Thursday, 27 December 2012

another year over...

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas time!

I don't have a large family and they live scattered all over Europe so spending these days together isn't always a given. This year we managed to all get together and enjoy a fancy Christmas dinner. It's been good fun and I am so grateful my family took the time to travel down here.
Now it is my turn to pack the suitcases and fly out for a few days to celebrate the new year with my Mr.

Since I'll be gone and not planning to spend my days glued to the computer I thought I'd take this moment to wrap up 2012.


Looking back on the year I can see I've been mostly practicing and improving my paper piecing and dress making skills. I finally feel like I got the hang of this paper piecing thing and I understand the basics of designing my own patterns and more importantly how to use Photoshop Elements to do so.
I've also grown much more confident in my dress making abilities, I can tackle some minor pattern adjustments and I'm not afraid to cut into my precious fabrics anymore. Mum, your sewing lessons are finally paying off! ;)

I'm already cooking up some plans for the new year. I started on some quilt blocks that I think would make a fun QAL if you fancy one? I've been dyeing more scarves, I'm playing around with Touchdraw - I've got lots more to learn on pattern design! I'd like to fit at least one swap in this year and I'm also itching to do a bit of hand sewing I'm thinking sashiko...

For now I just want to thank you all for your kind comments and support! May you have a wonderful creative new year!!

xx Leila

Monday, 17 December 2012


This weekend I decided to experiment with some fabric dye. I picked up a few metres of plain sheer cotton and two colours to play with.  I went for the ever popular ombre look by simply dipping the ends of the scarves in the dye first and slowly working my way to the middle.

Experimenting with hand dyed scarfs. I should have bought more fabric to play with, this is fun!

The results are not too shabby, two hand dyed scarves that are very easy to wear. My only regret is that I didn't buy more fabric, I have a few more ideas I would like to try out.

x Leila

Thursday, 6 December 2012

two more bee blocks

These are my last two bee blocks for Cocorico.

First up is Erin who has a little one on the way and asked us for nursery rhyme blocks. I settled on twinkle twinkle little star. I used Lynne's ET phone home block because I loved how the stars in this block also look a bit like a brilliant cut diamond 'like a diamond in the sky'...

Erin's block completed. It turned quite soft with a sort of vintage feel, I like it. Hope Erin will like it too!

I took a snap shot with my new toy, isn't Instagram the best!

This block has a very soft vintage sort of feel to it, which is exactly what I wanted - result!

Next up is another house block for Kerry. I used a pattern from Patchwork 163 (I got my copy here) it's a lovely book I'm dying to make so many more of these blocks!

House block for Kerry #cocorico

I tried to incorporate as many cute fabrics as I possibly could without it becoming too busy. There's little fussy cut pieces of Kumiko Fujita and Shinzi Katoh for the door and windows, a bit of Suzuko Koseki for the main body of the house and some Denyse Schmidt for the roof. House blocks are possibly my very favourite thing to sew!

With these two last blocks I've finished a years worth of Cocorico blocks. I think a mosaic is in order don't you?!

Cocorico blocks for 2012

I sure hope we will be doing another round in 2013!!

x Leila

Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas Pudding ornaments - tutorial

I'm slowly but surely getting into the Christmas spirit - yay! I whipped up a couple of cute ornaments and thought y'all might like a little tutorial?
These Christmas Pudding ornaments are fun to sew and very easy to make, so lets get started!

christmas pudding smaller

Christmas Pudding Ornaments Tutorial

You will need:
  • Pattern
  • Brown wool felt
  • White wool felt
  • Green wool felt
  • Red wool felt
  • Stuffing
  • Bakers twine or ribbon for hanging.
  • Embroidery cotton

  1. Cut 2 brown felt circles
  2. Cut 2 white felt icing shapes
  3. Cut 2 green felt leaves. (I found the stems of the leaves too fiddly to cut so I left those off)
  4. Cut 3 red felt berries.
If you have a circle cutter use it! I don't have one so I use my trusty old scissors to cut the circles by hand. I find it easiest to cut as much as possible in one go starting at the base of your scissors moving the felt round as you cut.


  • Applique the white icing on top of the brown circle. 
You can either applique the shapes on by hand or machine, the choice is up to you. I chose a simple running stitch for this tutorial but I'm currently using a blanket stitch on another ornament, it looks great!

  • Fold a length (about 15'') of of bakers twine in half to make a hanging loop, stitch in place.

  • Place both circles wrong sides facing and stitch together. 

You can machine sew the shapes together or hand sew them using a blanket stitch as I did.
  • Leave an opening of about 1'' to stuff your ornament before closing up.

  • Applique leaves and berries.

 You will only need a few small stitches to secure them. The thread will sink into the wool felt leaving your stitches near invisible, it helps if you use matching thread.

Voila all done! 
Now go sew some more they make great little gifts :)

As always if you make something from one of my tutorials please add your photo's to my Flickr group. It really makes my day seeing what you all come up with :)

x Leila

Friday, 30 November 2012

Value Added QAL linky party

Value Added

It's time for us to wrap up the Value Added Quilt Along. It's been an absolute pleasure seeing what you have all been up to! There were stacks of lovely fabrics all neatly arranged according to value, pretty value blocks, black and white photo's of value differences and some of you have been super busy and finished your quilts already!

Even though we are wrapping up the QAL our tutorials and value lessons will still be available on our blogs.

Lesson 1 - Understanding value
Lesson 2 - Using value to lead the eye
Lesson 3 -Value patterns in quilts
Lesson 4 -Value dynamics

The Bargain Basement quilt tutorial can be found on Amy's blog here
The Jacob's Ladder quilt tutorial can be found on Jolene's blog here
The Value Dance quilt tutorial can be found on Rachel's blog here
The Boy's Nonsense quilt tutorial can be found on my blog here

So we thought it would be great to celebrate our QAL with a linky party to show off all your value added makes.
Have you been quilting along with us, did you do one of the value exercises, how did you get on with value? Come join the party and link up with us!

x Leila

Monday, 26 November 2012

Improv quilt

How was your weekend?
Ours was very windy and cold, perfect weather to stay indoors and sew.
I decided to dig into my never ending pile of scraps and start sewing, the only plan being to make a dent into said scraps.

improv quilt

This was one of those quilts that just sort of happened. I started off thinking it might become a cushion. A few more rows pieced I thought 'well perhaps it could be a fun kitchen mat'. And in the end it became this pretty lap quilt, with lots of wonderful tactile texture.
I just love when that happens!

improv quilt detail

It's made with a mix of mostly solids, lots of linen texture and a few pops of colour. I've quilted it in organic straight lines that are unevenly spaced to keep with the improvisational nature of the quilt. I just love the way straight line quilting feels on a quilt! This baby is listed in the shop in the hopes of finding a new good home.

improv quilt back

Today is the last day of my Black Friday - Cyber Monday weekend sale, last chance to grab a bargain! Remember to use BlackFriday20 to receive 20% off your order!

x Leila

Monday, 19 November 2012

Make up pouch

Have you started your Christmas sewing yet?
It suddenly hit me, there's only five weeks left and I have no idea what to make!! 
So I convinced myself I might as well start with some selfish sewing... you know one thing would surely lead to another... inspiration will strike if only I keep myself busy. Well at least that is what I keep telling myself ;)

make up pouch

I made this make up pouch based on Ayumi's pencil case tutorial. The dimensions are different and I used bias binding, but the overall idea is the same.

make up pouch - open

I love how spacious this little pouch is it makes it so much easier to rummage through and find that right shade of lipstick!

make up pouch - inside

I think I will have to make a few more of these, as Christmas presents this time!

Leila x

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Autumn has arrived with it's mandatory seasonal colds and shivers. Now that we're just a little under the weather but no longer huddled up under a pile of quilts watching DVDs I can finally catch up on some sewing.

October was Tamiko's month in Cocorico her theme was Hawaii. I was glad to get a second shot at this theme as I wasn't too pleased with the block I had made her in Ringo Pie.
I settled on a pineapple block from Patchwork 318.

Cocorico October - Hawaii
I'm quite pleased with this cute little pineapple. Seeing as it finishes at only 5.5'' I decided to add a border to bulk it up a little.

Cocorico October - Hawaii

As usual with Kumiko Fujita block designs looks are deceiving, there were some tricky inset seams to tackle. It took me two attempts but I conquered them - yay!

One belated bee block down, four more to go I think, yikes best get cracking!
But before I leave, the inspiration for my block and the reason I couldn't stop giggling the whole time I was sewing this...

They sure look comfortable don't they ;)

x Leila

Friday, 2 November 2012

Boy's Nonsense tutorial - part 2

This is part two of the 'Boy's Nonsense' quilt tutorial as part of Value Added QAL. Part one can be found here 

Finished block size 10" x 10"

* I had calculated my blocks to be 10 1\2" unfinished but after squaring up, they were closer to 10 1\4" this could be an error in my accuracy or in my calculations - math isn't exactly my strong suit! Either way as long as your blocks are consistently the same size it doesn't matter much!

Lets make a quilt shall we?

Block construction:
  • Sew the 4 large corner triangles to the 4 rectangles.

  • Sew the 4 small light value triangles in pairs of 2 to two of your triangle and rectangle blocks.

  • Sew the other two rectangle and triangle blocks to both opposite sides of the centre square.

  • Sew both triangle blocks to each opposite side of the centre strip to complete the block.

  • Trim and square up the block making sure you leave 1\4" seam allowance from the top of each point.

  • Sew 10 blocks  with light corner triangles.
  • Sew 10 blocks with dark\medium corner triangles. 

  • Arrange blocks alternating light and dark.

  • Sew 5 rows of four blocks. 
  • Join rows to complete the quilt top.
  • Baste and quilt as desired.

    • Attach binding.

    Your quilt is finished!

    I hope you enjoyed my tutorial, if you have any questions or comments I'm here :)

    Value Added

    If you make this quilt or any of the other Value Added quilts we would love to see them! Please share your pictures in our Flickr group here.

    x Leila

    Wednesday, 31 October 2012

    Boy's Nonsense tutorial - part 1

    Boy's Nonsense

    Before we get started I would love to give credit where credit is due by linking you to the quilt that inspired my design, but for some reason the link is no longer working! It was inspired by a detail shot from a Tokyo Quilt Festival quilt - sorry, I don't know who made it.
    The block design is a variation on Boy's Nonsense  I loved the name so I kept it, it's as simple as that ;)
    Fabrics used are Field Study by Anna Maria Horner, Kona cotton solids and a few Art Gallery prints.

    Today we'll cover fabric requirements and cutting instructions.
    The fabric requirements are based on one fabric used for light value (A) one for medium (B) and one for dark (C)
    In reality I used fat quarters of different fabrics for my dark and medium values and two shades of Kona white for the background. If you plan on adding borders or making your quilt larger you will need to adjust the fabric requirements accordingly.

    Finished block size 10" x 10" 

    You will need:
    • Fabric A - 5\8 yard
    • Fabric B - 7\8 yard
    • Fabric C - 3\4 yard
    • Backing fabric - 1 1\2 yard
    • Binding fabric - 1\2 yard
    • Batting
    • Sewing supplies (rotary cutter, thread, scissors etc.)
    I ended up making a smaller quilt than I had intended, 4 x 5 blocks. My fabric got lost in the mail, time was running out my border fabric didn't work...well lots of things went wrong!
    You can make your quilt larger by adding more blocks or a border. If you are planning on making this quilt I would like you to consider adding a border, I think it would look great with this pattern!

    • From fabric A cut 40 3"x 3" squares, cut on the diagonal to make 80 half square triangles.
    • From fabric A cut 20 4 1\2" x 4 1\2" squares, cut on the diagonal to make 40 half square corner triangles.
    • From fabric B cut 20 5 1\2" x 5 1\2" centre squares.
    • From fabric B cut  20 4 1\2" x 4 1\2" squares, cut on the diagonal to make 40 half square corner triangles.
    • From fabric C cut 80 2 1\2" x 5 1\2" rectangles.

    My quilt consists of 10 blocks with light value corner triangles and 10 blocks with relative medium or dark value corner triangles.
    Light corner triangles.

    Dark corner triangles.

    You could choose to make all blocks the same (medium centre square, dark rectangles for instance) or if you are like me and find it difficult to stick to just one block repeat mix it up a bit. The value repeat of the blocks with light corners provides enough contrast for a little freedom to play around with the other blocks.

    Alternating dark and light value corner triangles.
    Same value pattern repeated.

    Alternating, light and dark value rows.
     These are just a few examples of how you can use this block to create different rhythmic value layouts. Feel free to come up with your own variations, it's fun to play around with the layout!

    Value Added
    Next up, the block tutorial.

    x Leila

      Tuesday, 23 October 2012

      Understanding Value

      Today's post is the first of our series of informative posts on value as part of Value Added QAL. I will do my best to start us off nice and easy with the basics of understanding the value aspect of colour.

      Value Added

      Value simply put is the relative lightness or darkness of colour, measured by the amount of white, grey and black the colour contains.
      Value can be used in many ways in your quilt design, from simply making certain pattern repeats pop to creating mind blowing optical illusions and anything in between.

      Contrasting values make a pattern appear to have depth as dark colours recede from they eye first where light colours appear to remain on the foreground. When using colours with minimal value differences the pattern will appear to be a lot flatter, this can be used for example to create a blended effect.

      When we look at difference in value it's usually easiest to distinguish within one colour group as colour value is always relative. To demonstrate this I picked a shade of green, lets call it 'grass green' and placed it in a box surrounded by a different shade of green.

      First, next to the lighter 'bamboo green' the grass green shows up as darker in value.

      But when put next to a dark 'hunter green' the grass green is lighter in value.

      Easy enough right!

      Most of our quilts however are made up of different colours and prints and that is where distinguishing value differences can become less obvious.

      There are a few different ways to determine value. One is to squint when looking at your fabric choices. Squinting dims out the colours which makes it easier to distinguish light and dark. Remember darker colours disappear first from sight, lighter colours remain visible the longest. So when you slowly close your eyes whilst looking at your fabrics whichever one is the lightest will be the last one you'll still be able to see.

      There are also monochromatic value finders on the market which are usually a piece of red plastic or glass. When placed over a fabric swatch the value finder transforms all colour into different shades of red which allows you to see the difference in value.

      These tricks come in handy when deciding between two or three fabric swatches but when you are planning a quilt and pulled half your stash out for audition you will need something better than squinting and quicker than examining swatches with a value finder. This is where the camera trick will come in handy.

      Start by arranging your fabrics as you think they should be light to dark and take a picture. If your camera has the option to take a black and white photo you can save yourself a step. No worries if you can't take a black and white photo it's a quick edit in any of the free photo editing sites available online. I like to use PicMonkey for quick editing jobs it's easy to use, simply upload your photo click the 'effects' tab scroll down, click 'black and white' and save to your computer.

      I didn't quite get it right here but that's the point really, just arrange and rearrange until you find the right order.

      Without the distraction of colour you can more clearly see the differences in light and dark. It becomes a lot easier to determine which fabrics to use next to each other in your block design to make that one shape really pop or which ones will blend nicely into the background.

      Short recap:
      • Value is the relative lightness - darkness of colour.
      • Dark colour recedes from the eye first, light colour remains visible the longest
      • Distinguishing value differences is easiest within one colour group
      • Distinguishing differences in value is easiest when you dim out the colour either by squinting, using a value finder or taking a black and white photo.

      Do stop by Amy at Badskirt tomorrow for her post on value leading the eye. She really knows her stuff and will take us that step further in understanding value and how to apply this to our fabric stash!

      We will be talking value all week, here's a reminder of our schedule:
      Wednesday 24th - Leading the Eye -with Amy @ Badskirt
      Thursday 25th - Value Patterns  -with Rachel @ Stitched in Color
      Friday 26th - Value Dynamics -with Jolene Blue @ Elephant Stitches

      If you have any questions or thoughts you would like to add, come chat with us in our Flickr group here we'd love to hear from you!

      x Leila

      Monday, 22 October 2012

      Value Added Quilt Along

      Welcome to the Value Added Quilt Along!!
      Amy, Jolene, Rachel and I have emerged ourselves into the subject of value quilts and we are ready to share our ideas and creations with you all.

      Boy's Nonsense

      Our QAL will start off with a series of informative posts covering different aspects of value. The following week we will share our individual quilt designs and tutorials on our blogs. We hope to inspire you to explore value in quilting with us! Please join our Flickr group where we will be available to chat with you about colour value and help you along the way. Feel free to add any previous value projects you have made to the group pool. This quilt along is not limited to our quilt designs only we encourage you to come up with your own creations and share them with us on Flickr and in our linky party.

      The Value Added QAL schedule is as follows:

      Tuesday 23rd - Understanding Value -with Leila @ Where the Orchids Grow
      Wednesday 24th - Leading the Eye -with Amy @ Badskirt
      Thursday 25th - Value Patterns  -with Rachel @ Stitched in Color
      Friday 26th - Value Dynamics -with Jolene Blue @ Elephant Stitches
      Starting October the 29th quilt tutorials on our individual blogs.
      November the 30th link up party here @ Where the Orchids Grow
      I have learned lots of new things in preparing for the QAL. If like me, you have not given much thought to colour value in quilting before I think you are in for a treat! I really hope you will take something away from this QAL, be it a fun new quilt design, a fresh look at your fabric stash or how to improve your block designs. There is so much more to value than water colour quilts and tumbling blocks (not that there is anything wrong with those of course!)
      I am very excited about the amazing quilt designs Amy, Jolene and Rachel came up with and I can't wait to get started on them!

      So are you ready to talk value with us? Please do join our Flickr group, grab a button and enjoy!

      Value Added
      <div align="center"><a href="" title="Value Added"><img src="" alt="Value Added" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

      x Leila