Friday, December 26, 2014

White Christmas

Well, technically the White Christmas thing didn't happen until Boxing Day, but we woke up to a world wrapped in cotton wool today - all sound muffled by the heavy layer of snow that appeared magically during the night. It's not all that magical once you step outside, though - cold and heavy to wade around in. Due to the holiday the snow ploughs didn't get out all that early either, so I used that as an excuse to stay in and do a bit of catching up on Doctor Who and my knitting...
It was lovely to get a few quiet days after all the hustle and bustle of preparation: baking gingerbread and brownies and preparing the Christmas meal...
 .. decorating the tree...
... and finishing the home made presents. More details about the 241totes in the next post. The family gathered here at my place for the Christmas meal and opening of presents on Christmas Eve. We had a lovely evening and I got several nice presents, among theme some books to enjoy during the winter months. Well, enough relaxation now, I think - tomorrow I need to get out and about - too much leisure and I get restless... (and the sales begin tomorrow...)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Postcard quilt

I was inspired by the Postcard quilt Debbie at A Quilter's Table posted and decided to join the quilt along and make my own version. I used some Tula Pink fabric combined with pink and yellow for brightness. The "backs" of the postcards are made with text fabric and a tiny polka dot for the vertical line.
Keeping to the text theme, the back is from that IKEA duvet cover I have used earlier - amazing how much backing you can get from one duvet cover!

I used a fabric from Sweetwater's "Road 15" for the binding. It has text and little rows of houses and trees. It wasn't until I was hand stitching the binding to the back that I realized that the text was actually addresses - how fitting for a postcard quilt!
I quilted it in loopy horizontal lines, kind of like handwriting (if you use mainly "e"s...). After having the top hanging on my design wall for months, all it took was a few hours at the sewing machine and my little wall quilt was done. Why do I never learn that lesson? - because there's always a new project beckoning, I guess...

Looking through the fence

Working steadily along stitch by stitch does get you there in the end it seems. My 2wentythr3e quilt is done at last! I have enjoyed making this quilt immensely and I think one of the reasons I delayed starting in the quilting was that I was afraid I'd ruin it somehow. But better finished than perfect, right? I chose to quilt straight lines with dark grey thread through the gray grid and a swirly clam shell pattern in pink and yellow through the rows of big squares between the lines.
I posted this picture on IG the other day, but find that the colours aren't quite right, so today I brought it outside for another attempt at catching it in true light.
See? Much brighter! That's really what I see when I look at it. And you get the almost 3D effect of the grid on top of the pink/yellow background, don't you? Like looking through a net fence and getting glimpses of a colourful garden.
A bit of wind, and you get to see a glimpse of the back as well. I used a grey Denyse Schmidt print for the main part of the back and added a row of the  remaining pieces of the 2wentythr3e fabric along one side.
I helped the wind out a bit to give you a better idea, but he didn't quite agree, so this is probably the best I can do on a blustery November day. I went with stripes again for the binding - a slightly wider stripe than before, but I think it works so well I might just have to go shopping for more stripy fabric...
So there you have it: "Looking Through the Fence", all done and making me happy just to look at it. It doesn't get much better than that, now, does it?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


 I seem to be all over the place these days, dabbling a little bit here, a little bit there, not accomplishing an awful lot. There is this little postcard quilt on my design wall, for instance. It wouldn't take long to quilt and bind and I might have just the perfect spot for it as well.
Then there is this beautiful panel by Laura Kemshall that I bought at the Festival of Quilts. Perfect for practicing my free motion quilting skills.
A pile of new fabric (this is only half of it...) awaits inspiration. I have plans for the turquoise one and some vague ideas for some of the others...
I did manage to finish something though; a Wide Open Pouch (the BIG one!) for my mother's birthday. She loved it and is now the envy of all her friends. Amazing what a pretty fabric can do!
I have made some mug rugs - I have even stitched the bindings since this picture was taken. I have knitted and done a bit of cross-stitch, but haven't got much to show you yet...
I have pondered a new EPP-project - this was only a mock-op of layout and colour placement, I wouldn't even consider making something with such tiny pieces, I'm not barking mad! Inspired by a quilt I saw at the Festival (and didn't get a full picture of, alas) I have been on my way to ordering 36- and 72-degree diamond templates and stopped myself in the nick of time several times recently, telling myself sternly that I hate EPP, but there's still something beckoning me...
But, wait - I have accomplished something! I have been busy quilting, frogging and requilting this baby and it's almost done! I can't wait to finish it and start using it - I just love the colours!  Next I get to start something new and fun before I quilt another one that's lying in wait. Come to think of it, that one will be rather fun too... It's just as well that the autumn storms have set in, I'll happily spend my evenings indoors, busy in my studio!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What happened?

One minute I was distracted and unsettled, preparing for my holiday and the next thing I know the holiday is over, the warmest summer I can remember has passed in a blur of lazy days and we're headed towards the end of September.

I had some lovely days in Bath and Birmingham, first visiting the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the American Museum in Bath - a wonderful explosion of colours which no pictures can do justice. It left me with a lot of joyful inspiration.

The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham was wonderful as well with lots of quilts - both weird and wonderful! Lots of vendors and a great deal of inspiration from all the lectures I attended - I find that having some lectures sprinkled through my schedule gives me time to rest my weary feet while soaking up inspiration and recharging the batteries ready for more shopping makes for good days at the festival.
I did a fair bit of shopping, but not as much as earlier years. With everything so readily available online, I don't get the same urge to buy, buy, buy as I used to, but some unusual items like hand dyed thread, patterns and books did come home with me.

What with the sultry summer days and following lack of energy, there has been lots of reading and relaxing, and little sewing. With the cool crisp autumnal feel to the air lately I feel my sewing mojo coming back, though, so don't give up on me just yet!

Sunday, August 03, 2014


This summer has been incredibly hot so far. Being at work all day when everybody else seemed to be away on holiday drained me of energy and there was no way I was going into that hot sewing room once I got home. Trying to enjoy the heat and relearning how to relax has been an experience in itself, and I'm telling myself that I really needed this after the busy months I've had (yada, yada, moving, unpacking and all that... I won't go on about it). Once I started my holiday (and the rain set in...)  I was ready to *do* something. I looked around my sewing room and my gaze fell upon this roll of Bali Pops (pre-cuts, like Jelly Rolls) and I started sewing the strips together in threes and cut triangles to form blocks. Picture later, because I got distracted...
I couldn't wait to make a postcard quilt, and finished this top today. One block mysteriously disappeared along the way and will no doubt reappear when I'm busy choosing fabric for something else, distracting me yet again. Well, I wanted to finish the top, so I made another block,and here it is at a distance. There will be better pictures once I get around to it, but the clouds hung low and I got distracted once again, this time by a picture in Love Patchwork & Quilting Magazine. Some great house blocks, and what could be better for house blocks than my stack of Road 15  by Sweetwater?
So, I have my work set up for when I get around to sewing again, but now it's really Holiday Time - little time for computers and sewing machines, time to get out and about. More sewing and better pictures once I'm done.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Social tote

The last few posts have been about quick finishes. A not so quick fix was this one: Carolyn Friedlander’s Social Tote. It seemed very complicated to begin with, but it was just a matter of following the steps and reading everything properly. The pattern is well made and everything is explained properly. There's also a very helpful page on her site illustrating the crucial steps.

Now that I have made one, I expect the next one to come together quickly. And there will be more – this will be a great gift for sewing friends, I think and I can already see them in lots of different fabric combinations. 

I didn’t have the right kind of stabilizer, so I think mine is a bit more floppy than it’s supposed to be - room for improvement with the next one!
Fabric used is Elementals by Tim Holtz and the green dotty one is an Amy Butler design.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recycling bin

My new kitchen has more cupboards than where I lived before, but not enough room to store bottles for the bottle bank and glass for recycling. Floppy plastic bags in the corners aren’t exactly an elegant solution, so something else was called for. I had a piece of very thick stabilizer, which got put to good use. I just made it up as I went along, using the width of fabric as the circumference of the basket. Then it was just a matter of dividing the circumference by π (pi or 3,14) to work out the diameter of the bottom (yes, I'm such a geek - but try it, it works!). The lining was just made like a bag with boxed corners.

A bit of heavy going working this huge thing through the sewing machine, but other than that it all came together quite easily, and it makes for a much prettier form of storage than a plastic bag, right?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

241 tote

Before starting on all those quilts that need to be layered, I wanted a quick fix, so I made a tote. I found the stamp fabric at the Knitting and Stitching show in London last spring and just had to have it. It’s a home dec weight which makes it great for a tote. Combined with a cotton/linen blend for the pockets, it got a bit of extra body to it which I quite liked. The side panels are a Sweetwater Hometown print. The pattern is of course the popular 241tote by Noodlehead. A great pattern to work with, with everything so well explained it’s a dream to sew.

I lined it with a fabric I found on Spoonflower a while back, adding a pocket and a loop with a D-ring so I can hook my phone pouch securely in there. There’s a magnet closure in the top. I used sew-in-magnet that I attached to fabric strips and sewed in the top seam while joining bag and lining. A piece of stabilizer ironed to the back keeps it in place and makes it invisible from the outside, you just get to hear a satisfying ‘click’ as the bag magically snaps shut.
 And in case those big stamps make you think the tote is tiny, here's a shot of it hanging on a door.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quilt garden

This quilt has a long history. It started out at least 12 years ago. I had seen a quilt called “Leanne’s House” on an Australian site and thought it was lovely, with a combination of embroidery, appliqué and pieced blocks, but the colours weren’t quite “me”. Then I came across a booklet of garden themed embroidery patterns and decided to make my own. 

For years my take-along sewing to quilt meetings and such were these little patches backed with a thin layer of batting and embroidery floss in bright pastels. I was teased relentlessly about my never-ending work, but was determined to enjoy the process and not rush anything.

At the same time I was plotting and planning the layout of the quilt itself. I had originally planned on making 12 20” blocks, but after lots of revising and redrafting I ended up with a 9-block layout, making it a 60x60” square quilt. Once the embroidery blocks were finished I started on the appliqué and the same teasing ensued – what never ending quilt was I working on now? – nobody realized it was the same one! I plodded on and went along with the jokes on my behalf, but eventually I got to the point where all the appliqué was done and the piecing could begin. 

That part didn’t take that long, and using a drawing app on my iPad as a tool to keep track of what I had finished and what needed to be sewn next, I finished my nine blocks and put them together. I used fabric to match the floss I had used in the stitched blocks. 

The leftovers were pieced for the backing. I did a lot of freehand quilting in green rayon thread, making up patterns as I went along. After finishing it with a dark green binding I should have been done, but no, I wasn’t quite there yet.

Now on most of the quilts I have seen with stitchery on them, the stitchery-blocks have been left unquilted, but with my dense quilting on the rest of the quilt, this didn’t seem right, so I ended up adding some more stitches by hand. A scattering of seed stitches in cream floss on the cream coloured background gave just the effect I wanted, and I got there in the end. 

When I started this quilt I had my middle sister in mind. She’s a keen gardener and the theme seemed just right for her. However, her decorating style changed along the way, going into the gray and neutral spectrum and I began thinking that her tastes had changed so much that she wouldn’t like it. I needn’t have worried though: when she happened to see it while I was working on it this spring she jokingly said: “I hope that one’s for me!” Bingo! The surprise and joy when she opened her birthday present from me was really worth all the effort. It was hard to give away such a labour of love, but I know it has gone to the right home!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Some finishes

In between all the other stuff I have going I have grabbed some time here and there to make a few things, like these little mug rugs from my scrap bag. 

And for a 75th birthday I made a table runner. It is a very simple designs, but I got to show off this lovely leaf fabric which I knew would be perfect for the room it would be in. It was very well received.

One thing about being busy during the day is that it can be quite relaxing to sink down in front of the TV and grab a piece of embroidery or some knitting, and as evidence I have a new shawl and a tapestry cushion to show you. The shawl is Bitterroot from Knitty, made up in a really soft and lovely Malabrigo Yarn Lace – it’s so light and fluffy that you want to immerse yourself in it, but alas it’s just the small version to go round my neck. I’ll remember to look out for that yarn though – lovely! There should have been some glass beads knitted into it, but I didn't find any locally and was eager to finish it, so I managed without. Maybe next time.

The cushion is from a pattern by Emily Peacock and has been in the works for a while, but a bit of friendly pushing among other peacock-stitchers on IG spurred me on to actually finish it. Yay!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Backing up

I’m still working on getting back into the groove with sewing, but there always seem to be so many other things I need to do, like hanging pictures, sorting fabric, organizing bookshelves and what have you… I made this quilt top a while back, but was not at all happy with it. It was from a bundle I bought on a trip a while back and the fabric looked so lovely together. I chose some Kona Snow to go with it and didn’t realize until I’d finished the top that the lovely light blue and pink polka dot would blend so much into the background. 

Eventually I ripped out those four blocks and made new ones, substituting a shocking pink for the polka dot. Ah, much better!

While I was at it I took the time to prepare a backing for this and for the two other tops I have lying on the table, so now it’s just a matter of sorting some batting and the quilting can begin – or I could start something new…