Sunday 27 May 2012

Sunshine Stitches

It has been hot here in Ireland this week. It still is. Very hot. I have been enjoying some sunshine and sewing whenever the kitten will let me. Mostly mindlessly piecing scraps together. Because my tiny scrap collection was bothering me. Normally I don't keep scraps less than 1.5" square. Sometimes I give them to my mum, who might one day use them for a school art project (she is a teacher), or sometimes I use them as toy stuffing. But this week I decided to see how it would be if I tried to actually sew them.

The first attempt was a strip quilt in Prince Charming. Each strip was approximately 1" wide. I pieced all the strips I had then squared them up into my tiny top. I used some wider strips and an off-cut from the strip panel to make an improvisational pieced back. I'd never tried improv piecing before and I must say,  really like it. Even in micro scale. I used a scrap of Hobbs 80/20 blend batting and machine quilted organic straight lines. Finished quilt measures just 8.75" x 5.5".

My second scrappy mini involved randomly sewing from my micro scrap bag. Piecing, pressing, cutting and piecing some more, until I had an amazing piece of rainbow fabric. I used some Ikea sheeting and a strip of cute animal print cotton for the back. Batting for this quilt was lightweight cotton flannel and I used the same organic line quilting as before. This little quilt measures 9.75" x 15".

Third and final mini for now, Lemon Drizzle! I've had this idea in my head for a while, but finally got the chance to sew it up yesterday. Lemon Drizzle involves a paper pieced hexagon cloud, appliqu├ęd to a bright lemon curd yellow background, with hand quilted rainbow drizzle droplets. My tribute to summer weather. I need to figure out how to actually make a lemon drizzle cake now. It is one of my very favourite cakes and just the thing for Summer afternoons, rain or sunshiny ones. The lemon background is my current very favourite fabric. Moda Bella Solid in Citrine. Hexies are mostly Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks, with a touch of Liberty, Good Folks and Denise Schmidt. Binding is Kona Coal and backing is Klona Candy Blue. I used Simply Soft 100% cotton batting. Quilting is a combination of hand and machine work. I used a light grey thread to machine quilt around the hexi-cloud and in vertical lines on the background. I then hand quilted with cloud grey Aurifil 12wt inside the individual hexes. Rainbow droplets were hand quilted in a variety of pearl cottons and Aurifil 12wt. I added a hanging sleeve at the back using Rachel's tutorial here. Lemon Drizzle Measures 17" x 12.5". I definitely want to make more hexi-cloud projects. I can see them as pillows and as a baby quilt with larger hexagons.

Please excuse the overly-bright-sunshine-concrete-path photos. My usual spot on the studio floor is out of bounds until I finish the last spot of painting. But I hope to be all finished and moved in by the middle of this week coming :)

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Studio Progress

My favourite room in the house is finally starting to come together. 

The original walls were in a bad way, so we had them re-enforced with plasterboard and a new coat of plaster. The original floor has been lovingly restored and the walls, skirting and fireplace painted white. I am currently working on the final details, painting the fire surround, and making curtains :)

Dan and I assembled the two Ikea Expedit units on Sunday. Sid helped, a bit. I chose a 4x4 and 2x4 unit, which fill my wall space perfectly with only about 1/2" to spare. I had originally planned the 5x5 unit, but it would be a struggle to fit in the parents car, and also I would have trouble reaching the top row of shelves anyway. I'm designing this room to work with my limited reach, as I'm fed up of not being able to reach into my own cupboards in our tall person orientated kitchen.

Fireplace where I am currently painting that black area. The plan is to have it sky blue with a rainbow.

Plug sockets under my sewing table :)

As I write this I'm sitting in my bedroom. Sid is in the window watching a bird on a telephone wire. And she's just started chattering for the first time. That strange high pitched chatter that some cats display while stalking flying prey. I'd hoped she would be a chatterer, so I am pretty excited about this :)

Monday 21 May 2012

Stitching with kittens

Today was Sid's first experience of a normal weekday in the teacupfaery household. She has proven very distracting since her arrival, and I've only been able to get a bit of sewing done over the weekend while Dan supervised her downstairs. But today I woke up early, Dan went to work, and I gave her free reign of the house while I got on with some stitching. It wasn't long until she found me, upstairs, in my temporary stitching zone.

Now, my other cat, Sophie, who lives at my parents house, is a bit frightened of the sewing machine, and never ever interferes with my sewing. But this little one is fearless. She likes to sit right by the machine and watch me sew, while I sew one handed to make sure I can grab her if she plays with anything she shouldn't. She is obsessed with my pin bowl, and I've been using my kindle to keep it covered. I'm hoping to come up with a better solution soon. I soon gave up and turned off my machine. Sid enters full on investigation mode. And won't stop biting my pressure foot lever. I had to take a photo before I took her down.

And then she fell asleep on my sewing machine cover. She's still sleeping now. Sid is either running around manically, playing, hunting and biting things. Or else fast asleep. She also likes to suckle on my sweater in her occasional quiet modes.

We are trying to get her training off to a good start, but disciplining something this tiny and cute is not at all easy. So far the only rules I'm properly enforcing are...

1. No kitties on the dining table or kitchen counters.
2. No kitties in my face while I'm eating.
3. No biting the humans.

Today I have been working on curtains for my studio. I'm turning this quilt top into a tab top curtain. I'm not entirely sure how its going, as I'm mostly making it up as I go along. My mum is awesome at making curtains, but it involves far too much measuring and hand stitching for my liking. So my basic plan is to line my voile quilt top with a white cotton sheet, sandwiching the tabs between the layers. So far I have sewn along the top seam, right sides together with a 1/2" seam allowance, with the tabs inside. Then I pressed the seam open and pressed again from the right side to get a sharp top edge before top stitching with a 1/4" seam allowance. From here I intend to press the whole thing some more, then turn in a double hem around the remaining 3 sides and top stitch this hem.

Dan and I assembled the Expedits for the studio on Sunday. I'll share some photos tomorrow. In the meantime I would welcome an tips on kitten management or curtain making. 

Saturday 19 May 2012

Meet Sid

A few days ago one of Dan's co-workers found a tiny kitten, lost in our town centre. Notices have been posted but so far no-one has claimed the little girl. Her finder has been taking very good care of her, and tried his best to find her a new home, but he had to go away this weekend and no-one had come forward to take her in. So Dan and I agreed to foster her, on a probationary basis. And I think she's here to stay :) She arrived at five o'clock yesterday evening and we are already in love. So, unless her original owner claims her back, it looks like we have a cat.

 Sid. Enjoys running, jumping, cuddles, and biting.

Sid and me. I'm a tiny human, and she is a super tiny cat.

Friday 18 May 2012


I've been feeling a bit sad this week. My lack of progress with stitchy endeavours is getting me down. My house is still very much a work in progress. My studio should be done by now but the little details drag on. I'm actually really really happy with that room, even given it's flaws. Current problems awaiting solution include a swollen door that doesn't close (and neither of us thought to check this before painting it!) and rust spots repeatedly sneaking through white paint. I am hopeful that my Expedits will be arriving (and possibly assembled) this Sunday though, and having somewhere to stash my fabrics will make things much better. I've also sewn the tabs for my patchwork curtains, so I can hopefully get those finished without much delay.

Dan is helping me so much and I feel like such a pain lately. Just can't seem to pull myself out of my flump. All I want to do is sew but I keep hitting the limits of my current abilities and it is really getting to me. I desperately want a new sewing machine (which of course I believe will make most things better). I have my heart set on a Pfaff Smarter, hopefully in the not too distant future.

What I'm (slowly, very slowly) working on right now...

Thread basting on my Patchwork Prism pillow.

Quilting lines marked and hand quilting in progress.

I'm using Faber Castell water soluble markers for my marking. Just the cheap ones for children's drawing. I find them a bit more stubborn to remove that water soluble markers specifically made for quilting, but they are so much cheaper and I can buy them locally, so I'm much happier to use these. On my Siblings Together quilt I did find marks on a Kokka linen blend particularly hard to remove, but a gentle scrubbing with washing up liquid fixed the problem. I only ever use cold water on a quilt until all marks have been removed.

I mostly thread baste my hand quilting projects. I can have my basting stitches installed before marking my quilt, and I find drawing with markers much easier on a basted quilt than just a top. Removing safely pins is too much of an interruption while I'm hand quilting, and I never have anywhere handy to put them. Particularly if I'm hand quilting outdoors.

For this project I am using Aurifil 12wt no. 1248 Stormy Sea, purchased here. It's a bit finer than size 8 perle cotton, I might actually prefer it to the perle. Not sure yet. The slightly finer gauge means smaller knots which are a lot easier to 'pop' into the quilt without causing fabric snags.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Vintage Summer Tea Party

My quilt for Siblings Together. More information about this charity and the idea behind the quilting group can be found here.

My Vintage Summer Tea Party quilt was made using two neutral Kona charm packs (kindly donated by Katy ) along with some pretty coloured charm squares cut from my stash. I decided on a simple chequerboard pattern so I could use every single neutral charm. As soon as I started piecing I couldn't help thinking of summer picnics, cherry bakewell and vintage china tea sets. I quilted by hand using white pearl cotton in a Baptist fan pattern. One corner is quilted in rainbow thread for extra interest. Quilt is backed in  Valori Well's bird print cotton.

Monday 14 May 2012


My weekend has been quite productive here. I pieced the back of my Patchwork Prism quilt. Top and back are now securely packaged and will be posted off to England for quilting very shortly. The back is just an off-white Ikea sheet with a couple of pieced scrap strips for interest. I entirely neglected to photograph it as it was late and I just wanted it to be packed and ready to go. It will be a lot prettier when it returns though.

I cut out the pieces for the matching pillow sham and have started piecing it already.I plan on hand quilting this smaller prism. I made my pillowcase one triangle narrower to better fit Irish pillows and I left out green entirely in favour of a turquoise ring.

Cutting all these triangles left me with some oddly shaped scrap, which I've been cutting into short strips and sorting into colour groups. I'm planning on making the Volume quilt from Emily Cier' s Scrap Republic. I added my small stash of scrap string to the pile too, chopping them into short lengths ready for piecing. The Volume quilt would fit nicely on the chimney breast of my new studio so I'm really excited to get started on it.

Thank you to everyone who took advantage of the sale at my etsy store . The coupon code SUMMER40 is still good for a 40% discount throughout May :) I'm off to do a post office run now.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Summer Sale!

I'll be attending Blythecon UK in Manchester this October, and I've just started planning a few new ideas for my teacupfaery stall. Before I launch into new knitting, I thought it would be nice to get my overflowing stock box under control. So I've decided to have a little sale in my etsy store. Just type in the code SUMMER40 in the coupon code box at checkout to receive a 40% discount :) Good for the rest of May.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Patchwork Prism Progress

I've been very industrious this week. I managed to finish my Patchwork Prism quilt top this afternoon. I started the piecing last Friday, and immediately ran into a world of problems. At first I just couldn't figure out why my strips of triangles weren't leaving any space for seam allowance. On the 3rd row I finally figured out a system to make myself line them up right. I then unpicked the first two rows and resewed them. Then I tried to sew said rows together, and non of the points matched, because I forgot that they are triangles, not squares. Gah. My mistake was pressing the seams open in my first rows. Pressing to the side in alternate directions for each row is definitely the way to do it. Anyway, I now know all about sewing equilateral triangles, and this is ready for quilting. And not by me. I'm just waiting for the backing fabrics too arrive and then I will send it to be longarmed. My fingers can't handle another huge quilt right now.

Yesterday I finished my Siblings Together quilt. Jut waiting for a chance to visit my mum so I can wash and dry it. I am becoming increasingly desperate for a dryer here but no room or money for said appliance at the moment. Hopefully my mum will put up with me coming round to use her's for the forseeable future. I finally mastered my (almost) invisible binding stitches on the Siblings Together quilt too. I used this tutorial and am amazed to announce that my binding looks very nearly as good at the back as it does at the front. My whip stitching days are over. I'm now dying to see how it works for English Paper Piecing.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Prince Charming HST Pillow

A few weeks ago I started piecing my leftover HST units from the Swoon Quilt into this pillow cover. I finished it late last week and it now lives with my brother.

The leftover Swoon corner scraps were trimmed down to 2.5" HST units. (You get 144 of these from a 9 block Swoon quilt.) I sewed them into a 10 x 14 square 'Fat Geese' formation. I originally added 2.5" borders all around the pillow front, but it turned out far too big for my pillows, so I trimmed the top and bottom borders down the 1". The pillow is still a bit bigger than the ideal but both front and back are quilted so it looks fine lightly stuffed. In future I would just use a 1.5" border throughout.

Hand quilted in Baptist Fans using white perle cotton.

The pillow back uses more of my favourite frog prince print and has an envelope closure. Which turned out to be a bit too generous as getting a pillow in there is a bit of a struggle. Lesson learned for next time :)

I'm still working away at the patchwork Prism this week. I also hope to have my Siblings Together quilt finished by the weekend. Tonight I'm off to my brother's end of year design exhibition. And possibly a play. Should be a cultural evening all round.

Friday 4 May 2012

Patchwork Prism

This morning I finished the cutting out portion of the Patchwork Prism. Just a few minutes ago I finished laying out all the pieces. They just fit on the floor space in my studio-in-progress, though manoeuvring them into position with nowhere to put my feet has made me quite dizzy. Possibly staring at triangles in various shades of green all morning contributed to the effect too. Anyway, I have eaten some cereal by way of lunch (not at all an unusual occurrence), and I hope to be sufficiently recovered to start the actual sewing later this afternoon. Stage one will be piecing the smaller B and C units into big equilateral triangles.

Patchwork Prism Layout by *teacupfaery*

Things are coming together rather nicely for this project. The studio floor is finished, but the furniture hasn't been added yet, so I have a decent amount of floor space. The piecing thread arrived by post this morning (I've chosen Aurifil 50wt in light grey as a neutral here). And my Dad called round this morning and took me out for coffee, so I was able to get the whole horrid shopping business out of the way before 11am. And I didn't get rained on. Excellent :)

The only slight problem I'm having with this project is how to quilt it. I had originally planned to hand quilt, but the more I look at it, the more I'm thinking I'd love to get it long arm quilted. Which I've never done before, and can't actually afford right now. I'm hoping to enter the quilt-along competition here but the timeline is a bit too tight for either long arm or detailed hand quilting. I'll have to think about it some more and just get on with my piecing for now.

In other exciting news, I've asked my graphic designer brother to help me with a logo and artwork for my various websites and (most excitingly) Spoonflower quilt labels! I'm hoping he'll have something to show me soon.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

A Fresh Start

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking, and a small amount of doing, and I've come to a realisation. There are things I love to do, things which I am good at, and which I could happily spend all my days doing. But I don't. I've been in a flump lately, sitting around wishing I had the energy to do what I want to do.

So for no particular reason, I decided to have another go at blogging. I see it as a step towards motivating myself to do more. I plan on sharing my goals, achievements, and quite possibly failures. At the moment, life here is not exactly as I would like it to be. Like H. P. Lovecraft in New York City, I am out of my comfort zone. And I find that little rituals really help with that. So here's to a new one. I plan on posting mostly about quilting, knitting and baking. But I have been known to dabble in drawing and Blythe doll photography. I'm basically just giving it a go, seeing what happens. All organic like.

A round-up of the bigger projects I'm working on right now:
Siblings Together Quilt ~ Quilting in progress. Almost done!
Swoon Quilt ~ Quilting 25% done.
Giant Star Quilt ~ Awaiting quilting.
Patchwork Prism Quilt ~ Halfway through cutting my pieces.

And today's achievement. I finished this sky blue Blythe cardigan. Knit using Polly Jane's wonderful roll neck cardigan pattern, using two strands of Debbie Bliss Angel in a beautiful sky blue. With mother of pearl buttons, micro sequins and seed beads.