Friday, 28 September 2012

The Honey Cowl

I am a cowl lover. I adore the cold of winter but do not like to be cold.  As such I have a variety of cowls and scarves. Earlier this year I knitted this very easy, very stylish (even if I do say so myself!) cowl.

The pattern is a free downloadable one, The Honey Cowl, written by Ann Maria for Madelinetosh. Madelinetosh have delectable, 'must have' yarns and patterns and this particular pattern really appealed to me.

It is knit on circular needles and has a four round pattern repeat - this makes it perfect knitting for TV  watching, kids sports watching and 'knitting in Company' - no difficult pattern to memorise for those of us who aren't clever enough to knit, talk, and concentrate at the same time!

Even though I love Madelinetosh yarn, for this project I chose to use a yarn I had in my stash (yes I am good girl!) - Rowan Cashsoft DK. This yarn is soooo soft and for a fusspot like me very beautiful against your skin. It is 10% cashmere, 57% extra fine merino and 33% microfibre and knits up like a dream.

On this occasion I chose the short length for the cowl but instructions are also given for a longer version which I will be making for next winter.  Big decision is - what colour to choose .....

A big 'thank you' to my sassy photographer Sonya, from Sago on Tuesdays, who indulged me. 

Wow, who knew daylight could be so unforgiving.  I know we are supposed to age gracefully but perhaps that should be 'graciously'!  Starting to see the appeal in the old soft focus!  Lol!!

Until next time, happy quilting, knitting, sewing, crafting ....


Fun Friday Freebies #5

Let the fun begin ....

Blogger:  SewCraftyJess

Blogger:  Sew Sweetness

Blogger:  Sew Chatty

Blogger:  Ricochet and Away

Blogger:  Crochet in Color

Blogger :  Futuregirl

Until next time, happy quilting, knitting, sewing, crafting ....


Monday, 24 September 2012

Going to the Library in Style

I am a big reader.  In fact, I read everyday.  I love to read myself to sleep, I can't bear to sit in the car waiting for kids to finish various activities without a book and my reading subject matter is very varied.  As such, my wallet can't keep up with my reading demands!!  And so, I am constantly at my local library, borrowing, borrowing, borrowing.  I borrow for pleasure, for sewing education and for kids bedtime storytime.  Our local library can access a much larger statewide library pool so the selection is fantastic.  Usually, if I see a book on someone's blog that I think I must have, I borrow it from the library first and if it is life and death that I have it - I buy it.  More book bang for my buck!!!

But I didn't have a lovely bag to in which to carry my armful of books and I decided the old shopping bags had to go. 

So I designed and sewed myself a new one!
(cause that's what we sewists do right!?!?!)

I had recently seen the lovely Mama Said Sew fabric range (by Sweetwater for Moda) in red and, while this is not my usual style of fabric, I just loved it and thought it would be perfect for my new library bag.  So some came home with me from Ballarat Patchwork.

and I set to designing in my usual pen, crayons and very casual way!

Even though I have been quilting for 10 years I am quite new to sewing in general so I have been doing some online courses with Craftsy.  I can really recommend them for quality, cost, convenience and ease of use.  The best (and cheeky!) thing is that you can buy them when they are on special and watch them when you are ready - over and over again!  The one that influenced me in this design was Sewing Texture (by Vanessa Christenson) that includes - among other things - ruffles.  I am a girlie girl and I love ruffles - so my bag has ruffles!

Whenever I gather and then sew the ruffles in place, as well as pinning, I use an awl to push around the gathers and keep them evenly spaced (thank you Sonya from Sago on Tuesdays for this great tip).

I wanted to use the lovely zigzag stripe on the base and going a little up the back and front.  A way to do this so you don't have to worry about matching up the stripes is to cut the base (for both the back and front) as one piece and attach the front and back to it.  Voila - no stripes out of alignment.

And who can resist red polka dots for the lining - with the all important pocket for the keys, phone and library card?!?!?!

And so off to the library we went, my new bag and I, and home came so more yummy books for many pleasurable hours.

Until next time, happy quilting, knitting, sewing, crafting ....


Friday, 21 September 2012

Summer Sewing Fun - Shorts on the Line: Guest Post and Pattern Review

A little while ago (actually back in July) I was asked to participate by Rachael of imagine gnats in a sew-a-long she was hosting - shorts on the line.  This was my guest post. I thought you may like to share it with me (it was originally posted on Designs by Sessa who was co-hosting with Rachael).

Hi everyone - I am Karen from Sew Well Maide.  I am primarily a quilter so when Rachael from imagine gnats asked me to participate in this great sew along I was both excited and terrified!!  However, because I am a Woman (you know -  'hear me roar' and all that) I decided to 'have a go' (an Aussie expression!) and enjoy expanding my skill base.

Since I own no shorts patterns of my own I turned to the generosity of those in blogland and found the wonderful Dana of made and I have used her Retro Racer Shorts tutorial to make these shorts for my son.

As luck would have it I had in my stash some Pirates fabric by Emily Taylor for  Riley Blake - just perfect for this - and look how the 'stripes' in the pattern match up - I am sooo clever I did this without even trying.  Lol!

I found Dana's tutorial collection fantastic.  In fact, because my son is six and the pattern was intended for a 2 - 3 yr old and I wanted to change the front to a flat finish instead of having elastic all the way around the waistband, I combined a few different tutorials offered by Dana - you know, as a beginner, let's just up the ante!

I referenced her Make Your Own Pattern tutorial to make the pattern for the larger size shorts.

 and I referenced her Kids Pants with a Flat Front tutorial to have the elastic only in the back of the shorts and the front nice and flat.

 However, the primary pattern style I chose was the round edged, bias binding encased leg of the Retro Racer Shorts.  The pattern instructions were very easy to follow and well photographed.  I purchased some lovely grey checked pre-made bias binding, although a tutorial for making your own bias tape is offered on the site.

 side leg view

I can now say that I have now been well and truly bitten by the 'clothes making' bug.  My 9yr old son has put in his order for shorts for summer (it is winter in Australia - only 8 deg C, 33 deg F here today) and now I am looking at all kinds of sewing patterns - maybe a skirt for myself next???

 Sooo, thank you Dana for your know how, thank you Rachael for presenting me with an opportunity to expand my skill base and thank you Vanessa for openning your blog to guest posts for the fantastic Shorts on the Line Sew Along.  

For those unfamiliar with me you can find me here - blog, etsy, facebook, twitter, craftsy.

Until next time, happy quilting, knitting, sewing, crafting ....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Friendship, 1980's, a Pouch and a Free Pattern

Seems like a weird combination right?!?!?  However, it is all part of the Friendship Quilts Blog Hop being hosted by Diane of from blank pages and today it is my turn to take you back to the '80's.

In 1982 I turned 18 and finished high school.  So the '80's were a big decade for me.  Three things stand out in my memory and, on going back through my photo collection, in my photos as well!

Even though I was destined to go to university (and did for a few months) I had been raised on stories of my Aunty Diane's travel exploits and travel lust had a firm grip on me.  My first overseas holiday (as a big person without a Mum or Dad to hold my hand) was a Pacific cruise just after I left school. Then after working and saving $ for a couple of years I headed to Europe and stayed for roughly two years.  It was wonderful and I went everywhere.  I did all mainland Europe, Scandinavia and the (then very much) Communist block.  I did a tour where for three months I lived (with 20 others) on a converted English double decker bus.  Let me tell you I lost all my maidenly shyness as it was really close living - upstairs was the sleeping quarters - triple bunks about 1 adult wide!! When we travelled overnight so we had more daylight hours in a destination always someone fell onto the floor!  But, hey, we were young 20's living the dream - even the bruises were fun!

I went sailing for days on a small yacht around the Greek Islands, paragliding in Corfu, swimming in the Artic Sea at midnight (it was sooo cold your head felt like it would explode), scooter riding around Thassos, visited the graves of Australian fallen soldiers in Gallipoli in Turkey, stuck my head through the roof of a bus going  round the hairpin bends on the roads of Norway and experienced Midnight Sun in Lapland and sooo much more.  Wow!  When I finally came back to Australia I went to New Zealand where I climbed Fox Glacier (those little yellow specs in the glacier photo are us) went white water rafting (I am right at the front of the boat!!) and did so much more.  I even visited Hong Kong a couple of times and had a short stint in the USA.

Then trying to settle down in Australia I met a wonderful man to whom I have now been happily married for 23 years (and no, he is not an Aussie - He has a Polish Mum and a French Father and a German Stepfather!!!)

Then, to cap off a truly wonderful decade, in the last months of 1989 I fell pregnant with my first Child.  See the '80's were BIG.

I was a little old for the whole friendship bracelet craze but I do remember it.  I was thrilled when Diane asked me to be apart of this blog hop and I had just the Friend in mind as the recipient of my gift - in fact it was Sonya's birthday in August and she has been waiting patiently for me to finish it! (She has it now though!)

She is not a flowery girl so I wanted to keep it subdued and understated and so chose a natural linen and her colours of blue and green.

I wasn't sure what to call this so we have decided it is called a 'pouch'.  It is quilted, lined (with the fabric it is sitting on), has an internal zippered pocket and is large (16 1/2" x 12").  Sonya is a bookbinder (you can find her at Sago on Tuesdays) and is quite often carrying her tools of the trade around. I wanted her to have something lovely to carry them in.

My 'friendship braid' was seminole pieced (I have written a tutorial to show you how to do this).

I added some rows of hand quilting in perle 8 thread in complimentary colours around the top for some subtle design texture

and to finish it off I added a plaited (I told you I missed out on the braiding era!)  cord in the zip tab.

If you would like to try your hand at making one of these 'pouches' here is a free pattern.

Quilted and Zippered Pouch

(if you click on the linked title of the pattern you will be able to print it out)

Thank you Diane for sending me on a memory trip through 'my' era - it was heaps and heaps of fun.  And don't forget to check out all the other blog posts on this great hop along.

Until next time, happy quilting, knitting, sewing, crafting ....


Monday, 17 September 2012

Tutorial - Seminole Piecing

Seminole quilting originated from the Seminole patchwork used for clothing by southeastern Seminole Native Americans. In the late 1800s it was a long trip from the Everglades to trade for cotton cloth so women began sewing strips made from the fabric left on the end of the bolts to make what was know as "strip clothing". The sewing machine became available to these women around the end of the 19th century making it possible to use much smaller strips. Seminole designs grew to become even more elaborate and complex. Seminole patchwork was usually used for traditional dress including the women's long full skirts and big patchwork shirts worn by the men. Even today these garments are worn for special occasions. These beautiful Seminole patchwork patterns eventually become popular in quilt making as well.  (from America's Quilting History by

Seminole piecing in quilting can lead to beautiful, often elaborate designs.  However, when reduced to the strip piecing technique commonly used they are not that difficult.  This is a simple design, however, the principle and technique remains the same for all seminole patterns.

Requirements and cutting instructions:

Linen (or background fabric):  cut three rectangles 1 1/2" x 12"
                                                    one square        4 1/2" x 4 1/2"

Green fabric:                           cut one rectangle    1 1/2" x 12"
                                                    four squares      1 1/2" x 1 1/2"

Blue fabric:                             cut one rectangle     1 1/2" x 12"
                                                    one rectangle     2 1/2' x 12"
                                                    one rectangle     2 1/2" x 1 1/2"
                                                    one square        1 1/2" x 1 1/2"

Quilter's graph paper: one sheet with a 1" x 1" grid

I always start off by charting my pattern repeat on graph paper (primarily because I am old fashioned and don't know how to drive fancy computer graphics packages!) - however, this step could be done on said fancy computer graphics packages!.  Feel free to copy mine or just print out the image so you have it handy.

A 1/4" seam allowance is used throughout each step of this tutorial.

1.     With right sides together sew one linen 1 1/2" x 12" rectangle to each of the blue and green rectangles of the same size along the long edge.  Then sew one linen 1 1/2" x 12" to the blue 2 1/2" x 12" rectangle in the same manner. (photo does not show the 2 1/2" blue strip combo because I forgot to take it!!!). Then cross cut these sewn pairs into 1 1/2" segments (green/linen - 7; blue/linen - 7; blue (2")/linen - 6).

2.     Now referring to your graph, and using the green, blue, and linen 1 1/2" squares as well as the 1 1/2" sewn pair segments, lay out your pieces in the order required to achieve the pattern making sure to stagger them as per the graph - do not simply lay them side by side with the tops aligning as this will distort the finished pattern completely.

3.     Once this is complete it is time to sew them all together.  It is important to note that these will form a diagonal strip when completely sewn together.  Start by taking each 'vertical row' of the pattern and sewing all the pieces in it together.  When this is complete go back and start sewing vertical rows to each other.  I find the best way to do this is to sew pairs of rows together and then join them to the preceding pair. Manipulate the horizontal seams in the direction that enables them to 'nestle' into an adjoining seam.  It is important to make note of the seam placement from one row to the next.  You can see from the photo that (with the exception of the beginning and end) there is quite a large or steep step down from one vertical row to the next.  If this placement is not correct you will see immediately that your pattern has been skewed.

4.     To square off each end of this strip - first cut each linen 4 1'2" square across one diagonal to produce four half square triangles.  These triangles are larger than they need to be because this makes the next step much easier.  Place the triangle diagonal along one side of one end of the pieced strip, right sides together.  Since we are working with a biased edge (and in this tutorial, linen which is prone to moving because it is a loose weave) treat this triangle with loving hands so it is not stretched.  Sew in place.  Press the seam allowance towards the triangle and press the triangle 'open'.  In the same manner repeat for the other side of this end of the pieced strip.  With the remaining two half square triangles repeat this step for the other end of the pieced strip.

5.     To finish the seminole pieced strip it must be trimmed so it can be used in further projects.  To do this lay a long quilter's ruler along the pieced strip from end to end so that the 1/4" mark on your ruler is level with the points of the triangles of the coloured pieces within the strip (see the photo because a picture is worth a thousand words!!!)

Trim all the excess end triangle fabric and the linen 'points' off. Repeat down each side of the strip.  Finally, again using the 1/4" marking on your ruler and aligning it with the end coloured triangle in the pieced strip', trim  both ends of the pieced strip.

The Finished Seminole Pieced Strip

In this tutorial this strip is only short.  However, they can be made very long for use in many projects and many 'shapes' can be produced.  Here are a few examples of seminole piecing in quilts.

(a great tutorial here for diagonal - zigzag - seminole piecing)

Until next time, happy quilting, knitting, sewing, crafting ....