Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cruisin' with Nana

We are lucky enough to have my Nana living with us. She loves playing with the children and usually has some sort of little treat for them when they go to visit (which is everyday, if not multiple times a day.) For my nana’s birthday I made up this little seat cover so that she could safely take Grace for rides in her walker. It’s been so cute to see them whizz around the back yard, having a lovely time together.

I thought I would take a moment to tell you about my Nana. She is the most amazing seamstress and has sewn her whole life. She altered her first dress when she was twelve years old and practically made all of her own clothing from then on. She came out from Finland to Australia with her family when my dad was young and continued sewing from home while raising a large family. Many nights she sewed well into the early hours finishing off wedding dresses or special outfits.

Growing up, I spent nearly every Sunday afternoon at Nana and Grandpa’s house. I remember excitedly looking through her Burda magazines, picking out dresses for church and then going into her sewing room and selecting the fabric. Her sewing room was bursting with fabric... beautiful, expensive fabric. Once she made me a gorgeous black cocktail dress from detailed raw silk fabric that was $500 a metre. We must have kept her busy, my five sisters and I, as I cannot remember wearing an outfit to church that was not made by my dear Nana.  

She was quite the perfectionist, and I remember her carefully pinning dresses to my shape, her fingers working quickly, pulling and smoothing into place. Even now, if I show her some of my work that isn't quite right she advises me to redo it, or I wont be happy. She loves seeing what I create and is really encouraging. Occasionally Nana still fires up her sewing machine. and it's quite the beast. I thought mine was noisy, but hers is a fully industrial sewing machine and has a big motor on it. Nana paid quite a lot for it 30 years ago and it still works beautifully. There is so much I admire about my Nana, including her generosity, hard work and sewing talent. I'm so glad that my children get to spend time with their Great Grandmothers (we are lucky enough to have my other grandmother living just around the corner too).

To make the padded baby seat for the walker I just sewed 2 half yard cuts, with two layers of cotton batting in between, and some ties to tie it to Nana's walker.  I kind of just measured and cut and then measured and cut until everything was in the right spot.

It's soft and snuggly and quite safe to go cruising around.


And just letting you know, we have some university students from China staying with us for the next little while. It's fun having such a full house, but it's also a lot of work cooking and cleaning for 8 people (not including Nana), so you'll understand if I'm not on the blog all that much (I have to cook a decent meal every night, and clean the house every day ... shock horror... so that doesn't leave much time for crafting - but I'm sure I'll manage to sneak in a little bit.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Machine pieced hexagons

I was thrilled to see a tutorial for machine pieced hexagons by Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio. I've tried machine piecing hexagons before but it was a pain marking a 1/4in from each corner. With Jacuqie's instructions you don't have to mark at all. If there's a way to make something quicker and easier, while still maintaining great results - I'm all for it!

I tried the column method. I used a 5in hexagon template, a charm pack and a rotary cutter and it was really quick to cut out the hexagons. I sewed all the hexagons together into columns, and then sewed two columns together at a time.

It wasn't difficult, but just took patience and a bit of massaging to get each of the joins to meet up nicely. I'm very happy with how flat it lies.  About half way through this project I swore I would never do it again, but now that I'm finished I feel strangely compelled to make another hexagon quilt. This time I would like to make it look a bit more modern. This one is bright, but I wouldn't necessarily call it modern. Maybe it's the pastel pink and yellow that throw it off the 'modern' trail?

I used Quilt Lite for the batting (a really thin cotton batting to keep it from becoming stiff) and a super soft flannel on the back. I kept the quilting sparce to maintain the softness, and I like how the quilting it looks on the back.

To keep the binding soft I used the backing fabric for the binding. To do this I cut the backing fabric 3/4in larger than the quilt top on all sides and cut away the batting in line with the quilt top. I then folded the backing fabric over to the front - twice on each of the edges, mitring at the corners - and sewed in place. I was in a bit of rush, but I'm sure I could make it more even if I took my time (and I did trim those threads before giving it to my cousin's new baby.)

Thanks Jacquie for a fantastic tutorial! Also, I bought Jacquie's new book that she wrote with Katie, "Quilting Modern" and I love it. It's a beautiful book, tonnes of inspiration, gorgeous patterns, and Angela's quilting is beyond amazing. What's particularly great about this book is that it gives you lots of different techniques and tools to branch out and create your own modern/improvised quilt.

You can see tonnes of fantastic projects from the book at the Quilting Modern blog Blast.