Weekend round-up

Yesterday was my 2 year blogiversary, so here’s a round-up of my weekend. It’s been a quiet and lazy couple of days, I’ve done very little of what I’d planned… but I managed to do a bit of all of the random things I usually dump on my blog for want of a better recording system so it seems like a good enough celebration 🙂

Blog content type 1: random photos of random nice places, such as this view across Derbyshire viewed through the bus window on my way home from Nottingham.

And yesterday’s dramatic sunset.

Blog content type 2: post! I was in a postcard sending mood yesterday, so I replied to a postcard pal in USA, and sent postcards through Postcrossing and Postcard United to Russia, Sweden, and Japan. I’m missing receiving lots of cards at the moment, but I’m frustratingly at more received than sent on both sites, don’t like it when that happens. The bottom right card is an image of a fruit fly nervous system, they wanted to receive weird cards!

Blog content type 3: sewing, quilting, generally making stuff. And also Swap-bot swaps 🙂 I’ve now made the quilt block to match the one I sent out as a swap, with a minor change because some of my central strips weren’t long enough…

And tomorrow is the start of a new week, let’s see what happens next…

Quilt-as-you-go block swap

I’m doing my second ever sewing swap on Swap-bot! It’s for a striped quilt-as-you-go block, so fabric sewn directly onto the backing fabric/ batting which I can see would be a really quick construction method. The requirements were that it’s constructed on a thin backing (I used a white cotton) so it can be sent as a letter, and to use at least 6 fabrics. I haven’t done a block like this before and underestimated the size and amount of fabric needed so my block uses 11 fabrics all drawn from my stash. My swap partner likes bright fabrics and I have plenty of those! The idea of the swap is that it will be held approximately monthly to slowly create a full quilt. My plan is to make myself a matching block every month to remember what I’ve done and build a quilt more quickly.

I like being able to spot bits of other projects in this block – my first quilt and several different gifts I’ve made in the last couple of years.

Now to wait and see what I receive…

Easy pillowcase swap

I recently took part in my first proper sewing swap on Swap-bot! The swap was for an pillowcase using a simple tube method with 3 fabrics. The instructions in the swap directed us to this video, but I think there’s plenty of similar instructions out there.

Sent to USA:

My swap partner likes pink and red, so a raid of the fabric stalls in the market produced a couple of nicely contrasting patterns with similar colours. I used a wide woven ribbon for the small strip of fabric because it coordinated better than anything else I had. I also added some text detail with freehand machine embroidery. And French seams too! I was really pleased with how it looks.


I was a bit uncertain about the size of the pillowcase, it seemed really wide for my pillows, but my swap partner was really happy with it 🙂 and the pillowcase I received is a similar width so it must be the design. Are American pillows wider than UK pillows?!
Received from USA:

I was a bit uncertain about what I might receive but look at this! A perfectly coordinated beautiful floral fabric pillowcase. It’s really well made with French seams and sharp corners. The sender told me she made lots of these as Christmas gifts, so maybe practice makes perfect 🙂

I’m looking forward to finding my next sewing swap now!

Embroidered garden cushion

While I was recuperating in the summer, I took a few pictures of my Mums garden in the sunshine. There’s some lovely colours and shapes. When I started wondering about Christmas gifts, I thought about another embroidered cushion cover, and then of the garden…

I printed a copy of the best photo and traced off the main features. I then got out all my scraps of fabric and tried to recreate the garden photo using freehand machine embroidery. I think it looks pretty good!

Here’s a bad photo of it on my sofa just before I wrapped it for Christmas. Also featuring a corner of my first quilt which hasn’t made it on to the blog yet 🙂 I didn’t take a back picture but the fabric is pink flowers in pots to match the garden theme.

After holding it upside down and saying how lovely it is, Mum finally realised it wasn’t an abstract design! It’s now on a chair facing the garden, a mirror in fabric 🙂

Sewing chaos

I’m in a weird mood with my sewing at the moment… I have a long list of planned projects (Christmas gifts, tops, sewing set, skirt, dress, birthday quilts) but I don’t seem to have the patience or the motivation to get on with things. I just want it all to be completed! And then I get frustrated that I haven’t achieved anything and stressed that nothing is ready, which is all ridiculous because it’s supposed to be fun. I can sit in the office all day mentally designing all sorts of things, but in the evenings I don’t seem to be doing more than the basics of living – eating, cleaning, sleeping… And recent weekends have been busy with events and trips and things like food shopping. I can probably blame the darkness and increasing cold, it’s much easier to curl up and read. No one but me will know if home made gifts never get given or finished, it just feels like there’s creativity going to waste somewhere. And I could really use some new tops and skirts and a way to organise my desk 🙂

This is my sewing desk right now, featuring: the finished blue skirt that needs a hook to stop the zip undoing, a half finished grey skirt that ground to a halt when I couldn’t locate my zip foot in the mess, scattered fat quarters for Christmas gifts, a stack of fabric for organisational things for my desk, piled with dressmaking cottons and a vest top that I added sleeves to then tried to adjust and made a horrible mess of and just needs hemming as a vest to be wearable (but it looks like camouflage fabric from a distance so how wearable I’m not sure!). And the tubes are to store quilt binding.

I think I might be just a little overwhelmed. I’ll put some of it away and focus on one thing at a time – maybe that way I’ll get one thing finished 🙂

Wrap-around Kindle case

Last week I bought a new Kindle, tomorrow I’m going to the Postcrossing meet-up in London which is 1 1/2 hours by train each way. Being slightly precious of my lovely shiny new toy I decided that to take the Kindle with me a case is required. Today I went to the quilt shop and purchased a stack of fat quarters for small projects, so this evening I started creating!

There were a few thoughts that influenced the design – 1) a wrap around cover provides an extra layer of protection, 2) I didn’t want to have to press poppers against the Kindle (and I love poppers much more than buttons!), and 3) I wasn’t sure if I’d get poppers through the wadding I’ve used to pad the case, so the fastening is at the side on a binding strip.

I used my new binding creator to make binding that matches the patterned fabric and the lining. Once I figured out where the fold to form the pouch would be I sewed the binding to the outer layer with a flap sticking out to hold the bottom half of the popper. The top half is attached to binding that continues from the edge of the wrap-around. 

I found top stitching around the opening difficult, it’s a sharp change in direction onto the pouch section. The outside edge isn’t the neatest either, it’s the seam I had to keep open to turn it all right way out. I’m sure a bit more time and patience would have helped! But at least it’s finished ready for tomorrow, I just need to get everything else sorted now!

Mountain cushion

This started as an early morning post because I was too uncomfortable to sleep this morning, but then breakfast arrived 🙂 It all appears to have gone well yesterday but it’s going to take a while to feel better.

This cushion was last minute birthday present idea because I had no clues what to buy and had been so distracted by medical matters the date crept up on me!

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Here’s the cushion, posing on my sofa with my other wonky mountain 🙂 It’s my largest machine applique/ embroidery project so far, I’ve only made postcards before, but creating the pattern and choosing fabrics is still the hardest part.

I was aiming for mountains and a small peninsula reflected in a lake. A few years ago we were in North Wales and saw a perfect reflection of the Snowdon horseshoe, and I’ve had a poster of that photo on my wall. With the different fabrics it turned out a little abstract but the recipient still understand it 🙂

I didn’t take any close up photos to properly show the freehand sewing machine embroidery. The pieces were cut out of a hurriedly made pattern and attached to the cushion with ‘heat and bond’. I then freehand stitched around all of the edges a few times, for security and I like the look of several rounds of overlapping stitches – and I can never get the same line twice! I also embroidered curves across the water parts to suggest ripples, I knew I’d bought that blue green variegated cotton for a reason 🙂  The sky looked a little empty, so because it’s a dark cotton I added the moon and a few stars. If I had a bit longer I think I’d add more details to the view. The entire cushion is made of scraps, and I don’t have a huge amount of suitable fabric, so the back is made of dark indigo denim to keep with the water theme. At least it all turned out big enough and just about square!

More handmade postcards

I’m slowly adding to my handmade postcard collection 🙂 I’ve done a couple of swapbot swaps recently and received beautiful cards.

Handmade postcard swap:

Sent to UK

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Freehand machine embroidered owl. I’m not sure what it is about his face that makes him look so daft…

Received from Australia

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I think this is decoupage paper, paint, stamped shapes and collage on board. It’s a lovely card. And if I made people smile today it’s because my bicycle riding is wobbly enough to be amusing…

Washi tape patchwork postcard

Sent to Australia

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The colours look off in the photo, but it’s a stripey and partially woven basic design. The swap required that the tape was protected somehow, so there’s a layer of glue as a varnish.

Received from Canada

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More imaginative than my creation, washi tape with marker pen decoration, protected with sticky tape.

I’m planning to make more handmade cards (and more owls) sometime, but there are so many things I’d like to make at the moment!

Handmade postcards

Handmade postcards aren’t very popular on Postcrossing, I think most people have experienced receiving a few stickers on some paper and been less than impressed by the ‘artwork’. I’m always happy to see what people create, and I now have the start of a little homemade collection 🙂 A collision of 2 of my favourite things – sewing and snail mail!

I was contacted by Mary in Russia (who first saw the cards on this blog, so hello!) wanting to swap handmade cards, a from a few of her suggestions I stitched a view of books and tea. I sent it in an envelope but I’m becoming more confident that the cards would survive naked.

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In return I received a lovely cross-stitched quote and bird, with a fun woven border (and only mild damage from the long journey). Thank you 🙂

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I was also reminded of a card I received a few months ago from Gina in Germany as part of the monthly postcard diary swap. Sparkly crochet!

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Hopefully my collection will continue to grow in size and craft styles! I’ll have to get making so I’ll have cards to send in return…

Other people make it look so easy…

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That is the sad poorly fitting remains of a vest top… I got so excited! I adjusted the pattern (way too much in some areas and not enough in others, as it turns out) and went for it (who needs trial runs anyway? Me apparently) and now I’m sitting here with a load of wasted lovely fabric feeling fed up and inadequate  😦  I’m going to have to start from scratch, reprint and adjust the pattern, then adjust for the fabric I have left. Right now I can’t be bothered.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have more enthusiasm to find an old sheet to experiment with. My issue is the 8 cup sizes between me and a standard pattern… I’m not sure I’ve ever made something that fits well, so maybe this will be the one. I can dream!

Any advice from an extreme full bust adjustment expert gratefully received 🙂