Last weeks S&T went int to the trousers (as Mr G would say) but I'm back on track this week, and all the typing I failed to complete late last Tuesday night will make an appearance in a couple of Tuesdays' time.
So then, remember the quilted placemats (here and here). I was going to get a shade card for DMC perlé cottons and try to match a turquoise thread but it was all taking an age, and I just couldn't wait. I have never had a strong urge to quilt before but these placemats really made me (nearly obsessively) want to hand sew. I got hold of some non-DMC perlé from my LYS last week and there's been no stopping me. I've been sewing in front of the telly , in the car, at the supermarket...
I decided on a semi-random circle design and marked the circles out with a soft lead pencil (I don't know whether this is 'good' quilting practice or not...), using cups and plates for the smaller circles and my trusty extendable compass for the larger ones.
I think the patterns work just as well on the back as on the front, and it would be nice to do something like this in a plain colour (perhaps a navy or dark red with white thread). This technique is Japanese I think but I can't remember what it's called.
I was going to bind the mats with a dark blue edge but having tried a tiny bit of dark blue thread for quilting, I've decided that it wouldn't go with the turquoise which is a bit of a difficult colour to match. I think I'll probably end up using the same calico as the backing, unless something pops inspiringly out of my stash.
So next time you see these, they should be finished and probably covered in pasta sauce.
It's crazy busy here at Stash Towers so apologies for another absence. I have loads of tunics to show you - finally a tunic frenzy that I can wear! - and a very belated thank you to post but unfortunately those will all have to wait until next time.
In the meantime, here's the rest of the catch-up from earlier this summer.
Stashlet has a little play area in the kitchen by the back door and he likes to watch the birds feeding so I thought I'd make him a bean bag to sit on (comfier than a stone floor, even in a big, fat cloth nappy!). The first one turned out rather too big - as you can see, it takes up nearly the whole play mat - so I made a smaller one...
Sorry, not the best of photos...
The big stripey one is 75cm square (which for some reason my imagination saw as about half the size, sigh) and is made from an Ikea cotton that (looking at their website now) seems to have been discontinued. I shall see if I still have the label. The smaller round one is another Ikea fabric, Fredrika. I used the width of the fabric to determine the circumference of the cushion so it's just under 150cm around and 40-something cms in diameter.
These are both covers, with the actual polystyrene beads in a calico bag. And it's just as well, because the smaller one is already covered in biro and snacky smears!
I'm tempted to put some more beads in both of them, but they were such a pain to fill, that it's not a high priority. You have to do a Kirsty Allsopp and be prepared to get covered in them; they stick to everything, especially when an excited Stashlet jumps on the cushion halfway through filling...
The other thing I did was make an extension to the pushchair hood. It was only when we went looking for a more portable stroller in the spring that I discovered that some pushchairs/buggys/whatever! come with additional segments of hood that you can pull out as a sunshade. Wish I'd known that this time last year!
Anyway, this one is made from a stiff vilene-type interfacing sandwiched between two cottons. I strengthened the outer edge with a double strip of boning, and hand stitched it to the existing hood using a cotton tape to act as a kind of hinge.
There. That's a better photo of the fabric.
I was going to ask Mr G to help me sew it on by machine - him supporting it as I went round using a zip foot - but in the end the hand stitching worked out fine.
I can't say it's 100% successful, because it doesn't fold back under the existing hood very neatly, but it does the trick.
I'd been wanting to make Stashlet one of these for a while, and had been constructing little graph paper models to try to decide on the best way to do it. Fortunately, Stashlet decided to 'play' with said models and I had to look on the internet instead, which was much quicker and more help than the graph paper, to be honest.
I found Alexandra's post very useful on how to cut the fabric and then went off on a tangent with seams and so forth.
I want this wigwam to last so I top stitched the seams, made little button holes for the front ties, and little loops for tent pegs. The fabric is Ikea's Sofia and I used the full width of the fabric (150cm) to make the panels. The stripes worked out well; I was afraid that they wouldn't match up but somehow (I can't remember now if it was by luck or design) they went together perfectly.
I used cotton tape to bind the long open edge and top, and hemmed the bottom. I had wanted to use a straight stitch to attach the tape but my line kept going wonky and the stitches kept falling off the tape, so I abandoned that and used a wide zigzag instead, which won't get me any marks for neat workmanship but does the trick.
The canes are held in lace by 3 loops of elastic sewn into each seam. My original plan was to do a kind of giant french seam and push the canes through the channels that would be greated by the two lines of stitches, but in the end I thought I wouldn't have enough fabric to do that and have decent sized panels. The system works ok with the canes, but would be better with dowel, I think, as the elastic would be stretched a bit and therefore hold the fabric more firmly.
There are a few things that still need sorting out.
The tent pegs: I got big plastic ones on the basis that they would be less dangerous than the metal ones, but I can't get them into the lawn, so I suppose I shall have to get metal ones and make sure they are well pushed/hammered in.
The front fastening: I think it could do with another tie lower down but that's not a high priority.
The canes: these are 6ft bamboo canes which are the right length but are too thin and whippy, so I either need to find thicker canes or buy some 1" dowel and use that instead.
And the top: I can't get the top of the wigwam to stay up very well or the canes to stay together in the right place. My current solution is to drill a hole in each cane and tie them together with wire, which holds the fabric up but the wire has sharp ends, so that's not ideal.
Anyway, Stashlet likes it and on the few rare occasions that we've had enough sun to be able to use it, has spent his time running in and out of it playing peekaboo with the flaps.
If anyone would like more detailed photos, let me know and I'll stick some up.
I know, I know, it's been ages since I managed a post. Every day I think either "perhaps I'll get some time to post today" or " bugger, that was another day I didn't get to the blog". Sigh. You'd never think that working three mornings a week would make that much difference. And poor Stashlet has been suffering too, getting him into bed has got later and later these past few weeks, although Mr G and I are now making a concerted effort to rectify this.
I have been doing some crafting though, and have plenty of posts in my head to get on to this blog. I hope that this post will be the kick start to resume blogging - that is, assuming you haven't all upped and left in search of someone more reliable!
So as to not be a photo-less post (always a bit dry, I feel), here is some recent Stash Towers weirdness....
... a tomato whose seeds had already sprouted (never seen that before!)...
...carrot seedlings in the patio (we have carrots coming up everywhere this summer and I have absolutely no idea why) and...
... what Satshlet eats in one morning when he is with the childminder. My father commented that the wee S had lost weight after a recent week of gastro-enteritis so I sent him this photo to show him it wouldn't be long before the chubby baby cheeks came back. I still marvel at the Tardis that is Stashlet every time I empty his lunch bag and find everything has gone.
And finally, Typepad has introduced what they call Recommended Links where it automatically detects certain words and provides links to sites like Wikipedia - in the case of this post, it has recommended links for "Tardis" and "gastro-enteritis". I'm in two minds about using this, on the one hand it seems like a good idea to enable readers to look up things they might not be familiar with, but on the other hand I can't help feeling that it makes the post feel very cluttered. I wonder if anyone else is using this and how you find it.
That's me done for the night. I feel so much better now I have actually managed to get a post done. Fingers crossed for more of the same in the much less distant future. Happy Staurday everyone.
We have a water filter that sits on the kitchen counter next to the kettle. And for years it has sat on a rather unappetising looking folded J-Cloth, which I have always meant to sew together (my grandmother always sewed her J-Cloths in half) and never got round to.
I've been looking at it lately and thinking things have got to change.
At the same time, I've also been thinking about knitting ripples. So at some stage - probably around 4am - I had a mild brainwave, put the two together, and decided to knit a J-Cloth. Does that sound odd?
So I hunted around on Ravelry and found that there are quite a few patterns which produce varying results. Some are curved waves, some are very angular, some are very lacy. I wanted to end up with a tight, angular fabric so I went for this one. The pattern (knitted in multiples of 11 stitches) is very easy to remember:
Row 1: k2tog, k3, k3 into next stitch (into the front, into the back and into the front again), k3, slip1 k1 pass the slipstitch over
Row 2: purl if you want a stocking stitch finish (or knit if you want a garter stitch finish)
Here's the J-Cloth...
That's 33 stitches knitted in DK on 3.25mm needles. I knitted every row so the result is a nice firm garter stitch ripple, and the swatch ended up about 3½" wide and 5" long. The yarn is Patons 100% cotton.
So now we have a fancy cloth for our water filter to sit on.
While I was knitting it, I realised that, because this pattern has no 'extra' stitches (as in "cast on multiples of 13 plus 8" etc... ) , I could knit it in the round. And I could knit stocking stitch with 'stripes' of garter stitch to emphasise the ripple. So now, I have a ripple jumper on the go for Stashlet. Adding the sleeves is going to prove an interesting exercise...
I'm big into snow flakes this year so we have plenty - some of which still need stringing up! The big fancy ones are from a post that Kate at M is for Make did last year. In fact, I cut them out last year and they sat in a cupboard for 12 months before I managed to make them up (sigh). I wanted to make tiny little ones out of tracing paper but joining them up was so fiddly that I gave up - next year perhaps...
I'm always a big fairy lights fan so we have plenty of those too, and because I rather short-sightedly threw out the branch which has been our xms tree for the last few years last month, we have very few tree-ish places to hang decorations. So some baubles on the fig trees, and my lovely Dutch porcelain ornaments over the fire place.
Have a lovely Christmas everyone xx
I got this walking foot when I bought my new sewing machine, but it felt pretty pointless posting about it when all I could say was 'look what I got', so I decided to wait until I'd actually used it. And now I have, so...
Eeee, missus, look at my fancy new walking foot!
To be honest, using it was a bit anticlimactic. Mostly because it just got on with the job and didn't have a troupe of dancing girls with feathers in their hair doing the cancan when I took it out of the packet. Honestly, they sound so fabulous on the quilting blogs that I really felt something like this was going to happen.
But despite my (humorous) cynicism, it does seem to be pretty handy and I'm glad I got it. I did another baby rush job at the weekend and made some cushions for Baby Stash's new highchair. The seat was made from a bought chair pad which I cut to size and recovered (easier and cheaper than searching fruitlessly for a shop that sells foam) but the back ended up being some quilt wadding (because the chair pad foam was too thick).
So I did a bit of ad hoc quilting, and was even more slapdash than with the mattress cover. I just cut the wadding to the right shape, stuffed it into the case, made sure it was flat and stuck it under the walking foot. No pins or tacking, nothing.
And ok, I probably got away with it because it was such a small item, but I only got one bit of puckering and that was because I wasn't paying attention (due to Stashlet having a small fit of annoyance about something at that moment). But you can't see it in all that check madness anyway.
I was going to quilt the whole thing with small squares, but after an " I'm off to light the barbecue because people will be here in 20 minutes" warning from Mr G, I decided random sizes would be quicker.
And, as I said, it went without a hitch. The walking foot just tootled across the fabric (a gingham - 4 layers of cotton wadding - gingham sandwich) without any fuss and did the job in no time.
Obviously I need to test it out on something bigger too, but first attempts all point to it being money well spent.
One warning though, if you do decide to get one: make sure it's the right one for your machine. Mine's for horizontal rotary hook models, but you might need something else (and frankly, I couldn't tell you want a horizontal rotary hook is anyway, the bloke in the shop just gave me what went with the machine).
Oh, and can I just say: Yay! Gingham!
(Yay! We went to Ikea* and I bought baby sized coat hangers. Finally I can make like Alicia Paulson!)
Now before you think I have had time to sit down and do these myself, let me say that I am currently spending my free (ie. non-baby) time tidying (aka re-excavating) the house because after 8 weeks of Baby S it looks like a tornado has hit it. Also I am pretty rubbish at drawing (despite being a landscape architect).
But there was a Baby Exhibition in Dublin a couple of Saturdays ago so I thought I'd go along. (Er, not an exhibition of babies you understand, but something more like an Ideal Home Exhibition for baby and maternity stuff). It was a bit spur of the moment and I was mildly concerned that it would be a complete let down but I have to say I was quite surprised at the number and variety of stands (although they were, in the main, very main stream and what a cupcake seller is doing at a baby show is still an unanswered question).
I went because I've been trying to find nice toys for Baby S - specifically one of those wrap-round-the-car-seat-handle things, a mobile for his crib and a rattle. It's not that these aren't available elsewhere but I just haven't liked anything I've seen so far. Hmmm, I could be a fussy mother...
Unfortunately I didn't find anything I went for, but I did meet Dara Golden who hand paints lovely baby clothes. I am pretty particular about what Baby S wears (ok, I must be a fussy mother!) and I hate cartoon characters and baby-grows with "I love my mummy" printed on them (and don't get me started on naff maternity wear...), so Dara's work is right up my street. She paints straight onto the baby-grow, each item is a one-off and they are 100% cotton and fully machine washable. So what's not to like?
I'm a bit of a tree frog fan so I had to get this one...
and the shoal of fish was great too...
The colours are wonderfully vivid and every design is available in every size (up to about age 2, I think) but I bought 6-12 months so Baby S can wear them in the summer, when we go to see the out-laws, with some cotton trousers I'm planning to make.
[Added 19-04-11: I just heard from Dara that she does t-shirts up to adult XL size]
Dara is hoping to set up a website soon and I'm sure she'll get plenty of sales. You can contact her at daragolden[at]hotmail[dot]com if you would like to know where you can buy her clothes.
ps. Please be assured that I was entirely motivated to write this post by the loveliness of the clothes, and no large (or small) wads of cash were exchanged between Dara and me!
pps. Ikea was hilarious. We thought we'd be there for an hour or so, but we were there for five! We hmm-ed and haa-ed over furniture for Baby S for ages, piled a trolley high with flat pack baby wardrobes and chest of drawers, and then had a massive flip out at the final price and put everything back again. So all we had to show for our five hours was two packs of baby coat hangers and a couple of plates. We won't be doing that again in a hurry!