Tuesday Treats: Still time to add a special handmade treat for Easter

I decided that there was no need to re-invent the wheel block when there are so many clever ideas floating around on the internet, starting with a couple of decorator ideas from our previous blogs:

Ladybirdee suggested using beautiful fabric to make appliqued egg shapes  to create a feature panel for a bag or table mat.

IMG_1248

Judysew4th used paper piecing to make a basket feature to add to a guest towel.

Quick and Easy Guest Towel

Quick and Easy Guest Towel

Both the above ideas were stitched with Cotton Mako’ 50, the finest of the threads in the Cotton Mako’ range. This is the best thread to use to achieve hidden applique stitches or a flat finish for foundation or paper piecing.

More Resources for Quick Easter Decorations:

Please travel safely over the Easter weekend.

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Not always about chocolate

Easter friends

Easter is next week, and it is time to look out my Easter decorations.  I have quite a few, collected over the years.   Some are ceramic, some are metal, some papier-mache and some glass.  I enjoy buying a new rabbit or egg each year – and usually these aren’t made out of chocolate!!

Eggs and Chickens

Some years ago I saw a lovely pattern by Marg Low of Marg Low Designs – it was of two fabric rabbits called “Oscar and Pip”.  I think I started them before Easter one year and finished them the following year – not because the pattern is difficult – but because I ran out of time to complete them by Easter and so I  put them away.

Easter RabbitsI also purchased a kit of fabric eggs by Marg too – called “Easter Treats” and these were fun to make as in the kit came some lovely buttons and braids.

Fabric Eggs

I love getting out my decorations at Easter time and trying to remember where they all came from – and like my Christmas ornaments, these ones are increasing in number too.  However, I am beginning to think – is Easter this year like Christmas of last – coming around far too fast? Where has the year of 2013 gone? it is travelling far too quickly for me!

Tuesday Treats: Have you started making YOUR Quilt Welcome?

This month judysew4th  launched our new “Block of the Month”  pattern for you to piece along with us.

A Modern WelcomeFinished size 20x24

A Modern Welcome
Finished size 20×24

The pattern is called a “Modern Welcome” so we were bemused when she used a pineapple motif for the applique block

The Pineapple applique block for the Modern Welcome quilt

The Pineapple applique block for the Modern Welcome quilt

… that is until she told us the story about the importance of the pineapple to the American colonial southern hostess.

It is a fascinating story, so do go back to  read the story.

Our Block of the Month has been planned to give you an opportunity to use each of the four Cotton Mako’ thread weights.

Starting with this month, we recommend that you use Cotton Mako’ 50 to machine blanket stitch, raw edge or needleturn applique the designs.

Cotton Mako' 50, 200 metre spools. It is also available on 1300 metre spools.

Cotton Mako’ 50, 200 metre spools. It is also available on 1300 metre spools.

To highlight the potential of this pattern, each of us at Always Quilting will be sewing along using our own fabrics and alternative applique blocks.

Ladybirdee  has started with a pretty bird applique

Ladybirdee's feathered friend applique design

Ladybirdee’s feathered friend applique design

Knitsnquilts is looking ahead, using a Christmas tree applique

Knitsnquilts designed a Christmas tree for her applique block

Knitsnquilts designed a Christmas tree for her applique block

I am planning to use my wall hanging in my sewing room.

The applique design for my "sit and sew" wall hanging

The applique design for my “sit and sew” wall hanging still needs to be stitched into place

 If you haven’t already started your wall hanging, the  applique patterns are available for download
 (You do not need to register or “sign in” to access the patterns using this link. Once the page opens, simply use the “More Options” arrow, to the right of each file, to preview or download that file)

We would love you to sew along with us.

There will be several chances to win some wonderful raffle prizes just by sending us photos of your WIP (Work in Progress) after Month 5 and again with photos of your finished top after Month 10!

Another Cushion

I am pleased to tell you (also pleased with myself!) that I have completed another cushion, this time to replace one I made about 15 years ago which has now become faded and needs to be retired.  For a while the new cushion “makings” resided in my patch work project pantry, which featured in an earlier post.  http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/do-you-have-a-ppp/ ‎

All my cushion "makings".

All my cushion “makings”.

The pattern I used is by Deborah Kemball http://deborahkemball.com    from her book  Beautiful Botanicals, and features many tiny applique components which I needle-turned in place.  It also uses some very narrow bias strips for the stems.  I previously  posted a tutorial on making bias strips without using bias bars as described in Deborah’s book.  If you missed this post you can find it at  http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/making-bias-st…s-without-bars/ 

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the applique in process, but here is a close up of part of the cushion, showing  details of the applique, embroidery  and bugle beading on the ends of the stamen.  I used Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne 50 for the applique, Ne 40 for the machine piecing, and Ne 12 for the embroidery, and have on hand Ne 28 should I decide to add quilting.

Close up detail of applique.

Close up detail of applique.

To ensure a neat and firm closure I inserted a zip in the middle of the cushion back.  You can also make a button closure, use press-studs or Velcro, or simply have a large enough overlap with the back pieces, so that the opening doesn’t gape.  However, if you like to have a full type of filling (a fat cushion as opposed to the skinny variety), I have found that a zip  works well.  Don’t be tempted to make the opening too small, as this makes it difficult to fit in the cushion insert.

To finish the edges of my cushion, I used a binding, just as I would bind the edges of a quilt.  I have used this method before and found that it works well.  I used a double fold binding which I cut 2 inches wide, which resulted in a neat narrow finish.

Adding the binding.

Adding the binding.

The binding is machined to the cushion front with the corners  mitred in the usual manner. Then the binding is folded to the back and stitched down by hand.

The binding sewn into place.

The binding machined to the cushion front.

Since I used some embroidery in the cushion construction (in the stamen, tendrils and flower centres) and sewed through both the top and the batting, the cushion top and batting are satisfactorily sandwiched together, so from a construction point of view, there is no need to add additional quilting.  Quilting in this case would be for decorative purposes only, and I don’t think I will add any, as the top is already quite full and busy, but I will live with it in situ for a few days to see what I decide.

Embroidery acts as quilting.

Embroidery acts as quilting and sandwiches the components together.

Here is the finished cushion in place on its chair.

My new cushion in situ.

My new cushion in situ.

Tuesday Treats: a walk down memory lane

Recently, when I went browsing through an antique shop in Tasmania I came across a treasure trove of old threads.

It is amazing to see what can be found in an antique shop

It is amazing to see what can be found in an antique shop

It got me thinking about the sewing tools that were used by women in days gone by and reminded me of the beautiful sewing box that I had been shown by a friend.

This delightfully, carved, ivory sewing box was given to a family member in the early 1900’s so it is, or is close to, 100 years old.

This ivory sewing box was carved in the early 1900s

This ivory sewing box was carved in the early 1900s

The carvings were personalised so that each side of the box depicts a story of the recipient’s life.

One end of the ivory sewing box. Each image is a "story" about the recipient's life.

One end of the ivory sewing box. Each image is a “story” about the recipient’s life.

The tools that are stored inside the box are also amazing, an illustrated needle case & bodkin closure,

This needle case is kept inside the sewing box

This needle case is kept inside the sewing box

and a little container to keep the embroidery thread organised.

This is a clever container to keep the embroidery thread organised.

This is a clever container to keep the embroidery thread organised.

Another story about a beautiful sewing tool was shared recently by Deborah of Studio Dragonfly

If, for no other reason, it is worth reading Deborah’s blog to see the beautiful decals that decorate her old treadle.

Modern sewing machines do not have such decorative trims, although you can always add a skin to your modern machine to give it a little jazz up.

See the links for some ideas, or ask at your favourite sewing machine shop.

 Skins for Bernina Machines

Skins for brother machines

Today our tools are beautifully practical, but do not necessarily have the same decorative beauty, or personal significance.

Unless, of course you make them yourself.

Here are some great ideas from Tipnut to make a sewing machine cover to brighten your sewing room.

A MODERN WELCOME

A Modern Welcome

Free

BOM begins this month.

A Modern WelcomeFinished size 20x24

A Modern Welcome
Finished size 20×24

All you need to join in the fun is:

1/2metre of solid background

1 Charm Pack

My Charm Pack by Malka DubrawskyA STITCH IN COLOR

My Charm Pack by Malka Dubrawsky
A STITCH IN COLOR

Steam a Seam or other heat bonding light weight interfacing

4 thread weights of Aurifil Cotton Mako’ 

What makes this little beauty modern? The best definition I have come across is from Modern Designs for Classic Quilts by Kelly Biscopink and Andrea Johnson.

Traditional implies: Symmetrical settings and block arrangements; one fabric backings; mostly neutrals used for backgrounds; tan, black and small prints used more than white, gray and solids; quilting generally employed in a graphic design, like a feather or Baptist fan; elaborate piecing-focus on block design, not fabric design.

Modern means: Infrequent use of borders; unusual settings and block arrangements, sometimes asymmetrical; multiple-fabric pieced backings; frequent use of white and gray for backgrounds; dense quilting, like a tight stipple or a pebble; simple piecing with a focus on fabric, not block design”

IMPORTANT NOTE:

EVERY BIT OF YOUR FABRIC WILL BE USED. CUT CAREFULLY AND DON’T DISCARD ANYTHING. THE FABRIC REQUIREMENTS INCLUDE THE BACKING AND BINDING

Using an ENTIRE Charm Pack

Using an ENTIRE Charm Pack

 

No Wastage!

We will begin with the featured appliqué block. I have used the pineapple for my welcome motif. My Southern Hemisphere colleagues were unaware of the significance of the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality. I shared some history with them about the American colonial southern hostess, courtesy of Hoag Levins’ research;

“A hostess’s ability to have a pineapple for an important dining event said as much about her rank as it did about her resourcefulness, given that the street trade in available fresh pineapples could be as brisk as it was bitchy. So sought after were the prickly fruits that colonial confectioners sometimes rented them to households by the day. Later, the same fruit was sold to other, more affluent clients who actually ate it. As you might imagine, hostesses would have gone to great lengths to conceal the fact that the pineapple that was the visual apogee of their table display and a central topic of their guests’ conversation was only rented. Visitors confronted with pineapple-topped food displays felt particularly honored by a hostess who obviously spared no expense to ensure her guests’ dining pleasure.”

A variety of alternate appliqué ideas, and the detailed block instructions, will be available as PDF downloads each month as we make the wall hanging.

Collect the Applique Design this month and start stitching.
(You do not need to register or “sign in” to access the patterns using this link. Once the page opens, simply use the “More Options” arrow, to the right of each file, to preview or download that file)

There will be several chances to win some wonderful raffle prizes just by sending us photos of your WIP (Work in Progress) after Month 5 and again with photos of your finished top after Month 10!

Let the fun begin!