A Miniature Version.

Quilters are always making quilts for others, sometimes for loved family members and dear friends, sometimes for charitable causes, and sometimes as commissions. A couple of years ago I made a quilt for a young family member who was facing some traumatic experiences.

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To read the full story go to https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/made-with-love/

Much love went into the quilt’s construction and after the quilt was with its new owner I decided to make a miniature version for myself. Not only does the mini quilt help to decorate a spot in my quilting studio, but it also serves to remind me of the person who received the full-size version.

I made the miniature quilt from four mini-blocks, using four of the original feature fabrics, plus the white and grey background fabrics. The mini blocks are 6 inches square, so the quilt measures 12 inches square.

The large-size version was quilted with white thread (Aurifil Cotton Mako’ 40, colour 2024), but for the small quilt I chose a soft grey (Aurifil Cotton Mako’ 40, colour 2615) to tie in with the grey fabric I used on the back.

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I quilted it “in the ditch” on my domestic sewing machine. The back looks like this:

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I purchased a little hanger to display my quilt. (Buy yours now with a 30% discount from the Always Quilting online store. http://alwaysquilting.com.au/product-category/quilt-hangers/)

My mini quilt is ready to hang.

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Just Because….

Most of the projects I make involve fairly intense hand work, such as needleturn applique and English paper piecing. Here’s one of my current projects.

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Even under “optimal conditions” (no housework, no paid employment, neglected hubby and family, and little sleep) such projects progress slowly. Much as I love this activity, it’s sometimes nice to have a change of pace and produce something that goes together more quickly and with less effort.

I have recently made such a quilt.

While distracted (i.e. browsing on the internet) I saw a quilt which I thought had an interesting layout. There was no name or pattern, but that did not deter me as I simply drafted my own, using dimensions of my choice. I had some suitable fabrics in my stash so I was able to begin without delay.

The blocks are simple and require only two seams.

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The trickiest thing is to ensure the correct orientation of all the blocks once they are pieced. Check and check and check before joining!

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I used the red sashing fabric to add a border around the edge to frame the quilt and bound it in the same fabric to maintain the framed look. In the photo below, I am trialling the position of the blocks and the border.

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With my long-arm machine, quilting my projects is straightforward.  My quilting business, “The Quilt House” is located in Vermont South, Victoria. Check out my website :  http://www.thequilthouse.com.au 

I decided to use an all over quilting design (edge-to-edge) 0n the quilt, in this case I chose Lorien’s “Twirly Feathers”. It’s a really elegant design.

For this type of quilting, I use Aurifil 40 weight thread on my Gammill quilting machine. I chose a red thread to match the sashing fabric. It provides a nice contrast with the gold coloured backing fabric.

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And here is the quilt used as a topper on my bed. I called it “Just Because”………well, just because!

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Longbourne at Castlemaine

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a class with Katrina Hadjimichael. http://katrinahadjimichael.blogspot.com.au/

The class was hosted by Corliss of Threadbear Patchwork and Quilting in Castlemaine. http://www.threadbear.com.au/

I have been an admirer of Katrina’s work for a number of years, so when I heard that she was to teach here in Victoria, I knew I had to be there! The quilt being taught was “Longbourne”,  number 3 in Katrina’s Jane Austen series, which currently numbers eight. It’s a feast of applique, fussy cutting and English Paper Piecing. Bliss!

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Katrina and “Longbourne”.

Twenty eager ladies gathered in the light and cosy venue for a day filled with lots of learning, inspiration, friendship, laughter and delicious food (that I didn’t have to prepare!!)

When we arrived and found a spot to park our bags, belongings and bodies, we received a lovely little gift bag from Corliss, complete with chocolate sustenance and fabric treasures.

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What’s inside?

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Treasures!

Katrina also came armed with a gift: a copy of the recent Quilters Companion magazine which included a DVD featuring Katrina and her tips for Jelly Roll quilts.

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Then to the real work of the day! Katrina is a very organised and meticulous teacher and led us through the various techniques and processes required to make our own version of Longbourne. All the extensive notes, beautifully drawn pattern sheets, and a collection of photos showing in detail various elements of the quilt, were presented in a display folder for each participant.

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Pattern sheets and detailed instructions in a display folder.

Most participants chose to use reproduction fabrics for their quilts as in Katrina’s original, but one other brave soul and yours truly ventured into the realm of brights. I have decided this presents an additional challenge: many of the fabrics in bright modern fabric ranges have larger scale designs on them. For some elements of the quilt, especially the centre panel, small scale designs are also necessary. I found I had to go shopping for some additional fabric. (Oh dear, such a hardship)

At the beginning of the class one lady asked Katrina what her secret is for such accurate and neat work? In short, the answer is attention to detail.  All applique components are tacked onto paper first. Katrina takes great care when tracing and cutting out her pattern pieces. No sloppy workmanship here!

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Tacking onto cartridge paper for fussy cut components.

 

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More tacking.

Here’s Katrina demonstrating how she makes tiny (3/8″) hexagons. And the thread of choice… Aurifil of course!! (Here she is using 50 weight).

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And so, to sew. The bias stems come first.

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Ready to applique the bias stems.

I have not done a great deal of actual sewing as yet, but I have done a little playing with various fabric combinations, and lots of thinking about my creation.

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Playing and thinking.

And when Longbourne is finished, there may be another of Katina’s Jane Austen quilts calling me.

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Lambton, the latest in Katrina’s Jane Austen collection.

Thank you Katrina and Corliss for a most enjoyable and inspirational day.

 

Hoopla 2

Last month I blogged about displaying work in hoops. Today I want to share another project displayed this way.

I love working with wool felt and Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne 12 (on the red spool).  I love the colours available and the ease of sewing. The cotton just glides through the fabric. Aurifil Lana (Australian wool and acrylic mix, also 12 weight and on a red spool) is also ideal for this work.  I decided to make a hanging using  my collection of wool felt in bright cheerful colours and a selection of co-ordinating Aurifil Cotton Ne 12 threads.

I gathered some resources for inspiration and technical know-how and started designing my project.  I especially found the work of Wendy Williams (http://www.flyingfishkits.com.au) and Sue Spargo (http://www.suespargo.com) helpful.

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Design inspiration

I drafted my design on paper to give me an idea of placement and proportion, though as you might notice, I later changed some of the embellishment details.

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A rough draft which I later altered.

I like the addition of rick rack in my projects and so I incorporated this here.

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Using rick rack for the stems.

Next came the first flowers.

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Arranging the flower components and selecting the thread colour.

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Adding the embroidery.

 

Then some  leaves.

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Adding and embellishing leaves.

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Two different leaves and a stem.

I created a large flower.

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Adding embroidery to the large flower.

When I had completed all my stitching I needed to place my work into its hoop and back it.

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Securing my work in the hoop.

I described this process in my previous post. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/hoopla/

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Stitching on the felt backing.

My hanging is complete.

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This was such a delightful little project to make, I’ll definitely be making more items like this!

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.

 

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.

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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.

Aurifil @AQC

The Australasian Quilters’ Convention is just around the corner (16-19th April) held at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building.

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This is always an exciting event for quilters: an opportunity to see the latest in quilting trends, be inspired by the work of others, and shop for all things quilty.

Even the venue itself is full of inspiration!

Melbourne Exhibition centre, Calton Gardens

Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Carlton Gardens

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Stencil detail from Royal Exhibition Building….would look good as an applique border!

Here at Aurifil we have been very busy packing up stock for the Aurifil retailers to display on their stalls.

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Packing thread for one of our retailers.

Some of the retailers are taking a range of individual spools in various thread weights, while others are running special projects (such as block of the month) and we have been making up small packs of specially selected threads for these.

 

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We have also put together some new four packs, including 3 new reproduction basic collections, just perfect to give you a range of “go to” reproduction-coloured threads.

 

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One of three new “Reproduction Basics” collections.

These little four-packs also make great gifts (for yourself too!)

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New Four Pack: “Purple Passion”

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New four Pack: “Bubbles”.

The retailers who we know will have Aurifil for sale on their stands are:

Other Aurifil retailers present at AQC are:

In addition, some of the talented 2015 AQC tutors including Deidre Bond-Abel, Kathy Doughty, Karen Styles and Lisa Walton use Aurifil thread.

Look out for Aurifil at AQC and be sure to make certain that you have all the Aurifil supplies you need to successfully complete your current and future projects!

Gathering in the Barn

Last month I treated myself to a day at the Gathering in the Barn held at Linda Collin’s barn in Wonga Park, home of the Quilts in the Barn exhibitions held annually. Leonie Bateman of The Quilted Crow was the presenter for the day. http://thequiltedcrow.danemcoweb.com/

When we arrived our first task was to find our seats, meet friends old and new, and indulge in the yummy morning tea.

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As you can see, the barn was decorated with many of Leonie’s quilts and treasures and she had her pop-up shop there as well, so there was plenty of visual feasting too!  Leonie’s specialty is using felted wool applique.

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Leonie’s quilt “Betsy”, 54″ square.

 

At each place on the table were our gifts for the day, four new patterns designed by Leonie, and a kit wrapped up and temptingly labelled “no peeking”.

 

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I’ve already peeked!!

 

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Four new designs.

The kit we received is called “Cornflower Blue – Doorstop” and includes the pattern and materials required to make this cute little doorstop. The  background fabric is hanky linen, with felted wool applique. Leonie provided Aurifil Cotton Mako 28 on each table for the blanket stitch.

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Leonie’s Cornflower Blue Doorstop.

Before very long all participants were busily and happily engaged in the creative process. The felted wool and Aurifil thread are both beautiful to use and the stitching process is very soothing! I decided I preferred a thicker thread for the embellishment at the top of the flower.  This was easy: I just chose Cotton Mako 12 weight in the same colour.

 

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My doorstop underway.

Leonie’s technique involves the use of a water soluable gluestick to hold the components in place and then stapling (yes stapling!!) them until stitching is complete. The felted wool is not marked at all by this.  However I am quite happy to use a few tacking stitches and this works well too. (I don’t have a very big stapler).

The day went very quickly and by home time I had completed all the blanket stitching. At home it did not take me long to assemble the doorstop.

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Joining the doorstop components.

 

I enjoyed myself so much I immediately set out to make 2 more doorstops as gifts. This time I used wool felt rather than felted wool.  It has a firmer feel but works very well too. As an alternative thread, you could use Aurifil Lana (wool/acrylic) for the blanket stitching.

 

Extra doorstops

Two more doorstops, as yet unfilled.

And now I’m off to pack my bags so that I can catch a plane and deliver these gifts in person!

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Hearts for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is approaching and heart-shaped items are everywhere at present. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, you can’t ignore the importance of the heart as a design shape and most of us would have used it at some point in our projects.

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Hearts feature in my quilt Baltimore Basket (designed by Sheri Wilkinson Lalk)

 

 

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One of the blocks in my Queen Square quilt (designed by Sue Ambrose)

 

I recently came across a sweet little pattern on the internet that I am currently making. Designed by Cheryl Fall, it is available to freely download. http://embroidery.about.com/od/Embroidery-Patterns-Projects/ss/Paisley-Hearts-3-Piece-Pattern-Set.htm#step-heading

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My pattern printed from the internet download.

Rather than the traditional red colourway used in the original embroidery, I am stitching mine in blue as this fits my decor. I am also using cotton fabric as my background in place of linen.
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Using Aurifil 12 weight thread for embroidery.

You are only limited by your imagination here. These designs would also look terrific made with wool felt using Aurifil Lana (wool/acrylic) thread.

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Stitching on wool felt with Lana for a different look.

 

I tried a number of different products to transfer the design, but had trouble seeing them. I required a mark I could clearly see, yet one which I could successfully remove at the end of the stitching.  I remembered a friend telling me about the “Frixion” pens, so I gave this a go and found it worked well.  This is a product by Pilot, available in a range of colours and nib sizes. Heat removes the marks, so ironing will take the marking out. If you don’t want to flatten your work with the iron, just hovering over it would probably work.  I did not try using warm- hot water. Marks can apparently reappear at below freezing point (I don’t plan to be in such an environment!) , so if you accidentally remove marks before you are ready, I imagine a short while in the freezer will restore them!  As with any marking item, use with discretion. This tool worked brilliantly for my purpose here, but I would probably be loath to use it on heirloom items, because I don’t know its long-term effects.

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I have a little way to go before I am finished, but the beauty of these small items is that they are easily achievable and I might even complete these in time for Valentine’s Day (this year!)

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Stitching progress so far.

 

Maybe a little stitching before dinner….?

 

 

Handmade Gifts – Scissors Keep

Each year I make a number of handmade gifts for family and friends, mainly for giving at Christmas time.  In 2014 I used a cute little design by Marg Low to make some scissors keeps. http://www.marglowdesigns.bigcartel.com/product/scissors-keep

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I purchased this pattern from Marg at Australian Quilters’ Convention along with some very handy blunt-ended scissors.

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The scissors with their plastic cover.

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Scissors with the blades open. The blades are short enough to comply with airline regulations.

 

The scissors are suitable to use on aircraft and I have successfully traveled with mine.

The beauty of these small gift projects is that they use only small pieces of fabric and other requirements that you are likely to have on hand.

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Templates made and ready to use.

This is one of my finished Scissors Keeps.  For the general sewing I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 40, but to make the twisted cord I have used several strands of Aurifil Cotton Mako 12. (Marg gives instructions in the pattern). I also used Cotton Mako 12 for the decorative running stitch along the top. I embellished the top yo-yo with beads, but you can also use a button or any other idea that appeals.

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Now I need to consider what I might make as gifts in 2015. It may still be only January, but those of us who handmake gifts need to be prepared. Only 335 days left!!

 

 

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