Friday, 30 December 2011

2011 (quilting) achievements

It's the end of another year, and while I feel as if I've done loads of sewing (and DH would definitely agree with that!) I don't seem to have many quilts to show for it - fifteen at the last count. However, here are my favourite quilts from the year.

Jane and I organised a workshop to make this block from 'Slice 'Em amd Dice 'Em' Quilts. It's a very versatile block and looks great in these donated Linus fabrics.

I love Mile a Minute at the best of times, and these single colour blocks make a MAM rainbow quilt!

Bonnie Hunter designs some fabulous quilts, and this one (which she calls Kiss in the Corner) was a great opportunity to use up some of my favourite yellow fabrics. Since there were several mistakes in it, I called mine 'Nobody's Perfect'.

I taught a class on Log Cabin this year, and here is my scrappy one. The design is 'streak of lightning variation' and I love it! I hope Luc - the current owner - likes it as much!

And here is my gorgeous Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll, designed by Bonnie Hunter and given to my cousin's lovely grandaughter Stephanie. She was over the moon to own it, and couldn't wait for the envy it would provoke from her flatmates.

As to other achievements, I have fulfilled last year's resolution to spread the word about quilting. My beginners' quilting class has been very successful (and what a super bunch of ladies!) and I have also had workshops with the Lutterworth Knit and Stitch, Botcheston WI, Wingerworth TWG and Chesterfield TWG. I suppose that's the reason I haven't achieved as many finished quilts of my own as I would have liked - I've been busy planning, writing instructions, cutting fabric kits for Linus workshops, and then sewing blocks together, layering up, quilting and binding to finish! And with 245 Linus quilts donated in Leicestershire this year, I suppose it's a very good reason too!


They say that 'one man's trash is another man's treasure' and today I got the 'treasure' part! DS is having a bit of a sort out, and had a pile of shirts ready to go to the charity shop. Well, they're not all going to arrive there, as I've snaffled some of them!

Oh, blow! Blogger seems to be on strike, as far as moving photos around. Here is a lovely fabric which looks quite Oriental, or maybe from the Dutch East Indies! This one is almost reproduction, amd will be a great basic.
Here are all the ones I want, ready to be cut up. They are all 100% cotton, and they are going to be lovely additions to my stash. Thank you so much DS and sorry charity shop - you'll have to make do with t-shirts and jumpers!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Twinkle, twinkle, Christmas Star!

It's Christmas Eve here in the UK and so far Father Christmas has delivered presents to all those in Australia, New Zealand, China, India and Russia, and is currently bringing good cheer to Africa - Zanzibar in particular! I know because I'm tracking him by courtesy of NORAD and will be waiting to greet him when he arrives in my locality later tonight.

And here is a little Christmas offering by way of a Bonnie Hunter Orca Bay Christmas star! I've fallen very behind with this mystery, but hope to catch up once the festivities are over. In the meanwhile, I hope all your Christmas presents are squishy, and you and your family have a wonderful day!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Slow going

In common with most people, I have been very busy recently. Along with Christmas shows (attended and performed in), carol concerts, invitations, a wedding anniversary (36 years this time!), mince pies (made and consumed), shopping, cleaning and wrapping, I have done just a little sewing.
Despite having said that the pale star block in my Civil War quilt didn't bother me, it began to stand out more and more. My adage is always that once you make a mistake, if it doesn't bother you, leave it, but if it does, take it out. This one needed to come out.It's replacement isn't perfect (a patterned background fabric would have been even better) but this time it doesn't bother me and I'm hoping for a little time to layer it up. I've decided to complete it in 'quilt as you go', as I think the quilting will need to be precise, and it will be much more manageable before the borders are added. What do you think my chances are of getting it layered up before the Big Day?!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas cheer

It's a busy time of year, and I have been busy sewing, as well as doing all kinds of other things (stand by for a reveal of the panto outfits I've been making!). However, I thought I would share something I made a few years ago for DD and had basically forgotten about.

I needleturned it all, which was fun at the time, and there were labels for DD and her housemates. Now it's family members who have to watch their step, with DS on the 'Naughty' list, and everyone else on the 'Nice'! DS is away checking on his play in Birmingham, and I'm sure the labels will have moved round when he gets back!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


After some hard work, I have finished the blocks for my Barbara Brackman Civil War Quilt! Barbara hasn't finished giving instructions yet - there are 53 blocks in total, one for each week - but I've made enough for what I want to do.

The blocks were fun to do, although lots of them were quite challenging. She gives clear cutting instructions, but I would have liked 'finish at' measurements for some of the block components. It would definitely have helped my accuracy! It's lucky I'm a past master at fudging and easing, as I think the blocks have gone together well enough. I still struggle with 'Y' seams - yes I know how, pivot etc, but they still turn out puckered and pleated.

This poor cake stand block is a case in point - or no point, if you look at the base of the purple diamonds! So when it came to this star, I chickened out and paper pieced it. Much easier! (In fact, I wish I'd done the block in darker colours, but too bad.)The last block I did was this one, and I decided to give Y seams one more try. Practice makes perfect, and I was amazed that (with a little bit of attention with the iron!) this has turned out well. My method was to sew up to the V of the Y then take it off the machine. I pulled the next part of the seam together and manipulated it by hand to make all the fabric lie completely flat. Then back onto the machine and sew the other half of the V. It worked for me!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Orca Bay and Christmas!

I'm getting on well with my Orca Bay blocks - I suppose since I'm only doing half the required number, that's not surprising! String piecing is right up my street though, and I loved Bonnie's suggestion about using old dressmaking patterns as foundations!

I though the paper would be too flimsy, but it's perfect - especially since I'm making more theatrical costumes, and have plenty of patterns floating around at the moment. Here are all my blocks completed ready for the next instructions.

And here is a little warm-up to the holiday just around the corner. We had another Santa Fun Run here in Lutterworth, and this time, DH decided to take part. He's the one on the left, and good friend Ali is the one on the right. They decided to walk rather than run, but still completed the 5.5km course in about an hour. There were 980 people in the run this year, whcih will result in a huge financial boost for all sorts of local charities. Well done all who took part!

I have been getting in the festive mood too, by making this table runner. I designed it as a make for ladies who come to our Knit and Stitch sessions, as a thank you for all the hard work they have done for charities this year. If you would like to make one, the central part was 18.5" x 6.5" and the letters were bonded on. The first border was 1.5" cut (1" finished) and the outer border 2.5" cut (2" finished). I machine quilted in the ditch round the borders, and hand quilted round the letters. Very simple, but very effective. Have fun!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Too many projects

I know I have a lot of projects on the go, but that's how I like it. If I get a bit bored with my Dear Jane, I can do some Orca Bay. If I get fed up with challenge blocks, I can do some of my Crumbalong. But I decided to make an effort to get some projects finished, and since the Barbara Brackman Civil War blocks is coming to an end I thought I'd catch up with those.

Here is week 38 ready to be squared up. Looking good. Except there is just one problem.

Since I have done it all in blue (the colours of my Dear Jane), it won't fit in very well with all the other blocks which are in turquoise and purple! Never mind. I'm just the girl to use up an orphan block. Now to cut some more patches in purple and turquoise!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Cake for quilting!

Recently Bunty, Liz, Muriel, Jane and I went for a coffee and a quilty chat at a local gift and garden shop. While we were advising Liz on her 'Dear Jane' blocks, the waiter noticed what we were doing, and uttered those immortal words, 'I've got a quilt. It's old and it's not finished.' Visions of Victoriana (and hexagons!) filled our minds, but we said - genuinely- that we'd like to see it, and could he bring it for the next time we met.

The next meeting duly came around, and the waiter arrived with a bulging black bin bag. Our hearts sank. Then he revealed a lovely quilt which had been made 20 years ago but not quite finished. It had a little hand quilting still to do, and a binding to put on. What could we do but take pity on the poor thing and rescue it from its bin bag?!

We all pulled together and finished the quilting, then pulled the calico backing to the front to make the binding. We also organised a label, so all is good. We have been promised free cake for a future visit - a good return of skills!

And here are my first Orca Bay blocks finished. Since I'm starting with half the blocks, there are 118.5 of them here (I need 112). Glad I didn't make all the 224 for the full quilt! Can't wait for the next installment!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Orca Bay, here I come!

It doesn't take much to persuade me to start a new project, but I'd drop almost anything to do a new Bonnie Hunter mystery! So you can imagine I was busy checking my computer this morning, which was the first day of her new mystery quilt, Orca Bay.
I'd even bought a new ruler, the Companion Angle Ruler, which Bonnie assures will make it easier to make half and quarter square triangles. As soon as I'd done the necessary chores (just the necessary ones, you understand, not the ones I should be doing!) I raided my 1.5" strip boxes for neutral and black strips. Plenty of neutrals, but I'm short of blacks. It's lucky I'm off to Rocheberie Schoolhouse Quilters tomorrow, as hopefully the trader will be able to help me out! Never mind, I've enough supplies to keep me going for a while. Now back to the sewing machine!

Friday, 11 November 2011

There's always a first time for everything!

Yesterday I had a call from Michaela who works for a charity called Catch-22 asking if I had any quilts suitable for 16-18 year old vulnerable children. (If, like me, you have never heard of this charity you can find out more here.) Of course, they would have to be large quilts for these young adults so I frantically searched through my piles of Linus quilts as she was coming round this way this morning at 9.30! I found a few big ones, and then three which Linda S had quilted, but I had promised to bind. Would I be able to bind three quilts in a day? I decided to give it a go!
The first one was this monstrosity, which had been beautifully quilted by Linda on her Gammil. I had wanted to chop it up, as there seemed to be too much blue space in it, but I'm glad Linda persuaded me not to! I usually do a French fold binding sewn onto the front, then folded to the back and hand sewn. There wasn't going to be time for this, so I still put a French fold on, but on the back, folded it to the front, and zigzagged it in pink. Result!
The resuts look almost decorative! You can see Linda's lovely quilting, with pink variegated thread. It makes the quilt. I did this method with another quilt, and the final one (a gorgeous bright one which had a black backing which had started to beard during the quilting) I just folded the backing to the front and machined it down!You can just see the edge at the top of the picture. Michaela was thrilled with the quilts - she couldn't get over how they were all different! - and I'm sure the young people will be too.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Failed (and succeeded!)

At the beginning of October, I challenged myself to finish four UFOs. Well, I've failed. I managed to get three done (which is a start, I suppose) but as ever, am easily distracted by quilting ideas, and 'just had to' do all kinds of things instead of layering up. I could have easily layered up a Linus cot quilt over the last couple of days, but no, I've made a new top!

It's all Linda in Melton Mowbray's fault, as she was making one of these Bonnie Hunter Scrappy Bargello quilts, and I just wanted to try it out. I would say it has turned out fabulously, especialy since it's all made from donated fabrics, some of which are pretty ugly. I made it from 2.5" strips, and had twenty two 16" strips in each set (to make it 44" long, which is a good size even without borders) and with four sets, that makes it 48" wide. Have a look on Quiltville for the pattern and lots more scrappy inspiration from Bonnie. Now I really must do a bit of layering up. Well, maybe!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Learning all the time

Although I've been quiting for nearly 20 years, there's always something new to try. My challenge group's current block is Electric Fan, by Lynne Edwards.

This didn't look too difficult in the book, foundation pieced spokes and then templates for the rest. I decided to dip out of the curved piecing and use the Pat Deacon method of laying the plain fabric on top, securing it with invisible tape and zigzagging the pieces together. The only tricky bit would be the partial seam in the middle, but it looked straightforward in the instructions. Easy peasy. Well, it would have been had I a) squared up the sections after they were completed so that the seam lines were at right angles to each other, and b) if I had bothered to read the instructions which stated that the central square was made of the same fabric as the middle part, not a contrast. The partial seam isn't very good, and it stands out like a sore thumb since the fabric is contrasting! Oh, well, I said to myself, the next one will be much better.

And it is! The partial seam isn't much better, but with it being the same fabric as the background, you don't notice it, and the sections look nice and square. There's only one problem. I forgot to put the templates for the outer sections on the wrong side of the fabric, and the fan is going the other way! Never mind, perhaps I'll get the next one right! (Fat chance!)

Friday, 28 October 2011

October finish 3

I have been doing a lot of sewing, but of the variety that doesn't yield much in the way of interesting photos! Still, I have finished another UFO, my Mile a Minute Rainbow quilt.
This was a joy to make, and I think it's turned out well. I just meander quilted it along the diagonal strips with appropriate colours (yellow on the yellow squares etc). That was easy and allowed me to use some of my gorgeous YLI variegated threads. I'm not sure I'll manage another finish this month (although I'll try) as I've also been busy with Linus quilts, putting them together, wadding or binding them. I've also been cutting up donated fabrics, as we have recently had two Linus sewing days at Linda's fabulous workshop near Melton Mowbray. She is such a lovely lady, and generously gave her space, (heated and fully equipped) plus refreshments and cake for free! Here are (l to r) Pat, Julie, Maria and Paula hard at work. Pauline worked so hard she actually finished two quilts in the day. Admitted this one was a printed panel, but it's still good going! This one was a soft book kit, but Pauline sashed the squares and put them together beautifully. It was bound by the end of the day!On Linda's design wall are Julie's red and black blocks (the first time she's put anything together on point!) and Pat's Mile a Minute. Hers finish at 9" and she's keeping her fabric choices masculine. Great job! Maria (a very new quilter) ended up with a pile of my MAM blocks to sew together. She wasn't impressed with them - they're not everyone's cup of tea, I know. She complained (quite rightly) that they were bulky. "I don't like these, these, what are they called? Make Up Rubbish blocks!" What a great new name for the blocks! And not untrue either. On Linda's chair was her Bonnie Hunter Scrappy Bargello. This is one quilt I'd love to make! Pat had donated a pile of spider's web blocks, and Paula added corners on them and was soon ready to join them up.As for me, apart from being sergeant major and general gofor, I managed to get this top together from orphan blocks. Linda will long arm quilt it, and then I'll be able to bind it. What a great day we had - not only lots of quilts for Linus, but a good laugh too! Here's to the next session in the New Year!

Monday, 17 October 2011

October finish number 2

This quilt is a Linus one which someone else pieced. It was actually very large (double bed sized, at least) and I've managed to get three Linus quilts from it.

It seems to have quite a bit of Debbie Mumm fabrics in it (whatever happened to Debbie?) and lovely blue and red sashing. I bound it with dark reds out of the scrap bin, and it has worked well. I was slightly dubious about the red stripey at the bottom, but it's played very nicely.

And here is an update on (some of) my UFOs. Dear Jane is first. 27 blocks done, a lot of applique ones which I did on holiday. I think it needs more dark ones to balance it out.

Here is my Barbara Brackman Civil War quilt. I'm way behind with this. She's already onto block 41 and I've only done 29 of these. This set needs more with a light background, I think.

And last (and least) the Crumb Along I'm doing with Jo which is so much fun to do. Next I'm going to do some hearts, which should be nice and quick. I'll have to hang on though, as I'm quilting October finish number 3!

Friday, 14 October 2011

October finish number 1!

I have challenged myself to finish at least four quilts this month - I've got to reduce that pile of tops somehow - and here is the first one.

It's my Bonnie Hunter 'Kiss in the Corner' which I have renamed 'Nobody's Perfect' due to the number of Friendship Splats in the quilt, where there should be Friendship Stars! (I think there are three - can you find them?) Some people I know would have undone the mistakes and made the quilt perfect, but not me. I've got too many ideas in my head to worry about a few odd pieces which have jumped about while waiting to be sewn! Anyway, I think it just adds to the charm of the quilt. Love it!

And here is an example of what else I have to do. Some people will recognise this, but for the rest, you'll have to wait until it's quilted. DH has just gone off on a boy's weekend, so I'm aiming to get it done today!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Family wedding

This weekend we all went to my niece, Emily's wedding to Andy. The ceremony was held in a small village church near Ashbourne, Derbyshire, and then the reception was at Shottle Hall, near Belper. The ceremony was lovely, a perfect mixture of solemnity and humour, although the weather wasn't too good, and made it difficult to get any pictures of the happy couple there. Shottle Hall was a beautiful Regency stately home, which I can thoroughly recommend for a wedding venue. There were several rooms where people could get away from the disco and chat, and the food and service was first class. It had stopped raining by the time we got there, and people were able to stand outside for photos and a glass of bubbly. Here is my family looking smart (DS isn't really seven foot tall, he's standing on the lawn edging strip!) My Mum and Dad had a great time. Even though Mum had a complete new outfit, Dad thought a new tie was sufficient preparation for his grandaughter's wedding! Good choice, Dad!Here is my glamorous sister-in-law, Rosemary looking fabulous!
My brother was busy trying to catch some good shots of the happy couple.

I don't imagine he managed to get any much better than this one!

Or this! Congratulations to Emily and Andy, and I hope they'll both be very happy together!