Saturday 19 April 2014

Favourite Tools & Gadgets

These tools & gadgets are ones I find helpful to use. I am not being paid nor have been asked to promote these for anyone. All opinions are my own.

Turn It All Tube Turner
Do you struggle with turning tubes, handles or ties? Are you hands like mine with increasingly arthritic fingers that ache when doing fiddly work? I recently discovered these tube turners and find them really helpful, also I don't snag or make holes at the ends of the tubes like I have in the past when using pins or the long hook tools.
So easy, stitch the tube, slide it on the hollow plastic tube, then push from one end with the dowel or metal down the tube and easy, peasy, a turned tube. They come in 3 sizes in the one pack, including the plastic hollow tubes as well as the appropriate sized dowel or metal rod.

The Binding Tool
This one is a recent discovery and already proved a winner. I have always struggled to join the ends of the binding around the edge of the quilt to give a neat finish without puckering. All the hints and tips I've read never seemed to work for me, they were fiddly, and I would revert to overlapping the ends then hand stitching them closed. 
However, this all changed with the binding tool.
I did have to re-watch the You tube clip showing how to use it, but once I had, finished binding 3 quilts in a flash.

Clover Wonder Clips 
These clips come in 2 sizes, I use the regular size but they are also available in a jumbo size.
Lots of uses really but I am finding them fantastic for clipping around the binding of a quilt to secure it while hand stitching. I really didn't think I would find them that helpful as I've never been one to clip things down, but they have made it sooooooooo much easier, again for my fingers and hands - much less pain now when binding. Seemed to make the process quicker as well.
I have also used them to secure two edges together when making a name badge recently - they kept the folded edges turned in and taut while I was sewing the badge.

If you want to look at these tools, I suggest you google them to find the best place to purchase them for where you live. There are also You tube clips on each of them showing how to use them.

Monday 7 April 2014

Tutorial - A Tisket, A Tasket, Pretty Easter Baskets

After reading What's Mummy Up To? Bunny Bags post on the weekend I was inspired to write a tutorial for Easter Baskets.
I have used left over jelly roll strips from some recent baby quilts to make the basket, and the offcuts from the quilts to make the handles. The basket size could be varied to suit your fabric or needs & you could always use a single piece of fabric instead.
I gathered my stash of orphan jelly roll strips to audition & searched my scrap basket for the off cuts of pieced strips from recent baby quilts for the handle.
I chose to use 8 strips for my baskets meaning I would have a circle circumference of 16".
For the handle, I used some joined offcuts that had 6 pieces (finished handle length 12") & trimmed them down to 2 1/2" wide.
To calculate the size of circle needed for the base, I chose to google  'calculating diameter from circumference' rather than use my rusty high school maths skills. A 16" circumference gives a diameter (measurement across centre of circle) of 5.092958178940651". Don't panic!!!!!! rounding up gives us 5.1". 5 1/4" is 5.25" so I knew I had to cut a circle a smidge (technical term here) smaller than 5 1/4". You can trace a circle from a dish that is that size, or rather than search for the exact sized dish, I used the circle on my revolving cutting mat & worked with the measurements on the grid to draw mine the right size.
Materials needed
Fabric for outer basket, including base & handle, fabric for lining, iron on pellon & thread.

Basket construction
1. Join jelly roll strips, press & cut to required basket height ( I made one 5" & the other 4" high)
Or - cut a piece of fabric or join scraps & cut to 16 1/2" long, 5 1/2" wide. (for smaller basket - cut 161/2" long, 4 1/2" high)
Cut out lining & pellon to match size of basket.
Cut out 2 circles from lining fabric & 1 pellon circle for base.
Cut out 1 handle (I trimmed pre-joined strips or cut chosen fabric to 12 1/2" long & 2 1/2" wide), 1 handle lining & 1 piece of pellon for handle.
Press pellon to back of basket piece, base circle & handle.

2. Sew handle lining to handle (down long sides only) & turn through, then press. 
(**From this step on, you will get the best results if you use your walking foot attachment**)

3. Quilt in desired pattern the basket piece, handle & base circle.
 4. Join short sides of basket piece together with 1/4" seam. Mark the quilted basket sides & quilted base into quarters with pins, then pin together using markers as guide.

 5. Stitch quilted side & base together with 1/4" seam. Take your time with this step, there is some give in the fabric & you can "smush" (another technical term here) the pieces together to fit, working carefully around the circle quarter by quarter.

6. Place the handle inside the joined basket, with right sides facing. 

7. Join short ends of basket lining together. Leave approximately 3" gap in middle of seam to allow turn through (if you are making a shorter basket, you will have to leave the gap when you join the side lining to the base circle)
8. Mark into quarters with pins, pin together then join lining piece to lining base circle.

9. Place lining inside the basket, rides sides facing (I placed the joined side seams on opposite sides of the circle). Pin lining & basket together, ensuring handle is pinned as well.

10. Stitch around top of basket with 1/4" seam.

11. Turn basket through the gap left in the side seam. Top stitch this gap close to the folded edge of seam (you can hand stitch this closed if you prefer & it will be less noticeable if you matching thread - I used white to show this step.)

12. Give a light press around this top edge to ensure lining sits well inside the basket.
Top stitch around the top of basket (stitch from lining side).

Your Easter basket is now finished, ready for the Easter Egg hunt.
After Easter, the basket could be used to store hair ribbons or special treasures.

You can check out my extra tutorial here where I have used one pack of charm squares to make 7 colourful Easter Baskets.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

To Market, To Market

Not long now till the next Dreamers Market

If you have never been before, these markets are not to be missed. All the stalls offer unique, all Australian made crafts of the highest quality. Why not check out their website before heading to Parramatta this Saturday 5th April, from 9.30 - 2.30 inside the Riverside Theatre.

Today I'm busy with final preparations;

Sewing the final few baby balls.

Folding and pricing all these colourful pillowcases.
This is just some of the stock ready to be packed for the day.
Sam from Four Red Hens will also be there, right next to me. We always have the best day out at these markets, catching up with returning customers, other stallholders and of course meeting newcomers to the markets. The team from Dreamers do the most amazing job in organising the day.