Wednesday, 30 April 2008

One finished, ninety nine to go!

Well, I haven't actually got 99 UFOs, although sometimes it seems like it! I never worry about getting inspired to start something new when I'm already in the middle of something else, in fact, as I've discovered, my attention span is so short, I wouldn't be able to finish anything if I didn't bit and bob!Here is my orphan quilt finished. It's even got its label on, all ready to snail its way to my great-niece Isabella in Herne Bay, by the sea. I think the bright pink border just lifts it, and I'm sure she will like it to snuggle under at grandma's.

Several of my work colleagues are becoming grandmas at the moment, so I thought I would make quilts for the new arrivals. I wanted something quick and easy, and decided this very simple block would be perfect for the first one. (This baby's due on 10th May, so it needed to be a quick pattern!) Jane showed me a clever way of making these blocks using strip piecing, but with my poor spatial awareness, it was too difficult for me, and I resorted to the tried and true template method! It's been difficult enough working with pastels, without the added pressure of rotating and moving things around!

Here is the layered quilt, partly quilted. When I had joined the blocks together, I was disappointed with it, as I felt the mix of patterns and solids didn't work too well. however, once it was bordered and I had started the quilting, I started to like it. I think it will be bound in the same blue as the narrow border, just to define the edge.

Just a bit more quilting on this and it'll be ready to welcome the new arrival.

Saturday, 26 April 2008


I had a lovely day yesterday. First the postman came with a lovely squishy envelope for me. I had entered Karol-Ann's draw for some gorgeous African fabrics, and was disappointed to find that I hadn't won. Never mind. But then I was intrigued when she contacted me for my address. Apparently she had some fabric left over and has sent me these fabulous giraffes! Aren't they cute?

Next DD and I went to the Bramble Patch to buy some border fabric for three quilts. Since I am a scrap quilter, I usually have enough fabric to make a quilt, more or less, but don't have the yardage I need for borders. I like going the the Bramble Patch, because they have such a good selection of fabrics, there is plenty of parking and the ladies are all so helpful and pleasant. There are usually classes going on there too, and you can peep in and see some fabulous work.

As I paid for my fabric (I was very good, and only bought what I had come for) the asistant handed me a free bag kit, with pattern and fabric!

It's a really sturdy bag made from Osnaburg, and I think I might line it to make it even stronger. Two gifts in one day! Do all good things come in threes? Watch this space!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Curved flying geese

Today I was lucky enough to have attended a workshop with Pat Deacon, who showed us how to make curved flying geese. Pat is a superb quilter - especially famous for her prize-winning quilts featuring curved geometric shapes in primary colours - but, even better in my book, an ex-secondary school teacher, who is used to teaching, and does so clearly and concisely.

We were given a refresher on foundation piecing the no-fail way (it really was!) and then encouraged to draw our own curved flying geese patterns, before sewing them onto freezer paper. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful other people's colours are! The participants used every colour combination imaginable, including black and white (stunning) and pink and orange (wow!). I went for my old favourites the analogous colours, this time blue, yellow and green.

Here is my piece ready for the final seam to be sewn. Pat advocates the use of 'invisible' tape instead of pins. I have to agree, pins do distort the seams slightly, so I've been giving this a go. It's good for hand-sewing, and I'll let you know how I get on with the machine.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Mic does like purple!

What a lovely surprise I had this morning. I am expecting a bellydance CD from Amazon, so when the doorbell rang this at 10.30, I expected to see the postman. Instead it was a lady from the local florist with this!

A superb bunch of flowers, already professionally arranged in a beautiful vase, plus chocolates!

However, the card is the best bit, which I have had to share with you.

Quilts bring so much pleasure to so many people, so keep up the good work, fellow quilters!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

A day in the life

Today I have had a lovely relaxed time. DH is away on business (in Beijing, actually) and having spent the weekend being Front of House Manager for the local drama group's production, felt in the need of some 'me' time.

I didn't get up too early (last night party and all that!) and then pottered around before I showered and went out to get the paper. A nice cup of tea with the magazine and then I felt that I needed to tidy up downstairs and run round with the cleaner. It's amazing what a bit of hoovering, clearing up and plumping of cushions will do for a room!

After lunch, I decided to devote the afternoon to quilting. (What a surprise!)

I started by layering up my orphan quilt, and starting to machine quilt it. I have decided to give it to my new grandniece. Like the quilt, she was unplanned, but turned out good.

I have decided to just quilt it in the ditch, and got on well with it. However, as is par for the course, I had soon had enough of it and decided to join together the last two rows of my latest Chaos Crumb quilt.

This is in pastels, which has been a hard road for me, as the brights usually call to me. Still, I'm quite pleased with this, although I am going to have to go out and buy border fabric, as I don't have pastel yardage at all. I need to audition some fabrics for this. Since this will be a cot quilt for DD's friend Claire, who doesn't yet know the sex of her baby, I think either green or yellow will be good border colours. I'll make some decisions at a later date.

Next I decided to continue with my quilt for Tonya's Summer School. This is a double whammy, as I am also doing an entrant for the Bramble Patch's Strawberries and Cream Exhibition, and decided to combine the two. The Bramble Patch Challenge gives you a piece of pink fabric (for free so who could refuse?) and you have to make something for their summer exhibition, which raises funds for cancer charities. Tonya's theme is 'Repetition', so I decided to repeat the word 'LOVE' in various shades of pink, including the challenge fabric.

I haven't exactly decided the arrangement, but will keep making pink LOVEs until I think I'm ready to join them together.

Now I'm off to watch Doctor Who while I do a spot of ironing, then a glass of beer and bed.

A good day. Hope yours was too.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Baby, baby!

When we came back from holiday, there was a message from one of the staff at the Leicester Women's Refuge to say was there any chance of Project Linus having any cot quilts which they could have? Of course the answer was yes, but not many. I sorted out the ones which were a suitable size and design, and decided to make one more myself. Quilters are very generous people, so I already had a pretty panel waiting to be bordered, and when I looked through the Linus fabric box there was a turquoise flowered fabric which would be perfect for that.
Here it is, all ready to comfort a homeless baby.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Purple patch

Since we came back from our holiday, I have managed to finish Mic's purple quilt. I wanted it ready for DS to take when he went to see 'High School Musical' (which Mic was stage managing) at the DeMontford Hall in Leicester. It was a bit of a rush, but I made it.

Here is DS holding it up for me to photo. I knew his long arms would come in for something useful one day! This is the first quilt I wish I had quilted more. I usually finish the quilting quickly - it's only to hold the layers together - and move on to more piecing, but this time, I had quilting plans which I never had the chance to fulfill.

In each of the centre squares I quilted a motif. This one looks really rubbish - it's because it's the only one clearly visible - the others were much more impressive. Honest!

I also quilted the same motif (a little smaller) in the centre of each border. These look better because they're less distinct!I really wanted to quilt feathers along the final borders, but there wasn't time, so I did feathers in each of the corners, which worked quite well, I feel. It was while marking the stems for the feathers that I really got very annoyed. I have a white marking pencil, which I had carefully resharpened (with a kitchen knife, as it's too big to go in my pencil sharpener) which was great for marking the first stem, but then seemed to make no marks at all after that. Pencil didn't show up, so I racked my brains to think of something easier. Suddenly I remembered that DD had some tailor's chalk, and when she had unearthed it, found it was perfect for the job. (You can still see the marks, but it's only chalk, and will quickly rub out.)

So it's out with the new and in with the old. After years of trying various marking devices (including the infamous turquoise water-soluble pen - remember that?) I have decided to throw them all away and just keep my trusty pencil and a piece of tailor's chalk. Do you think I need to buy one for myself, or will DD notice I've still got hers?!

Friday, 4 April 2008

Las Vegas, San Francisco (and fabric!)

Nobody wants to see other people's holiday photos, not even that person's family, But we had such a FABULOUS holiday that I have to share a couple of images (alright, three) with you.
Las Vegas is an amazing place - should be tacky and horrid but manages to be clean, safe and amazing. We stayed in the 'Excalibur' (clean, quiet, comfortable) but visited all the other hotels. My favourites were the 'Wynn' and the 'Bellagio'. Both had superb decors, but here is the reception ceiling in the 'Bellagio'. It looks wonderful here, but when we first saw it, the sun was shining through the flowers and it looked stupendous.

Next stop was San Francisco, which was as chilled and laid back as I had remembered it. Here is a photo of DH drinking coffee in Union Square, and enjoying the sunshine. (He actually enjoyed it too much and had a very red face by the end of our stay!)

And just to prove that we did actually get there, here's a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, across which DH and I walked, and then caught the ferry back to Fisherman's Wharf from lovely Sausalito. And now to the important bit - the fabric. I had spent a little time researching quilt shops in both destinations (but evidently not enough). All the quilt shops seemed to be out of both towns, but I found two qhich seemed fairly near to each other in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, when I had spent the best part of a morning to get there, I found that one had closed, and the other was a furnishing fabrics store! Never mind, I visited Borders and bought an American quilting magazine, so all was not lost.

In San Francisco, the best quilt shop was a long way away from our hotel in Fisherman's Wharf, but I did manage a visit to Britex Fabrics just off Union Square, and Mendels Far Out Fabrics on Haight Street (obviously my kind of shop!) where I picked up a few little items. My favourite was the 'Day of the Dead' fabric, which I have no idea how to use. It just called to me!

DH was initially impressed when I said all the fabric was half the UK price, but when he found out how much fabric I got for the £ (or $) he became less impressed. (Note to self : don't let DH spend time looking at my stash, or divorce might ensue!)