Tuesday 24 December 2013

Happy Christmas!

We had an afternoon of Christmas crafting at home yesterday.  The girls and some of their friends decorated felt reindeer, made wonderful fabric Christmas wreaths, made multicolour paper snowflakes, made snowball roses and finished with mini marshmallow snowmen.

My DDs helped to make and decorate the lovely big snowman cake (yummy pudding for us all!).  A really good job!

This was a mini snowman - marshmallows, large chocolate buttons etc etc.  Mine not as beautiful as the ones in the book, but the girls were all happy with theirs!

This was my trial wreath.  Paper plates with the centres removed, sleeve of fabric over it, small decorations (the girls all made yo-yos, I used these lovely roses made for me by Avril) and 'ta-da' - wonderful wreaths!  I wish that I'd taken some photos of them all!

I hope that your Christmas is merry and bright.  Good wishes to you and all the best for a splendid New Year!

Wednesday 18 December 2013

One, Two, Tree!

 The three stages of tree making - or, currently, where DD1 is, where DD2 is, and my finished tree!  This is the follow on project from the Santas - another part of Jodi's (from Ric-Rac) project on FaveCrafts.

I'm not sure that we'll have three trees finished by Christmas Day, but it's nice that the girls wanted to join in with some sewing!
I seem to have spent a reasonable amount of time prepping applique pieces over freezer paper for my Love Entwined.  I am still working on the third vase / corner - but Esther published the fourth vase / corner earlier this week, so I'm not quite 'keeping up'.  Never mind, as I think that I'm going to stop at this point and not carry on to make a massive coverlet I'll have plenty to time to catch up again!
I've also managed a few small samples based on the Staffordshire Hoard. Very glitzy.  Lots of fun.  Not really moving me towards a quilt design for a 'proper' quilt rather than an art quilt / wall quilt. 
 I'm sure that it will all help at some point, and that my subconscious mind is working hard on the different aspects that I'd like to include!
I can always hope, anyway, can't I?

You can see that this one was made with the cut outs from the one above, can't you?  Not the same effect at all, but fun to play!

Of course, I have realised all over again (as if I was in any doubt) that although these are fun I'm not really keen on gold and red.  I rather think that I'll be moving back to silver and purple instead (or plain grey and Batik purple, perhaps?) when I make 'proper' samples for whatever quilt I design.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Runner Long (run along....?)

Hurrah!  I've run the quilting threads all over my runner, and I can now declare it FINISHED!

It did only take a total of 17 hours but as they were so spread out over the weeks it started to feel like it took much longer!
You can see that I did a mixture of 'wired' feathers and 'normal' feathers with a fairly tight stipple behind them so that the motifs stand out.  I think that it works fairly well to reduce the standout grey patches.

I did take Kandy's advice and use the same grey for the binding which has also helped.
Not easy to photograph it as it is, as the title suggests (see, not just put in for the pun!), long.
Here it is in situ.  Although not household which is overly religious, part of our Christmas tradition is having out the Nativity knitted by my late MiL.  Here you can see it in pride of place on my new cupboard runner.

If I remember, I'll take a shot of the knitted carol singers that she made too - one Christmas knitted set for each of my DDs.  They are much loved and cherished by the girls, partly for what they represent - a labour of love with them in mind - and partly because they are just so cute!

Hope that you are enjoying some pre-Christmas crafting time.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Shuffling Santas!

I confess, these aren't all my handiwork and that isn't my hand either!

Last night some of my girl friends came round and we sewed a Santa each from the free pattern given by Jodi of Ric-Rac here on FaveCraftsBlog.  Lots of fun, and a bunch of great little Santas.  Of course, what you can't see is the two people holding up the 'green screen' in order to conceal the bowls of crisps, empty wine glasses, scissors and thread ends..... as I said, lots of fun!

The really good news is that I've finally made progress on my table runner.  Quilted and just waiting for the binding to be hand stitched down.  Then after a label has been added it will be complete.  I need to get my designing head on in order to come up with another quilt design.  Ideas flying around but nothing actually out on paper yet.

I hope that you are finding time for some pre-Christmas crafting too.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Coming together and a present to myself


I was in need of something life affirming this week after the death of a friend.  I guess that you can tell that I'm a confirmed quilter when I chose to buy myself a new foot for my sewing machine.  I decided to seize the moment, embrace life and not worry about spending more money than I  >should<.  I hope that it will make my FMQ just a little more accurate, as I'll be able to see where the needle is even more clearly.  Only time will tell - and I have to confess that despite its starring role under the foot, I have yet to set another stitch on this quilt, which I am still a little uncertain about!

I have, however, made some little Christmas pouches as a nice way of gifting vouchers or money.  A 'quilt as you go' type idea using strips of Christmas fabric over a felt base.  Very simple.  Very quick. I think that it probably took less than 30 minutes to make all four, that's from deciding to make them to actually finishing them, although I did have some Christmas FQs to hand to cut the strips from.

Even quicker were the paper (map) versions that I made - a piece of paper 8" x 4", folded 3" up to make a pouch with the corners cut off at 45 degrees to make an envelope shape.  Sew around the three side (on the flap it is just for decoration) and you have a perfect gift wallet.  Even better if you cut a semi-circle out of the non-flap end before you sew it, so that the gift note or voucher can be seen peeping out when the flap is lifted up. 

My other sewing this week has been hand sewing - the final touches to Part 5 of Love Entwined.  Completed!  Hurrah!  Do you like my little worm coming out of the flower?  Check the photos out below - I don't seem to be able to match text to photos this week on Blogger sorry!

Part 6 beckons - I'm ready to start tracing shapes onto freezer paper but have other calls on my time and energy at the moment!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

If all else fails......make a penguin!

 I've been putting together my 'bathers' blocks for my latest C&G design.

Unfortunately, despite making samples, I seem to have included a solid grey that just doesn't quite work.  Grrrr!  I've looked at it.  Wondered whether it will blend better once it's quilted.  Debated with myself about how best to deal with it. 

As yet no conclusions - just a desire that I'd made it in colours that were a bit bolder (my taste) rather than something a bit more muted (DH's taste) - but as it is destined for the living room I think that I will give in gracefully.
Of course, with all this internal debate about the runner, I needed something easy to make.

Inspired by the penguin made (rather more expertly) by Janet Clare I made my own.  Unfortunately I couldn't wait for the Basic Grey pattern to be shipped to me (c'mon guys - it's a pattern!  PDF download is what I'd like!) so I went to look for on-line patterns and found this one from Purl Bee.

I'm very pleased with how this little lovely went together, even if she (and I think that it's a she) looks a bit bewildered.  Of course, I can't referee between two DDs who'd like to have custody of her, so at the moment she is ALL MINE!

I have been otherwise occupied over the last few days (think plumbers not sewing, unfortunately) but I'm determined to get back and make some decisions about the runner.

In the meantime, I hope that you have carved out some crafting time for yourself and that you might also consider making your own penguin - every home should have one!

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Hearts and a harvest

 Not really my work, but I had a hand in supervising the creation of these - and a couple more that went home with friends of the DD's.  I'd almost forgotten how delighted small people can be with the chance to use a sewing machine, as my DD's are always aware that they can use it so it has ceased to be a novelty!

In fairness, they all enjoyed the hand sewing too.
This was my real happiness yesterday, though - my first ever saffron!  Having planted the bulbs less than a month ago I was hoping for a harvest this autumn, but I not banking on it.   The girls are intrigued by being able to grow something so easily that is worth its weight in gold (indeed, I'm fighting hard not to have the whole garden turned to a mini saffron farm).  I'm wondering if I should add flashes of gold or orange to the purple and grey blocks that I'm making in celebration of our first harvest!
Happy stitching!

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Tiny Quilt

 Last week I read this blog post at Crazy Mom Quilts - and instantly wanted to cast everything else aside and make one.  A zig zag quilt made from rectangles?  Almost too good to be true!

Of course, what with it being half term I didn't have oodles of free time (or indeed, energy).  What I did have was a lovely squishy of fabric from Ingrid - a number of fat 1/8ths  - and all in tiny prints entirely suitable for a miniature quilt.

It took only a short time to make this quilt with a little of the fabric.  As I just used the number of blocks that I made (and didn't use one fabric as an 'anchor' like the real pattern suggested) it doesn't look quite the same, but I'm quite pleased with this mini-quilt.
It finished at about 5 1/2" x 5".  If I'd thought it through I'd have trimmed it further to 4" across and then it would have been easy to tack it to some card and put it into a standard frame.... but of course, I didn't think at all!

A little hand quilting along the zig zags finished it off, and I shall hand it over to Ingrid (who I only know through sitting with her whilst we watch our children at their swimming lessons) to say 'thank you' for the fabric and block template that she gifted to me.

Not much more sewing than that this week - I'm catching up on some rest after our half-term fun!

Thursday 31 October 2013

Love Entwined Part 4 complete!

Half term this week, so limited stitching time for me (too busy interfering in the crafty projects of my DDs!).

The time that I've had I've spent working on LE.  I'm pleased to say that I've finished Part 4 now, and have just started working on Part 5 - the opposite corner to this one.  I started sewing berries on last night, and I'm starting to enjoy them a bit more - I knew that this pattern would give me a great applique work out, even if I simplified it slightly!

My DD2 is quite bothered about the vase being up in the air like this.  Even though the final position will show it like this, she'd rather that the photo showed the vase at the bottom.  I can see why she says that.  Does anyone else feel uncomfortable with this vase tipping it's water out too?!

Hope that you are enjoying some half term fun if you are still in the throes of working around school holidays too!

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Not Strictly Seasonal!

I know that it's a funny time of year to be showing a daffodil, but I heard last week that my wild flower 'tile' - part of the 'wild flower meadow' for PlantLife is on display (along with a selection of others) at

William Morris Society in London (26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 9AT.

The exhibition is open from to the public on Thursday and Saturday afternoons (2 til 5) and will run until the 9th of November.   I'm hoping to go along with my DDs at half term.

The tile (this time with all the others that were submitted) will be displayed at the Salisbury Arts Centre from the 15th of November until the 18th of December.

 I believe that it's still possible to submit your own tile, if you wanted to support this cause. Check the link above for more information about where the tiles are going to be touring.

So, apart from thinking about spring (and then wondering if the saffron crocus bulbs that we planted are ever going to stick their heads up above the soil this autumn - it's a crop that I hadn't thought of growing before) what have I been up to?

Well, my some of my girl friends and I made wristlets (or ribbon key fobs, or whatever you'd like to call them). A pleasing end result, not too much sewing (and even quicker if you make them on the sewing machine!).

Should I confess that the one in the middle isn't mine?  It was made by my good friend Tracy and looks rather splendid.  I've had to give it back to her now, though!

Other than that it's been C&G paperwork all the way - and I'm pleased to say that I've finally finished and submitted Module 9 of my course.  I'm officially three-quarters of the way through it now.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Another week flies by!

 This week seems to have flown past.  Leaving aside the hours that I spent on prepping applique pieces over freezer paper (yes, Love Entwined - another part issued this week, but my work was all on the previous section!) most of my limited sewing time was spent on 'Bathers' blocks.

I need design a table runner for my next C&G project and thought that I'd tie in the design thoughts with a challenge from my quilt group, which was to take an 'art postcard' and use something from it to make an A3 quilt.  I've chosen Seurat's 'Bathers at Asnieres' - it hangs in the National Gallery and is always worth a look if you are in the area.  These 'teachers notes' make interesting reading.  I'm sure that I wasn't taught how to look at art and think about pictures in this way when I was at Primary School - its great! 

My start point was to take the main lines / colour blocks from the piece and sample different layouts (changing the positions of the different values). 

Then I played with the quilting on the blocks.  When I've finished my course I'll have four ready made quilted postcards, with the addition of a plain back and something to finish the edge off!

I played with different layouts in QuiltPro, and decided that flipping alternate blocks upside
down gave me what I wanted for the runner.  Not these bright greens and greys, of course, but I used them so that I could see what the pattern was doing!

Of course, I'm no further forward with the quilt group challenge, but I can't have everything!

My real quilting loveliness this week wasn't my sewing but a talk by Sheena Norquay about seasonal inspiration and quilting.  Wow!  Amazing quilting.  I bought two packs of cards and have been poring over them re-examining how she uses the quilting line.  Astonishingly brilliant work.  Unfortunately I've come to the conclusion that the only similarity I have with her is the use of Auriful threads, which I love too!  I just wish that I was as proficient at using them as she is!  Still, it's always lovely to have something to aim for!  If you ever have the chance to see her work then you should take it.

Thursday 10 October 2013

 This is a very simple humbug bag.  One hem, two seams, two pieces of Velcro.  Antidote to sewing that requires thinking, like the C&G samples I've been making (shouldn't have required so much thinking, I was clearly a bit dull headed that day!) and the fiddly sewing on my Love Entwined.

I should also confess that 1) I saw some Year 8 textile work at a secondary school visit last week that included humbug bags and 2) I thought that I should practise before suggesting it as a crafting activity for my DDs and their friends (but we ended up doing some painting instead, so I have this idea in reserve for another time!).
 So how is my Love Entwined coming on?  I'm calling Part 3 (two sets of pierced hearts, two sets of pointy leaves and oak leaves) finished - by leaving out (at least for the moment, I may re-visit) the spots that should be on these grey pointy-oval bits.
You might just be able to spot that I've started on Part 4 (first vase and flowers) - but progress still seems slow at the moment. I think that I need to put aside a bit more time during the day for preparing the pieces that I want to sew down in the evenings, now that I've finished the few bits that I was able to back baste on the machine (or perhaps I should try some of the other smaller pieces with back basting too?  I'm not sure!). 

The yellow is a bit shouty.  It might be balanced out by other loud colours as I go around the corners, if not it will either have to be replaced or re-coloured with Inktense pencils!

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Hat Band Hotspot!

 I've been finishing up hatbands this week.  This one is known as 'scrumple bubble', with a line of coral line protrusions around the band.  The original design just had them, nothing else, but it looked too plain, so I added the scrim and some stitching (which doesn't show up at all in this photo!).

Next to be finished was this simple 'seaweed' style - with a move away from Kona Cotton solids into Fabric Freedom prints.  If I was making it again I'd make the stems thinner.
 This band is still unfinished.  This is just the background to what will be traditional applique (at least, that's the plan in my head at the moment).

Finally, I finished the ruched roses band, started several months ago!  I decided to change this one too, from having just a few roses at the front to having roses all around it.  What I can't decide, having looked at the photos, is whether I should add more spiral stitching up the sides and crown of the hat.  I'm starting to think that it looks slightly odd to have the brim with the stitched spiral and the rest of it 'loose'.

For a real treat, here is a photo of my stitched birthday postcards.  Aren't they fabulous?  What a talented group of quilters are members of my birthday postcard swap!  We've spent a happy week sorting and re-sorting them - difficult to pick an absolute favourite, and quite hard to pick a top five!

I failed to take photos of my other cards or presents, but I can share with you that I got wonderful fabric, rope and a book about making fabric bowls (thank you Nicky and Peter!), a lovely handmade bag and necklace (thank you Benta!), and lots of lovely crafting goodies (thank you, DH and DDs!).

Off to play with some more quilt ideas for my C&G, and to complete part 3 of Love Entwined.

I was thinking about part 4 yesterday.  I guessed that there would be about 40 pieces to stitch down, so was planning to try and catch up by adding three a day - finished in time for the 15th October and the next part.  When I started counting, I realised that it was a bigger task than I'd realised.  There are about 110 flower, leaf and berry pieces plus the stems, which I will probably embroider.  So, about 10 pieces a day and a couple of days for stems.  Doable if I set my mind to it but I'm not sure that I'll be able to manage quite that much when I'm still doing handwork for the C&G requirements!  Perhaps this isn't the month to catch up after all!

Wednesday 25 September 2013

What a Week!

 This week I have celebrated my birthday, my wedding anniversary and, more unusually the day when I tipped from spending more of my life single into spending more of my life married.  Just think, more than half my life as a married woman!  Not sure whether it's me or DH who need the congratulations, to be honest!

It's the first week that I've felt that we are back into the rhythm of school, and I've made more sewing and C&G progress than for some weeks, which is always something to make me smile!
This 'lasagne quilt' was a team effort.  Benta (go over and wish her 'Happy Birthday' too - we share a celebration day!) made the top, and I backed it with fleece, bound and quilted it.  Another finished top for the charity pile from our quilting group.
I've also been 'back basting' in order to make some forward progress with my Love Entwined.
 I use freezer paper templates ironed onto the back of the fabric, a square of fabric on the front, and off I go with the sewing machine, sewing around the shape.

Then all I need to do is to cut around the stitching lines to leave the seam allowance before I'm ready to sew.

Nice and straightforward even if my applique skills haven't quite mastered getting some of the curves as smooth as I'd like them to be.

I'm not quite keeping up with the rate at which the BOM is being issued, but I'm still enjoying it!

My other crafting time has been spent making braids.  I can't quite get this text lined up with the photo, but there are five different types of braid in the snap, all part of my Module 9 'trimmings' samples.  I've got some more samples to sew for my next design, more hatbands to finish and a bit of paperwork to do, then I'll be able to submit it.  Probably two or three weeks until that point, though!

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Pointing out a Finish!

 Inspired by the lovely work of Anne Bebbington, and in particular by a triangle in a square quilt seen here, I decided to make my own version in grey, blue and pink for DD1's 'Brown Owl' who has been very patient and understanding over the years.  Anne was kind enough not only to say that I could copy her idea (thanks Anne!) but also to give me tips on construction  which made this a nice fast construction job.

It was a 'deadline quilt' as DD1 will move up from Brownies to Guides by leaping over the toadstool on Thursday night.
'Brown Owl' in our pack isn't actually called 'Brown Owl' by the girls.  She is called 'Dodo' - so this is my best attempt at a dodo on the run, which is how she must live her life in order to fit everything in!

I love the 'compass pointing' that the triangles do if you rotate the blocks.  I'm less certain about the placement of my silhouettes on the quilt, but wanted to put each of them on a dark space so that they showed up.  If I was making this again I'd have fused a dark fabric under the silhouette so that I could put them over block joins..... another learning experience!
I also added a Guiding trefoil.  On reflection, probably enough to get me thrown out of the Brownies for copyright infringement or some such.  I'll just have to hope that its taken in the right spirit as a one-off non-commercial item.

I hope that Dodo likes the quilt.  I'm pleased to say that the 'commissioning mother' was very pleased with last week's camera cushion cover.

Just a couple more sewing items to do (replacing elastic in slippers in time for DD2 to take them on a school residential trip tomorrow is top of the list - and I can hardly think of anything more tedious, to be honest!  At least that should be a relatively quick job!) and then I'll get back to my neglected college work (and perhaps a bit on Love Entwined, which made a tiny bit of progress this week, unphotographed though.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Lights, Camera, Action!

 The girls have been back at school almost a week now - and I have my first finish to show for the term!

If I conveniently overlook the bit where I scorched the only piece of white fabric that I had available for the cushion centre, necessitating an unforeseen trip to my LQS at the weekend (the girls loved it, really, no, I hardly had to bribe them with bags of scraps at all, honestly......!) it all went well!

I'd been asked to make a cushion cover incorporating film / camera / theatre motifs, ready for an 18th birthday later this year. 

I needed to have it made in time for next Monday, as I only see the person who'd asked me to make it three times a year.  I'm really pleased that I have made the deadline with time to spare!
I hope that she likes the design that I've come up with.  I have realised that because she's only ever seen what I stitch during ballet lesson waiting, she might be expecting something hand stitched.  This is not hand stitched - all lovely, lovely machine stitching! (and 18" square, if you are interested in the scale).

I'm keeping quiet about my lack of hand stitch progress on Love Entwined.  Just four days to go until part 4 is published and even if I stitched full time from now until then I wouldn't have finished part 3!  Not to worry, it will wait for me!

Just as well, as I'm about to start cutting fabric for another quilt with a deadline!

Hope you are finding time for some happy stitching.