Saturday, 25 June 2011

Patchwork baby quilt - the perfect gift

As you may recall from my post about my visit to Millie Moon, I have been making a patchwork baby quilt as a gift for a very special friend of mine. She is having her first baby this summer and I just had to make a special gift to welcome the little one into the world. And here that gift is:


I actually finished the quilt a little while ago, but didn't want to blog about it until I had passed it to my friend - spoilers just wouldn't have worked. Last night, the handover took place and I was very happy with the reaction the quilt received: smiles and hugs. Perfect.

So now I am able to blog about the quilt, that is exactly what I am doing. Here is my little guide to making a patchwork quilt, and specifically a patchwork quilt for a little baby! The quilt I made ended up at about 102cm long and 84cm wide, which is a great size for a little one to hang out on with his little baby pals, whilst the mummies drink tea and nibble cake.

Method:

1. Choose some funky fabrics to use for the patches. I used 2 contrasting patterns, which I alternated, but you can use as many colours and patterns as you like.

2. Cut these fabrics into 20cm x 20cm squares. You'll need 20 in total, to make a quilt with 4 squares across and 5 down.

3. Using a 1cm seam allowance, sew these squares into rows:

(The red stitching you see here is just my tacking - I am still a nervous sewer so tend to tack things first to make sure I get them right on the sewing machine).

4. Press the seams. 

5. Once you have 5 rows of squares, it is time to sew them all together. When you do this, try to line up the seams, so that you have good little crosses in the corners:

6. Press the seams again, to keep everything nice and tidy. Now take a look at your handy work at this stage:
7. Next it is time to sew on the borders. Choose a lovely contrasting fabric and cut 8cm wide strips off it, long enough to run the length of the quilt, with 8cms extra on either end. Sew these onto your quilt, using a 1cm seam allowance.

8. Now comes the trickiest bit: the corners! I wanted lovely diagonal seams on my corners and it took me a while to figure out how to do this (I'm not good a geometry!). Here is a series of photos to show you how to do it:







9. Trim the excess and press your seams.

10. Now it's time to put your quilt together. Choose a lovely soft fabric to use as backing - brushed cotton works well. And you'll need some wadding. Both of these should be cut slightly larger than your quilt.

11. Lay out your wadding piece flat on the floor, then lay your backing fabric on to it - face up. On top of them both, lay your patchwork piece - face down. You need to be sure that your backing fabric and your patchwork are facing each other, so that they are in the right place when turned the right way out.

12. Sew the 3 pieces together, using a 1cm seam allowance, but leave a gap of a few inches on one side so that you can turn the quilt the right way out. Trim the excess.

13. Turn your quilt the right way out and sew up the gap by hand. 

14. To hold everything nicely in place and to add that 'quilty' look, machine a line of stitches all the way around the edge of the patchwork, like this: 




And that's it: your baby quilt is now complete! All you have to do now is wrap it up into a pretty parcel and give it to a special friend and watch that friend grin.


I think I may now have to make a much bigger version of this quilt to snuggle up in myself. In fact, I bought some lovely fabric today...!   :o)

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Fabric swap

I'm excited today, as I have just signed up to my first "swap". It's a fabric swap being organised by Kandi Pandi, a blogger and tweeter who makes some beautiful handmade things.

When I started this little blog in February, I didn't realise just how much fun I would have on my journey to becoming a domestic goddess. I am only a few months in and I have already learnt so many new skills and have discovered some fabulous crafters out there in cyberland. I am a long way from my domestic goddess goal, but I am having a ball along the way!

If you want to get involved in Kandi Pandi's fabric swap visit her blog and sign up before Wednesday 22nd June. You never know what treats might come winging their way to you...

Monday, 13 June 2011

Afternoon tea - the perfect welcome party

As you may know, my sister recently gave birth to my first nephew. He is the most perfect little thing I have ever seen, and to celebrate this fact we decided to throw him a party! Now, a 4 week old baby is not really up for a big night out, so it seemed obvious that the best sort of party to throw would be an afternoon tea party. I am quite the connoisseur of afternoon tea (there is nowhere quite like The Dorchester in London), and so took control of the arrangements.

On Saturday, we all descended on my childhood home and put ourselves to work in the kitchen. The day before, I had baked a Lemon Drizzle Cake and a Victoria Sponge, using recipes from The Great British Book of Baking, and now it was time to make the sandwiches. We had a bit of a production line going and made 16 rounds of sandwiches - Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese, Cucumber and Cream Cheese, Ham and Mustard, and Cheese and Tomato - which had their crusts removed and were cut into cute little fingers. I have two top tips for you when it comes to making these dainty little sandwiches:

1. Remove the skin of the cucumber before slicing it into little slithers, rather than spending aaaaages cutting all the edges of afterwards...
2. Use a normal kitchen knife, rather than a bread knife, to slice the sandwiches into fingers, as this prevents a lot of distortion and odd shaped sarnies.

For the second course of our afternoon tea we had scones. I have to admit to cheating here: as my baking skills are not quite up to scones just yet, we went to the local bakers and came back with the biggest pile of fresh scones I have ever seen...mmmmmm they were good. These were, of course, served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Clotted cream on the scone, jam on top - the only way!

The scones were then followed buy the cake course. My Lemon Drizzle and Victoria Sponge were joined by some Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes, baked by my little sister, and a Fruit Cake baked by my mum. Yum yum!

All of this was washed down with Pimms, tea, joy and laughter - a proper welcome to the world for my little nephew!

Here are a few piccies of all the food. I think you will agree that it was a bloomin' good spread!



Thursday, 2 June 2011

Pretty little pincushion

At the weekend I was working on my baby quilt (blog will follow, but not yet!) and was getting so frustrated with pins being scattered across the table that I decided it was high time I had a pincushion. But...where do you get a pin cushion in a Somerset town on a bank holiday Monday? Well, if you are a goddess-in-training you make one of course!

I had some fat quarters of fabric that I had bought for another project, so I picked one and cut out two hearts, which I then proceeded to hand stitch together. Here's what I did:

Method:

1. Cut out two hearts from some pretty fabric.
2. Pin together, right side to right side.
3. Stitch the two hearts together, either by hand or on the machine (I hand stitched for practice), leaving a gap for turning the right way out and stuffing. You should leave this gap on a straight side, rather than in the curve at the top (a mistake I made), so as to avoid tricky stitching later.
4. Stuff your heart with some quilt filling.
5. Hand stitch to close the gap.

I then cut out a thin outline of a heart from a contrasting piece of fabric and stitched that onto the front before finishing the whole thing off with a button.

My hand sewing does still need work, and I should have left the gap on a straight section, but you live and learn. I actually quite like my slightly wonky little pincushion. What do you think?