Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bitting and bobbing

I have been doing quite a bit of sewing recently, but bits and pieces.  I have quilted my brown bag quilt, and am currently sewing on the binding.  That will be number 3 of my UFO challenge quilts done, and since it's still March, I'm bang on schedule! 

Can't resist a bit of mindless sewing, and the Mile a Minute is always a favourite for this.  I made these free form hearts as well, to add a bit of structure to the blocks.  That's always fun. 

My Down the Rabbit Hole quilt is coming along.  It was a struggle to fit all 26 circles on here.  I planned it out carefully with some paper circles, but obviously I didn't plan it carefully enough!  It'll be fine.  Flowers are organic, and sometimes grow in front of each other or very close together! 

This quilt is now a top.  I put part of the border on a while ago, but wasn't sure the turquoise border was right.  I got it out of the drawer, and it looked good, so I sewed the rest on.  I've got some backing for this one, so maybe it'll get quilted soon. 

And here is another challenge in progress.  The stars were made in 2015, but I couldn't work out what to do next.  I've decided on an appliqué border with trailing vine and flowers.  I'll just bond this as I have enough appliqué on the go at the moment! 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

A finish and a surprise!

Back home now, safe and sound, and happy to be back in my sewing room.  While the washer was humming, I dug out my 2017 UFO Challenge list to see what was next.  (I know I haven't done the February UFO yet, but that needs some thinking about, so I thought I'd do the March one instead, and then at least have two quilts done.). Number 12 is next and that was a lovely Linus top donated by Madeline which just needed layering and quilting.  Easy! 

It was Madelines first attempt at patchwork, and I don't know how she could bear to part with it.  At least it's now out of the cupboard and will provide a lovely hug for some lucky young person. 
Then I started to work on my Sarah Fielke 'Down the Rabbithole' BOM.  The first part is a circle with forty rays.  Yes, forty!  That's a recipe for a potential bra cup rather than a flat circle!  Since my record on accuracy isn't very extensive, I was pleased that Sarah gives a clever tip.  Make up the first quarter (just 10 strips) and then check to see if it covers a right angle.  If it's too big, take smaller seams and if too small, take larger seams.  I made my first quarter and nervously checked it against my ruler. 

What a surprise!  It couldn't be better! 

Here is the completed circle, as flat as a pancake!  Now, it may not be completely circular, but at least it's flat! 

Saturday, 25 February 2017


I always like to take some hand sewing with me on long journeys, usually some appliqué.  I cut out the pieces before I travel, but read that the rules on carrying scissors in hand baggage had changed, and that scissors with blades of less than 6 centimetres in length were allowed, so decided to try them out. I put my good scissors into my case - I've never forgotten the time when my husband decided to rearrange the luggage and I witnessed my best Fiskars embroidery scissors (which I had packed safely in my case) being tossed into the contraband bin!  I didn't want that to happen again, so put some cheap scissors into my bag with my sewing, and waited to see what would transpire. 

Most of the airports we travelled through picked up the scissors, but on having examined them, and in the case of Santiago having measured them, returned them to me.  Experiment - success! 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

More snaps

We didn't buy anything at the weaving coop in Peru, but I couldn't leave without a fabric souvenir of some kind.  When we stopped for lunch at a restaurant, this lady was sitting outside, keeping busy in the shade.

I love the way she's using her foot as the other end of her loom!  I decided to buy one of her braids, and then I'll use it to decorate a bag. 

This is the one I chose, a lovely Bargello in red, orange, pink, purple and yellow!  No green, but I love it anyway! 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Holiday snaps

'I don't usually put my holiday photos on this blog, but I think these will be of interest to some people.  We are on holiday in Peru, and today went to a weaving coop to see a dyeing and weaving demonstration.  They use baby alpaca (very soft and silky), alpaca (soft) and wool. 

Here you can see weaving looms and in the background, baskets of dye plants and the wool which has been dyed by using it. 

Here is the speaker, Nellie, all ready to go.  Can you see her 18 month old daughter on her back?  She's eating Guinea pig, which is a delicious local delicacy.  

Here she is washing the wool using a natural soap made from a grated root.  They only need to wash it once for it to be ready to use. 

Once the wool had dried, it is spun using wooden spindles. Then comes the fun part, the dyeing.  There were various plants used to get yellow, green, a good blue and various browns, but the biggest surprise was cochineal. 

The cochineal beetles live on cactus leaves.  They are the dusty patches on these leaves. 

Nellie put some of the live beetles on her hand, although this photo isn't very clear.  Then she 'sacrificed' them, and hey presto! cochineal! 

The dark red colour from the beetles is at the bottom right.  By adding lemon juice, the gorgeous orange on the right appears.  Then above the red is a purple colour and above that a black, both made by adding other ingredients.  This is how they are able to make their wonderful bright colours. 

Then for the dyeing. 

And here are the results.  Fabulous. 

Then, of course, the weaving. 

And here is the final product.  Everyone in our party enjoyed the presentation, and then came the opportunity to buy! 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Up to date!

We are going on holiday soon, and I like to be ahead of the game, so I've been beavering away at my to do list recently.  I don't cope well under pressure, and want to have various March commitments ready to go once we return.  First is my Rocheberie BOM. 

I decided not to border.  I don't need (or want) any more big quilts, plus, I didn't want to quilt another big quilt, when it looks perfectly fine as it is.  So, I quilted in the ditch round the blocks and then I machine quilted hearts in the setting triangles and round the appliqué.  I'm binding it in white, which isn't showing up much in the photo, but really finishes it off well.

Then yesterday I went to the Piecemakers Sit and Sew.  Apart from great company and a lot of laughter, I managed to put the last two borders on my En Provence.  Those neutral fourpatches are quite tedious, but worth it in the end, as I love the way the design floats on them.  This is roughly half the size of Bonnie's, and perfectly big enough for me!  I'll probably quilt it in a meander, as in the ditch would be a killer!  

So now, I should start on this month's UFO challenge, number 8.  Here are my Barbara Brackman 'Strars in a Timewarp' which I made for a one block quilt.  They need bigging up, but at the moment I'm not sure where to do with them.  A neutral frame first, I think, then some more head scratching!  

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

To border or not to border, that is the question

I have put the edge triangles on my Rocheberie BOM quilt, and I think it looks fabulous! 

But where do I go from here?  Half of me thinks that it's great like that, the size is fine and it would be much easy to quilt.  The other half of me thinks that it would look even better with a nice border, so get on and bite the bullet!  Any opinions? 

Meanwhile, now panto is over and I've had a couple of nights in front of the tele, I've quilted and bound this UFO, which is the first one on my UFO challenge.  The striped binding pulls it all together nicely.  One down and eleven to go!