Saturday, 31 December 2011


FFQ = Favourite Fabrics Quilt. It is my quilt for me, and I am going to find a way to put lots of different, disparate fabrics that I love for one reason or another all in the same quilt. So that I can sit there, snuggled under it and remember quilts made, scraps given, projects completed, scraps hoarded because I love them so much I end up not using them.

It will be one of my first projects for 2012. But I got a start on it today, the last day of 2011. I sat on the floor with Emily this morning and pulled fabric. Not all of the fabrics that have been pulled are going to go in the quilt. Some I will change my mind about, I am sure. Others were not pulled by me and I some how might forget to put them in. (Shhh! Don't tell!)

I'm not telling her some of her favourite fabrics aren't mine!
Maybe I will just give them to her as she loves them so much and she can do a quilt of her own.

I still have another pile of fabric to go through and I know that my Pips is in there. I loved the Pips fabrics and definitely want some in this planned quilt.I have to shift some things back to the dining room before I can access that fabric hoard so it will have to wait. I have vowed to let them have a dining room table through this weekend. It is killing me, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do!

I did take temporary custody of the table to lay them out and have a better look.
The poor gingerbread house sits in the background.
I say poor because it is melting. Really, it is, look -
The sweeties we that we melted into the window spaces when we baked the gingerbread are melting.
They've melted the face off the poor little girl Helen piped in the window waiting for snow!
If they melt on the m at Sarah made for me they are in big trouble!!
I am keeping an close eye on them.
Right, back to the fabric! I sorted it out some and the fabrics seem to fall into distinct categories. First up the Heather Ross fabrics. Some I bought in much earlier in the year because I thought I really needed to buy before the prices went up even more. Others have been given to me very generously by Fiona. I love them all so much that I cracked a couple of days ago, got on Etsy and ordered a couple more small bits.

Love these fabrics!
The next group are little scraps mostly, many of them received in swaps or from friends. Pieces of fabric that make me smile, remind me of the person who gave them to me, or were used in quilts that I made and loved.

Next comes some of those fabrics that I have been hoarding, and I think there are more to be added to this category. I think that these would be particularly good to use in this quilt because maybe if I actually cut into these pieces it would be the incentive I needed to stop hiding them away and actually use them!

Those FQ rolls of Birch and Cloud 9 haven't even been unrolled
and I bought them at the Quilt Show this summer!
What came as quite a surprise to me was how many of my fabrics were for the birds. Maybe I need to do a 'One for the Birds Quilt' as well as this FFQ.

So having had the first initial trawl through my fabric I find myself left with a question or two. Is this going to be one quilt or three? Will I make 'One for the Birds'? And how about my sudden desire to make a quilt featuring the fabrics I have from Heather Ross? If I did this I might have to order a few more. Or set up private swaps. A caravan for a penguin say, or gnomes for ? Anyone interested in this Heather Ross mini scrap swapping please let me know.

There you have it. I touched fabric today. And it felt good. Onwards and upwards for 2012. A very happy new year to everyone and have fun tonight if you are the going out and having fun sort. Sorry to admit it but we are the staying home and having a nice meal type. Boring I know, but it is what it is!


Friday, 30 December 2011

The Finished Quilt

As opposed to the unfinished one. I gave Helen and Emily a quilt each for Christmas. Helen's was almost done. Emily's was wrapped with the binding on but the basting pins still in as lots of hand quilting still to be done. Please, don't tell the quilting police that I did it in that order. I just thought that the binding would give it a more finished look and not make the disparity between the two quilts so obvious.

So I shall show you Helen's quilt. I will keep the unveiling of Emily's quilt for the day that those pins come out and the quilt is on her bed.

I started both quilts when we moved to the Isle of Wight and were in the first house we lived in there, so that would be about four years ago, or more. The girls were actively involved in the design approval stage. They drew up their own designs originally but came up with such convoluted ideas that there wasn't a chance in hell I would ever manage to translate them to fabric. We compromised on working together.

Helen's quilt is based on the Hugs and Kisses design. I used a line of fabric called Simplicity. Helen's quilt used the fabrics from this line that were patterned and floral. Emily's quilt used the monotone fabrics. You will see the huge difference this made to the resulting quilts when I eventually reveal Emily's. Hers is much more subdued.

Helen on Christmas morning.
We waited a few days before we went outside and got a better photo. I held the quilt to keep it off the wet grass and Helen wielded the camera. It took a few tries.

Interesting, darling.

Bit too close.

Now you are too far away!

That will do perfectly, thank you very much!
I machine pieced the quilt top and then entirely hand quilted it. If you have followed this blog for a little while you will be aware that I started the hand quilting a long time ago - using embroidery strands. I stitched too close to the seams and when I was stitching on the side of the seam that the fabric was pressed to there were too many layers to get the needle in and out in stitch lengths that didn't look like they were done by a five year old. I am not exaggerating. I like longer, bolder stitches over traditional smaller hand quilting but these stitches would have been the best bit of half an inch long if I had persevered.

So I put the quilt aside, for a long time. Meanwhile I started blogging. You lot opened my eyes to all new things, including perle cotton. I was an instant and easy convert. I decided that using perle and stitching further away from the seam - like on the outside edge of the 1/4" seam allowance - would make finishing this quilt much more attainable. And it was!

I finished all the blocks and only had to pull out the original stitches, which I was doing Christmas Eve at some stupid hour, when I decided enough was enough and I could do it after Helen had received the quilt. Only now she has it she wants to keep the three remaining double stitched blocks as they are. She sees it as part of the way her quilt should be. So three blocks look like this -

And I don't care. It is part of the long, drawn out history of this quilt and it is the way Helen wants it. I guess that is what counts for more than anything. She is the thrilled with the final product and that was what I wanted.

The backing fabric is a soft blue from the Simplicity line.
There is text all over it but that doesn't show up in the photo.

It is sashed in a light blue spotted fabric
and bound with one of the blue florals.

I am so pleased with the finished result.
Perle saved the day once again!
And that is Helen's quilt. Stay tuned for the eventual post about Emily's.


Thursday, 29 December 2011

An Early Christmas Present...

... posted about a little late.

I didn't say anything, because Kat might have got into a strop, but in actual fact I was one of the many lucky winners in the recent Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day. Some people Kat think I have been a on a real winning streak and just might have cheekily hinted at that on their blog. I am trying not to have a big cheeky grin on my face here, because I won again and Kat will be shaking her head in disbelief.

I won a prize from the lovely Vicky over at The Accidental Crafter. She makes gorgeous stuff and I was the recipient of some of it.

I was the lucky winner of this Anne Marie Horner voile infinity scarf. Then Vicky added all those wonderful other bits as extras. A length of elephant ribbon, two felt hair clips (which Emily seems to have acquired), a bookmark, and six pins for my bulletin board - Vicky made fabric covered buttons and then attached them to the thumb tacks. So Kat might just be right, I am one very, very lucky person!

The scarf is fabulously beautiful and will put a little much needed style into my life. I have never sewn with voile but am now seriously contemplating ordering some. It is soooooo soft, and the colours of this AMH are beautiful. And because you just have to loop the scarf around your neck a couple of times and it instantly falls into a nice draping, elegant way I no longer have to stand in front of the mirror struggling not to look like a five year old who has been dressed by her grandmother. This is a very good thing!

So I would like to extend a huge thank you to Vicky for being one of the many participants in the SMS Giveaway Day, and for picking me as one of her winners! I received her parcel in record time, just two days before Christmas all the way from Australia and it was post marked the 19th. The Post Office must have been working overtime!

If you like the scarf and were unfortunate enough not to win one like me (Sorry Kat!) then here is the link to Vicky's post about making it. Now, I had best be off to browse some websites and see what is out there in the way of voile!


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Blogger's Choice Fat Quarter Bundle Contest

There is a new contest in the blogging world of quilting, over at Quokka Quilts. And it is a fun one. It involves browsing through fabrics for hours on end. Oh joy! Then choosing twelve coordinating prints and three solids to create your own Blogger's Choice Fat Quarter Bundle as can be found at the wonderful Fat Quarter Shop.

You then take your choices, create a mosaic with them, remember what all the fabrics are because you will need to list them separately, and link up with Quokka Quilts. Dozens of people have already created their bundles and it really is quite interesting seeing what fabrics people have chosen to put together. It is a good way to get new colour combination ideas and to see fabrics in a new light.

A panel of independent judges (aka - some lovely blogging stars) will judge all the submissions and the winning bundle will receive not FQs but 15 half yards of the fabric of their choice from the Fat Quarter Shop. Can you pass up the opportunity to enter this fun contest? I couldn't!

This, for better or worse, is the bundle that I came up with.

My fifteen fabrics are -

1. Floral Folio Aqua Large Florals Yardage SKU# Y0817-33
2. Crazy Daisy Turquoise Tile Yardage SKU# 4642-84
3.Whimsy Olive Delicate Florals Yardage SKU# 5609-66
4. Whimsy Pink Dotted Dots Yardage SKU# 5607-22
5. Crazy Daisy Citron with Turquoise Large Daisy Bloom Yardage SKU# 4640-44
6. Ruby Cotton Sherbet and Ruby Sundae Yardage SKU# 55037-24
7. Grand Bazaar White Sun Dot Yardage SKU# DS5071-WHIT-D
8. Garden District 54" Wide Green French Ribbon Yardage SKU# SAHB005-GREEN
9. Ooh La La Turquoise Pirouette Yardage SKU# DC5202-TURQ-D
10. Oval Elements Green Apple Yardage SKU# OE-902
11. Daisy Dance White Swirly Dots Yardage SKU# 7535-66
12. Bright Owl Lime Swirl Yardage SKU# C8372-Lime
13. Bella Solids Turquoise Yardage SKU# 9900-107
14. Kona Cotton Peridot Yardage SKU# K001-317
15. Michael Miller Lipstick Cotton Couture Solid Yardage SKU# SC5333-LIPS-D

And I have to say it is not as easy as you might think. Well, it wasn't for me. I made my choices but then when they were all in the mosaic together I could see which ones I didn't feel fit in properly and I went back and changed them, one by one, until I thought I had a balance. Damn fine way of wiling away a few hours though! I wouldn't like to rate my chances of doing well in this contest because putting fabrics of different lines together was never my strong point, but it was a good exercise in learning more.

This is a wonderful contest for self doubt because I worked on my choices for so long and the more I look at them, now that I am doing this post, the more I am second guessing if any of them are the correct choices! Best to hit the 'publish post' button and be done with it!


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Why I Believe in Santa

I believe in Santa because Christmas Eve I left this out -

And the next morning it looked like this -

This is what was inside of it -

Wouldn't you believe in Santa too?!


Monday, 26 December 2011

The Big Day

We had a delightful Christmas here and I hope you did in your household too. Our wake up call came shortly before 7am with the girls bringing all our stockings to our bed and we opened them there. Let's just say that Santa seems to understand my love and desire for chocolate. No photos yet (I have been too relaxed) but I shall have to take a picture just so you know how much chocolate Santa can fit into a stocking for future reference!

Shortly after digging down to the toes of all the stockings the girls dragged us all downstairs.

The highlight in the gift giving seemed to be...

More Sylvanian Family stuff.

And for Helen it would have to be...

A pogo stick.

No photos of me opening my ice cream machine. You'll have to wait until I produce some actual ice cream. I have the Ben & Jerry's recipe book to guide me. And some eager volunteers for eventual tasting.

Our turkey was fabulous. Not a sentence often used by me, no matter how hard I try. But this year it was everything I hoped for, and then some. The wine was equally delicious. And that immense feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day was unbeatable. The long sleep afterwards was bliss!


Sunday, 25 December 2011

From all of us to all of you
wishing you a
Very Merry Christmas
All the Best for 2012!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Secret Santa

As most people who read me regularly know, I am a member of the Brit Bee. This was the bee set up within days of Lynne setting up Brit Quilt. And this bee introduced me to some of the best quilting buddies I have. I am constantly pleased with myself for taking that leap of faith as I really didn't have a clue when I put my name down to join in.

Now those eleven strangers have become eleven great friends. One of those clever clogs decided that we should do a Secret Santa Exchange. This was one of those situations where you just couldn't lose. Not like those office Secret Santa exchanges where inevitably I got the Yardley's Lavender Soap or something equally intent on letting me know that people thought I was much older than I actually was!

This Secret Santa exchange couldn't go wrong - a hand made something or gift of fabric. Yup, just my sort of thing obviously. I happen to know that all twelve have now received their gifts so we are free to show what we received ourselves.

A lovely zippy pouch and two FQs to die for. And three two one no chocolates. Well, obviously there were chocolates. Not any more. You didn't expect anything different from me, the chocolate glutton, did you?

I love the orange and pink fabric used on the pouch. The blue denim one was my clue to who  my Secret Santa was. Because Miss January just sent through the fabric for the next bee blocks. She has requested that each block be sashed in exactly the same fabric. So thank you Miss January!

Check out the close ups of the FQs. Two mini madams in this house have their beady eyes on this fabric. I am hiding it. I am willing to share my chocolate (occasionally) but this fabric is mine, all mine!

I recognise this fabric, but couldn't tell  you its name.
I never remember stuff like that!
This one is apparently called All Rights Reserved.
Right, okay, I don't know what this one is either but I love that little yellow bird in the apple.
Both these fabrics lend themselves very nicely to being fussy cut and added to my Favourite Fabrics Quilt which will be commencing in the new year. It is just about at the top of my list. While my machine is tucked away for the holidays maybe I can have a browse through my fabric picking out and cutting various bits as a start. If I get the chance.

A huge thank you to my Secret Santa and I do hope that all the other Brit Bee ladies enjoyed what they received as well.


Friday, 23 December 2011

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

... the aromas inside delightful. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

It is definitely feeling like Christmas here now for me. First clue was the 6:30am dash to the supermarket. I got a parking spot, I got my shopping and I got the hell out. Success!

And then I came home and the cookie fest began.

Rolling and cutting.
The girls got organising.
They delved into every cupboard and pulled out every sprinkle, etc.
And then the fun began.
Three generations getting sticky and silly.
I did the cake.
And we all worked on the gingerbread house together.
It is the first year we haven't used a pre-bought kit.
Making it stand up and stay stood up is not easy!
Some, not all, of the decorated cookies.
Happy, but exhausted, girls.
The house is still clean - other than the dining room floor which is now covered in sprinkles of all sorts. The sausage stuffing is made. As is the red cabbage for tomorrow nights dinner - a homage to himself's Scandinavian roots. The girls and the grandparents are now watching a Christmas dvd and I am trying to chisel hardened icing from the dining room table.

I do hope you are having as much fun as we are.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

I Finished...

... the housework! It's a miracle. No, really it is. I live with pack rats extraordinaire! Nothing gets thrown out and everything gets left wherever they leave it. I gave up trying to stay on top of it all years ago because I would have had to sound like a mini dictator 24 hours a day and I am just not up to that.

But now my house looks nice, if I dare say it. It looks rather Christmasy. There are bits and pieces all over, courtesy of the girls decorating ability.

I have a dining room table now.
I shall try to ignore the no sewing space feeling of doom.
But doesn't my tablerunner look fantastic!
The coffee table is free of clutter,
looking smart with Kirsten's star on it.
Candles adorn the mantle,
albeit some a little wonky.
Christmas decorations wherever the girls could find a place.
And one scary snowman!
If you are at a loss with what to do with bored children then get yourself
One White Sport Sock
One Baby Sock
Assorted buttons and beads.
A small strip of fleece or felt.
You too could have one of these.
Try to control the excitement!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Kindness of Others

Today the kindness of another person freed me up to jump forward on a couple of projects and I really, really appreciated it. The girls swimming coach, who is also becoming a friend, invited them to go to the swimming pool in Leamington Spa with her, her daughter and two other friends of the girls. They were thrilled, and so was I!

This meant that while they were home this morning I could crack on and make a cushion for my mother. I completed it, don't like it much and shall present it with an option of a remake. The design just does not work in reality the way it did in my head.

I used practically every last scrap of my Etchings fabric. I pieced it together, then sliced it and created a monster. The more I look at it the less I like it. I may have to rethink giving it as a present.

At least it didn't take me absolutely ages to make it so I am not too bothered about this creative lapse. Better luck with the next cushion, I am telling myself.

As soon as I was rid of the girls I set to working on the other quilt. And I broke all sorts of quilting police rules. I had started the hand quilting process last night, staying up until midnight to make some headway. I am not generally a late night person! Today I did the hand stitching all around the periphery. 24 feet of it. I sewed like a mad woman. And when I was done, I trimmed the edges, made the binding and stitched it on the front. Tonight I will start the hand stitching it on the back job. And then in the remaining evenings I will try and get more of the quilting done.

I am using slightly brighter perle cotton than I might have usually picked for this quilt. I am doing so for two reasons, (a) I thought it could use the injection of colour without it being too obvious and (b) I am using thread I already own and didn't have time to get new stuff shipped to me. The green is the one that seems a bit bright when looked at close up, but when you step back it doesn't seem so bad. The pink works fine.

Applique done in the days when I had been trained to do it 'properly'.
I now know all about bond-a-web, etc and would do it differently.
Live and learn!
The first quilt has had all its binding hand sewn down on the back and is ready to be wrapped and placed under the tree Saturday evening.

Tomorrow morning I will pack away my sewing machine, all the fabric that still adorns the dining room, and all the other sundry items littered about to aid my sewing. It will be me and the perle cotton for the next little while. I feel so relieved about that. I have achieved the goals I set out to do. I always knew I wouldn't get one of the above quilts completely finished but hoped that if I could put it under the tree almost done the recipient would be more than happy with that.

My apologies to those who I have not managed to reply to their comments recently. I have kept up on my blog reading but not my emails. I do hope you understand.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Five Days and Counting!

When I look at how many days to Christmas Day and what I still have to accomplish I sit here and wonder why I am feeling so calm. Technically I should probably be running around like a headless chicken but I'm not. Perhaps it was my willingness to not feel guilty about not doing Christmas cards this year, and that feeling has followed through to everything else. I think I will get it all done, and if I don't the world will not end. And we will still have a very good time.

Our social plans for today fell through sadly. My father and his girlfriend could not come here with her granddaughters due to the persistent germs that are everywhere this year. We will see them after the holidays now. Instead I took the girls to town. And I didn't complain about the traffic, I found a parking space without teaching them new words, and we had fun. Mostly in the kitchen shop. We have stocked up on squidgy bottle type things for decorating the cookies with icing on Friday. So that we all have our own, including my mum. That should make the job go quickly, theoretically.

To decorate the cookies you first have to make the dough. I did that today. It will happily keep in the fridge for three days, or more, if well wrapped. This gingerbread recipe is not for the faint hearted or small family that doesn't have a sugar fetish. The recipe makes a huge amount of cookies.

Can you see how full the mixer is?!
These gingerbread cookies are a huge part of Christmas for me. My mum made them when I was little, and my brothers and I sat around doing the decorating. When we were a bit older we often had friends join us and help. I look at the photo above and remember that my mum used to mix this mass of dough by hand. Thank goodness for Kitchen Aid! I won't provide the recipe. If you would like it just let me know and I will pass it on. I really think it is one for those who like baking, don't mind kids making a mess with icing and sprinkles, and have many mouths of feed over the holidays. If that description fits you and you want to join the fun, I am more than happy to send you all the details. It is dead easy to make - but the mixer does help enormously!

The only other Christmasy thing I have ticked off my list today was to unwrap the Christmas cake, breathe in its luscious boozy, fruity aroma - and then melt some apricot jelly and brush it all over the cake.

Half a pound of ground almonds, some sugar and egg yolks - and the handy, dandy mixer again - some brisk work with the rolling pin and my cake was covered.

Guess I should go and make a couple of cushions then. Rather sit here and look at other blogs though. I wonder if I will give in to temptation?