Monday, 15 September 2014

Around the World Blog Hop - Twickenham Stop

 Hello!  Please let me start with a great big 'thank you' to Lea Anne at Podunk Pretties for tagging me in this world wide blog hop.  Always fun to take part in something that spreads around our marvellous quilty (or otherwise!) world. 
Lea Anne makes a series of bright and beautiful quilts that never fail to put a smile on my face when I see them - colours that can always cheer you up!  I found her blog through a linky party earlier in the summer - hope that you enjoy what you find there too!  I particularly like her scalloped edge tutorial - a way of finishing an internal border that I hadn't thought of - its great!

So, the idea for this blog hop is that I answer some questions about my stuff, for those people who haven't had the  (dubious!) pleasure of meeting me before and then link to some other lovely bloggers who I think you'd like to meet.

 1) What am I working on?

I'm embarrassed to admit how many projects I'm working on.  In fact, now that I've had a good think (not quite time out on the 'thinking step' but close to it!), I have decided to try and complete all my current UFOs within the next year.

However, I'm committed to sharing the start point of this task with you, however embarrassing, so here goes!

The top of the post shows a hand stitchery (design by Urban Threads) which is going to form part of a Round Robin in my quilt group.
 Then I've got these two little houses which just need filling and closing - based on Janet Clare's lovely pattern.

I'm still working on my 'cuff book' too - just a few pages in this one, so I'm sure that by the end of 2014 I'll have finished it.
 Of course these are all hand sewing projects - this is not surprising, as machine sewing is so much quicker that I'm less likely to have the projects sitting around for quite so long.  This shows a 'flimsy' and backing that are just ready for the wadding and some quilting.  This will by my 'September' quilt to give away - this year I'm trying to make one quilt every month (not always big ones, and not usually complicated ones!) to give away.  A few will be presents but most will be gifted to Project Linus or similar charities that distribute quilts.  I love that I can spend my time doing something that I enjoy in order to make something with love for someone else.  Quilting is a great hobby, isn't it?
This pile - ahem - is the front and back of my 'August' quilt.  I'm really not at all up to date, am I?!?

These two are definitely 'boy' quilts - tractors, cars and other 'boy' novelty fabrics make up these as an antidote to the girly ones that I usually make!
 More hand project UFOs to show now.  These hexies are made from my late FiL's shirts, and represent pretty much the last of the great fabric stash that his shirts left.  I made double quilts for all four of his grandchildren, and then a series of smaller 'use it up' quilts after that.  This will have five rows of hexies, which I shall then add to.
 Another piece of handwork - my progress on Esther Aliu's Love Entwined quilt.  I'm only planning on making this central part of it - it's a wonderful pattern that Esther is sharing, but pretty daunting in its entirety!  I'm really happy to have got this far, just one corner to finish before quilting, binding and finishing.  It has a worldwide following with some absolutely wonderful quilts being stitched - you should go look for some!
 Lastly, my long term WIP - a hybrid of hand and machine sewing - my Dear Jane quilt.  I'm only planning to do the squares on this project too, but it is by far my longest running project.  Over eleven years so far - I should really, really get this finished!

So, eight projects (and about a dozen more in my head) to finish.  That should be doable, right?

2) How does my work differ from others of it's genre?

Ummmmm......I'm tempted to say that it's not as good, but that sounds a bit down and I'm a more cheerful person than that!  I don't know that my work does differ.  As you can see, I'm happy to follow patterns from all sorts of people, as well as to create my own, especially when machine piecing.

3) Why do I write / create what I do?

I quilt because since becoming hooked on it, I really miss it when I can't! I credit patchwork and quilting with being the glue that holds me together.  I suffer with ME / CFS so the outlets that I used to have (working, walking, swimming, socialising, travelling, dare devil sports) aren't open to me in the same way anymore.  Instead I've thrown myself into something that offers many different disciplines and lots of lovely colour.  Shopping online, sewing with a machine, enjoying internet communities - I can't imagine ever managing without a 'fabric fix' to enhance my day now!

I blog so that I can record what I do for myself and so that I can put occasional tutorials up to help other people, something that I'd like to do more of.  That's my way of 'giving back' something to the wider crafting / quilting community by way of thanks for everything that has been shared with me.

4) What is my favourite piece?

This quilt - fusible applique and machine quilting, from a pattern by 'Don't Look Now' is probably the favourite out of the quilts that I've made (and that number is up over a hundred now).

It hangs over our bed and I get to enjoy it every single day. 

So that's all about me and my quilting.

I'm thinking that you'd like to go and look at someone else now!

I'd like to tag Sewkalico and .......oh, hang on, I remember, I'm supposed to have found two more people who'd like to be tagged by now - oops!  If you'd like to play along please let me know as soon as possible and I'll tag you too!  In the meantime, let me entice you to along to Sewkalico by telling you that I've been following her blog for ages, and that she is the absolute master of quilt shots in the bucolic English countryside - so it's a double pleasure to look at her quilts, as you get great backgrounds too.  Of course, it's not just quilts that she makes - but you'll be able to hop on over and have a look yourselves.

Thanks again to Lea Anne  - and remember to go and have a look at her blog too!

Happy quilting, everyone!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

More Bits and Bobs

 Still not much of anything happening this week, apart from (even more) name tag sewing onto new items of uniform for DD1.

Still, I managed to make the Monday evening deadline to participate in the next challenge that my quilting group are running - a round robin.

This is my fabric pull (yes, it looks just like the fabrics that I used for my C&G samples - what can I say, I like the colours and they were to hand!).

My theme is the lyrics from the Military Wives song 'Wherever my Heart'.  I'm hoping for lots of
hearts and stars, perhaps a bridge..... Who can tell what I will actually get!  All good fun.  This is my own block strip (6" x 36") combining applique hearts, improv stars and foundation pieced flying geese (and no, there are no geese in the song, but they refer, in my mind, to Chivenor which is an air base that I drive past once a year....!).  I hope that people understand I am happy with any style of patchwork in this piece!

I have also bought myself an early birthday present -  some rubbing plates and Markel paint sticks.  I spent a happy 10 minutes yesterday transforming this scrap of muslin (and no, I didn't bother to iron it, it was play time, not laundry time!).

I love the look of the rubbings, and I'm thinking that I'd like to transform a plain t-shirt with them (hoping that I can manage the stretch without it looking too gruesome).  HOWEVER, not one site that I've seen has talked about the powerful smell that emanates when you use these paint sticks!  Crikey, what a smell!

I know that it's recommended that you leave the paint to 'cure' for three days before ironing it, but I'm really thinking that I shall have to leave anything I colour in the shed rather than in the house, as I'm not at all fond of the strong aroma.  Of course, before I actually commit to a t-shirt I will also need to think about how to overlap the patterns (like they show in the ads!).  Its going to be a bit of a learning curve, foreshortened only by my reluctance to buy any more of the paint sticks until I can prove reasonable results with the ones that I have (three minis, one full size) as they are pretty expensive.

I'm off to contemplate the Round Robin that I have to make a block for this month - a theme of 'tea', which does have lots of scope to it, I'm pleased to say!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Busy Week!

With one DD back at school and the other starting her new school tomorrow, I'm hoping to have a bit more sewing / crafting time again soon!

In the meantime, I'm still trying to decide whether to be flattered that DD1 wanted a home made PE bag and bag for a second set of clothes.....or concerned that she was too lazy to go to the shops to choose something!

Either way it was a good excuse for a little simple sewing with some fun prints from my stash.

 I even got to use a couple of fancy printed wooden buttons.

Of course, now that I've realised that by using a satin stitch I can sew buttons on with the sewing machine, I'm more likely to let buttons appear on things!

Of course, my hand sewing this week has been mainly name tape labels.....
 I did find a few minutes to make this book cover too, using a left over block.

I'm running out of blocks to pick up and use for this sort of quick project.  Perhaps I'd better do some more random printing and stitching - perfect for when you want something to occupy the fingers but not the brain!
My last little project for the week was this fabric post card for my 'birthday swap'.  I wish that I'd moved the chicks just a little further left so that they didn't look quite as much as though they were going to be stepped on!

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 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!