Sunday, 28 October 2012

Blackbirds Mug Rug

Sometimes a pattern just goes together quickly and easily – it just flows.  So it was with the latest addition to the Patchsmith Pattern Shop – the Blackbirds mug rug. 
The inspiration for this mug rug is a sewing machine cover I am working on.  I loved the look of the birds carrying a heart so much that I thought it would be great to have it on a mug rug to use on my desk at work.  On the sewing machine cover I have used two small buttons for eyes as the birds are bigger but this wouldn’t work on a mug rug as it would make an uneven surface for a mug.
I am still working on my freestyle quilting and practised the four-petal flowers in the top and bottom border on both mug rugs.  You can’t really see it on the pink patterned fabric but it shows up lovely on the turquoise one.  Sometimes my quilting looks perfect and other times not-so-much.  But I am not looking for factory quality preferring instead a handmade item that I can keep or give away so I am happy to keep on practising.
 I made two of these mug rugs; one in turquoise and lilac and another in red and pink.  I find batch-making quick to do.  It takes only a little more time to cut for two mug rugs than it does for one and when the sewing is done in sequence, as I tend to do, both are stitched at the same time.
The trouble is I like both of them so much I cannot chose which to give away so I have decided the turquoise one has turned out so pretty that I will use it on my dressing table to hold my perfume bottles and the red one I will take to work with me.  Why not leave me a comment and tell me which you prefer.
Sew until next time .......  

Monday, 22 October 2012

Gifts for Quilters 2012

People are thinking of Christmas already, not to mention Thanksgiving.  How do I know?  My Thanksgiving and Christmas Tree mug rugs are selling well in my Pattern Shop.  As it is coming up to that time of the year when gifts are shared (along with food, drink and old grudges - like the mother-in-law!!)  I thought it might be nice if I provided some suggestions for people who don’t sew but who may want to buy a pressie for somebody who does.  So for all you quilters and sewists out there tell your nearest and dearest to visit The Patchsmith's Gifts for Quilters blog for ideas.  You can then sit back and wait to for the tinkle of jingle-bells in the safe and certain knowledge that Santa is bringing you something quilty and delicious.
So without any more ado, here are my TOP TEN GIFTS FOR QUILTERS for 2012. 
Note:  Click on any of the pictures for further info or to go through to the item.  The links provided are only a selection and will expire for sure sometime in the future.  I have included quite a lot of Amazon links but they are just for suggestion – you can find these items in lots of places – you do not have to buy from Amazon. 

1.         Books – yes the bookshelf may be buckling under the weight of quilting books but trust me, a quilter can never have too many.  But which to buy?   Here are four books that contain a variety of projects and are suitable for all levels of sewists.  Any one of these will be gratefully received.
(I have this last one and can recommend it - so many lovely projects) 

2.         A subscription to Audible.  There is nothing so lovely as stitching away whilst listening to a great book on your MP3, phone or ipad.  Audible have a subscription service where you can buy a bundle which allows for 12 books to be downloaded of a year-long period.
UK -

No mp3 player – no problem just go out and buy one and include it with the gift note telling her she has an Audible subscription. 

3.         Fat quarter bundles – if you are living with a quilter you will know what a fat quarter is but if not let me reassure you – it is not a fat quarter piece of pie/cheese or any other food related item.  It is, in fact, fabric – a quarter of a yard in fact.  To play it safe I would recommend a ‘charm pack’ (this is not jewellery) or a ‘jelly roll’ (no they don’t come covered in chocolate – that is a swiss roll!) or a ‘layer cake’ – (nope, sorry, still something you can’t eat – and not the film either!).  Pop into a fabric store or an on-line store (even Amazon sell them) and ask for a ‘charm pack’.  Hopefully you will be faced with an array of 5” sample squares of fabric.  Pick one - any one – it doesn’t matter what colour or style.  A quilter will always find a use for a 5” square of fabric.  The Fat Quarter Shop is an on-line shop based in the USA but they ship worldwide at very reasonable costs.
4.         The most important item in a quilter’s arsenal (nope, you can’t buy her a smith-and-weston) is a seam ripper.  I know what you are thinking – ripping seams – this sounds more like a ‘sexy’ type of present.  Yet again I hate to disappoint – it is not the same as a bodice ripper which would, in all likelihood be a present more for the man in her life that her!  A seam ripper is a small pointed blade that is used to unpick fabrics (come to think of it - if you are very careful it could rip a bodice or two).  There are some lovely ones around – just look online in Etsy (put ‘seam ripper’ in the search box – pick a fancy one and check it out - literally).  Here is one where I did just that:

5.         Storage boxes – plastic ones are functional but boring so pick something colourful and decorative.  Any size will do from small to large and they can be cardboard, wood, leather and plastic.  Include a magazine holder as well.   Pick something attractive and pretty – maybe even patchwork like this one:
Ikea also sell a huge selection – these are two from Ikea that I decorated with papers, so if you buy plain make sure you pick up some colourful papers to decorate them with:

Or go for something quirky and fun:

5.         A cross-stitch kit, sewing kit, button kit – any sort of craft kit (but not woodwork or metal work or how-to-change-a-tyre type of kit!).   There are many kits on the market and it can be difficult knowing which type or style to choose.  To play it safe pick a chart that a quilter could incorporate into a pillow or wall hanging –  houses, chickens, seasonal charts like these:

Yet again your local fabric store or craft store should also stock some kits.  In my fabric store this week I saw sweet little kits in a tin that turned buttons into bracelets.  Just ask for a sewing kit – pick something not too big or intricate and make sure it comes with all the necessary fabric/cotton/buttons.

7.         Sign your quilter up for a New Year class on Craftsy.
Unsure what to pick – select any class – even if the class is for a skill your quilter already.  Here is a good example for patchwork
You could even combine this gift with no. 2 above and enrol your quilter on Craftsy’s Magical Jelly Roll Quilts course – extra brownie points for you.

8.         Coloured sewing thread. A quilter/sewist never has enough coloured thread. Some of these threads come in sets which make an excellent gift on their own. Some even come with little extras like these cottons with scissors:

9.         A pretty journal and nice pen in which your quilter can write her notes, stick pictures of ideas and keep a record of any projects.  Here in Britain we have WHSmith which supply some nice leather bound journals.  Amazon also stock some.

10.         A manicure from your local beauty parlour.  A sewists hands suffer many woes, from pin pricks to callouses.  There is nothing worse than snagging fabric on rough hands.  So do something really nice and get a voucher for a manicure.  Whilst you are at it a facial might also be nice – and a pedicure – not to mention a massage for those tired shoulders hunched over a red-hot sewing machine for most of her spare time.

And an extra one for a secret Santa workmate or if buying for a fellow quilter - a quilting calendar is a good little standby.  Amazon do some that have a project a week.  Here are a couple:
So there you have it - no excuses this year for not getting the right thing.
And before I go - I would just like to tell you about a wonderful surprise gift I received this week.  It felt like Christmas had come early this year at Patchsmith Palace when I received a glorious bundle from Susie in America.  Susie had lovingly made me a wonderful bag and wallet in my favourite colours of pink and turquoise (clever woman).  But not only that, she has stuffed it full of wonderful sewing things - like special USA  press-n-seal paper, a charm pack and even more fabric.  On top of all this  she also sent over the sweetest purse for my sister (it is the little pink one in the foreground)  I also shared the charm pack with my sister as it was designed by 3-sisters for Moda so it seemed appropriate.  How lucky am I?  

Feel free to add any other suggestions for gifts for quilters to the comments section - every idea will help our loved ones put a smile on our faces this year.
Sew until next time ........

Monday, 15 October 2012

Mug Rug Addict goes Cold Turkey

I have just got back from my sister’s where I spent the weekend.  Whilst staying there I had an unfortunate accident (okay, I am guessing you are not shocked at this news if you have followed my other mishaps!).  My sister had just purchased a new oak table and I scratched it quite badly with the sewing machine whilst changing a bobbin (don’t ask how – I just did).  Anyway my sister said that I could make something to cover it up and she cheekily suggested a full-size bed quilt.  Out of generosity I offered to make her a coaster which sparked a flurry of negotiations.  She next suggested a lap quilt and I retaliated with a mug rug until finally we agreed upon a table topper.  Hence the Thanksgiving Turkey Table Topper - the latest addition to the Patchsmith’s Pattern shop. 
This little treasure measures 22” x 22” so it is perfect for all sizes of table – even round ones.  However, my sister decided to make the pattern her own by replacing the turkeys with bright yellow flowers.  I have to say her version looks very nice and I am sure she will post it on the Patchsmith’s flickr group soon.  It also meant I could keep my table topper and I could start work on my Christmas mug rug pattern rather than make a full-size quilt to cover a 1” scratch! 
This got me thinking about what makes a good pattern?  For me it is should be easy-to-follow, quick to put together and versatile - a pattern that I can add my own touch to.  So when Amy from Amy Made That asked me to test her newest Tumbler Mug Rug pattern I was delighted at the chance to put The Patchsmith’s stamp of approval on it.  Amy’s pattern is a tutorial style pattern, full of photos and handy hints.  Her work is elegant and professional (she even binds her mug rugs by machine!)  My style is more country and handmade and I have yet to bind by machine, preferring to slip-stitch my binding in place by hand - I will follow Amy’s free tutorial on machine binding one day but there is comfort in familiarity.  The tumbler pattern is such a good pattern for a mug rug – you can alter the size of the tumblers or the size of the mug rug if you wish.  Amy’s pattern recommended a plastic Dresden template but also detailed how to create a cardboard template of your own.  I made my own template as per her instructions which meant I could alter the length of the tumbler if I wanted. 
Amy quilted her mug rug using ¼” straight-line stitching so I replicated this look by shadow quilting round the flower on the rainbow mug rug.  I love the look – it is country, trendy and funky all-in-one - hands off the cuppa-tea - it's mine - oh and the mug rug is mine also! 
But of course, it didn’t have gingham in it and therefore, I had to make another mug rug (no I am not an addict - just a thorough pattern tester).  This time I used one of my favourite colours of the year – red.  I added a heart and hey-presto – country charm.  (This one is mine also!)
Whilst I was at it I made one final one using the full size Dresden and I made it reversible.  But unfortunately I can’t show you it because it is for somebody’s Christmas box by way of a thank-you for a lovely mug rug pattern!

I have added my mug rugs to the Flickr group for the Handcrafted Holiday Sew Along.  It is week 3 and there are some fabulous prizes up for grabs.  Fingers crossed eh?

Talking of prizes – my Glorious Autumn goodie pack was won by Chokkaholic Anonymous – I am sure they have a  real name and I have emailed them for their details so that I can send them the goodies.  Chokkaholic named the spider Bertie which is a derivative of my Grandpa’s name so it seemed only fitting that they should own the little critter and the goodies which come with him.
But don’t worry if you didn’t win this time.  I am sure to have other give-aways – after all I am nothing if not generous (not to mention modest).
Sew until next time .......

Monday, 8 October 2012

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving - Profitez bien le jour de l'Action de Grace

In America Thanksgiving is on Thursday 22 November this year, in Canada it is 8th October and in Britain we celebrate Harvest Festival at the end of September.  In celebration of Thanksgiving and Harvest Festival I have created a new pattern – the Thanksgiving Turkey Mug Rug.   Like all Patchsmith patterns the combination of patchwork and quick-fuse applique makes this pattern suitable for hand or machine sewists.  I hand appliquéd one and machine appliquéd the other.  Also one uses a patched tail feather and the other uses several appliqued tail feathers.  Both are quite simple and really cute.
At Patchsmith Palace we have already had our first batch of sweet pumpkin drop scones and there is plenty of pureed pumpkin in the freezer for my next batch of muffins.  At this rate I am going to need a bigger chair to accommodate my bigger behind.   I was going to say I could sit on the throne – but here in England the throne of a house is the toilet and that would never work – there is no electricity in the bathroom!  With my history of calamity that is most probably a very good thing (and yes, the cut on my toe has healed nicely, thank you for asking).
Many, many people have downloaded my spinning pumpkin block that I created for the Glorious Autumn Block Party over at Quilting Gallery.  I made my block relatively plain so that people could use it to fit in with their colours and style.  It seems to have worked – it has been well received.
The competition to win a Goodie Pack of fabric, ribbon, buttons and a Patchsmith original spider mug rug is still on – so just leave a comment, suggesting a name for this cheeky arachnid fellow.   I will be drawing a winner on 14 October 2012 so make sure you can be contacted by email.  ****NOTE - COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED AND WINNER HAS RECEIVED THIS LOVELY SPIDER AND OTHER GOODIES ****
Also don’t forget that I am giving away one free pattern with every 25th pattern sold from my Craftsy store.  Just leave a message on the Paypal form when checking-out, stating which pattern you would like to receive if you are one of the lucky 25th purchasers.  This offer also runs until 14 October 2012 so you have every excuse to purchase another Patchsmith pattern (as if you need one!).   ****NOTE - THIS OFFER HAS ALSO CLOSED BUT REMEMBER - ALL PATCHSMITH PATTERNS ARE ONLY $1.99 EACH ****

Gotta go – I am finishing off a Thanksgiving Turkey Table Topper pattern to go with the mug rug ... so keep in touch.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Glorious Autumn Spinning Pumpkins Block

Hooray – this is the week that I finally get to share my Glorious Autumn block with you.  Becky at Patchwork Posse and Eleanor of Quilt in a Day have blazed the trail this week over at the Quilting Gallery so make sure you pay them a visit.  Find out what makes the Patchsmith’s tick whilst you are there by reading my profile and make sure you check out the Quilter’s Super deal – there is a different one for each block release. 

But today is my turn and I would like to introduce you to the Spinning Pumpkin Block.  
The Spinning Pumpkin Block fulfils my three requirements for this block – it is functional, it is quick and easy to put together and it is suitable for beginners and experienced quilters alike.  Also the pumpkins spin around the block so it can be viewed from any angle – isn’t that versatile?

I have included a PDF download of the block construction and also included with it a free Patchsmith pattern to turn three of these blocks into a lovely, colourful table runner.  Feel free to download this pattern for personal use only.  However, this pattern is not to be distributed or sold, neither can items made from it be sold without the Patchsmith’s permission.  Don’t forget to add your photos to the Glorious Autumn Flickr group when made so we can all get a good look at them - we are a nosey lot here at Patchsmith Palace! 
If time doesn’t allow for you to make the table runner just now then why not make the Pumpkin Patch mug rug from my Craftsy store.  This super little mug rug takes just a couple of hours to put together and there is plenty of room on it for a cup-of-tea and a pumpkin muffin.  In fact, if you batch make it (a bit like pumpkin muffins) then you should be able to make one for you and one to give away in a single afternoon.  (Pop over to Simone de Klerk's website and see how she has turned this little mug rug into a glorious runner.)
Alternatively the Autumn Pumpkin wall banner measures just 18½” x 12½” so there is room in every home for this seasonal hanging.  The central panel of this little quiltie is made up of three sections using both patchwork and appliqué and it uses the ‘long triangle’ patched unit and quick strip borders.     As all Patchsmith patterns are only $1.99 (approx £1.30 in GBP) you could make both the wall quilt and the mug rug for a truly cosy look this autumn.

What is more, up until midnight on 14 October 2012, I will be giving away one pattern free with every 25th pattern purchased from my shop.  To qualify just leave a comment in the Paypal message box when purchasing, stating which pattern you would like to receive free if you are one of the lucky ones.  Winners will receive their free pattern within 24 hours of purchase.

I have a goodie pack to give away which includes autumn notions and four seasonal fat quarters donated by my local fabric store, The Eternal Maker in Chichester, UK.  The store was set up five years ago by mother and daughter and is a treasure trove of fabrics, buttons and trimmings.  If you are in Southern England pop in and take a look.  Anyway, I digress (as usual!) as the competition concerns the spider on the Autumn Pumpkin wall quilt.
I have always been afraid of spiders and October is known in our area as Spider Month.  You may have noticed their webs, newly spun, when you inadvertently walk into one as you go out in the morning.  When I was little and my Grandpa would take me for an early morning walk, he would tell me that when I saw a spider I should name it; this would make them less scary.  And it does, to a degree.  It also makes it much harder to hit them with an encyclopedia just to make sure that small, itsy-bitsy little spider (who is now called Doris) doesn’t come after me!!

Well, the spider on the Autumn Pumpkin wall quilt (and his doppelganger on the mug rug above) is one spider that will not come after you.  He will just sit and smile at you from his hanging place on your hall wall.   However, my Grandpa would not be pleased because I have yet to name this happy little chap.   Any suggestions?    Leave a comment below and I will pick one lucky winner on 14 October 2012 who will receive the fabric and notions pack together with the little spider mug rug above (make sure you can be contacted by email).

However, you should note that this spider can’t be called Doris, because she is lying under the encyclopedia Britannica on my lounge carpet!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Turquoise Houses

Turquoise houses with flower roofs – really?  Do you remember the Yarn of the Red Elephants?  At the end I told you I had an incoming idea of turquoise houses.  Well today that idea became a reality with my latest pattern, the House and Home mug rug.  This pattern is ultra versatile because the applique works well by hand or machine and the patched block can be fully patched or half-patched.  And if you do the half-patch block you then have the option of appliquéing the word ‘home’ on the top part of the block (in felt or fabric) or free-style quilting it on. 
If you didn’t want to patch at all you could make two house blocks and have them side-by-side – this option would make a good ‘welcome’ gift for a new neighbour – I wouldn’t put hearts for smoke though, not unless the neighbour was hunky, sexy and looked like Brad Pitt.   For a non-Brad-Pitt-neighbour I would just have the smoke swirling between the two houses.   I’m keeping my turquoise house mug rug though because I can honestly announce to the world “I am now the proud owner of a turquoise house”.  How many people could say that and not be thought mad?    

If you make this pattern please post a picture of it in the Patchsmith Patterns Flickr group.  Check out the Flickr group though because Simone de Klerk has added her beautiful autumn table runner to the pictures.  Simone used the Pumpkin Patch mug rug pattern to craft the ends of her cool table runner which just goes to show that it isn’t just houses that are versatile – there is so much you can do with a pumpkin.  Check out Simone's blog – the autumn colours are awesome.
 Today is the start of the Patchsmith Pattern Give-away – check here for details.  It is running from 1st to 14th October 2012 and ties in with my Glorious Autumn Block which will be released on Thursday 4th October.

p.s. Amy Made That’s latest post features a lime house with a turquoise door – it is nice to know there is another person just like me alive and well and living in the world – I just need to hunt them down and make their house mine!!!
But until then I had better go – I need to paint Patchsmith Palace before the light fades!

p.s. Don't forget to come back Thursday for the free pattern and a chance to win fabric, buttons, ribbons and a real, live Patchsmith spider!!