Friday, 29 July 2011

A Work in Progress - The Big Zig-Zag (Chevron) Quilt


I must start this by being upfront and saying:
I failed mathematics in my final year of high school!
Possibly not because I wasn’t capable, but more from a ‘I did not APPLY myself’ sort of perspective. ;)

Anyway...I don’t usually do all that normal ‘prepping’ you should do before you make a quilt like:

-    drafting up the pattern
-    deciding on finished size
-    checking to see I have enough fabric

(I know, can you believe it - crazy!) 

But on this occasion I did - see my ‘brilliant’ (read with extreme sarcasm) sketch of the quilt below and my obviously poor level of mathematics at play.

The actual plan!
Some how though, despite all this planning, I still ended up miscalculating the number of coloured squares I needed to cut up and instead of cutting 320 squares I cut 640!!!!!!

This error may also answer some questions in relation to a few of my previous posts where you might have wondered why I seemed to be making lots of square and half square triangle quilts, like herehere and here. Well it was to try and use up all my extra squares!

And wouldn’t you know it, even after making all those quilts I still have enough left over to make a few more !!!

….ah well at least I haven’t wasted anything!

So here are a few photos of the quilt to date..I love the pretty colours and I generally just used what I already had in the cupboard so it's nice and scrappy.

Close up of all my zigs and zags

It even looks pretty on the wrong side!
The finished quilt top!
I had originally thought I would hand quilt this one - but seeing it's already halfway through winter (or more) and it's MASSIVE, I decided I would get it machine quilted so I might at least have a change of using it this year.

And as luck would have it, I found a lovely lady at work who also loves quilting as much as I do and who has a wiz bang quilting machine and was happy to do the quilting for me!

So this lovely quilt will be on its way to her as soon as I can:

1. decide what quilting design I want to use; and
2. finish getting the backing pieced!

So I'd love to hear from you if you have any ideas on what you think would be a good quilting design for this one!

At the moment I'm thinking an all over design would be best so I can disguise some of my zig-zag points that don't quite meet!
x Caity

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A Low-Cost Kitchen Makeover!

Home Decorating:

Whenever anybody is doing a home renovation, they ususally say that they had a budget that they had to work to..... but I think that the best challenge is when you REALLY mean that and you have to do your renovation or makeover for a very small amount of money. My kitchen makeover was one such example!

The kitchen is well set out as it was (the house was built in the early 1980s)... lucky for that, because I had no money for any ripping out of cupboards! This is a summary of how I achieved the changes that you can see below:

1. I gave the whole kitchen a very good clean!!

2. I took off all the top cupboard doors so that the room looked more open and modern.

3. I painted the cupboards white using an enamel-based paint. I used white because it is a relatively small kitchen and I wanted to make it look bigger.

4. I painted the benchtops white using White Knight Laminate Paint. The back of the paint tin says not to use it for benchtops, but I have found it to be fine. Re-painting your benchtops once every couple of years is certainly cheaper than putting new ones on!

5. I did have to purchase a new rangehood (but I just bought the cheapest one), and I did have to get a builder to install the rangehood and a flue to the outside. All necessary work though, and it has made the kitchen much cleaner.

6. I changed the door handles

7. I bought a new light fitting and had that installed by an electrician.

8. While the builder was installing the flue, I asked him to put up some plywood at the end of one of the cabinets (he just stuck it over the top), and I painted it with blackboard paint.

9. Then I just added a magazine rack from IKEA, some stools, and decorated the kitchen nicely!

I love the result!!

The kitchen 'before'. Please note that I had already taken off the top cabinet doors before I took this photo!

The kitchen 'after'!

Happy decorating!


Thursday, 21 July 2011

Mr Elephant - Lino Print


I have been very good lately, working through my unfinished projects - and while I’m still working away on a few bigger projects I had to break free for a while - even if only to do something small!!

This took me right back to high school art class days, which might well be the last time I actually did a lion print!

I took my inspiration from a great little alphabet frieze wall poster by Miriam Bereson we have at home, and did a sketch in pencil straight onto the lino.

Then, the fun part of carving it out! I loved this bit - it was quite therapeutic  (note to self - I must buy more lino)

Mr Elephant - sitting in the garden!

From there it was just a matter of the PRINTING!

My first on paper was a little disappointing (see below) as I didn’t use enough paint - but I soon got the hang of it). 

First attempt - not quite enough paint!
Second go - too much paint!
Third time lucky!
Next I'm going to try it out with some fabric paint for a tshirt! 

But for now it looks great in my little boy's room!

Mr Elephant!
Caity x

Monday, 18 July 2011

Personalise the Door to your Child's Room

Home Decorating:

Here's a suggestion to (tastefully!) personalise the door to your child's room. Purchase a large white letter to match their names and stick it up with blu-tac! The white keeps it unobtrusive and looking nice... yet children feel very important with their favourite letter on their door!

In my case, my letters are 'P' for Poppy and 'J' for James!

Happy decorating!


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Appliqué Spring Tree Cushion

Sewing/Home Decorating: 

Another unfinished project done (mental ‘TICK’) yay! I’m cruising through my box now.

I started this cushion while visiting Cath - it’s taken from here - which is an amazing and inspiring book FULL of great ideas!

Similar to the needle case I made for Cath, I was lucky enough to get to be able to use ALL her scraps for this cushion!!!!

Cushion in progress
My only regret is I didn’t insert a zip on the back of the cushion (I just couldn’t remember how to do it) but my lovely mum has since retaught me so I might just have to redo the back of this cushion - if I’m honest with myself though - probably not).

It's just as effective doing the simple back with an overlap of the two pieces.

Back of cushion
Caity x

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Tips for Updating a Room using Paint

Home Decorating:

Recently I posted some photos of a part of my living room in Shelving Ideas for a Small Corner for Storage and Display. I thought I'd elaborate on my information a bit by detailing how I used paint to update my living room!

For the Bricks
If you have exposed bricks in your house (as I did), you can certainly paint over them! Here's what I did:

1. Gave them a bit of a scrub (I didn't try that hard!) with sugarsoap and water. I just used a dishwashing brush.

2. Painted two coats of undercoat. The paint that I use and like is Dulux. I used the Dulux 1 Step Prepcoat Undercoat, Sealer and Primer in White. This took a bit of time because I made sure I covered all the bricks. I ended up loading up my brush well, and then sort of 'stabbing' the bricks. I found that two coats of the undercoat sealed the bricks really well and stopped any brick colour from seeping through.

3. Once the undercoat had dried, I filled in any obvious holes in the bricks with white acrylic gap sealer.

4. I then did one topcoat using Dulux Aquanamel in White. This is a really good, hardy paint (washes up in water too!) and it doesn't go yellow at all. I also did a coat of Dulux High Gloss Enamel over the part of the bricks that get the most exposure to dust etc from the fire (i.e. down the bottom).

Here's a close up photo of the finished bricks

For the Light Fittings
It's much cheaper to paint over the top of these than get new ones! (unless they're REALLY ugly of course!)Here's what I did for these:

1. Gave them a wipe over with sugarsoap and water

2. Painted two coats of undercoat again using the Dulux 1 Step Prepcoat Undercoat, Sealer and Primer in White.

3. Painted TWO topcoats of Dulux Aquanamel in White. The two coats just ensured that the light fittings ended up looking really white!

Here's a close up of the finished light fittings

For the Walls and the Ceiling
1. Gave them a good wipe over with sugarsoap and water

2. Filled in any gaps with gapsealer. This is a bit of a pain but every gap you fill is so worth it! It will look much better in the end.

3. Did two coats of undercoat using the Dulux 1 Step Prepcoat Primer Sealer and Undercoat in white. The wood really needed two undercoats to seal it properly. I also used a brush for this as I got better coverage with it.

4. Then I used Dulux Wash n Wear Premium Acrylic Flat in white, and did two coats of this. Again, the wood really needed the two coats of the topcoat, just to get the right 'white' look. Again, I did this job with a brush.

The only other painting tips I can offer are:
1. Buy good quality brushes!! Also, don't think that by buying a bigger brush it will take less time. Your arm will get so sore from using the big brushes... I sugggest a medium sized one!

2. If you're using the big 10 litre tins of paint.... buy a paint tin opener! An old chisel will only get you so far, and you'll end up wrecking the lids. Wrecked lids are a real pain if you're having to open and shut the tin alot.

3. If you are having to stop and start painting a bit (I painted my house with a toddler, for example!), wrap your paintbrush in cling film (when you've been using it and it has paint on). It will keep in the cling film easily for up to a week. Much easier than trying to wash the brushes out all the time and wait for them to dry!

Happy painting!


Thursday, 7 July 2011

‘The Animals at the Zoo’ Square in a Square Quilt


Pieced quilt top ready for some quilting!
This quilt is another one of my unfinished quilts that I have resurrected from my box.

The pattern for this quilt is from Cluckclucksew and was really simple and easy to make if you use her revised way of cutting up the blocks as noted here.

I used a half yard custom fabric bundle from Fabric Worm in what I think was called 'The Zoo' (but unfortunately it's no longer in stock) and I added a few extra spotty fabrics from my stash.

Once I got all the blocks cut and pinned together it was a surprisingly quick quilt top to piece together...and I didn’t even struggle with getting corners to meet (well not as much as I normally do!).
A close up of my neat little corners
For the backing I used up some large pieces of fabric I already had trying to keep the colour theme (it’s amazing what you can find in the scrap bag!!!). Note the small error I made when I realised I was short in one corner!!!
Back of the quilt - note the top left corner!!

My initial idea was to hand quilt it and so I spent an hour one Saturday afternoon hand tacking it (I HATE HAND TACKING QUILTS)

Hateful tacking :)

And wouldn't you know it, once I got that done I changed my mind and decided it was definitely a machine quilting project - as it's for my little boy's first ‘big boy’ bed (when he gets one that is) and I had visions of it being dragged all over the house.. not like his Swimming Fish Quilt which I hope (probably pointlessly) will stay nice and clean for eternity.

For the binding I used a pale blue and white stripe which I cut on the bias and then pieced randomly so that the stripes ran both ways to create a bit more interest!

Random binding

Anyway here is the finished quilt - I love it!

Happy quilting!

Close up of the animals at the zoo!

The finished quilt!

PS. I REALLY am going to get a new camera soon!
Caity x

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Shelving Ideas for a Small Corner for Storage and Display

Home Decorating: 

This is a corner in my living room which was difficult to fit anything into!

I needed space for my telly etc, space for display, and space for children's toys. These are the 'before' and 'after' photos!

I used laminated wood for both the mantlepiece and the shelves... (the cheapest solution I could come up with), bought baskets from IKEA, and now there's loads of room!

Happy decorating!