Saturday, 25 June 2016

Charity Quilt - Siblings Together Quilting Bee 2016

I am so pleased to share this finished quilt with you. Not only because I think it is beautiful (well, I would say that, wouldn't I?!) but because of the wonderful quilters I got to collaborate with over the year making blocks for their quilts and them making blocks for mine.

Here are just a few of the blocks I made for the other bees over the year:

We could each choose the design of our own blocks - I designed this 18.5" finished block and I asked for yellow, blue, orange and green fabrics with a white background:

My month was March and the blocks soon trickled in:

I ended up with a couple of extras so used three on the back (after checking that no-one would mind) and they went perfectly with some stripey fabric I had in my stash - I do like the backs of my quilts to be as 'tidy' as the front - do you?

And with grateful thanks to these fabulously talented and kind-hearted ladies: MariaNickyJaneSonia, JoanneSue, Mary, CarolJulie, Hannah  and Brigid, here is my finished quilt:

It ended up at 72" x 56" so a really nice size  - for a teenager, perhaps? And the very important label:

This is my 3rd quilt for the charity this year - my first one was a collaboration with Joan from Ohio:

My second one was an unplanned improv scrap-busting blue quilt:

And this last one ... I love them all. I do hope the child / young person who will receive this quilt this Summer thanks to the wonderful charity - Siblings Together - will love it too:

Linking up with Sarah @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Amanda Jean @ Crazy Mom Quilts and the Siblings Together Quilt Group.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Great tutorials :)

I have a few little finishes to share with you this week; a patchwork tote bag, a small table mat, a one-hour basket and a simple zipper bag. The first two I made are for a charity I have recently got involved with - Chernobyl Children's Lifeline (CCLL North Wales) - and I put together a tutorial for the bag here and the mat here.

A little reminder of the work CCLL North Wales do: they are part of a national charity that helps children living in Belarus and Northern Ukraine who still suffer the effects of low level radiation some 30 years after the nuclear accident in Chernobyl. They are bringing 17 children (12 girls and 5 boys) to North Wales this July to stay with Host Families - whilst here, the combination of uncontaminated food, fresh air and sunshine, exciting trips out and lots of exercise does the children a power of good. 

I met the local chair recently (Gerrie) at a talk she was giving  - she was incredibly inspiring and passionate about her work - this drew me to her and so I introduced myself. I told her I was a hobby quilter and asked what could I do to help. We agreed a tote bag and a small table mat would be perfect gifts for the children and their families. Knowing I couldn't possibly make all of this by myself (as fast as I am!), I put out a request on Instagram and got 16+ volunteers within hours - I was thrilled at the wonderful response. 

Please do search the tag #ccllnorthwalesquiltbee on Instagram to see what 'my gals' have been making. 

Then yesterday, I made my sister a one-hour basket using Kelly @ Kelby Sews' tutorial:

And I got swept up by all the recent #simplezipperbag posts on Instagram, and made this cute bag following (with just a little variation) the YouTube tutorial from Fat Quarter Shop:

All these projects are great to make (including mine!); even better to give away and also are wonderful form of therapy when you just want / need to sew little things quickly. Thank you to all the quilters who share their time and creativity in whatever way to make life just a little bit easier for someone else - someone they've never even met but share this passion with.

Linking up with Amanda Jean @crazymomquilts and Sarah @confessionsofafabricaddict.

Happy weekend :)

Monday, 30 May 2016

Chernobyl Children's Quilt Bee - Part 2 :)

** Linking up with Lorna @sewfreshquiltsquilts **

Hello all - so please see yesterday's blog post which was all about the charity - Chernobyl Children's Life Line (CCLL) and the new Quilt Bee I've formed for the lovely ladies who've volunteered their time and fabric to help me make 17 children and their families a couple of quilty gifts to take back home to Belarus. The children will be coming to North Wales for a few weeks in July so we only have until then to make the gifts ... no pressure, then!

My Instagram post has the names of these wonderful quilters - they are such a talented and kind-hearted bunch and live as far away as USA and Australia ... I'm in the UK, as are the majority of the volunteers ... so this really does feel like an international endeavour.

There are 12 girls (aged 9 upwards) and 5 boys visiting. Gerrie (the Chair) and I spoke about what to make and she said the children would love a patchwork tote bag. I'm not sure the 5 boys would ... will have to think of something else for them (maybe a lined drawstring bag - or as I call them a 'Pants Bag')?

If any of the 16 ladies want to make a boy's gift, please let me know - if not, I am happy to make the 5 Pants Bags and I know for sure that none of the girls' Tote Bags you make will go spare ... these families really have very little.

On with the tutorial. Like yesterday, though, please do feel free to make a bag using your own pattern and techniques; this is just how I made mine today. Please do skip the bits you know with your eyes closed but I'm writing this for at least one lady who asked me to 'keep it easy!'

Finished dimensions can vary but I think a finish of 14" long and 12" wide with 27" long handles should suit most of the girls. 1) I started with 6 pairs of 2.5" strips and cut them to 9" and sewed them together - 6 on each side mixed up a bit - this should make a 12.5" x 9" block:

2) Cut co-ordinating purple strips 2 x 12.5" by 2" for the bag top and 1 strip for the base of the bag - 12.5" by 8":

3) Sew the 2" strips to the top of each block and the base strip to one of the blocks:

4) Then sew the bottom of the other block to the base - if you have chosen directional fabric - this will now be upside down - don't worry it's supposed to be:

5) Baste this piece - you can use Pellon 987f (fusible fleece) for this - I didn't but I have read this is very good for bags. I just used an off-cut of batting (wadding).

Quilt as desired.

6) I used a zigzag stitch at the base of the bag - sewn at 1" intervals (marked using Hera Marker) and one line at the top of the bag. You can quilt however you like - mine is minimal but I feel it does need some quilting for extra stability (and prettiness!) 

7) So far, I have just used fabric scraps but you are going to need a larger piece of fabric for the lining and handles (unless you choose to mix and match (up to you).

I had some gorgeous pink in my stash - from this, I cut one continuous piece - 12.5" wide by 28" long for the lining:

and 2 x 28" long by 5" wide fabric for the bag handles.

8) You'll need a bit of batting - I keep off-cuts trimmed from quilts especially for bag handles - you'll need - 2 x 28" long x 1.25" 

NOTE: my handles are quite 'chunky' and have finished at 2" wide - you may prefer them narrower but, personally, using this method, I wouldn't cut smaller than 4":

9) Fold in half length ways, then press - then fold a 1/2" on each side and press. Then put the batting inside, fold in half and press again:

10) I used the same thread I used for quilting to then straight line stitch just under a 1/4" on each side of the handle.

I also put an extra zigzag stitch down the middle for more stability: 

11) Placing right sides together, you are going to sew your bag and lining down both sides - a generous 1/4" should be fine and don't forget to secure the start and finish with some extra stitches.

SORRY - photo comes later but (I also sewed a 6.5" pocket (and label) to one side of the lining).

NOTE: you will have to leave a 5" gap (not sewn) on one side of the lining - don't have it too close to the bottom because you will be boxing the corners next:

12) I boxed my corners at just under 2" and trimmed off the excess. I have read that to leave them on gives the bag more stability; I choose to trim at just over 1/4":

13) I marked where I wanted the handles with a pen:

14) Lay your handle down like this, pick up and place in the bag without twisting: 

15) And pin where your marks are:

16) Do the same with the other handle. You can see it better in the next picture but you do need to make sure your handles are slightly sticking up above the bag:

17) Turn your lining so that it is the right way around and drop it into your bag; right sides will now be facing each other. Pin the lining to the bag at the side seams so that they match up, pin in the middle on each side, then gently unpin the handles and re-pin so that you now have the lining pinned too: 

18) You'll need to sew slowly now - well, I go slowly - and you may need your walking foot. My Juki doesn't mind the bulk so she will happily sew through all the layers - I give the start and end of each handle a few extra stitches to secure:

19) Now, pull the bag gently through the gap in the lining you left:

20) It doesn't look like it'll work - but it does:

21) I sew the lining shut by just machine sewing about an 1/8th of an inch from the edge - you may want to finish this differently but I think it's very tidy and it won't be seen in the bag:

22) Nearly there - I promise - now you are going to top stitch the bag (between 1/8 and 1/4") being careful not to catch the handles. Again, I go slowly here.

I also like to start and finish by burying the knot but please do what you prefer:
And here she is: one Patchwork Tote Bag for a little girl to take back to Belarus in July:

I hope you found the tutorial helpful - and please will you link up your finishes? It would be lovely for everyone to see all the different creations. Thank you.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Chernobyl Children's Quilt Bee ...

I've said it before - the generosity of quilters never ceases to amaze me. I also think when you are generous of heart, you recognise that quality in others and are drawn towards them. That is true of my Quilty Friends both in Blogland and Instagramland - several of whom I have met in real life - others I have corresponded with, have exchanged gifts with and would love to meet up with one day.

So when I asked for some help on Thursday to make some gifts for a charity I have just got involved with - Chernobyl Children's Life Line (CCLL) - lots of special people put their hands up and said, "Yes, I'll help!" and I am so thankful. 

Just a little background: at the beginning of May, I went to a meeting with my Aunty G where Gerrie Bayley (Chair of the North Wales CCLL) was giving a talk about the charity and what they do. They are part of a national charity that helps children living in Belarus and Northern Ukraine who still suffer the effects of low level radiation some 30 years after the nuclear accident in Chernobyl. 

They are bringing 17 children (12 girls and 5 boys) to North Wales this July to stay with Host Families - whilst here, the combination of uncontaminated food, fresh air and sunshine, exciting trips out and lots of exercise does the children a power of good. 

I was drawn to Gerrie - she devotes so much time to these children and their plight - so we spoke after the talk, I explained I was a hobby quilter and asked how I could help. We spoke again on Thursday morning and have agreed each child will go home with a patchwork tote bag (Pants Bag for the boys?) and a quilted table mat for their Mum / Dad / family at home. Gerrie explained their families really don't have much at all and a little table mat would brighten up their homes.

For all my helpers (our hashtag on IG - #ccllnorthwalesquiltbee), here is my tutorial for a quilted table mat finishing at 16" x 16":

1) Choose any colour palette you want
2) You don't have to follow my pattern - you don't even have to go with 16 patch block (but 16" x16" is a nice sized finish)
3) You can machine stitch the binding if you want (I just prefer to hand sew)
4) I press my seams open but do as you prefer
5) Please add your label if you have one (if not, am thinking of getting some made)


  • Good quality 100% cotton fabric  
  • 16 x 4.5" squares
  • Backing fabric
  • Batting / wadding
  • About 70" of binding

For my design, I chose 4 different fabrics and cut accordingly. I chose the fabric for the 8 squares first because I had 1/2 yard of it so I could use on the back as well - the backing will need to be about 19" x 19" so you could just use a different Fat Quarter for the back if you didn't have 1/2 a yard to use. 

Then, I pulled the other 3 fabrics to co-ordinate ... but again, please use what you have / what you fancy.

I make my half square triangles (HSTs) like this:

and trim them down to 4 1/2":

then I decide on the layout and start sewing the pairs together; I always pin:

because I like points like this:

Once all 16 have been sewn together, make the quilt sandwich using batting / wadding and backing fabric (as you would for a quilt - I spray baste but pin if you think it needs it):

Then quilt as desired - I did some echo straight line quilting:

And I looked at the fabrics I had used and cut 4 strips of the darker orange at 2 1/4" for the binding. This is how I start and finish mine but, again, please do as suits you:

An 'arty' shot from husband:

And one from me:

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart to all my Quilty Friends for volunteering their time and fabric to help me make these gifts for the 17 children and their families and I will be back tomorrow with the Bag Tutorial.

I will try and add a link-up tool here (anyone suggest an easy one?!) but have run out of time today (got a birthday party to go to!)

Update -  I think I've managed to add a link up party!