Keeping You Organised : Free Document Wallet

Before I go on holiday (or travel for business – when I used to do that regularly), I frequently had a really vivid dream.  It was one of those dreams that you wake up from all upset and worried and it takes you a moment to work out that actually it is all ok and it is just a dream – whew! The dream involves me trying really really hard to get to the airport and every mode of travel I try fails along the way. This leads to me being hideously late. Normally when I get close to the airport, I also realise that I haven’t got my passport with me and have to return home to collect it.  I feel stressed writing this down!

I have put these dreams down to my husband who is perpetually late for everything – except the airport. In normal everyday life, he doesn’t believe he is late until it is past the time he needs to be somewhere. So he can plan to go into Putney to coach rowing at 11am – which is a journey of about 30-40 minutes, so he should leave by 10.20am. However, in his mind, he isn’t late until it’s after 11am – even if he is still at home at 10.55am. Conversely, when we go to the airport we have to get there super early – hours earlier than is necessary – which then involves a ridiculous amount of hanging about and shopping!!  So let’s just blame him for my dreams! 

Before I went to New York in April, I did ponder my dream and thought it may help to make myself a document wallet so I knew exactly where the passports, travel documents, insurance papers etc., were. It was a huge success. It was small enough not to be bulky but big enough not to get lost. The zip, which is part way down the front didn’t get snagged on the content. All in all, I was really pleased with it. I made another one a couple of weeks ago for my daughter who was off to Slovenia on holiday with her pal… again it was a success. So I have written up the pattern to share with you all.

I hope you enjoy it – and your husband isn’t as funny and crazy as mine. 🙂

GillyMac Document Wallet

ps. We’ve been married 15 years today and he is the best!!

 

 

 

Book Review ~ WALK by Jacquie Gering

I buy alot (ALOT) of patchwork and quilting books. I am embarrassed to share with you that I often flip through them.. think ‘meeeehhhhhh’ and that is it. Another mildly expensive mistake. After buying another ‘meeehhhhh’ book a couple of weeks ago I decided that I should review and promote the really good ones I have. The ones that stand out as being well written (by someone who understands our art) and have something really informative to offer. So on the first Friday of each month from now on, I’ll be doing a book review under the hashtag #fridayreads. My blogs come out weekly on Thursdays, so for that week it will appear on a Friday (or late on Thursday Night) and will have my take on the book I am reviewing.


WALK – Mastering Machine Quilting with Your Walking Foot, by Jacquie Gering, first caught my eye because I teach a lot of ladies who seem to feel they have failed with quilting because they don’t enjoy free motion quilting (FMQ) and would dearly love to whip up one of the professional FMQ designs we see at shows or in books. This book really resets the view on Walking Foot Quilting and by the end of it you are buoyed by the fact you need never HAVE to FMQ again. 🙂 Alternatively, if like me, you do enjoy FMQ, it has taught me some excellent lessons which I will apply to my pieces nevertheless. In fact, I am itching to make book covers with my Junior Sewing Bee when they are back on Monday.

Do you skip the introduction pages of a book? I do.  I want to immediately get into the body of the book, however, this book starts with a chapter called Walking Foot 101. It shows you how to test your foot, and also how either utilise the markings and spacings on your foot or how to mark it up for success. After reading this section I immediately got out my seam guide and started measuring all over my foot – and what a difference that made to the samples I was about to work on !!!!! For me, this chapter was worth the price of the book alone. The picture here is not only of my thumb .. it is of me checking the distance from where my need would be coming down to the internal edge of the walking foot – which is precisely 1/4″.  I went on to mark my 1/4″ and 1/2″ turning points (something I’d guessed at in the past) and also create a mark to help me with curves – genius!

The book is really well produced. It is full of helpful diagrams to follow and many many pictures of Jacquie’s gorgeous quilts. The book takes you through quilting lines, curves, quilting decorative stitches as well as quilting in reverse (who knew!!) and provides designs which are achieved by turning the quilt. It concludes with a gallery of quilts made by Jacquie herself.

Curved crosshatching was one of my favourite designs  – super simple but super effective. My sample was made by marking 2 lines only. (Ta Dahhhhhh)

I also created a fan and then added some zigzags within the fan. This took a bit more marking, but the effect is great. This could be used or adapted to be used in any shape. I think it would look amazing within a set of semi-circles.

 

The tutorial for the nested diamond involved drawing a grid and then marking the turning points in the grid. I drew my grid really carefully and was a little slapdash with the turning marks, but I like the effect and can think of multiple uses for it. This design also pops the quilt, really defining the areas quilted and not quilted.

My final sample for this review was to use matchstick quilting to write a name.. Jacquie recommends this for smaller projects as it does take time and lots of thread. That said it was worth all the effort. I went off-piste here and used lock stitches at the start and end of each letter. I should have used Jacquie’s small stitch method as I think it would have been neater. I put this small error down to the excitement of making this work!

WALK is by Jacquie Gering and is published by Lucky Spool. I loved it – can you tell ?? If you are on Instagram, you can follow Jacquie via @jacquietps. In addition,  you may also want to follow @sarahashfordstudio who is also making samples and videos of lessons from this gorgeous book.

 

 

Metro Rings: Using the Quick Curve Rulers (with free quilting plan)

Deborah and I made this stunning quilt together. She did the hard work in the patchwork piecing and I got to quilt it, and whilst I wanted the background to be a brilliant white, she chose the wonderful colours that make up the rings.

It was made using the Mini Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful. At the end of last year, I invested in a number of both the mini and full-size rulers for my classes. I really like working with rulers and teaching using good rulers. The best rulers are the really versatile ones. By that, I mean ruler with good markings on them so you can move them increments of partial inches and lines on so you can cut with the ‘on point’. These rulers have all those features AND they have matching quilting rulers which are excellent for identically matching the curves, inside and outside of your piecing work.

This quilt can be made using the larger ruler, but we chose to use the smaller one as I wanted to check out the suitability of this pattern for a cot size quilt – and it doesn’t disappoint. It is built using 2″ x 10″ strips, (for the larger quilt jelly roll strips are suggested). Although the pattern suggests using 20 10″ squares, in fact, we would recommend not bothering with this and just cutting up scraps, which are 10″ long, into 2″ slices. We found that the more colour tones we used and patterns we incorporated the more interesting the final quilt became. Fabric with smaller prints work best with this quilt as larger prints would get chopped up and lost. The strips are sewn together in batches and then cut cross-ways using the ruler.

As with all our rulers, we added Handi Quilter gripper to the back of them to stop them slipping as we cut out the fabric. This is essential and the Handi-Grip product is the best one that I’ve found (and a little goes a long way).  The rulers have a slot in them that you place the rotary cutter in and move it along. We did think the slot was quite wide, but if you are consistent with how you place your cutter then this isn’t a problem.

More of an issue with the mini version Deborah was making, was that the pieces were small and partly bias cut, so were quite unstable. This meant that if you didn’t iron them they would curl slightly and not sew together well, but if you ironed them, even a little too vigorously, they would stretch and be useless.  When you test out a quilt pattern, you are most often halfway through the patchworking build before the penny drops and we see how to get it working well. This quilt was no different and after a number of goes building the curved block only to find that they were too small, we tweaked the pattern to make it ‘full proof’.

The choice of the colours used in the blocks joining the rings is really important. If you decide to make this quilt yourself, consider carefully what colour and pattern to use for these pieces. Deborah chose a Dashwood Twist in smoke and a Kona grey.

Below I have attached a free quick reference guide for quilting this piece. The correct quilting rulers make the job much easier and I enjoyed filling in the shapes I made with very basic designs. This was not a hard quilt to make look good.

 I am thrilled with this quilt. It would make a stunning baby gift or maybe one day I will get around to making the larger one for my bed! Sew Kind of Wonderful has lots of patterns using the quick curve rulers. The rulers themselves can be bought from Creative Grids, though I did have to buy the matching quilting rulers from Sew Kind of Wonderful in the USA.

 

GillyMac Metro Rings Quilting Plan

There are two classes this year to make this quilt… 20th June and 6th November, both classes are at my studio in Maidenhead and run from 10am -3.30pm – with lots of tea and homemade cakes – of course! Every student gets an original copy of the pattern to go home with.

 

My Latest Adventure with Aneela Hoey – The All-In-One Box Pouch

I’m a HUGE fan of Aneela Hoey, her patterns and the way she can create such fun mini projects, most of which can be achieved in an evening. This time I wanted to make the All-In-One Box Pouch. The standalone pattern has been recently updated, but a version of it can also be found in Aneela’s book – Stitched Sewing Organisers.

I have to admit to having a tendency to be distracted by sparkly things and for a long time now I have been loving working with Robert Kauffman Metallic Essex Linen. I find that for these boxes, the added firmness of the linen fabric is really helpful and of course, like a child, I love the way it sparkles in the light! For this project, I have used Ebony Essex Linen with Gold Metallic Threads and twined it with Tula Pink’s Tabby Road Fur Ball Fabric in the Strawberry Fields colorway.

I enjoy evenings making things much better when I have previously got myself all prepared. As well as fabric, for this project, you will also need fusible interfacing (I used light-medium Vilene F220/304), fusible fleece (I used Legacy Extra Lofty Fusible Fleece) and also clear vinyl (I used sparkly vinyl – obviously:-)). The day before I spent an hour cutting out, fusing on and ironing binding strips – all ready for my solo #saturdaynightcraftalong.

The first thing to make is the front pouch. I hadn’t made a pouch like this previously  – but having done it, I will certainly be adding it to the techniques I used most frequently. It is created by adding the binding and zips to the vinyl and then casing it in the lining and basting the external fabric on the reverse. If that wasn’t clever enough, the 20″ zip is then sewn around the pouch … then the whole lot has binding applied all around the edges.  I’ve missed out a few steps, as Aneela’s Pattern is her own, but believe me it is super clever and not hard when you take it step-by-step!

After the fervor of making the front pouch it was time for tea and cake and a little hand sewing to finish the binding off. Then I was off again !!!….. making the back pocket and then adding it and the front pouch to the exterior pieces of the main pouch. The pouch is then sewn together and suddenly you are finished. WHEW !

All in all (without cutting out). It took me 2 1/2 hours to make this – so 3 1/2 hours with cutting and fusing.

The important points to highlight about the pattern is that however experienced you are, read it properly and follow it closely. Don’t skip the kick -off steps making up the tabs, adjusting the top of the long zipper or marking up the material as directed. These are all vital to your success. My bag is now filled with my traveling medicine cabinet. You can get a lot of stuff in this pouch!

I so loved making this, I have already cut out the pieces for another one. Once again I am using the Metallic Essex Linen (this time Navy with Silver Metallic threads) but for the lining, I am going to use a Cotton & Steel/Rifle Paper Co.  fabric range called Amalfi. I like the combination of the Sun Girls and Waves fabrics, both in Coral. I thought I would use the Waves fabric for all the binding and the Sun Girls for the linings of both the front and main pouches. I think this combination will be perfect for my older daughter on the beach later on in the summer.

The next class with spaces on it to make the Aneela Hoey All-In-One Box Pouch is on 3rd July (7pm-10pm). Call Gill on 07818 551232 or email on mail@gillymacdesigns.com to book a space.

More information about Aneela and her patterns can be found here.

Happy Sewing …… Gill

 

Teen Modern Quilting Challenge : Part 1 ~ Ice Dyeing 

Sometimes a challenge can get the creative ideas flowing and a month or so ago my Saturday Morning class were set a challenge, to create a small piece of work, based on one of four pictures of places special to me. There were of St Basil’s Basilica in Red Square, the Isle of Skye, the Dead Sea in Israel or the Blue Mountains in Australia. All places I had visited for the first time in my teens or 20s that I just loved and still do.

I wanted the girls to look at the colours and mood of the pictures, not necessarily the composition, and use small pieces of fabric to create a modern mini quilt top – about the size of a large placement.  Using just plain fabric would be a good start, but to add to this, and give their mini quilts ‘movement’, we decided to give ice dyeing a go. Although I dye frequently for myself, I’d only ice-dyed once before – so it was an adventure for all of us!

We started with fabric which had no manufacturing residues on it. If you give any fabric a good wash in a machine it should be fine.  I like to used Egyptian cotton which has a high thread count and arrives ready for dyeing. There is no need to dye large pieces – in fact, the pieces we were dyeing were around fat quarter-ish size in area.

I prepared a soda ash solution*, which is a fixing agent, ahead of time and let it cool. Each piece of fabric was soaked in the soda ash solution and wrung out.  Then it was up to each individual how to arrange their piece. They could fold, pleat, scrunch, roll or twist their fabric pieces. We then secured the folded fabric with a couple of elastic bands. The fabric bundles were placed on a metal rack (I used a cooling rack) which was suspended over the sink. This is so that as the ice melts, the fabric isn’t sitting in a pool of mixed up dyes. The dye that isn’t soaked into the fabric just drips off the metal tray.

We then covered the pieces completely in ice. It can be hard to get the ice to stay on top of your mounds of fabric so crushed ice can be easier if you get into trouble. Once completely covered (and with gloves on), we used 1/2-3/4 teaspoon of three or four power dyes (I used Procion MX dye) sprinkled

over the ice. The colour of dyes was chosen on the basis of what we had and what fitted with the mood of the picture we would be working with. As there were 5 people dying 10 bits – all of which were on one rack – we expected some crossover of dyes as the ice melted – which was another element of excitement for us. Finally, we sprinkled 4 tablespoons of salt onto the ice. This was to help the dye fix into the fabric rather than wash away later.

This was then left for 24 hours, for the ice to melt and the dye to settle into the fabric bundles, at the end of 24 hours, once again with gloves on, the bundles were unwrapped and rinsed in very hot water and placed in washing machine where they were all washed together on a quick 30 minute was with normal washing detergent.

…. and…….this was the outcome. We were thrilled!

   

Now the next stage could begin – they were going to start to compose their pieces!

*I used 10 teaspoons of soda in 500ml of hot water. Be very careful when you dissolve the soda ash. Always wear gloves, do this in a well-ventilated room and do not inhale the gas that is generated. Just a few precautions and you will be fine. Always follow the soda ash manufacturers instructions to the letter. If you have any of this solution left afterwards, then store it in an airtight container, label the container (very important) and store it for the next time.

Happy Sewing …… Gill

Note: All Gill’s Child/Teen sewing classes are full at this time. To go onto a waiting list, please email mail@gillymacdesigns.com

 

Teen Modern Quilting Challenge : Part 2~ Make The Modern Minis

The Saturday morning girls are always quick to adopt new ideas and find pretty much everything we do (except hand sewing) really exciting. Lola chose to work from the picture of St Basil’s Basilica and the other 4 decided to use the picture of the Dead Sea. Just to remind you, the girls’ challenge was to use the colours and mood of the pictures but, at this stage, not to focus on the shapes in the pictures.  We divided the pictures into columns and worked on the colour palettes in these sections, building up strips of colours represented in the pictures.

The girls weren’t afraid to try inserting gentle curves in their pieces to add movement and interest. We also found that mixing the solid Kona colours with the ice dyed fabrics worked perfecting to break up the flatness you can sometimes get with plain colours alone. Once sections were completed, the next section was started using their knowledge of the combinations that worked from the last section.  We found that by cutting into the work already done and adding in Metallic Essex linen also added a sunshine sparkle to the dead sea pictures and a rich opulence to that of St Basil’s.

Over a couple of classes, the patchwork element of the mini quilts was completed and next we planned to do some line drawing of the outlines of the objects in the pictures on top of our quilts.

We used a heat transfer pencil to replicate the images we wanted to sew onto the mini quilts. This was not completely successful. Initially, tracing the outline of the pictures onto paper was quite easy. We taped the pictures and paper to the window and traced away using the special pen. At first, we didn’t reverse the image when we traced it – but trial and error sorted us out and we started again, tracing the mirror image this time.

We lay the mini quilts facing upwards on the ironing board, the traced image facing down and with a very hot iron and a dry pressing cloth and some persistence, the image transferred.  The downside of using this method was that if you took a peek to see if the image was transferred, getting the paper back down in exactly the right place to avoid double images was really hard (and we did have some double images). Also, the marks didn’t transfer as the thin pen lines we had drawn, they were thicker and more smudged. This wasn’t ideal, but we worked around that by sewing over the lines more than once.

The sewing was very successful. Jess’s larger image of a palm tree looked stunning when sewn in and even with the smaller imager, the girls all found ways to make them work.

Until this point, we hadn’t had a clear plan of what we would do with these pieces, but a casual conversation about transporting school work led to us all having the idea of making zip up folders for their school bags… We ironed the mini quilts onto single-sided R-foam to give them extra body. the girls chose lining fabric from my stash and we used metallic Essex linen for the backing. The pieces were so successful that with the remnants I made each of them coin purses.

We all loved this project. Now the girls have moved on to their piece for the Festival of Quilts in the Summer… more on that soon.

Happy Sewing …… Gill

Note: All Gill’s Child/Teen sewing classes are full at this time. To go onto a waiting list, please email mail@gillymacdesigns.com

 

Quilted Eggs Cracked …

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Quilted Eggs Cracked..

I saw these eggs in a post on a North American website. They looked great and as well as being a timely project as we head towards Easter this year, I liked the three dimensional look of the fabric pieces… Thinking ahead I could imagine that the owl in the Senior Girls entry into the Festival of Quilts this year could usefully apply this technique.

The most taxing part of making the eggs was sourcing the Styrofoam eggs themselves. It is easy to buy oodles of little eggs, but finding solid eggs that are 4″/10cm or bigger is difficult and consequently expensive.  Anyhow, I did find them on Amazon, but for about £4 each including shipping, I have now sourced them cheaper .. The smaller eggs are obviously cheaper still and will be quicker and easier for the smalleIMG_5129-104r girls to manage. Solid eggs >15cm seem only to be sold in the US..maybe I could get a friend to send some over …  but then maybe I am going egg crazy !

Once you have your Sytrofoam eggs, then you will need 300 or so cheap dressmaking pins (the ones with the tiny steel head) and pieces of fabric cut 2″ x  3″. I used three different fabrics for both eggs.  To start, you need to mark the centre of the top (narrower end) of your egg. Then fold one of your rectangles over by about 1/8″-1/4 ” and drag your nail down the fold to create a crease.Now fold the fabric rectangle again along the longest side and create another. This should allow you to see where the centre point is along that fold.

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At the top of this mark, place a pin through the fabric and into the egg, just a tiny (incey wincey) amount below the centre dot you marked earlier on your egg. You now fold the edges of the fabric down and overlap them slightly and pin them, and finally secure the other points of the formed fabric triangle with two additional pins. Now repeat this again, placing the fabric directly opposite the first piece. Then fill the gaps either side of the pieces 1 and 2.

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To create the next row needs a little measurement. The point of the first triangle in row 2 should be 3/8″ below the point of the first triangle in row 1.

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When I was making my eggs, I did do the measuring for row 2, but after that I just guessed and all went well .. so don’t despair.. throw away the tape measure once your confidence builds.  Creating rows down the eggs just continues in this way. As you get close to the bottom on the egg, you will find that some of the pins are visible and no longer hidden. When this happens, you can fold the tails of your triangles to hid the pins. When you get to the last row, finish your egg with a piece of material over the tail ends and hold it in place with pins, but this time you can put the pin through a sequin to give a more polished final piece.

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There are lots of designs I have thought up. Instead of working all the way down the egg, stop half way and build the egg up from the bottom (fat end) and then put a ribbon or piece of material around the centre where they join… this has quite a Faberge look about it. Another thought would be to use a larger final piece in the shape of a flower which comes up the side of the egg, this would look a little more acorn like. This technique can be used for Christmas decorations too…

I will be using my eggs as part of an Easter display, hanging from branches in a vase on my dining room table (sounds naff but will look GORGEOUS !)… when I finish the display, I will post a picture ! For now, I will be holding a class on making eggs on Monday 30th March, from 7pm-10pm £25pp including all materials to make 3 eggs each (one large-120mm  and 2 small-70mm).