Saturday, 29 June 2013

Well dressing

Yesterday we went to see my parents and DH's Mum.  DH's Mum was keen for us to go and see the local well dressing which she has had a hand in, so off we went.  She lives in Derbyshire, in Old Whittington, Chesterfield, and there is a tradition of well dressings in the Peak District which stretches back for centuries.  Nobody knows why it first started, possibly a pagan tradition or possibly to do with giving thanks after the plague, but it's certainly alive and well in 2013.
Here is the well dressing opposite the church.  It's made of boards covered with clay, with natural materials, petals, leaves, bark, sticks, cones, seeds etc. pushed in to make the design.  The designs are usually of religious inspiration, and this one is 'All things bright and beautiful'.  You can see the purple headed mountains, and the river running by, along with plants and creatures.  I love the stylised plants growing up the sides!

Unfortunately the men who erected the boards put their great big thumbs into the design at the top corners, so repairs had to be made.  (DM-in-law is in the middle of the group.)

Here's the other corner being repaired, ready for the blessing ceremony later that evening.  At the same time there was a flower festival in the church, so we had a look at that too.  There were lots of wonderful arrangements, but this one particularly took my eye.

Gorgeous!  And it's all made from plastic bottles!  That's what I call recycling!

Here is a close up of the bottle tops and cut up bottles.  Very inventive!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Lazy Sunday

Is there anyone out there who is making Bonnie Hunter's 'Lazy Sunday' as featured in 'Quiltmaker'?  I suupose if they are, they're already up to date!  Well, I'm still sewing up the second installment, and thought there may be some people out there who would like an easier way of making Units 11 and 12.  They look like this (although Unit 12 has a green triangle!)
Bonnie makes them by cutting 2" squares, little bitty triangles and then bigger triangles.  I used this method for 'Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll' and found it rather tedious.  So this is how I did mine.  First cut some pink 2" strips and neutral strips 2"x 2 3/4".  (It would have been even easier to cut 2" strips and 2 3/4" strips but that wouldn't have given so much variety, or used up scraps from my 2" bins!)  Then I joined the neutral strips to the pink strip.

Pressed the seam open and cut the units apart.

Then I joined two units opposite way round.

Now the tricky bit.  If you have an Easy Angle ruler, you can just turn the unit over, line up the ruler with theedge of the unit and cut the unit into two triangles.  If you don't have the ruler, you have to leave 1/4" seam allowance at each end of the unit, and cut it so you have a flat end to each triangle. 

Then make your large triangles.  Bonnie says to cut them from a 3 7/8" square, but I always like to err on the generous side and use a 4" square.  Cut the square in half diagonally. 

Then join the pieced and plain triangles along the long side.  If you sew with the pieced triangle on top, you can make sure that you sew just shy of the corner of the square, so preserving your seam allowance.

Then prees open, and trim if necessary.  Done!

Only 95 more to make!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hot topic

We have just had another very successful session sewing with primary school children.  They all worked hard and were delighted with their cushions and bags.  One mum said she had had a tear in her eye as she saw the beautiful cushion her son (with special needs) had made himself!  That makes it all worth it.  I've got used to packing all the things needed for a workshop, but the packing up is always a little more problematic, as there is usually a hot iron to transport.  While shopping in the supermarket I suddenly saw those metallic-faced ironing board covers and had a eureka moment.
What about a bag with a metallic lining?
Here is my iron bag.  My collection of novelty fabrics had a suitable outer fabric, and the ironing board cover makes a great lining.

Here is the iron safely inside.

And the asymmetrical handles mean it's safely enclosed.  I don't think I'd put a freshly unplugged iron in there, but at least it must be a better way of bringing an iron home than in its cardboard box!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Cutting, cutting, cutting

I have been doing more 'spreading of the word' in that our local group, Piecemakers, have been teaching some patchwork sessions in another local primary school.  (Many thanks to Waitrose who supplied the funds, and my lovely volunteers who have given up their time so willingly!)  This is the block we have made, and the children can either make it into a cushion or a bag.  We have just 2 hours to complete this project, and everyone has a sewing machine and 2 eager pupils. 
We didn't want to risk letting them loose with rotary cutters, so the parts are all cut out ready for the sessions.  Tomorrow we will have 14 pupils (to add to the 13 we've already had and another similarly sized group next week) and it makes a lot of preparation!  Luckily Paula and I (well, mainly Paula!) cut the star and background fabrics yesterday, and I have spent this afternoon cutting the cushion backs and bag linings.  It doesn't look that impressive, but I can tell you that's a piece of work! 

And for me, I've finally finished this little dumpling bag made from a free design by Keyka Lou Patterns.  I got the zip in successfully, and then gaily pulled the fastener off it!  It lay abandoned for a while, and then Liz showed me a clever trick to put the fastener back on.  Just trim the teeth away from both sides of the zip at one end, and hey presto! the fastener just slides back on! (Well it worked for her!)

Here's the inside of the bag.  Nifty, eh? 

Monday, 17 June 2013


Things have been quieter on the sewing front as after the removal of his catheter we ended up back at the hospital as DH had contracted an infection.  This set him back, and meant for some more quiet days, but thank goodness he's on the mend and moving forward.  I have managed to finish the teal quilt with horses.  Here is the finished quilt,
here is a close up of the feather quilting design,

and here is the happy recipient, Rebecca, showing both front and back of the quilt.  Believe me, the blue bats on the backing are actually horses!  Rebecca was delighted with the colour, the horses and the hearts (can't blame her if she thought the feathers were hearts!)  It was a pleasure to make the quilt, and even more pleasure to know it has found a good home!

I have made other finishes, like this Linus windmill quilt,

and this jelly roll quilt - I love clever designs, and this one has bonus triangles as the border.

And here is my collection of Kansas sunflowers.  They are lovely hand piecing projects, and while DH is under the weather, I'll keep making them! 

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Why did I ask?

Last week I went to meet Judy and pass on some Project Linus quilts for her to distribute to children in therapeutic foster care.  Have a look here at her story - and I defy you not to be moved!  She met me with her lovely teenaged daughter and two delightful foster children.  It was lovely to meet tham all.  When I got home, I suddenly realised that while they went home with a boot full of quilts, there wasn't one for Judy's daughter, which didn't quite seem fair.  So, I emailed Judy to see if she thought a quilt would be welcomed and whether there were any colours or anything which might go down well.  Judy said teal was a favourite colour, and horses an abiding passion.  Teal?  I'm impressed that a teenager can identify teal, but how can I find a fabric with teal and horses!  I had a look in my UFOs drawer, and found this turquoise and purple top I had made ages ago.
I'd actually backed it, intending it as a tablecloth, but it had never been used.  With some nice feather quilting this would be appropriate.  And then I remembered some horse fabric which would be good for backing.

I don't think there is enough, but I can piece it.  Should fit the bill, I think!