Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Happy Days

In all my blabbering on about Sunday that I did yesterday I failed - unbelievably - to tell you that I bought a tiny amount of fabric. I had a small budget but wasn't tortured too much as the stalls tended to be catering to a  more traditional section of the market. It kept the fabric lust down to reasonable levels.

First off I bought from the Pin It and Stitch girls - Natalie and Tracey. If you have never met them and you live in the UK then I urge you to look out for them. Two of the nicest people out there, with impeccable taste in fabrics. They'll be in Wimbledon in less than two weeks, and Malvern for the quilt show in a few weeks time.

The two Odds & Ends cuts on the left I got a great deal on as they were end of bolt cuts. As was the bit of Posy that I got, shown in the middle. Honestly, this may be Aneela's best line yet, though I am sure there are lots more good lines still to come. And then on the right I have the pink from Lucy's Crab Shack and two cuts from Type. No plans for any of these fabrics other than the firm understanding that life would be incomplete if I didn't buy them.

From another vendor (I cannot remember who) I bought a stack of Simply Color FQs.

The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that the pink isn't actually Simply Color, but the man didn't have any cuts of the pink left so I thought this piece of Heaven or Helsinki went just fine. There is a plan for this but I am awaiting a delivery from my fabric mule before that can proceed. In the awaited fabric are half yard cuts of the Simply Color ombres I bought in an Instagram sale from Jennifer at Knotted Threads (another incredibly nice fabric seller - modern fabric sellers are predisposed to niceness I think). Shipping was included if you lived in the USA so I had the fabric shipped to my fabric mule's LA address.

On to other news. I sold two quilts in the past few days. Really!! I am trying to act mature about it but, honestly, I am squealing like a two year old on the inside. Both quilts are small baby quilts that I have had for ages, dating back to the very early days of the blog, when I started experimenting with doing my own thing. They have sat here doing nothing ever since. Now they can go get drooled on and that makes me exceedingly happy.

The sun is shining. The birds are singing. It's a good day.


Monday, 29 April 2013


Yesterday I got to go out and play. As a change from staying home and playing of course. I met up with some good quilting friends, two already real life friends and two for the first time but hopefully not the last.

Kerry, Reene, Ange and I car pooled from Kerry's house to the Uttoxeter Quilt & Stitch Show. And we met up with Katy once there. One of the main reasons to attend the show was that three of our group bravely entered quilts into the show. Wisely too, as their quilts were a welcome addition to what was there. More on that in a minute. First, their quilts (and them).

I have only been to the Festival of Quilts before so this was my first regional small show. Um, what can I say? There were some quilts I liked there, including those above. Below are some of more that caught my eye, including Katy's hexies (bottom right).

I do not have a inbuilt dislike of traditional quilts. Some of the most beautiful quilts I have seen have been traditional ones. I do have a dislike of murky, icky, dark colours, and they seemed to predominate at the show. Katy Jones long ago tried to talk people into entering quilts into the show. She spoke about the need to get more modern quilts in these shows if people were going to learn that there was more than one style of quilting out there in the world.

I didn't really listen to the argument much at the time, I have to admit. Probably because I had never been to a smaller show before. Now I understand! We, as quilters, love what we do and we love our colour and modern techniques. If we want people to come to appreciate it too then we need to expose more than the modern quilting world to our style. These shows need a variety of quilts, not just dark, batik ones.

I readily acknowledge that a huge amount of skill goes into making any of the quilts that were on display. And that they are very much to many people's taste. Just not mine. It would be a boring world if we all liked the same thing after all. I also think that quilt shows should be more representative of all styles of quilting and only people willing to enter their quilts can make this happen.

So huge kudos to Ange, Kerry, Katy and Katy for having the balls to do so. Someone give me the courage to do so too next year.

Meanwhile, the fourth person in our party, Reene, was like me - no quilt in the show - but damn she was good with the pithy comments. Made my day. (Apologies to Reene for the photo - she is gorgeous and my photo does not do her justice in any sense of the word - but the other one I took was really fuzzy unfortunately.)

The photo on the right was an embroidery, not a quilt. But I took a photo of it because (a) I loved it, and (b) I want to make a quilt that looks like that.

Finally, I have been sewing today. Quite a while actually. But all I can show you for now is this.

Aw, go on, you love to be kept in suspense!


Sunday, 28 April 2013

Off to the Races

Actually, off to the race course is more appropriate. I'm spending my day gallivanting with quilting friends here. Presuming I don't get lost on the way.

And as my gallivanting friends will be with me when this posts on my blog, I can reveal that one of them will be receiving the hexie cushion when we meet up.

All washed, and wrinkled, and crinkled, and stuffed with the proper sized insert, and almost back in my good graces.


Saturday, 27 April 2013

New Starts

Saturdays, as reported previously, are not quiet days round here. I spent my morning watching the girls do stuff like this. Can I just say that the temperatures took an unwelcome plunge this morning!

The girls are so hooked on horses that they actually begged my friend for the privilege of mucking out next time they are there. Huh?!! Maybe they would consider mucking out their rooms.

After the riding lessons it was dance for Emily, and then a grocery shop for all three of us. Six hours after departing the house I was home again. This does not leave much time for sewing. Thank goodness for week days.

All I accomplished today is this.

Lots of little squares. A new project. A secret. I'm excited. Sorry!


Friday, 26 April 2013

Bee Bopping

I have bee blocks to do and the month is almost over. So today I pulled my finger out and got on with my Brit Bee blocks.

Miss April - Ceri; Inspired by Felix - asked us all to do a quick and simple sketch before the start of April and then she turned these sketches into screen printed pieces of fabric. Of course the girls got involved in my sketching so I ended up with four sketches for Ceri. I thought she would screen print one, choosing her favourite but she did all four!

She sent out our screen prints, various solids - including a range of greys - and some other screen printed fabrics she had in her stash and asked us to do wonky, improv log cabins. This I could do, so I set to sewing, and trimming.

And before I knew it I had two bee blocks completed for Ceri.

You can see all four of the screen prints she did from my sketches above. The hat and the sail boat in the centres, and the partial beach hut and flipflop in the edges. Very cool and original idea on Ceri's part. This is going to be a very interesting, fabulous quilt.


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Life Interfered With My Sewing Plans Today...

... But Helen managed to get some done. She is working on her Siblings Together quilt.

Someone in the house sewing is better than no one in the house sewing, even if it couldn't be me.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

One of Those Days

I suppose I should be all happy because I finished a project, and it was even on my FAL list. I should be smiling because I like it, for the most part.

Only me and my machine did not get along today. It culminated in said machine refusing to do a zigzag stitch through the thick layers when I was sewing the sides of the cushion together. I begged it. I implored. I insisted. I swore - a lot. It stubbornly refused. I even tried doing the stitch in reverse. Hey, try anything once!

By the time I had this cushion together all I could see were faults, not any of the good stuff.

As per usual,
I did not have a suitably sized insert to properly plump the cushion up.
I had planned all along that this hexie panel become a cushion. I wanted it to wrap round and not have a defined edge to either end of the panel by cutting it off into a seam. I hadn't planned on the scorch mark I gave it when I used a too hot iron on a well starched piece of cotton.

Nor did I plan the the quilting would push the hexies after they were appliquéd down so that they folded over themselves a bit on some of the edges, as seen below. That really annoyed me, but obviously not enough to pull out every last stitch and try again.

I did a simple envelope back because I was so pissed off by that point that the effort of putting in a zip seemed too much for my frayed nerves. Because it would have had to be an entirely invisible zip; as seen in previous cushions my long zips are all bright blue. So not appropriate for this cushion!

On a positive note - I love the effect of the quilting, the different angles, the darker grey Aurifil thread on the lighter grey linen. I love the colours. I like that most of my vision worked out. And I am particularly happy that it has now been through the wash, the scorch mark is gone and the cushion cover didn't disintegrate. So it's not all bad after all!

I have an idea what I want to do with it. I just have to be happy that it is good enough for purpose.


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Bits and Bobs

I was wondering if you all are aware that May - Confessions of a Fabraholic - is hosting a charm swap? This swap is involving text fabrics only and if you sign up for it you will receive 56 charms, all different text fabrics. The only catch here is that the swap is only open to those of us living in Europe to keep postal costs down.  Right now 53 of the 56 places are filled and we are looking for 3 more people to fill the remaining places. Or one person to do three yards. Well, you never know, just thought I would plant the three yard idea.

Here is a little glimpse at some of the fabrics already chosen for the swap, to whet your appetite. And here is a link to the Flickr group if you want to see more.

If you are interested in filling one of the final spots please email me and join the Flickr group. I am standing in for May a bit while she is away on holiday.

Edit -  ** ALL places ine the Text Swap have now been filled. **

Other things going on involve a new bundle making contest over at Stitched in Color. You can read all about it over there. But if you are in the mood for fabric browsing and mosaic building then this one is for you. Here is the mosaic I came up with.

I would love to see what combination you could come up with.


Monday, 22 April 2013

Line by Line

I've carefully centred the hexies onto some background linen, and machine appliquéd them down.

And now I have started some straight line quilting.

This is going to take a little while as I go at it, line by line.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

What If...

... you had a big birthday coming up in a few months? What if this birthday involved a '0'? What if you were totally flummoxed about how you could be this age (almost) as you don't feel it. On any given day you feel either 30, or 80!

What if you were asked what you would like for your birthday?

I make no secret of the fact that I do not have a sewing room of my own. The sewing room is the dining room. Only the sewing takes over and then the dining doesn't occur and we make use of the coffee table instead. We eat together as a family, just not properly sat down. Plopped on the floor is more like it. All  because my sewing takes over.

So I had a think about what I would like for my birthday. Obviously I can't have this.

Or this.

So what I did ask for is part of the dining room. All we have to do is remove some stuff. Out with the girls old computer desk with the now defunct computer. Out with the rowing machine as it really is a dust collector and little else. That would give me a nice stretch of wall all for me, me, me.

I am rather excited about this.

Himself said he would build, or customise, a work station for me. Here's where you all come in. I'll tell you some of my ideas and then feel free to butt in and tell me what I really, really need. I do have a fair amount of fabric storage, or will do as I shall be nicking some more Ikea Trofast units from Emily's room. What I need is an effective work station that can be taken with us if and when we move.

Here are a few things I have thought of -

* A fold down extension table to make the unit 'L' shaped but which can be collapsed out the way when entertaining.
* A shallow drawer under the desk top to store scissors, seam ripper, etc. Maybe with a divider inside like a cutlery drawer.
* Holes in the work top to drop down the wires for the machine and the foot pedal because I hate forever tripping over these when I get up and down from my seat.
* Shelves above for storage, and pegboard for thread storage.
* A tall, narrow cupboard that could potentially store the extension table, cutting boards and the like. This could be the work table support at one end of the unit.

What else, folks? I am open to any and all advice, and then we will see what can be incorporated into the design and what will not be practical for our present situation. The idea of having a little corner all of my own is too good to be true. I must make the most of it.


Friday, 19 April 2013

Siblings Together

I have finally finished my Siblings Together quilt. It languished for far too long without its binding and yesterday and I made it my mission to cross this one off the list.

My quilt idea all began with the unexpected gift of a charm pack with the loveliest of ladies, Judith - Just Jude, sent me.

Siblings Together 2013 was being launched by Lynne about the same time and things just fell into place. Besides it gave me a chance to try out a pattern that I had wanted to for a while. Disappearing Nine Patch with sashing between all the blocks.

As I was piecing the top, another equally lovely lady, Helen - Archie the Wonderdog, contacted me to say she had been given some fabric that would be really good to back this quilt and she sent it on to me. So really this whole quilt was a total collaboration between friends. That fact makes it all the more special to me.

I love how the colours pop against the white. And how the swirly, whirly quilting stands out too. I bound the quilt with the same fabric as the back. It seemed to be the one fabric I had which had colours that perfectly worked with the quilt top.

I am so pleased with how the quilt turned out because I think it is a perfect quilt for a young girl, bright and cheery. It is a pleasure to be able to do something small to help this charity and hopefully make a child smile when life has dealt them a less than perfect hand.

There might be another Siblings quilt being made in this house, but not by me. That shall be worked on more soon. When there is more to show I will give you an update.


Thursday, 18 April 2013

While I Was Away...

... I told you I had packed some epp for me to get on with. I asked you all to guess how much I would get done. Do you realise how unrealistic some of you are?! It's me we're talking about, after all. The world's best procrastinator (actually my dad is, just in case he tries to quote this).

I went away with six pieced hexies.

I cut and basted seven more hexies while at my mum's and then sewed like a wee demon on the train ride home, getting six of them pieced, and the seventh started.

A rather blurry photo but proof I was working on the train.
I have got on with it more since I got home. It is a small project so easy to get on with. I pieced the last hexies and then pieced them all together. Then I tried to take a photo of them up against the fence in rather windy conditions, with a varied success rate. The best and the worst are shown.

I decided the grass made a better backdrop as the trampoline surface was being as uncooperative as the fence.

This panel needs to be turned into something now. There is a plan in place already. It is just up to me to get on with it. Now, there in lies the problem. So many projects on the go and a total inability to focus on one of them.


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Settling Back Into Routine

Day three of the girls being back to school and things are returning to normal routines here. I have even (gasp!) done some housework after a two week hiatus. And now I am getting back to my sewing too. But you can wait another day to find out what I have been up to.

The girls have been avidly watching The Great British Sewing Bee with me. Their assertions that I need to apply to go on it seem to completely fail to take in that the show is about making clothes and I am not. Bless them for thinking I could. The other show we are hooked on is Paul Hollywood's Bread. Himself (not me) even bought the corresponding cook book. Well, you know which person in this house was the first to use it.

Yesterday Emily made flat breads. OMG! They were sooooo good. I wish you could smell them and taste them because I have an awesome little bread maker here. These were amazing on their own but would be so good filled with souvlaki and tzaziki, or instead of tortillas for fajitas. The girls had them in their lunch today wrapped round tuna and salad.

Meanwhile, Helen has used up my last hoop. I need to find a bulk supplier by the looks of things. But it's okay as she made this hoop for me. I am easily swayed like that. It is her own design, and I love that she put her initials on, and kisses.

Now I shall quietly try to slip in the information that I won another giveaway. I know! Sorry!! Well, actually not so sorry because the fabric is gorgeous and not the sort I would normally think about buying with my penchant for bright colours but in person it just wows me. I particularly like the acid lime in contrast to the neutrals and the amazing blue. I won this from Kati - From the Blue Chair. And the giveaway was sponsored by Caitlin at I Don't Do Dishes.

TheFQs of Textures came with a panel. Usually when I hear the word panel I kind of cringe because they are not my thing. Oh, but this one is. It is seriously cool. Ideas for quilts are going through my mind like wildfire, which is not good as there is already a bit of a backlog of ideas there anyway. Oh well, not complaining.

And that is me on this bright and sunny, and very, very windy day. Suppose I had best leave my sewing and the computer and contemplate getting the girls from school.


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Blocks That I Made

Yesterday I showed you what my wonderful Stitch Tease quilt top looked like. Today I will show you the seven other blocks I have made over the past year and give you the links to the other quilts, if you have not seen them yet. I am showing these in no particular order as I cannot for the life of me remember when I made each one.

The wonderful thing about this bee is that each and every person set an entirely different challenge. New skills had to be learned (by me at least) and a lot of thought needed to be put into the blocks, as you will see.

Di asked for a long (10" x 70") strip with a word on it that reflected her. I did several words. Yes, I know, impossible to shut me up even on a quilt.

I wanted words that summed up all the other words that were already made for her quilt. I had the honour of piecing Di's quilt top and therefore I had to decide what order to place the strips in, and make the final strip to tie things together. I hope that I have achieved my goal. You can see Di's quilt in its entirety here.

Hadley was in this bee too. She asked for long strips that were scrappy and colourful - though no red please, and yes, she was partial to a little Heather Ross. Interspersed would be white squares of random sizes. Sort of like my quilt but squares instead of stars. Obviously a woman of good taste then!

You can see Hadley's quilt here.

Danny was the most difficult to make a strip for because she basically told us to do what we wanted. Without much guidance I dithered for a long, long time. What I eventually came up with was this strip. I have showed you from both ends as it was a hard one to photograph on my own.

Because we had such a open remit for Danny's strips her quilt was going to be the most unusual and I wondered what it would turn out like. No way did I ever imagine that such disparate blocks would come together in such a stunning manner. You can see her quilt here.

Helen asked for wonky stars on an ash grey background. I love making wonky stars so this one was a joy to make. No angst at all. Just a matter of choosing fabrics I thought she might love and would balance the colours used by some of the others already.

You can see Helen's completed top here.

Dianne asked for pinwheels of any kind on a white background with a rose pink and greens being her primary colour choices. I hadn't done a lot of pinwheels prior to this block so did a little online pinwheel hunting before I decided what to do. I hope I struck the right balance.

Dianne's quilt top can be seen here.

Annabella challenges us further by asking for curves, in jewel tones. I took a while thinking about her block too. Eventually I went with my method of using freezer paper to make wonky dresdens and applied the same method to some circles too, which were all appliquéd on the white background.

Annabella's quilt top can be seen here.

Last, but not least Katy set us an entirely different challenge. She had a feature Monaluna fabric which she wanted us to make blocks based on the vehicles on it. Well, seeing as how often I have begged people to make VW camper vans for me and they have so nicely obliged, I thought it was time I coughed up and made one for someone else. My fmq is a little wobbly, but I think I did okay.

Katy's quilt top is seen here.

And that, my friends, is the round up of what one bee and seven good friends can accomplish in one year. I hope you enjoyed it.


Monday, 15 April 2013

The Teasing is Over

On and off, over the past year, you have been given less than satisfactory glimpses of blocks I have made for others in Stitch Tease - An International Mystery Quilt Bee. Let me try to explain how this bee worked.

This time last year the lovely Di - Random Thoughts of Do or Di - contacted a group of us and asked if we would like to take part in a bee together. This would be a bee with a twist though.

- There would be eight members;
- We would all designate our block or strip at the beginning of the year and make one ourselves;
- We would each make a block or strip for the other members over the year;
- We would each have a 'signature' fabric we included in every block we made;
- Each person's blocks were sent to someone else in the group to collect together;
- That person would piece the quilt top for the recipient;
- The eventual recipient of the blocks would not see them until she received her completed quilt top.

So last April I made a 20" x 30" block for my quilt that I posted to our Flickr group and which all the others would use as inspiration to make their blocks for me.

As always, my inability to take a photograph straight on is glaringly obvious.
I asked for scrappy, colourful, and white stars interspersed amongst this chaotic colourfulness. Looking at it here you may wonder what on earth I was thinking about. Trust me the year has been full of doubts on my part as well. But out of that chaos the most amazing quilt top arrived in the post last week, and maybe I wasn't as stupid as I thought. Because I so love the result.

The quilt  measures 60" x 80". Helen and I had to stand on chairs and stretch our arms to their limit to hold it up. Emily was the camera person as she wasn't tall enough, even with the aid of a chair, to keep the quilt top clear of the ground.

I have sat for ages just taking it all in. Looking at all the different precious scraps of fabric, finding the signature fabrics, and ooh-ing and aah-ing over it all. I don't think I would ever get tired of looking at it.

That leaves me with two things to say. First of a huge thank you to Di for organising the bee and to all those who made blocks for me. You ladies are awesome quilters as well as such great friends. Thank you!!!

Di - Random Thoughts of Do or Di
Annabella - Life's Rich Pattern
Hadley - Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle
Katy - The Littlest Thistle
Dianne - Quiltova
Helen - RunQuiltKnitWrite
Danny - Mommy for Reals

Second thing, how on earth am I going to quilt this beast?!!

Another photo of the quilt top -
just because I couldn't resist.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Cushion Swap

I have mentioned before that I have been doing private swaps rather than joining in the ones on Flickr as those can sometimes be more time consuming than we have time available. (Though I do currently seem to be in three different fabric swaps - low volume, rainbow charms and text charms.)

You may remember a little while ago I made this cushion.

Well, it got sent off to its new home in Texas a little while ago. Thankfully Cindy liked it, and she in turn made me a gorgeous cushion which arrived while I was away. I have not yet had the chance to get an insert so you will have to make do with photos of the deflated version. I was too excited to wait until I had the insert to show you.

It is hard to express the detail and skill that went into making this cushion cover. Each leaf is reverse appliqué. The machine stitching is perfect and the hand stitching with it inspired. It all compliments each of the other elements so well. And there is a wonderfully massive button closure on the back.

A huge thank you to Cindy for putting so much effort into our swap. I couldn't be happier.

You would think that was enough, but long ago, before we decided to do a swap, Cindy and I had an online discussion about sweets we liked. I mentioned Twizzlers and then brought up how I always used to have Pixy Stix on camping holidays when I was a child. Look what Cindy managed to track down.

The coolest thing about this is that Pixy Stix (which I have not had in too many years to mention) really do taste as good as I remember. Yay!!!

Cindy added a bonus block to my package and said she was interested in seeing what I did with it. I presume she meant after I got over my awe at her precise piecing!

So if any of you out there are wondering if private swaps are worth doing. Hell yeah!

Thank you so much, Cindy - Tops to Treasures!