Friday, 28 June 2013

A Little Progress on Things

It has rained all week long.  I have had to stay in a lot and the children have got stir crazy.  I have made a bit of progress on a couple of craft things.  Firstly the fabric basket for dressing up clothes.
I have quilted it and made it into a ring.  This is my first attempt at quilt as you go and it wasn't a great success so I can improve there.  I am coming to the realisation that I am not great for attention to detail.  Thank goodness because we all need some goals and something to aspire to.  The lining and binding is a very dark navy (almost black) and white stripe and it makes your eyes water.  However, I think it is fun for this project.  I have attempted to stiffen up the structure using cut up strips of plastic milk bottles.  However, I have only got enough so far to do the top half.  It is working ok but I think we need to drink about another 12 to 15 litres of milk before I can finish this.  Looks like we are having a lot of porridge and cheese sauce next week. Once it has clothes in it I am hoping it will keep its shape well.  I think I may need to also reinforce the base with milk bottle strips too,  so maybe we should have lots of custard too.  I will also put handles on it.
I have also been crocheting.  I am working slowly on batman.   Here is what I have so far.
Believe it or not that is his head.
It is going to look like this.
 from here
I need to get better at counting my stitches each row as I am increasing like mad when I am not supposed to.  This is what I mean about attention to detail!  Luckily the boy will love it pretty much whatever it looks like.  Bless him.
We are going away for the weekend to Newcastle to see friends.  Cannot wait to see them.  I think I will take my crochet with me as it is nice and portable.  Have a great weekend!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Friday, fabric and stuff

I have had such a busy week this week! So many appointments and just running around today doing lots of errands.  Thanks goodness it is now the weekend!
Last night the first of my lovely painted shutters went up and here it is;
I just love it and they don't block out much light either.
I got some fabric in the post this week.  Firstly a bundle of fat quarters of type, which I have wanted for ages.
Then I got this little lot:
This little lot includes a fat quarter bundle of pam kitty love delight, kona solids charm pack in ash, two alchemy by Amy Butler charm packs, two bake sale charm packs, a 2wenty thr3e charm pack and a too cute to spook charm pack. This was a happy post day!
Isn't too cute to spook just adorable?  I have promised to make trick or treat bags in this.
Then I cut into my Pam Kitty fat quarter bundle the day after receiving it and made a block from the virtual quilting bee at diary of a quilter.
So it has been incredibly busy here and that is apart from parents evening, haircuts, food shopping, washing and all the rest of it.  I have also promised to crochet a batman - I am being harassed big time about it.  I can't think how I came to promise that one......
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

WIP - Fabric Basket for Toys

I am making a basket out of fabric for dressing up clothes for my children.
Basically the dressing up clothes are either all over the place or taking up valuable real estate in a drawer.  I want a fun basket for them so hopefully they can be tidied up more easily (not by me).
I have pirate fabric left over from a quilt I made for my son a couple of years ago.  I bought far too much and if I don't use it soon he will have grown out of it.  So I have gone for simple squares in diagonal lines.  I have 8 different cute, piratey fabrics.
To get the diagonals I first sewed strips together.  My strips were 3" wide.  I then cut strips which were 3" wide.  Lay them out and unpick one seam at a time per strip and, as shown above, unpick in a different place each time moving down one square each time.  Then swap the top squares with the bottom ones so the unpicked seams are one on each end of a row of squares.  See below.
As you can see this gives the diagonal stripes after starting from sewing strips together, which is quicker than sewing individual squares. 
I then ironed the strips on the back and alternated by ironing the seams up on one strip and down on the next.  This is so that the seams will nest together and you can get lined up corners which everyone wants, right?
In this picture I have shown what I mean by nested seams.  You can feel between your fingers if they are lined up nicely and getting this right leads to perfect corners.
So this is how far I have got.  I want to make it a round basket so I have made it 3 times longer than it is high.  I now have to quilt it, join it into a circle and put a base on it!
I want it to look a bit like a large one of these:
from here

I have fleece to line it with and I have thought of a way of reinforcing it as it will be large and I don't want it to fall over and be too floppy.  But other than that I am making it up as I go along.  I like the handles - I will do handles too!

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Spray Painting Plantation Shutters

I love plantation shutters. I just think they are so beautiful and also practical, but they are pretty expensive to buy.
image from here 

This is why, a couple of years ago, while we had moved out of our house to have it renovated, I was on the lookout for some second hand ones on gumtree or ebay.  Well I found some.  Here they are.  These,
and these.
Special aren't they? Yes, I know what you are thinking;  they are green.  Dark green.  They were from the same house but they don't match. Not that that really matters as I didn't want them dark green, but anyway.
The seller said, oh, you just need to spray paint them, you'll be fine.  So off I went with them under my arm.
Two years later my husband is doing it, hooray!
Here are his top tips for successful spray painting: 

Important:  Safety First! Wear a proper facemask suitable for spray painting & make sure it seals well to your face without any gaps.
  1. Sand the surface with 120 grit paper.
  2. Hang the item using temporary screws and string so that contact points are minimised.
  3. Blow off dust with an airgun & wipe down all surfaces with microfiber wipe.
  4. Get some water based undercoat & mix it up, pour some into a spare tin or sealable container. Add 10% water & mix.
  5. Fill the airgun with the diluted paint. Set the air pressure to around 40psi. Adjust the settings by test spraying onto the side of an old cardboard box. Set the quantity of paint by adjusting the knob at the back of the gun. Set the ‘fan’ of the spray pattern by adjusting the knob near the nozzle. Its good to have a nice wide fan to make the coverage more even.
  6. Start spraying! Try to do the tricky areas first. Shutters have A LOT of little nooks & crannies & it took a few goes to work out what areas to do first… You should keep the gun moving as you spray to ensure you get a good coverage without any runs. It’s a balance between having a rough finish where the paint drops have not flowed together with each other and having too much paint which runs. Its not easy, but practise & learning as you go will get you there.
  7. Allow to dry for 2 hours or more. Empty the paint back into the container & clean the gun with plenty of water. You need to strip the gun down every time otherwise you will find that all the pigment settles into the nozzle and blocks it. Even if you think you know better & think ‘I know I’ll wrap the nozzle in a some moist rag to stop it drying out’. No, it won’t solve the settling in the nozzle problem…
  8. Repeat with the top coat. Use a water based paint suitable for timber.

Top tips
You need to have plenty of reflecting light to see how the paint is going down as you are spraying. Use work lamps on either side of the work piece. You will need to position yourself so that you can see the light reflecting off the paint, its harder with white paint as its not so easy to see the reflection.
Cover anything in the garage /workshop with dropsheets. A few minutes spent doing this will save your prize possessions getting covered in spots of paint! 
 This is the aircompressor and below is the spray gun.  The gun is gravity feed.  Gravity feed guns need lower air pressure to achieve vacuum.  Spraying with lower air pressure has the advantages of less overspray, less waste and greater control for the painter.  

The gun is being held in a vice to keep the cup upright.  The gun is not by any special maker.  It is just a cheap one.
So here is the first one almost finished.  I just love it so!  They are going to look amazing when installed too.  Can't wait.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Make a Messenger Bag

I made a new bag for myself.  I saw this one on the blog Plum and June and just loved it.  So here is mine.
I used a medium weight denim for my bag. This will be nice and durable.  The embellishment is pam kitty love, sarah jane children at play (as I have a lot of scraps of this to hand) and some hello kitty.  I mostly stuck to the Plum and June instructions except that for the strap and finishing of the top of the bag.
I started by doing a simple sort of log cabin type arrangement in pink and blue using a piece of flannel as a base.  I finished it all around in the denim.  Then I used another piece of denim for the other side of the flap (Plum and June use fabric) and a did a few lines of stitching around the edge of it and the edge of the patches.
Yes, I know, it isn't quite level at the bottom.  I love that bit.
I took lining, batting and outer fabric which were all about 25" by 11".  I quilted the lining to the batting and sewed the side and bottom together and then I made corners (how to do that is here by sew mama sew).
Then I took the outer fabric and sewed that the same way and put one inside the other. I found the outer fabric wasn't long enough for some perplexing reason. I didn't feel like making the bag shorter so I decided to have a pieced border around the top that you would hardly see anyway due to the flap and strap.   So I got out my scraps from making 16 patch blocks.  I knew they would come in handy one day!
So I sewed them into a strip, doubled them over and sewed them around the edge like binding.  I over sewed it to make it really secure as this also held the flap into place.  Then I secured it to the inside as well.
Don't look too closely, it is not the best binding job you have ever seen in your life.  My excuse (if I needed one) is that I was making it up as I went along.
I then made the handle.  The one in Plum and June was pieced the whole length but I felt mine would be too garish and pink if I did that so I had only two areas where I pieced it.  I made the handle out of lengths of denim and batting in the middle and quilted it in lines several times along the length.  Then I sewed it onto the sides.  I used a bright blue thread for all of the stitching that can be seen. 
Over the last few weeks I have read so many write ups about the quilt show in Oregon.  I have loved reading about it.  Well this week Sydney has the Craft and Quilt Show here at Darling Harbour so I am going to go.  I am going to go on Friday. I am going to be using this very bag while I am there.  If you see me with it, then please feel free to shout out 'Hey! Bag lady!!'.  I will be so happy if you do! 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Hexie Log Cabins Quilt Top

My hexagon log cabins quilt top is finished!!  I made it in time for finish it up Friday at Crazy mom quilts!
It is going to be the largest quilt I have made so far at 65" wide and 70" high, which is 165cm by 178cm.
The biggest problem I had by far was joining the hexagons together.  When I had nearly finished I just decided to take the whole thing apart and start again, this time cutting all the hexagons to size first.  Also, my triangles weren't all perfect.  I need some sort of ruler to do 60 degree angles.  I know you can get them and it would make life easier.
So once I had done all that it actually came together ok.  Then I decided to do 16 patch blocks for the border and scrappy trips at the corners.  In fact the scrappy trips were made from the left over 1.25" strips for the hexagon log cabins. 
The corner is ragged because I will neaten that up when I find a quilt back.  Sorry about that - just keepin' it real.
 The hexagon joining is not perfect but I am ok with that.  It is hand made, remember. 
When I laid the hexie log cabins, 16 patches and corners out it just looked so busy I decided I needed some sashing to calm it down a bit so used white.  I think it really needs it.
I think the quilting will be a combination of machine and hand quilting.  I like the idea of having hand quilting around the hexagons in some form.  But it will take forever to hand quilt all of it so I could do some simple machine quilting in the ditch of the hexagons and on the squares and sashing.  Now I just need to find the right quilt back. 
I also want to do some hand piecing in my next project, and a bag and some smaller projects.  I don't want the house overrun with quilts!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tutorial - How to make a 16 patch

A 16 patch is a patchwork block made up of 16 squares.  Here I am using only two fabrics.
 To make these 16 patch blocks I started off with 2.5" strips.  I cut mine with a rotary cutter on a  cutting mat but you can use a jelly roll which is much easier.  They need to be very accurately cut.  The strips were at least 10.5" long.  I sewed them together as shown with 0.25" seams.
I then ironed all the seams to one side as shown here.
I then turned it to the right side and trimmed off one end so they are all exactly level, and then cut 4 strips each 2.5" wide.  You probably have a spare bit left over.  Put that to one side to use for... something.
Then turn two of the strips up around.
When you turn them over you can see that where you ironed the seams down they now go alternate sides.  This means that you can nest them together to get your corners exactly right and perfect.
Then sew them together using a 0.25" seam.
Then on the wrong side, iron all the seams to one side and turn over and iron on the right side.
Ta Daaa! You now have a lovely 16 patch block with all the seams lined up beautifully!  Well done, you are amazing.