Wednesday 28 December 2016

New Year Wishes!

 Christmas festivities carry on in this household - we like to make the most of the chances to get together with family and friends over the holiday period!  We're having a lovely time with meals, games, chatter and the occasional event like watching our local rugby team, Harlequins (at Twickenham Stadium for the Big Game) and going to Kew Gardens Lights.  Busy, busy, busy!

I'm pleased, therefore, to have anything at all to show you!

 A total of eight blocks.  I was pleased that on Christmas Eve I was exactly two months behind - much better than the worst position I'd been in!

I'm still hoping to finish all the blocks by the end of January, although I'm saying that more in hope than expectation.  I think that having the top all put together by the end of February might be more realistic.  Can this count as my New Year's resolution?
My only other sewing was this postcard, trying to represent 'celebration' - the last of my birthday swap postcards for this year.

Whatever this year brought you, I hope that next year will be better, perhaps even your best yet!  Wishing a happy, healthy, joyful and peaceful 2017 to one and all!

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

 Just a few days to go until Christmas Day!  I hope that you are making the most of any time that you have to enjoy some sewing or crafting.

This week I've made 12 blocks.

I enjoyed this little boat.
 Not as accurate as I'd like to be on all the blocks, but overall the effect of them will be fine, I'm sure.
 I enjoyed using this striking linear patterned batik fabric - and I really like blocks with strong diagonals, so the first one of this set is my favourite of the week.
 I also made some tissue holders (excellent teacher gifts / stand by presents!).  No two the same - although that may change as I'm about to make a few more.
The tree is up!
 The quilted tree is up!
The stitcheries are up (not a great photo, sorry!).

Wishing happy holidays for you and your family and much peace for all of the world.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Proud Aunty Alert!

 I am lucky enough to know a number of creative, wonderful people.  This would have to include my eldest nephew, Stuart, who has this week published his debut novel, Stacker.

I've only just started reading it - and I'm enjoying it so far (although I've been warned that there is some bad language and that things get pretty tense - just saying in case that might not suit you).  Some very slick phrases to be found, though.  Free on Kindle unlimited, and not much money to buy if you haven't.....

What have I been doing this week apart from reading?  I'm pleased to say that I've achieved my target 16 blocks!

 The block above is a 12" corner beauty - it took several hours to make.

The one to the right is a 6 1/2" block.  Fun to make!
These four - two of them not such dark blocks - and the one on the top left not exhibiting the level of contrast that I'd be aiming for, to be honest.  Bad understanding of which fabric would dominate on my part!
 These four showed better contrast.
And these ones too.  These last 14 are all 3 1/2" square.  It means that some of these pieces get quite small!

I'm now just into October's blocks.  Thinking that this project is easily going to take me through into February!

Enjoy your pre-Christmas crafting!

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Busy week!

 A busy week, but not busy at the sewing machine.

No chance of meeting my 16 block target - this week I didn't even manage to keep up, let alone get ahead, with a total of five blocks made.

This was the 6 1/2" one.
 These are the 3 1/2" blocks.

I'm hoping for better things this week, although if someone could gift me some extra energy and let me unwrap it early, that might make it easier!
 As well as the blocks I made this card with sheers.  I almost think that it looked better with the fabrics just as squares, not cut around the stitching.  Wish that I'd taken a photo to show you!

Then it was time for a few cord wraps, based on this tutorial by Leafy Treetop.  Great for a quick make, and much nicer than the cord spaghetti that I seemed to be plunging my hand into on a regular basis.  I need to make a whole heap more, though!

Lastly, this was my secret santa haul from my Richmond and Kew Quilt Group meeting - thank you Marianne!  I love the idea of not just giving me a coffee cozy, but also a copy of the tutorial that she used to make it!

The first of my Christmas decorations went up this morning.  More to follow this weekend.  It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

Wednesday 30 November 2016

More small sewing

 Did I hit my 16 block target this week?

A resounding 'no'!

However, as I had both a broken down boiler (and thus an unscheduled boiler replacement) and a lovely weekend away, this isn't a total surprise!

This was the 6 1/2" block for the week.
 And four smaller blocks.  The bottom RHS one doesn't look at all right - I may need to revisit that and check that I wrote the measurements down correctly!
 These are the final four that I made.  I like the one on the RHS - but I'm still not sure how I managed to make a set of fabric strips and squares to make a second block!  I changed the colours on the half square triangles a little, so it's not identical, but I really don't know why I thought that I hadn't already made it!
Lastly, a postcard for Inge for my fabric postcard birthday swap.  Always fun to build up something fun for someone else!

Another busy week coming up, so I'd better start making some more blocks now to see how I get on with the 16 block target again!

Frosty weather here, and thoughts turning to early Christmas festivities.  Hope that you too are enjoying the season!

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Blocking Along

 So, do you think that I managed to make my target 16 x 365 challenge blocks this week?

Count along and we'll see!

This is the first block that I had to make.  Of course, I hadn't realised that I'd have a 12" square 'special' on my list  - I was tempted to call that 16 blocks done - it's the right area for 16 blocks, after all, but I realised that it wouldn't help my block count / date target to do that, so I persevered!
 Four blocks here - so up to five in total.

Points missing, I'm afraid..... but not a bad crop overall.
 Another four (with a howling mistake on the ivy leaf - I might have to go back and fix that!).  So that's nine blocks.
 This little cutie - I can hardly wait to see this simple block made up in 2 1/2" strips.  I need to do the maths and see how big a block this would make.  It makes me smile.

Ten blocks so far..... keep counting!
 Ah.  Ok.  Stop counting!

So, no, I didn't make my target - I haven't even got 16 blocks cut out!  Oh well.  Fun to have a target but I'm not going to berate myself for not quite making it, but carry on playing with a smile on my face.
 One post card here - sheer fabric over printed houses. Start of a play of overlays.
Last (but not least!) a lovely fabric wristlet from my lovely friend Benta.  Thanks, Benta - its fab!

I'm off to see how I do with my block target this week.  Happy sewing, everyone!

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Block Blast!

 I've made lots of blocks this week!  Three sets of nine (one of each set shown here) for the mystery quilt.  Very fast, as they were 1) the same for each set and 2) already cut out ready to be sewn.
 Those 27 blocks probably only took 90 minutes to sew together.

The 365 challenge blocks take a bit longer, as each is different to cut and sew.  I'm guessing that the fastest I could make them would be 90 minutes for four, unless they were incredibly simple ones!
 I've decided to try and make 16 blocks a week in an effort to catch up.  Of course, that's only getting ahead by 9 blocks a week.  I've calculated that if I can average 16 a week (even over Christmas / school holidays / anything else that comes along) I will finish making the last block in mid January 2017.

Not sure that is realistic, but I'll give it my best shot!
 This week I made 14 blocks.  I was pleased with the bottom RH one here, with the tiny pinwheel in the middle.
 These two are 6" square rather than the others which are the smaller 3" squares.
 I also added the final hand stitches into these trays, ready for Christmas.
 I'm thinking that this looks even more festive, but wonder if it trivialises the tray to a 'mere' bonbon receptacle.  If sent empty, it might also encourage alternative uses.

Something to ponder (and my DD's have offered to eat the choccies if I don't send them - kind girls!).
I was quite pleased how they turned out, though.

Right, back to the 365 blocks and some other sewing that I need to complete this week.

Happy sewing everyone!

Wednesday 9 November 2016

It's *That* time of the year.

 I've never been awfully keen on November - it always feels dark and windy and miserable.  When DH and I were both working (and child free!) we used to plan a holiday abroad in December so that we had something lovely to look forward to once we were through November.

I thought that I'd grown out of that.  But the news from American this morning and the cold wet weather we have here today has brought the November blues flooding back.  Not even my two lovely girls having an INSET day from school so being at home with me has stopped me from feeling grumpy.
 Of course, getting up at 4.00am this morning in order to try and will the US election result to go a different way may not be helping me at this point!

I decided to put the time to good use, and with the BBC World Service on the radio got to work on my 365 challenge blocks.  I'm working on August at the moment, so just three months behind (gulp!).
 I'm hoping to complete four blocks a day on four days of the week.....  first, though, I have to revist this one, where I seem to have sewn and lost some of the component parts since cutting them out!

Why is it always more frustrating to have to go back to something that is part done than it is to start afresh?  I should be full of joy that at least some of the parts are still on my paper plate where I thought I'd left them all!
 The other sewing that I've done this week was an act of necessity (actually, two acts of necessity now that I think about it - I had to mend a coat too!).

Our oven gloves, made by me some years ago (and almost as faded as they look in this photo!) were wearing a bit thin.

DH suffered quite a nasty burn, which made me focus on making some more.  We have been trying to buy the right shape and size for some time, but can't find anything that we like as much as this homemade pattern.
This time I've used two layers of InsulBright inside.  The fabric isn't as fancy, but so long as we don't burn ourselves we'll be happy with them!

The rain is easing up now, so I'll chase my girls into their waterproofs so we can go out for a damp autumn walk, with perhaps a hot chocolate at the end to lift our spirits.

Hope that you are dealing with life in the most positive way that you can too - and perhaps good crafty or sewn things come out of your time too.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Small things

 Half term holidays mean that not much sewing has been done here.

A couple of post cards..... both 6" x 4".
 I wasn't awfully pleased with this one - I want to retry a small scale disappearing nine patch with more defined colours - perhaps solids would be better!
 The other sewing I've done has been to get up to date with my quilt group's mystery quilt (from the Quilters Guild, I believe).

Lots of cutting and putting pieces into plastic bags to start off with.  A little construction - can you see that each block (I made nine of each) has one more piece than the last?  Three more types of block to make
I had to make myself a 'crib sheet' with a sample of each fabric so that I didn't get muddled about what I was cutting!

All fabrics from stash - I'm not sure whether I've got sufficient contrast or not, but it seems to be more or less OK so far.... With mystery quilts it's always a bit of a gamble, isn't it?

It will be fun to see what the other group members who are making it come up with for their fabric choices.

Hope that you are enjoying some sewing or crafting time too!

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Addicted to Finishes!

I'm thrilled to share another finish!

These batik blocks had been hanging around for ages  - I made them so long ago that I can't even remember when!  Clearly leftovers from a Jelly Roll - I'm guessing from about 5 years ago - they must have been aging in my scrap drawer since then.

When I put them up on the design wall I could see why I hadn't got any further with making anything with them.  The blocks were just too 'mushy'.  Most of patches within them don't have sufficient contrast to show the piecing - grrr!

I thought that some sashing might help them.  Of course, I forgot (AGAIN!) that although I *think* that this fabric is mostly black, it doesn't 'read' as black!  I only have tiny scraps of this left now, so at least I won't be able to get it wrong another time.  Even so, it doesn't look too bad with these bright blocks - at least there is a colour contrast even if there is no tone contrast!

I bound it in orange print - nice and cheerful - and quilted it with orange thread too.  Having never been a big fan of orange before I've been enjoying it recently, since making the quilt including some for my SiL.

Great to have another finish.  This one is 36" square and will probably go to Project Linus.

Hope that you are enjoying some pre-Halloween sewing too!

Wednesday 19 October 2016

New Gadget!

 My ever lovely, ever thoughtful big sister was clearly paying attention last month when I was rigging up  a 'light box' with a sewing machine extender table and some camping lights.

For my birthday I received the most stylish light box that I've ever seen!

Thin like a computer tablet, but with a surface that you can draw on and a control for how bright the light is.
 I had seen some rather lovely miniature Baltimore style applique (one of the traditional suitcase collection quilts on loan from the Quilters Guild that I saw through Richmond and Kew Quilters) so I thought that I'd trace some positioning squares with wash away pen and then work on making the applique pieces for them.

Turns out that the ones that I was most attracted to were ones that could be turned into simple stitcheries..... so that's what I've done instead!

Such a great product - it even comes with a bag to store it in, so you don't have to crush it in a stack of stuff, but can easily hang it within easy reach - genius!  I'm really pleased with it!
My other sewing related task this week was to pull out this stack of fabrics for a mystery quilt that I'm planning to make with RKQ too.

Next I need to cut them up, following the first step of the mystery.

Happy sewing, everyone!

PS For those who are interested, the light box I have been given is a 'Vario' A4 light box - they also make an A3 size in a similar format.  Available from Amazon and I'm sure other places too!  NAYY