30 May 2012

Dresdens for dinner

After the (eventual) success of the petal coasters in the last post, I felt ready to up the ante and tackle real dresden plates.  I wanted to make eight and turn them into place mats for dinner time.  I have a lovely set of four mats which I use most days, but I wanted something for when we have people to dinner.  I do also have a larger set of round glass mats for such occasions but the glass is such a harsh thing to put a plate onto.  I always worry I'll crash a plate down to heavily and they're hard for Little Miss to lay out and she does like to help where she can.

So, some pretty, floral and softly padded dresden mats seemed like the perfect answer to me.

After some humming and hawing I eventually decided on sizes and got cutting and stitching until I had eight glorious rings of flowery, fabricy heaven laid out.

This time, I had my plan of action all sorted for sewing them together.  I decided on a softer, more petal-ly curve for the edges.  So I drew myself a little temple and started layering.  First the batting.

Then the dresden.

Then my rather nifty plan for the backing.  I made the backing fabric with a seam across the middle so that I could sew all the way round my petal shapes neatly and still turn the mat the right side round afterwards.

All ready to sew.  A much neater idea than last time, don't you think?

It worked, too.  This is after I turned them inside out and gave them a press, all the curves look nice a smooth and lovely.  Oh yes, I was chuffed with myself at this point I can tell you!

It makes me feel very happy even now, looking at the picture and remembering how pleased I was with how they were looking so far.  I am easily amused, I really am.

So, just the middle circles, some lovely quilting stitches and sew up those nice, easy, straight seams on the back and ta was very much dah-ed!

Umm, scrumptious!  We had a yummy barbeque at the weekend with family where I used the mats and they were much admired.  My dad even asked if I could make a set for him - high praise indeed.  Particularly from my dad, who is not generally known for admiring or noticing the various floral bits of prettiness that it pleases me so much to litter the place with.

It's also been such a joy to have these lovely sunny days lately, I can't get enough of them.  Although I can't say I'm much of a sun worshipper these days.  I tend to prefer the coolness of the shade but it's lovely to just be outside.

I had to take advantage and have a little more alfresco hooky time today.  So relaxing, such a treat.

 And now that I'm all set for dining indoors or out, the barbeque season can begin in earnest.

S x

Update: 1/10/12

Yippee, a Dresden Placemat Tutorial is now available so that you can make your very own mats.  Click here to shoot off that way now....

28 May 2012


At, long, long last the sun has decided to shine on my little corner of the world.  Finally, the grey clouds are gone and are replaced with glorious fluffy white ones.

It's been a shock to the system after all this while, but a wonderful, welcome shock and we've been enjoying it.  Little One went on a weekend day trip to the seaside with Nannie and Granddad and I got some sunny, joyful, outdoor hooky time.

I'll have to tell you about what's going on in that basket another time though, because I have so many other things still to share with you.  My productivity levels must have gone into overdrive or something because I can barely post fast enough to show you everything I've done and I don't want to totally overload you all.

Today, I want to show you some fabricy goodness... the form of some flowery coasters.  Some trial and error involved in these little coasters mind you, but it's all good learning experience I suppose.  I had the idea to make some mini dresden plates and use them as coasters because I'd been seeing lovely dresdens everywhere and 'monkey see, monkey wanna do'!

I happened across a petal ruler while wandering around a quilt shop, so that seemed the perfect place to start.  Lovely fabrics selected and triangles cut, I was ready to go.

I love this bit so much, the sewing and pressing bit.  Nice neat lines, nice crisp pressed folds - heaven!

Soon I had some little circles waiting to be made into flowers.

I made my own flower shape as the curve on the ruler for this size didn't look at all right, so I pinned my batting and backing fabric and sewed again.

This time though...


What a mess.  I snipped around my curves and everything but with the batting, the curves were just to tiny and tight to work and ended up looking too pointed looking.  Now, a better sewer than me would not doubt know how to solve these problems (and if you do and want to leave a comment - please do.) but I confess, I was stumped.

Stumped, but not to be defeated.  Even those messy looking first tries showed me how cute these could look if I could only get them right, so I cam up with a radical and probably slightly nutty plan.

I decided to hand piece the triangles, complete with the curve I wanted so that the shape looked right.  So I cut out some little, individual petal templates.  Then I used this flower shape as a template for the batting and backing and carefully sewed the two halves together.

I haven't got any pictures of this rather convolved process I'm afraid but I'm very pleased to report that it did work.

 Much better flowery shapes, don't you agree?  I'm very pleased I didn't give up on them.  I love them now.

I also did a little hand quilting on it, just for a finishing touch.

They're for my living room and they are doing a very good job of adding a little flowery brightness and happiness to the place.

And, just so I didn't waste all my other bits of fabric, I made the disasters into plain ol' circles.  Not as good as flowers, but they'll do as an extra couple of back ups.  (They can be for my less favoured visitors.)

So if you ever do come and see me now, for tea and a chat, you'll know that you're also being ranked.  Who is worthy of a flower coaster, that's the question?

S x

24 May 2012

It's a Farmer's Baby!

For those of you anxiously following along with my Farmer's Wife quilting saga, you'll be excited to know that I'm back with the thrilling conclusion to the tale.  For those of you less anxious, but still vaguely interested... well, stick with me I'm nearly done!

So, we left off with nine lovely blocks all complete and as the plan was always for this to be a mini quilt, that seemed like a good place to stop.  Although I've really enjoyed these little blocks and if I had more fabric, I could easily have carried on. 

As with my previous quilts so far, I decided to have a nice white border between the blocks, I think it really sets them of neatly. 

I also had a few left over bits of fabric, so I decided not to waste them and incorporated them into the design.

I got to make use of those 'extra' quarter triangle squares made from my half triangle waste fabric too, which was rather satisfying.

It took me all of about twenty seconds to choose the binding fabric.  My first though was red with white dots and although I did tentatively try out some pinks, they were all drowned out and only the red could hold it's own against the bold colours in these blocks.

It was actually quite a pleasure to quilt this tiny little thing.  Unlike a full size quilt, it was very easy to handle and deal with on the machine.  Such a joy and it makes me want to do more baby quilts.

I really do prefer the simple approach when it comes in quilting, so I just quilted in the ditch, around the blocks and my stripy borders.  

Then it only left the pleasurable task of an evening binding sewing.  I don't know why that's such a satisfying end to a quilt but it really is and I do enjoy it.

Now I have a little bit of Farmer's Wife in my life.  A little baby bit, to brighten up my landing.

Amazing what you can get out of one little charm pack isn't it?

S x

21 May 2012

Crocheter's blockage

Do you think there is such a thing as crocheter's block?  I suppose there comes a point in most crocheter's yarny career when they are floundering for what to make next.  Well, that wasn't quite the problem I was having.

I knew what I wanted to make, I just had a terrible struggle getting it from 'idea' to 'item'.  It was more like a blockage in the process than a full blown Block but it was pretty painful nevertheless.

That little granny square was the first one I made, back when I was innocent of the problems that lie ahead!

The idea itself was simple enough.  Just a few little granny squares hanging nicely on a string to make a simple little bunting.  What could be easier?

I don't know quite what caused me all the problems.  I think I got a little uncertain of my colours.  When I had the idea I was in a brave, experimental mood. I'd selected a nice random collection of Bergere de France 'Ideal' colours and felt that anything would go.

Coming back to those self same colours and my minuscule pile of made up squares, I suddenly didn't feel quite so bold and daring.  I wasn't sure if the colours worked, or really what kind of feel I wanted the finished bunting to have.

So, I procrastinated.

I finished off some sewing.  I knit socks.  I planned other crochet projects. In short, I did everything, but get on with it.

One day though, despite being in two minds about whether I even wanted the thing anymore, I sat down determined to get the infuriating job done and out the way so I didn't have to think about it or face it again.

Eventually, after a great deal of Forcing Myself To Keep At It, I had this.

A small, small pile of squares.  Who would have thought they could cause such troubles?

I little while later, I had a bunting ready to hang in the hall.  I've never been so relieved to see the end of a project I don't think!

So there it sits.

do like it.  It's kind of what I was going for.  I like the tiers of squares hanging down....

I'm not sure really if I'm glad it's done because I like seeing hanging there.  Or, if I like seeing it hanging there because, it's done.

I am very pleased that the little pom-pom garland that it replaces, looks really cute in Little One's room though. 

And I do like having my crochet hook free to start new things.  I'm sure I like that a lot.

S x

17 May 2012

Still not very warm yet

I don't know what kind of weather you'd be expecting to get at this time of the year in your part of the world, but around here things would normally be rather balmy and spring like.

It doesn't seem to be happening though.  In fact, it's keeping unseasonably chilly, which is a worry, because here in the good old Blighty, our summers are a hit and miss thing at the best of times and quite frankly, it's been known for May to be the best month of the year.  So, if May is a wash out... I dread to think what the 'summer' will be like.

The reason I mention it you see, is that I think it must account for my recent urge to make socks.  Hand knitted socks are a lovely, cozy thing for little toes and feet to be encased in and these chilly evenings have got my toes thinking of ways to stay warm.

Were you here with me in January?  If you were, you might just remember this doomed hat project.

As it looked daft on me and was really too big for Little Miss, I decided to go frogging.  I'd brought this yarn with socks in mind originally, so a salvage operation was called for.

Armed with my newly wound balls of crinkly yarn and my trusty 'Socks from the Toe-up' by Wendy Johnson, I set off knitting up Tic Tac Toe Up Socks.

It probably wasn't the very best choice for this yarn because you can't really see the clever little X's and O's of the pattern with all the colourfulness going on.

But despite that, I'm very happy with them and I'm glad that this yarn did turn into socks in the end. Sometimes you just can't fight destiny.

Pattern:  Tic Tac Toe Up Socks by Wendy Johnson
Yarn: Balance (fingering/4ply weight) by Alina Shea (Purchased from here)

S x

15 May 2012

Farming for victory

Here I am with part three of my Farmer's Wife Quilt tale.  In parts one and two, I was telling you about what a great learning experience I've been having with these blocks.

Emboldened by my first six blocks, I decided to move in to uncharted waters - quarter square triangles

I'd practised on my little half triangle cut-offs (that I mentioned in part two) and they worked nicely so felt ready for a block.  I started off easy, with just one quarter square, in 'Practical Orchard'.  That seemed to go quite well.

So I took the plunge and went for an all out quarter triangle block, 'Big Dipper'.  Oooh, I'm so chuffed with this one.  I probably held my breath the whole way through sewing up the squares.

I really love this block.  I like the red and the grey very much and it's got cherries on!  Well, they could be berries, but they look cherry-ish enough for me.

So, after this success and subsequent excitement, I felt ready to tackle my last block.  The one I wanted to make first, but daren't.  'Postage Stamp'.  I cut out the teeny tiny 1 1/2 inch squares and laid then all carefully out.  I was getting down to some of the last bits and pieces of charm squares at this point so some careful arranging of the pieces was necessary.

Careful, careful sewing and careful, careful pressing.  Careful lining up, careful pinning, sewing, pressing again and it was done...

Do you like it?  I do, I love it!  Maybe it would have looked nicer with a solid pattern between the pattern squares, rather than the dots, but I had to work with what I'd got and actually, I like the end result very much.

Plus, it's been quite a interesting challenge working these blocks with just a little charm pack.  Quite restraining in some ways, but it gets you thinking of options you perhaps wouldn't otherwise of thought of.

So, there you have it.  My last three blocks.

If all goes to plan, I should have a finished baby quilt to share with you next week.

Cross your fingers on that, I have a busy week going on at the moment!

S x

11 May 2012

Simply does it

Sometimes, it would seem, it's the simplest ideas that take the longest to form.

It certainly applies in this case.  I had a little problem and it's only taken me the best part of three months to figure it out.

So, what can this pile of randomly coloured flowers possibly mean?

That I've finally figured out what I'm doing about ties for my Thrifty Curtains?  Yes, indeedy.  That's exactly what it means.

At first I thought I'd sew something.  Then I thought a crocheted something would be better.  Then... nothing.  No inspiration struck, no idea seemed to suit.  I thought of using the Rose Ties pattern I'd used in the bedroom, but I didn't really feel that roses suited these curtains.

Then I remembered some other flowery patterns I'd come up with a while ago.  They might just do the job, but how to use them exactly?  I wasn't sure exactly where I was going, but I started flower production anyway and crossed my fingers that some little idea might float to the surface.

Very fortunately, it did.  The oldest idea in the book really, but I think it's just what I needed for these curtains.  I just kept it really, really simple.  No extra leaves, big bands or ties, just simple, simple chain crochet, and pretty, pretty flowers.

I like it.  The fabric of the curtains doesn't need anything more added to it and these plain, pared down ties don't get it the way of those big fabricy flowers.  Simple but effective.

I'm going to be writing up the pattern for these little ties, so if you want a simple solution too, this might be just the thing.

I've also had a few people ask me about these little flowers.  They are the same ones I used on my Eclectic Grannie Bag, so I was thinking another tutorial may be in order?

So stay tuned, the pattern and possibly a tutorial too could be coming soon (ish!)

 S x

Update - 14th June 2012 The pattern has arrived!
Click here to go to the Cherry Heart Boutique, the Simple Curtain Ties pattern is in the crochet section.
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