Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Beach Bag Bingo

As our holiday rapidly approaches, last night I contemplated the sorry state of affairs of our 'beach bag'. As someone who likes to make pretty things it begs the question - why on earth I have been using the same icky Tesco bag at the beach for years?

It was time to amend the situation. So I set to the task last night. The girls had a friend here for a sleepover so the sitting room was out of bounds anyway. The sewing machine provided ample company and entertainment.

A few weeks ago the lovely Ange gave me some black Essex linen and I chose to use this in the beach bag. I dithered for ages about what to do to add a little 'interest', and eventually let the lining fabric lead the way. I have a stash of lots of small bits of fabric, but not so many big ones, so deciding on the lining fabric was easier due to the more limited choice.

This is what I ended up with -

I cut the panels at 18" square. As stated, the outside is Essex linen. The lining is It's a Hoot. I used scraps of green corduroy and Stof pink linen to make an outside pocket. It's all stitched together with Aurifil 50w in charcoal. I made up the pattern as I went along, as I am known to do.

There is loads of room inside. I fit in two beach towels, swimsuits, googles, etc. and there was still more than ample room to add more stuff. The outside pocket is about 10" deep - I actually stuffed some swimsuits under the sunscreen and sunglasses case so that they could appear in the photo shoot. Things shouldn't not fall out of there too easily.

I am chuffed to bits with this quick make. And I will feel much smarter on the beach too. I am that little bit more prepared for our holidays. All we need is sunshine while we are away so we actually get the weather to take this to the beach. Fingers crossed.


Tuesday, 30 July 2013


Keeping it simple here, because stupid (aka Me) realised after dinner last night that the child coming for a sleepover today had a birthday recently. Said child is Helen's oldest friend. They have been playing together since long before they could actually walk or talk. Forgetting her birthday would be neither big nor clever.

Obviously my sewing time was rather limited. Therefore I needed to come up with a gift with a simple but effective design. I quickly pulled some of my most favourite fabrics and made a simple 12.5" block. Sashed it with white and got the perle out.

I backed the cushion with more of my precious MoMo and found yet another of my bottomless pit of long aqua zips, (Best thing I ever bought!) and got on with finishing it this morning.

With one hour to spare it is done. Helen is making the birthday card. We are in control - sort of, maybe.

Guess I might as well go clean the loos too, since I have time to spare. Oh the glamour of my life!


Monday, 29 July 2013

Needs Must

This needs to be a cushion tomorrow.

I'm sewing as fast as I can here.


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Slow Sewing

My brain has slowed down into holiday mode, and consequently so has my sewing. Today I did the stuff that I had to do (feed them) and needed doing (laundry). Then I went outside and pruned, and weeded, and generally felt that the garden - such that it is - was winning. So I finally gave up and sat on my freshly mown lawn and embroidered instead. Much more satisfying!

I took out my hedgehog that I started at the retreat...

... and I finished her. I am rather pleased with my satin stitch. So often mine looks like it was done by a three year old with really raggedy edges.

That finished I picked up another pattern I had ironed onto my fabric last weekend. Only this transfer clung to the iron with static electricity and moved on the fabric so the pattern is rather blurry/double in places. Those of you in the know - will this come out if I give it a good soak after I finish the embroidery or should I just accept that it will always be less than perfect?

Purple is the traditional colour of yaks, is it not?

On a different note, last night the girls had a bit of a sit in protest in our sitting room. Seems they didn't really agree with our decision that they didn't get uninterrupted telly time through the entire holidays. At least they approached their dissent with humour.

I am learning the art of compromise though. Emily earned extra iPad time to play Minecraft by pruning the big old bush that grows like a weed at the front of the house. This allowed for more embroidery time for me. Can't be wrong!


Friday, 26 July 2013

The Holidays Have Officially Begun

Finally, both girls are finished with school for the summer. And I no longer have children of primary school age. Emily established a family tradition - albeit a short lived one since there is just the two of them - as she got the same cup that Helen got last year, the Art and Creative Design Cup. And she emerged at the end of her final day of primary school with her shirt suitably covered in grafity, as is tradition when you change schools here. It is the end of an era.

The very next day I needed to return to London, so off the three of us went so I could take care of some business that I tried and failed to get an appointment for while I was actually in London. No complaining though, as it allowed me and the girls to pop into the V&A for a little while where I pressed my nose up against the display glass to see the tiniest of tiny stitches in the some of the dresses.

Business was then sorted and we went off to meet Marg, Emma and Shevvy. Shevvy took us to the loveliest hotel where they did an amazing afternoon tea. We got our own area on the outdoor deck and sat there for hours talking and eating. It was a fine way to spend a sunny afternoon in London. The food you see below is just the tip of the iceberg really, as one whole tiered plate stand is missing and the scones had not appeared yet either.

My girls were completely taken by the concept, bandied about the word 'posh' a lot and liked that there was a doorman to let them in and out of the hotel.

So there has been a lot going on round here, just not things of the sewing variety. But do not despair. A package popped through the post box for me yesterday. My Briar Rose yardage so that I can finish my HR Fan Club quilt. All I need now is some wadding. Almost there!


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Saving the Best Until Last

I have never been shy about informing you all that I am part of the best bee in the world. I am part of other great bees, but Brit Bee is special. It is special for many reasons. Long stories I will not go into, but life has made us what we are much more than the initial bond of sewing that formed the group. There is love and support, and friendship that is strong. We are also blessed in that many of us manage to see each other socially on occasion too. But those of the group who do not get to join in these events are no less treasured. In fact they are treasured all the more as we are aware of them being unable to join in with our get togethers and missed greatly.

This group of ladies caught me by surprise on the weekend though. Totally! Because they presented me with this for my big '0' birthday.

I cannot express how stunning this quilt is. It appeals to me on every level. The beauty of the individual blocks. The low volume background. The amazing quilting by Trudi. But most of all that people I love so much went to the trouble to secretly put it together for me. (God, I'm getting all leaky here writing about it!)

The quilt measures 26" x 34" and is designed to hang in my new sewing space when it is ready. It cannot go anywhere else but. Every time I look at it I will smile. On bad days it will remind me of good things. On good days it will just make me happier. I can never imagine getting tired of seeing it.

I can tell who made some of the blocks, but not all of them - yet. Top row: Laura Jane, ?, Katy. Second row: ?, Ceri, Jo. Third row: Hadley, Judith, Terri. Bottom row: Fiona, ?,?. Did I get the ones I named right, ladies? Can you fill in the missing names, please?

Brit Bee came into my life at a time that I needed these ladies. They make me feel part of something where I belong. I was a bit of a lost soul before. No one I knew sewed. No one really even understood my desire to do so. I was a wife and a mum. I loved that, but this gives me something that is just for myself. And through it I have made the most brilliant friends a person could imagine.

My Brit Bee friends, and all my other sewing friends (many of whom I saw on the weekend) thank you for allowing me to be part of this community. Thank you for being such wonderful friends. Brit Bee, thank you for this amazing gift. I will treasure it always.

But, as it would be wrong without me lightening the mood some, I will show you the other highlight of the weekend. Hadley took a photo of me while the quilt was being presented to me. I am chuffed to bits with the photo, because I now know that my backside looks way better than I realised.

Woohoo! And on that note, I'm off to adore my new quilt.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Weekend - Part II

Yesterday I spoke about what we did all weekend. Today I will tell you about what I came home with. Lots of good stuff - woohoo!

Many people who attended the retreat worked diligently in their classes and even went into overtime to be able to go home with completed projects. You already know I was not one of those people. Here is all I have to show from the weekend.

I will swiftly move on to the fact that I was lucky enough to receive some lovely things from even lovelier friends over the weekend.

Left (top to bottom) - From Sarah a gorgeous snap frame glasses case (and fudge).
From Emily DS (how could she part with it?) and wee treats.
From Hadley the cutest of pin cushions with (be still my beating heart) a HR fishie.

Middle - from Krista one of her famous thread catchers;
filled with Canadian sweeties.

Right (top to bottom) - From Krista a purple thang (it does everything).
From Di all her cruise chocolates from my former employer (Princess Cruises).
And patterns I won by being wise enough to go on the winning quiz team.
Are you overwhelmed by it all? Because I certainly am. I am very blessed to have the friends that I do. Thank you to every last one of them.

I was also very lucky in the Sample Swap. I was stood there between two friends - Ange and Marit - and it turned out that we were in the same group together. Woohoo! We also got lucky enough to have Brioni in our group too. I do hope everyone else in the swap was as happy as I was with who I was placed with.

From left to right - Sewing pouch by Ange (finished in my very own sitting room I do believe),
Bag charm from Brioni, and lovely mini wall hanging from Marit. 
Finally, my suitcase was full of stuff from the goodie bags we each received. The bags were stuffed with stuff! The sponsors were amazing, and generous.

The bags were provided by Liberty, who also were very generous donors to the prize draw too. Eternal maker popped in a FQ. Korbond and Abakhan both filled the bags with notions, shown here and below. Au Vera a Soie had a great bag of gorgeous embroidery threads.

Pat Bravo fabric scraps in a fabric bag were in abundance. And Moda gave mini charm packs - and aren't I just over the moon with the one I got!

There was also a fabric sample pack from Makower, and a spool of floss from Aurifil - who were also massive sponsors of the prize draw. There are vouchers and discount codes, and really - every last sponsor was incredibly generous and appreciated. It makes me happy that I use many of these products and shops already.

Finally, (I know - shut up already) I did a bit of shopping on Saturday night at the market night. I needed to be quite restrained but managed to top up the stash a little.

Thrilled to have a FQ of those mermaids. They will be eked out in a miserly fashion. Tasha Noel's new Red Riding Hood line is sweet as anything; I especially love that grey with red flowers. I got some stash builders, the essential Aurifil, some aquas I couldn't love without apparently, and some navy FQs as I have very little navy.

And that was what filled my bags on my return trip.

Except for one thing. Which deserves a post of its own. And will get a post of its own, because it is so special. Tomorrow folks. I'll tell you what it is tomorrow.


Monday, 22 July 2013

The Weekend - Part I

Where to start, other than to say that the weekend was absolutely fabulous. Fabulous food. Fabulous weather. Fabulous classes. But most of all - fabulous people.

Marg drove down with Emma and me on Thursday. In typical fashion, as soon as we were far away enough from my house to not want to turn around I realised I hadn't packed any shoes. As I was wearing the hot weather school run sports sandals there wasn't a chance in hell I wanted to spend the whole weekend in them, so Thursday afternoon commenced with shoe shopping.

Despite many a comment made over the weekend, my forgetting the shoes was not deliberate, but it might be next time.

After shopping we was done we met up with Krista (my amazingly lovely roommate) and Leanne for dinner and then went to see a show - One Man, Two Guvnors. Excellent show that had us laughing all the way through.

Friday morning was free time so I tried to do more shopping and failed (I hand my head in shame). I consoled myself with sushi and then the retreat began.

After receiving our fab goodie bags (to be shown in another post), I proceeded straight to my first class in embroidery. It was fun. Obviously I am already comfortable doing embroidery but I was there with nice people and chatted to Jo and Sarah the whole time so happy me.

Afterwards we all met on the patio and the lady from Siblings Together came to collect all the quilts that were donated. Jo and Katy helped me finish sewing on the binding for Helen's quilt and I got to hand them in together. The charity are going to try and see that the mother daughter quilts go to two sisters which Helen and I think would be really nice. (Forgive the photos. The sun was so bright that the colours and washed away.)

Next on the agenda was a big group of us going out to dinner together. It was a great evening. So nice to see 38 quilters from different countries all gather together and just have a good time. There were people from the UK, Ireland, Canada, USA, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Australia and -- if I've forgotten your country please forgive me.

I'm not even going to attempt to name everyone here.
If you have a specific query about who someone is please ask in the comments.
I managed to sneak me (and my cleavage) in there.
The troublemakers.
Saturday morning was Improv with Lu. I was kind of tired and didn't really do what I was supposed to do, but I had fun. Hope Lu didn't mind too much. Then after lunch was English paper piecing with Katy. That was just a table full of women laughing hysterically and not getting much done, but having such a good time accomplishing little that we didn't care.

Next it was upstairs for the Sample Swap (I'll go into who I got to swap with and what I received in a different post), followed by the quiz which I was on the winning team. Nothing to do with me. I just sat there thinking 'How do they know all this?' the whole time.

The quiz quickly segued into the market evening at which I practised great restraint to keep in budget - but there was sooooo much good stuff you could have indulged in. This was followed by the raffle draw. I won a prize! I didn't take a photo though. Because I gave it to Leanne as I won foundation paper piecing paper. So not getting used round here.

By then it was late and I was hungry. A group of us wandered off to a Moroccan restaurant that had been recommended and had more fun talking, laughing and eating. You can't go wrong with good company and good food.

The winning team top left.
Me dancing bottom right.
Sunday was the final day and I did needle turn appliqué with Mandy. She's super nice and I know this because she had patterns for everyone but let me do clam shells, because I wanted to do clam shells. I like Mandy!

And then unfortunately it was time to come home. Because I had a cake to ice, and put fondant on and then docorate. Then I had a Y6 leavers disco to attend. The fun doesn't stop here.

All the children had photo mosaics to show them over the years.
As you can see, Emily has't changed. (*grin*)
And that's me, home and knackered. But I have a dance class to take a child to now so must scoot. More in future posts coming soon.


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Headless Chicken Flies the Coop

Well, for better or for worse, I am on my way to London. I'll be back in time for the Y6 Leavers Disco on Sunday. Monday will be set aside for a full scale attack on sleep I am sure. I shall return to this here space of mine shortly thereafter. I look forward to seeing many of you in London, and telling those of you who cannot attend as much about it as possible.

My final makes before departure were three pouches I made last night. They use some London fabric we got in the goodie bags last year. I embroidered FQR 2013 on the end of each one, and they are lined with some London Underground fabric that I bought there last year from Teresa.

For those who are unable to attend the retreat - especially several very close friends - you shall be missed a great deal. It won't seem quite right without you there this year.

And for those of you interested - while I won't be blogging, I will be on Instagram with many another. I can be found at @canadianabroad.

Have a great weekend wherever you are.


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Chipping Away at the List...

.. and at my sanity.

Two large rectangle cakes made and in the freezer for Saturday. Butter cream made and in the fridge. Fondant rolled out and then rolled up in parchment paper, and in the fridge. Lime dessert made for tonight (and since consumed). Chocolate flapjacks made for the retreat.

Last two bee blocks to be hand delivered in London finished.

Hoops for the sample swap finished. Some pouches for some people finished (but no photos as it is almost midnight and the light just isn't that good now).

Dinner in a pub garden by the Oxford-Rugby Canal watching the world go by - lovely.

To do in the morning? Prep all items for FQR classes. Pack my suitcase. Make sure that I have everything I am supposed to give to people with me. Remember to take the Siblings Together quilts. Oh yes, make packed lunches and do the school run as per normal.

Easy peasy! (Famous last words.)


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

All Work and No Play?

There has not been much computer time at all here the past few days. I've got Marg and her daughter visiting from Australia, and it is so lovely to finally meet her. She's just as nice in person as she is on her blog. I watched Emily in her school swimming gala yesterday, and her school sports day today. All good fun, but time consuming.

Which brings us to the fact that I leave for London in approximately 36 hours and I am so not ready. The time I have had available has been spent flat out sewing and organising. Am I getting control of things? Um, no!

Between all this I have been finishing off Helen's Siblings Together quilt. She did most of the piecing herself. I just helped with the longer bits of sashing and getting the big bits together. Then today I basted it, quilted it and got the binding sewn on the front. This after I got home at lunch time after the sports day.

I figure I can hand sew the binding on the back in London. That's the plan at least. Right now I am off to finish the backs on the sample swap hoops, and I have a cake in the oven for the Y6 leavers disco that occurs shortly after my return on Sunday - and I am the cake making person for this.

So if I haven't replied to any comments you have made recently I am truly sorry. I seem to have rather under estimated what I had left to do before I packed and left on our annual sewing lark. Rather silly of me but it is what it is. It will all work out in the end. Truly it will.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Third Quarter Wishlist

Maybe I should call this the wishful thinking list, what with my success rate here. I'm not trying to be down on myself but I seldom work on what I intended to do. Just the way of things round here. 

I also think that this list will be shorter than it might as my brain has melted in the heat (and the stupid birds waking me at 5am each morning!). Rather than going poking round and seeing how many things I have started and not finished I'm just going to sit here and pluck the obvious from my brain. 

So, without further ago, here's what I would really like done by the end of September -

Heather Ross Fan Club quilt. This awaits the backing and binding, which will arrive when the yardage for Briar Rose is released.

Good Morning Star Shine awaits another round of LV charms and then all the rest of the usual.

My epp starflowers, as it seems to be a tradition that I put them on every list and then ignore them.

Some Bee quilts. 

Churn Dash from the Modern Stitching Bee -

Stars from Brit Bee -

My Stitch Tease quilt which I haven't named yet -

Let's not forget the Walk in the Woods quilt that I am also hand quilting.

You know what? I'm going to stop there. I am scaring the crap out of myself with how much I have on the go. And here was me thinking that the list wouldn't be long. Suppose I had best ban myself from starting something new. 

As ever I am linking up with Leanne at She Can Quilt - or fabulous mama in the Finish-a-Long. It's always nice to see what everyone else is up to as well. I especially appreciate those who have lists longer than I do. 

she can quilt


Saturday, 13 July 2013

Countryside Wildlife

Driving down the road this afternoon, Emily and I came across something that just might have wandered away from where he usually lives. Because he sure the heck isn't what you normally see in the hedgerows round here.

It was rather surreal. As is having sunshine and lovely, lovely hot weather for an extended period of time. Not complaining, mind you. Lapping it up and appreciating every last moment of it. And BBQs make for less washing up. It's a win win situation here.

Hope you are basking in the sunshine too.