Wednesday, 17 January 2018

First Finishes!

 As hoped, I finished this 'Sweet 16' lap quilt.

It has finished at 42" square.  Another one to be passed over to Project Linus - and one more step to dealing with all my scraps!
 It's a nice size to work on, but I still think that making it 60" x 42" would give a more useful size - but I was limited by the scraps that I had in this colour way!  Sometimes you have to listen to what the fabrics or blocks are telling you!  It's fun to work within these 'constraints' sometimes.
 I found myself wondering what to make next - not a usual state of affairs for me, as I often have quite a long list of projects that I'd like to get started with. 

I wanted some simple sewing that would use some of the fat quarters that I was given for Christmas.

After trawling though my mini / small / miniature quilt books I decided on this one from "Little Quilts all Through the House".  Called 'Stars in the Snow' it used three of my fabrics (you can't see the lustre on the background one) to make a Christmassy mini quilt.  I am pleased with how neat my diagonal quilting it.  I shall add it to the others that I hang in the kitchen each year.  It finished at 18" x 14".
My last sewing adventure for the week was to make this card.  I need to set aside some time to make more cards soon, as my stock seems rather depleted at the moment.

This week I plan to start another mini quilt with more Christmas FQs, to consider fabric choices for the BOW that I've signed up for (Aves by Kathryn Kerr - it looks amazing but I'm not sure that I'll be able to keep up with it as it also looks quite intricate!) and to have a look to see which scraps I might use in my next lap quilt.

Lots of planning and thinking there!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Under my Needle

This little sashed 'sweet 16' is now under my sewing machine needle and having the attention that it deserves  - surging forward to my first completion of 2018, I hope!

The colours are a little brighter than they appear in this photo - in my mind the colours of an African sunset - very cheerful in these grey days!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Happy New Year!

 The only sewing that I've completed over the last fortnight is this postcard for a birthday swap - the rest of my time and energy has gone into having a lovely time with my family, making memories and laughter together.

I should also mention that I spent some time in A&E and a London Eye hospital.  Nothing seriously wrong, but I'd like to say a resounding 'three cheers' for the NHS and all the staff who worked over the holiday period, particularly those in the West Middx and the Western Eye Hospital.

 I was, however, extremely fortunate at Christmas as my friends and family gave me some tip top presents!

Benta gave me this porthole pouch and scissors keeper - aren't they fab?  If you've previously admired her port hole quilt then you might recognise the style.  Terrific!
 Avril gifted me a fab pair of sprung snips - perfect for someone with a nagging wrist like me - which have a needle threader hidden in the end.  Clearly designed with me in mind!  As well as that lovely set she gave me the softest trimming that I've ever encountered.

 My DH, DD2 and a niece gave me some fabrics.  My brain is humming along deciding which combinations to use and what to use them for.  I've almost decided on making two mini quilts, one a winter one and one for the rest of the year..... but it's hard to decide exactly which patterns to use!
 DD2 also chose these little charms for me - aren't they sweet?
DD1 also bought me ribbons for sewing as well as other craft making pieces.

I'm so fortunate that everyone is so generous - and so mindful of my hobbies!

I hope that you were equally fortunate.  My thoughts have turned once more to those who are not, and I'm keen to get my next Project Linus quilt on the go.

Happy New Year, everyone.  I hope that 2018 brings you all that you'd like!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Merry Christmas!

I think that this will be my last finish before Christmas - and it was the right sort of colours to show it next to our Christmas tree!
 It's finished at 60" x 44" and I'm pleased with how it looks.
 The binding is the same fabric as the sashing / border.  It also makes a stripe within the blue-grey backing which serves both to bring the backing fabric to the size as well as give it a little more interest.
A few more Christmas decorations - made with friends - and this 'new home' card for a friend, made with some of the scraps from the decorations!

My energies now will be engaged in family and festivities, although sewing will be squeezed in when I can manage it, of course!

I wish you all the best of good wishes for both Christmas and the forthcoming year.  May you enjoy good health, much happiness and plenty of crafting goodness!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Under my needle

The blocks that I showed you last week have been sashed and ironed and backed and basted and, almost, quilted.

I would have finished the quilting completely if I hadn't had caught one side of the backing up and folded it under by accident.  I have a few inches of quilting to remove so that I can fix it.

Looking forward to making and adding the binding to this.  My happy colours for sewing!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Pleasant Patching

A total of 22 '16 patch' blocks were made from the 3" squares in my box.

I'd already split them into warm and cool colours, so it was a simple task to lay them out and chain piece them.
 I've decided on these layouts.  The warm colours around one central mostly black and white block.

The cool colours in an alternate pattern - more saturated colour blocks mixed in with those that have more black and white in them.

A fairly efficient use of them, and the size of the lap quilts will be extended by the use of sashing and border fabric.
Just one orphan block left.  I don't have a plan for how to use it, but I do have a plan to look for any other orphan blocks that I have and to decide what to do with them once I can see them together!

Enjoyable, easy patchwork - a deliciously relaxing background to the preparations for Christmas.  I'm now in the happy state of almost all Christmas cards having been written and sent, and almost all the Christmas presents wrapped and put into the appropriate places!  Things are going well!

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Almost there!

 Every year I like to make a few fabric decorations to give away.

Not many this year - and a very simple pattern that's all over Pinterest made them a straightforward proposition.  It doesn't really explain why it's taken me a fortnight to get them from the initial cutting out to the final stitches!

Never mind, now that they are complete I can add them to the appropriate parcels ready for mailing out!

 I finished the parliament of owls too - they all have their brooch backs on now, and, as you can see, some of them have their wings stitched into different arrangements.

I'm pleased that they each seem to have their own character!
 Now it's time to find the energy for some proper patchwork and quilting!

These scraps need to make their way out of their temporary home in the box that I use to store Christmas cards when they arrive!
I think that I'll probably put all these 3" squares into 16 patch blocks and then sash them.

Just the sort of mindless occupation that I need at the moment - sometimes you just need uncomplicated sewing projects, don't you?  This year I seem to have done nothing but them (although that's better than nothing, I suppose!).  I do get frustrated sometimes by not being in the best of health.  I'd love to do even more with my daughters and husband, and I'd love to sew more too.  Oh well!  I shall carry on being grateful for the time and energy that I do have and make the most of it by filling it with as much fun as possible!

Happy sewing, everyone!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

My Own Parliament!

 I added these.... these.....
 ....and got these.

With the addition of buttons and stitches.....
.....I got these.

Some of the wings will get caught with a stitch or two to show more of the back fabric when I add the brooch backs.

A total of twelve unique owls make up this parliament.  They won't be with me for long - destined as presents for the teachers and teaching assistants who do such fabulous work with my DD1.

Fun to make and each of them unique.  I did wonder about making them in Christmas fabric, but decided that they were more fun like this.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


 This one seemed to take forever!  I've been a slow hand stitcher for the last couple of weeks, so the binding on this has had a long elapse time from start to finish.  Of course, if finishes come slowly it makes them all the more sweet!

Approximately 43" x 60" - just about my favourite size to work on!

 I followed Avril's advice and quilted wavey lines and swirls in my best attempt at steam rising from a cup of coffee.  I found out how difficult it was to keep a linear pattern looking good whilst using a hopping foot - I needed to shift my hand position several times on each line which didn't always go well!  Still, a few minor bumps on a line will just give more character to it!
 A cheerful 'Provencal' print for the back and a brown with gold dot lines for the binding finish the quilt off.
More hand stitching!

This owl was made at my quilt group meeting.  If I was to make another one I think that I'd leave off the scarve and add some tummy detail..... but I think that the scarf is to tie him to conventional Christmas colours.

Always fun to stitch and chat to others!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

And now for something completely different.....and something not!

 Last week I tried my hand at something COMPLETELY different to anything that I've ever tried before - making glass beads using a very hot flame and glass rods.

It was very exciting!

In a three hour workshop session with Kim of BethyBooBeads my sister and I each managed to make 6 beads, as well as having a demonstration of 'how to' and time to make jewellery at the end whilst our beads finished cooling.  A great morning!

 I'm extremely proud of what I made.  I realise that to more accomplished bead makers they might not be impressive, but for me they are sufficiently round, sufficiently decorated and sufficiently close to what I'd hoped to achieve!

Fancy learning a new crafting skill?  If you are in the UK then '' is great for showing what might be near you - or for giving you ideas of other crafts that you might want to investigate - knife making? black smithing? flower crocheting?  Something for everyone, I'm sure!
 Although I started off making a key ring with half my beads, I've decided that I'd prefer to have them displayed on the wall above my work table, so I've rehung them near my rulers!  This has two advantages: I can see them every day and they don't run the risk of being caught on something in my bag and being damaged or lost.
 Back in the more familiar world of sewing, I'm proud to say that my DDs have each made three blocks for the 70,273 project.

These were sewn by machine by my DD1.

I love the way that she extended the machine lines right to the edge of the blocks when her ribbon or felt strips weren't as long as she wanted.
 These were handsewn by DD2.  I particularly like the beaded one in the middle.

I'm so proud of both my girls for embracing this project.
 DD1 shown here, busily sewing whilst still in her pyjamas!  Clearly the business of making blocks took precedence over getting dressed!
Including Benta's blocks, the girls have been able to take a total of 20 blocks in to school.  It's been a great project to be part of, and I hope to see some of the completed wall hangings or quilts in Westminster Abbey next year.  Lots of time for reflection over the course of this block making.

Have you come across Sarah Corbett and her 'Craftivism' movement?  Worth investigating if you want to develop the gentle art of protest or encourage others to think about things a little more.

As I'm writing this blog I'm listening to Woman's Hour on Radio 4 - today a celebration of craft, discussing how important craft skills are and showcasing the finalists in the Craft Prize.  Crafter's unite!  I'm passionate about sharing my skills (such as they are) whenever possible, as I believe that a crafting person will always be happier than they otherwise might be.  Hope that you are enjoying some crafting time this week!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

More and More

 More work on my scrap quilt - in fact, I'd already got to this stage of sashing the 'coins' with this coffee coloured print before Avril suggested quilting to represent the steam rising from a hot coffee...... she must have known!  You can see how well this size of quilt fits on my living room floor for basting!

I'm now part way through the quilting - using Avril's idea but my (slightly wonky!) take on it.

Quilting photos next week!
 More XX blocks for the 70,273 project too!

These delights are from Benta - can you see the detail on them?  Three in dark red, three in bright red, and with different fill patterns used.

Thanks, Benta!
These will join the blocks that I and the girls have made and be sent into school later this week.

Small steps, as befits a week when I've been away on an exciting holiday.  More of that when I've sorted out some of the images, as I have a feeling that they might be informing some design ideas soon!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

More scrap quilting

I was going to use these 4" x 8" blocks to make another 2-4-7 variation quilt like the last one.

Then I decided not to!

I decided that I'd make something a bit more like a stacked coins quilt.  Now that I have these three strips made I need to shop my stash to find something that will make the alternate stripes to complete the top.

I'm already wondering whether I'll make some 'statement quilting' like feathers or a leaf and vine design down the joining stripes, or whether I'll just go for an all over pattern.

Surely I'm not the only person who enjoys this sort of contemplation, even before I have the fabric joined into a quilt top?!?

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Feeling Thoughtful

 Have you heard of the 70,273 project?

My DD's school has embraced it and is encouraging the girls and their parents to take part in producing blocks for it - they are hoping to make at least 1000 to contribute to the project.

In short, there was a little acknowledged atrocity committed during WWII.  Between January 1940 and August 1941 70,273 people with physical or mental disabilities were killed by the Nazis.

A report on the person was compiled and it was read by three doctors.  If at least two doctors decided that the person was 'unfit' by marking the page with a red X then that person would be killed, usually with hours.
 Jeanne Hewell-Chambers is organising a project to make 70,273 white blocks with a red double X on them, representing the people who lost their lives in this terrible action.

I love the idea that these people will be acknowledged and this atrocity brought to the attention of more people.  I know that I hadn't heard of it before now.  I think it is wonderful that we can, all these years later, subvert the X and turn it from a dismissal into a symbol of love.

These blocks will be joined to become wall hangings and quilts and the plan is to display them in several cathedrals, I think by Holocaust Memorial Day.

I'm showing you my first four blocks.  I'm expecting to make more.  Perhaps you'd like to join in too?

Thank goodness that the people that I know and love who have challenges, whether physical or mental, could not be put into such a program.  The times we live in are far from perfect, but at some points we do have to stand and contemplate that there have been improvements in attitude and expectation, even if there is still more change to push towards.

Kew Gardens is running an interesting project at the moment called 'Artful Autumn'.  They are giving garden visitors the chance to try several different 20 minute workshops.  We enjoyed the willow weaving one - finding out how relaxing it was to help fill in these forms created by Julia Clarke (who also has several large willow sculptures on display down the Cedar Vista) - as well as how strong your hands and fingers needed to be.
 We could also have tried creative writing or yoga.  A lovely tented area in a woodland setting.  It was a great addition to our visit - and is on for another two weekends at least.

It was a very peaceful atmosphere in the tent.  People were enjoying the creative challenge and quietly getting on with the task whilst chatting to others. 

I'm still a very strong advocate of crafting for wellbeing, in all sorts of ways!

We also loved the benches created by Nigel Ross and also displayed along the Cedar Vista. 

Beautiful forms and beautifully finished, I'd love to own one of these!  Lots of family debate about our favourite ones!

Whatever form your creativity takes I hope that you are finding time to make and contemplate this week.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Completed Quilt

 I finished it!  At 45" x 60" it's my favourite size to make and quilt, I think.  Big enough that it can be well used, small enough to handle easily through the sewing machine when I'm quilting it!

This is another one destined for Project Linus - and the latest in my 'scrap busting' series!

The 8" x 4" coloured strips were cut many years ago when I wanted to make a scrappy looking quilt for a good friend who was getting married, and which were added to a little over the years.
 I was aiming for 'boy' colours, so no pink or purple or flowers in this one.  The next one to made to this pattern will contain any of those in my scrap pack!

A meander quilting pattern - restful for me to quilt.
More lovely birthday presents to share - thank you to the lovely Avril!

The picture on the notebook is made of pressed flowers and foliage by Helen Ahpornsiri.  Incredibly detailed!

Aren't the buttons fun too?  I now feel that I would like to make special projects to use both the ceramic bluebirds and the wooden Australian ones!