Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy Handmade Christmas


The spirit of Christmas didn't clobber me over the head until the week I finished work - the week before Christmas. I don't have many people to buy presents for - a few friends, and a small family. I refused to go overboard this year - in embracing my new aspiring-to-be-a-minimalist lifestyle, I don't see why anyone else wants plastic junk either. I certainly don't want to buy it.


I wasn't anticipating making anything by hand for gifts. But I do like to sew for stress relief, and there was a pattern I'd been itching to try from Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts, so I got to cutting and sewing the night before my last day ... and then the next thing I knew I had six quilted coasters for a little Christmas gift for each of my workmates.


I used a lot of my stash of independent screen printed fabrics - Ink and Spindle, Auntie Cookie, Publisher Textiles to name a few - and also cotton batting scraps that I'd been hoarding for a project just like this. I think they came up really nicely! I enjoyed sewing them a lot more than I thought I would - I would even get up early before swimming laps to quilt a couple, and then hop on my bike to the pool.


I ended up making six different sets, and everyone who received a set (or a single) told me how nice they are. They didn't take long to make - once the fabric and batting was cut it took about an hour or so to sew up a set of 6. I still haven't made any for us at home - but I'm working on that.


My nephews are ages 9, 5 and 3 and I really wanted to make them something useful. They get so spoiled at Christmas with toys from Santa and the grandparents that it made me think I'd be a little more comfortable if Aunty Michelle could make them something ... that wasn't Lego (don't worry - in case you think I was sucking the joy of Christmas for my sweet nephews, they got a little Lego too. Next year - probably not. Sorry kids.)


I sewed the two older nephews a colour coordinated pencil roll each - again the pattern was from Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts. Cutting all those little fabrics strips was a total pain in the arse. But sewing it together was a blast - I had a lot of fun constructing it. The fabric was all stash fabric, and even the grosgrain ribbon ties were from the big box of trims I had from my Blythe sewing days. The only thing I had to buy was the set of pencils.


For the three-year-old I made a crayon roll. I loosely followed this tutorial from Skip to My Lou, however I adapted the measurements for a pack of 12 crayons, and constructed and quilted it like I did with the pencil rolls up above (one continuous line of quilting).


My one mistake was not making the roll wider to allow for chunkier crayons. In the end I had allowed for 1 inch pockets, but really they needed to be closer to 1 1/4 inches. The crayons are a little bit too squeezy for my liking, but my sister-in-law reckons they'll be good for his fine motor skills, so what would I know?


Apparently the gifts were well received and a great idea for the days that the boys have to join mum in the office. The nine-year-old is a little cartoonist in the making so I hope he enjoys using the roll.

Christmas 2012

This is a stock photo from 2012! For years now I have been making several batches of granola to give as gifts - head to the two dollar shop to get some nice jars and fill them up, add a bit of garden twine and a packing label listing what's in it, and it's the perfect edible Christmas gift! I used to make Christmas cakes, but granola is better for you, and the oven doesn't have to be on for as long to bake it.


And finally, what's Christmas without a new Christmas frock? Well, no Christmas frock was made this year, sadly, but I did spend a little time on Christmas morning taking up the hem of my first ever Simplicity 2929 by 7 inches to wear at Christmas lunch at our friends'. It was a warm day so this voile dress was perfect, and those big roses make it feel very Christmassy indeed!


Finally, I hope every here had a lovely Christmas Day, no matter how you spent it or who you spent it with. I really missed seeing my family this year but travel was out of the question so we made do, and friends came to the rescue, and thank heavens for Australia Post getting the presents to everyone on time!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Another quilt for Susan

This is the quilt that Julie and I made for our friend Susan for her birthday.

susan quilt 1

We made a scrappy quilt using the Cheyenne block - with newsprint fabric for the "low value" (really not that low value at all) because Susan's late dad was in the Canberra press gallery.

Susan quilt 2

I finished the top with 20 minutes to spare before her party in September. We gave her the quilt top, and then grabbed it back off her as we left. My back wasn't playing fair and I had planned to quilt it myself. Julie helped with the basting (thank heavens) and then finally I had a window of painfree-ness a couple of weeks ago where I could quilt it. Just 720 inches at a time before resting, but within a few days it was done. Julie sewed the binding on using the Ella Blue Basics place names fabric in white and black, and it was ready to give back to Susan. Only 3 months late, but better late that never.

susan quilt 5

I quilted straight lines 1/2 inch from each seam to give a grid effect. It's quite a simple way of quilting, but anything other than straight lines would have ruined the different patterns that this block gives you in this quilt. I used Aurifil 50/2 weight in colour 1135 (yellow) and it turned out really well in a quilt that gives a bit of a yellow vibe (for a scrappy quilt). Also I'm on the whole "using what I have in the stash" bandwagon at the moment and I have a lot of this yellow Aurifil laying around. It's the perfect sunny colour for a very happy quilt.

susan quilt 4

We got pretty cheeky with the backing - I had a few metres of firemen fabric that I bought for a few dollars a metre at a quilt shop sale a few years ago. Again with the stash. We also used 100% cotton batting. I'm such a fan of cotton batting for home quilting - it sticks to the fabric so the pinning isn't as important, and it gives a really nice finish to the quilt after you wash it. I washed Susan's quilt before we gave it to her so it has an immediate snuggle factor.

susan quilt 3

It's not the first quilt I've made Susan, but the first I've made with another friend. It was a lot of fun getting together over a few weekends, sewing, trimming, sorting and joining. In the mad sorting out I've been doing over the last few months, I discovered another quilt I made to give to a friend over 2 years ago, but never quilted. I have a few more weeks of leave from work, and that's definitely on the list to finish.