Work-in-Progress Girl


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Little Things

I’ve made a lot of little things in the last little while, so here’s a big photodump of an entry talking about all of them.

I guess I should go back in time to the thing I made longest ago, back in September or October, I think, which was a little mini-quilt, based on the Ravenclaw house crest:

Ravenclaw Mini

I made this for Mari-Ann/RockIslander, who is a Ravenclaw. I took a picture of the Ravenclaw crest from online, blew it up a fair bit, traced around the edges of the eagle and transferred the pattern (in reverse) to fusible web. So then I cut it out (using the sharpest cuticle scissors ever, which are so much more awesome for cutting delicate fabric bits than for mangling finger tips) and fused the bird to the background. It’s actually two layers of fused fabric – the background wing was done separately, so that I could use a darker portion of the fabric, which I hoped would give some depth and sort of visually separate the two wings. Then I stitched around the bird, creating feathers in the wings and tail. (You can see a photo of that here from Mari-Ann – my own picture of the back turned out terribly, but I’d already sent it away and couldn’t try for another shot!) In the crest, the stripes run the opposite direction, but I paper-pieced that portion as well, and forgot to reverse that pattern! Oh well.

I like to think that if I were a Hogwarts student, I’d have been a Ravenclaw myself, but I bet I’d have wound up in Hufflepuff because I was really far too lazy a student to have made Ravenclaw when I was in high school. Hufflepuff sometimes seems to be the fall-back house: you don’t fit anywhere else? Well, Hufflepuff it is, then.

Children's Wash Cloths

About two weeks ago I was clearing out some stuff from the plastic cabinets in my sewing room, and I found a pile of children’s fabrics I didn’t even remember I had. I tend to avoid buying children’s fabrics because I never know what to do with them and I don’t have children, so no particular need for items made using children’s fabric. But I do sometimes buy scrap packs of fabric, and I’ve started to amass a fair collection of children’s prints from those scraps and from the occasional times I’ve bought children’s fabrics to make gifts for friends who are having babies. When I found this particular print, I just got the urge to do SOMETHING with it, but it was a small piece of fabric – about 8 to 8.5 inches wide at the largest point by width of fabric – and I couldn’t decide what to do with it. Then I remembered having seen a tutorial ages ago for making wash cloths out of terry cloth and cotton. Well. Terry cloth I’ve got. Several years ago I had the genius plan to make little hooded bath towels for babies. Which, needless to say, didn’t happen. So yeah. Wash cloths. (I didn’t go look for a tutorial because… it’s just not that complicated.) I’m torn between making wash cloths till the end of time (or just the end of that million miles of terry cloth) to use up all the ginormous pile of children’s fabric I didn’t realize I had and just giving away the fabric. I was thinking about getting rid of it all on Sew Mama Sew’s December giveaway day, but to be honest, there’s such a big pile, I’m not sure I’m going to want to pay to ship it all away!

Liberty Pincushion

This is another slightly older one. Back in September I bought some Liberty of London fabric to try it out and see if I’d like it as much as so many people seem to. I don’t. I find most of their prints to be fussy little florals (which is pretty high up my list of dislikes) and while I’m sure it’s wonderful for clothing, it’s so thin that I can’t understand why (some) people want to use it for quilts. Yes, it’ll last for a while, but it’s kind of delicate stuff: I don’t think it’d stand up to continual use in a bed quilt. Anyway, in the pincusion, I blended the slightly thicker than quilting cotton Essex Linen with the slightly thinner than quilting cotton Liberty Tana Lawn, so I used interfacing on the Liberty fabric to give it a little more heft, which probably did it some good. The edges of the cathedral window, particularly near the bottom ends of it, are kind of loose and open in a way I don’t love, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make them crisper, tighter corners. Maybe putting in a few whip stitches or something to join one edge to the other? (And also, maybe using a thinner fabric than the Essex linen.)

Anyway, you can make your own Cathedral Window pinnie using this pincushion tutorial on YouTube. The first one that I made, above, I made a little larger than the tutorial recommends. She says 10 cm squares for the patchwork back, which is about 4 inches, but I made mine 4.5 inches, and I shouldn’t have because it looks much nicer on the second one, which (though you can’t tell without scale in the photos) I made at the recommended size:

Liberty Pincushion

Okay, the tutorial creates a pretty great pincushion (I think) – I love the cathedral window look and it’s a pretty easy way of creating it – but it’s not the best tutorial out there. The words don’t always line up with what’s being shown in the video and there is one crucial bit of information that doesn’t get talked about that is only shown in text on the sidelines of the video (and if you’re watching the woman’s hands, as I tend to do, you might just miss it). So here’s the most important bit of information: the section that you leave open to turn the pincushion is in the patchwork portion of the sewing NOT when you sew the top to the bottom.

Liberty Pincushion

My stitches are pretty well hidden in the back, but that slightly rippled edge in the top right seam is where I left it open. When I made the first one, I sewed shut the patchwork and left open part of the side, which Did Not Work At All. I had fused on interfacing after stitching the patchwork section, so I had to rip it open and rip through the interfacing, and then restitch it closed by hand after stuffing it. Pain In The Ass.

Anyway, I made this pin cushion (and the following two projects using Liberty fabrics) for Cathy of Blueberry Patch, who won a giveaway prize from me alllllll the way back in August. Yes, it really took me until now to make and send it out. Cathy and I both own shoes made with Liberty fabrics, and I know she’s a fan of Liberty, so when her name was chosen for the prize, I decided to pick up the a Liberty scrap pack (and a couple Fat Eighths) from Pick Click Sew on Etsy so that I could try it out and have some fabric for making the prizes. At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to make with it, but I kind of love all the things I did make.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

The next thing I made was the good old fabric basket from Ayumi’s tutorial at Pink Penguin. This is a great tutorial and a great size and a great way to pull together some of the smaller scraps of Liberty that I’d gotten. The scrap pack had a real mishmash of colours and prints (because I used up all the good red ones in that first pincushion) and I had hard time figuring out how to make them all work together.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

In the end, I just went crazy with the colour combos and didn’t try to match things up at all. I added the little flange of green between the patchwork and linen portions to tie in the lining fabric a little more (especially since there was none of that fresh spring green in the rest of the prints). Some of these prints are just kind of crazy – scroll up to the other photo and look on the far left side at that little carriage print, can you imagine making clothing out of that? who would want to? Anyway, I think it all comes together better than I thought it would, even though there’s nothing in particular tying one print to the next. I used the Essex linen here again, which I think is nice for the base, since it gives it a little extra heft, which helps hold the shape of the basket. (I also put a fair bit of quilting into the basket bottom because I think that helps give it some structure as well. Though really at this small size it doesn’t need too much help. The one larger one I made was too loose and kind of floppy and really could have used a few layers of a nice stiff interfacing.)

Anyway, part of the reason I didn’t have a good grouping of colours to go into this was because I used up most of the red/pink prints on the first pincushion and then I set aside most of the “good” blues (all my favourite ones, anyway…) for making the next item I sent. I don’t have a good photo of this because we’re all light-shunning vampires at my house and I couldn’t find enough sunlight anywhere to photograph it properly, but a Tiny Tree Garland (tutorial/pattern by Noodlehead):

Tiny Tree Garland

I so wish I’d had some blue perle cotton to string these up, but all I had was gold, white, pink (sashiko thread), and red. I went with red because it was the most vivid colour (and white just looked… wrong).

Tiny Tree Garland

I made these using the aforementioned Liberty scraps, but also bamboo felt from TaDaa Studio Felt. I like the bamboo stuff – it’s as soft as nice wool felt, but doesn’t have the allergy issues I know some people have with wool (or the animal ethics issues some vegans have with wool — not that I’ve got that issue myself, but I’ve made things in the past for people who have).

Tiny Tree Garland

I was trying to leave enough space between trees that Cathy could cut it down into a set of seven hanging ornaments if she’d rather use the trees that way (garlands can be awkward! and I couldn’t figure out a NICE way to end the dangling strings – I was sure I had some giant shiny gold beads that I was going to string onto the ends, but I couldn’t find them for the life of me), but looking at the photos, I’m not sure I really left enough string for loops. Anyway, it’d be pretty easy to pull out what’s there and swap in something else. (I did knot the thread on either side of each tree, but… that’s what scissors are for :D)

Anyway, that was my special prize package for Cathy, who received it excitedly yesterday 😀

Okay, jeez. Epic length post here. One last thing:

Flannel-Voile Receiving Blankets

I’ve been all about using things up lately because I’ve been going through another crisis of OMGTOOMUCHSTUFF and these receiving blankets were a way of using up some voile and flannel I had laying around. If I had more flannel in the right colours, I’d use up the rest of my (small) voile stash on blankets just like these. These were made using a Self-binding Blanket tutorial. Mine are a bit smaller than in the tutorial because I only had 1 yd of each cut. I think I cut them in the end to 34″ square for the voile and 30″ square for the flannel, but I can’t quite recall. (I do know neither of the voiles were very well cut yards because I couldn’t get the full 36″ out of them!) Anyway, it came out to about 32″ square for the blankets. They’re not perfect by a long shot – the top-stitching is pretty appalling (I couldn’t find matching thread, so I just went for contrast, but ugh, every flaw is magnified) – but I think they turned out pretty cute anyway. And they’re so lovely and light-weight. Almost makes me want to make a giant bed sized one. (Not that I’ve got a source for extra wide-width flannel or voile, but.)

Okay. 2000 words. That’s longer than some essays I wrote in university. Time to wrap it up.

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Two Owl Stuffies and a Receiving Blanket

Two Owl Stuffies   Flannel Receiving Blanket

Well, this entry is a very, very long time coming – I made these back in March, I think. I know I finished the owl in the foreground on March 9, but I don’t know how long it took to get the rest of it finished. Anyway, they were for a baby gift for Jennifer at Quiddity Quilts, for her son who was born earlier this year (April? I forget that too!) and her daughter.

Owl Stuffies

I don’t do a whole lot of sewing outside of the quilting arena and I always feel a little bit adrift when I try to follow patterns and make things, so I made the first owl (the one in front) as a practise piece, which would be given to Jenn’s daughter, if I thought it turned out. The pattern, available here, comes from Patty Sloniger of Beck and Lundy and is really simple to follow, fortunately. I made a couple tiny changes to the second owl, but on the whole I thought it turned out pretty well. (My changes were to sew the eyes on starting at the bottom of the eye, because they drifted north-ward on the first owl and I think they look better closer to the belly fabric, and to add a touch of stuffing to the wings and ears.)

I always tell myself that I’m not going to buy any fabric that isn’t quilting cotton (I never know what to do with the leftovers, and I always feel too guilty to throw them away – what a waste!), but I never manage to follow my own rules and I bought minkee for the belly/wings/ears, corduroy and velveteen for the backings, and wool felt for the eyes. (Probably I had the felt anyway – I like making ornaments! And I know for a fact that the grey beak felt was given to me by Ofenjen.) I still have enough of the corduroy, velveteen, and minkee to make another 3 or 5 owls!

Owl Stuffies - back

I used corduroy from Ann Kelle’s Remix line for the “boy” owl and velveteen from Anna Maria Horner’s Innocent Crush line for the girl. I kind of love both lines, although I wish the print on the Innocent Crush fabric were a little smaller so I could have got more of the print in! (I fussy cut it so that a piece which sort of looked owlish to me was visible on the back.)

The other part of the gift was the receiving blanket. I’d planned to make two – they seemed so simple, just baste the voile and flannel together, round the corners if you wish, and bind – but hand-sewing voile binding to piece of voile is HARD. Sewing thin, slippery fabric to more thin, slippery fabric? Not easy. And then to NOT stitch through into the flannel? I’m sure it took me as long to bind that little bitty blanket as it took to do my last almost bed-sized quilt. (If I do it again – and I must because I’ve got spare voile and spare flannel in my sewing room! More non-quilting cottons! – I will stitch the binding to the flannel side and hope that it’ll be slightly easier to work with.) The idea for these blankets came from Anna Maria Horner, and her explanation is available here. (She doesn’t say too much more about methodology than I did though! It really is that simple. You’ll note her blankets have the bindings machine sewn, but I am not very good at that, so I never do it.)

When I sent it all off to Jen, I swaddled her son’s owl in the blanket, like so:

Swaddled Owl Stuffie

Isn’t it just the sweetest?