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!

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Quilt Progress

 I enjoyed my birthday last week and received these lovely sewing related goodies:  quilting books(from my lovely sister), a block keeper (from the lovely Benta) and some beautiful ceramic buttons (from my lovely DD1).

Lucky me!
 I also received a couple of fabric postcards.

This one came from Inge.....
 ....and this one from Rosemary.

Thank you, everyone!
 Here is the block keeper in use already - although not for completed blocks, this time around, but for the cut up components to make enough blocks to make a small quilt.
 The same sort of pattern as this one - seen here with a trial layout which I tweaked a bit before sewing the blocks together.

I adapted the pattern from the Project Linus free pattern called 2-4-7.  I had some scrap fabrics cut to 4" x 8", so I added 2 1/2" strips to either side and made 8" square blocks with them.  I made this one in 'boy' colours as I know that Project Linus have said that they get more in 'girl' colours.
I got as far as basting it - now I need to get quilting it!

It's at the top of my list of things to do this week!

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Mostly Owls!

 I made some owl bunting last week  for my good friend Benta, following her idea of bunting making.  Mine was made using Jennie Rayment's pattern.  Good fun!
 I was thinking about owl jokes - and entertained myself by thinking of making this into a cushion for 'Owl-ivia'.  DD2 objected, though, and as we were making it for one of her friends I reverted to the conventional spelling - although I suspect that there might be a 'Happy Birdy Owl-ivia' card made to accompany this!
 These photos aren't showing the right chronology today.  This was my final owl - reduced in size so that it started with two 2 1/2" squares.  You can see from the cutting mat behind that it ends up at about 2 1/2" x 1 1/2" - a perfect size for a fun brooch!
 This was my bunting trial - a great pattern that uses two 5" charm squares and a few oddments of felt / buttons etc.  This particular owl is likely to decorate a card or a book cover.
Finally, I moved on from owls!  Inspired by Jennie Rayment's penguin bunting (doesn't that sound fun?) I made a penguin card for DH.  Funnily enough, he bought me a penguin card too.
Made my DDs laugh, that he bought something that he knew that I'd like, whereas I made something that I liked rather than necessarily choosing his favourite things.  I explained that clearly it was my DH's good nature that had helped our marriage last so long!

Off to sew some rectangles into square blocks now!  Scrap quilting is calling......