Thursday, 31 December 2009

Last quilt of 2009

I must be feeling better, as I've finished off a Linus quilt over the last couple of days. It started as a donated piece of half square triangles.

I thought they would make a nice quilt, but was wondering what colour to use as a border. What colour do you think is the most predominant in the quilt? Red? Blue? Green? Pink? In fact, it doesn't really matter what you choose, as the border often decides the colour of the quilt. A multi-coloured quilt with a red border reads as a red quilt. The same one with a yellow border picks out all the yellow in the quilt and looks yellow.

So, for this quilt I chose ......

turquoise! I made a narrow turquoise border and then a border with clowns on a turquoise background, finished with a turquoise binding!

I didn't quilt it too much, as I used that puffy polyester wadding (it had been donated) and it doesn't take too well to elaborate quilting. And on that note, I would like to wish eveyone a happy New Year and a happy, healthy and productive 2010.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Better now

I can hardly believe that it's been nearly 3 weeks since I posted. This has partly been due to Christmas and its baking, wrapping, entertaining and socialising demands, but mainly because I have been unwell. I've been suffering from what Winston Churchill referred to as 'the old black dog', and it has sapped my desire to do anything but the essentials and even meant that I have not wanted to do the things I love. Still, after a visit to my GP and some medication, I am beginning to start to pick up the threads agin (literally and metaphorically!) and also feeling that there is hope ahead.
I had to force myself to finish my Christmas Lights quilt, as it was destined for DS's bed over the festive period. There is minimal quilting, and while I'm thinking about adding more once the decorations come down on twelfth night, I expect I'm kidding myself! I think it looks good as it is, and he's delighted with it, so that's all that matters.

Friday, 4 December 2009


Recently I have agreed to take part in a challenge with some quilters from Canada. The challenge was to make a super-duper block (suitable for the centre piece of a quilt) and then the participants were to make blocks of the same area but not the same size. So, if a block was 10" x 10" you could make four blocks 5" x 5" etc. This was a bit challenging not only from the sewing perspective, but also mathematically!

Here is one of the challenge blocks I received. It is fabulous! There is Mariner's Compass underneath, and then Celtic knotwork on top! There is no way I would ever be able to make anything as good as this. But the question was, what could I make to go with it? Lots of head-scratching later and a bit of research (that's what you call flipping through magazines, isn't it?) I decided to do curved flying geese.

And here they are! It would have been better if I'd made one set go to the left and the other to the right, but I'm sure the recipient will manage to make the best of them. They are winging their way over the Atlantic next week, so at least they're ready!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

More Christmas!

Another busy week and weekend. Yesterday I went to see DD in London, and caught up with a few of the cuddles I've been missing recently and lots of the news! We went to see a musical called 'Parade' which was at the Bridewell Theatre, which I can thoroughly recommend. The music, acting and costumes were all excellent, and the story was based on a true one about a young factory girl who was found murdered in 1913, and how the Jewish factory owner (the last person to be known to have spoken to her) was framed and then lynched for the crime. Not a bundle of laughs, but very thought-provoking.
I have been busy trying to get ready for Christmas too. My 'Christmas Lights' quilt is now a top.
The red border fabric looked perfect in the shop, it even has touches of gold in it, but now it's on, it looks quite orange. I'll quilt it with a dark red thread and see if I can make it look better.
I had an idea that I would make some Christmas wall-hangings as Christmas cards for parents and mum-in-law. This pattern is from an Art to Heart book called 'I Believe'.

Looks good, but it took me rather a long while, cutting out all the letters, arranging them, and sewing round them. I'm not sure I have the strength to make another, but we'll see.

Today we had a Santa Fun Run in Lutterworth. There were 700 people in Father Christmas costumes running round the town! Everyone who entered got a costume included in the entry fee, and they ranged from tots in pushchairs, families, teenagers, parents, grandparents, people in wheelchairs and even a couple of dogs!

My photos don't give much of an impression of how many people there were, as inevitably they were very strung out as time went on, although you can just see some runners (or walkers!) coming back up the other side of the road.

Some people had gone the whole hog and included special adaptations to their costumes.

Here are the last few on what looks like a whole family outing! What a great way to spend a wintry Sunday morning, keeping fit, having fun and raising money for charity. Almost makes me wish I'd taken part! Well, almost!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Lovely weekend

This weekend was very busy, but good. It was Rocheberie Schoolhouse Quilters' meeting on Saturday, with an inspirational talk by Gail Lawther - featuring her quilts from a recent New Zealand trip - and then on Sunday Gail did a workshop.
Gail is particularly known for her stained glass patchwork. Since I'd never done it, and the subject was half-timbered houses, I was quick to sign up.

Here is my effort all ready to be applied to its backing. The technique is using fusible bias tape for the timbers, and then sewing them down with a twin needle. Despite the fact that a twin needle came with my machine, I'd never used it, so this was new to me. I intend to make it into a 'Welcome' banner, for when I have quilty meetings at my house, and people are peering at numbers in the dark. This'll soon bring them to the right house!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

More Christmas stuff

I have completed two more items for my Mum's Christmas fair. First I bordered the small panel and finished that. Having thought that yellow or navy were good border choices, I eventually settled for green! DH suggested a gold binding, which was ideal - not only because it looks good, but because it's used up some gold fabric I've had for years and years and never used!

One small panel to go. This had a price of 35p on it, so I must have bought it from a sales table. No border for this, I just layered it with the backing and wadding (front and backing right sides together and wadding on the back), added a ribon loop to hang down inside and sewed all the way round the edge with a quarter inch seam.

I joined the wadding by butting two pieces together and zigzagging them.

That's when I realised my mistake! Trust me to get it wrong! I needed to have the backing on the outside, not the panel, as I wanted to cut a hole in the backing and turn the whole thing through, and now the backing was in the middle! Never mind, it's only a wall hanging which will spend most of its time in a box, so I cut through the wadding and backing, to turn it through.

A quick Bondawebbed heart to cover the slit (and hopefully seal the hole in the wadding a bit!) and it's all done.

I think that'll fetch more than 35p now!

Friday, 13 November 2009


Since I had to face the reality of the size of my stash (very large), I have decided to try and use the fabric which I already have, rather than buy more. (I can hear the raucous laughter already!) Still, I've made a start, as when I was looking through my Christmas fabrics to complete my 'Christmas Lights' quilt, I came across several printed panels. Why on earth did I buy them, and what on earth was I going to do with them? Then I remembered that my Mum is having a charity Christmas Fair next week, and decided to make them up for her to sell!

This is the first one - wall-hanging size. It was quite fun to make up, and I embellished it with sequins and buttons.

Here is another which will be a table centre or something. I think it needs a small inner border of navy or yellow. I'm just off to see what I have which will fill the bill!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Design wall

I have wanted a design wall for ages, to save the crawling round on the floor and consequent threads and mess on the carpet situation. However, despite having bought a lovely piece of white flannelette from John Lewis last year, I didn't get any further. Now I have been moved into the study, there is a lovely blank wall behind the door, which prompted me to nip down to the DIY shop and buy a piece of scrap moulding (50p - bargain!) to hang the fabric from and get DH to knock a couple of nails in the wall to hang the whole thing on.

My design wall may not be fancy, but it certainly does the job. Here is my Christmas Lights mystery quilt revealed in all its glory hanging vertically. (Can you spot the block on the right which I'll have to unpick? There's always one which wriggles about as you're sewing it!)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Ship Ahoy finished!

Last week was my half term, and while I was had a great time (DH took the week off too) we were so busy I was glad to go back to work for a rest! DS's room is now all decorated and has laminate on the floor, and we have moved wardrobes, shelving and cupboards to make it more like a bedroom and less like a fabric jumble sale! My workroom is now in the study, and so far, so good. All this (along with a few days in Devon) meant that I didn't pick up any sewing at all, so last night I was glad to have the chance to layer, quilt and bind my Linus ship quilt.

I used some donated 2 ounce wadding (not my preferrred wadding of choice) which was a bit puffy, so didn't want to quilt it too much.

I just quilted in the ditch along the sashing and then around every boat - it took a bit of working out to make sure I only had to back-track for the minimum length! Since I was using cream thread, I didn't want it to show under the boat, so quilted a wavy line to look like waves. Looks quite effective, doesn't it!

Monday, 26 October 2009


Last year I was given an old hexagon quilt which had been found in the loft by someone when her mother died. She gave it to a quilter friend, who gave it to me to be made up for Linus. Unfortunately, the quilt was in poor shape, literally, as mice had been nibbling at it, and it had lost a large piece which had been undone and several patches had also been partially eaten. It was also not at all suitable for Linus, as when I turned it over, many of the papers were still in place, and from the copperplate handwriting and some postmarks, they appeared to be letters and envelopes from the 1890s. Here is the quilt and if you would like to see some closeups, go to September 2008.

I didn't know what to do with it. Part of me thought it should be given to a museum or collector, but another part of me felt for the original maker, and wanted to complete this quilt and not have it consigned to a box, to be seen by very few people. I took it to a Quilter's Guild Area Day, where a member knowledgeable about old quilts said it was 'not of museum quality'. So, I wrapped it carefully in acid free tissue and put it on top of the wardrobe.

Last week I reached a decision. I have decided to complete the top using reproduction and sympathetic fabrics, remove the papers, scan the most interesting ones and print them onto fabric to be used as the backing of the quilt. This way, the quilt is completed, but the history is not lost.

This is the progress I have made on the top, so far. Looking good!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Stash guilt

Of course I knew I had quite a lot of fabric in my stash, but it wasn't until DH and I decided to decorate DS's bedroom (aka my sewing room) that I realised exactly how much!

This is the wardrobe where I store the bulk of it - or where I thought I stored the bulk of it! The IKEA storage unit has red, pink, yellow (+orange) and batiks in it, and the boxes have creams, blues, purples and greens plus a Christmas box.
I knew there was a box of browns under the bed, but when we pulled the bed out, there was also a box of non-quilting fabrics (tulles, silks, curtain fabrics for bags, denim and all sorts of stuff which will be very useful one day, I know) and a box of novelty fabrics, oh and a box with UFOs, orphan blocks and backing in it.

Oh, and I suddenly remembered the reproduction fabrics, lace and dyeing cotton which I've put in the drawer of a filing cabinet. So that's it, apart of course from the boxes of strips, squares, charms squares and little blocks, so that's not too bad, is it? Bad enough for me to decide not to buy any more fabric and try and use what I've got. (And if you thought you saw me today buying fabric at The Bramble Patch, it was all for Project Linus, well, nearly!)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Why did I choose it?

Eileen, over at 'Quilting Together' is making a Christmas sampler quilt to be raffled in aid of the Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance. I'm always happy to help with a charitable project, so volunteered to make a block for her. I had Carol Doak's '50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars' as a present last year, so decided one of those would be perfect for the job.

What a mistake. First I had to go down to the copy shop and get four copies of the pattern (quicker and more accurate than tracing my own, I decided). Next I had to paper piece 8, yes eight, sections, which were all the same. This took me a while, as there was a certain amount of reverse sewing involved here! Then, when I'd joined all the sections together, I had to pick the blooming paper off the back! I hope Eileen's not one of those 'I use tweezers to get all the little bits of paper off' types, as I'm a 'the little bits of paper will add extra warmth to the finished quilt' type! Anyone want to buy a practically new copy of Carol Doak's '50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars'?!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Ship ahoy!

It didn't take long to finish the ship quilt I am making for Project Linus. The blocks are from 'Fast Quilts' and quite straightforward, and then they are trimmed slightly tilted, which gives the impression of sailing along the waves.

I had some of the border fabric with lighthouses in my stash, and it's the perfect compliment to this block. I think I'll make this one again!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Last weekend saw the exhibition of my local group Piecemakers. This was our second bi-annual show, and was very successful. We hired the hall for Saturday and Sunday, and the quilts were set up on Friday evening. Unfortunately I couldn't help with the setting up as I had already agreed to be on the front of house team for the drama group's Old Time Music Hall. Never mind. They had enough helpers, and I sent several quilts, my raffle prizes and cake, and spent Saturday afternoon as a 'quilt angel', my favourite job! Here are a few of my quilts displayed.

My Family Tree quilt, made for my Mum's 80th birthday - ironically displayed next to a quilt made by another member for her mum's 80th birthday! She had printed out photos of places with sentimental interest to her mum, which made for a delightful touch.

My French Roses are on the left. This quilt attracted quite a bit of interest, perhaps it was its old world charm which caught people's attention. At the very front is a Dresden Plate I made ages ago. The old designs are always good.

The sew-a-row isn't mine (unfortunately!) but 'I love my Willy' (a homage to Shakespeare) is. The quit with balloons is our group quilt, and it looks splendid. If you want to see more of the pictures, click here to see pictures I took and here to see Jane's much superior pix!

Friday, 9 October 2009

But I don't do cute!

I'm usually not one to be seduced by cute stuff, but this lovely little table mat caught my eye.

It's a free pattern by Marcie on this site and she has several with a Christmas theme which she is sharing. It's only 9.5 inches square, so perfect for protecting surfaces when people need to put down drinks and plates over the festive season. Maybe I'll make another as a present for my Mum!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Linus ahoy!

Linus coninues to be my main focus at the moment. It's been lovely to spend some time with people who have made quilts (and want to make more!), completing tops, sewing on bindings and labels etc., but it's meant that, what with everything else which is going on, I haven't had much time to get on with anything for me. Then just when I thought I might try and get ahead of the game and start a couple of Christmas projects, I saw this lovely boat pattern in 'Fast Quilts'.

It's designed by Lisa Christensen and looks perfect for scraps. I managed to find some 'sea' fabric, which will unify the blocks, but the boats can be any colour on a cream background, and will look great. Linus wins - again!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Mystery quilt

Recently, things have been very busy on the Project Linus front - I have had several visitors bringing quilts and generally helping out, and have made visits to collect quilts etc. This has resulted in me spending time sorting, labelling, sewing bindings etc, and if you would like to see some of the results, look here.

Meanwhile, I have been getting on with the mystery quilt blocks in 'Quiltmaker' magazine. Here they are, all ready for the grand reveal.
How will Bonnie Hunter put them together? I can see how the star blocks might go,

and how the red blocks might go,
but can't begin to see how they will go together to make a top! Luckily, I don't have to worry about this, as I think I'm in very safe hands!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Clever Mum!

My Mum, who is no patchworker but an experienced needlewoman, belongs to the Townswomen's Guild. This organisation (amongst other things) have craft competitions at local, county and country levels. A group gets points for the number of entries - in the first instance - and then for numbers of successes in the later stages.
This year's theme was Depict a Decade (of the 20th century), and each guild chose a decade for themselves. My Mum's guild chose the 1950s, and each entry, whether it was a cushion, card, photograph, dressed doll, piece of jewellery, covered box or patchwork bag, had to depict that decade in some way. Mum decided to make a patchwork bag, and borrowed several of my patchwork magazines to help her.

This is her entry, complete with photos of the era. This is Queen Elizabeth's coronation,

and here is Sir Edmund Hilary at the top of Mount Everest. Those with sharp eyes will be able to see that not only did she win the local and county levels, but came second in the whole country! Not bad for a non-patchworking, very short-sighted 82 year old! Go Mum!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Finished (and started!)

Hooray! I have finished quilting the Baltimore 9-patch! Tonight I am seeing the lovely friends who advised me that I needed an appliqued border, so I hope they approve of me completely ignoring their opinions!

I must admit, I'm pleased with it, and I think the plain borders throw the eye into the central busy part quite successfully. In any event, it's finished! (What a lovely word that is!)

Here are a couple of close-ups of the feathers round the border. Maybe it was a mistake to make them curve round the corner and meet in the middle (the other option was to go all along each side) but it's too late to worry about that now!

Naturally, I've started another project. After the success of the mystery quilt I completed at Rocheberie Quilters earlier this year, I decided to try another. This time it is a pattern of Bonnie Hunter, which is being published in 'Quiltmaker' magazine. The first instructions were in the July/August edition, and I've not yet completed them despite the fact that the current instructions are now out! This is my progress so far.

Black print and neutral half square triangles.

Gold and neutral half square triangles.
Black, green and neutral triangles waiting to be assembled. I still have a million four-patches to make too. I need to get a move on, as it's a Christmas quilt, and Bonnie suggests that it can be finished by Christmas. Well, I suppose it can if you keep up with the instructions!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The Edinburgh Festival started in 1947 as a post war initiative to reunite Europe through culture. A number of distinguished musicians were invited to perform in Edinburgh that summer. Some enterprising theatre companies (six Scottish and two English), thinking that there would be a good crowd, decided to turn up uninvited, hoping for an audience. They were not part of the festival, but hanging onto the edge of it, and the fringe was born. Now, although the Festival still happens every August, it is the Fringe which overshadows it, with 1,000 shows every day in the last three weeks of August. Every possible space which could be performed in from church halls and shop store rooms, to toilets (really!) cars and lifts are pressed into service. The whole city is buzzing with entertainment, with the Festival, the Fringe, the Tattoo, the Book Festival, Jazz Festival, the Mela and the Art Festival all happening at the same time. (The Film Festival couldn't stand the heat and is now in June!) If you want to find out more about it, click here It's fabulous!

This year our local drama group (coyly renamed WDG Productions) took part in the proceedings taking the wonderful drama, 'Our Country's Good' by Timberlake Wertenbaker. The play is about the first convicts in Australia, and is a funny, harrowing and heartwarming story of redemption through drama. Here we are in costume, ready to set off to Edinburgh. (Sorry, Jacob,you aren't in this picture - aged 15, people to see, parties to go to - but director Richard and producer Dawn, who took all these photos, were available instead!) I am on the right of the group, dressed as convict Meg Long (nicknamed Shitty Meg!)

We had a great time in Edinburgh, and here we are outside the entrance to our venue in our sponsored t-shirts. The red was a master-stroke, as it made it really easy to identify people in our group at any time in the day. (Other groups had gone for sophisticated black tops - very hard to see, especially after dark!) The venue (a church hall during the rest of the year) was run by a company which had several acting areas in four buildings. Our venue was 'The Space @Venue 45' and was just down an alleyway off the Royal Mile (the High Street) and thus very convenient for actors and audience. There were 23 people involved in the production aged from 15-70, (14 actors plus director, producer, stage manager and 2 technicians, then assorted spouses and friends who helped give out flyers and persuade people that they wanted to come to see our show, rather than any of the other 999 taking place on that day!)

Most of the Royal Mile is closed to traffic for the Festival, and is full of people trying to generate a bigger audience for their shows by giving out flyers, performing extracts from their shows, singing, dancing, posing, in fact doing anything to create a bit of interest. Since our show was full of unruly convicts, we decided to stage a cat fight.

Here we are squaring up to each other. We already have a bit of interest from the man on the left taking a photo! You can only just se me in this one - I'm taking on Hazel! This tactic certainly worked as a crowd-puller, and while I never thought I'd be seen fighting on the Royal Mile, I can recommend it as aerobic exercise! It really gets the heart pounding!
Here I am in costume posing with DH, the director of the show. It took a lot of hairspray to get my hair to stick out like that, I can tell you. Before we went on stage we had to use lots of black eyeshadow to make our faces, arms and feet look dirty. Lovely!

This is me nearly ready to go on stage, with special stuff on my teeth to add to the character. Mary was lucky, as she played an officer's wife and could look nice and clean!

Once the performance was over and we had cleaned up a bit, it was relaxation time, and time to see other shows. We were lucky enough to get tickets for the singers Fascinating Aida, the comedian Mark Watson, 'The Real Inspector Hound', 'A-Team the Musical', 'The Mikado', 'Lady Windermere's Fan' a masked play and lots of other stuff which was interesting and new.

There was also a lot of socialising (and drinking of alcohol!) This is us celebrity-spotting in the Pleasance Courtyard with Jacob finally making it into the shot - he's the rude one at the back!