Hot/cold rice bags

A quick and easy finish today. With thoughts of getting ready for giving birth starting to loom in my mind I thought it might be useful to have a small stock of rice bags that could be quickly heated up in the microwave (or pulled out of the freezer) to provide topical heat or cold to provide comfort during early labour.

I used some of the leftover scraps of brushed cotton from Pip’s car seat blanket to make the outer covers for these bags. I love how soft these fabrics are so I thought it might be an added niceness for the bags when I’m feeling uncomfy. The bags are really scrappy, which I like. The sizes are also determined by the scrap pieces I had available. It was a real scrap happy project this one and just made me feel good.

I pieced together a single length of fabric with whatever scraps fit together and turned the two short edges over (with top stitching to finish the edges).

Then I turned the piece right side up and folded roughly 1.5″ over on one short end. I then brought the other end up to meet it.

All that’s then needed is to see down both sides and turn the right way out. I ended up making four slightly different sized covers.

I’m planning to add some aromatherapy oils to help with relaxation during labour. I love lavender so that will feature quite heavily as a relaxation aid. Clary Sage is also recommended as a labour aid so I’m going to try that too. I don’t actually know if I like the smell though because they recommend you avoid clary sage during pregnancy just in case it causes early labour. Each bag has a thin cotton lining that holds the rice. The brushed cotton outer is removable so it can be washed to remove the oil once I’m done with them. Sooner or later I’ll get to see how well they work and whether they help once the time comes.


Car Seat Blanket

We’re full steam ahead with getting everything prepped for the upcoming arriving of our first baby (codename Pip).

Now that we have a car seat I was keen to make my own version of a very cleverly designed car seat blanket that I’d seen online here. I did basically follow the tutorial provided except that I didn’t include a hood.

I used two different spotty brushed cotton fabrics. I didn’t include any batting at all between the layers. This was partly because I thought it would be warm enough for our climate with just the fabric layers, and also because I didn’t want to add extra fluffiness underneath the harness.

My reason for wanting to make a bespoke car seat blanket is that I’ve seen a lot of warnings about the dangers of wrapping babies up warm in lots of layers or fluffy suits before putting them in the harness. In the event of an accident, the fluffy layers will just compress and mean that the harness is not tight enough to hold the baby. There have been reported cases of babies then slipping out of the seat at the exact moment you desperately need them to be held securely. The advice given is to make sure that any blankets or warm layers are outside the harness so you can tighten it securely against the baby without worrying about extra layers creating slack. Of course the practical problem with blankets sitting outside the harness is that they can be kicked off or dislodged by a squirming baby. So when I came across a design for a blanket that had just one flat layer beneath the baby and then lots to wrap around the outside of the harness for warmth it seemed like a fantastic solution.

I ordered a metre of each fabric. The first one I lay out right side facing up. The second one I squared up and then folded into quarters. I trimmed the outside edges to round the corners and bring the middle of each side in a little bit.


I then unfolded the top fabric on top of the bottom fabric (right sides facing). I then smoothed them both out and pinned all around the edges to secure them together. Don’t forget to mark a opening space to help with turning later.  I use two pins perpendicular to the edge to mark the start and end of the opening I want to leave.


Then I simply sewed all around the edge of the top fabric, leaving approx 3/8″ seam allowance. I then trimmed the bottom fabric to match the shape of the top fabric and then turned the fabrics inside out through the hole.

The next job was pressing the seams flat and then top stitching all around the blanket (including the opening). This both helps to stabilise the edges and prevent bagging, and it seals the hole neatly.

The next step was a little fiddly. I lay the blanket into the car seat and marked all places where the straps came out. I double and tripled checked my marks carefully here. I extended each line to make them a little longer than the holes in the car seat to give me a little flexibility. I also double checked the symmetry down the centre of the blanket to catch any weird wrinkles or ripples that might have introduced distortion.

When I was confident with my marking I then used a tiny tine zigzag stitch to sew a rectangle 1/4″ on each side around each line. You can see in the picture below I tried a straight stitch for the first one, but quickly changed to a zigzag. I just thought it would be better for preventing fraying or distortion during use.


Once I’d stitched all the boxes I then cut open the lines in the centre of each box. I found the best technique for this was to put a pin at the far end to ensure I didn’t accidentally cut too far. I then used the seam ripper to make an initial hole for the start of the cut.


Then I used a small sharp pair of scissors to cut a neat line up to the pin.


Then it was time for the moment of truth. I installed the blanket into the empty car seat. At the moment it lies underneath the newborn insert. This means it will still work once he has outgrown that initial extra protection and we’ve removed it. **Don’t ask me why it is okay to have a massive padded newborn insert beneath the harness, but not a snuggly snowsuit. I don’t understand that inconsistent logic**.


All of my cuts were in the perfect place. Whoop Whoop!!! I did a little happy dance to celebrate and then tested the blanket using a conveniently newborn sized teddy bear named Alfred.


Doesn’t he look snuggly!

I can’t wait for my little Pip to use this himself when he decides to come and join us out here in the big wide world.

Storage Box #2

The second storage box for the nursery is now finished. This one was definitely quickly and easier to assemble than the first one. Maybe it was the different outer fabric (perhaps a little stiffer), but it just behaved better whilst being sewn.

The lining is still not lying perfectly. This time I think the problem is that it is too small. I might have used too much creating the overturn at the top. I’m happy with the box overall though. It will do the job nicely.

So that’s two storage boxes finished for my February One Monthly Goal.

Finished – Nursery Rug (January One Monthly Goal)

Earlier this month I discovered a brilliant initiative over at Elm Street Quilts to let people post their monthly goals and finishes each month. I decided to give it a go for 2018 and I set myself the challenge for January of making a nursery rug.

I’m delighted to say I have met my monthly goal.  Whoo hoo!

It’s not really patchwork, but it did involve quilting the two fabrics together in regular horizontal lines over the whole rug.

Here is a nice simple rug that will help maximise the green themed nursery I’m working towards


I made the fringe quite short in the end (about 1 inch. It could have been up to 2.5 inches but I thought this was a neater finish and wouldn’t get as tangled on the floor over time.


I’m particularly pleased with how the corners worked out. I turned the backing fabric over and pulled it round to the front to bind the raw edges together and catch the end of the fringe to stop the risk of fraying.


2017 Round up

It’s been quite a productive year in my sewing room. More things were started than actually got finished, but that’s ok.

The finished list includes:

Christopher’s Jigsaw Quilt


My epic, longest ever project in the form of Learning Curve. This is one quilt I’m just glad not to have to work on anymore.img_1079

Jungle Baby Quiltimg_1039

Circus Baby Quiltimg_1042-1


And of course, my sister’s Postage Stamp QuiltIMG_1102

Still needing a bit more work are

My Japanese Sampler Quilt is half quilted now. However, my most recent picture is still the layout one before the top was pieced together

img_0707 I just got distracted with baby quilts and it got pushed to the bottom of the list. However. If I’m going to enter it into a show this year, I will need to get on with it soon.

Pip’s I Spy quilt is giving my imagination a bit of work out. I’ll need 64 different applique images in total for the design I want. Finding them all is really tricky.

So 2018 begins with two large projects already well underway. Fingers crossed for another productive year in my sewing room.

Happy New Year to Patchwork Quilters everywhere.

Finished! Postage Stamp Quilt

I’m very pleased to have this one bound and finished in plenty of time for Christmas. It was a fun, easy quilt from start to finish. I think it’s a very rare thing to be able to say that so I’m just going to revel in that moment for a while…


This quilt has been nothing but a gentle, stress relieving joy to make. I really hope it can bring those feelings to my sister when I give it to her. She’s had a tough time recently so I’m delighted to be able to give her a ‘hug she can keep’ with this quilt.


I’ve got a couple of earlier posts about the piecing, progress and basting for this quilt. All that remains to comment on is the quilting and binding.

Quilting: Some people call the pattern I used Dogwood, others call it Orange Peel.

I’ve used this pattern on a couple of quilts now and it’s a great all over pattern that I find more interesting (and less likely to look shoddy) than stippling or meandering. I think it works nicely for the structure of this quilt by softening the squares without distorting them.


Binding: I did have enough of the backing fabric to complete the binding to match. I almost did do that. However, as I was attaching the first side of the binding I began thinking about my sister…

She has a very important, professional job where she does amazing, complicated and serious stuff with money and maths that I couldn’t begin to understand. When she needs to be she is the epitome of a smart dark grey suit (the kind of smart that my Mum would describe as “so smart it makes your teeth ache”). Kind of like the colour I used for the backing and binding of the quilt.

But my sister is also the kind of person who brings the sunshine into the room when she enters. She’s the brightest, most colourful firework at the finale of the display. She is every colour all at the same time. Just like the front of the quilt. So I couldn’t resist adding in a section of bright hot pink to the binding to reflect the flash and spark she brings to all she does. It’s an added bonus for me that the pink fabric is actually left over from the lining of a bag I made for her a few years ago. Just a nice link back that makes me smile.


Here it is sat next to our Christmas tree just before I take it upstairs to add the label and then wrap up ready for her to open and snuggle up with in a few weeks time.


Finish!! – Quilted Jungle Panel

Just one week after finishing my Circus Panel quilt I was itching to keep on making stuff for the baby. So I quickly turned my attention to the second panel I’d ordered online, a jungle themed printed animal scene.

With the green flannel bed sheet as backing like the circus panel and my usual batting I happily basted and quilted around all the animals to stabilise the quilt. Then I decided to have just a little more fun than I did for the circus quilt. I changed colours and outlined the vines and leaves in green and the elephant’s ear in blue. I then felt inspired to fill in some of the big gaps with some more green leaf outlines even where they weren’t printed on the panel. I only did a few, but I quite like the effect it has.

It did mean I had quilted off the edge of the top so using the backing as a binding would have meant careful (or boring) unpicking. Instead I grabbed some dark green fabric from my stash to make a binding. I machine stitched it to the back before pulling it round to the front to also machine stich along the edge there. I’ve found it to be the neatest way of machine binding, which I definitely wanted to do so it had the durability to withstand regular play and washing.

After washing it occurred to me that I should have prewashed my binding fabric because it has shrunk more than the quilt itself (which was prewashed). Oh well. Live and learn.

Now both my quilted panels are rolled up and lovingly stored in a cupboard with the presents friends and family have given us for our new arrival so far. Fingers crossed they’ll all be being used by a healthy baby in about 4 months time.