Sunday, 21 December 2014

Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas

Before -

After -

Hope you all have the very best Christmas and that 2015 is full of joy for you! I'll see you on the other side of the festivities. 


Saturday, 20 December 2014

And Let The Sewing Stop!

The last gift is made. The machine is turned off. And will not be restarted for a wee while. I have been tackling the piles of fabric scattered willy nilly around my sewing space, folding, sorting, and putting it away. There will be food on the dining room table tomorrow. That will be different!

Some of the gifts are wrapped. Turns out we need more paper. Silly me to not keep tabs on how much the girls required. It is really fun this year as it is the first year they have total control of their finances for gift buying. Things really will be a surprise and they are loving the ability to order from Amazon. Monsters may have been born!

I'm really excited about this Christmas too. There is going to be a surprise, or two, in store for the girls that they totally will not expect. I can not wait!


Friday, 19 December 2014

On Schedule - Almost

The project I wanted finished today is not. But it is a completed cushion top. This is a very special make to me. Our family became bigger on Monday.

My step(ish)sister (and her husband obviously) has a new daughter. And she is adorable. She is also fifteen months old. She is the half sister to their two girls that were adopted over eight years ago. She came to live with them in August but they only found out they could keep her on Monday. As you can imagine, we all fell in love with her over the past four months and the prospect that she was not here to stay was devastating. Now their family got the best Christmas present imaginable.

And I am making something for her.

I didn't have time to make a quilt, so I opted for a cushion. It is an eye spy cushion.

As you can see, I decided to hand quilt it. I also went with all those bright solids so that it could help her learn her colours as well as having a few pretty pictures.

It absolutely will be done tomorrow. Because I have to put away the sewing room immediately afterwards. Holiday entertaining begins on Sunday. It's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas around here. Hopefully in your home too.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Christmas Gifts Come Two By Two

I am almost done with the making. Good thing too, as I have spent approximately £75 at the post office in the past few days. Next year I am making everything out of tissue paper. Not sure what I am going to make but it is going to be super light weight!

Anyway, enough of that. I made two more pouches today. And I am really happy with the fabric choices. First up, I used some of my Mimosa in one.

I felt the need to do more of the stem stitch and colonial knot combination, because I'm in love with it. And I find embroidery a super zen-like relaxing thing to do. 

Next I dove into my fabric stash and came up with this orange and aqua combination that made me smile. I went with some aqua top stitching for detail on the linen as I didn't have enough time for more hand stitching, unfortunately. 

Finally, I made two little lavender bags. These were so, so quick to make and just add a nice touch to a gift box. Nothing like a little bondaweb and some perle cotton to make something look like it took more time than it did.

I am now working on the final Christmas gift that I am sewing. I am really happy with what I have got done, but - seriously - I need to concentrate on the Christmas food now. And the socialising. Maybe more than a bit of cleaning and organising to do before either of those two things happen though. 

How about you? Are you ready for Christmas or still trying to get on top of it like I am?


Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Sisters often need to be given the same gift to keep things 'fair' when they are younger. The sisters in mind in this particular case aren't my two girls, but the daughters of my step(ish)sister.

One loves pink. The other loves purple.

I need to buy some pens, pencils and chocolates to fill them. Then they will be a Christmas present worthy of giving.

It's been rather nice working in these bright coloured fabrics tofay. Brightens up the otherwise grey vista that surrounds us here. It's 2pm and the light that was is fading already. Two more days left of school and the holidays will kick in properly. Just a few more makes and then the machine goes away for the duration. Good books and chocolates await me on the other side.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

One For The Boy(s)

The parcel for Sweden is now complete. I finished the quilt for the new baby boy born last month. His auntie had very nicely given his mum the quilt I made for her first born, but that was for a girl and is a very girlie quilt. In no way is it gender neutral. I think that this one is better suited for the latest family member.

It was a very simple quilt to make but I like the bold graphicness of the finished pattern. I used a variety of blues, teals and navies, with a few oranges thrown in for contrast. The backing is the oft used Ikea number print. And the binding is an assortment of the same fabrics used in the quilt top. 

For purposes of a speedy finish I just stippled it all over. It wasn't my first choice of quilting as I really would have liked to straight line quilted it, but I knew I could do the stipple in a fraction of the time. 

I now have a box to fill with the various items to send to our family in Sweden. I think that just over a week to make it there in time for Christmas should be okay. Fingers crossed.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Silver Linings

I'm tired. Bet lots of you are too. The build up to Christmas can be a bit relentless in some ways. Today I was particularly tired. But I had the sitting room ready for a delivery this morning, all furniture pushed to one end of the room, other than the world's ugliest sofa which Helen and I dragged outside onto the front lawn. (We now look like the neighbourhood trailer trash until we can get the council to do a heavy goods pick up. Eeeek!)

Then I finally got my much longed for new, improved, not nearly so ugly sofa. It took the girls and I a good long while to get it put together this morning. (Himself was out working.) The sofa is from Ikea so it needed the ubiquitous allen key and the ability to decipher line drawings to make it whole.

We did it though. And shortly thereafter we had to go out for the remainder of the day. The girls were supposed to go to the pantomime with my dad, his partner and her granddaughters. Only my dad hasn't been feeling well (not serious) and couldn't go. I was asked to attend in his place. Ashamedly I didn't really want to go because I have things to do, blah, blah, blah. Your basic tired and grumpy person.

We were supposed to have lunch with their step-gran and step-cousins before the show. I couldn't join them as I still didn't have food in for two guests tonight - the step-cousins. It was 2pm before I ate anything today. It was just one of those days.

I went into the show with the totally wrong attitude. Someone give me a good slap. Because I deserve it. My poor dad wanted to go and he couldn't.

And the show was brilliant. Laugh out loud funny. It was just what I needed. Plus the tickets my dad had bought included a meet and greet with some of the stars after the show. I thought it would be a whole lot of people who got to do this but it was only a small handful and the girls totally loved it.

This is them with Peter Pan, and with Wendy. Anyone who lives within driving distance to Milton Keynes and enjoys a good pantomime - go see Peter Pan. It will cheer you up to no end. Worked a treat on me.

Plus I am home to my new sofa now, and I love it. And am very lucky to have it. What's a little busyness and tiredness before Christmas after all. It's part and parcel of being a mum. Next time I am feeling like moaning someone best tell me to 'suck it up rubber duck' because my life is full of good stuff and I need to remember that at all times.


Friday, 12 December 2014

Memory Lane

I did sew all morning, but I thought I would give the blogging about what I made a break. Because the rest of the day I spent sorting through boxes, making hard decisions about what to keep and what to bin. I've been a bit of a hoarder of some things over the years - in particular letters I've received. Today I looked at lots of them, and binned the vast majority, but I did make sure I sorted out ones that are important to me emotionally like the last letter written to me by my grandfather, etc.

These boxes hadn't been opened in years and contained a mishmash of things. I ended up spending almost seven hours smiling to myself and reminiscing internally. It was a good way to spend an afternoon whilst still getting something constructive done.

Despite thinking that all our photographs were in one box, kept elsewhere in the house, I came across a number in these boxes.

There was the me that used to travel the world viewing the terracotta soldiers in Xian, China. And enjoying a party in the wardroom on the ship one Christmas.

There were also photos of the girls. Helen learning to crawl. And Emily giving me big eyes.

Then there were the items from my childhood.

Brownie badges, Girl Guide badges (still on my sash), swimming badges, etc. And all my old report cards. Now they certainly made interesting reading. I think I fell into the 'could try harder' category back then.

There were also really disparate items. The unofficial hospital card that is the only item I have to show me that I had a twin brother once, long ago. I've never seen a photo of him. I don't think one exists. He died of cot death at three weeks of age. I hid his name here. Somehow that seemed private to me. He's part of our family history, not a sad part any more, just a life that should not be forgotten.

And how about my cassette of the top hits in the autumn of 1984, made for me by my then boyfriend when I was over here in the UK working for a while. Just goes to show I was a Canadian Abroad even thirty years ago.

Some things never change apparently.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

I Have Barely...

... been on the computer for more than ten or twenty minutes a day for just about forever. This includes replying to emails. (Sorry!)
... read a blog in even longer.
... done housework other than the minimum that keeps us from living in squalor.

And this is how I find the time to sew.

I've made another gift for Sweden. Some asked why so many gifts for Sweden and the reason is (a) they are family and we like them, but (b) it was their wonderful hosting of us this summer that allowed us to have the best holiday we have ever had as a family. I want to be able to say thank you in the best way I know how.

This cushion is headed to a little farmhouse in the middle of nowhere that is pure relaxing bliss to stay at. The colours and style of the cushion reflect the colours in use there already, and the age and style of the building.

I used the navy fabric to back it and put in a bright red zip with some yellow top stitching. I made the cushion cover up as I went along, just piecing more bits on until it was big enough. It then reminded me vaguely of the Brazilian flag. Not the look I was going for. So I decided to give it a down home, more countrified look with some hand stitching.

In the centre I did stem stitch and colonial knots. Then a round of blue and yellow couch stitch. Finally a simple running stitch in a swirlie curve around the outer white sashing. I think the stitching takes a boring cushion and makes it pretty.

I shall add this to the box that is being sent to Sweden and go cut a baby quilt now. Or maybe I will prep dinner first, just so I know we aren't going to starve tonight.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Fussy Cutting?

When you have a fabric that is delightful and you can't bring yourself to cut up into little pieces is it still fussy cutting when you cut a bit 12 1/2 inches square to make the most of the print? And then use that as the majority of your cushion cover?

Because that is what I did with my FQ of Michael Miller Reindeer Holiday fabric.

I couldn't resist this fabric when I first saw it. I bought it from the Pin It & Stitch girls and I've just checked, they still have some in stock and it's one sale here. I may need to buy more.

I mean who can resist the allure of a near naked Santa diving into a swimming pool?! Certainly not me, and I hope that my sister-in-law feels the same way because this cushion cover is already on its way to Canada.

I kept the whole make really simple. Big bit in the middle with quarter inch (or so) quilting lines running parallel across the width of it. Some white sashing and then a blue border. Not much to it at all. To up my game I brought out the perle and added in some hand quilting. I haven't done any in ages and as soon as I started I remembered how much I love the way it changes the way a project looks.

The backing is a piece of Riley Blake that I have had for quite a while. Another Christmas fabric I love, which is about used up now though. An aqua blue zip and some lime green top stitching and this cushion was done.

Two more makes for Sweden and the presents that need posting outside the country will be done. Then just a few smaller makes for the UK. If I can get the Swedish ones made by the weekend then I will be pleased as all get out. The light is at the end of the tunnel.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Scandi Cushion

A while ago I showed a cushion top I made with HST offcuts from my red and white quilt top. Today I turned it into a cushion and another Christmas present.

I love how this pattern is sort of an optical illusion. It just does not look square. Well, it doesn't to me. I would happily make something else with the same layout, maybe different colours. This one is all wrapped and headed for Canada tomorrow. I sent two parcels to Canada today and was surprised I had made the postal deadline, just. That might be a first. Now the postal people just have to do their bit to make them arrive on time.


Monday, 8 December 2014

Chipping Away At The List

I didn't get as much done today on the sewing front as I had planned. But I did accomplish a big thing on the surprise presents for the girls and I am so excited. I am looking forward to this Christmas incredibly just because neither of them will be expecting their gifts. I cannot wait to see each of their faces. Wish I could bottle this feeling of excitement.

I did progress one more make to a finish though. I took the quilt as you go grey cushion front and turned it into a cushion. This too is destined for Sweden.

I used Essex linen for the back and just added a very subtle teal highlight with the stitching. If you look closely at the front you will see that one of the fabrics - with the tiny flowers - features a little bit of teal as well. I like these tiny extra touches of colour.

Tonight is the last dance class for the girls for over a month. Their teacher is having a baby soon so is extending the Christmas break. I love them dancing but must say that dropping this from the routine for a few weeks is welcome right now. Just one less thing to think about. We've had four parcel deliveries so far today. It's hectic but things are falling into place. Best get wrapping soon.


Friday, 5 December 2014

Just Like Buses...

... the finishes all happen together. I've been busy making binding, sewing it on and doing the hand stitch thing to secure it to the back.

The 'Swedish Boy' quilt (for want of a name - total blank here) got a binding of the charcoal I used as the background fabric.

I really think this geometric pattern works well for a boy. I hope the particular boy it is meant for thinks the same.

The Wee Wander quilt I have no worries about the Swedish girl liking. I am quite sure she will point out to her brother that her quilt is prettier. She knows her own mind and I like that. Wee Wander got a scrappy binding made from the darker pink fabrics I had of the line.

More boxes ticked. Good, because the weekend is full of parties to be attended (not by me), dance lessons, in-laws coming over and being fed, and a dance exam. And I've got to move all the sewing stuff because the in-laws requested feeding. That is going to be the hardest part of the weekend - moving all the fabric and WIPs to make room for seven at the dining room table. I know I have to do it for Christmas but I still had more than a couple of weeks before that clear up happened. Sigh.


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Finally, A Finish

I would like to say I got a sudden spurt of energy to finish my orange and blue (name?) quilt. Actually, I have been expending energy like a mad woman but not on the sewing stuff. On the decluttering, haul all the cupboards out stuff. And the fight the crowds and do as much Christmas shopping in one day as humanly possible stuff. On the other stuff of life. But things are getting done and I don't feel like Christmas is hanging over me with impending doom because of things not done. I almost feel in control, and this is a good feeling indeed.

Yesterday was the get things done in the sewing room done designated day. So I did. I basted, quilted and bound this quilt.

I stippled all over, because that is my go to, get it done as quickly as possible quilting preference. It is backed with the Ikea number fabric. And bound with a scrappy navy binding.

I particularly like how those blue crosses line up so beautifully well. I would like to say that was due to very careful planning, but let's just say happen stance may have come into it too.

I went and spent the day with the lovely Ange today. And put her to work holding up quilts. (She's taller than me and was required to keep this off the wet grass!)

Tomorrow another quilt will be finished, and Saturday a third. I'm on a binding marathon. What's keeping you busy?


PS: I would like to thank all the lovely ladies in our Stitch Tease Bee for the blocks they made that went into the making of this quilt.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Jumping Through Hoops

I was a little at a loss of what to do as an extra for my #igminiswap partner, but then I went back and read her brief and she mentioned loving Christmas so I decided to do a wee seasonal hoop.

Then I got out the tissue paper and did a version of  my usual inept wrapping. (I really wish I was one of these people who could do pretty parcels, but I am so not!)

I popped in a couple of FQs and a little spool of lace. I do hope this is enough to make my partner happy because it scares me how much some people send as extras. I know they are not obligatory but I want to find the right balance between nothing and over the top. Hope this is it.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Fabric Mule Cometh

Yesterday I got to hang out with some of my Brit Bee pals. Hanging out with any of this group is always pure joy but it was made so, so much better because we were meeting up to see the inimitable Terri. She had flown in from LA for a visit. It was a day full of love and laughter.

In our group Terri is also known as the fabric mule, because she lets us order fabric and send it to her which therefore allows us to skip horrendous international postal costs.

I may have taken advantage of her kindness. Here's what is in that stack.

Clockwise from top left - A destash bundle of Sew Cherry. Assorted half yard cuts, and a yard of Essex linen. A fat eighth bundle of Miss Kate. And assorted FQ cuts.

The sad bit? I had ordered a FQ bundle of Mimosa but sent it to Terri's old address by mistake, not her current one. It is MIA. I am, needless to say, devastated. But it was my mistake so I will just have to suck it up. I'm going to go in my corner and loll about in this lot to help me feel better about being thick as s**t a times.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Finished The Mini

I've been out all day today, so I only have one photo - taken quickly this morning by artificial light - to show you my completed Instagram Mini Swap mini.

I free motion quilted matchstick quilting in all the low volume negative space. I did not do any quilting on the rainbow bits at all to help them pop out. I really appreciate all the name suggestions you all gave me - all of which were better than mine - and have decided that the overall winner was Emerging and I am just changing that slightly to 'Emerging Rainbow'. Thanks for the help.

So all I need to do is sort out my extras and off this goes in the post. I really hope my partner likes this but if not she can post it back to me - because I like it. It reflects my own odd, quirky style but I did try to meet the likes in her brief too.


Monday, 24 November 2014

When Procrastination Bites You In The Butt

A long time ago, at the end of the summer, I signed up for the IG Mini Swap. Seemed like a good idea[; I hadn't participated in a swap in a very long time. Plus the three months time period to make our minis was such a good time frame that I just knew I would not be under pressure.

Ha! You think I would know myself better than that by now. I started my mini, put it aside and ignored it until now as the posting deadline looms. This weekend I dedicated every available spare moment to working on this epp mini - when I wasn't quilting Christmas present quilts that is.

I am torn between two names for this quilt. Opinions - or completely alternative suggestions - are welcome, please. The names I have in mind are 'Broken Tiles' or 'Shattered'.

The papers are pulled, and I had to take advantage of a rare moment of bright sunshine to take another photo outside.

Hope the sun is shining on you too, wherever you might be.


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Quick Progress Report

I have managed to get two of my quilt tops quilted. The Wee Wander quilt has a larger stipple around the edges with a smaller one in each Wee Wander fabric. There is no quilting in the 1/2" white sashing, but there is two rows of straight line stitching in the blue border. The boy quilt is just cross hatched all over with a variegated thread. Not very interesting but I do like the added interest the thread adds to the charcoal background.

I have a goal to have these quilts in the post by the end of this coming week. My chances of finishing them are higher than posting them as my ability to parcel things up and post things is - as history has established - abysmal. But I remain optimistic.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Back To Normal

Yesterday I was at Ikea and I bought the backing fabrics for the girl quilt and the boy quilt. Today I woke up with plans. Basting plans.

Yeah plans, without a deadline hanging over my head, and an empty house so no one placing demands upon me. Needless to say I messed about, sorted some fabric, looked at IG photos, ate cake (of course) and dithered. I eventually got the wadding out and in the process found a scrap of it just the right size for a cushion. Next thing I knew I wasn't even thinking about basting, but I was making a cushion cover. Typical!

This eventual cushion will be for one of our lovely hosts in Sweden this past summer. Their sitting room and dining room is very monochrome in black, grey and white, with just a few touches of teal. I quite liked working to this limited palette. 

I didn't do what I was supposed to but I had a great time. I was spiral quilting at full tilt, happy as can be, and there was even sunshine to take a photo of the finished front - which totally threw the colours out but it was a beautiful day and I refuse to complain about that. I may not have done anything planned but I did do something. In my life that is called a successful day.


Monday, 17 November 2014

When Inspiration Strikes

I woke up early Saturday morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed (so to speak). The house was peaceful as everyone else had the sense to sleep later than they did on weekdays. As I eased myself into the day I suddenly had inspiration for a quilt. No idea where it came from as I had just been sat reading the news online when the pattern popped into my head.

So I drew it out in Touchdraw - as you do. It was as simple pattern and I very soon had the fabric requirements sorted and was happily delving into my stack of rainbow charms. I eliminated the pink and purple charms as this quilt was to be for a boy, and once I had pulled enough fabric I trimmed the majority of the charms down to 4.5". Made some HSTs with the rest, combined with some Kona Charcoal, and got piecing. Sometimes these things just come about quickly and efficiently and this weekend was one of those times.

By Sunday lunchtime I had a quilt top measuring 48" x 64".

I feel really happy with this endeavour after my weeks of little to no sewing time.

Once I finished this I went about adding the borders to the Wee Wander quilt. I confess that I kept the dimensions for the side borders slightly narrower so that I could cut WOF fabric strips for the top and bottom borders.

The borders bring the final size to 43" x 56". Part of me thinks it should be bigger but the other part of me thinks that a four year old will be perfectly happy with this - and I can always make her a bigger one in a couple more years time. Who knows what fabric lines I will have fallen in love with by then.


Friday, 14 November 2014

The Light At The End Of Tunnel...

... is not a train headed towards me but, in fact, the light on my sewing machine. I finally got a chance to sew again and am optimistic that I may get other chances over the weekend.

This panel now measures 33"x 42". I know the quilt won't be a full on single bed size but after I whack on nice fat borders I trust that it will be big enough to fit a growing four year old over the next few years. Really fat borders.


Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Small Part...

... of a bigger project.

I was really thrilled to be asked to participate in making some blocks for a Christmas quilt for Fat Quarterly last summer. I made them right at the end of August with the fabric Lynne sent me. The hardest part was having no idea what anyone else was making for their blocks and just hoping like hell that my blocks would fit in, oh, and not look like the dogs dinner beside everyone else's.

Photo nicked from Lynne
The pattern is in the latest issue of Fat Quarterly and I am in awe of Juliet's reindeer. The other people involved in this project are Lynne, Nicky, Joanne and Joanna. My strip in the quilt is the snowball stars. Not the most exciting strip but it does fit in better than I thought it would. Phew!


Friday, 7 November 2014

The Start Of Another Gift

I have a pattern to write. A quilt to baste. Bee blocks to make. So instead I hauled out my precious hoard of Wee Wander fabrics yesterday. I love this line, and bought what I could of it, which while not being the line in its entirety is more than enough to make an interesting quilt for a certain lovely four year old in Sweden.

Then I unfolded, laid different cuts beside each other, looked at my solids, sketched, dithered - and did nothing. The prints on these various cuts really vary in size and I was stumped on how to show them off to their best.

What a difference a night's sleep makes. This morning I got a window of opportunity - that won't happen again until Monday at the earliest - and just started cutting and piecing as I went. I don't have a pattern I am following. Not even a sketch to guide me. I am making decisions on the fly and so far so good I think. It seems to be my preferred method of sewing much of the time.

Shown above is the first 18" x 27" of the main part of the quilt. I am basing all my cuts on factors of three inches. Because of the narrow 1" cut white sashing between the blocks of fabric I do not have to add seam allowances into my maths. I am now working on expanding the mosaic. I have a feeling I will eventually bring the quilt up to an appropriate size for a four year old with some wide sashing, but we shall see how big I get this first.

Actually, how big does a quilt need to be for a four year old?


Wednesday, 5 November 2014


I did it! I made the first Christmas make for 2014. I am so chuffed with myself it is ridiculous. Not that it was a huge item or anything, but I can tick one small Christmas present making list box.

This pouch is for my sister-in-law. She is spending Christmas in Hong Kong where her son is spending half this university year studying. I thought I could fill it with travel miniatures (and maybe chocolate too). She could open the gift before she leaves on her trip and hopefully like it enough that she takes it with her. The pouch is massive so she should be able to fit everything in and then some.

I used a piece of my long owned and very occasionally used flamingo fabric, because I love it so much. I paired it with hot pink Stof linen, a lime green zip and a pink lining. I used line green thread to top stitch a little, but I didn't do much as I used fusible fleece.

I love the various flamingos. Whoever designed it is genius - a flamingo snorkling? Come on, you've got to love it.

So now my mind is turning to all the other things I would like to get made over the next few weeks. Lets hope that I find the time.