Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year, all.  

May 2014 be all that you want it to be.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Yesterday Morning ...

...after the boys had gone to school I sat down at my sewing machine and made this.  A member of staff at one of the boys' schools is retiring and over the years we've had many laughs and shared many things  - one of them being a mutual love of, yes, donkeys (I feel as if I'm at a confessional!).    Anything hand-made is slightly more personal and, love them or hate them, a mug rug is the perfect answer for someone of my sewing ability.  So without further ado, here is the aforementioned object.

I love Laurie Wisbrun's fabric designs.  I've had this stashed for ages.

I backed it with something I picked up in a fabric store in Bude, Cornwall, one holiday.   I think it's a polycotton.  It's bound with my favourite Architextures in black (soon to appear as a quilt binding).


I also had just enough of this ribbon in my stash - very timely, I thought. 

Have a lovely weekend, all.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

All kinds of deliciousness...

My eldest went back to school today, so I was up much earlier than of late.  Rather than head straight for the computer with my first cup of tea (as is my wont), this morning I sat down next to the open french doors with this...  

...and savoured the early morning stillness.   The air was still cool, but the sunshine hinted at the temperatures predicted later today here in the South East.

My younger son and I then enjoyed this..

..for breakfast.  Sunshine on a plate for me (yes, one of those evocations of mine, as is the smokiness of my ubiquitous cup of redbush tea - I've always one at my elbow).

Now on to business!  We've just had an wonderful family holiday where we visited old friends and spent a long time with not-often-enough-seen family.  There were a few quilty opportunities on this holiday.  I visited the actual bricks-and-mortar...

look at these Kona cottons

My camera phone pics really don't do this store justice.  Light, bright and spacious - and with bolts and bolts and bolts of wonderful fabric.  There is a squashy sofa area with lots of magazines.  The cutting table in the centre is enormous.  There were some incredible quilts on the walls - unfortunately pics not usable. To the two lovely, helpful ladies who we spoke to and who gave us great holiday tips too - thank you.

Off to the park now to enjoy the sunshine - more fabric bliss next time. 


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Here's another one I finished earlier...

...many, many months earlier.  

This is a quilt I made for my eldest son.  The fabric is one of my favourites, Shweshwe, a traditional South African waxed fabric.  As I grew up there, the smell and look of the fabric is incredibly evocative for me and will forever be associated with memories of singing sunshine and cool interiors of houses.    

The traditional colours of Shweshwe were indigo, red and brown.  Now it's also available in bright pinks, oranges and purples, amongst others.  A wide selection can be found here.  Every now and then limited edition prints are brought out - for example I have a pair of Nelson Mandela print cushions, and gave an American friend an Obama print cushion. 

As mentioned, Shweshwe is waxed, which means it has to be washed at a fairly high temperature before using.  Serious fray alert too. 
The pattern is from one of Pam & Nicky Lintott's jelly roll quilt books.  I cut the strips myself and alternated Kona white and Essex stone linen in the blocks.  The border is solid Shweshwe - not easy to find - I found it at last year's Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally and snapped up the lot.  

what's left on the design wall after the cats had attempted to scale it...
cat photo or quilt photo?
 I had to be patient in finding the right binding for this quilt too - and once I found it there was no doubt - I almost had to wait for it to be designed!  It's Sarah Jane's Stripes in red from her "Children at Play" line.  

The back is no more than a poly-cotton navy sheet.  I can't believe how difficult it was to find a cotton sheet.  I quilted in the ditch with YSL Soft Touch in a gentle stone colour.  

spot the legacy of the cat in this picture!

 My son is very pleased with his quilt, although he has subsequently decided to change the colours in his bedroom.  Never mind, the quilt looks lovely on the chair on the upstairs landing, next to the bookshelf containing all my quilting books.  It just needs a cushion to match!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Sooo frustrating....

....nothing new to show!.   The plans were all good - my quilting buddy was coming round for a day of crafting and spot of lunch - the sewing machine was good to go and I planned to spend the day basting and quilting my previously blogged WIP (I always think big!).   My littlest man wasn't well so I kept him home.  No problem.

The problems began when I laid the backing, wadding and top onto the dining table and couldn't get them to fit.  My eminently sensible friend suggested we lay everything out flat on the lawn to see what was amiss.  What WAS amiss was the the backing wasn't big enough - I thought I'd finished it!

I'd put everything away, so well that I couldn't find ANY of the original fabric I'd used.  So there's some that doesn't match (we are talking white here - my friend observed that I was anal about some things that she would let go ...).   I then started piecing, or should I say unpicking.....every little piece, I got something wrong, sometimes more than once... and this is making-it-up-as-you-go-along type sewing.  The only rules were my rules - and I got them wrong.

So, nothing to showcase, except Truffle giving the batting the seal of approval*.

*Quilter's Dream Cotton

However, we did have a lovely lunch and agreed that Gu baked cheesecake desserts are the best!  We're brainstorming ideas for the surfeit of Gu pots that we both seem to be accumulating....ideas welcome!

Oh, and I did order the binding for the quilt.  A clue, it features the words Architextures and Sketch in the fabric description.   

Thursday, 6 June 2013

After a fairly lengthy blogging hiatus...

...I'm back.  Yay.  In spite of no recent blog posts I have been extremely (creatively) busy. 

I took part in my very first swap - The Very Berry Handmade ATC Swap.  Thank you so much Ali for organising and co-ordinating such a fun swap.  There is so much inspiring talent out there.

I received this: 

from Jackie - incorporating all my favourite elements - irises, Liberty prints, beading, bright colours and a dragonfly.  Thank you Jackie, it's beautiful.

I sent this:

to Chris at UK City Crafter  (a blog choc-full of gorgeous and very accomplished craftiness).  Chris, thank you for your lovely feedback - hugely appreciated :-)

This swap was a stretch for me, firstly once again putting myself out there (still getting used to that) and secondly, sewing on such a diddy scale.  I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it (shoulders hunched over my Bernina, Bernina, Bernina of an evening)!   I also enjoyed the knitting - I initially started out on bigger needles and eventually visited a local yarn shop, requesting "the smallest DPN's you have, please".  Many (many) attempts later I had a little t-shirt I was happy to use.  The merino yarn I'd bought back in Easter from a lovely little yarn shop on the canal in Bude, North Cornwall.  The liberty prints were from my stash - I'd no idea I had so much green. 

Now for the next bit of creative busyness - those of you who've glanced at my Flickr stream will no doubt have spotted some dolls - Blythe dolls to be exact.   Two months ago I had never heard of Blythe.  Whilst browsing a quilting blog (can't remember which) I came across a doll - and followed a thread - which led me into a phenomenally creative world of fashion, photography and art - all encompassed in a doll!   I've rediscovered knitting (I've been churning out dolly knits), I've been sewing and designing little dresses and skirts, and my next aim is to seriously improve my photography skills - which can only benefit these blog shots of mine!   Playing with colours and techniques on a smaller scale is fun and I especially enjoy the more frequent satisfaction of projects rapidly completed in the midst of the ongoing (enjoyable) maelstrom of family, work and school that is my life.  For those interested more can be found here.

I'm now ready for a big project again and my next quilt will be......
(tell you next time x).

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Here's another one I began earlier...

...quite a lot earlier actually.  (Mmm, how many years, Gill?  Gill:  Not telling, just that it's the second quilt top I ever sewed!).  And yesterday I actually completed the backing - which is what you can see here, oh, and the trusty seam-ripper. 

There's also a glimpse of my beloved Juki - which I'm still getting to know.  This will be the first quilt I've quilted on this machine and I'm really looking forward to it.  I'm hoping to get a chance to sew this weekend.  I LOVE this machine - it's a dream to sew on.  And SO fast.

I upgraded from a 20-year old Elnita to a Bernina 440 QE when I began quilting.  Where's the Bernina you ask?  Well, attempting some decorative stitching last weekend, I forgot to change the quilting foot - and when sewing at Patchwork Corner this morning, I noticed that my needle was out of alignment.  It's due a service too so my Bernina, Bernina, Bernina has gone in for some tlc.   Which set me wondering, do I need another, light, machine for classes?  Then my Bernina can happily sit in it's Sew Ezi  table without being uprooted every now and then - and that answered my question - it's only now and then!  

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Glimpses of Speed Quilt 1

Looking at this pic, perhaps I ought to have entitled this post "glimpses of quilting accoutrements" - as the quilt doesn't necessarily leap out as much as the tea, chocolate, cats and remote do - although perhaps the cats dominate this one.

The rest are all variations on a theme - me sewing on the binding - with assistance from my furry quilt police.  

Who'm I kidding - the theme here is cats!
Ferret's Speed Quilt courses are great fun - usually held as a one-day workshop.  Participants arrive with all their fabric and wadding pre-cut - and then a day is spent sewing it all together in the good company of other quilting buddies.   Looking at Ferret's blog this particular workshop was back in June 2010 - lovely pics of other's quilts on the blog.

Ferret is an inspirational teacher.  Her talent is awesome.  I don't have the words to describe her work - phenomenal is conservative.  I've been fortunate enough to see some of the quilts on her blog and the talent and artistry therein have blown me away.   I say she's an inspirational teacher because she's always encouraging her students to step out of their safety zones and take things one step further.  Students are also encouraged to work on their own designs in her classes.  Although I'm not attending regular classes at the moment (work and school commitments) - I still get to go when friends are on holiday.   I've just been to 3 classes and it was great to be back.  Classes are held at Patchwork Corner, so there's always the temptation of yummy fabric just across the courtyard!!!

I'd better go and get ready for work.  Have a good week, all. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Bound with Crosshatch in Tangerine!

and back, below:

Detail, below:

This quilt was begun in 2011, in one of  Ferret's  one-day "Speed Quilt" classes.   It's a quilt-as-you-go quilt, with minimal quilting.   I then reached an impasse with the colours I'd chosen.  (This is actually the second speed quilt I made - the first (the third quilt I ever made) went to my niece abroad, unphotographed.  Again, I shall have to remedy that.  This was an attempt to recreate that quilt for memememe.   

I adore the AMH innocent crush rose in the centre, but was concerned that the colour didn't link into the rest of the quilt.  Hence the butterfly - which I think needs tilting a little - it's turned out a little too uniformly placed.  It did take many months to arrive at this particular solution!

I outline quilted the central rose, which shows up nicely on the back (photo not uploading for some inscrutable to me reason). 

The quilt then sat for years, whilst I auditioned bindings.   And then, Architextures arrived, and everything fell into place.  

 And then the fudge, my favourite bit of this quilt.  I was actually binding it (yes I was) when I noticed a slight lack of linen....   I hunted around in my fabrics (more auditioning) and this virtually fell at my feet.

It was a scrap that had been used to wrap a Fat Quarter bundle from far away shores - reader, I keep them all!!   Of course then there was a slight diversion whilst I googled furiously in an attempt to identify it - Avant Garden from Modernology by Pat Bravo.

And this one's a keeper!  

Quilt Stats:  59" x 59"
Fabrics Front:  
Turn of Evens in Plum -Innocent Crush - Anna Maria Horner
Sandlewood in Tangerine - Love - Amy Butler
Clippings in Passion - Loulouthi - Anna Maria Horner
Sun Spots in Olive - Love - Amy Butler
Crosshatch in Tangerine - Architextures - Carolyn Friedlander 
Fabrics Back: 
Stof Linen
Doughty's White
Avant Garden in Blanc - Modernology - Pat Bravo
& the teeny strip of stripes is Wa-Modern by Hokkoh.

Right, housework beckons (joke - it never does).  My next UFO does though.  And perhaps some reading up of HTML codes!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Here's One I Made Earlier....

I'd fully intended to blog about the quilt linked tantalisingly to the last post BUT, as often happens when I make plans - somehow they don't always work out in real life like they do in my head.  May I just for the record state that I did finish a quilt yesterday.  I photographed it this evening, when willing arms were available, but the light was awful.   So I'll try again in the morning before willing arms head off to school.  I am realising that I will have to up my photography/camera skills.   

In the meantime, as promised, here's a quilt I made a few years ago for a friend's special birthday.  Completed as per the date on the photograph - ahem, her actual birthday (many, many last-minute late nights).  I seem to remember in one of my earlier blog posts I hinted that I had a self-imposed rule never to sew late at night - well that's tosh.  I do, often.  I like that time of day, when the house and all in it are sleeping, and I'm quiely sewing the wrong sides of fabric together.  Yes, I do make more mistakes in the wee hours.  But hey, that's why seam rippers were invented.  And I have many of those, because at that time of night I can never find one once I've put it down...

On to the quilt:

 A simple colour brick pattern.  All the fabrics in the blocks were gifted to me by a work colleague who'd given up quilting in favour of knitting and crochet at which she is phenomenally talented.  Although I love the fabrics here, they're not my colours - but they are my friend's favourite colours - so just perfect for this gift.  The brick-coloured background fabric I bought from Hobbycraft.  The colours are actually more vibrant than these photographs show.  The quilt went together really quickly, as you can imagine.

  A closer look.

The back.

And detail - simple stipple quilting. 

I didn't measure it - I should, and I will.  It's a comfortable lap quilt and currently covers a two-seat sofa in my friend's house. 

I shall complete my previous post soon - and here's a little part of it. 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Movin' to Bloglovin'

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/5416135/?claim=44utkq2ua94">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I'm sure by now you've all heard that Google Reader is retiring on the 1st July 2013.

My Blog is moving to Bloglovin', and this is my boring but necessary post to claim it.

I'm not sure why their logo remains as HTML but I've been assured it will work!

To follow my blog just click on the button in the right-hand margin - and thank you for your patience with my obvious learning curve with all things bloggy.

Happy Easter all 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

An entire blog-post about a colour? Let's see....

Last week a little piece of heaven (along with some other lovely pieces of colour and design) arrived in a small parcel from http://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/    The two Summersville FQ's in blue and green were an unexpected but very appreciated addition - thank you.    

In case anyone's wondering, I know I showcased the above green Lizzie House print in my quilt top in the Pantone Emerald Quilt Challenge 2013  - (which I thoroughly enjoyed -see previous blog post), but I found myself really really liking these particular greens - and I've had an idea for another quilt using these colours - so I'm currently stashing for that as it requires half yards as opposed the FQ's I had collected. 

Pearl Bracelet - just because!  I like Pearl Bracelet - it's got to be one of the most versatile fabric designs I've ever used - it just seems to work wherever it's placed, and more than that, it makes the fabric around it work harder too!   When I added this particular one to my budding Pearl Bracelet collection I found that..... it's already there!  Ssshhh!  One can never have too much of this particular good thing.

And now, on to the "little piece of heaven" that is............................


 Crosshatch in tangerine

 - and what a colour this is.  It sings.  It makes my heart sing AND it makes all the colours in the quilt I've just bound with it sing too!   (Quite noisy round here then).   Even Truffle likes it. 

And where's the quilt with this wonderful binding?  Almost complete - I just have to try my hand at needle turn applique (eek, my skill with a sewing needle is non-existent) to tie in all the colours.   And there's also a little fudge on the back which has turned into the best kind, looking as if it was meant to be.  

Watch this space!


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Pantone Emerald Challenge 2013

Up until now I've posted no more than once a month - a few posts about some of my quilts and blankets - and shared within a small, cosy circle of family and friends.  

Until a few weeks ago - whilst indulging in one of my favourite pastimes, browsing all the yummy quilting blogs out there, I came across the  Pantone Emerald Quilt Challenge 2013, being hosted by Ali at a(squared)w .  I love the colour, I love the challenge - it presented a deadline which, true to form, I maximised to the hilt.  More importantly, it also challenged me to take the scary step of putting me and my quilts "out there".  So here I am, quilt top in hand.  Actually, it's my eldest son holding up the top.

I'd never sewn kaleidoscope blocks before and when my search for a template produced "foundation by the yard", I thought it seemed a great, time-saving idea.  Next time I'll paper piece, the layers of fabric all moved around a lot. 

Truffle helped with choosing colours, fabric placement etc.  I had such fun with my son's coloured pencils - and I spent hours colouring in! 

Slowly (it's always slowly with me - I ignore my own rules - don't sew after 10pm, you'll only have to unpick the next day - or I unpick the wrong block!) it's started to come together.  

And then, with hours to go, a quilt top.  (Photographs not so great, indoors, evening, phone camera).  

 I was going to use many more fabrics than this, but somehow they all ended up being Lizzy House (whose fabrics I adore).   The neutral is Kona white and the accent is a Lizzy House Jewel print - the detail not so easily visible in this pic. 

The quilt top measures 40.5 x 48.  

Thank you Ali for hosting this competition.   Now I'm off to learn Flickr!