I love to sew, mainly quilts and bags. I am 60, married to Fred and have one son, Matthew who is 21. I enjoy embroidery and applique and prefer to machine piece and quilt my projects. I love my vintage Singer sewing machines especially my Featherweight 222K. My love of sewing I believe comes from my Grandmother - I still have the drawings she made for me to embroider on tea towels many many years ago!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

YES, I'M A BAG LADY.......

Some recent sewing and happenings .....

Vintage doilies turned in to a small tote.

the other side.

pockets inside too!

A friend asked me to make this bag.  She had seen one just like it and sent me the photos.  I really enjoyed chopping up my old doilies (I have a huge drawer full of them).  I use vintage linens in my home but I have a rule now.....  once a hole appears or the crochet edge becomes tattered, into the sewing drawer it goes!  The bag is just a simple nine patch on each side with the lace/crochet edge showing on the bottom row.  I used Calico for the background and added a fusible interfacing and fusible Pellon to give the bag some body.  A big pocket on the inside and handles that make it a shoulder bag if needed.  Done!

I am making a Teddy Quilt for my ODIBAG stash
(One day I'll be a Grandmother) stash
The whole block needs to be constructed so the Teddy
can sit in the window with his paws hanging
over the edge.
The Teddy is then finished with hand blanket stitch.

I have now completed all of the hand stitching, just need to build the flimsy.

This would have to be the cutest needle book I have ever received!
My sister-in-law was cleaning out her Mum's things and this
little gem was in amongst all sorts of sewing stuff!

It's like a pop up card!!  love it!

Hubby and I had a week away - once again up in Elliott Heads -
it is just so lovely up there.  Naturally I took my hand sewing!

I've been making these little Key Chain Pouches
Free tutorial by "Dog Under My Desk".. Neat
and Tidy Zippered Pouch
These make lovely gifts. 

Two more!
I made all of these on my Featherweight 222K

Figured I should make one for myself.
I used up the last teeny bit of this vintage green fabric and
a re-purposed metal zip.
September 11 was my birthday - the big 60 this year!

Okay, that's it for now.  I have other sewing to share but it's a secret :-)  I can show you next week!

This Friday my friends and I are going to the Craft Show here in Brisbane.  So excited!  YES.... I do have a shopping list!

Happy Sewing,
Cheers from Helen

Thursday, 3 September 2015


We delivered the Farm Quilt today.  It was a short lived "spare" quilt!  Holly (next door neighbour's cat) seemed to be very attracted to this quilt when I was trying to hand sew the binding....  she would not get off so the hand sewing took a little longer than usual!

Holly (neighbour's cat) really loved
the farm quilt

Just as well I always wash a quilt prior to gifting!  Cold machine wash, warm tumble dry... that's it! I like to give quilts that can be used, washed, used, washed... over and over again.  I also offer repair services if needed!!

I found a great board book to go with it!

So now I don't have a "spare" quilt or a machine sewing project "on the go" but don't panic.......... don't panic...  I'll invent something :-)  I do have plenty of hand sewing to carry on with :-)

Happy Sewing!!  Cheers from Helen

Visited Mum last weekend, she was in fine
form... so happy... not bad for 95!

Thursday, 27 August 2015


I have started the quilting on the Farm Quilt.  If I plan to do some Free Motion Quilting on a project I always stitch in the ditch first, usually down most row seams.  As I had planned to try some FMQ around the farm animals, I started the ditch quilting on my Featherweight.  I had purchased the Stitch in the Ditch special foot and tried that but after a lot of help from April Henry from April 1930's Sewing Shop, I now understand how this foot works and will probably keep it for under stitching on bags and dressmaking.  It has a flange that sits in the ditch of your seam but the actual stitching lands just a hair to the left of the ditch.   Results vary using this foot.  A thicker seam allowance results in more of a ditch allowing the flange to sit in there well and the stitching lands closer to the ditch.  I like my "ditch" quilting to be well in the ditch.
Low Shank Stitch in the Ditch Foot

So after a few goes with the SITD foot, I switched to my Walking Foot for my Featherweight.  I love using this foot for straight line and channel quilting.  I had not used it for stitching in the ditch before.  Now I should add here right now that I own multiple sewing machines and one of them is my Brother PQ1500 which I use for most of my quilting - walking foot and free motion.  The walking foot for the Brother machine looks like this....   you can see right up the centre of the foot, up to the needle so you can really see where you are quilting "in the ditch".   The walking foot for my Featherweight does not have such a clear view of the needle and I found it difficult to stitch in the ditch accurately.  Now this could just be me because I'm so spoilt having the big Brother machine but anyway I eventually switched over to the Brother to finish the quilting.  I'm almost done!   I finished up the ditch quilting and now I'm doing some straight lines down each side of the seam, walking foot width.  I have not decided if I will do anything close to the animal embroidery as yet.

Brother PQ1500 walking foot
This sewing machine is straight stitch only.

Note the reminder on top of the machine -  last time I did
Free Motion Quilting I was having dramas and only
right at the end when I was almost finished I noticed
that one of the thread guides had been missed!
That won't be happening again!

So as you can see, it's all about trial and error.........  I love all of my sewing machines and I try and give each one a chore on a regular basis so each one gets some use and maintenance.  My Featherweight 222K is a great piecing machine (and very handy to take away from home for sewing as it's so small) and I love it for straight line, channel and free motion quilting on a small project. I have said this before.... I think it's the best Free Motion Quilting I have ever done.  I love the special foot that April sells for this purpose, it is the best foot I have ever used.    It's a great top stitching machine too.  My big Brother machine is great for all quilting especially Stitch in the Ditch and Free Motion.  So it's okay with me that my Featherweight won't be used for stitching in the ditch, she has plenty to keep her busy!

If you are new to my Blog and you're wondering how many machines I have... two treadles, one 201K knee shift, one 222K featherweight, one 99K hand crank, one Brother quilters edition and the Brother PQ1500.  and an overlocker!

A rainy cool day today (thank heavens! those hot days were a bit of a shock!!).  Tomorrow I will hopefully finish off the quilting and get the binding on!

Happy Sewing and Cheers from Helen

Wednesday, 26 August 2015


Suddenly we are thrown into Summer!  hot today and it should not be!  far too early for Summer to arrive but it does look like Winter has flown..... not perfect sewing weather!

I pinned the Farm Quilt today.....   here is how I do my pinning ......

I use bulldog clips at one end to hold the backing
and batting/wadding only.
I then tug the backing from the other end ensuring
that all is flat.  I do add a few
pieces of blue painters tape to that end just to
hold it where I want it.
I then smooth out the quilt top and wadding.

I like curved pins.  I have pinned this top ready
to stitch in the ditch to start with.
Once the middle area is pinned, I move the sides over
and pin those.

Setting up my Featherweight 222K
I am using the giant adjustable extension table
from Sewing Buddies Australia
I removed it from my Brother PQ1500 and was
surprised to find that it fit perfectly on to
my Featherweight with no adjustments needed!

Perfect fit!

As I had shifted the FW over to my other table, I brought
in my 99K hand crank.  I will give her some
work to do.  Look at that ! - the Feathermate table (also from
Sewing Buddies Australia)  from
my Featherweight fits nicely on to my 99K box.

In preparation for quilting I gave my FW bed a light polish

I am using Gutermann thread in the bobbin but Aurifil thread
in the top so I did have to play with the upper tension - moved it from 4 to just past 5
I took a photo to remind me!!

So I am all set to commence the quilting!

A lovely surprise in the mail today
Thank you Leonore!
An early birthday gift - I love the zipper purse, very clever!
and the little turtle is for cleaning your computer or phone screen - how
cute is that!

Happy Sewing!
Cheers from Helen

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


Last Saturday I put together a "spare" Farm Quilt.....  

I had some leftover embroidery blocks for a Farm quilt as I had made a mini version late last year using only 5 blocks so I decided to make another mini version to have on hand if I needed a quilt in a hurry!
Last years mini farm quilt

Cutting the borders - I like Bonnie Hunters method HERE

A flimsy!
Glad to use up some more scraps.

On Sunday we had lunch with our friends and we discovered they were grandparents again to a baby boy.......  so suddenly the "spare" farm quilt is not a spare anymore!    Today I found some backing fabric for it but it was only 40" wide and my quilt flimsy is 38" square.  I like at least 4" excess batting and backing all the way around a quilt so I decided to piece the backing with just one seam down one side.

This farm fabric is perfect!  I have always wanted to have a go at joining a backing using the method where you pattern match.......   you can read about this method HERE.

I found this fabric to use for the backing of the Farm Quilt

Measuring the pattern repeat
Cut your two pieces of fabric - one piece longer
than the other by the pattern repeat measurement

Folding and pressing along the selvedge edge of the short piece

Always make a note of the measurements!
My short piece of backing fabric =  46"
My long piece measured 46" + pattern repeat of 12" = 58"
Get your Elmer's Washable School Glue out!!
You overlay your short piece with the folded edge over the long piece, right
sides facing and obviously laying the top piece with
the pattern matching on the bottom piece.

I glued all the way down the seam (just glue under the fold line) and then put a few
pins in until I pressed with my iron to set the glue. 
Make sure the widest pieces of fabric are together (top of photo) and your selvedge edges
are together (bottom of photo) -  the seam allowance
gets trimmed off after sewing.

Heres a better view of how you add the two pieces with
the pattern matching.  You can see there is a bit of wastage
on the bottom fabric to allow for the matching
of the pattern.

Over to my Featherweight 222K to sew down the fold line

Washed and pressed ready to layer the quilt!
If you click on the photo you can just see my join
(centre of photo - but actually it lands over to one side
of the backing piece - I don't like joins
down the middle!)

I will be quilting this one on my Featherweight.  I think it's small enough to manoeuvre through the throat space of the machine.  Quilting on the Featherweight is just so enjoyable.  Perfect stitches on the front and back.  I'll do some Walking Foot quilting and maybe some Free Motion Quilting too!

So tomorrow I hope to start the quilting!  

Happy Sewing!
Cheers from Helen

Saturday, 15 August 2015


"Boats on the Open Sea"

The Boat Quilt is now finished!  I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project, especially the hand stitching.  I would like to make another one but would simplify the steps a little.  The ocean waves were a bit fiddly to stitch.  I took a long strip of the blue fabric, ironed on a strip of vliesofix, peeled off the paper backing and then cut the waves with my Wave Ruler (if you cut them with the paper still on the back, the fabric frayed up the top of each wave when you pulled the paper off).  The fabric still frayed a little so if I did make another version I would not do raw edge appliqué for the waves.  The actual pattern (found in an old magazine) did raw edge appliqué but used a template to cut the waves.

I needed a little gift to go with the Boat Quilt.  The quilt is for my little great-nephew so I wanted to make something for his big sister.....  decided on the Dolly Basket.  Geta's tutorial uses patchwork strips to make the bag but I only use two pieces-- one front and one back.  My finished measurements were approximately 15" across  X  8" down  X  5" deep (base).  I followed Geta's tutorial for all of the steps like handles and boxing the base and topstitching details.  Geta has a neat trick that makes the bag stand up so well... check out her tutorial HERE.    You could alter the measurements to suit smaller or larger dolls.

I made this basket on my Featherweight 222K... I love sewing on this machine.  I did the FMQ on it too.... such perfect stitches... front and back!  

I put a little pillow and quilt in the basket.  The little quilt has single fold binding as there is no need for double fold binding on such a small project.  I really like single fold binding, always finishes so neatly but for large quilts it's not suitable.

My current project in the making is a Farm Quilt (yes, another one!).  I'm making this one for my "one day I'll be a Grandmother" stash :-)   I do like to have lots of hand sewing and this quilt gives me plenty.   I'll be back with another Post very soon..... I've been playing with Sketchy Appliqué... and loving it!

Happy Sewing!!
Cheers from Helen

Meandering on my 222K

A dolly basket... FREE tutorial by Geta's Quilting Studio ..  Quilted Basket

Of course it needed a little pillow and quilt
A very old Blue Bunny to test drive the basket

Notice how well it stands up on its own? Geta
has a great trick to achieve this.

The backing fabric is so cute!  a little label of course and
I always include a book.  Three little bath time
fishees to keep with the sea theme.

The parcel is ready for the Post Office