils or chalk or the washable pen that I have. Once that was located  (and I really need some suggestions for better versions than the cheap one I have), I ruled one line at a time before quilting. I am pleased with the result as it is mostly straight, mostly at the correct spacing, and mostly at the right angles. I have to admit, some unpicking was required, including, after a change of bobbin,  when I realised that the tension hadn’t reset properly.

Quilted tablet holder Picklepiemama

Quilting complete

 

The quilted piece got straightened and cut in 2, before having 2 corners curved. Then it was on to the zip. And I don’t have a good history with zips and had never before attempted one not on a straight!

 

Well, I got there. Eventually. Using the slowest speed setting, and going back over with the top stitching (at least the basting stitches helped) several times to make sure it was all caught properly.

Quilted tablet cover top-stitching Picklepiemama

Top-stitching the zip and binding

I had made up some bias binding from some of the spare fabric,  my first attempt to make it using a continuous method. It was a bit wobbly, but there was enough to use. Binding the zip was hard work, especially ensuring that it was lined up properly to get the top-stitching to catch all the way round.

Quilted tablet holder binding pinned Picklepiemama

Zip binding pinned

Then I made a muck-up. A big mistake. I clipped together the raw sides, cut them straight, and the sewed round the 2 of them. Has anyone spotted what I forgot to do? It was nearly disaster…I had forgotten to start undoing the zip so the I could access it once all 4 sides were sewn up! The zip pull was sewn inside the pouch. Eek!

I thought I was going to have to unpick a load, but there was just enough of a gap to get my scissors in and grasp the zip pull with them. A bit of careful yanking with the scissors and I had moved it enough to get access to open it properly. Oops! This is why tutorials always warn you to move the zip into the middle before you close up.

Quilted tablet holder binding raw edges Picklepiemama

Binding the raw open edges

 

Quilted tablet holder Picklepiemama

Binding clipped round for sewing

The last thing was to put the binding round the 2 raw edges (needed some wiggling here to get it right), and then I could turn it and press. And it is done. What do you think? 😊

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Quick Makes 3 – Fairy Wings Bag

I wasn’t sure whether to add this as a Quick Make, but in the end I reasoned that it really is quick to do when you aren’t disturbed by small children wanting to climb on you.

 

As I mentioned in my post last week, I was commissioned to make a replacement bag for a friend’s daughter’s fairy wings. The one she had was made of chiffon and had finally fallen to pieces. Could I make a replacement which would hold more than one pair of wings?

 

The original bag was a drawstring affair, so I suggested making a larger version out of cotton. The fabric combined with the use of French seams should make the bag much more robust and suited to a small girl taking her fairy wings in and out of the bag multiple times.

 

I went back to the drawstring bag tutorial I have used previously as it is straightforward and doesn’t leave raw edges. I probably didn’t need to use the tutorial as I have made quite a few of the bags, but as it is a while since I last made one, I thought I would have a quick read.

 

I had some lovely fabric from Ikea, left over from covering my pressing board, and some Doodlebug pink stripy ribbon I bought from Prints to Polka Dots in their sale recently.

 

The only changes I made to Georgina’s version of the bag was to French seams the bottom of the bag as I didn’t have a large enough section of fabric to cut the whole bag on the fold, and I double-hemmed (2 folds rather than 1) the channel at the top.

Double-hemming fold, and sewing the drawstring channel:

 

French seams on the bottom and sides.  I also stitched a curve on the corners at the bottom (not my neatest sewing, but it did the job):

French seams Picklepiemama

French seams on the bottom and sides

 

And the finished bag, kindly photographed by the recipient’s mum 😊

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Prepping Projects

Picklepiemama Projects

I have been prepping like crazy over the last couple of weeks, and now have loads of projects ready to go. I could have done them one at a time and actually got some finished, but I decided to take the opportunity of having no little people in the house to have the iron, pressing board, and cutting mat all out. Little fingers are far too inquisitive. So the hexies have been progressing in the evenings and the project prep during the day (in breaks from housework, cooking, and volunteering at Maxi Mister’s school).

 

I have worked out an order in which to do them, but it may well change. This is because I need to press some of them as I go along, and therefore can’t work on them when the children are around. And because I get distracted far too easily!

 

Here are my prepped projects. I plan to post about each as they are done, so look out for lots of pictures.

1. Angel Wings Bag – this is a commission from a friend for her daughter. It is based on the drawstring bag from Georgina Giles, which I have used before.

2. Tablet Cover – I have based this on the gorgeous one that Caroline from SewCanShe made in January. I have had to do some jiggling around of sizing to fit my tablet, so hopefully it will work…

3. Beach/Pool Bag- I spotted this tutorial a couple of weeks ago and plan to make 2 of them, as I can forsee we will probably need both while we are away.

4. Grandmother’s Flower Garden Pincushion – I started this over the Easter holidays as I wanted a handsewing project that I could finish quickly. It has taken me a while to get my bum in gear to get wadding for it, but it is now ready to quilt and make up. I bought it from Sew & Quilt, from the very helpful Jessie

5. Bionic Gear Bag – this was introduced to me by the lovely ladies on the UK Quilters United Facebook page. Not only was I amazed at how much you can squeeze into this little bag, I was also intrigued by the challenges it presents with making it, as it is apparently rather complex. I can’t help thinking it is a bit like an Ikea flat pack. This, by the way, is from a paid for tutorial via Craftsy. I don’t normally try things that have bought patterns, but it was just too tempting.

6. Maxi Mister’s Quilt – yes, I have finally prepped his quilt. I have had the fabric for over a year, and it has been pressed for about 2 months. But I have now made a start…

7. Pattern Weights – still haven’t decided which shape I am doing these, and they are not urgent, so bottom of the list they go.

If that lot isn’t enough, I also have a couple of other commissions in the offing as well, and of course my hexie quilt. I really need to get going! 😊

 

 

Pratchett-a-thon

I start my Pratchett-a-thon tonight. Reading through all of the Discworld books in order again, including the last 2, which I have got but haven’t read yet. Add to these a load of his other books, and I am going to be going for a while. I had planned on starting this after Terry Pratchett’s death last year, but with one thing and another, it was yet another challenge/project I hadn’t started. Here goes…

The Colour of Magic 😊

wp-1464906501482.jpg

Oh, and the hexies are over a thousand now…

 

Hexie Counter

Makes and Ends

Yet again I have had a huge gap in my blogging. I have done things, and I have come up with loads of ideas for posts, but just not got round to finishing them. But since it is half term, I have had a good Bank Holiday weekend at Dad’s, and I am shattered from organising the house (looonnng way to go yet), I have been baking and sewing. Because, of course, that is what you do when you are so tired, you seriously contemplate using matchsticks to keep your eyes open 😀

This evening’s offering is a Chocolate and Coffee Marble Loaf Cake, recipe courtesy of The Pink Whisk. I originally planned to make this last week, and even got as far as measuring out the butter, but never did anything else. Anyway, it was an easy, basic sponge cake recipe, with a bit of flavouring, a bit of swirling, and then a bake. It looks like the original and tastes lovely. Will definitely be making this again.

image

Chocolate and Coffee Marble Loaf Cake

I made cheese on toast for Maxi Mister earlier as well, but that doesn’t really count as baking. He is quite easy to make meals for as he eats most things, although does go through random spates of hating things (one time it was only melted cheese, then only orange cheese, then only grated cheese, then no cheese – argghhhhhhhhh!). Mini Mister is harder to cater for as he doesn’t want to eat anything he hasn’t specifically decided is OK for any particular day. And that changes hourly, let alone daily. Yes, it is his age, but who doesn’t like chips???!!! At least he tends to eat well at Nursery. We did discover yesterday that he seems to like cheese toasted inside a tortilla (had lunch at Chimichanga in Canterbury), but, of course, if I try giving it to him, he will probably reject it (“No more” is the death knell for an awful lot of meals at the moment).

On Monday I made a beef pie with the remains of the roast beef and gravy from Sunday lunch that Dad had cooked. It was nice, but both Hubby and I thought it would have been improved by the addition of an onion and some mushrooms. With Mini and Maxi being fussy about both (OK, they won’t eat them!) I didn’t even suggest adding them. I did, however, decide to cheer up the top and make it obvious what had been made for lunch:

Pie

Pie!

 

Over the weekend I have also been sewing. Since I have done so many hexies now, but haven’t started sewing them together, I decided to have a go at a mini project which I could aim to finish soon – a Flower Garden Pincushion . I got the kit from Sew & Quilt when I ordered my latest lot of hexie blanks. I also ordered some of the Tulip Hiroshima piecing needles that Jessie sells, just to see how I found them compared to my usual John James quilting needles. Jessie has also been really helpful asnwering a load of questions I had about thread, despite them being about a quilt top totally unrelated to the EPP things she sells. So far, I have basted all the tiny little hexies needed for the pincushion, and sewn the first 7 together. They are really pretty, but oh so tiny (half inch, compared to my usual 1 inch). My aim is to finish piecing and to quilt it by the weekend if I can…

Hexie flower pincushion centre

Centre flower for pincushion

I have a whole truckload of other makes and bakes to tell you about, including several presents, and at least 1 recipe for a cake. They will be in future posts (as soon as I finish them…)

And as for Ends….well, my job has finished. For a variety of reasons I left at the end of this half term. I could have finished at Easter and been paid to the end of April, but I decided the extra money was worth the extra weeks. I have had a difficult few half terms, especially the last couple, mainly resulting from huge anxiety issues which have nearly overwhelmed me. I have yet to decide whether to blog about those. It may help, it may not. Suffice to say, that I have been really lucky to have the support of our local GPs and my Health Visitor. And leaving the job means I no longer have a difficult commute which was increasingly taking me away from my children. I have regrets. There are colleagues I will miss terribly, and some of the classes I taught and lots of the kids. I loved doing the shows. Loved the space I taught in.

But it was time to end and to move on. An end after nearly 12 years, and an end to the commute. Hopefully this means more time for making as well as more time with my wonderful children and husband.

 

And the other Ends? Well, they get posts of their own 😊

Hexies and Quilts and Half-Term Fun

A really good day today. Not only have I managed to complete my Jelly Roll Jam quilt top, I have also finished another set of hexies, ready to move on to a new colour and some miniscule shapes. And Maxi Mister and I had some quality time together.

The quilt top really shouldn’t have taken this long, since it is quite straightforward. But other things have got in the way. It needs pressing properly and then I have to quilt it and bind it. I think the scary bit is still to come! In the meantime, I get to choose some backing fabric and something for binding it, as well as deciding on the type and weight of batting/wadding to go in the middle. Who knew quilts were so complicated?! ☺

Jelly Roll Jam, Riley Blake Fancy Free

Central portion of Jelly Roll Jam quilt top

On the other hand, I have been very lucky to get some help and advice from Deborah at Fat Quarter Shop (where the pattern comes from). I emailed on a whim to ask about binding, and she has been full of suggestions and has even emailed me a video tutorial link. I will put all these bits on a proper summary post when the quilt is finished.

Back to hexies, and I have now hit 460 completed hexies! It sounds a lot, but considering I am aiming for at least a queen-size quilt, I have probably completed about a fifth of all those I need to baste. Don’t they look pretty though?

Hexies

I have 2 sets ready to baste, 3 to prep, and another 8 FQs ready to cut up. As I said previously, I am going to be doing this one for a loooong time. I have prepped some mini shapes this evening to have a go at over the weekend, so they may be ready for a post next week.

In other news, Hubby’s much-delayed birthday cake (with any luck) will be happening tomorrow, and I am going to be making him some cupcakes to take to work a week on Monday. He should have had them this Monday, but, as you know, we were all ill, and next week his co-workers are off on a test trip somewhere, so they have to wait another week.

I also have to make Maxi’s cake next week as he turns 6! How can I have a 6-year-old??? It only seems like yesterday he was a bouncing, giggling toddler. Now he is a bouncing, giggling giraffe of nearly 6-year-old gorgeousness. We had a great day today, going to the cinema and then out for lunch, just the 2 of us. I loved listening to him shriek with laughter watching Hotel Transylvania 2. And, of course, we had his choice of Wagamama for lunch (complete with his favourite ‘giant peas’ – edamame to the rest of us).

Hopefully tomorrow will be as good as today is all respects… 😊