Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Off the Cuff

 Or, perhaps, ON the cuff?

I made a cuff book  earlier in the year, from a frayed shirt and part of the sleeve fabric.  To my shame I can't remember which blog I picked up this idea from, but it's not an original idea from me, I'm afraid.

This is the outside when it's buttoned up.
 This is how it looks when you open it.  I made the pages different lengths.
 My 'title page'.
 The early part of the year.  It rained (a lot!) then the grass grew......  Okay, okay, I never said that it was going to be an interesting book!
 Later in the year we went to Barcelona and I started stitching this sat outside the Aquarium there whilst the rest of the family went in.
This page represents the journey that I made down to see my Dad every week after he was admitted first to a Hospice, then to a nursing home.

It shows the train tracks, the lavender farm I went past, the orchards, the other fields, and a river.  There were two main routes.  Both of them took me past parts of the Medway and the Thames.
This shows the Thames again - running through the Borough where we live and where the girls both go to school.  DD2 is still at St Marys, DD1 moved to Waldegrave school with a swan logo this year.  They both love to read, but DD1 finds it hard with her dyslexia.

It's been fun to stitch this over the year, although I had hoped that I'd be able to manage this simple stitching on the train journeys, which wasn't the case!  never mind, I kept up to date with Radio 4 comedies, dramas and some other podcasts that I might not otherwise have made time to listen to.

If you've got an old shirt ready for recycling, maybe you'd like to make a cuff book too?  I can recommend them as a splendidly portable project!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

In case you wanted to know......

 I haven't done much sewing over the last few weeks, but this was one thing that I did make - a fully lined eye wateringly bright fabric case (with shoulder strap robbed from another bag).

DD2 is currently trying out the trumpet (sorry, neighbours!).  The case that she's been given has no shoulder strap and is awfully heavy.

I bought a smaller, lighter case, but the music teacher wasn't a fan (and the trumpet is only borrowed at the moment, so he's allowed to have some say in the matter!).

This was my next suggestion, with DD2's choice of Cloth Kits fabric.

Not sure that it's the total answer - after all, it doesn't magically take the weight away!

 My other sewing has been on our local quilt group's Round Robin.  My challenge this month (thank you Avril!) was to make a flag for what would be left of the UK if Scotland had left us.

Excellent theme!  Here is just a glimpse of part of the flag that I made.

I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge!
Finally, I thought that it would be nice to share with you a picture that my Dad had on his bedroom wall for almost 50 years.
Painted by his friend, David John, in 1966, it shows Sonning Lock.  This photo really doesn't do the saturated colours justice!

I can only hope that anything that I've created lasts that long and is appreciated even half so much.

It's off to a new home with my brother now, where it will continue to be appreciated.  Nice that it's going to be with a 'Thames boy' - his first home was in a houseboat on the Thames with our mum and dad.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Life Goes On.

 I missed showing the card that I made for my tea guzzling brother on the event of his 'significant' birthday last week.  I've been waiting years to put this pun into card form!
 I also don't think that I've shown this tissue holder - another small project made from colour catchers (and just a little bit of lace edging).

Very fast to sew up.  Its now in my handbag so I can see how well colour catchers last in 'stress' situations!  If it doesn't fall apart too quickly I might make some more of them.
I have also made progress on my Love Entwined.  Shown here with the pins holding some of the last bits of Vase No. 4 in place, I've sewn these and the berries down and even added the backstitched stems.

I still haven't got as far as removing the paper from behind the zig zag border and washing the piece with Synthrapol, but they are on my list of things to do.

Small progresses, but at least forward movement.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

David G. Evans 1928 - 2014

Two wives, three children, two step children, eight grandchildren.  Good friend to countless people. 
My dad died yesterday and I can't begin to think how big a hole he is going to leave behind.

I hope that I can take his life as a lesson on how to get the maximum pleasure out of the world, whatever it throws at you.  He was a decent, honest, wise and funny man and I hope that he's having a ball in the big hereafter.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Windmills in my mind!

 I'm finding it hard to concentrate this week - I'd like to blame the windy weather or the lingering cold that I've got, but I'm not sure that I can!  I've probably just got too many projects that I want to work on all at once, and not enough time or energy to do that!

One little project this week was to make some simple pouches from colour catchers - preparation for a crafty 'girls night in' that I've planned for later this week.
Very fast to make, and it's made me wonder what my girls could think of to make with them next week when they are off school for half term.  Perhaps they can recycle some, write up a project and try and get their eco (green!) Blue Peter badges?

The only other sewing to show this week is a postcard for my Birthday Swap - the theme was 'circles' for this one, so I had a play with a scrap of fabric that had been gifted to me and some time with my lovely Inktense pencils.

I'm back off to my windmills - perhaps I'd better write a good list and get my projects written into a sensible time line for the week, otherwise I might not manage to get anything else done with a paralysis of indecision!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A little early for snow?

 Yes, far too early for snow, of course, but not too early for snowball blocks!

I've decided to make a quilt using snowballs this month.  I had hoped to have made more than just this sample one, but have been knocked sideways with a horrid cold and cough.  Still, when I'm sewing again at least this will be a simple project to continue with.  All the initial cutting is done, so it's just a bit more sewing, swiping the rotary cutter and pressing to do. 

I'm making the blocks with coloured squares so I get the 'bonus' half square triangle blocks shown here at the same time.  I'm looking forward to playing with them once I've made the quilt!
 I realised that I hadn't posted a photo of the finished August quilt.

Here it is.

Somewhat busy with the novelty prints.  The sashing (and how I wished that I'd had enough to finish framing the novelty squares at the top and bottom of the quilt!) came in a bag of scraps from The Skep in Leeds more years ago than I care to remember.

I'd always thought that it was 'cow patch' fabric, but the more I sewed with it, the less certain I became.  I think that it might be Dalmatian fabric instead.

Oh well.  I'm sure that it won't matter that it is paired with cow print blocks and borders!

It has finished approx. 42" x 60" - so just right for wrapping up a child in (or for curling up under myself whilst watching mindless TV and sipping honey and lemon, as it turns out!).

Esther Alui has just published the LAST part of her Love Entwined pattern.  Amazing quilt!  I still haven't finished my fourth vase - which would be the last bit for me as I'm only making the central square.  Time for me to pull it out of the 'project wallet' and see what I actually need to do in order to finish it.

Perhaps some gentle hand sewing would be just the thing for me this week!

Happy sewing to one and all!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

More time, please!

 Life seems to have been lived on the run this week, for no particularly good reason!

Sewing time has been reduced by time spent at school meetings, tidying, sorting, and generally having the type of turnout (in some tiny areas of the house - I wouldn't like you to think that things had become too extreme!) that is more usually associated with spring!

Of course, every bit of tidying seems to result in even more ideas for the 'to do' admin and household chores list - never a good idea!  The list now runs to an entire sheet of A4 paper and the plans would total about £45,000 - or about £42,500 more than we actually have to spend right now!  Ho hum.  Back to the drawing board (or at least the sewing machine!).

I have managed a little sewing, though - but as both blocks are for my quilting group's Round Robin, which is kept secret over the five months that it run,
I thought that perhaps I should only show glimpses of the two blocks for my first recipient.

I got to play with a stitchery, an improve border, and some paper piecing.... not bad for just one 'hit' on someone else's project.

I'm hoping to make more progress on other projects this week although time does rather seem to be getting away from me again. 

I think that I'm going to set aside one week a month for (modern) family history and scrapbooking, rather than vacillate between whether to start fiddling with photos or fabric and ending up doing neither!

Hope that your autumn is more productive than mine at the moment!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Hurrah for Sewing!

I'm delighted to say that I've finished my September quilt - an 'Angelika' (a quilt made from the leftovers of another quilt - this was made from the scraps of my August quilt - named after a member of one of my online quilting groups who has turned this into a fine art!).  I have to confess that I still haven't finished the binding on my August quilt yet..... so still running a bit late on that one.

I have hardly thought about what to make for my October quilt, but I'm hoping to make a 'proper' pattern rather than just relying on novelty prints for interest!
 So based on that, I'm not sure that I could raise a (an?) hurrah, but based on my birthday experience I most definitely can!

I received all this wonderful cards - aren't they fabulous?

I chose the theme 'purple' - can you tell?
 My girls and I keep on sorting and re-sorting them - tremendous fun!
I was also lucky enough to get these most excellent quilty presents!

The zipper pouch is a hand made lovely from Benta - isn't she clever?  Beautifully finished, a great inspiration.

The book and jelly roll are from my wonderful sister (and BiL, of course, although I suspect that he may not have been involved in the choosing process).  Great looking patterns, and I can hardly wait to get stuck in with the lovely bright fabric!  She clearly knows just what I like.

So, hurrah for sewing and fingers crossed that I find a bit more time to do some this week! I'm impatient to get on with several small projects!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

After the anniversary.....

After the anniversary, I can present the proof that my DH hasn't ever ironed Hama beads before....of course, the real proof is that on the back of this is a large swathe of Teflon coating from the iron.  Release paper? Nah.  Baking parchment? Nah.  

He says that next time he'll leave it until I get home (I was only out for an hour, visiting my lovely osteopath!) so we won't need to keep buying new irons!

Aside from that I'm mainly sewing down binding - no photos of those August and September quilts yet.

I also made my best beloved a card, of course.
And I've been sewing on a 'secret' mini project - just a glimpse for you now. 

Of course, I've really been spending time looking at lots of other lovely bogs.  Starting here with SewKalico who has played along beautifully with the worldwide blog hop -  and moving on via the blogs that she and KatesQuilting have highlighted.  I suggest you pop over for a look too - lots and lots of inspiration to be found and crafting loveliness to be admired!

Hope that you are enjoying some sewing time as the weather becomes a little cooler here in the UK.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Twenty five years ago.....

Now that's what I call a long 'work in progress'!  Still married, still smiling, still wearing glasses (but not these Eighties ones) and still in love with my DH!

Do you like my wedding dress?  I did buy new shoes / hat / bag, but the wedding dress was a £10 find at a second hand bookshop set in what used to be Osterley tube station before it moved to its current location on the Great West Road (or the A4, for those of a more prosaic outlook).  I spent many hours and quite a few pounds on treasures there - all the rest of which were books!

Happy anniversary to us!

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.