Friday, December 28, 2012

Handbag tutorial

I've made a couple of these handbags now, one for my sister and one for my sister-in-law. My other sister-in-law saw my sister's bag this holidays and now she wants one too - and I would quite like one! This bag was a commission for my sister's friend.

I've been playing around with my iPad and I made a little video tutorial with instruction on how to make this bag front.

 And this is what is looks like after quilting.
 Here's a tip, when lining the front flap, cut the lining an eighth of an inch to quarter of an inch smaller and then match the edges when you sew it up. The interfacing in the front is very rigid but the lining fabric is soft so making it smaller means that the lining turns under and doesn't show when you press it. You can see a sliver of the lining on the bottom edge of the flap in the photo above. I should have cut it a little smaller.
Each piece of the bag is cut out in denim and fusible interfacing. Then cotton batting is cut out an inch shorter in length and width and ironed under the interfacing to make half inch seam allowances on each side. All the cutting and fusing is time-consuming but it gives the bag more body.
The magnetic clasp only has a layer of lining between the contents of your bag and the metal prongs that hold it in place. I felt that could be a problem so I made this little bandage to go over the it. Usually I sew something over it but this time I decided to use this product that is designed to "glue" batting together. It's a web with a fusible side and it made a neat and quick bandage.
The clasp from the front
This was meant to be a photo of my next innovation, a rigid plastic base for the bag. I forgot to take a photo of it. Basically, the feet of the bag and like brads or paper fasteners I think we call them in UK. I've lived in New Zealand for 18 years now so I'm forgetting how to speak proper, like what I did in Scotland! That's a joke, folks!!  I wonder what google translate will do with that.

But back to my feet, the prongs went through a plastic mesh designed for making bags and then fold down and hold it in place. It makes a great base and the bag stands up nicely.
Feet with plastic mesh. Looks like my other bags but is a big improvement.
Pocket for an iPad
Inside I made a pocket for a Kindle
So I'm going to make two more of these bags and that's it! No more. I've got too many quilts I want to make!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mystery quilt blocks finished

There were only five more blocks to make so Mum and I finished them off. Here they are after I chain-pieced the rows together.
I tried to trim the blocks as carefully as possible but I haven't fussed too much about matching seams on the applique. A lot of them are amazingly accurate but where it is a little out of alignment, like in the shorts leg above, I've just left it. I think it will add to the charm of this quilt. 

Want to see the whole thing? Not long now... :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

More community projects

Yet another project finished! Last weekend we had the woman from Dingwall Trust (care homes for children) come along to pick up some quilts. I really wanted to get this one finished and off my UFO list and I'm really happy to have one of my quilts go to Dingwall. The kids love them. It does your heart good to hear how our silly hobby of cutting up fabric and sewing it back together can comfort a child.

I arrived at the guild meeting 20 minutes before she came to pick up the quilts and I still had to stitch the binding down and sew a label on it! Two wonderful ladies helped me and we got it done just in time! Then Liz took this photo for me as I didn't have a photo of the quilting. As we were waiting for Liz to get her camera, I was chatting with the woman from Dingwall and I told her that I called this my stress relief quilt. I made this when I was a bit stressed at work and just needed to unwind by doing something that didn't require any thought. I wrote about how I made it here.

She asked me who I thought it should go to. I said that I intended that it should be a quilt for a boy so maybe a little boy who is angry with the world. She said that they have just taken in a seven year-old who lost his mum and she thought that maybe it would suit him. Then I pointed out the quilting pattern that looks like lollipops is actually inspired by the movie Tron, where the characters go into the computer. 'Ah yes,' she says,'this will be perfect for him!' As I said, it does your heart good!

Here's a photo of the top before quilting. By the way, that quilting pattern is called Cyber Echo.

Well, first day of the school holidays and I've got lots of sewing to do - and lots of prep work for next year! I'm teaching a class next year using iPads. This will be a class of about 16 students that are very weak in maths, perhaps with learning difficulties, behavioural issues etc. They have been having a lot of success with these students in the intermediate school so we want to carry that on at secondary school. I'm looking forward to it but it's a lot of planning.

Then yesterday I found out that I'm going to be an ESOL teacher for one period of the week. Have I ever done that before? No, but I'm game for anything! The way our timetable works, if you teach two junior and three senior classes, you are one period under allocation so you have to pick up a lesson somewhere else. I've taken a reading class before (go to the library and read quietly - I can do that) and remedial maths tuition. The ESOL department want me to teach quilting instead. How exciting is that!! Imagine, the Ministry of Education are going to pay me to quilt! Well I hope they are going to pay me. I've gone from a fixed term contract to permanent staff so I had to fill in a new form for Novopay. My readers from New Zealand will have heard how the new payroll company has stuffed up pay for teachers. I haven't been affected - yet!

And I leave you with a photo of my daughter's name badge that she made for the guild she joined in Doha, Qatar. She seems to have abandoned her blog - after persuading me to write a blog! It's based on the traditional knife-through-the-heart tattoo. I can't say I've ever understood that image (maybe Melanie can explain) but I think her take on it is very amusing and I love it. That's my girl!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Caring for the Community

Every year, towards the end of the school year, my school takes two days out to do things for the community. It's a chance to show the kids that community counts and that it is easy and very rewarding to do something for someone else. Projects range from teaching some elderly people to text, weeding (in school and our neighbours), cleaning up the beach, making jam for rest home residents, fundraising for the SPCA... and so on...

I offered to run a project making lap quilts for a local rest home. They specialise in dementia care and recently cared for one of the teacher's mother. They seemed like a fitting recipient of some quilts.

I was very fortunate to get a class of all adult students! I had a class of 15 ladies and two teacher helpers, some had some sewing experience but none of whom had ever used a rotary cutter. We had fun!

This is what we produced, one finished quilt, two that only need the binding on them, one to be quilted and bound and the fifth one I may save for next year. They are all based on the 3D bow-tie block. I've used this in a couple of quilts now and is one of my favourite hand-sewing projects.

Some happy workers!

Cutting and ironing station

The lady on the right (looking like a model!) was one of my main translators.

This may turn into a cot quilt for Middlemore Hospital or be saved for next year

I took this one home and had fun quilting it. Still to finish and bind.

Detail shot of the quilting

Our first finished quilt

I quilted a simple leaf design on this one.

They tried a different layout for the bowties and made an interesting secondary pattern.
We made a pieced back for this one and a student quilted it.

Straight line quilting done by one of the students.
All in all, I think it was a very successful project. I'm not sure how it would go with 14 to16 year-olds but I'm willing to try it again next year!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Table Runner

Christmas is coming - only six more lessons to teach!

I've entered my table runner in the Quilting Gallery contest.

I made this mariner's compass using paper foundation piecing. I had used paper piecing before where you sew through the paper. I decided to try the method where you fold the paper back and stitch right next to the fold. The advantage of this method is that you can reuse the paper. The drawback is that you lose accuracy, especially on these really skinny points.  Still, I got there in the end and I was pleased with the result. 

Designing the mariner's compass was an interesting exercise. I thought I could do it mathematically but it didn't look right. Putting a perfectly proportioned compass inside a square looked wrong but fudging it a bit looked better. In the end, you just have to draw it!

After putting so much work into the middle, the other rows were very straightforward. I bought die-cut trees backed with fusible web. I just ironed them on and added some metallic thread for tinsel. My quilting is not great! I made this a few years ago before I bought my Supreme Slider. It makes a huge difference to your ability to make nice smooth quilting lines.

I also bought some die-cut stars and a couple of Christmas fat quarters from a bargain bin. I used the stripe fabric as my colour palette and found everything else in my stash. I love the challenge of using what you've got. Some of my best designs come out of trying to make do. You should have seen some of the clothes I made for my kids, hey Melanie!

Here's a collage of all the parts of this huge table runner. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A bit more of the mystery quilt

There's a bow-tie in this quilt!

I've been painting this weekend with my art quilt group buddies (and we still don't have a name!). We all had a go at painting photos, like the ones I did with my family. This was the one my nephew did last year. I'll show you what the women did next month, when they are completed.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


My Mum made a lovely scrapbook of photos of my Dad and I really wanted a copy. I suggested that we scan the pages and make a photo book from the scans. It worked out great! We used a Christchurch company, Microfilm.
A liked the way that the stickers Mum used came out in the scanned picture. This was in Malawi, in Africa, hence the animal stickers.

This was the house that Dad built.

This is the weekend for quilt shows. Festival of Quilts is on at North Harbour Stadium. I'm going to have a proper look at it tomorrow. The "Big Quilt" show is on at NorthArt at Northcote. And then there is the Bloggers' Quilt Festival. I didn't enter a quilt this time but I'm happy to promote it anyway. Here is the link.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mystery quilt

I have designed a mystery applique quilt for our quilt guild. It's always difficult to come up with education ideas but I struck on the idea of having members teach each other to do needleturn applique. I took a simple drawing and enlarged it on to freezer paper, then cut it into six inch blocks. The mystery is that you don't know what you are making in your block but hopefully when it all comes back together, it will make a great quilt!
One finished block

Denise marking her block. My instructions in the foreground were way too wordy!

Hmmm, what could it be??
We have used fabrics from the community quilts stash so it will a real patchwork picture.

If you are interested in doing a project like this with your guild, I will post instructions and photos of the process when we have finished. Alternatively, you can add a comment here (enable email replies) and I'll email you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mixed media collage

One UFO finished!

Our art quilt group met last night and I just about finished my collage. I've got school work to do today but I was determined to get this finished - and it's done! Now I can concentrate on writing reports.

This was a fun project and used so many different materials a techniques.

The background was made by gluing paper napkins, pink tissue paper, paper doilies and text ripped from a very old large text book on to canvas. Some of it wrinkled which added a lovely texture

Then I painted it with a wash of orange and yellow acrylic paint and a few dabs of metallic gold.

I thought I made it too orange so I used the technique we learnt in our stenciling session and masked off triangles using masking tape and stenciled them with a white wax crayon.

Then I painted the music notes dandelion using acrylic paint. The white was useless and didn't have enough pigment for such small notes so I went over them with a correction fluid pen. I'd love to get some white acrylic ink like Geninne uses in her paintings.

The music was printed on fabric. I found an image of sheet music on the internet, downloaded and shrank it to a size that fitted in my design. Then I layered some of the brown paper bag 'leather' that we made in one of our earlier art group meetings with some mesh and zig-zagged the music fabric to it. There is stitching in this collage so it qualifies as an art quilt! (I think!)

The word 'easy' was made by printing out the word on paper and then cutting it and arranging it to where I wanted it. Then I drew in the cursive connections and traced it on to the back of some fusible web. I ironed that to the back of some Lutrador with a very cool iron. Guess how I discovered that you need a very cool iron! Fortunately I didn't melt the bit I was using. I then cut it out and ironed it to the canvas.
This lovely scroll was made by Jean using her cuttlebug. I glued some gold foil to it and hot glued it to the canvas. Thank you Jean and I hope you are having a great holiday in UK. By the way, Crewe is almost exactly where I thought it was. Cheshire isn't! My knowledge of the geography of England is not great, but then again, I am Scottish!

Finally I added this meander of eyelash yarn. I've attached it with 'No More Pins' glue. I may put a layer of PVA glue on top if I think it won't stay.

As I said, it was a lot of fun and the only thing I bought for the project was the canvas. So, if you have a supply of glues (I used four different types!), some paint, bits of paper, napkins, fabric and embellishment 'stuff', give this a go.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I'm Rona and I have a UFO problem

UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project

I definitely have a UFO problem. I was pretty disappointed that I didn't finish my gecko for the show next month and so I've managed to create yet another unfinished project! I spent the rest of Saturday feeling very sorry for myself.

But this is a new day (Monday in New Zealand but I'll pretend that it's Sunday). I decided to list all my projects; quilting, sewing and art. It came to 30 projects! One of them is a handbag for which I've already been paid. It has priority.

When I looked at my list, quite a few of them are community quilts. Some of them are ones that can sit on the back burner but others are making me feel very guilty. This one in particular is one that I need to finish. My question is what do I do with the light blue star? I've quilted ferns on all the dark blues squares and I don't want to quilt so densely on the star (polyester batting so dense quilting not necessary) but the star needs to be seen. Help Leah!!

In other news, this little baby came home with me today. It has a 600cc engine and should halve my fuel costs!

I have to publicly thank my fan club/mutual appreciation group from Northland. You girls are the best and keep me going. I don't always comment on all your fantastic work but I do appreciate it. Have a look at these very productive women.

I met Monika when she did a screenprinting play day.
Ms Lottie and Suz couldn't make it that day. I hope you are all coming to Auckland Festival of Quilts. I'm on the EFTPOS machine on Saturday from 12 noon and Sunday from 2:30. Please say hello.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Koru Gecko II - FAIL

So I set myself the impossible task of finishing this by Saturday and I'm not going to make it.

I was quilting away, quite happy with how it was looking...
and then this happened...
I've changed the needle, cleaned out the bobbin race and rethreaded three times but it sounds awful and the thread breaks. I don't want to damage my machine or ruin this quilt so it's getting added to the pile of unfinished quilts.

I've got to make a handbag next. I've been paid for it already so priorities now are clean the house, write senior reports and make a handbag like the one I made for my sister.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Koru Gecko II

Remember this quilt.

I'm remaking it - for Saturday! Madness!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cot quilt - modern quilting style

Our guild had Robyn from Auckland Modern Quilt Guild run a class on modern quilting for us yesterday.  It was a lovely day, many beautiful quilts being produced and we are all better informed about the modern quilt movement now. Thanks Robyn for a great day!

I managed to produce this.

It's meant to be a rectangular cot quilt but it's missing a row. I mis-cut one cross block and another block got buried under scraps so I didn't notice until someone pointed out that it was square and not rectangular! 

The fact that I got this far was no mean feat. My organisational skills let me down somewhat. I knew that they were changing the locks on the doors and thought I had that all organised but somewhere some wires were crossed. I couldn't even remember who was going to open the door. All I knew was that I had had a conversation with someone and it was all ok. Wrong! So I arrived to a locked door, Robyn and a couple of people waiting. I'd forgotten my phone. Another person had no credit on her phone. The next person had a phone and credit - then we realised that none of us had Jo's number! So I drove home, phoned Jo, got hold of the other keyholder and went back to class. We are now running very late. Robyn took it all in her stride and we got started. 

I cut out my fabric, went to set up my sewing machine and realised that I had left my foot pedal at home. Drove back home, picked up the foot pedal and some lunch (which I had also forgotten) and my iron. Got back to class and worked like crazy to catch up. So you see, I did well! I think I'm going to add another 4 rows and make it a small single bed quilt.

Here's a close-up of my yummy fabric