Monday, 29 April 2013

Little Dots Pillow


I finished this little pillow a few weeks ago and have only just gotten round to photographing it. I used the Little Dots quilt pattern by Green Bee Patterns, but I adjusted the outer templates so my circle blocks would finish at 9" instead of the 12" size of the original pattern. I have been collecting low volume prints since last year and this was my first attempt at an all-neutral print background. I love the extra detail provided by using prints where normally I would feel inclined to use a solid background.


I hand-quilted the pillow front using aurifil 12wt in white, quilting a series of concentric circles and arches to echo the circular piecing. Batting is warm and white 100% cotton batting, and the front is lined in neutral coloured cotton flannel.


My finished pillow cover measures 18" and fits either an 18" or 20" pillow-form, depending on plumpness desired. I photographed it on an 18" pillow-form.


Pillow back features a Heather Ross mermaid and octopus print and an envelope style closure. Binding is a neutral stripe from Bonnie and Camille's Marmalade collection.


Little Dots Pillow has been listed in my etsy shop.



Banana Bread



I am just a little bit in love with banana bread. It is my favourite breakfast variable, perfect just as it is, in thick slices with coffee. Its basically cake for breakfast, but somehow just a little more respectable. And it makes a great late-night snack for breaks in sewing marathons or to keep you company during a movie.

This is my recipe for gluten free banana bread.

Ingredients:
225g gluten free self-raising flour blend
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of salt
100g caster sugar
75g melted butter
2 eggs
50ml milk
4 ripe bananas
A few drops vanilla extract
65g chopped walnuts

~ Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
~ Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking paper.
~ Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar into a mixing bowl.
~ Peel and roughly mash the bananas.
~ In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and combine with cooled melted butter, milk, vanilla extract and mashed banana.
~ Add the wet ingredients to the dry, gently folding together until just combined. Fold in the chopped nuts.
~ Pour mixture into tin and bake for 50-60 minutes approximately. Bread is done when it is a nice golden brown on top and springs back when you gently poke it.
~ Allow to stand in tin for at least 10 minutes before you attempt removal!

I'm planning on adding a few more recipes in future. I find myself cooking a lot more enthusiastically lately and thought it might be fun to share what I come up with. I may even make it a regular bloggy thing!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Friday

April showery day today. I'm mostly hiding away in my studio. Working on a small batch of nautical plushies. The Salty Crew as I call them. I did find some time to cook this week. Finally mastered gluten free banana bread. It made my last two breakfasts extra fantastic. I need to make it much more often. Also made lasagne (of sorts) last Wednesday. I used sliced and fried aubergine and potatoes in alternating layers instead of pasta. Dan made the white sauce as I would most likely have burned it. One day I will master white sauce!


I have been playing around with Tula Pink's Salt Water fabrics. I made a (Small) Giant Star using Jeni's tutorial but starting with 10" squares for my HSTs. The star block measures 36" square and I'll add a 2" border once I get around to it. I'm planning on free-motion quilting this one but need more practice first.


Still impatiently waiting for some FMQ supplies. A supreme slider which (I'm told) will make it easier to move a quilt around my machine bed, and some quilting gloves. I'm also hoping my local stitchy shop can order some new bobbins for my machine as I'm currently running on five and finding it very limiting! I'm told they might cost 2 euro each though!

Sneak peek of the first Salty Shipmate... this is Sea Weed. Made using the Bit of Whimsy Katie Kitten pattern. He is just a little bit wonky but I'm happy with him.


Soundtrack for my stitching today... Seether ~ Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Wednesday

A few things that have been making me happy this week....


Home-made chips with baby corn and hummus. 


A sleepy kitty with stretchy legs to keep me company while I knit. She's using my knitting bag as a cushion.


A rainbow of stripy Long Johns.


Sunny afternoon by the river, warm enough for bare arms :)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Monday

It has been a lovely weekend. I planned, pieced and quilted a small quilt, went for a few very good walks, cooked and ate lots of delicious Mexican food with Dan, and even found time to go to the cinema. We saw Evil Dead last night. Honestly, I found it a bit traumatic  A lot of the imagery and plot struck a bit too close to home for me. It was good though. So I recommend as a horror movie, but potentially very triggering for some. I recovered from the 'Evil Dead experience' with coffee and late night sewing, and all is well with the world once more :)


Parker Pig is in the shop. I totally named him the name that his pattern is named, because he is my first Parker, and it suited him. I promise to make a whole batch of these guys over the next few weeks. I've already picked fabric combos for two more. I'm planning on fixing up my old Brother machine for the purposes of Jane's plushie factory, as I want to leave the Pfaff set up for my free motion quilting practice. 


Parker Pig has been made using a Bit of Whimsy pattern. I am a wee bit obsessed with Bit of Whimsy dolls. I own a few more patterns which I really must get on with making, but the pig is my current favourite :) I used Aneela Hoey's Sew Stitchy hexagons for his body and some pink Pearl Bracelets and pink solid for the details. I also fused some woven interfacing to the outer ear fabrics before sewing to make them stand up nicely.


I have a bit of a busy week ahead of me. Lots of knitting to finish up and hopefully a new baby quilt to show shortly. I have decided not to take on any more dolly clothing commissions for the time being as I need the time to work on my stitchy plans. I hope to be a lot more productive on the quilting front from next week.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Proper Spring Weather

Today actually feels like spring. Warm and sunny when the sun shines, with short bursts of rain when it showers. I've not been out for the last two days, so today I enjoyed some riverside walking. All of the lovely bits of riverbank which have been underwater all winter have now fully re-emerged and the world looks so much brighter.


I have actually been out to the river twice today. My morning walk managed to coincide with the one shower of the day, so instead of my expected (and much looked-forward-to) sit on a sunny pier, I got to sit on my little wooden island and get rained on. It was still lovely though. Not at all cold out and I love seeing the raindrops hit the river. When Dan came home from work it was lovely and sunny again, so we went back to the river and I had pink lemonade.

This is my favourite spot. A little wooden pier on the river. I like to sit here whenever it is relatively dry. I come up with quite a lot of stitchy plans here.


I brought Threnody with me this morning, but had to put her away when the rain started :( Hoping to take my Blythes out  bit more now the weather is improving.


I'm working on a small quilt this evening. Hoping to finish the top very soon.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Parker Pig and Free Motion Quilting

I finally finished my Parker Pig last night. I woke up super excited about introducing him, but unfortunately today is the rainiest of rainy days, so some gloomy bedroom shots will have to do for now while he awaits a proper photo-shoot. I really love this little guy. He is very sweet and completely chilled out. And he has a cheeky smile, like he might not be quite as sleepy as he looks.


I deviated from the pattern just a bit. I don't like using felt, so I appliqu├ęd on his facial details using quilting cotton faced with more cotton, so no raw edges. I also fused lightweight woven interfacing to his outer ear pieces to make them stand up nicely. I'm not entirely sure the interfacing is necessary though, so I'll try without next time. Sewing in the legs and closing the bottom seam is tricksy, but I finally managed by hand-basting it first and pinning my stuffing up towards the belly to give me more room to sew.


 I washed my first (half decent looking) free-motion quilting sample yesterday, and here it is. At this point I was just doodling designs I liked the idea of. I'm most happy with the stacked leaves. I have signed up for a craftsy class with Leah Day and am just waiting for my supreme slider and quilting gloves to arrive before I tackle much more. I have my scrap vomit quilt prepared ad ready to use as a learning curve project. I'm hoping after that I'll be competent enough to quilt my do. Good Stitches quilt.


I'll be using more of this flannel to back the big scrap vomit.I love the way the stitches sink in and it makes my quilting look a lot smoother than it actually is.


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Fabriccy Musings

I have been unusually reserved in my fabric purchasings this year. I'm trying to use more than I buy, but of course that's not quite happening yet. But I am trying to be a smarter shopper. Being fairly certain that I am in love with a given fabric before I buy. The problem might actually be that I love too many of them though. I can't afford to buy everything I love, and I find it really difficult to pick and choose prints when I love the whole fabric line. I'm not sure if it works this way for others, but I fall in love with the whole story of a fabric line and really struggle to condense it without feeling like I'll be missing out on an important element. 

My current project plans are actually helping with my selection thought processes though, as I now mostly want to make various bags and pouches, as well as plush critters. So it makes more sense to buy a 1/2 yard each of my favourites rather than a FQ bundle of an entire collection which isn't really a big enough cut and will rapidly turn into scrappy chaos as soon as I cut anything from it.


 So yes, the new plan is being more selective. And also taking advantage of sales. Any fabric related reserve can go out the window with Anna Maria Honer voiles at $6 a yard. I have always loved the Forest Hills print best (it was actually the first 'designer fabric' I fell in love with) so I was ridiculously happy to be able to stock up, though probably for the last time as this fabric is no longer being produced :( I also bought several yards of the Loulouthi clippings print, possibly for the making of a summer maxi dress for myself. All of these are from Pink Castle Fabrics.



On the same morning as my AMH goodies, my Fat Quarter Shop order arrived. I took advantage of the discounted international shipping and managed to fit a ridiculous amount of fabric in one priority envelope. Result! The shipping sale is good until the end of today. I bought this beautiful forest print from Gypsy Girl by Lily Ashbury, Chicopee Heat Wave and Happy Drawing Barnyard Buddies. I'm totally making a pig plushie out of that one. Tula Pink Turtle Bay is from Pink Castle Fabrics.



Also from Fat Quarter Shop, some brand new non-discount fabrics I had been lusting after  (This is the whole being selective process in action right here!) Basic Grey's PB&J, Raspberry Jam print in all three colourways, and Sunny Day in my two favourites. Also a bit of Sarah Watson's Indian Summer. I am most likely going to need a bit more of that.


Tiny foxes and low-volume forest critters. Eeep! Love! I also managed to squeeze 2 yards of 108" wide neutral cotton into that envelope, which will be the back of my Scrappy Seaside quilt.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Center City ~ Possibly a first quilty finish of the year!

I'm attempting to play catch-up this afternoon. It's been a bit of a stressful time for me lately. No real external reasons, I've just managed to get myself into a bit of a flump and am struggling to find the right balance between the things that need to be done and the things I want to do. I am very slowly getting there though. Lots of fun activities to keep me going this week. Knitting lots of fun commissions, and attempting some plush toys for the first time in a few years. I'm also practising my free-motion quilting! And it's going ok!!! I have ordered some tools which I believe will make it even better and I cannot wait for them to arrive. More about that shortly though, it's time for a quilt announcement :)


CENTER CITY!

I figured it was about time to write about this quilt. I cut the squares and pieced the quilt top just before Christmas last year. I had originally planned on making a wonky plus quilt (and you can see two pluses have made it into this quilt), but I found lining up the plusses a bit too stressful, so (mostly) squares it is. Squares are all from Jay McCarroll's Center City line plus a few co-ordinating solids. Each finished square measures 6" and the whole quilt is approx 54" by 60".

 

I quilted it myself with a combination of straight line machine quilting and hand quilting. It has both dense and more sparsely quilted areas so the textures are quite visually appealing. Quilting shows up especially well on the solid aubergine back. Binding is a black solid.


I have already sent this quilt to Siblings Together where it has been safely received and will hopefully be finding itself a forever home later in the year. I'l be finishing up another quilt for Siblings Together in the next month or so. My do. Good Stitches Care Circle Quilt. The backing fabric has arrived today so I'm just waiting on a few more blocks and then I can get quilting. Possibly using my new free-motion skills?

I hope to start blogging a bit more regularly once I get the new schedule worked out. Bear with me :)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

With New Improved Efficiency

Hello bloggy-blog. I haven't been on-line very much since my return from the UK. The main reason for this is that I have devised a new Janey time-table, designed to avoid the pitfalls of procrastination and internet time-sucks. The timetable itself is incredibly anal and ridiculously detailed. I am a little embarrassed of it in fact. But it is helping my daily efficiency no end. I am getting the things done!

My schedule has been divided into hourly blocks of activity, from my 7am wake-up call up until 6pm dinner prep time. Evenings are a lot less structured but still involve a plan. During the day, hourly blocks are each dedicated to either work, creative time, or exercise/eating time. I really struggled to make time to do anything on the old system (the trying to do everything at once method), but now I'm managing to keep up with everything I need/want to do, with zero procrastination! Result :)


This morning I finished a few commissions, including these Long Johns. Note adorable Japanese bears and bunnies on the background fabric. A new arrival to my stash which I plan on adding to my new hexy quilt project later. Love those little bears so much!

I want to say thank you to all my lovely customers who keep me making and feeling good about teacupfaery enterprises. I don't know what I would do without you! Thank you also to the lovely lady who bought a quilt from me this week (with my mum acting as quilt agent). I hope you will love it! My mum is a pretty good quilt agent as it happens :)

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Hello April

I have started both March and April in the UK. I'm back home in Ireland now, but spent the first few days of the month in Cheltenham, with a brief stop-over in Birmingham on the way home. All in all, I am happy to be home. Spring seems to finally be springing, and at very least I hope to start reducing my heating bills! Washing is now drying in a day, as I can actually leave the windows open without the cold freezing my fingers.


I am still feeling a bit disconnected from all my recent adventures, but slowly settling back into my routine. I'm doing a bit of knitting this week, and, once I have caught up on my commissions, I'll get back to my patchwork projects. In general, I have decided to slow down my knitting productions in favour of sewing for the moment. I really want to free up more time to teach myself new quilting skills. I also really want to sew myself some more dresses. I just purchased a few beautiful Anna Maria Horner fabrics from Pink Castle Fabrics fabulous sale for just that purpose.


The sun is shining right now, so I'm off for a walk. I'll try to catch up with my flickr photos soon.