A Catch Up

I am sitting writing this (and hoping it will save as I have no wi-fi) in the car in the middle of a field near Sandwich in Kent. I realise this seems a little strange, but I can explain. Mini Mister fell asleep during our drive out here, and since his routine is totally out, any time he actually naps at the moment is a blessing. Hubby had to sit in the car with him yesterday, so it is my turn today. At least I have all the windows open and there is a lovely strong breeze blowing through to keep us cool. It has been rather too warm the last few days for me (and the children, to be honest, as it makes them more crotchet than usual). As for the where, well, the picture shows my current view, Richborough Fort.

Richborough Picklepiemama

Richborough through the windscreen

We last came here when Maxi was a baby (and bumped into the then Archbishop of Canterbury in the shop/exhibition), so decided a return visit was needed. It is a huge open area, with loads of Roman ruins and plenty of space for the kids to run around. Since we are staying near my Dad’s place (and my middle sister and her family are staying with Dad) we have 4 smalls between us to entertain. This should keep them occupied for a bit (well except Mini, as previously mentioned). Richborough was the site of a huge port until the area silted up. The coast is now further away and the fort has fallen into ruins. But the remains of the Saxon walls are impressive (the Saxons used the remains of the Romans fort to build their walls).

Richborough Picklepiemama

Spot the child – Maxi in front of one of the walls at Richborough (picture courtesy of Hubby)

So, a catch-up. Yet again, I have not been writing my blog as often as I should. But it is the summer holidays and we have been quite busy. I have worked my way through some of my sewing projects whilst Mini has been at Nursery and Maxi has been either at football camp, Playscheme or his grandparents’ place in Suffolk. Some housework and clearing out has taken place, but I still have loads to do. I have attempted some baking and making, but since I am following Slimming World, I haven’t tried that many cakes and biscuits. I have, however, discovered that quark is quite good for mousses, learnt how to use powdered and leaf gelatine, rediscovered how many different kinds of dishes can be made with 0% fat Greek yogurt (sweet and savoury), and eaten my bodyweight in fruit and veg! Some experiments didn’t work well and need tweaking, some we never want to eat again, but mostly they have been successes. I do get through an awful lot of fat-free yogurt though!

Summer visits with the kids have included soft play in various places, the beach in Southwold, a few castles (we are planning on another this afternoon, and yet another tomorrow), RSPB MinsmereThames Chase Forest CentreThameside Nature Park (Essex Wildlife Trust), a railway exhibition, the East Anglian Transport Museum in Carlton Colville, the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway (all the way out to the power station at Dungeness), the Sealife Adventure in Southend, and a theatre trip with Maxi only to London to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and hunting Dream Jars near the theatre. We have read a lot, done lots of crafty things, been paddling in pools and the sea, got muddy, got very tired, caught the sun, poured sand out of clothes and shoes, got through a lot of suncream, and had a lot of fun. Me and hubby even managed to get a night away to go to Birmingham so I could go to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC (so much creativity in one place was truly inspiring – and I now have even more projects lined up…).

Anyway, I think I will wrap it up there for the moment, and go back to sewing hexies. Mini is still asleep, so the above image may be my only view of Richborough today 😊

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? 😊

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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 😊

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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! 😊

 

 

Quick Makes 2 – Mini Tote Bags

There are thousands of tutorials for tote bags of all shapes and sizes available on the internet. I will admit to having read some of them, but I have never yet actually followed one. They can be as easy or as complex as you want, and I have at least one from Crazy Little Projects lined up for Christmas presents.

We have been finding it hard to keep on top of clothing organisation during the week for Mini Mister. Maxi is easy as he just needs plenty of clean, dry school uniform. Because I am now back at work, trying to get Mini’s clothes sorted is proving harder than it should be. Some days I only see him for 20-30 minutes before bedtime, so I don’t always have time to sort his clothes for the next day. Since they are in drawers in his room, I can’t do it once he is in bed, and I can’t leave it to Hubby in the morning as he has himself as well as both boys to get up and ready (I leave before they are up).

I saw a fantastic idea pop up on a friend’s FB feed, of stacking drawers all set up for 3 kids with a week’s worth of clothes etc. We don’t have space for more drawers, so I needed an alternative. I have plenty of scraps of fabric, so small bags seemed like a good idea. And the easiest bags (other than drawstring) are basic totes.

I did make a template, but only so it was quick to cut the fabric the same for 3 bags. If you are only doing one, then you probably don’t need to worry. For each bag I cut a 8x8in square on the fold of the fabric and two 2 1/2x12in pieces.

Tote bag, quilting ruler, rotary cutter

3 bags ready to sew

The straps were made first. I pressed the smaller pieces of fabric in half along their length and pressed them, before folding in the 2 sides almost to the middle and pressed again. This meant I could top-stitch them closed without having to fuss about turning them. I also stitched down the other length so they matched.

bag 1

Another quick tip is to chain stitch the straps together, especially if you are doing more than 1 bag, as you don’t actually need to backstitch the ends as they will be dealt with when the straps are attached to the bag. This is an idea taken from numerous quilting sites.

The bags were next. I could have made it really easy and just sewed up the sides, but I wanted to enclose the raw edges. I used the French seam method, of which there is an excellent tutorial on Georgina Giles’ blog.

bag 3

bag 4

The tops were turned over twice, again to enclose the raw edges and I top-stitched using a zig-zag stitch to make it look more interesting than just a straight stitch. I am actually now undecided whether I prefer it like that or not.

bag 6

Lastly, I positioned the straps approximately an inch from the seams, folding under the raw edges, and sewing round the join. A cross through the middle adds strength.

bag 7

A quick press, and there you have it: 3 mini totes ready for Mini Mister’s clothes this week 😊

bag 8

3 mini totes

Writing 101 – Day 9: Reinvent the letter format – An open letter to the love of my life

Source: Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg on Wikimedia Commons

Source: Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg on Wikimedia Commons

To the one I have loved for almost all of my life,

Firstly, I need to apologise for my dreadful abandonment of you in the last year or so. You haven’t been cast aside in favour of another, although the arrival of a second small, screamy person nearly a year ago has taken me away from you at least a little. At times there hasn’t been space for both of you and his elder brother, and since you are the oldest and by far most fragile of all my loves, you have to be kept safe. So I have hidden you away from potential harm.

But I need to bring you back into the fold again. For a start, I need to make you whole again. Mum used to do that for me, but she is no longer here to help. I have tried in the past, but not hard enough, certainly not enough when you consider the cuddles I love to give you. And now I have left you incomplete for probably 2 years or more. It started even before I hid you away.

My skills have improved now. I am better at healing. Maybe it is because I am now an older and hopefully wiser Mama. Maybe I did really learn and retain some useful skills from Mum, and am now learning that I can improve and use them.

I also need you. The one constant (other than Dad). I have loved you since I was a baby like Mini Mister. You are the one who has always been there, no matter what. Despite all the childhood and teenage moods with my sisters and parents. Throughout the most difficult times in my life, when I barely knew what to do to move on. In the happiest times, especially those in the last few years (although I am afraid you weren’t allowed to come on honeymoon with us). You are always there. I promise I haven’t abandoned you. I will heal you. I will give you the cuddles and love you deserve.

My love forever…

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Writing 101 – Day 8

Picture from Liberty's website

Picture from Liberty’s website

Being challenged to think about comments we have written on other blogs, and to expand on one of them, has prompted me to look back over all of the other blogs or pages I have visited over the last couple of months. I find that it hooks me in further to those other world’s and I can quite easily get lost and use up a whole evening – hence this post being a day late.

I ended up getting pulled in to not only this blog, but also her linked Pinterest page. VeryBerryHandmade had posted some gorgeous fabric. That was it. A picture. It cauht my attention.

PicklePie MamaSep 6, 2015

I love the first Michelle and the Felicite, as well as the teapots (its pink, so need I say more?!!!). I haven’t really looked at Liberty for fabric before (too enamoured with certain American designers and Makower), but these are prompting a possible new fabric love affair! The question is, what can I make with them…

OK, to be fair, it doesn’t take much to get me lusting after new fabrics, and there are some really pretty ones in her post. But then she replied this:

veryberryhandmadeSep 8, 2015

Hi – I have a Liberty Inspiration board here on Pinterest if you need some ideas!https://www.pinterest.com/aliatveryberry/liberty-inspiration/

Oh dear! As you already know, I am addicted to Pinterest. That’ll be a few more things to add to my project list. It expands again!

I think I will see what you think of my project list, if I should add anything, and what I should try next. Look out for it…