30 September 2011

Rainy Day Blues

Hello There!
To-day began pretty miserabley, rain, rain & more rain... while the rest of the UK basks in glorious sunshine, this was the view from my sewing machine:
Not even a glimpse of the sun!

But then things started looking a bit brighter when the postman arrived with some wonderful goodies... The first delight came all the way from Morocco from Anabella, one of my goodie swap partners:
Its so funny, but that wee basket was something that I really, really liked when I saw it on the flickr photos, so I was totally delighted to receive it! Already it has pride of place on my sewing table, providing a gorgeous new home for my camera & leads etc. which I'm forever loosing... Thanks so very, very much Anabella!
The second parcel came from the Czech Republic from a friend who's sewing I have admired (alas from afar) in each of the swaps I've done:
This mug rug is wonderful & perfectly sewn... I was so thrilled to get this as I live a couple of miles from the beaches of Northern Ireland. 
So Dianne thank you very, very much... this is what you could see from my parents house yesterday:
It is very pretty, but no lovely, happy beach houses in sight unfortunately!
The THIRD parcel came from the wonderful Cindy, the Goodie Swap mama who had made some blocks  for the Kind Stitches Bee... aren't they gorgeous!

Thanks so much Cindy, I really appreciate your thoughtfulness! For those of you who have missed the details, I am making non-wadded quilts for a children's shelter in Pattaya, Thailand which I will be working in in November as part of a medical team. The children in the shelter have all been rescued from sex trafficking (please check out this blog post for further details). Thank you very much all of you who have already contacted me, but if you would like to make some blocks here are the details of the same ones Cindy did:
If you'd like to know more, check out our flick'r group  Kind Stitches or drop me a wee line - I'd love to hear from you!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend... this is what I'll be up to:
Take care!

29 September 2011

Baggy Blitz!

 Today in between walks along the seashore I finished an order for two bags for a mum & daughter.

This is the Julie bag - the first was to have shorter straps & I used reds, browns & aqua
The second one was to have longer straps & I used a lovely purple & aqua fabric combo.
The pattern is called Julie and was written by the very creative Griselda . It has loads of outer elasticated pockets, a snap closure & an inner zip pocket.
Although the instructions are in German, there are plenty of photos to help keep you right. I loved making this pair & seeing how the slight alterations to fabrics & measurements made them both so unique. This is definitely one bag I will be making again!
Hope you are all enjoying the sunshine!

26 September 2011

Postie Postie Don't Be Slow Be Like Elvis Go Man Go!

Apologies for the title, but this was one of those wee slogans which made its way onto my first Valentine envelope!!!
To-day lots of things went off in the post.....
First up was the package for partner 1 in the Goodie Swap 2011:
I am very nervous about this lot... my partner likes geometrics, reds & pinks & no florals & no applique... so I really struggled coming up with something that hopefully she will like. Here's her mug rug:
Of course I managed to squeeze in some linen in a wee needle case & a pouch for her sewing things:

Next was the package for partner 2: this was a bit easier for me:
I really loved putting this mug rug together:
Fingers crossed my partners will like them!
Did any of you post anything exciting to-day?
Hope you all have had a great day

24 September 2011

Speedy Scrappy Block Tutorial

Hello there!
Wow! Its hard to believe I have been away a week! I have just come back from a hastily-planned trip to London with Hannah to look around universities. Its an amazing city with lots of incredible sights, sounds, tastes & smells. Our feet are sore from walking & we've put on a pound or two in weight & spent (more than) a pound or two in money... but it was fantastic!
I'm now back playing catch up & firstly want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who have contacted me about the Kind Stitches Bee. I'm so grateful to each of you who have offered to make blocks which I will be making up into non-wadded quilts to take to a childrens shelter in Pattaya, Thailand. The children in the shelter have all been rescued out of sex trafficking & I will be part of a team who will be running medical clinics in the shelter & slum areas of Pattaya. 
The trafficking of children is a horrific problem, across the globe, but in South East Asia, it’s even more prolific.  These children may have been kidnapped by traffickers, or even harder to imagine, sold by their own parents.  Severe poverty in some areas of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam means that, with an extra mouth to feed, some parents feel the only way to pay their food or medical bills is to sell one of their children. Because these children are trafficked into other countries, they are especially vulnerable with not speaking the language and cannot ask for help.  And even if they are rescued by local authorities, they are then treated as an illegal immigrant, often placed in adult refugee camps, only to be abused again.
The shelter tries to provide immediate care and ultimately try to repatriate these children into their country of origin. If you are interested, here is link Share me to a video (please ignore the first mini advert slot) which will give you a better idea of where were are going, but the video footage is disturbing...
If you would like to help with making the quilts here is tutorial of sorts which shows you a speedy way to make perfectly squared blocks out of your scraps...

For the Kind Stitches Bee the finished blocks are 6 1/2" & are made from a 4 1/2" centre block & 11/2" sashing so in this tutorial we will be making blocks for this size, but you can adjust the block sizes according to your stash... so here goes... (remember to use a 1/4" seam throughout!) 
Step One: What You Will Need
Any coloured scraps from your stash which are exactly or more than 2 1/2" wide & any length more than 2 1/2"
A long white strip which is exactly or more than 2 1/2" wide
Long white strips which are exactly or more than 11/2" wide - you will probably need two of these
Step Two: Trim Those Scraps
If you need to, trim the WIDTH of the scraps to 2.5" for the coloured scraps & the white strip & 1.5" for the white sashing. (If you want to economise with your scraps also trim the LENGTH of the coloured scraps to JUST OVER or 5" (or 7.5"... ie any number that is a multiple of 2.5") so as you will get an even number out of the scrap)
Put the long 1.5" sashing strip to one side for now & lets start on the smaller coloured strips and the longer white strip all the same width... still with me?
Step Three: Sew Those Scraps The Super Quick Way
Ok here comes the super quick part... Place your white 2.5" strip right side up lengthwise& place on top one of your coloured scraps right side down lengthwise also. Change you stitch size to slightly smaller (this just makes your stitches less likely to unravel) &, using 1/4" seam, sew them together. When you come to the end of your coloured strip stop with your needle down & get your next coloured scrap & place it right side down on the white strip that is still in your machine.

Continue sewing through this scrap & then the next till you run out of scraps or white strips. So what you should have in a big long strip of white with coloured scraps attached
Step Four: Cut Those Pairs
We're now going to cut the strip into squares. Don't open out your coloured/white strip, but keep it flat just the way it came out of the machine, & cut it down to 2.5" squares. When I'm doing this I always use my stitch line to align with the 1/4" marker on my ruler up so as my seams for the next step will align nicely (in case I went off a bit!)
What you should have now are lots of lovely neat wee 2.5" pairs 
Step Five: Butt Those Seams 
Open out your pairs & finger press to the coloured side. (If you want to press with an iron go for it, but I find at this stage finger pressing works just as well & takes less time). Butt your seams together with another pair so that the seams lie in opposite directions. This keeps them neatly together & helps to distribute the bulk of the seam.
Using a similar chain piecing technique as before, stitch each butted pair together
Step Six: Clip & Admire
You should now have a wee chain of pieced units ready to be clipped & pressed. At this stage I press my seams open, which helps them to lie flat, but its really up to you... just make sure you press & not iron as this will distort your nice square
So now you should have some lovely, perfectly matching squares each measuring 4.5"
Step Seven: Sash Those Squares
For the  Kind Stitches Bee our finished blocks are 6.5", so we need to sash these lovelies with the long 1.5" white strip we set aside earlier on, starting with the sides & then the top & bottom.
Again, for speed, using the same chain piecing method outlined in step sew your long white sash right side up to one of the squares right side down. Stop when you come to the end of the square and, keeping your needle down, carefully place another square right side down & sew these together
If your piece is long enough, you should now have a long white strip with your squares attached. Trim your attached sashing to 4.5" long to match the length of the square and repeat the process for the other side of the square
One you have both sides done, press the seams open & then repeat this step for the top and the bottom of your square. Press again & double check your block size - you should now have lots of lovely, perfectly squared, scrappy blocks which you have made in super quick time!
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial & I'd love for you to give this technique a go. 
If you are interested in making some blocks for the  Kind Stitches Bee do let me know & I'll give you further details... go on... stitch some kindness to-day! 
Thank you!

16 September 2011

A Request

Hello there
I hope you all had a good week... mine was busy & I'm looking forward to the weekend.
This is a difficult blog for me to write as I firstly want to say thank you so much to you all for the lovely comments, kind words and inspiring creativity you have shared with me. I've only been blogging for a couple of months now, but already I feel as though I have a have a wonderful, supportive wee sisterhood out there which I'm truly humbled to be part of. Its because of who you all are that I would like to ask you if you would be willing to help me out with something which is important to me....

In November, my husband & I are going with a team to Thailand for a couple of weeks to work in a children's shelter in a city called Pattaya which, until 1961, was a small fishing village... it is now a sprawling city of over 300,000 with over 50,000 registered (and countless thousands of illegal) prostitutes. David & I will be running clinics in one of the children's shelters which cares for some of the thousands of children who have been used in sex trafficking. 
I know that in two weeks we won't really be able to accomplish much, but what if I was able to do something more lasting... what if I was able to take with me something from you all... something which would at least remind the children & the workers that there were people across the globe who cared about them? OK, so what I was wondering was if you could help me make simple non-wadding quilts for the shelters? Basically I was thinking of making quilt tops & then quilting them onto flat sheets which would be more suitable for Thai weather & I could pack easily in our suitcases. I've mentioned this to some lovely local ladies & the other day we came up with this lot:
The finished blocks are all 6 1/2" square: the centre square is 4 1/2" & the white border strips are 1 1/2" wide.... So, if you would like to be help in these kind stitches I would be very, very grateful....
Thanks so much
PS I will set up a flickr group for this charitable bee which I would love for you to feel free to join. Thanks

15 September 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Thanks so much to all of you who visited me in my wee Artfire Shop McGinty & Me & left me lots of great comments. Its very interesting to see what everyone likes!
OK so I guess you are waiting patiently to see who has won the goodies.....According to Mr Random.Org its comment 32. So congratulations Dianne! If you could please email me your address I will get these posted off to you.
For those of you who didn't win, I want you to know how much I appreciate you, so for the next week you can purchase any patterns you like from  McGinty & Me with a 25% discount. Simply at the checkout type in the word mcginty to have the 25% discount applied.
Hope you all are having a lovely day!

13 September 2011

Wall Art (not so)Tiny Tutorial

Hello there!
Last night while the wind was howling & the cows were mooing & the McGinty (our wee dog) was barking, I sat down in my wee craft corner & made these:
They are a gift for the children's leader in our church who Hannah worked for over the summer & who exudes kindness, fun & laughter in everything he does. I gave them to him this morning & they are now up on his office wall.
I really enjoyed making them, they are so easy & quick to do. I know how you all love a tutorial, or in case you would like to make them yourself, I thought I would share with you how I did it, so here goes....
Step One: What you will need
- Fabric for your background (this will need to be approx 3" wider and longer than your canvas size)
- Assorted scraps for your letters
- Double sided fusible web applique paper something like Steam-a-Seam or SoftFuse. Remember if you are going to stitch round the letters your fusible web should be the "lite" variety or you may have difficulty sewing through it
- A canvas frame - you can pick these up fairly cheaply from most DIY or general stores or somewhere like IKEA, or you could use a wooden photo frame. If you are using a wooden frame you will also need a piece of not so good backing fabric (like lining material or something inexpensive) the same size as your wall art background.
- An iron
- A light box if you have it
- Sharp scissors
- A staple gun
Step Two: Designing your wall art
One of the easiest ways to do this is using your computer. Decide what words or pictures you want to put on the wall art & then simply use Word to make an A4 one-page document & type on it the words you want on your wall art. You can also download images etc from various online sources to include if you wish.
Check the size of your canvas with an A4 page and modify your font size so it is centered and filling as much of the canvas as you would like. The canvas I used for these are 12"X9", so it was easy to work out if my letters were the right size & not too big or small for the canvas...
Once you are happy with how it looks on the page, print the page out. (If you are confident in your writing, you can skip of all of this and just write out the letters)
Step Three: Creating your letters
Using your light box (or just tape the A4 page to the window) trace the REVERSE image of the letters onto the fusible web paper and with a sharp pair of scissors, cut your letters/shapes out slightly larger than the letter & fuse them onto the back of your fabric scraps. For best results follow your manufacturers instructions here for fusing as I have a couple of brands at home and they differ slightly.
Cut neatly around your letter/shape outline & remove the fusible web backing paper & place your letters on the backing fabric taking time to check with your Word document that you have spaced them correctly.
Once you are happy with your placement, fuse the letters/shapes onto the backing fabric again following the manufacturers instructions.
Step Four: Appliqueing your letters
You may want to applique your letters either by hand or machine. I used a zig zag stitch for mine, but you could use any stitch you fancy here. Be sure you sew in your threads & don't knot them as they will make your canvas a wee bit bumpy!
There are lots of great tutorials on machine applique out there, but if you are looking for another one Elizabeth from Oh, Fransson! (http://www.ohfransson.com/) did one a couple of years ago for Sew Mama Sew which is clear & easy to follow (http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/2008/07/summer-sewing-simple-machine-applique/)
(At this stage if you are using a photo frame you need to stitch your nice fabric with your applique onto your not so nice inexpensive piece so that it will add support to your nice one. If you are using a canvas frame don't worry about this wee bit)
OK... so far so good? Now switch off your machine, roll up your sleeves & get ready for some staple gun fun!
Step Five: Attaching your canvas sides
Iron your appliqued fabric to make sure you have no wrinkles (believe me they will show!) & take a wee bit of time to position your fabric on your canvas, making sure your canvas is not wonky. 
Turn the canvas over and keeping the fabric in the right position staple gun it once to the frame. Only do it once, just in case you have to remove the staple & reposition your fabric (I'm sure you won't need to but just in case......)
Flip it over just to check everything still looks OK on the right side 
If it looks grand flip it back again, &, keeping your fabric firmly taught, staple gun it evenly to the opposite frame piece...
The key here is to keep everything evenly taught, otherwise you may distort or twist your lovely design.
Hows it looking? Good... OK lets do the other two sides
Step Six: Attaching the canvas top & bottom sides
Using the same technique as before, holding your fabric taught, staple it once to one side, keeping it uniformly taught, staple it to the opposite side

Step Seven: Finishing off with the corners
Fold your corners just as you would wrap a present and add about 3 staples to secure them firmly and evenly. 

Don't worry.... it doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to look smooth from the front.

Repeat this present wrapping technique for the other corners

Step Eight: Stand back and admire you work!
Phew! Sorry this was a bit more wordy than I had planned, but I hope you enjoyed it and have fun making lots of wall art! Go on.... and let me know how you get on!
PS... Lots of love to my wee bloggy friend who had surgery today & should be soon back to blogging!!!!