Basic Patchwork

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but indoors is so delightful and as we’ve no place to go, then let’s sew, let’s sew, let’s sew!
I’m pretty sure those would have been the lyrics had Sammy Cahn been a fabric enthusiast 🙂 Anyhow, the weather outside really is frightful (5inches of snow is way past frightful tbh) so what better way to pass the time than to start a quilt. Not only is it a good hobby but you can wrap yourself up in it afterwards ….. pretty and practical, how brilliant is this going to be?!?
Quilting can be simple but on the other hand quilting can be truly difficult which I’ll presume is what puts many people off of it in the first place. However, we all need to start somewhere right and the only way you can get to the top is to start at the bottom so let’s begin with a basic patchwork quilt …..

1) First step is pick your fabric. Cotton or poly cotton works best for a quilt so run (carefully mind, do you know how slippery it is) to the fabric store and grab some fat quarters. Alternatively, you can finally use the stash you’ve been hoarding for another day because lets face it we’ve all got one and it’s much better to use it than to let the dreaded moths get it!
My fabric of choice this time is the Birdsong collection from Dashwood Fabrics, a beautiful muted mix of trees, mountains and birds in a selection of pale greys, mustard and navy.

2) Now because this is a basic quilt we’re going to use a basic square as our template. You can draw it on anything but I find a cereal box is especially good and seeing as most people have one it makes sense to use it. Grab your box, flatten it out and draw a 5″ x 5″ square. Cut it out and voila, there’s your template!
3) One of the most simple rules of quilting is press, press and press some more. Pop your iron on a medium heat and press all your fabric until every crease is banished. Then we can set about cutting our squares.

4)Using a fabric marker (or a HB pencil, for this basic quilt it doesn’t matter too much) draw around your template on the ‘wrong’ side of the material being sure to leave a good inch or so between each square. When you’ve got a selection of squares drawn then carefully cut them out using sharp scissors or pinking shears. Leave at least a 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around the template.

5) Before we do any joining or sewing, the squares now need to be placed into an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. We can then begin to join the first squares …..

6) To join 2 squares together, place them right side to right side and carefully put a pin through the top left corner of the top square, through to the same corner of the underneath square. Once those corners are lined up, go along the same line with some more pins, checking that each one is also going through the same line on the underneath fabric. Using a small stitch on your sewing machine, sew along the pinned line (remembering to remove the pins as you go). It helps if you go back over the first couple of stitches as well as the last couple in the line so as to ensure the sewing is secure.

7) Continue the above process until you have joined all of the squares in your first row. Repeat for all of the other rows that will form your quilt top.

8) Remember step 3 where we spoke about ‘Press, Press and Press some more’? Well this is where that step really comes into play. Turn over one of the rows and using your fingers, separate the seams, then press with the iron until the seams are flat. Repeat for all seams in all rows.

9) The rows we’ve just made are brilliant but we can’t do much with them until we join all the individual rows to form a quilt top so working from the bottom of the quilt upwards, place the second to last row on top of the last row. Make sure they are right side to right side and put a pin through the top left hand corner using the drawn template as a guide. Follow the top line all the way long, pinning as you go, so that the two rows are joined at the top. Once all the pins are in place, carefully sew all the way along (removing pins as you get to them).

10) Repeat step 9 for the rest of the rows and voila, you have one amazing quilt top.

11) Now, you could leave it as it is but it simply wouldn’t be a quilt without some form of quilting. For the quilt in the example, I’ve done a simple but effective straight line design but you could try a more complicated straight line effect or even try your hand at free motion quilting (more of which we’ll cover at a later date).

12) Once you’ve decided on the quilting design, you need to pin your quilt top to your batting and possibly to the backing as well. It’s up to you whether you choose to sew through all 3 layers or instead through the top 2 and then join the backing afterwards. Use safety pins to join your layers before you sew as it’ll keep the layers together more securely than pins at this stage.

13) Binding ….. scared?!? 🙂 Don’t be, it really isn’t as awkward as people claim. For this quilt I’ve used double edge bias tape in a contrasting shade of grey. To begin, start a couple of inches in from one corner of your quilt. Open the tape so the bottom inside edge is level with the edge of the quilt. Carefully pin in place until you reach a couple of centimetres before the next corner.

 

The underside of the binding tape

14) For this quilt I’ve used mitred corners because I feel they look nicer but you can use a butted edge if you prefer. To create a mitred corner, fold the unsewn binding straight up so that it is at a 45 degree angle and so that its bottom edge produces a diagonal line. Then fold the binding back down on itself so that the top of the fold is level with the top edge of the quilt. Pin in place and continue round to the next corner. When all corners are complete and when all the binding is pinned in place, carefully sew all the way around to secure the binding to the quilt. The line of stitches should now be hidden by the binding tape.

15) Now that one side of the binding is joined to the quilt, the next step is to gently fold the binding over the top of all 3 layers and pin in place. Although you could machine sew if you wanted, a better alternative is to hand sew using invisible thread and the ladder stitch.

16) The final stage is to give it another good press and check it all over for any stray heads that you missed as you were going along, then ….. Give yourself a round of applause because you’ve just finished your first basic quilt! 🙂

 

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Seed Stitch

Probably my all time favourite stitch when it comes to knitting, seed stitch is one of those things that looks really complicated but is actually super simple. It provides texture and density to what could otherwise be a fairly bland pattern. Add to that that seed stitch is an incredibly versatile stitch, suitable for all sorts of projects and whats not to like?!? 🙂

Wondering if you could work the seed stitch? Well, if you can knit and purl (I’m going to presume you can!) then the answer is yes! It’s as simple as this …..

  1. Cast on an even number of stitches.
  2. Row 1 – k1, p1 to the end of the row.
  3. Row 2 – p1, k1 to the end of the row
  4. Repeat until the end of the project.

The end result is a beautiful texture of little tiny bumps that look as though they were scattered by the wind.

Enjoy the seed stitch! 🙂

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#socktober

A little late to the party with this one but it’s still October so it still counts right?!? 🙂 Socktober is one of those things that has been slightly hijacked by Instagram so everyone could be forgiven for thinking that this is where it all began, however there’s slightly more to it than just flashing a picture of your latest woolly offering. Let me explain …..

Originally launched by Brad Montague four years ago, the aim of Socktober is to provide an easy yet effective way of helping the homeless by simply donating a pair of socks! Not just one pair mind, Socktober is not the time for stinginess, so the idea is to start a sock drive. Whether it’s at your place of work, your school or a group from your neighbourhood, the aim is to collect as many pairs of socks as you can, gather them all up and donate them to a local homeless shelter. This is where #socktober comes into play because these days nothing spreads something like wildfire quicker than putting a hashtag in front of it 🙂 Instagram, Facebook, Twitter ….. go mad and share the love for Socktober on them all! Of course, people don’t just need socks (although they do help on a cold day), there are plenty of other items that homeless shelters could benefit from such as donations of toiletries, bedding, clothing and tinned / dried food but socks definitely help.

Sometimes it’s the smallest acts of love that help make a difference so whether you buy them or make them, donate some socks to this worthy cause and help make someones day a little nicer 🙂

  • Visit the following sites for more details …..

http://www.happysocktober.com

http://www.soulpancake.com/socktober

 

  • For a list of homeless shelters in the UK …..

http://www.crisis.org.uk

http://www.shelter.org.uk

http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk

 

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It’s good to be square!

Knitting squares and joining them together to make a blanket is something so basic that everyone can do it. However sometimes, although you want to enjoy the simplicity of such a blanket, it just needs something that little bit more. This is where mitred squares come into play. Incredibly basic but yet they look so oh so good 🙂

Mitred squares can be made with any yarn and any corresponding size needles so they make for a really great stash buster and they really are as simple as this …..

  1. Decide how many stitches long you want one side of you square to be and cast on said number. Place your stitch marker on to mark the middle point and then cast on the same number of stitches again.
  2. Row 1 – Knit all the way across, slipping the marker when you get to it.Row 2 – Knit to two stitches before the marker. K2tog, slip the marker, ssk and continue to knit to the end of the row.

3.  Repeat the above two rows until you have 4 stitches left.

4.  Working on the right side, knit the first decrease and remove the stitch marker. Knit the second decrease which will leave you with two stitches.  Working on the wrong side, bind off using a basic bind off method.

You’ve now got one mitred square which you could admire lovingly or perhaps do something a little more substantial with such as knitting some more and joining them together to form an afghan 🙂

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It’s a wrap …..

Oh my goodness, there were so many different puns I could have used for the title but well, it’s a wrap so ….. 🙂
Unless you’re completely devoid of social media accounts or you’ve been living on Mars for the last 6 months you cannot have failed to notice the hype surrounding none other than the Skye Wrap. Now as beautifully simplistic as it is, I’ve noticed hundreds of people all asking the same question ‘How do I make it?’. As you may have noticed from other posts, it pains me to spend money on patterns when I can figure them out by myself instead so here’s my take on the Skye Wrap.


1. To get this started you’re going need an outer fabric and an inner fabric. I used coat fabric in grey for my outer and some gorgeous feather patterned cotton in navy from Rose and Hubble for my inner. You’ll also need 5 buttons and matching thread (Guttermans is a joy to work with).


2. For all you ‘normal’ sized people you’ll need approximately 100cm x 170cm of both inner and outer fabric. I, on the other hand, am 5ft nothing so because of my Borrower-esque proportions I had to make mine quite a bit smaller 🙂 What I’m trying to say is, just fiddle about with the sizing until you have something that fits your own shape. As long as you end up with two rectangles of the same dimensions then you can’t go wrong.

3. Once you’ve washed, dried and ironed your fabric, lay both pieces right side to right side and, using a quarter inch seam allowance, sew along one long side, down the first short side, along the next long side and then about 2/3rds of the way up the next short side.


4. With the remaining third still unsewn turn the whole thing the right way out. You’ll need to hand sew the opening closed using the mattress stitch.

5. Press, press and press again. This pattern does not like wrinkles and crinkles!

6. The final step is to pop your buttons on. Hold the two ends of the wrap together, leaving adequate room for it to go over your head and sew your buttons on with even spacing in-between. I’ve sewn mine on so as to join the two sides of the wrap but you could try with button holes or poppers to make getting it on easier.

So, there we go. You’ve now made a simple but lovely looking wrap and you’ve saved £5. No need to thank me! 🙂

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September


Well that’s August done and finished with for another year but don’t be sad because it means we get to welcome in September 🙂 Not really autumn but definitely not summer, September is a glorious ‘in-between’ sort of month. If it were a person, it’d be Forrest Gump – wonderful but never quite fits in!
So, what did last month bring? Well, another superbly eclectic mix of half finished projects and an ever growing list of new ones that I’ve yet to start plus a couple of rare ones that I’ve actually completed! There’s a sweater still sitting on my circular needles, a project bag that was finished in French Knots and lined with adorable dachshund printed fabric as a birthday gift, as well as a shawl which HAS to be finished by Christmas (we’ll see if this ever comes to fruition!). All of which brings me nicely to the subject of WIPs (Works in Progress). I don’t know about you but I tend to flit between projects like most people change their socks. Monday I’ll be all about the knitting but come Tuesday it’ll be sewing that grabs my fancy. Hence why so many projects on the go at once. In all seriousness though, there are so many amazing things that I want to do and try and learn that it’s near impossible to get my brain to concentrate on just one thing at a time. No matter though, there’ll be plenty of time for sitting still when I’m a genuine old lady (as opposed to the pretend old lady I am now!).
But back to September, you just can’t help but love it. Everything starts getting ready for the chilly season and our thoughts turn from t-shirts to jumpers, from sandals to socks. Yarn related projects jump upon our needles and help us while away dark, cold evenings. Ooh I’m excited just thinking about it 🙂
Until next time!

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Kitchener Stitch

Kitchener stitch, possibly named after Earl Kitchener during World War 1 but then again, possibly not. It seems no one is too sure of exactly where or how it originated. One things for sure though, its guaranteed to cause palpitations in all but the truly seasoned knitter but whether it’s socks or shoulders the Kitchener stitch comes in super handy for seamless, well, seams! 🙂

Used as a finishing technique in knitting, Kitchener, or Grafting as its otherwise known, is a way of invisibly joining two sets of live stitches. Contrary to public opinion the Kitchener stitch really isn’t all that tricky. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, it’ll be like riding the proverbial bike and you’ll be wondering what all the bother was about.

So, lets get to grips with this right now. You’ll need two pieces of ‘live’ knitting (you can just knit two small samples to practice with if you like), a darning needle and some scrap yarn.

  1. Hold both pieces of knitting next to each other, wrong side to wrong side and put the threaded darning needle through the first front stitch as if to purl. Pull it nearly all the way through but leave enough of a tail to weave in later. 
  2. Still holding the knitting pieces tightly, push the needle through the first back stitch as if to knit
  3. Bring the needle round to the front and pull it through the first front needle as if to knit. Pull the yarn all the way through and take the stitch off of the needle. 
  4. Push the needle through the first front stitch as if to purl but this time, leave the stitch on the needle. 
  5. Take the needle all the way through the first back stitch as if to purl and take the stitch off of the needle. 
  6. Pull the needle through the first back stitch as if to knit but leave the stitch on the needle.

Now, you need to repeat steps 3 – 6 until all of the stitches have been worked. Remember to keep  tightening the new stitches every now and again to ensure an even tension.  The tricky bit is keeping track of where you got to after the initial first two steps so remember –

KNIT – front – OFF

PURL -front – ON

PURL – back – OFF

KNIT – back – ON

It really is as simple as that 🙂

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French Knots

Bonjour, Je m’appelle CraftyMrsRiley et Je suis accro a des noeuds francais! Or for those of us not fluent in le francais, my name is CraftyMrsRiley and I’m addicted to French Knots! 🙂
Those tiny little bundles of knotty loveliness fill my heart with hearts (as my four year old would say) and make my head a little giddy. However, it seems not everyone shares my affinity with the little saucy French ones. It would appear that whilst almost everyone loves the appearance of them, the general consensus is that they’re a little tricky to master (this ‘official’ poll took place in my kitchen and consisted of myself, a rather opinionated 4 year old and 2 potentially bored silly guinea pigs but we all know the result would have been the same whoever I’d quizzed🙂). Well let’s resolve this right now then shall we. Grab your needles, grab your thread and let’s speak the language of love with these beautiful little knots!

1) Before we begin, remember whichever thread you use for these little beauties, be sure to use two strands to maximise their shape.
2) Once your needle is ready to go, push it through the fabric from back to front just ever so slightly away from where you want the knot to be.

3) Pull the thread taut (but not too taut) and wrap it around the needle twice starting with the thread at the front of the needle and bringing it round anti-clockwise.

4) Keeping the thread around the needle, push the needle back into the fabric in the spot where you want the knot to be. Remember to keep the thread taut using your free hand. Pull the needle all the way through to the back of the fabric and you’ll have one tiny but beautifully formed French knot.

Your only issue now is to decide how you’re going to use your new skill….. Hoop art? Fabric decoration? Contemporary design?!? The choice is yours for the taking!

My own take on using French Knots to create negative space hoop art

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Ruby Red?!?

Simple Sew dress pattern – Ruby

I’m a girl so I must like dresses, yes? No! Because A) It’s not 1950 and B) I’m a bit too tomboy to wear dresses. It helps if you’re all Claudia Schiffer whereas I’m just a bit Claude! That’s not to say I don’t own any though. I’ve some lovely, I’d go as far as to say beautiful, dresses, some bought for me as gifts, some just bought on a whim but they inevitably end up gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe whilst the shorts see all the fun on a sunny day. However, whilst perusing the virtual shopping aisles of eBay what should I stumble upon but the Ruby Dress by SimpleSew. As I said, I’m not a big fan of dresses (years of growing up in scrap yards put paid to too much girliness) but Ruby is a beauty that was begging to be made so I thought I’d pop my dressmaking cherry and give it a go.
This is the part where I introduce Matilda (say Hi!), my dressmakers mannequin. I’d use the word dummy but I don’t want to be unkind 🙂 Here’s Matilda modelling a previous creation of mine

Skirt modelled by Matilda!

Now the formalities are out of the way, let’s get back to Ruby. Ruby is a stunning, vintage inspired, skater style dress with a high neckline, deep V back and a flared full skirt. Simply stunning.
I’ve made the odd piece of clothing here and there but nothing quite as structured and lovely as this and, being a bit of a tight arse to be honest, I didn’t want to waste perfectly good fabric on something I could completely mess up so I bought a duvet cover to make Ruby from. Yes, you did read that correctly, a duvet cover (from Wilkinsons for those of you that are interested!). The amount of material you get for the small amount of pennies is amazing.
So, this is how it went …..
1) Initial pattern cutting went as well as could be expected. It’s basically cutting out shapes, I’ve been queen of this since I was 3 years old 🙂

Lets make a dress

2) After ironing the pattern itself, on a very low heat I must add, I ironed the duvet cover and sliced it open along the seams.
3) I laid out all the pattern pieces to ensure I minimised the fabric waste (I told you I was a tight arse!) and pinned them all down.
4) The pattern calls for 1/4 seam so I devised what I thought was quite a good technique for ensuring even seamage (possibly not a real word, in fact I think I just made it up). I took 2 pencils and held them side by side, then carefully drew around the pattern. Voila, even seamage 🙂

5) Next up was the actual sewing part! No need to panic, it was pretty much as easy as 1,2,3. I started by sewing in the darts at both the chest and the waist and then joining the front bodice to the back bodice at the shoulders, right side to right side. I then joined the facing pieces together at the shoulders and again right side to right side. It does ask for the facing edges to be finished with a zig zag stitch first which you could do on an overlocker for a neater finish but I don’t have an overlocker because I’m not the Mary Berry of the sewing world ….. yet! 🙂
The bodice and the facing then needed to be joined together (right side to right side) and then sewn all along the edge of the neckline and the armholes. I trimmed off any excess and cut a few notches into the seam allowance so that it all sat nice and flat.
6) Now came the really tricky bit of pulling the whole thing through an armhole one side at a time. Sound awkward? Yes, it was!
7) Press, Press, Press! I cannot reiterate enough how important it is to press this dress at every opportunity.
8) The next stage was matching the bottom of the front bodice to the top of the front skirt and then repeating this for both the back right and back left bodice / skirts. Then came a smidge more sewing to connect all the seams.
9) By this point it looked a little like a dodgy tabbard in that it went over my head but didn’t do up at the sides. So I then sewed along both side seams, top to bottom.
10) Now came the concealed zip part. Not to say I was worried about this bit but I was sweating like a mouse in full view of a cat. I’d never put in a concealed zip before but guess what, it actually wasn’t too awful. I’ll be adding a concealed zip tutorial very soon so panic not if you’re in the same boat 🙂

11) The next part asked for the remaining skirt seam to be sewn together which was relatively easy and …..
12) The final part! Ooh I felt like I’d run a marathon fuelled by chocolate biscuits, fizzy pop and a slightly cheesy 80’s soundtrack. The final part was hemming the skirt. I nipped round the skirt first with a finishing stitch to stiffen it slightly and then carefully, very carefully hemmed a quite narrow hem.

Ruby Dress

Dress done! Skill set added to!
Ooh I take it all back, I really rather like this dress 👗

 

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Hello August …..

Well it’s goodbye to July and a big hello to August. We’ve calmed down a little on the moving front now so it’s a bit less unpacking and a little more actual living in our new house. I’m hoping that my blog posts can become more frequent now that my Mac has a home of its own and isn’t hidden away inside of a box 🙂

So, what did July bring us? Well, I made a dress, a pincushion and a skirt (all in a week I hasten to add), popped a new jumper on my needles, added to my skill set by learning all about concealed zips,  the smallest member of the Riley household turned 4 (when did that happen? It only feels like yesterday that we brought her home), painted 3 rooms because I just couldn’t live with floral wallpaper or brown paint any longer and we gained 2 little guinea pigs and 3 fish. I’m exhausted just reading it.

Talking of reading, which we kind of were in a roundabout way, what are you all reading at the moment? I have to admit that I rarely ever have just one book on the go at a time. I’m a self confessed serial bibliophile and at the moment I’m reading Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay, Almost Human by Lee Berger and 11:22:63 by Stephen King and if that wasn’t eclectic enough for you I’ve also got A Dogs Purpose lurking somewhere! Why limit yourself to one genre when you can cover them all.

As I’m writing this it’s torrential rain outside so I’m hoping August hasn’t started how it means to continue. I’m also hoping to finish off the jumper I started in July, cast on a shawl for my friend Jean, make something wonderful with the Liberty Tana Lawn that I’ve had for months but have had no idea of what to do with it, make another dress (same pattern, different fabric), write loads, read plenty and continue working on CraftyMrsRiley. So whilst I’m busy taking over my corner of the world, I hope you have a good one!

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