Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Please, please, please vote for me! :)

Right now I'm super psyched, because I just realised that Rachel of Stitched in Color picked one of my 2 entries into her top ten favourites in her Sweet Contrary Mosaic contest.

I didn't think that I'd even stand a chance with a total of 100 entries being there and just when I'm casually catching up on tthe blogs I follow and scroll down the page, I realise 'Hey, that looks familiar!' and 'Oh! There's your name!' lol!

So if you like my picks of colours and fabric, I would be very happy if you could leave a vote for me :)

Also check back tomorrow as my Secret Tote Bag Swap will go live and there will be lots of prizes up for grabs if you decide to join in on the fun!

See you there,
xx Lia

Friday, April 26, 2013

A crazy idea...how about we have a secret swap?

In my previous post, I told you about that crazy idea that I had after I made a tote bag for my friend.

What if I have my own tote bag swap on this blog? Would you even want to participate?

I decided I should just give it a try, so starting on the 1st of May, you'll be able to sign up for a Secret Tote Bag Swap. More details will of course follow, but I would really love to know if anyone would be up for it! :)

I'm planning to have this swap running over a longer period of time, which means you'll be able to have a bit of time to finish your project.

For example, one month sign up time, one month time to finish the project and mail it, one month link-up time with a giveaway at the end for everyone who participated in the link-up of the swap.

No rush or anything, I want to make this a pleasant experience for everyone.

Does that sound good to you? What do you think?

All pointers, ideas, tips, suggestions and of course also critiques are highly welcome!

See you then!
xx Lia

A tote bag for a friend...

I do love some paper-piecing and lately that is pretty much all I'm doing, so when a birthday of a dear friend came up, I decided I wanted to make something for her that also involved paper-piecing. The decision fell onto a tote bag and on my hunt for pretty patterns I found the website of Claudia Hasenbach.

She's got amazing variety of paper-pieced patterns that she has created and I immediately fell in love with several of them. Especially as she's selling them at an extremely cheap prize. Each single pattern is only $2.00!

Since I had already decided on a tote bag and tote bag are usually 'green' since you're using them to not need any plastic bags, I picked the Dandelion pattern (if you scroll down her page you can find it) and then got to work.

I only just started paper-piecing at the beginning of this year, so a pattern with 12 parts was a first for me, but luckily all the piecing went fine, even if it took me hoursssssss to finish! :|
But then, just as I was done with it and ironed over it the final time, I noticed that something wasn't looking quite right.

Do you notice how the one leaf doesn't attach to the stem and how the stem looks weird? That's because I used a piece of blue fabric where there should've been green for the stem... grumble, mumble, swear!

After the intial 'I'm going to bang my head against a wall and bin this $*&!' thoughts, I sat down and tried to applique a piece of green fabric on top. An hour later I decided that made it look even worse. The only options left where unpicking most of the block...or fabric paint. I'm sure you know which option I picked and so I tried to mix a colour close to the fabric I used for the stem but couldn't get it to look quite as close, so painted not only the blue part but the whole stem in the end, then also added some white dandelion seeds and voila. If you don't know there was wrong fabric there to begin with, you probably won't even notice it...I hope.

After spending a whole day fiddling just with that block alone, I gave myself a break and then sewed the tote bag this afternoon, which makes this now my 3rd tote bag in under half a year.

For the outside fabric I used some low volume fabric with a small lady bug print, that was given to me by my friend Christine. I thought this fabric really complemented the whole eco them very well.
On the inside I used simple cream coloured fabric, that I once bought in bulk, because I do so much with it.
And I used one of the fancy stitches on my singer machine to make the handles look less boring. That leaf embroidery looks just too cute!

Then after taking pictures of this bag, I started to develop this CRAZY idea in my head. More on this in a separate post ;)

xx Lia

Monday, April 22, 2013

And Sew On - April

Just a quick post from me today to display my April Block for the "And Sew On" Block of the Month Sew-A-Long over at Quiet Play.

This month's block is called "Snip It Real Good" and I once again used the same colours that I have been using on the previous blocks.

I apologise for the slightly blurry quality of the picture. I'm still on the hunt for another camera. Unfortunately the one I have has several lints in the lense that can't be removed, so focussing is starting to become a real problem. I'm looking for the same model, though. As it makes very decent pictures normally, and I've had it for several years. Anyway, here's a close up.

And last but not least, here are all the blocks together that I have for this BOM so far.

Have you been working on anything interesting? I'm in my last of 3 weeks of vacation time and still haven't started on the Forest QAL. There are 7 blocks so far and I have no idea when I'm going to be catching up on all of them, but they're sooo beautiful that I really need to try!

Have a fab week!

Until next time,
xx Lia

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Donkey Travel Pillow

I have a really dear friend, who travels a lot and has a big love for Donkeys. In all the decade that I've known her, she's always had her donkey Tinkerbell, who was really adorable, but unfortunately passed away a while ago and my friend was very sad about that and still misses her lots.

She always thinks of me when she's on her travels, always bringing back small gifts and surprises and I really wanted to make something special for her, so I was looking for donkey patterns all over the net and then found a pattern from Paper Panache that I thought was really cute. Unfortunately it was a pattern to support the American election campaigns and featured both the signs for Democrats and Republicans, a donkey and an elephant. 

To see the original look of the pattern, follow the link HERE.

I didn't like the star nor the sash on the original, so I changed the pattern around and also added some outline to the ears as Tinkerbell, the donkey of my friend, was very fair in colour, but had dark fur surrounding her ears. 
It was a bit difficult at first, working the ears, since I've never changed a pattern and am still fairly new to paper-piecing, but I think it turned out well.

Since my friend really does travel a lot, I thought a small travel sized pillow might make her more comfortable on her flights, so I started working on a padded pillow case, of course it also needed a backside, since I didn't want to leave it just blank, so I used a paper-pieced hearts pattern from Quiet Play and coordinating fabrics to match the front.

Since I wanted Tinkerbell's name on it too, I printed out some fancy font and traced the letters onto the fabric with a white removable fabric pen that vanishes when you iron over it. Unfortunately my machine doesn't do embroidery and I would never manage to get this done neatly with free-motion, so I simply stitched by turning the wheel with the hand and rotating the fabric under the needle. That was a lot of work, but turned out the way I wanted :)

Then all I still needed, was a proper inlet for the pillow, so I made one with muslin fabric. Note, the zipper matches the greys of the fabric used in the paper-piecing, I just wanted a bit of contrast there. 

And here's the finished pillow, that arrived in her mailbox yesterday and has already received some snuggles. 

Who knows which great places this little donkey is going to see in the future!

Happy sewing,

Monday, April 15, 2013

My baby brother is a Lego genius...

A good 2 years ago on one of my expeditions through the world wide web, I found a small sewing machine made entirely out of Lego. 
Back then I just loved that idea and would have loved to have one for myself, but never got around to digging out my old Lego box and building one my own.

Just last week though, on one of those expeditions through blog world, I stumbled across Carrie's blog Suchity Such, which I really liked and started to follow and then realised - Carrie is the creator of said Lego sewing machine, and she even made a tutorial so you could build your own!

I knew from the start that I'd be running short of several specific stones, but my little brother Niklas, who's 9 years old now, has a huge Lego collection and so I printed out the tutorial and took it along on my latest visit. 

He was excited about it from the start. Then after several hours of looking through his Lego stashes and boxes, disassembling a Lego caravan to get to the curved stones for the front and me promising on my heart that I would buy those so he could replace them on his caravan, we came up not only with a sewing machine build from the tutorial, but also this:

We changed a few minor things on the machine and gave it the name of my Singer, added another spool on top, too. The box of spools was my idea, finding all the different colours was a bit of a struggle, then we added the small shelf, for fabric. I will have to fold up a few scraps for that ;)

Then Niklas decided that we also needed someone to sew on the machine, so he made me a little sewist girl, with a big skirt.
Then we decided that the machine needed a table and since there was a lot of room on this nice and big table, I asked him if he had any green 4 x 4 plates, because they could resemble a cutting mat. Little genius that he is, he knew that they have 2 sides, so he made me one that looks exactly like mine. And then, of course, we also needed a rotary cutter. I have one in yellow which is for cutting and another blue one, where the blade is so blunt, that I only use it for marking now, and since we didn't have all the stones for a yellow one, we made a blue one ;)

Here are a few close-ups...   

I'm really excited about this little creation and really proud, too. We had a very fun afternoon and evening and it just shows that you're never too old to play with Lego. I still love it as much as I did as a kid!

We decided that he would receive some of my old Lego kits as a reward for his hard work, because he wanted a restaurant for his train station and rails and as it happens, I had one as a kid. So he's all excited about getting it now and I think I might add a few smaller things, too ;)

But anyway, just had to share this with all of you!

Until next time, have a fab time
xx Lia

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New (old) toys...

I think I'm not the only sewist here who loves to receive mail...most of all mail that includes fabric of course, and who also likes sewing machines.
Actually, I always thought that owning one sewing machine would be enough, but then I started blogging and I realised how many of you out there own more than one sewing machine, because you have one for all the fancy stuff and one that just needs to work, work, work and maybe a third one for something else, or even more than that.

Up until last December, I've been working on my mum's sewing machine. Since she doesn't use it often, that never was a problem, but her machine doesn't like to sew anything even remotely thicker and the harp space is rather tiny, too. So I was on the look-out for my very first machine that could just be used by myself.
I had a few Singer machines that I had laid my eyes on, purely because I loved all the stitches on them, but they were far too expensive for my paycheck. But then I received a nice gratification for a 10-year-anniversary at the job, that I could spend on any articles sold on our platform. 
Now you're probably wondering where exactly I work. Well, I work in retail, more precisely in an outlet store that sells remnants from a catalogue based retailer, which belongs to a huge, worldwide operating Group. And that means we can buy from a lot of the businesses that belong to said Group. So I had a look around several of these businesses and shops and then decided to get my hands on a Singer Confidence 7467, which up until then had been way out of my price range, but now was more or less for free, thanks to my gratification.

So since just after Christmas, I can call this baby mine...

It's a great machine, with lots of fancy extras, lots of awesome stitches and it works great with extremely thick stuff. I also love the zipper foot and the way you can position the needle with this one, I prefer doing zippers with this one over my mum's machine, but anything with satin stitch, I would still use my mum's machine for. I don't like the look of the satin stitches on my Singer machine and what has also been a big adjustment, is that it doesn't have a 1/4" foot. The feet are a lot wider and buying a specific Singer 1/4" foot is getting really expensive. So I bought a set of feet, 15 in a box for about 30 Euro that fit on any machine with this kinda shank, just to find out that, sadly, my Singer machine doesn't like any of these feet, because it doesn't transport the fabric with them at all...bummer.

I sew a lot, several times a week is a lot for me anyway, that's also the reason for being a bit scared when at some point the machine started to make a scratchy noise, coming from behind the programming keys, every time when I used the gas pedal. Sometimes it really squeaked when stopping and starting and had me a bit alarmed. So I called the Singer hotline when the noise got worse, they told me to send it in, which I did.

For the following 3 weeks then, I went back to sewing on my mum's machine, which is a Privileg machine, back then sold via the now bankrupt Quelle catalogue retailer. Privileg is usually a cover up for Bernina or Victoria machines, just sold under a different name and cheaper and looking different, but the insides are the same. My mum has always had Privileg machines for as long as I can remember, and they've always lasted for years, this one must be well over ten years old by now, but anyway...

After 3 weeks I finally received my Singer back, just to find out that the attached note said that they had tested it thoroughly, but couldn't find anything faulty with it. Major grumble moment for me there.
I unpacked it, started sewing with it again and realised that the noise was completely gone and the machine sounded exactly like the day I unpacked it when it was brand new!
That is the moment when you ask yourself, if you've done something wrong in the way you handled it?
At least that's how I felt, when after 5 hours of non-stop sewing on paper-piecing, which I do in slow-sewing mode to get everything precise, it started making that noise again! Call me stupid, but it does. It sounds a bit different now, but it's that noise again, just not as bad as the first time. At least not for now.
So I googled, to see if anyone else had that problem with a Singer before, but nope, seems to only be me...

And that's where my mum comes in again. 

She told me I should've just went with an old machine from the start, then looked on Ebay, for fun I might add. And then she dug up all these old Privileg machines, some definitely over the 30 and 40 year mark and then...I fell in love...simple as that.

So since yesterday I am the proud owner of a Privileg 300.

It cost me 54,50 Euro with shipping included. Judging from the manufacture number on the back we reckon it was made in 1968, unfortunately I haven't yet found out anything more about that. It took a lot of cleaning, because the machine was covered in dust, there are several broken pieces on the bottom part that the machine stands on, as it's made of hard plastic and all those years took their toll. So I added plastic parts here and there to stabilise the bottom and taped it too. Same goes for the hard cover case. But the most important part is that this baby sews like a champion! It was used in an industrial way to sew leather, boat covers and sail canvas and it shows. The stitch accuracy is amazing, I've never seen a stitch more even, not even on the Singer! And you'd think all these expensive, new computer machines would be amazing, right?!

This baby only sews straight and Zick-Zack, but if you adjust the little level for the stitch width while sewing, you can also make a few fancy patterns with it. I haven't tried that out yet, but I've got a test swatch from the guy who sold it to me and it surely does look good. Plus, unlike my Singer, who sounds like a loud tractor, this one hums like a little, busy bee. 

Also, turning the fabric under the foot while sewing with the feed dogs up is extremely easy, so I suppose free motion is going to be a piece of cake on this one. All my spools fit, thanks to my mum's Privileg machine, which has the same bobbins, that also fit into my Singer, there's a 1/4" foot already snapped on and the most awesome part is, that I can reduce the stitch length down to zero. Perfect for paper piecing. I usually do that on 1 or 1.5, at least with mum's machine, which makes ripping the paper off so much easier, but I can't go lower than 2 on my Singer machine and that makes paper piecing hell on it lol!

So, you see, I'm extremely excited about this buy ;)

Oooooh, and since this blog post as already turned into a never-ending story, I'll add in one of the newest additions to my stash.
A few fatquarters of Architexture from The Village Haberdashery in London, UK. Beautifully packed and arriving in less than a week after ordering, and there was a weekend in between!

I'm currently trying out a few European fabric stores, so I won't have to always pay customs when ordering, since that became a problem with bigger orders from overseas, and The Village Haberdashery is surely on my list of stores to order from again. Go check them out :)

Happy sewing everyone!
xx Lia

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Covert Robin Gifts!


I'm totally excited, as today did not only my Covert Robin partner receive her gift, but I also received my gift from my partner and now I can finally blog about them.

So for starters, here's what I received from the lovely Elizabeth from Woozy Quilts, coming all the way from Santa Ana, California.

Elizabeth made a pretty pillowcase in spring colours, which are perfect for all the dreadful cold and winterlike days we still have here. In fact, we're supposed to get more snow on Friday, so these spring prints are really what you need to cheer up!

I'm not sure, but I think she used repurposed vintage sheets for this pillow case. I've seen a few quilts in this style being done on the blogs that I follow. Nice cotton prints in all types of variations. And look at her free motion quilting! I still have tons to learn until mine will look so neat and clean! Thank you, Elizabeth :)

Now onto the gift that I made for my partner, Carolina from The Dotted Whale. First of I have to say that it was not easy to get ideas, as she does have a blog, but at that moment didn't really have anything written about herself. All I found out was, that she moved to Canada, is learning to master the English language and has 3 kids, of which 2 are boys and 1 is a little baby girl. Also she had joined a handpainted fabric swap. So that got me thinking...and thinking...and thinking... until my head hurt a bit lol!

I had no idea about colour choices so I went out on a whim and decided to do something colourful and new and dug out one of the pattern books that I got for Christmas. In there I found the 'hobo bag' and let's be honest, if you have a baby you always need room for diapers and bottles and all the extra stuff...and with 3 kids that means you carry around a lot of stuff, so therefore need a big bag...perfect idea in my opinion.


And then I started sewing...which took me 2 days to finish this bag and a lot of arguing with the pattern, cuz we just didn't agree with each other ;)


 I got there in the end though, as you can see...

That wasn't all that I included though. Since that whole handpainted fabric thing really tickled me, I bought a few textile paints and started an amateur like attempt by carving my own little stamps from cheap erasers that I bought at the Euro Shop (which would be the German equivalent for a Dollar-Store...) and then printed on test swatches of about layer cake size.

 That turned out so fun that I decided to use them for Carolina. So I cut them up into proper mini charms for an extra little gift and then tight them up in a bow. On top of that I also pushed a few other pieces into the envelope, elastics, ribbon, cute buttons that I thought she could use since she sews clothes for her kidlets, and some chocolate bunnies. And I'm so glad she received it well and liked it all as she told me today in the email she wrote.

My verdict of this Covert Robin is, that I had a lot of fun creating something for a person I never met before or even talked to/emailed and the stalking part was fun ;) I think I'll definitely do it again next year!

Until next time
xx Lia

P.S: This post will also be linked up to the Monthly Book Challenge at Heart of Charnwood for the month of April, as soon as Angie has set up this month's challenge post :)

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