Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How to make a Pumpkin pillow

With Halloween coming up soon, I thought some of you might like to make a new pillow for Halloween, or maybe several blocks for a wall hanging or lap quilt. 

My first ever Pumpkin pillow was originally posted here, and the free tutorial here.


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

From block to top

Wooosh. That’s the sound of August and September flying by. While I spent very little time in the studio, I was exercising every day, picking up the pace were I left off way too many months ago. We have been enjoying the most amazing weather this fall, so spending time outdoors has been a pleasure indeed.

I have returned to my studio though, happily working on this and that and stitching up improv blocks. I was planning to write a post about our brilliant day of Improv Round Robin back in September, but as I am having a bit of trouble uploading pictures today, they will have to wait to another day.

I have made progress on a few of the projects from this post, among others the block from the Design a block challenge.

The block was stashed away with a few bits and pieces which would go with it, but I had to play with a few other options first like this batik which I adore. It was way too busy, but you never know until you’ve tried.

Then this fabric caught my eye. It is a beautiful heavyweight woven cotton fabric which I picked up in Birmingham last year, 

and with the purple embellishments, it was the perfect companion to the purple string from the bag.

A little slash and stitch later, and the top for a new pillow was finished. It has later been quilted, but those pictures need to be uploaded too. Oh well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 2 September 2016

Back in the saddle

I have spent some happy hours in the studio this morning curating fabrics for a day of improv round robin stitching with my study group tomorrow. I had almost forgotten the lovely smell of freshly ironed fabric.

Starting out with blue and orange, I have pulled a mix of light and dark, calm and busy, hot and cold, pretty and ugly; my signature fabric on the bottom.

I'm looking forward to get back to my sewing machine indeed.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

"Daisy Chain"

“Daisy Chain”, which I shared process pictures of back here, has been finished for a while. I have been waiting for pictures of the quilt in its new home, but I keep forgetting it even though the new home is just downstairs.

Our daughter and I are both very happy with how the quilt turned out and it fits just as well on the young ones’ wall as it did on my floor while taking pictures.

I worked quite a bit on the quilting design before I started quilting, using the YouDoodle app as described in this post. I worked both on a single block 

and how to chain the blocks together. It’s such a great app.

This was my first time free motion quilting such a big all-over design – which was quite hard work as I had to make big movements. I did not mark the top, so no flowers are the same even though the number of petals is constant.

I wanted the quilting lines to be as fat as possible, and found an old black spool which would do the trick. It was rather hairy and kept breaking, but I did not give up even though there was times when I wanted nothing more. I was prepared to clean lint out of the bobbin area every hour or so, but there was surprisingly very little lint. Still, all that extra work with the thread breaking made me throw the spool out as soon as I finished quilting so I wouldn't be tempted to use it again.

The design shows well against all the fabrics,

and also quite well on the back (bobbin thread from the huge cone in this post). I found this bright and fun fabric in a bag in my studio and thought it would be perfect for such a bright and happy quilt.

I used a glue pen to temporarily attach the sleeve to the back while hand stitching it. The glue pens have spared me from unpicking thousands of basting stitches since I discovered them. You’ve got to love that.

A little warning though - it dries white, not clear. How I know? Take a guess.

The edges were a bit wobbly as I didn’t quilt all the way to the very edge, but they have already straightened out a bit while hanging.

The quilt measures 64”*48” and has my favourite low loft polyester batting which made all the moving around more bearable.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Bad quilting day

Those days don’t come around often, fortunately, but today I couldn’t seem to make my head and hands work together at all. Just look at this mess!

With this design in mind, I cut a star from contact paper and quilted roughly around it several times along the middle sky section of the table runner. It didn’t look too bad, so I moved on to the echoing lines when I really should have left it alone. 

Big stitches, little stitches, stitches jumping all over the place. Awful. Oh well, now I have some hand work to do before I try again. The stars could stay I guess, but I think it will be easier with a clean slate.

While free motion quilting was clearly not in the stars, I went looking for something easy to work on, and searched through all my little treasures. In a box, buried under some old Christmas fabrics, I found a bunch of old Christmas blocks. 

I remember using some of them for two table toppers years and years ago. 

One of the fabrics was particularly horrible, just look at this rather stiff green one. The roughly appliquéd bright red heart did not add anything to it either, at least nothing good.

Now I have unstitched 8 of the blocks, discarding the appliquéd squares and replacing them with something better. Half of the blocks have been stitched back together, and the rest is laid out for tomorrow.

I don’t know when, if ever, these blocks will be finished, but tomorrow will be a great quilting day!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Make A Pea Bag Tutorial

The past week was a busy one here at the orange house. I have been catching up on some long overdue entertaining and the house has been filled with friends of all ages. I have been making bookmarks with school friends of the big guy, dancing on the patio with kindergarten friends of the little guy, and treating some of my own friends to a sugar free lunch. It was lots of fun, but preparations took a big chunk of my time and energy.

I did however find time to stitch up quite a few pea bags. I have been searching for an English term without success, so if you have one, please do tell. I have been thinking of making such bags for quite a while as they are very versatile, you can play lots of different games with them. And besides – with a healthy scrap bag, the only cost is dried peas so they are almost free. You’ve got to love that!

A pea bag is a small fabric bag filled with dried peas. I remember them from gym classes, and they are still being used everywhere. Here in Norway you can purchase them at sporting goods stores; they are washable, mine are not. If you swap the peas with plastic granulate they will be.

I know many of you have kids in your lives which might enjoy having some bags to play with, so I have put together a quick tutorial. You’ll find some games on the bottom of this post.

What you’ll need
Fabric scraps
Dried peas
Paper cups
Scale (for weighing food, not people)

What you’ll do
Cut your scraps into squares, mine were 6”*6”. You need two squares for each bag.
I rummaged through a long abandoned box of fabrics and found some unloved bits and pieces in bright colours.

I used my ¼” foot, but moved the needle to the left to get a wider seam allowance. You want your seams to be as strong as possible, they will get a lot of wear.

Place two squares together right sides facing, and stitch around the edge leaving a gap on one side for turning and filling. Make sure you backstitch both at the beginning and end of the seam. This is good advice when turning anything inside out.

Turn the bag inside out using something pointy to push out the corners. I used my long tweezers, but as these are toys, don’t worry about perfect corners.

Weigh up peas; I used 100 grams in each. I brought my baking scale and a funnel to the studio, but the opening of the funnel was too narrow, so I made one from a paper cup. I also used a paper cup to weigh the peas; squeezing the cup a little made it much easier to pour the peas into the funnel.

Cut one paper cup open and cut the bottom off.

Roll it into a funnel and use a tape to secure. Place the narrow end in the opening of the bag, and pour the peas in.

Close the opening with a pin.

Waiting to be finished.

Stitch around the bag close to the edge. Start at the side where the opening is, stitch all four sides and then the first one again; this secures the opening. Move the peas away from the edge as you go; you don't want to stich over any peas.

Going around the thickness of the corners was a bit of a struggle at times. I should have changed the needle, so some stitches are skipped on the last ones. It’s ok, they are toys.

I secured the thread tails by knotting them and pulling them to the inside with a needle.


A set of three would make a great little gift, particularly if you write up some suggested games. I’ll be bringing a bucket, some targets and lots of bags to the schools summer party tomorrow.

- Cut targets and write points on them. Place them on the ground, the lowest point closest. My circles are made of waxed table cloth and measures 10”in diameter. I chose waxed cloth as they will take dirt and grass without disintegrating, and wrote on the back side which is white.
- Or make a huge bulls-eye the same way
- Cut circles out of a big trash bag and string the bag in a tree, trying to throw the pea bags through the holes.
- Throw bags into a bucket; make it into a competition – one hit = 1 point.
- Or make it a last man standing game where you move the bucket further away for each round. Only those that hit the bucket go to the next round until there’s only one person left.
- Divide into two teams; draw a line on the ground with one team on each side. Each person gets a pea bag. For 1 minute everyone will throw bags to the other side of the line, one bag at a time, then you count to see which team has the fewest bags on their side.
- Can also be played one-on-one starting with 3-5 bags each.
- Canon ball with pea bags; hurts less.)
- Use them in a relay, moving one bag at the time from one spot to another; toss them over things, under things, into things.
- Pea bag tag – if you get hit with a bag, you’re it.
- Place a bag (or more) on your head, and do things like sitting down and getting up without losing it.
- Dance while holding a pea bag between the knees
- Race while holding a pea bag between the knees
- Do a twin race where two kids hold a pea bag between their shoulders
- Practise catching skills; the bags are much easier to handle than balls, particularly for little ones.
- Toss them back and forth switching hands each time
- Toss them back and forth basketball style where one kid forms a ring with its arms for the other kid to throw through.
- Use a pea bag to take turns to tell a story; one kid starts with the bag, then throws the bag to someone who continues the story and throws it to the next kid until everyone had their turn.

So that was just a few possibilities; I’m sure that you and your little ones will come up with your own games in no time. I cannot wait to see how we will use our lot over the summer.

Happy pea bag sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Make A Happy Bird Tutorial

I spent some happy hours making party favours yesterday, a dozen little Happy Bird zippered pouches for a children’s party. 

They were so easy and fun, so I thought I would share a tutorial on how to make them. I made mine from waxed table cloth on which raw edges can be left exposed without problems, but you could also use any kind of vinyl, felt or felted wool.

My pouches will be holding end-of-the-party sweets and this size fits that purpose well. You can make yours any size you want.

What you’ll need
Waxed table cloth or other material that will not ravel: one colour for the body, another for details
Teflon foot (makes a lot of difference when stitching waxed cloth or vinyl)
Paper clip or other clip (this is rather slippery material)

What you’ll do
Main fabric:
Body: Cut two squares, mine were 5”*5”.
Tail feather: Cut a strip approx ½” wide and 3-5” long
Detail fabric:
Head feather: Cut a narrow strip (approx ¼” wide) and 2-2 ½” long
Beak: Cut a triangular shape any size
Eyes: Cut two circular shapes any size

A 1/4" seam allowance is not crucial on these birds. The width of your zipper foot may be different than mine, so you may need to adjust your needle position differently than I have done to get an appropriate seam allowance.

Place one square on top of zipper aligning the edge against the coil. Make sure you leave a 3/8"-½” gap from the top edge to the metal clip on the zipper.

Attach your Teflon foot if you have one, and move your needle position as far left as you can. Stitch a seam all the way down with the edge of your presser foot following the coil.

Adding the head feather.

Fold it in half and place it covering the metal clip on the zipper. Use a clip to hold it in place. This is the top side of the piece.

Place the second square on top of the zipper aligning the top edges.

Move your needle to the farther right position and stitch a seam all the way down.

You project will now look like this.

Adding the eyes. Place the eyes where you would like them to be. You can glue them in place, stitch them down by hand or machine, or add buttons or beads.

I used a decorative stitch on my machine.

Note that the eyes go in this direction. Attach the second eye the same way as the first.

You project will now look like this.

Adding the tail feather. Open up the zipper approx 1”.

Fold the tail feather in half wrong sides together, and place it on top of the zipper, aligning the raw edges.

Stitch over the edges while you pinch the zipper coil together so that you get as little gap as possible. I also backstitched. This is the bottom side of the piece.

Adding the beak. The triangular beak goes on this (top) side of the piece.

Fold the squares right side together and with the zipper on the far edge. Slip the beak between the squares with the point facing inwards.

Use a clip to hold in place.

Now you'll be stitching two sides - the top side with the beak, and the adjoining side. I tried a few ways to do this, and this way worked best for me. Align the bottom corners and move your needle to the left position. Stitch along the side to the corner, but stop a little short of the edge where you will turn to stitch the next (top) side. Stitch the top side until you get to the zipper.

When you get to the zipper, stitch as close as you can to the metal clip without running your presser foot over it. I had to stitch slightly diagonally to be able to stitch all the way to the edge and backstitch.

Now your project looks like this with an opening at the bottom.

Fold the opening like this so that the seam meets the zipper coil.

Align edges and use a clip to hold in place.

Make sure that the zipper is open.

Move needle to the right, and stitch from edge to edge, 

backstitching at the beginning, over the zipper, and at the end.

Trim off excess zipper.

Open the zipper all the way, turn inside out, and press out the corners with a pointy object. Done.

Head feather

Tail feather

Eyes and beak; Happy bird!

My dozen all have different coloured zippers from this lot.

This is my prototype; I had to make him to see the size, and where and how I should add the feathers. I’m keeping him even though he has none. They eyes are bigger and were attached with straight stitches which was more time consuming.

Happy Bird sewing and thanks for stopping by!