Saturday 27 September 2014

Tutorial - Baby Blocks

Blocks are a great gift for children, ideal for motor development as well as language development. I also add a child safe rattle to the block. They can be made any size, using quality cotton, a great way to use fabric panels - if they are square pictures & have space between the blocks pictures.

Select your fabric - you will need 6 squares.

I stitch mine to wadding as I find this gives a smoother finish to the blocks (also a great way to use up those smaller wadding scrap pieces) Hint - always best to stitch child toys with a tiny stitch for added safety.

Trim around blocks, trim away excess wadding - leave a 1/4" seam allowance. Hint - the line you have stitched around block is a great guide when joining block pieces as you can see the stitching line on the wadding as you sew.

Choose your block layout - hint check placement of pictures so you don't end up with some upside down on your finished block...... ( just saying......), the bottom picture is placed upside down so all pictures face the same way up round each side.

Pin & join pieces building up block - again use a small stitch for safety (on my machine I use a 1.8 instead of standard 2.2 length)

On last side, leave a gap for turning through & stuffing. Trim corners, turn through & push out corners.

Fill with stuffing & add child safe rattle if desired.

Handstitch gap closed securely.

Always a great gift idea and popular item at markets. They can be made in a variety of sizes, colours or themes. Also a great way to use up orphan blocks or fabric from a baby quilt so there is a block to go with the quilt.

Friday 19 September 2014

Choc Fudge Slice

This is my favourite, go to sweet treat, until now a closely guarded secret but the time has come to pass on this so easy, quick to make, rich treat.
I was given this recipe by a family at school some 12 years ago so do not know the original source to acknowledge. 
Over the years, I have been asked to make this for parties, 21sts, wedding & engagements by many of the young people at church. 
It is so easy to make, I only use one dish for the fudge base & one for the chocolate topping.

I melt the choc & butter in a microwave proof bowl, large enough that I can then add the other ingredients to same bowl. I use dark cooking choc for the base.
Melt choc & butter, then add in vanilla, eggs & castor sugar. Then add in plain four & stir well.
Pour into a lined lamington sized tin & bake for approx 20 mins - time can vary depending on oven, also if you prefer a soft, gooey fudge, only cook for the 20 minutes. If you like your fudge a bit more crunchy, cook a few minutes longer.
As soon as slice comes out of oven, melt the milk choc in a microwave proof bowl or jug then spread over slice. *Original recipe used 250g milk choc for topping - in those days Cadbury choc was that size. A 200g block of milk choc is sufficient for topping & cooking choc can be used.
Coll in tin, then allow to set in fridge. Remove from fridge and allow to sit for at least 1/2 hour before cutting into small pieces (trust me, it's very rich only cut small pieces). If you try to cut as soon as you take out of the fridge, the chocolate will crack & break.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Tutorial -Scrappy Dog Bed

I was looking for a way to use up all those fiddly bits of scraps, too small to used in projects but too useful to throw out. After a discussion with my brother & sister-in-law, I realised the scraps could be re-purposed into a soft & comfy dog bed - a great way to recycle.
With the measurements of Elly's basket in hand (Elly is a very talented dog as you can see by her picture) & an overflowing basket of scraps I was able to quickly & simply design her a new bed.
I marked out the measurements on a piece of butchers paper, using my pin holder to mark the curved corners.
 I added the outside measurements of each side to work out how long to make the side panel to fit around the bed. 
(Hint: always a good idea to make notes on pattern piece or in a notebook - trust me - not matter how well you did this time, if you go back to remake a project, it is much easier if the measurements are there next time!)

Cut out two pieces each of mesh & outer fabric for top & bottom of bed plus a side panel (may need to join side panel to achieve required length) You may be able to see on my notes I have included seam allowance in top & bottom pieces but not in side panel - work to your preference again a really good idea to note what you have done for future projects.

I made a mesh liner to fill with the scraps - for this one I was able to pick up a narrow remnant piece of mesh curtain fabric from Spotlight for about $2 - too narrow to be used for curtains but just perfect for this project. Either stitch around or use your serger (overlocker). Attach side panel to one piece folding back one end & overlapping other end. Then attach to top piece. (this overlapping end allows you to fill the mesh bag you have made)
Fill the mesh bag with your scraps, then hand stitch the gap closed.

Now make the outer cover - for this one I used some strong furnishing fabric but on the earlier prototype I used a piece of ticking. 
This time, you need to stitch the side panel piece closed as you will be leaving a larger opening either at one end or along one side of the bottom & side panel to fit the filled mesh bag through. 

Turn out & stuff mesh bag into cover - trick is to leave a larger enough hole to push mesh bag through - my mesh bag wasn't filled to capacity to allow some movement in the finished bed for Miss Elly to settle it into her own desired shape.

Turn under edges of gap & machine stitch closed. If desired you can add a zipper for a closing if you want to be able to take inner bag out to air or to wash outer cover but Elly informed me she was OK with the opening just being stitched.

And there you have it, one empty scrap basket, one comfy dog bed. Hint - if you don't do as much sewing as I do, or have as many scraps, this project is also ideal to use up old, soft clothes, T-shirts or sweatshirts ( I would cut up into smaller pieces though & remove any buttons or zippers).

Here is Elly enjoying her new bed, always fun watching her check out it is really for her & then wriggling herself into it to make it her own. 
(the eagle eyed among you may just notice the basket is new too, still works though, my prototype is in Elly's outside old basket, this cushion is being used for her inside bed.)
and one final shot as Elly really, really loves this bed:

Saturday 6 September 2014

Urban Stitches 2014

 Yesterday was the most wonderful day, a day of stitching, catching up with friends old & new & being inspired by the wonderful team that is Rosalie Quinlan, Melly from Melly & Me & Jodie from Ric Rac at the 2014 Urban Stitches Day. After attending last year's Urban Stitches, Sam & I couldn't wait to go again & this time we went with a group of friends for just the best day.

Who cared it was wet, we were cosy & warm inside eagerly awaiting to see what was in this year's goodie bags. One of the great things about the day is that all you need for each project is included in the kit, there was even some needles & scissors & a couple of extra goodies such as a charm square pack.  Just look at what treasures we discovered.

 As well, if you wanted more fabric, to stock up on supplies, buy new patterns or other goodies, Erica was manning the Under The Mulberry Tree table throughout the day.

The team had gone to so much trouble to set up an inspiring display of their finished work to look at throughout the day.

Rosalie's designs:
Melly's Melly & Me designs:
Jodie's Ric Rac designs:

After morning introductions, the girls showed us finished samples of this year's projects & then we were under way. We could work on any of the projects we wanted to & during the day, Rosalie, Melly & Jodie wandered the room spending time at each table sharing tips & techniques, sharing up coming books, fabric lines or answering any questions we might have.
First by our table was Jodie, giving useful advice about attaching legs & arms to felt toys;
Melly came by to give tips on putting the pendants together.
Rosalie popped on over, showed us an upcoming fabric line, new stitchery designs & tips for lattice stitching on her project using the wool thread.

During the day, there were heaps (& I mean heaps) of lucky door prizes as well as a show & tell session - here I am showing the bag I designed incorporating  one of Rosalie's stitchery designs.
There was morning tea, lunch & afternoon tea as well as bowls of chocolates & lollies on each table to keep up our energy levels. The day went by so quickly. 
This year I chose to start on the Pendant project from Melly & Me.

 Rather than finish a complete one, I worked on different designs using up each thread I had cut from the skeins- not sure why, just how I wanted to sew is where I am up to so far......
Here is Wendy from What's Mummy Up To? working on one of her pendants. She managed to finish two during the day - can't wait to hear how much her beautiful munchkins love their new gifts from Mummy.
Sam from Old Green Pastures finished her pendant as well.
Here is a shot of the room showing some of the set up with the shop in the background, our table is the first one you see with us all busy crafting away.

Stay tuned for what the girl's have in store for next year. We can't wait & if you like stitching or even want to have a go at something new, the day is well worth it. 

(Please note this is my personal review of the day, I have not been paid for this promotion.)