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Wednesday, 12 February 2020

catty corner quilt

I recently got the chance to pattern test the catty corner quilt and I jumped at the chance. I have given my feedback and my quilt is all finished, so thought I’d share more about it here.
Although it was a small timescale, I chose to do the throw size and thought it would be manageable. I really wanted to make a scrappy cotton and steel quilt and this looked like a great opportunity to make it. The material requirements were slightly different to what I expected, but thankfully only needed to buy a couple of cuts to finish it all.
The first step was a fabric pull, I get my sister to help with this part. I think she enjoys it more than me, although she can get bossy at times. We sectioned my fabric in to colours, then ordered the cuts by size. I picked 5 fabrics from the bluebird range for the centres, even though no one would probably notice, I really liked the idea. We looked at the pattern and laid out some fabric to get a feel for how it would look, took pictures then re-arranged until it looked perfect.
 We originally had both black and navy but felt it was too dark, switched out the teal with cream but it was still just not quite right. We revisited the centres but I didn’t like them as much. I then wondered what it would be like without the black so we could have both the cream and teal... it was a winner.

I always take a photo when I choose fabrics. I have such a poor memory and would easily forget what was meant to go where without one. I did change a couple of fabrics around during the cutting and making process, but overall I mostly stuck with what I planned.

The main part of the pattern is only made of 4 large blocks, which are fairly easy to sew. The clever part of this pattern is in the placement and the extra cutting. Of course I wont go into details... you need to buy the pattern for that!! It is quite a large throw and required a bit of very large cutting, so I thought I’d share a funny progress shot of the measures to keep it in place for trimming...

I thought about quilting this throw myself but decided to treat myself to it been long arm quilted instead. I knew I would struggle to get it finished in time to a high standard, plus sending it away also meant I could do some other sewing at the same time my quilt still got quilted. I decided since it was going away, it might as well have a fancy back too. I decided to make an extra block and couple of halves to piece a section of the back. For the remaining section, I chose a cream and pink sprinkle. I had bought a big piece so this was the perfect opportunity to use it.

 When you send a quilt to be long arm quilted, the backing and the batting/wadding need to be 4 inches bigger than the top on all 4 sides. I didn’t quite have enough fabric (plus I didn’t want to loose too much patchwork, so I added extra borders using some cheap fabric my mum had bought years ago. Believe it or not, it was only 30p a metre from a market! The backing did look a bit funny when I sent it off, but this was only temporary. Given it's size, it was rather hard to photograph and this was the best I could capture...

For the quilting I chose a geometric pattern, diagonal plaid, which used squares. I liked the way it reflected the quilt blocks and thought it would look more modern than a swirly design. I’m so pleased with how it looks now the quilt is finished. I got Cath (Cumbria long arm quilting) to trim and attach the binding for me too... did you know they can do that ?! I didn't get it done last year with my meadowland and regretted it as I struggled with the trimming and attaching on a domestic machine with the size and weight of the quilt. Since I didn’t have the time to dither about this one, having it done saved me the trouble. It was lovely to have it come back all ready for me to just hand stitch the reverse of the binding to finish.

I am quite slow at hand stitching and I found the black cotton and binding harder than on previous quilts. Saying that, I probably finished in record time with the deadline spurring me on !! I was so happy with how it looked once finished and was excited to get photos. However, British winter is notoriously quite dark and windy, but luckily we had a window of nice light and took advantage. Mum was on hand to go up the ladder to hold the quilt whilst I took as many photos as possible. It was still quite windy but I think we got a nice photo.

As for the back, Cath did a super job of lining it up with plenty of patchwork on show at the bottom. The wind picked up and the picture isn’t quite as good but it’s the best we could do.

 If you want to see the individual blocks and some more photos of the quilt details, you can see them over on my instagram @craftylilmouse . I love how this quilt looks, it is so bright and modern. It's also lovely that it includes so many lovely cotton and steel prints and to get to use up quite a lot of my stash was a bonus! I think this is a great quilt pattern... if you'd like to make your own, the quilt pattern will be on sale soon. I'd also recommend a visit to stitch and yarn's etsy store for more of her patterns too.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Binding Tutorial: Method 2

For my second binding method, I cut strips 2 1/2" and press in half lengthways. The strips are then laid onto the front of the project, with the raw edges of the binding along the outer edge of the project. The binding is attached using the machine with a 1/4" seam allowance along the raw edge. Leave a loose tail of binding approximately 4" long at the start to allow for joining later. At the corners, I stop 1/4" from the end as seen in photo 1. I then fold the fabric away from the project, creating a 45` angle on the corner (photo 2). I then fold the binding strip up vertically to create a neat 90` angle on the corner, with the 45` fold inside and clip in place (photo 3). I restart sewing from the corner edge, continuing to use the 1/4" seam allowance and repeating for each corner.

I always start binding in the bottom centre of a project if possible and leave about a 3" gap for joining the binding. The join can be a little tricky to get it to a neat 45` the perfect length, but looks great once it's done and I think it's worth taking the time to do.


I start by opening out the binding so it lays flat. One end is folded down on a 45` angle away from the project, with RSU. The other end is then laid across so the binding strips are RST. Following the 45` angle of the fold beneath, I pin the strips together. The pinned binding is then carefully moved out from the project to enable access with the machine to sew along the 45` angle, joining the two strips.

Once joined, it is always best to check the binding will lay flat, (no excess which will crease and not too tight that its pulling). Once happy, I cut off the excess from the ends to leave just a 1/4" seam which I press open. Once the join is completed, the binding can be fully sewn onto the front.

With the front sewn on, the pressed edge of the binding can then be folded over to the back. It should look like the above photos at this stage. It is then time to sew on the back of the binding. This could be done by machine for speed, but I always prefer to hand sew using a ladder stitch for an invisible attachment. I gentle fold over the binding one section at a time, using binding clips to hold in place. These can mark fabric if left on too long so I always just do the bit I'm sewing then remove. The binding shouldn't be pulled so it is too tight over the edge of the project, but doesn't want to be left loose. Once clipped in place, simply ladder stitch along the pressed edge onto the backing fabric. This is easier if your backing is in one piece as its less bulky than having the extra seams of a patchwork, but can be done if your project is two sided. With the corners, simply follow the mitre from the front and fold the excess underneath to create the 45` joint before stitching.

The finished binding will look similar on both sides, something like the cushion in the example above.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

my finish along list 2020!

It’s time for another year of the finish a long, and a fresh start, (although most of the projects are carrying over from last year and some from year before!) The finish a long is going to be more instagram based this year, but I might still try and blog my progress.
I have decided I will write my full work in progress list for reference and in case I just fancy a change of project. I am also going to just pick a handful of projects I really want to finish this quarter.

So Q1:
First is my catty corner quilt. I am pattern testing for @stitchandyarn so I have a definite deadline for the finish. I am making good progress and it will hopefully be finished for mid-end of February!

Next is my #birthdaystitchersswap2020 parcel. I have made one thing this month but have another 3 to make before my partners birthday. As much as I’d like to post sneak peeks and progress photos, I just don’t want to spoil the surprise. They will stay a secret until opened and then I will share.

I’d really like to make a new #snappyzippouch for my phone. I cut it out of some meadowland left overs ages ago but have been distracted by other projects.
I’d also like to make a large fabric basket with my meadowland fabric to keep my hair dryers tidy. Hopefully I will have enough fabric to do it, though I think a bit of patchwork may be required.

A banner for my pin badge collection has been on my make list for ages. My collection has grown so much, I have bought a basket from ikea for them. Now I need to make a fabric basket/liner to go inside and make it easier to use. I will still need to make a small banner for my disney pins too!

Last picks are a couple of pouches. I have had a unicorn retreat pouch cut for a couple of years now and have just been putting it off. It scares me for some reason, a friend recently posted one on Instagram though and it has made me want to give it a try. The other pouch I want to finish for myself is the liberty baby cord and pink cord pouch I started last July. After it looked bigger than I expected during making, I decided to add some hardware and make it into a bag. I have since bought the hardware, but still not finished making so it joins the list.

Now the projects I will probably be leaving til next quarter:
  • A father's day gift: I have bought the fabric and have a pattern I’d like to try. Since Father’s Day isn't until 21st of June, there’s no rush.
  • A case for Millie’s cool mat: Since Millie hates laying on just the mat, we had to use a old postman pat cover last summer. I have bought some lovely summer fabric to make her a new cover this year.
  • A Tasha Noel seaside skirt: I bought a panel in the summer and really wanted to make a skirt. I didn't get it made in the summer ,but hopefully I will this year before all the hot weather comes.
  • The Adele dress: I cut a toile ages ago to check the fit and then never stitched it up.
  • Halloween cushion: I bought the ghost pattern from then came June but don’t fancy an entire quilt. I found some lovely fabric in the sales though so want a cushion or two.
  • Makers mat: I have been wanting to make a makers mat for a couple of years, the pattern designer hosts a sew along for it too. I am really hoping to finally join in this year (about October time) I have my fabric planned and ready. Really I should make 2 but will see how it goes, or if my old sewing machine gets claimed by my sister then I'd only need to make one!
Christmas makes:
  • A Christmas cross stitch: This was started ages ago, so hopefully I will just keep doing a little bit throughout the year and have the finished stitching to frame in time for Christmas.
  • My advent calendar: I started this last new year and didn't get it finished. I joked that I would end up sewing one a day this December, but with gifts still to make, that didnt happen either. It has been put away and will hopefully be out and finished ready for the 1st this year.
  • Christmas bunting: my mum encouraged me to buy a cute panel. I have all the supplies I just need to put together. It shouldn’t take too long, but will be a project for later this year.
  • Polar bear cushions: I can't even remember when I started these! I will try and get them finished this year though.

  • First I need to finish the car quilt I started in July 2019. I finished making the top, just didn't have the right batting to finish it. I have bought the batting but just not gone back to finish the quilt. I also want to make a couple of extra cushions and seat belt cosy.
  • I want to finish the heather ross sugar plum and trixie quilt, it is a big project but I'll hopefully have time to finish it this year.
  • A liberty HST quilt: This has been waiting ages. I started cutting and then it got pushed to one side for other projects. It would be really nice to make it though, especially since I managed to get a big piece of liberty in the sale for backing.
  • A quilt using the doll house range: This wouldn’t be my first choice of quilts I want to finish, however, my mum is redecorating and I think it could look really nice in the lounge so it has been pushed to the top of the list.
  • Ice cream soda quilt: Obviously I still have this to be working on. I am doubtful it will be finished 2020 though, but I'm happy to keep hand stitching them in between other projects and see it grow.
  • Green & cream quilted blanket: I started this years ago, but never completed the quilting.

*I wont bore you with a list of the other quilts I want to make. I have bought the fabric and picked patterns for quite a few. I highly doubt I will finish all the ones above, never mind these but I can always add them later this year depending how things go!*

Lastly I must learn to crochet! I was bought a couple of toft kits to make crochet animals. I really want to make them, but am not having much luck actually learning to crochet. I am really hoping I will manage them this year though.

I think that is everything although I am only planning the get the first few bits done this quarter. I will be posting my finishes on instagram and will try and use the #craftylilmousefal2020 to track my progress. You can also check out the @finishalong account if you want more details on how to join in.


Saturday, 4 January 2020

Meadowland quilt

I wanted to share this quilt with you now that it is finally finished... it took most of 2019 to complete, but I am super proud of it!!

I decided to join the quilt-a-long on instagram for the meadowland quilt, run by the pattern designer @thencamejune. This ran from February 25th for 6 weeks to finish with the quilt top. I had bought the my minds eye for riley blake 'blush' collection with the intention of making myself a quilt to go on my bed, so this seemed like the perfect excuse to start. Although the deadlines were stressful, they did keep me motivated to stick with it and keep sewing.
The hardest thing was choosing the fabric placement to get a nice mix of colours and prints across the quilt top. It was the first time I had followed a proper pattern for a quilt so working the fabrics into the existing design was something new for me. I was originally going to just go for it and let it be random, but ended up opting for a repeat of four blocks which used all of the fabrics once.

Once happy with the design, I began making. I cut all of my pieces out and used the chain piecing method to speed up the initial sewing process. I was very cautious with the flying geese sections to ensure my fabric ran in the same directions and the points matched perfectly. I'll admit there were some tears and unpicking to shift the blocks over just a few mm's to get it right and although not perfect it's as near as is possible !!

I made the quilt top to one of the largest sizes on the pattern and when it was pieced, it was quite an impressive size. It covers a double bed easily and meant a few step ladders were needed by my helpers to get a full length photo !!

Given the size of the quilt, I decided to treat myself to having it long arm quilted. I pieced the pink backing fabric and sent it off to the cumbrian longarm quilter and chose a nice swirly design as I didn't want to clash with the fabrics or patchwork design. I got it back in early May, around my birthday and was super excited to see it quilted, but also daunted by the prospect of trimming and binding it.
When December came around, I was determined to get the quilt done before Christmas, so I got some help to get the binding on and sat with Christmas films to hand finish the 9m of binding.

On Christmas eve, I finally had a completed quilt. With the festivities, I didn't get around to laying it out and photographing it. I would have liked to have taken it to the coast for some pretty pictures with scenery, but instead opted for keeping it clean and showing it on the bed !!
I'm rather proud of this quilt as it's my biggest one to date and I get to keep it and enjoy it for years to come. I'm also pleased to say it's another project ticked off my finish-a-long list too.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Glam bag

I made this bag as part of a Christmas gift for a friend. She's a beautician so when I saw these fabrics, I knew they would be perfect for her bag. I mixed prints from the 'Kiss me, Kate' range by See Kate Sew for Riley Blake and 'Glam Girls' by American Dream House for Michael Miller.

I designed the panels to mix the fabrics and spread the colours. I then worked out the quilty maths and cut my pieces as follows:
lips: 15 1/2" x 3 1/2"  +  14 1/2" x 3 1/2"
xox: 3 1/2" x 4 1/2"  +  3 1/2" x 4 1/2"
bows: 9 1/2"x 2 1/2"  +  3 1/2" x 5 1/2"
lipsticks: 6 1/2" x 6 1/2"  +  6 1/2" x 4 1/2"
eyelashes: 9 1/2" x 4 1/2"  +  3 1/2" x 4 1/2"
stripe: 6 1/2" x 4 1/2"  +  6 1/2" x 5 1/2"
The panel was made using the quilt as you go method with 1/4" quilting and seam allowances. I then added the sequin print to the top and base with 1/2" quilting. I created the handles with the same sequin fabric, with interfacing for strength and batting for comfort.  
I boxed the corners on the base and lined with the bows fabric to finish. I also added a little handmade label into the side seam.
I'm pretty pleased with how the bag turned out and think it's a useful size... Thankfully my friend is also pleased with it!! This is one of my finish-a-long projects which you can find here.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Butterfly cross stitch

I made this little gift using the butterfly hoop kit from cross-stitch crazy magazine I got a while ago. I followed the kit to stitch up the butterflies on the front, but didn't like the plastic hoop supplied with it. I decided to paint a wooden hoop the same size using my own custom mixed lilac shade of Annie Sloan (I'm afraid I can't remember which colours went into it!).
I added the coordinating fabric to finish the back of the hoop, first glued and then ladder stitched to secure it in place. The final touch was some organza ribbon to create a hanging loop and bow to cover the screw.
I finished this project earlier, but couldn't share until now as it was part of a Christmas gift. It is on my Q4 finish-a-long list which you can find here ....

Friday, 27 December 2019

Bunnies and blossoms pouch

I decided to take part in one Christmas swap this year, but wanted something a bit easier than last year. The #simpleandsweetchristmaspouchswap was perfect!
The guidelines were one pouch made to your partners preferences, with a nice size limit (maximum size 15”x12”, minimum 8”x6”). The parcel could also include 1 or 2 Christmassy extras. I was given Naomi as my swap partner aka @naomic08 on Instagram. I was very happy to be making for her, since she had made a wonderful cotton and steel swap parcel for me... see this here. 

Firstly, I decided I would make one of my snappy zip pouches but would enlarge it a little. My final pouch measurements were 10 1/2”x 9 3/4”. I couldn’t decide what fabrics to choose, so I gathered a few options and posted about it on Instagram. I had been eager to use these cute bunnies and blossoms fabrics for a while and was thrilled when Naomi commented she liked them too.  

I went for a patchwork panel, to include plenty of the fabrics with a few cute fussy cuts too. Simple straight line quilting, 1/2” apart worked out well too. I used the strawberries for the main pouch lining and the pink lace check for the flap and zip pocket lining. I decided not to quilt the flap and am pleased I didn’t now.

I found the sweet little strawberry bead in my jewellery supplies and made a cute zip pull charm with it. I love the way this pouch looks and hopefully Naomi does too!

My pattern is available on Etsy here, if you fancy making your own version of this pouch.
This was also one of my finish-a-long projects. See more of my list here, and visit their blog for more details about the challenge.