Sunday, 26 May 2013

Flower Brooch Templates

Nothing says spring quite like flowers. The markets are full of them, stores are opening up garden centres out front, and they're popping up all over the lawn. The lawn ones are mostly dandelions, of course, but there are violets and forget-me-nots in there too. I even received a lovely potted geranium recently that I will try my hardest to keep alive.

I'm not usually very attracted to floral designs. You won't see me picking out floral fabrics to sew or to wear, and no floral curtains, wallpaper, sofas, or flower themed home decor items of any kind. I do, however, love to wear a felt brooch on my lapel. They are fun and colourful, and add a touch of personality to what would otherwise be a pretty boring wardrobe.

Click HERE to download the templates.

This set contains five flower templates that can be mixed and matched in multiple ways to create funky brooches. Making a brooch isn't as easy as cutting out a few pieces of felt in the shapes of the templates though! The most important part of designing one of these is deciding on materials and embellishments. Detail work is that special touch that makes a plain flower into a flower masterpiece.

In terms of materials, felt is always a winner, but consider using unconventional materials like foam, faux leather, upholstery fabrics, burlap, or plastics. As for embellishments, hand embroidery is my favourite. Beads, buttons, crystals, glitter, and found materials are great as well.

Other popular uses for felt flowers are on hats, headbands, bags, or necklaces. Currently, I'm working on my own version of this amazing necklace. There will likely be another flower themed post this year dealing with the finished piece.

For details on how to go from a paper template to a finished accessory, I recommend this tutorial on how to design and make a felt brooch from Bugs and Fishes.

Did you know that felt flowers are popular as alternative bridal bouquets? Check out these, or these, or this one!

Flowers also make great textured decor pieces, using an embroidery hoop as a frame. Make your own simple wall art with this decorated embroidery hoop tutorial, or repurpose a pair of jeans to make this denim and felt floral hoop.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Train Blanket Revisit

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Felt Pattern Friday for the Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival party! This is an occasion for all of us quilting geeks to get together and show off our work. It's always great fun and very inspiring. You can check out all of the submissions here.

I got a ton of sewing done this winter, but due to a batting shortage I only fully finished one quilt. It's the biggest thing I've free motion quilted so far, and it turned out great. This was made by request for someone who regularly travels to our place by train (21 hours each way). The criteria were: red, hammer & sickle design, small enough to carry in your baggage, big enough to cover a person sleeping uncomfortably in a seat.

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Stats
Finished quilt measures: 56″x 65″
Technique: wholecloth quilt
Quilted by: Me!
Category: Throw Quilt, Domestic Machine Quilted

The wholecloth front is quilted entirely with black thread, except for the small design at the top which was done in white. Since there wasn't much room here for creative piecing, I decided to have a bit more fun with the back. I love the back!

Despite having to deal with almost constant thread breaks, I'm really proud of my quilting on this one!

After a thorough sitting, my quality assurance assistant declared it adequate:

It has now gone off to its new home, where it awaits its first train ride!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Prize Winners & Top 10 Urban Designs

Sew Mama Sew giveaway week was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed visiting new blogs, and reading all of your comments. I've turned all of the suggestions into this nifty word cloud. I'll certainly be coming back to it for design inspiration. You'll find a list of the top designs below, but first the winners!

Prize #1 - Congratulations to KT, who is a fellow a Doctor Who fan!
Prize #2 - Congratulations to Carla G who suggested a traffic light or railway crossing!
Top 10 designs, as voted by you:
Street Signs
Phone booth
Traffic light
Railroad crossing
Lamp post
Stop sign
Street lamp
Top 5 adjectives describing them:
Old fashioned
Great inspiration, and some of these patterns are already on their way! Here's a peek at some prototypes for designs I'm currently writing up. (The traffic light has changed quite a bit since this version was made - update soon!)

The street sign design will have to remain a mystery for a bit longer... because I cut up the first prototype to make this:

Friday, 10 May 2013

Felt Bee Pattern

Welcome to another edition of Felt Pattern Friday! I found out yesterday that I live right near the Honey Capital of Canada, complete with the world's largest bee. How cool is that? Bees are fascinating insects, and so complex that we're just now starting to grasp the full extent of their intelligence and their importance to our ecosystem.

They're also pretty darn cute: furry, big eyes, delicate wings, erratic flight patterns... what more could you ask for? So with that in mind, I bring you a spring bee.

Click HERE to download the free pattern.

This is an image file that you can adjust to any size you want. A tiny bee would make a cute pin. A big bee would make a great quilt block. A really really big bee might even make a comfy cushion. If you prefer a PDF version of the pattern, one is available through Craftsy HERE (PDFs can't be resized though).

Here are some other fun and free bee project ideas:

  • Need a felt beehive and some friends to go with your bee? This beehive appliqué pattern from Wee Folk Art can be adapted for number of projects and materials.
  • Painted rock bees can be a fun addition to any garden. I made some insect rocks as a kid and loved it! If you have some littl'uns around, I'm sure they would love to help. With the right kind of paint, rock creatures will last for many years.
  • For the really little ones, Craft Passion has a pattern and tutorial on how to hand appliqué a bee on a onesie (there is also a ladybug and caterpillar). While you're at it, why not crochet them a matching stuffed bumble bee from this pattern by Crafster user frecklesinoureyes?
  • Does your favourite four legged friend like to dress up? You could make them a bumble bee hoodie! The Dog Clothes Pattern blog offers a tutorial, as well as tons of other dog clothing patterns and information. (My apologies to your dog for providing you with this information.)
  • My favourite of all is the Beehive Tea Cozy by Patons, free on Ravelry! This is the kind of thing that makes me want to relearn crochet. If I could justify cluttering up my kitchen with one more questionably useful thing, this teapot cover might just be it.
Next week, I'll be talking flowers to ensure this litte guy has plenty on which to snack.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Blocks of the Month for April

Last year, I challenged myself to try a new improvisational piecing technique every month, using the colours from the Colour My World Challenge at Quilt Matters. At the end of 2012, I had a set of 12 very different blocks, which looked surprisingly harmonious together.

These blocks are on their way to becoming a quilt for our inflatable guest "bed". The quilt requires 24 blocks, so my goal for this year is to make an additional block of each colour to compliment the existing ones. I ran out of batting around October, and it was too cold to go out for more, so I've been making twice as many per month to make up for the fact that I can't quilt them.

April's first colour was green. I decided to try my hand at the Diamond Carat block from the Pile O'Fabric Skill Builder BOM. This design was supposed to have a much more random colour distribution to make it look like a sparkling gem, but I liked the idea of light in the middle and dark on the outside. Once it was mostly assembled, I decided that it would indeed have looked better the other way, but overall I'm pretty happy with the result.

This was my first attempt at English paper piecing. I didn't expect to like it very much, but it was actually quite a zen activity. Wow does it ever take a long time though! Possibly because I'm a teensy bit obsessive when it comes to hand sewing...

I don't expect to do a huge amount of this type of piecing anytime soon, but I'm glad I took the time to try it! This block was made to compliment my improvised green block from December, which got a dark background to match.

The second colour I worked on last month was black. There was a bit of a challenge there. How do you make something out of black on a background that is already pretty much black? I decided to use this as a chance to experiment with negative space, which seems to have become a theme with this year's blocks.

The design is based on the reverse applique block by Lindsay Sews from the Something New Sampler.  I love it! If I had to do it over again though, I'd use fusible interfacing to stabilize the cut-out areas. This being my first attempt at reverse applique, I don't know what to expect. I can't help being afraid the fabric will completely unravel the first time I wash it. I guess we'll see!

This compliments my previous black block perfectly. I'm a big fan of this one, even with its side borders mostly chopped off to make it the same size as the others.

I've got 16 blocks ready for quilting so far, and only two rows to go! Despite how different they all are, I'm really liking the way they look together. It will be fun to experiment with different layouts and see how to take advantage of the negative space.

I am sharing my progress for WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day!

Today is the start of one of the most anticipated days in crafty blogland, Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day. It's a chance to thank the blogging community for their great support, as well as bribe new visitors with a shiny gift. I've received some wonderful goodies over the last two years, and I'm happy to pay it forward.

I started this blog almost two years ago, as a way of sharing my crafty projects after moving away from my hometown. These projects usually involve quilting or felt crafts. This year, I've tried to focus on sharing the patterns for my cute and weird projects. I won't take up your time with a long description. Enjoy these images instead.

Patterns I've posted recently (most of them completely free!)
Details on the Tutorials & Patterns page.

 A few of the patterns coming up over the next few months!

This week I'm celebrating the launch of my second quilt block pattern, Sir Robot! This block finishes at 14" x 12" and comes with accessories: a heart, gears, and a selection of mustaches. Earlier this year, I posted my first quilting pattern, a fire hydrant!

Robot pattern available through Craftsy HERE   /   Fire hydrant available through Craftsy HERE

Prize #1 - Robot inspired bundle
Sir Robot quilt block pattern + 4 fat quarters

Prize #2 - Fire hydrant inspired bundle
Fire hydrant quilt block pattern + 4 fat quarters

These are quarter metres, not quarter yards. They are slightly bigger... except for the Pepper colour, which ended up a few cm short. I will throw in some extra goodies to make up for it.

Anyone, anywhere, can participate. All you have to do is let me know what urban element you would  most like to see as a quilt block. It can be anything! Telephone poles? Intersections? Gas pumps? Your favourite road sign? Let me know in the comments. (Please ensure you also leave a way to contact you if you win.)

Followers of Slair's Lair get an extra entry! Just leave an additional comment to that effect.

Giveaway is now closed. Thanks for all your great comments!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Felt Birdie Pattern


The return of the birds is a sure sign of spring. Our local birds may have been a little confused upon their return this year, getting caught in a snow storm, followed by a wind storm, then more snow. But it's been really nice to hear chirping again on the way to work in the morning. To celebrate, I am sharing my spring birdie pattern. I added a string to mine to make an ornament.

Click HERE to download the free pattern.

This pattern is provided as an image file that can be resized to fit your needs. If you would prefer a PDF, it is available through Craftsy HERE.

I find that a lot of the cuteness of this type of pattern comes from minimalism in the design, but there's also something to be said for realistic looking felt birds. For that, I'd like to direct your attention to the amazing archive of felt bird patterns at Downeast Thunder Farm! Susan has made everything from hens to woodpeckers to ducks, and all of them are beautifully constructed and detailed. Best of all, the patterns are free and good quality. I think I will make some of them into ornaments to give as Christmas presents next year.

Other free bird projects that caught my attention this week:
     - a super easy paisley-looking embroidered bird ornament from A Feathered Nest,
     - Needle Nest Design's pattern to make a bird mobile, and
     - a sewn egg chick tutorial by Petite Purls, which makes cute simple egg-shaped stuffed birdies.