dogs and birds

I’ve been in the mood to sew since last Friday so I cut out some little dogs and birds, added fusible batting to white fabric, and then appliqued the dogs and birds. My original intention was to make mug rugs but a couple of drawstring bags might be more saleable in the Red Cross shop. The bags are made from denim and each has a dog on one side and a bird on the other, colour co-ordinated purely by chance. Size is approx 7″ (18cm) square.

hems and stuff

Not so many years ago it seems, there was always something that I needed to be sewing. Curtains, or clothes for myself and our sons, or repairs to school trouser knees (lots of those!).  Costumes for various themed school days were a favourite challenge for me and a decade or so ago I enjoyed making fancy-dress party outfits regularly for four adults and I even made a camel costume for an amateur pantomime production which was particularly satisfying to make.

I miss those former challenges and with no young children in the family to make things for and none of the adults asking me to sew them clothes or anything else, I potter and faff and flit from one idea to another and end up ‘making samples’ or just ‘having a play’ and rarely make anything really useful that anyone but me would find a use for. Lots of people seem able to find one area of expertise and happily run with it in all different directions but all my life I seem to have run in all different directions with lots of different things and acheived only a general level of expertise in anything. At times I think this is okay and at other times like now, it leaves me frustrated and frequently without a path to follow – evening embroidery projects excepted.

I blame the gremlin who sits on my shoulder telling me that the next thing will be the one area of expertise that will provide the ultimate in satisfaction so I should/must therefore buy the book(s)/DVD/equipment/course and give it a go.  The gremlin hasn’t been right so far although it’s been fun trying all these different things but I’m still left with my ‘what shall I sew now?’ dilemma.

After several sessions this week of pulling various fabrics out of my boxes and putting them back again with a sigh, I was delighted when JP presented me with his favourite denims and asked if there was anything I could do about the frayed hem. I don’t generally inspect trouser hems when tossing laundry into the washing machine and JP does the ironing otherwise of course I would have noticed sooner that the hem was fraying had a huge hole in it and would have repaired it Right Away. Anyway, it was a chance to vent some frustration by free-motion zig-zagging over a scrap of denim and I saved a future repair by doing the same on the other hem.

Riding this mini roller-coaster of successful sewing, and after watching yet more You Tube videos on stitchy stuff, I made a rubbishy scribbly free motion appliqué rabbit. I refuse to use the word sampler for it since it is big enough to be useful as one of those things you put between other things to prevent scratching, so excuse me while I go and put it in the pots and pans drawer.

denim hem repair

scribble rabbit

random quilting

I found a blog the other day which showed a random quilting method, so with a number of fabric scraps to hand, I made a little quilt for myself. The smaller one (first image) was done as a sample to test various free-motion quilting ideas but when it came to the actual quilt I decided that just straight-stitching in the ditch around the fabric pieces was best. I used two different thickish fabrics as the batting which has resulted in it being too stiff for its original intended use as a lap quilt but it will do as a topping for my sewing chair seat.

sample quilt

random quilt

seat quilt

using a doodle piece

I’m off to visit Big Sis next week and as usual I’ve prepared something to embroider during the lengthy train journey but I can’t find the little triangular needle case I made a few years ago so I had to make a replacement. It’s as basic as can be, using half of a recent free motion embroidery doodle piece for the outside and a layer of felt on which to park the needles. Being fairly bright and colourful it shouldn’t easily get lost.

red needle case 1

a September flower

It’s been a while since I did any free-motion machine embroidery and it’s always fun to do so this afternoon I stitched up a little aster, one of my favourite flowers along with daisies, carnations, and lilac blossom. Strictly speaking, the fabric shouldn’t be wrinkled between the petals but I like the effect.

september flower

ginger jar

Well, roughly based on a ginger jar shape anyway. This was all stitched before I had made the jug in yesterday’s post but each time I pushed one piece into shape it would collapse somewhere else. The solution was to inflate a balloon inside it but I was all out of those so that had to wait for a supermarket trip yesterday. The balloon puffed it up quite nicely and I then painted it with a branded fabric stiffener rather than my normal go-to PVA, but there are still a few little dents in places so I think a second balloon and another coat of stiffener are in order.

Constructed from a scrap length of the usual heavy duty interfacing which I had painted with acrylics many months ago and using a bog-standard glue stick meant for paper, I attached a now unidentifiable thin fabric to the back, ironed it to help set the glue and then free-motion stitched five of the panels and the base. On the sixth panel I strung a length of small beads randomly tied in overhand knots before hand stitching them to the panel. It stands about 5″ tall and approximately 4.5″ wide and has no earthly use whatsoever. I think it needs a lid but I didn’t factor that in at the beginning and I used the largest remaining scrap for something else which I’ll show you another day.

6 sided pot 26 sided pot pieces

portrait quilt 2nd stage

I stitched all the fused appliqué pieces to the background with a straight stitch and I free motion stitched over the main face pieces a few days later but this additional stitching made Mum look extremely old and wrinkly (which she certainly wasn’t at aged 21!), so next day I unpicked all the unintended wrinkles, pressed out all the needle holes and left it for a day or two.

Yesterday I added a little hand stitching to highlight the eyes. Today I didn’t like the amount of fraying that was increasing each time I worked on this quilt so I went round each piece with a small zig-zag stitch and I think that was a better choice.

My quandry now is what kind of free motion stitching to use on the background fabric. I think it needs to be something smallish or possibly nothing at all. Grateful for any suggestions from any quilters out there.



stage 2-2