Posts by Leanne Peel:
Hope you’ve had plenty of time lately to indulge in your favourite hobby. With winter fast approaching that to me means more hours working on our projects, cuddly flannelette PJs, woolly socks and jumpers, hot cups of coffee, getting stuck into a good book and slow cooker meals a plenty.
I have been pottering about in the sewing room and working on the upcoming mystery quilt for you. Here’s another sneak peak…
Mystery Wall Hanging with Leanne
Starting early June 21
EARLY BIRD sign up by 28/5/21 pay only $20
What is Boro?
I’ve also been spending a bit of time handstitching. You may have heard of it ‘Boro’.
It appears to be all the rage at the moment along with visible mending. Yes it seems the old values of ‘making do’ and actually repairing an item of clothing have become fashionable. And this is a wonderful thing because the clothing industry and our desire for fast, affordable fashion is an enormous environmental problem. These days our clothes, made cheaply, to be worn for a season, and to not need ironing, are a combination of synthetic and natural fibres.
Much of our textile waste goes into landfill. And while repairing and mending an item of clothing does mean we purchase less new clothing, we really also need to focus on purchasing a good quality garment in the first place.
Now pardon my ignorance but I always thought the term ‘boro’ meant a Japanese version of running stitch. Turns out, I was wrong (very unusual, I know right?). The correct meaning of ‘boro’ is a blanket that had been patched over and over again with sashiko (stitching).
Traditionally the Japanese used fabric until it virtually disintergrated. They would use use tattered fabric and stitched it within an inch of its life, to make the fabric usuable. They believed in using the fabric until it dissolved in water.
The blankets were made over many years, for many generations and the blankets often became dirty and smelly, becoming too fragile to wash. So to sum up, sashiko refers to the stitching, the act of sewing fabric together. Whereas boro refers to the item that has resulted, a blanket that that has been patched and mended with sashiko over many years. Information sourced from www.upcyclestitches.com
Similar but different
If you are on facebook or instagram you may have seen posts on traditional Indian blankets (Siddha) or traditional African blankets (Kawandi). These are similar but different to Japanese boro. Theres a video link here if you’d like to give it a try.
It was a way of making blankets using scrap fabrics and old clothing/textiles. Nothing went to waste and even the smallest pieces can be used. The item is made by preparing a backing, maybe a blanket or cloth inside, and then pieces of fabric stitched down onto the base using a large running stitch to hold it all together. The effect is much like what we call ‘big stitch quilting’. Except in this technique the pieces are stitched on in a spiral, starting at the edges then stitching and layering as you go around, working towards the centre. Its quite a relaxing and meditative process.
What have I been up to?
Here are some of the items I’ve made from scraps that I had in my stash or friends have given me. The wonderful thing is you just stitch along merily without worrying about perfection but rather which fabric you will attach next. I like to make things like this as gifts and try to think good thoughts and well wishes for that person as I stitch.
Now I know handstitching is not everyones cup of tea. Some people are just far to impatient (Sue and Sandy I’m looking at both of you lol). So I’ve come up with a simplified version you can do on your machine. In my bedroom, I have this gorgeous wingbacked chair and I felt it needed a little cushion to support the lower back. You may have guessed, I rather like teal. So I pulled out all my teal scraps and sewed them together randomly to form a block of fabric. I then added some plainer fabric to either side and ironed on some parlan to the back. If you want to hand stitch like I did, we have some beautiful 12wt Wonderfil Fruitti that is just perfect. The colour variegates subtly and has a lovely sheen. Despite being pulled through the fabric many times, I didn’t have any problems with it wearing and getting fluffy.
What if I don’t like hand sewing?
If you prefer machine sewing, put your walking foot on, get yourself a nice variegated machine thread or the 12wt Wonderfil Frutti with a Topstitch size 90 or 100 needle and stitch away with a longish stitch (3.5 on my Bernina). Did you know many Bernina machines have a mock handquilting stitch available? Use polysheen in the top thread, clear thread in the bobbin and a Superior Topstitch needle 100…. check it out here!
Once the stitching is complete sew up the sides but leave an opening in the back. I stuffed mine with scrap fabric, waste thread and batting that was too small to be used (more waste not going to landfill). Once the cushion is full you can then hand stitch the opening closed. If you wanted to make the filling removable, you could make a separate pillow filled with scraps which can be removed prior to washing, and also put in a zip. Of course you can make whatever size cushion you like!
Use the code LEANNE101 at the checkout to get 10% all Wonderfil threads, sashiko fabrics, threads and tools until 31st May 2021.
Until next time
Hello again lovelies!
I’ve been busy working on our new mystery quilt. Here’s a sneak peak at the progress so far…
A new concept today… Skill Builder Class! Here and there I’ll be popping in these handy classes to help you refresh or advance your skills. Pretty cool hey? Even better, there is a special discount for all of you, for products mentioned in this post. Do I look after you or what??
So…. there comes a time in a quilter’s life, that one must return to basics to discover why some blocks don’t turn out quite right. Now it could be any number of reasons from an inaccurate seam allowance (check out my blog post on getting an accurate 1/4″ seam), a printing error in the pattern (incredibly common), stretching and warping of the fabric or…. the fabric wasn’t cut accurately in the first place. This last reason is the subject of today’s post.
Many of us, even your patchwork tutors, never went to Patchwork University! I know, shock horror! Instead we went to a class, or were taught by a friend or family member or some of us even learnt off You-Tube. So you can imagine there would be a wide variety of techniques for doing things, most people teaching according to their own personal style and preferences.
I am mostly self taught and have picked up various tips and tricks along the way. Particularily working in the industry, you get to experience new ways of doing things and there are also new tools and products being released all the time. We don’t need all these products but they sure do make life easier!
So let’s begin by looking at the essential tools:
A self healing mat – the bigger the better in my opinion. My mat is 36″ by 24″ and I love that I can lay half a metre of fabric off the bolt and cut a strip from top to bottom. Buy a mat that is designed for quilting and therefore has gridlines in inches not centimetres. Of course the size of your mat depends on how much space you have available and whether you can leave it permanently set up.
A rotary cutter – get yourself a nice comfortable rotary cutter, one that feels good in the hand and doesn’t cause fatigue. Remember to change the blade as soon as you start to notice it not cutting all the way through the fabric. It should slice right through like butter with medium pressure. Rotary blades get blunt over time but also if you accidently knock the side of the ruler, try to cut on the surface not designed for it (“oh I can just use it on my chopping board, right?” Um NO! Yes people have actually asked that), use it to cut paper or other materials, run over a pin. If you are experienced you might want to invest in the new titanium blades that last longer, if you’re a newbie buy the one recommended for your cutter.
A ruler – my first ruler was a 6 1/2″ by 24″ ruler and to this day I still use it. You want one that has nice clear markings on it in inches, and lines that aren’ t too thick. Lines for angles are useful. Having a non slip surface on the bottom also is handy, if you don’t have this then there are sticker dots or clear film you can add to your ruler. If you’re ruler lines are starting to fade it’s time to update!
Using the right products for the job is the key to success.
Are you ready?
So we can start with our piece of fabric (which has been ironed without steam, to remove any creases). You can see from this picture that I have left the fabric folded as it would have been cut off the bolt. Now, I’m sure you’ve noticed that not all fabric is perfectly flat and square.
Sometimes the fabric has been slightly distorted by the process of being wound onto the bolt after manufacture. In this case the fabric needs a slight adjustment to make sure the threads are straight, so just hold it up, align the selvage edges to where the fabric hangs straight and press.
Lay the fabric on the mat and now we are going to straighten up the raw edge. I am going to completely ignore the cutting mat lines and use only the ruler as my guide. Why? This is because mats wear and warp over time thus making them inaccurate. My ruler however is made from plastic and is less inclined to be inaccurate. I line up the fold in the fabric on the horizontal grid line on my ruler, and slice from bottom to top with the rotary cutter.
Having the table at the right height where you can place pressure down on the ruler will stop the ruler from slipping (grippy tape also helps) and you don’t have to do the cutting all in one motion. I find it better to stop the cutter halfway, carefully move my hand up to the top half of the ruler and continue cutting.
Once I’ve got rid of the raw edge, I can then either turn the mat around or turn the fabric around and cut my strip.
Lets say I’m going to cut a 2 1/2″ strip, I place the 2 1/2″ vertical ruler line on the newly cut edge, I still line up the horizontal gridline on the fold (which is now at the top), and then I make my second cut from bottom to top (always away from your body for safety). One 2 1/2″ strip complete! Now lets subcut some 2 1/2″ squares from the strip.
Lay the strip on the mat horizontally. Place the ruler on the fabric so that the horizontal gridlines are on the cut edge. Trim off the selvages.
Then turn the strip around, place the 2 1/2″ ruler line on the edge you’ve just cut and then cut the other side.
Ta Da! One perfect 2 1/2″ square (well two actually because we had two layers)! Easy peasy? It’s not hard, just might be different to how you normally cut, but with practice it will come naturally.
Accurate cutting is the foundation of making accurate blocks. Combine this with an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance (or scant 1/4″ depending on what your pattern says) and you are well on your way to making accurate patchwork blocks.
Speaking of cutting strips, these handy rulers have just hit our shelves.
A pack of 6 rulers 15 in long with widths from 1.25″ up to 2.5″ makes for easy measuring. Great for cutting binding, sashing, peepers… you name it.
Use LEANNE10 when checking out and get 10% off all Kai and Olfa cutters and blades, some ruler sets and grippy ruler stickers until 15th May 21!
Set of 15″rulers 1.25 to 2.5 VRSP15
“strip Piecing Rulers (Set of 6) – 15in Long
Starting at 1.25″going up in .25” widths to 2.5
This is a really useful set of rulers with the most used widths instantly available for easy cutting
Well, until next time, happy sewing!
Hello all! Boy oh boy has it been a busy year so far! As you all know, our beautiful shop is now closed and we have moved to an online store! So exciting. I must say, I dont think any of us really knew how much work that entailed. Its been a few months of craziness and Sue and Sandy did not stop the whole time. We are now settled in our new warehouse space where we will be dispatching orders. I am fortunate to remain working with the girls to touch base with you via this blog, create digital content AND…..guess what…. a new mystery quilt is coming!!! I am sooooo excited. Our last mystery quilt was a huge success and many of you have been asking about doing another one. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.
We have some brand new ranges on the website and oh my goodness, I’m really having to restrain myself… they are just so gorgeous. Our Mystery Quilt will feature one of these ranges.
Anyway, enough work related chatter and onto the topic of this post….. Making time to sew. I know many of you lead busy lives. Whether you work, look after kids, care for someone, are out and about with various activities, it can be really difficult to fit in time to sew. I have encountered this myself as a working mum of three teenagers/young adults. Sometimes it just seems impossible to find the time to sew.
Part of the problem, I think, is that we tend to place all other activities as a higher priority than making time to do what we love. But in fact, taking time out of our busy schedules is good for our mental health. When we are doing something creative we are engaging parts of our brain that are often neglected in everyday activities. Its good for us to spend some time, however small, each day to push all the everyday stuff to the background, and take time to embrace our creativity. Time to explore, play, and connect with a part of our soul that makes us happy. As the old saying goes…all work and no play makes Leanne a very boring person lol.
Now more than ever before, with the world changing so quickly with COVID, I think we have come to realise just how important our mental health is. Its even more important than most of our everyday activities that we busy ourselves with.
So how do we find time to sew???? Here are my top tips for creating a little space in your day to indulge in your favourite craft!
- Have a permanent sewing area set up. Now I realise this isn’t possible for everyone but if you can manage to set yourself up on a table that you can leave set up, you will be more inclined to sew. This eliminates the time involved in getting everything set up and means you can just pop yourself down, turn the machine on, and pick up where you left off.
- Use snippets of time. Waiting for a contractor to arrive? That’s time to sew. Only 10 minutes till the dryer is finished? Great, that’s time to sew. On the phone on hold with Centrelink? Oh my goodness, you’ve just gained a whole hour of sewing time! lol. When you’re away from home, use your waiting time at the Drs to do some handwork (paper piecing, hand sewing, embroidery). Have a little project bag ready to grab before you head out the door. When the kids were in primary school I would often take a project to work on while I waited for them in the car.
- The chuck it all in dinner. This is one of the key ways I like to make time to sew. Nothing beats a chuck it all in the pan and stick it in the oven dinner. Less dishes to clean up, no supervising the stove, and yes, you guessed it, that means more time at the sewing machine! I’ve provided one of my favourite family recipes which should give you about 35mins of sewing time.
- Watch less TV. You would be amazed how much time we spend sitting in front of the TV. We think its relaxing because we are sitting down, but in actual fact, our brains aren’t relaxed at all. So ditch the idiot box and do something creative with your time. Save the TV for watching something special such as an interesting documentary, a movie, or your favourite show. Plonking down on the couch and just starring at the tv watching whatever is on, is just a waste of your time. Unless of course you are sewing on a binding at the same time… that’s totally acceptable lol.
- Use a reward system. I often play the game of doing a household chore which then entitles me to some sewing time. Its a win win because not only are you getting to do what you love, you are also doing what you need to do. No guilt there! So first of all I get my project ready, then I may put on a load of laundry. Oh look at that… half an hour to sew! When the washings done I hang it out on the line. Next I load the dishwasher and turn it on. Another half an hour to sew and then while the dishwasher is still going (mine takes 2 1/2 hours for a normal cycle), I’ll complete another task on my list of chores.
- Prepping. Having blocks cut and ready to sew means a more efficient use of your sewing time. Its much easier to sit down and sew if your project preparation is done.
- Just 15 mins! Its amazing what you can get done in just 15 mins a day. You’ll also be more productive as you have a finite amount of time to get things done.
- Get up earlier. Oh I love the concept of this but sadly I’m not much of a morning person. But think about how much you could get done if you got up say, half an hour earlier, just to sew. Its time you wouldn’t have otherwise had and in most households its quite and peaceful at that time.
- Eliminate the unnecessary time wasters! I am, I’m a tad proud to say, Queen of eliminating the unnecessary! Ironing clothes? Nope, they get folded as they come off the line. Ironing, my dear friends, is for patchwork fabric not clothing. Lining up at the post office to pay bills? Ha, hell no. My bills get paid from home using phone banking. Lining up at the bank… what the?… online banking solves this problem. Waiting at the Drs for a quick appointment for a new prescription? No no, best thing ever invented was the telehealth appointment (COVID was good for something). Grocery shopping…. BORING! I shop with Woolworths Online and pay a small fee (reduces the more you spend) for someone to run around the store, pick what I’ve asked for, and deliver it to my home! What could be better? I love this service and I’ve only ever had the occasional minor issues with the produce and Woolworths have gladly provided a refund for anything I’m not happy with. What I haven’t told Woolies is that I’d actually pay a lot more for this service simply because I hate grocery shopping that much! lol. So the idea here is not to be afraid of technology but embrace it and use it to your advantage. If you don’t know how to do something, ask someone who does to help you. Most of these systems are very user friendly.
- Make an appointment with yourself. Then there’s the old ‘put it in your diary’ idea where you block out time to sew. You will have to be disciplined to not allow other things to steal this time. Make a commitment to yourself and stick to it. It’s just as important as any specialist appointment so don’t allow anyone to cause you to compromise.
So there you have it folks, I hope this helps or at least gets you thinking about how you can make a bit more time to indulge in this wonderful hobby of ours.
Finally, here is my recipe for Oven baked Chicken Risotto. Feel free to modify it with your favourite ingredients. As long as you keep the rice and the fluid quantities the same, it should still work.
Oven Baked Risotto
1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
100g bacon, diced
500g chicken breast fillet, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
2 cups aborio rice
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
grated parmesan to serve
Preheat oven to 160 C fan forced.
Heat oil in large flameproof, ovenproof dish over medium heat. Cook onion and bacon for 2 minutes.
Add chicken and cook, stirring, for 3 – 4 minutes.
Add garlic, lemon zest, rosemary and chilli, and cook for a further 2 mins.
Add rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Mix tomato paste and stock in a jug. Pour over rice mixture.
Bake, covered, for 35 minutes or until rice is just tender and liquid has been absorbed. Stir through parmesan.
Until next time
Well, our first online mystery quiltalong was a huge sucess. We had 49 participants, and had wonderful feedback that they had learn’t a lot of new techniques and had fun keeping up with the weekly instructions.
Check out our show and tell
As a result, these are just a few of the quilts:
Use up all the scraps!
It was amazing to see just how each quilt takes on a different look depending on the fabrics used. Consequently, our scrap piles took a beating and I think it proved to everyone that scrap quilting is a very successful approach to making attractive and treasured quilts. There is great satisfaction from using up all those random pieces from previous projects and even a walk down memory lane as you remember where or why you bought the fabric and what project it was originally for.
Well done to all our participants.
I’m so glad you had fun. It was also lovely to share in your progress on the facebook group and the weekly zoom meetings. Thankyou for being part of our Sewing Connection quilting community.
Until next time