Recycle, Reuse, Renew……Recover

Last week we were all entertained with ladybirdee’s recovered pincushion.  It was inspired and inspiring, and I have taken this ‘recovering’ theme one step further.

I was in need of a table and chairs and after perusing the furniture stores and not finding what I had in mind, I had a look on eBay. I fell in love with a table advertised there….because of the chairs! I  purchased several meters of fabric from “that Swedish furniture store” to use for recovering the chairs.

Cotton drill fabric for recovering chairs

Cotton drill fabric for recovering chairs

After recovering the chairs, I had some fabric left and the table looked so naked.

Chairs with 'new

Chairs with ‘new” seats

Then, I remembered I had Judy Neimeyer’s Compass Rose table runner paper piecing pattern. The finished size of her table runner was too long for my table so I decided to do some modifications.

Paper piecing

Paper piecing

Using my left over pieces of fabric from recovering the chairs, some gorgeous Reece Scannell cottons and other pieces from my stash,  I stitched my compass sections, using Aurifil 50 wt. cotton Mako (orange spool).  Use a slightly shorter stitch length to make removing the paper after piecing easy.

Aurifil for perfect piecing

Aurifil for perfect piecing

Stash fabric,chair fabric and cotton like SILK from Reece Scannell

Stash fabric,chair fabric and cotton like SILK from Reece Scannell

Triangles were cut over sized and added to the compasses to create squares from my octogonal shapes.

Triangles ready to sew

Triangles ready to sew

One Finished Compass Rose...3 to go

One Finished Compass Rose…3 to go

Sewing these new squares together resulted in the perfect sized runner for my ‘new’ table.

'New' table with a new look

‘New’ table with a new look

This project was quick and easy and ready to enjoy in a few days.

We would love to hear about your adventures with turning something old into something new again.

Transforming

One of my friend’s is very clever at finding the BEST things in op shops.  Before op shopping became ‘trendy’ and when op shops were quite ordinary, in terms of display (now they are often like department stores) and odour (some could be considered musty! – for want of another word) my friend looked for bargains.  She has a good eye for sussing out treasures – not so much clothing, but crockery, great books, vases, etc etc – you name it – she has probably found it!   When she was going through her mosaic phase, she delighted in what she could buy and then take home to break up (destroy) for her art works!

Fortunately for me, I have on occasion, received a little gem from her. A month or so ago I was the recipient of one of her finds. Guess what it was??

StartYes! It was a large pincushion- about 6 inch diameter, covered in an upholstery furnishing fabric, with varnished base in dark brown.   I could see the possibilities in renovation!

Starting to undo

I had to unpick the braid around the fabric. Take out the millions of staples to find out what was underneath.

Nearly there

I decided to stay with the foam inner, as it had a good shape and was fine for reuse.

undone

‘Roughing up’ (I’m sure there is a technical term for this!)  the old varnish to start applying some white paint took some time.  Then repainting it with several coats.

underside

I love the ‘distressed’ look – so back to the sandpaper I went to make some marks ‘of wear’.

Then the fun part started of looking for a suitable fabric to recover it with.  I chose a Kaffe Fasset from my stash and some ribbon that went with it.  A retro button was found for the centre, and attached with Aurifil Ne 12 (see all sorts of using for the thread!).

Top of Pincushion

Da ta!!!  I am very happy with the end result – and won’t lose this one in the sewing room!

Finished

Hoopla!!

The staff at Always Quilting recently discussed using embroidery and quilting frames to display textile work. Embroidery and stitcheries, applique, pieced items and quilting, even a pretty piece of fabric can all be displayed this way. A quick internet search gives you lots of inspiration! Indeed, I was inspired and have since made a couple of items which are displayed in inexpensive embroidery hoops.

For my first piece, I decided to engage in some English paper piecing and fussy cutting and make a small companion piece for a mini quilt made last year and which I blogged about in a previous post. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/always-playing…-fussy-cutting/  You might recall that there was not much fabric left, but certainly sufficient for my purpose.

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Plenty of holes, but still enough fabric for my project!

I used 4x 2-inch clamshells and fussy-cut my fabric, with a small circle as the centre. There are many methods of preparing your English paper pieces, from tacking, to glue-basting, to fusible papers. I discuss one method here. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/english-paper-…agons-and-more/  When using clamshells, I prefer to tack the paper in place as this gives me greatest control over the curve, ensuring it is nice and smooth. When it is tacked into place I give it a good press.

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Tacking the fabric onto the clamshell paper.

Once I had made my clamshells I appliqued them onto my background fabric using Aurifil Cotton Mako 50. As you can see in the photo, I left plenty of fabric around the edges. I then took my little hoop, in this case 5 inches in diameter, and centred my design in it. When I was happy with its placement I tightened the screw so that the work was tensioned with no wrinkles.

 

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Ensure the item is centred in the hoop.

I trimmed the background fabric to a border of about 1 1/2 inches.

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Trimming excess fabric to 1 1/2 inches.

I took a strong thread (Aurifil Cotton Mako 28) and ran a gathering stitch around the perimeter. To make this job easier I did not cut my thread off the spool, but used it directly from the spool. This way could adjust it as required, and I didn’t run the risk of miscalculating the length of cotton I needed, or of accidentally pulling the gathers out. When I had the gathers sitting as I wanted, I cut the threads leaving a tail, then tied them in a reef knot to secure them.

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Gathering the background fabric behind the hoop.

To cover the back of the hoop I cut a circle of felt, using the hoop as a template for the circle. I wanted the felt to fit just to the edge of the blue background fabric, but inside hoop. Finally I stitched the felt in place again using a strong thread, Aurifil Cotton Mako 28. I used an overstitch going from the felt out towards the edge of the hoop as shown in the photo, and I ensured that each bite into the felt was about 3mm and went into the blue background fabric each time.

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Stitching the felt back into place.

And my little project is finished and ready to hang on the wall!

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My little hanging all ready to display on the wall.

In a future post, I will write about another project framed in this way.

 

A Special Treat to Banish the Cold

It is always a special treat when a customer brings a project that they have stitched with Aurifil into the store for “show and tell”.

windflower-scarf

This delightful scarf has been designed by Jan at Windflower Embroidery.

It is just perfect for those wintery days that we are experiencing, a lovely soft angora wool background trimmed with wool applique autumn leaves embellished with Lana wool thread.

Just the description is enough to banish the chill air.

windflower-scarf-detail

Jan has heaps of information, including an Embroidery Stitching Guide for free download, on her Windflower Embroidery website.  Well worth a visit.

If you want to work your own winter embroidery with Lana wool thread, visit our Aurifil Thread Australia website to find a local retailer.

Read more information about Lana wool thread.

How to Fold Quilts (Crease Free) when Moving Across Town, the Country or the World

I have moved cites, countries and continents. Most recently, I moved from the east coast of Australia to the west coast of Australia…and back again. Some of the first items I planned to take with me were a selection of my quilts.

Taking your quilts with you to a new community not only gives you and your family something familiar and comforting in your new surroundings, it also provides a common talking point when you visit or start a new quilting group in your new location.

The baggage allowance for my flight was dedicated to clothes, so I decided to pack a suitcase with a selection of quilts that would be transported in our shipping container. The amount of time these quilts would be in transit was only an estimate and I wanted my quilts to arrive without creases or wrinkles.

Avoid folding your quilts into rectangles or squares as this can create a permanent fold mark into the grain line of your piece. If you have ever ‘finger pressed’ a piece of patchwork you know how the fabric can ‘hold’ a crease.
Good results are achieved by folding your quilts on the bias.

Follow these steps for best results:

1st Fold diagonally

1st Fold diagonally

Fold Diagonally again

Fold Diagonally again

Third Fold

Third Fold

Fourth and final fold

Fourth and final fold

Stack of Folded quilts

Stack of Folded quilts

Suitcase of quilts

Suitcase of quilts

Smooth, Crease-free quilt after 2 weeks in a suitcase

Smooth, Crease-free quilt after 2 weeks in a suitcase

There are several ways to keep quilts at their best when in transit. We would enjoy hearing about your methods and experiences transporting your quilts around the corner or around the world.

Pinwheel Passion

At the beginning of this year, I celebrated the birth of my first grandchild, and like quilting grannies through the generations, wished to mark the occasion with the creation of a quilt.

I decided to ignore all the beautiful baby quilt patterns available commercially and design my own quilt using the pinwheel block with three narrow borders, using bright fabrics on a white background.

Camera file jan2015 075To make the pinwheel block I used a technique  where you start with squares.

You take 2 squares of contrasting fabric and sew them right sides together, with a 1/4 inch seam all the way around the edge.

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Pinwheel squares sewn with 1/4 inch seams around the perimeter.

Then you cut the joined squares on each diagonal, being careful not to move the squares out of alignment as you rotate. (Tip: move your cutting mat around, not the squares, or better still, invest in a rotating mat!)

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Cut the sewn squares diagonally.

Press the seams on your triangles, firstly as closed seams, then open them out and press with the seam in the direction of the darker fabric.

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Pressing seams closed first.

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Now press seams open and towards the darker fabric.

At this point you will have four matching squares which you arrange to form the pinwheel design and then sew  together.  TQH 001

Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of this when I was making my quilt so the sample looks a little different.

TQH 002-crop

Joining the pinwheel block.

If you wish to see a video of this technique and find out how large to cut your squares to reach the desired block size go to http://blog.missouriquiltco.com/update-on-the-easy-pinwheels/  You may notice that there is a great deal of confusion about the cutting size required to obtain the pinwheel square you require. The following method is accurate:

Take the finished size you wish your block to be (i.e. without any seam allowance)

Multiply by 1.41

Divide by 2

Add 1.25

Round up/down to the nearest eighth of an inch.

This will make a block which includes seam allowance so that when you have joined it to its neighbouring blocks it will be the accurate size.

I needed to make 50 pinwheel blocks and cut 49 intervening plain white ones.

Having done that, I then arranged them in a pleasing layout. In the photo below I have mine pinned to an old sheet. Theoretically no two blocks were supposed to be the same, but there are two that are!!

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Arranging the layout of the blocks.

I then added the borders:a narrow plain white border, a pieced border using strips of all the fabrics used in the quilt, and finally another narrow white border. I also used white fabric to bind the quilt. This gave the effect of the pinwheels and border “floating” on the white background.

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White borders and binding.

To quilt the quilt I used a design called Curlz by Patricia Ritter. Throughout the quilt, for piecing and quilting, I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 40.

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Quilting my quilt on my long-arm machine.

Ta Da!! My completed quilt.

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My completed pinwheel quilt.

No cooking, just stitching.

For the last ten years, I have been going away for the Mother’s Day weekend to Phillip Island, a small island near Melbourne.  The  local “Patches”  group there organise a fabulous retreat from Friday to Sunday with various tutors in attendance.  The accommodation is ‘school camp’ but you put up with that as the time you have is so much fun – and you can get all your meals cooked for you (a big plus in my book!).

Some attendees  ‘socialise’ which means, doing more chatting and walking and shopping than the others who are in classes.  I don’t mention ‘stitching’ in that sentence, as having been a ‘social’ attendee in the past, I must admit I did not do as much stitching as planned.

This year I had the privilege to attend a workshop with Sydneysider, Wendy Williams who  showed us how to make her beautiful quilt “Birdsville” in  wool felt.   It was a relaxing, and (at times for me learning new embroidery stitches) a challenging time.

WW Birdsville

We learnt how to make the beautiful flowers, birds and leaves on the quilt as well as how to add pieced blocks and quilt it.

My first flowers – little steps

WW flower 2WW Flower 3

and a lonely leaf – with needle still inserted so I can remember how to do it!

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I managed my layout – though this has changed a little since I took this photo.  I chose a soft grey Japanese linen look to work on, with a deeper grey wool felt.

WWilliams layout HM

Wendy uses perle cottons for her embroidery, but I have a selection of gorgeous Ne 12 AURFIL of course, so I used those.  They work  so well and so easily being on a spool and with all the colours to choose from, my biggest problem is which one to use!  I could use them straight from the spool or double the thread up to make a slightly heavier look to my flowers and birds.

At the end of the workshop, everyone put their work down on a ‘tree’ and we saw how colourful it looked.

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I hope I can get the quilt completed sooner than later – always the aim when you come back inspired from a great workshop.  If only I could have a whole week or more just to stitch  – like on retreat!  Thanks Wendy for such a relaxing and enjoyable workshop.  Thanks too Phillip Island Patches Committee for all your hard work to make these retreats such a delight – and I am already looking forward to next year.  Maybe, I can have my “Birdsville” finished for the Show and Tell.

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