Monday, 30 December 2013

Last finish of the year

I have quilted and bound my Kim Diehl applique quilt!  (It hasn't got a label just yet, but you can't do everything!)  I'm delighted with it, as it's worked out well, and I've finished it by using only fabrics and orphans from my stash.   It's so satisfying to 'use it up'!
Here's a view of the back, which shows more 'use it up' and also some of the quilting. It's mainly in the ditch, but I did some free machine feathers on the setting triangles, which are always good fun.

So now, it's time for me to take stock on my progress this year.  DH says I'm obsessed with quilting, and he's not far wrong!  This year I've been to exciting exhibitions in Malvern and Birmingham, and helped stage one here in Lutterworth.  I've been to group meetings where I've heard international speakers and seen their fabulous work.  I've been to classes and workshops and taken them - I always learn so much from both.  I've been spreading the word by quilting in a pub (The Western in Leicester, thank you very much) and in an old folks' home (Brook House in Husband's Bosworth, it was a privilege).  Our local group has been able to give over 100 local eleven year olds in local schools the chance to make a patchwork cushion or bag, thanks to some funds given to us by Waitrose (that was so rewarding).  Add to that the inspiration, the encouragement, the help, the sharing, the chat, the laughs and the love which quilting friends have given to me, and it's been a great year!  Many thanks to you all and happy quilting in 2014!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Sewing again

The festive season has been particularly hectic for us, what with DH's (early) retirement, our wedding anniversary and our annual Christmas show, not to mention the festivities themselves, so it seems ages since I had the chance to do more than prepare meals, clear up and then prepare more meals!  No, seriously, it was lovely to have friends and family here to help us celebrate Christmas, and we had a great time.  But it was lovely to have a bit of me time today to do a little sewing.  I had challenged myself to finish various UFOs at the beginning of the year, and this was one of them.  It's a set of applique blocks designed by Kim Diehl which I had made as a portable holiday project. 
Some time ago I put them together on point, using a little UFO pinwheel as a centre.
And today I added side triangles using fabric from my stash, and then another border of half square triangles which I had made for my 'Lazy Sunday' quilt, but hadn't liked.  They look really good here.
Just one more border to pull it all together and then I might be able to layer it up on Sunday when DH goes to the football.

It's very 'in your face' but I love it, and in any case - it's a finish!

Monday, 16 December 2013

A request

I had a request for three Linus quilts, one with butterflies, one with diggers (Paula completed that with fabric kindly donated by Debbie) and Peppa Pig.  The Peppa Pig one was a bit problematic as it was very specific, and there was no such fabric in the Linus boxes.  I had to buy some from ebay, and boy, was it expensive.  I got sixteen 6" squares (very little more than a fat quarter) for £5.99 and then had £1.50 postage to pay on top of that!  I decided to sash them to make them knit up big, and I think any Peppa Pig fan would be pleased with the results.
If you have Peppa Pig fans on your quilt list, a word of warning.  The fabric is not only expensive, it is terrible quality!  It's 100% poly (nearly lost a square when I ironed with the wrong temperature!) and the thinnest imaginable poly at that.  How do the manufacturers get away with it?
As a complete contrast, here's the lovely needle case I made at my Tuesday group.

Previously we have been out for a Christmas meal, but after being rather disappointed with the experience last year, decided to have a bring-a-dish lunch instead.  And as a special treat, Jenny and Bunty designed and organised for everyone to have a kit for a needlecase to be sewn on the day!  It was great fun seeing others' progress, and the way people changed the design to suit themselves.  Have a look at Jane's here.

This time, the quality of the fabric was beautiful, and the colours very suitable for a folk art project. Here's the inside, with lots of space for different types of needles.  Many thanks to Jenny and Bunty in particular, and all my Tuesday morning friends for all the fun and love you've provided this year!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Tula Pink

My challenge group have decided to make blocks from Tula Pink's new book '100 modern quilt blocks'.  I decided to make mine in a monochromatic scheme, and since I have more blue than any other colour in my stash, I decided to use that! 
Here are the first 9 blocks I've made.  they aren't difficult, although I have had to be less slapdash than usual, as precision is required here.  Many of the pieces measure 1", so an accurate quarter of an inch seam is vital.  That's a challenge in itself!

I wanted to make these blocks fun (they'll probably end up in a Linus quilt) so used some beach hut fabric here.

And here is a little island with seagulls.  Lots of fun.

Friday, 6 December 2013

I wasn't whining!

I wasn't whining when I said I was disappointed that Bonnie's first post in her 'Celtic Solstice' mystery quilt looked tricky.  I was only saying that I thought some of the people I've encouraged to have a go at the mystery might have been daunted when they saw it.  I love Bonnie's mysteries (and her designs) and I love the way she is so generous with them, and would never complain or criticise.  But ...... I was right.  Meeting some of the ladies this week, they had all looked at the post and been overwhelmed.  What a shame.  Luckily I was able to point them to the templates part and reassure.  I'll wait for developments!
Here are my tri-rec blocks in process.  (I've finished them all now.) 
And I was delighted to see that today's instructions are for much simpler blocks, with rectangles and squares.  I started by looking through my 2" box.

There were enough 2" neutral squares already cut to make the size I want!  I love being able to use these leftovers!

There weren't enough green strips, but there were a number, and the rest will come from yardage.

As to the yellow 2" squares - only two!  Still, it's a start!

I have been doing other sewing too.  I've finally finished my Orca Bay!  It was one of Bonnie's mysteries from 2 years ago!  I did a plain border, which I think is the perfect foil for the piecing. 

And I have also made this Linus quilt.  I had a request for a quilt for a little girl who loves butterflies, so made this one up for her.  The butterflies are from a Fons and Porter magazine, and really knit up big!  A pink binding will finish this off perfectly.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Oh dear, Bonnie!

Now, Bonnie Hunter is a great quilter, and her quilt mysteries are always enjoyable.  So I have encouraged lots of people unfamiliar with Bonnie's style to try her new mystery, Celtic Solstice.  I even made up little 'taster kits' of Linus fabric so that people could have a go and then donate their block components to Project Linus.  'Don't worry, ' I said.'  Bonnie's instructions are clear and straightforward.  You'll be fine, as it'll be make so many four-patches one week, then half square triangles the next.  You can do it easily!'  So what does Bonnie start with?  Tri-rec squares! 
I know they're only square flying geese, but they look more difficult than that!  Especially since her main instructions are using a speciality ruler!  I know that's the best way to get accuracy, but honestly Bonnie, why couldn't you have started with something very straightforward and not made a fool of me like this!  (Only joking really.  It's all fine!)
So for those people new to Bonnie who have been pressganged by me, here are some simpler instructions.
Scroll down Bonnie's instructions till you get to the bit where she says you can use templates.  Click on that and print out the templates.  Cut them out carefully. Cut a 3.5" strip of neutral fabric, lay the  big template on it and cut.

Turn the template round and cut the next one without wasting fabric etc.
Then cut a 2" strip of blue fabric (or use one from your 2" box) and cut one of each small triangles.

then sew a small triangle onto each side of the big triangle. 

Make about five with a neutral centre triangle and five with an orange centre triangle.  Sorted!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Red it is!

I had two suggestions as to colours to border this Linus quilt, and sorry Nik, purple would have been great, but I didn't have any, and I had red, so red it is! 
It's probably not a competition winner, but I think it's looking good.  I have been doing other things - I've even got my 'Dear Jane' out again.  I felt the need of some hand sewing, and this fit the bill.  (Can you see the yellow flower-headed pin on the right hand block?  That's a reminder to myself that this block is a little small, so needs special consideration when being joined up!)

I've also added the autographed blocks onto DD and husband's wedding quilt.  In the end I decided they would be best as a simple blue frame, and with a little judicious trimming, all the ones with names fitted round the quilt.  The others (with general good wishes) will go on the back. 

here is an example of the kind of thing people wrote.

Mind you, some people exercised their creativity.  Here is Will, aged 8.  Fighter planes are perfect for a wedding.

And here is Ada's attempt.  She's two and a half, and wrote on the table as well!

Here she is in the Dalek dress knitted by her mum.  So cute!

You can just see her mum with open arms in the bottom right hand corner of the shot.  Even cuter!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Thank you, Emily

On Saturday I held a workshop to make free-pieced houses a la Gwen Marston.  We had a lot of fun, choosing creatures for the windows, angles for the roof and ways to make blocks larger or smaller as required.  Emily had lots of success, but stupidly kindly decided to give me her houses to make up for Project Linus.
They were so gorgeous that I couldn't stop myself playing with them this afternoon.  I looked in the Linus orphans drawer and pulled out the 6.5" bag.  I made Emily's houses 6.5" wide (by adding a bit on or cutting a bit off) and then had a play.

Here is my first arrangement, which includes various orphans, and some attempts at unification by having a red diagonal strippy in each corner and four yellow star blocks to add interest.

Then I decided to add the letters LOVE which I had made as part of the workshop.

Now it's all joined together, with a bit of adding and cutting off to make it square.  I think it looks great!  Thank you, Emily for the inspiration!  Now to border it.  Red?  Blue?

Sunday, 3 November 2013


I know the shops have been full of Christas stuff for months now, but I hadn't thought I'd be adding to people's angst about preparing for the big day.  However, my local group is having a challenge to produce a Christmas wall-hanging, and I thought I'd show my effort so far.

I love doing free pieced letters so used those.  I'm not completely satisfied with the 'y' - I should have made my usual cursive style one - but I haven't got any more of the background fabric, so can't redo it.  I'd forgotten how much fabric free piecing uses up, and didn't choose my background wisely.  I needed to frame the letters, and decided that a contrast would work.

So much for that idea!  It looks awful - the letters look as if they're in prison!   Back to the stash to see if there is anything which might blend in.

Hooray!  I found some fabric with handwriting on which is almost exactly the same colour and value as the background fabric.  Now the final border.  Red? Green?  Yes, one of those.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


Yesterday DD Gemma married her fiance Ben.  It was a wonderful day, and it was fabulous to see how happy they both were.  Gemma has never been afraid of forging her own path, so decided to marry in midnight blue, and since she already had a dress she liked which was that colour, wore that one!  Her headdress was custom made for her in America, with feathers, flowers and jewels.  And she dyed her hair pink the night before the wedding, as a 'surprise' for Ben!  (Luckily, he was delighted!)
Here they are after the signing of the register,

and here is a lovely one showing Gemma's happiness.

Here is the wedding cake, which was tiers of different cheeses,

and here is a general view of the hall, just before the reception.  Future pictures will feature the bridesmaid dressed in a knitted Dalek outfit and other delights.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Officially clever!

Yesterday there was an interesting article in 'The Times' which not everyone may have read.  Apparently research by Dr. Denise Park of Texas University has shown that elderly people can boost their brain power by learning a new skill, but only challenging activities will produce this effect.  Over two hundred people aged 60 to 90 were divided into three groups.  One group learned a demanding new skill, one listened to classical music and completed crossword puzzles and the third group took part in social activities.  Only the first group showed improved mental acuity.  So, what were the challenging activities which produced this effect?  Digital photography and quilting!  So, that explains the sparkling conversation to be found at every quilty gathering and bodes well for the future!
I have been exercising my own grey cells with Bonnie Hunter's 'Lazy Sunday'.  I've made my usual half the blocks, and started to join them together.

So far so good, until I checked the pattern, and realised that I had started at the top of Bonnie's design, and only six rows wouldn't mke a balanced design.  So I made my own balanced design!  Not sure if I like the purple centre though.

So I moved the two rows I'd already joined together down a bit and added a row on top.  Now I have four flowers in the centre.  Is this better?  Perhaps the clincher was that I have exactly enough blocks for this design, and I would have to make more Jacobs Ladder blocks to complete the other.  Laziness will win the day!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Never again!

I have been finishing off my wedding tasks.  DS and I made an initial arrangement of the table flowers (silk) in the vases, and then I finished off the ring pillow.  The appliqued initials were done, and I decided to put prairie points round the edge (DD would hate lace!) 
 I've never actually used prairie points before so it was a bit of a learning curve!

Here is the finished pillow - the messy white blobs in the middle are the ribbons for tying on the rings!  I'm pleased with it, but the prairie points were a tedious task.  I know you can make continuous ones, but I wasn't sure of the spacing and didn't want to end up with a half PP, so made each one individually from a 2" square!  It's taken me most of the afternoon to make these little beauties, and while I quite like the effect in this case, I'm not planning to make any ever again!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Circles on my mind

I have been enjoying some hand piecing recently, and mainly making circles.  I had no idea what I was going to do with them - just enjoying the process.  Suddenly I realised that they could go together!
They look a bit strange like this, but at least they're blending together colour and value-wise.  I'm currently piecing a border for the turquoise and blue cog wheel at the top, then when that's finished, I can play!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Wedding sewing

DD's wedding is fast approaching, so I decided to get on with the sewing tasks I have.  First was the bunting.  I have made some with the couple's new name on, and then loads and loads of blue, cream and a little bit of pink bunting for the hall decorations. 
I have located and attached a suitable border to their wedding quilt.  There will be more to add on this, but it needed something solid to ground it.  

Then I have starched and cut all the pieces of fabric which people will sign at the reception.  I tried several colour pens out, but DD thinks the black is best. 

The table toppers are all cut to size,

and the ring pillow applique is nearly done.  DD didn't want a lacy pillow, so I've used this bunting fabric, and am applying their initials joined together.  I'll attach some ribbon on the L for DD's ring, and some on the B for her fiancĂ©'s. 

There has been a little quilting going on too.  I'm continuing my love affair with Mile a Minute, and have copied this idea of stars with plain points which you can see here on  Bonnie's blog, although it was made by Priscilla. 

I need nine colours: green, red, orange, yellow, turquoise ................ I'll get there!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Chinese Curse

Isn't there a Chinese curse which says, 'May you live in interesting times'?  Well, just recently I think someone has cursed me!  We have just been on holiday for a week (lots of eating breakfast in the sunshine, wandering around in foreign cities, red wine, chilling out etc), then back to pick up the current threads of DD's wedding preparations and my parents' imminent move to Lutterworth (hooray! can't wait!).  Add to this the fact that I had agreed to do some Linus quilting at Brook House, a local care home, and had all the arrangements and fabric cutting to do for that.

This was the design we made blocks for.  It's Kathy Doughty's 'Fractured'.  The block is just a dark and a light rectangle joined with a sloping seam, but the arrangement of the blocks was a bit tricky - not just for the sewers, but on assembling the quilt!  I think this will be stunning once it's quilted.  Many thanks to the staff and residents of Brook House for their hospitality.
Then it was running a Linus stall at a new local show.

Since this was a new venture, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was lovely!  Paula and I went and manned the stall for the weekend, and Julie kindly gave us a hand on the Sunday.
Here they are sewing labels onto completed quilts.  We had a lovely time and met lots of people, old friends and new.  We were able to spread the word about Linus, offer patterns and ideas and even found ourselves as 'quilt experts' when we were asked, 'Are you the quilting ladies?' to which the only answer is 'yes!'  We gave our opinion on the merits and snags of hand and machine quilting, and it seemed to go down very well!  Fifty people took a leaflet about Linus with our contact details on, so we were very satisfied.
Here is our neighbour, Kate from p/hop.  I hadn't heard of this charity before, but they have designer knitting patterns which you can have for a donation calculated on the pennies per hour of pleasure (p/hop) you will get!  All the money goes to Medecins Sans Frontiers, an extremely worthy cause.  If you would like to see their range (from Christmas reindeer and stockings, through scarves, shawls, gloves, hats, teddies and tea cosies), click here.   Kate came up from London and gave up her whole weekend, but I think it was worth it for her, as she got plenty of donations. 

here is a scene in the main hall, with quilts displayed in the middle and stalls round the outside.

And here are people flocking in to pay for entrance and workshops.  I think the organisers were pleased with the visitor numbers and positive comments, and look forward to doing it again next year!