Tuesday, 26 August 2014

One 'L' of a Week!

 The 'L' referring, of course, to row L on my Dear Jane quilt, which I started making over eleven years ago!

I have decided that I want to finish all the square blocks (all that I ever planned to make) by Christmas this year.  It's becoming too long a UFO or WIP even for me!

So, last week when I knew that I had some sewing time, I tossed everything else to one side and concentrated just on this one project for the week.

I managed to make 13 blocks - that completes the whole of row L - in the week. I'm quite happy with my progress!
 This fabric - Bookbinder - has been in my stash for yonks.  Isn't it lovely?  Greens a bit richer than shown here....
 Of course, I'd like to be able to tell you that in real life they aren't as wonky as they look in the photos, but I'm not sure that it would be the truth!

I'm sure that they will all look fine when they are sashed and added to the other blocks.

Mind you, I haven't yet sashed and added the last row of blocks that I made, and that was nearly three years ago, so I have to hope that I can keep some sort of momentum going!
 We were also able to celebrate a bit more exam loveliness last week, when my second eldest niece passed her Italian GCSE with flying colours (we'd already had one celebration earlier in the summer when my eldest niece passed her A' Levels with similar style and secured her place at Cambridge.  Big congratulations to them both!
Naturally when I said NO other projects, I meant just one tiny one extra  - a quick 'microwave heat bag' from an extra bag of rice and some scraps. Less than 40 minutes including sewing the rice bag liner as well as the outer cover......so hardly counting as a separate item!

So popular that I might make a few for our craft table for our next quilt show.

Precious little sewing time coming up this week, so I shall have to rest on my laurels, I think!

Hope that you enjoy some good crafting or sewing time.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

You're on the (rails) to nowhere.....!

 I wasn't really on the rails to nowhere!  I was on the rails to a place of much inspiration, however, the map (below, no, I can't seem to move it to the top of this post) made me laugh out loud.  No disrespect to the people who live there (and apologies, I can't remember which station it was, only that it's between Norwich and Cromer), but a map that shows nothing other than the fact that the station is on a road and near a track didn't seem the most useful to me!  Perhaps Greater Anglia could consider changing the scale so that it shows how to get to the village which didn't look to be too far away......!
Anyway, back to that inspiration that I was talking about.  I know that everyone and her mother has made an 'inspired by flooring tiles' quilt (or at least, that's how it seems!) but the photo at the top (even with my toes and the junk mail on the floor) shows just why they are so popular.  It's crying out to be made, isn't it?  A project to add to the list!

I was also inspired by these splendid pretend dwellings.

Don't you just want to run to your fabric stash and start creating crazy, whimsical houses too?
 Shaped for releasing rain from them?
 With a touch of the Dr Seuss about them?

In all sorts of colours?

Go on!  You know you want to!  If I have time to play with fabric this summer, this could make a fun jumping off point!

Thank you to my nephew for his entrance hall floor, and to BeWilderwood for the many and varied Twiggle houses.  We had a great day there and would heartily recommend it to any families who are within striking distance of it.  Completely charming with lots of outdoor fun to be had.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Work in Progress

 I started work on these hexies some years ago - all made with shirts from my late FiL.  This summer I decided to try and come up with a layout using these flower shapes - and this is it!  I agree, it looks a little muddled at the moment, but with a few more shirt hexagons I will head towards finishing this, and perhaps using it as a medallion as it won't make a particularly large piece.

Unfortunately it is still a WiP (Work in Progress) as I managed to fall over (playing crazy golf, not know as an extreme sport!), and I realise that I've hardly set a stitch since!
I did make this fabric postcard - but my plans to hand embroider the base fabric and add some lovely beads to it came to nothing.  So, some machine quilting to add definition had to suffice.

Now that I've realised why I'm not sewing (I can be a bit slow on the uptake!) I've had a thorough treatment with my osteopath.  I'm hoping that I'll be stitching again in a day or two, and that I'll be able to show a little more progress.

I'm also hoping to get a little machine sewing done - I've decided to get back into my Dear Jane which hasn't been touched for some time.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Street art? Street Craft?

 Not quite as 'street' as Benta's post but DD2 and I had fun with this last week.

More 'street' than actual loom bands, we made our own loops by cutting a punctured inner tube (thanks for changing it, Uncle Paul!) crosswise. 

We had fun making 'bobbletail' and 'fish tail' so that we could decorate a lamp post.

 They were quite tough to use.  DD2 let me make the fishtail one as she said that it hurt her fingers!
 She came up with a fastening using the valve, but we still used a couple of cable ties to hold the long one and the others around the lamp post.

More grunge than the average 'yarn bomb' - but I'm not sure that the leafy suburb my brother lives in will really appreciate our crafting efforts.  It will be interesting to hear how long our decoration lasts!
Not much sewing going on, apart from this 'under the sea' post card.

I did manage to finish the binding on last weeks quilt, and I have started putting some shirt hexies together, but nothing to set the world alight, somehow!

You might well know how it is in the holiday season - lots of time doing things with the girls, less time for sewing!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Just in time!

 As you may remember, I've been trying to make one quilt every month to give away (mostly for charity, two for teachers of DD1).  So far I've just about managed it - and I'm hoping to sew down the binding on this in time for a July completion for this one!

This photo is to give it some context.  When I did a workshop with Jan Hassard, making her curved log cabins, I didn't have a 1/4" inch foot for the machine that I was using.  This meant that when I got home I could either 1) carry on using this machine or 2) sacrifice this first strip and make the rest of the strips that I'd cut out into a slightly smaller quilt.  As you can guess, I returned to my beloved Bernina and left this first strip hanging forlornly on the wall for some considerable time.

You can see the quilt that I made hanging on the living room wall in this photo.
 So, a couple of years on, I finally decided that I should make a strippy quilt using this log cabin strip for the centre.  It was only slightly longer than the width of a typical fabric, so I didn't lose much of it when making this up with alternate plain blue and 'car' fabric.

I hope that a little boy will like this at some point - and I liked having the practise for some long feathers on a couple of the plain strips - the rest of the quilt was stippled - always best to put plenty of quilting on a pieced quilt that is being made for a child, I find!
So here it is, without the binding being stitched yet.  At least that is easy 'non thinking' sewing to do when the girls are around!

I hope that you are enjoying some summer sewing time too.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


 I accept that it doesn't take much to thrill me, but my husband recognising that this A3 quilt was 'Bathers at Asnieres' by Seurat did really please me!

He did point out that after nearly 25 years of marriage it would be more a surprise if he didn't know the original reasonably well, given that it was one of my favourite paintings.
This is a photo of the post card I have of it - it's somewhat larger in real life!

On show (permanently) at the National Gallery you can find out a bit more about it here.

I had fun making the quilt using a 'confetti' technique (tiny chopped up bits of fabric scattered into the different areas, then covered in net and quilted.

I know that all the bits didn't stay quite where I'd planned, but they were mostly in the right place.  I was a bit disappointed about how much the netting flattened the lovely rough and fluffy textures of the fabric confetti.  If I had a bit more patience (and time!) I'd be tempted to try another version without the net, just to see if I could sew down all the bits and retain the texture.  However, life is short and the school holidays start tomorrow, so sewing time will become a bit more limited for a while!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Down my street.

First of all, here is my finished 'Bathers' quilt.  I'm quite pleased with how it has turned out.  It is A3 sized and a little brighter than this photo shows.

Of course, it was only after I'd put some guide lines for the quilting on to it with water erasable pen that I remembered that my hand dyed fabrics wouldn't necessarily be colour fast - oops!

I'm happy to say that I have given it a light spray and it seems to be fine.  Perhaps it's just the cerise based fabrics challenging me!
Aren't these lovely?

Shamelessly using the lovely, simple pattern from Janet Clare's Home Quilt Home book, last night some friends and I enjoyed a kitchen table crafting night.

As one guest commented, more Balamory* than understated chic (I got  to choose the colours of the felt provided) we all had fun making these little houses.

I'm so lucky to have friends who will indulge me by coming round to join in with small crafting projects - my life is richer for the friendship that all of them offer me.  Thanks, girls!

This week I've also been lucky enough to go to my quilt group where Liz Trenow, author of 'The Last Seamstress' was giving a talk.  She was an entertaining speaker and I was interested to learn 1) that the last silk weavers in the UK are still based in Sudbury, 2) some of the constraints of producing parachute silk (relevant to her first novel) and 3) that her next book is called 'The Poppy Factory' - so has some local interest to me, as it's just five minutes away in Richmond.  I haven't visited it, but DD1 went there on a school trip and was fascinated by it.  I enjoyed The Last Seamstress (which is a story based around a quilt - you can download the pattern from her website) so have ordered the other two books too for some more 'easy reading' for the summer.

Finally, the outcome from last week's giveaway.  The randomiser chose number 3 - so congratulations to Gill - I'll be in touch to get your snail mail address.  Thank you to those who played along!

I hope that you are planning a week of sewing or crafting.  I'm hoping to finish my next Bather's based quilt - very different from the first one, but the same size.

* Balamory was a children's TV series, shown on CBeebies that my DD's used to enjoy.  It was shot in Tobamory on the Isle of Mull where there are some brightly coloured buildings, and used technical wizardry to colour some other buildings too.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Summer Give Away!

Not yet our summer holidays, but  time to celebrate long hours of day light and the possibility of ice cream eating with bare feet feeling grass rather than mud!

I made an extra campervan print 'tea wallet' - and I've added some other summer goodies: a key tag to make, some stickers, a little of two types of ice cream fabric.

Want to win?  Leave me a comment, perhaps sharing your ideal one word for summer!  Name out of a hat in a week's time.....
 The quilts that I'd finished previously have now been labelled (so properly finished now!). In addition to my usual printed labels, DD1 made her own 'thank you' additions.  I feel that we may need to work on 'setting out your space', but the sentiment is heartfelt!
As promised, this is the cushion cover part of the quillow.  I can't think of a better place to use a 'friendship star' as Georgie's TA has been a true friend to her as well as a fabulous teacher.  We have been very lucky to have the wonderful Mrs Power as well as the lovely Miss Stout.  If we ever get even half as lucky again, we will have a lot to thank the education system for!

Aside from labelling, I've made reasonable progress on my Bathers tribute quilt.  The challenge from my quilting group was to make an A3 quilt, based on or inspired by an art postcard.  Mine is based on the block that I designed based on 'The Bathers' by Georges Sueurat.  I'm having fun making it.

Hope you are enjoying sewing too! Don't forget to leave a comment if you want some summer goodies for your stash!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A Pleasure of Small Things

 I'm not sure that I know what a good collective noun for a group of lovely small things might be, so 'a pleasure' would surely fit as well as anything else?  Here's a round up of my week, anyway.  Odd layout as I appear to be falling out with Blogger today.....

 This was my attempt at a campervan cake.

It seemed to go down well.....
These were the 36, oh no, 35 fairy cakes to go along with the large cake (cake making is clearly hungry business!).
Campervan 'tea bag' wallets for helpers / party girl.
These are the campervans that the party goers decorated - aren't they amazing?  Finally, below, some 'use it up' pieces - cushions for a pair of girls who had watched my stitching at ballet lesson time (including the Love Entwined compass centre that I didn't use), finishing up book covers from other samples to go with the specific school one.

Just one more book cover and I'll have finished the school presents for DD1 leaving - it's all going well at the moment! 

Hope you are having a fun crafty summer time so far too!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

What a week!

 Hurrah - another quillow finished (although this time I've neglected to take a photo of it folded into its cushion shape - perhaps I'll remember next week!

I can see why this pattern is so popular (thank you Benta for reminding me!) - it is fearsomely fast to put together!  The final quilt is a shade under 60" square.  I quilted with straw coloured Auriful in the background and a variegated purple in the star.
 The other sewing this week was on a smaller scale.  DD2 turned nine, and for her 'not a party, just three friends for a birthday playdate' (code for 'party warm up, next week there will be hordes of small girls rampaging around the house') we made sleeping bags and outfits for the toy dogs that I bought them.
 I neglected to get photos of their excellent projects, so here are my example pieces.

I made the samples, transferred basic shapes onto cereal box card for them to use, and then pretty much stood back to let the mayhem begin!
 Of course, it wasn't quite as simple as that.  After all, three of them claimed never to have used a sewing machine before....although within minutes they were all sewing away.  I had only designed things that had short straight lines, so it all worked out OK!

Quite how we got to making lacy black undies for them I can't remember, but it's likely to have something to do with the bear / no underwear rhyme that one girl made up!  Lucky I had some wide lace lying around..... oh the joys of having a good crafting stash!
This was the cake for the birthday.  Just a couple of days until the birthday party with a whole new cake and a whole tribe of girls round to craft and play!

Children's birthdays are magical, but awfully tiring, aren't they?

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Triple 'Yay'!

 My first 'yay' was hearing that I'd won this lovely book from Janet Clare - her new book which has some lovely projects in it.

It was even better when she posted the book so quickly that it arrived the next day - I felt very lucky!

I can reveal to you that the style is 'classic' Janet Clare.  Muted tones and colours that make you relax just reading through it.  If you aren't already familiar with her work then I suggest you pop over to her blog or get hold of one of her other books.  I particularly like the fact that although there are quilts to be made, there are other 'little projects' - sewn and non-sewn - which can all too easily cause one to drop what one is already doing in order to start (and perhaps finish!) another little item!
 Look!  Janet even personalised the title page for me!

Can you tell that I'm excited?
My second 'yay' was for my girls.  I am excited that my DDs took part (with 17 of their friends and some of the mums) in the local Race for Life.  They managed the 5Km with aplomb - and I'm very proud of my girls, the rest of the team, and of everyone who has supported them with either encouragement, praise or cold, hard cash!

Its not too late to donate if you'd like to help celebrate their achievements.  My girls ran partly in memory of a friends mum and partly in support of their grandpa.  They are part of the team on this JustGiving page

And the third 'yay'?  This one has been a little longer in the coming - I've been studying part time for nearly three years in order to complete my City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Patchwork and Quilting (through the School of Stitched Textiles - distance learning, working to my own timetable).  Today I heard that I have passed it!

There will celebrating in the streets of Twickenham tonight (well, ok, maybe a glass of sparkling Elderflower cordial later, if I can persuade someone to go to the supermarket for me!).

Hope that you are having a good week too and finding reasons to celebrate.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Quillow Finished!

 A quilt on legs!  When you have stopped admiring my admirable quilt stand (otherwise known as DH) I'll allow you to admire the quilt instead - as I'm quite pleased with how its turned out!

Cobblestones (with halved cobblestone border) on the front.
 IKEA's 'numbers in text' for the back - extended with some lovely pink batik.
With one of my favourite ever stripy fabrics for the binding.  Chosen as it's on DD1's camp blanket, so we thought it would be nice to have it on this quilt for her teacher.

The backing is also appropriate, as this teacher (The Lovely Miss Stout, as she is ALWAYS called in our house) has championed DD1 right the way through school, and was instrumental in getting her dyslexia diagnosed, amongst other issues, as well as helping to get her additional help for school.
 This shot is where I'm trying to show you some of the quilting - I made an 'X' with feathers - partly as the idea of a great big kiss appealed to me, partly because that is what the quilt was asking for.

As planned, the rest of it was stippled.  I worked hard at trying to keep the scale of the stipple even, and I just about succeeded.
 You will have guessed from the title of this post that this quilt is hiding a secret - that it is also a cushion (or pillow, as my USA friends would have it).

The front used up lots of the scraps from the quilt - wish that I'd had a few more useful sized bits of paler pink too!

This shows it with the quilt all tucked away.
 On the back you can see the cushion cover / toe cosy when the quilt is unfolded.
 So, one quilt finished, it must be time to start another.  This is my fabric pull for one of those oh-so-fashionable (or maybe that was a while ago?) giant star quilts.  Perfect as my next project (another quilt heading for school!).
Lastly, following news that a member of my quilting group has been diagnosed with breast cancer, I made a quick 'ouch pouch' - or comfort cushion, if you prefer that term.  There are a number of different patterns on the Internet - crescents, hearts, plain rectangles - they are all trying to cushion the area between your torso and arm, particularly 'post op'.

I picked up the pattern (there is a full tutorial too) from emlibrary here - I like the idea of the bow / elastic to fasten it around your shoulder, if you so choose.

Perhaps if you don't want to quilt you might consider making a few of these instead?  Quite fast to make, and I'm sure that they would be well received at your local cancer treatment centre.