Tuesday, 29 December 2015

More mindless sewing

This time of year, I love a bit of mindless sewing.  Something which isn't taxing, but takes your mind off all the Christmas and post Christmas stress which we all suffer from.  Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery fits the bill perfectly, but I've also continued working on my scrap drawer, which is even more mindless and even more satisfying!  I started with the drawer weighing in at 5.5lbs, and look how far I've got! 

Four and a half pounds!  That's a lot of scraps!  As you can see, there's still quite a bit to go.  Goôd, because I'm trying out another design. 

This design uses 32 6.5" MAM blocks and 0.75yds of fabric to make a quilt which will finish at about 44".  That's perfect for Linus, and perfect for me.  I've made up a 'kit' using 32 more blocks and some jolly elephant fabric, and have more fabrics ready to go.  Just got to make another 28 MAM blocks! 
Also wanted to show my Christmas present from DH.  

He knows me so well! 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


After I had weighed my Linus scraps on my cheap kitchen scales, I realised the bathroom scales would be much more accurate. 

If you turn your head, you'll see the bathroom scales weig the same drawer at 5.5lb.  I'll take that as a baseline.  
So, after a fair amount of sewing in the last week, here is the result. 

 Fifty 6.5" MAM blocks, and the scale says 

Hooray!  At least it's going down.  I have neglected my Allietare, but will catch up later.  Here's to the scraps! 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

More Linus for 2015

Most people are currently either rushing round the shops, up to their arms in flour or busy hoovering up the dust bunnies behind the spare bed!  But not Lynn.  She's busy thinking about Project Linus!  She emailed me to say she was having a clear out, and would I like some fabric, but some of it was scraps, also some wool and dress patterns - any good?  I replied quickly to say, yes please, to all of it!  
She called round this morning with an enormous bag full of yardage, jelly roll remnants, a few scraps, plus the wool and patterns.  Dressmaking patterns are so expensive these days, I'm sure these will quickly sell.

Here she is with the bag of goodies.  I was especially pleased at a good selection of neutrals, as we're getting short of those.  Thank you so much Lynn, and be assured everything in the bag will be put to good use, and the result will be lots of children with their own hug!  Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, 17 December 2015


This time of year is perfect for playing with scraps.  You can do a little bit at a time, and the mindlessness of it is ideal as relaxation in all this Christmas stress.  I have made a double row of MAM blocks round the HSTs, and once the outside rows are joined it will be fine. 

Lots of 'I spy' opportunities there, with Micky Mouse, jigsaws, elephants, snowmen, balloons and suchlike to spot.  It made me think about my Linus scrap drawer. 

Just at the moment it's practically overflowing.  It would be good to see it getting emptier, but it never seems to happen, no matter how much sewing I do!  There must be a way of measuring how much fabric is in it, so I could actually see progress in taming the scraps.  What about weighing the fabric?! 

There we are!  Six pounds - that includes the drawer of course, but it's the only way I could think of to get the fabric on the scales.  Watch out for updates on my progress, one scrap at a time! 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Playing with leftovers

I spent a while sorting out the Orphan blocks which had been donated to Project Linus over the last few months, and managed to make up several quilt 'kits' for my lovely Linus ladies to make up.  Amongst the blocks was a small bag of components left over from Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt Celtic Solstice.  The quilt had been completed (by Julie) and donated, and it seemed a shame that these leftovers were languishing in a plastic bag.  So, I sewed them together to make nine 9-patch blocks, sashed and bordered, and here is the result.

I was lucky to find this fabulous Viking fabric at my local quilt shop, and it makes a perfect border.  Good result! 
So then I turned to some Mile a Minute blocks which have been made into HSTs.  Again, the quilt was finished ages ago , and just 20 blocks remain. Here they are. 

Quite uninspiring. Is this a better arrangement? 

The green dominates, and it's so boring!  What about this? 

Better.  And this? 

Even better!  Maybe some applique in the centre?  Any ideas? 

Friday, 27 November 2015

Out with the old and in with the new!

I have been sewing, just not blogging recently.  However, I spent some time sorting out Linus orphans on Sunday and came across a bag of components left over from our group Celtic Solstice.  I couldn't bear to waste them, so managed to find enough parts to make nine blocks.  They aren't Bonnie's designs, but look OK.  

They looked a bit 'in your face' so I sashed them with white, and then found some perfect fabric for a gutsy border with Vikings and longboats on it!  It's Michael Miller fabric which I bought from our local shop Sew Charming.  Couldn't be better! 
Then this morning, I have seen the first instalment of Bonnie Hunter's Allietare mystery.  
Here are my fabrics 

And better still, 2" strips from my neutrals bin! 

It's always good to use up leftovers!  Now to get out my ruler and make some half square triangles!  
Incidentally, since Bonnie makes such big quilts, I always make half the number of blocks she suggests and then add or subtract when I see the result.  For Project Linus, we will make a quarter of the blocks, which should be fun and make a nice lap quilt for a child. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

It's that time of year again!

I don't mean it's Hallowe'en, or bonfire night, although both of those are at this time of year.  No, it's time for BonnieHunter's annual mystery quilt to start!  Hooray! Bonnie has revealed her colours for this year, and I couldn't resist finding them in my stash.  

First of all, golds. I've got a good selection of those. 

Then heirloom reds.  I take that to be the gutsy scarlets, the colours of tomatoes and red fruits.  

Some blacks - some left over from my Grand Illusion mystery quilt from last year. 

And of course neutrals.  I have a good collection of those, and always buy fun ones whenever I see them.  
I also need a constant fabric, a grey.  I'm good with scraps, but not usually yardage, so unfortunately I will have to go shopping for this.  What a shame!  Then I'll be all set!  Can't wait! 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Coalville Quilt Show

Yesterday I went up to Coalville to visit their first quilt show!  It was in association with Hannah's Room and was in aid of various local charities.  Helen (from the lovely Shepshed group Quilting Together) had asked me whether I would be one of the judges for the competitions.  I was flattered to be asked and hope I did a good job.  There were three categories, Autumn Splendour, a young quilters' category on Hallowe'en and a 3D object.  I tried to be as honest as I could, but still appreciative.  Nobody needs discouragement in my view.  Unfortunately I didn't take photos of the quilts, but here is Hannah's Room's stand. 

I did manage to restrain myself, despite the goodies on offer (I'd already bought last week! ) 

And here is Gill on the Linus stall. I am delighted that Gill has become rep for Leicestershire North.  We can easily work together to spread the love.  

There were several craft stalls, as well as the quilts, which, along with the refreshments, 

Made for a lovely morning out.  It was also lovely to see quilts friends from the north of the county, and meet new quilters.  They're always friendly and fun.  Even if I'm not invited next year, I'll definitely make sure to go.  

Friday, 30 October 2015

Too much

Things are rarely quiet around here, but just recently it has been a bit too much.  We've been away for a little winter sun, and then when we got back, I had a horrible tooth thing which ended up with antibiotics and an extraction.  It really knocked me out, and although I managed to fulfil my obligations at an AGM and the Lutterworth Piecemakers exhibition (which was fabulous!) it all took its toll, and I have had to build in extra recovery time.  So, the UFO pile isn't getting any smaller.  

This challenge quilt is now a top and I am delighted about the border fabric which I bought from Sew Charming in Lutterworth.  She has some beautiful fabrics at fairly reasonable prices there.  

My other challenge for Piecemakers is still a pile of blocks, and an incomplete pile at that!  
But I have managed to successfully design a quilt for my classes next year.  I wanted to cover the theme of stars, and thought if I could incorporate several designs into one quilt, then the students would have the option of making several quilts over the year, or just one.  It wasn't easy to make the different blocks play nicely together, but here is the result. 

It's waiting for its border, obviously, but there is a Lemoyne star, a friendship star, a boxy star, a variable star and a paper pieced star, apart from a few nine patch and flying geese fillers.  I'm quite satisfied with it, and hope my students will be too.  Now off to find some starry border fabric. 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Accuquilt Go!

I think the fabric cutters really come into their own with shapes which aren't rotary-cutable or are curved. While I have had the Piecemakers' cutter, I've made good use of the hearts die and the 2.5" strip cutter.  For Linus sewing, I cut out various red and pink hearts with Bondaweb on the back, some 8.5" squares of white and some red 2.5" strips.  I showed a Blue Peter and left the very talented Linus ladies to have a nice play.  This is what they came up with.

Bondawebbed hearts and then 2.5" squares put together in 16 patches as filler squares.  Bright and cheerful.  This design would look good in blue, too, or purple, or yellow .......!  I have put the blocks together and plan on a white border then one made from red four patches.  This design was definitely made quicker, easier and more accurately by using the Accuquilt Go!  If you're out there, Accuquilt, if you would like to donate one to Project Linus Leicestershire, we would put it to very good use! 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Big Textile Show

I've had a lovely (but hectic) day today at The Big Textile Show at Great Glen in Leicester.  This is the third year of this show, and I think it gets better and better!  We have been very lucky to be invited again to have a stall for Project Linus, and I hope I have shared the love by giving away free patterns for a no-strip nine patch, and doing a demo too!  It's one of those 'why didn't I think of that!' ideas, but a great time saver if you don't know it. 

Here is our stall, with the lovely Maria ready to inform and advise.  We had a great response to my demos, spread the word about hugs you can keep, and met lots of old friends.  

The show is very inclusive, and here is Tegan who is selling embroideries made by women in Madagascar.  They are fabulous, and with over 60% of the money going direct to the women, is a way of making a difference in the world.  She said that many of the women can now afford to send their children to school and have improved their housing.  Great news.  (I feel smug, because I bought a beautiful embroidery last year. A very precious possession.) 

Here is a view in the first corridor.  You can see the end of our table, and then Helen with her embroidered pashminas, again hand made and exquisite. 

Here are some of the traders.  This was a real mixture of goodies for quilters, knitters, embroiderers, mixed media people, lace makers, spinners, readers etc.  Something for everyone, and eye candy and stimulation for all. 

Here is a Guiness World Record attempt at yarn bombing a mini!  I knitted a couple of squares - I've never been part of a GWR attempt before!  This was early on, and they got a good half done by the end of the day. 

There were lots of different exhibitions, and here is a taster.  This piece is by Linda Rudkin, and was fabulous!  If this has whetted your appetite, then get along to the The Big Textile Show tomorrow to see the rest of the exhibits! 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Feeling clever (ish)

My patchwork group have recently bought a second hand Accuquilt Go! Cutter for group use.  We are hiring it out by the month, and I happened to be the first hirer!  I have looked at the different fabric cutters in the past, but not been persuaded to buy one, as I think that, for me, they would not get enough use to justify their initial outlay.  Interestingly, I have know several people who bought one, and then sold it on, as they didn't get as much use out of it as they'd expected to.  However, to hire one for a month is a different proposition altogether! 
The problem was that while the cutter itself has a handy carrying handle, the dies were all in a carrier bag.  

Here they are.  There is a really handy 2.5" strip cutter die, but it's 24" long!  Very unwieldy.  Liz suggested it might be an idea to get a trolley or suitcase to put everything in, which I thought was a good idea.  Then I decided a bag would be easier to cope with than a suitcase, although none of the supermarket type bags are long enough for the strip cutter die.  There was nothing for it but to make a bag.

Not the most attractive of bags, but since it's made of curtaining fabric and lined with the same, I'm hoping it will be durable.  The wrap around handles should give a bit of extra strength too. But then I thought we needed a list of the contents, so it could be checked off on return.  A laminated sheet inside?  A laminated sheet tied to the handles?  A luggage label tied to the handles? And then I decided.  

I cut a piece of the handle fabric, zigzagged it on the side and wrote the contents with a permanent pen!  I've left some room for future purchases to be added too.  Basic, but functional! 
And what have I been doing with the cutter? 

I used the Value die, which has 4.5" and 2.5" squares, plus 2.5" half square triangles to make this star. I quite like the triangles which have seam allowance on the side, but still glad the machine's hired, not bought.  

Monday, 31 August 2015

Grandmas, eggs and sucking

This post will be, to many, like teaching your grandma to suck eggs!  I know lots of people already know this, but it was new to me, so might be new to others.  
Have you ever admired quilting which is a wavy line, which was 'one of the fancy stitches on my machine, and done with the walking foot'?  Something like this?

I've looked and looked on my machine, and I don't have any stitches like that.
But then, I experimented. 

I found the three stitch zigzag on my machine, then shortened the width and lengthened the stitch, and hey presto!  the searched for effect.  
Here is the quilt, which was made by several hands at a Linus sewing session.  

Once it's bound, it'll be even more gorgeous! 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

My Dresden Circles quilt is still on the design wall, and while I've been quilting something for Linus, I've been looking at it. 

The circles have all gone, and it's now a yellow quilt. That's not what I want.  It's the old trick of putting a border on a multicoloured quilt to find the quilt has 'become' that colour.   The yellow border has to come off.  Maybe a blue border instead or perhaps piano keys.  Only one thing is certain, the yellow has to go! 

A little bit good, and a little bit bad

I've been busy trying to finish the two quilts I have promised for Piecemakers' exhibition in October.  (I know it's quite a way off, but sometimes life bowls you a curve ball, and I don't want to be caught out!)
I am sewing the binding onto my Grand Illusion.  

Still not my favourite Bonnie design, but I think the quilting in the ditch has emphasised the stars and made it easier to read. 

Borders are on my Dresden Circles.  Decisions now to be made about quilting designs.  I've already discussed this with the very knowledgeable Liz, and have a few ideas.  Again I want to quilting to bring out the design, not just hold the layers together.  I want to bring the circles out, and if possible the double circles. 
So, quite good.  But then I saw this. 

A free quilt pattern!  Looks awesome!  There are 34 pages of the pattern, (although they don't use much ink, just lots of paper - good for using the back of other things).  Will I ever make it?  Don't hold your breath!  But then, it is gorgeous! 

Friday, 21 August 2015

The usual story

As usual, I've been distracted.  Instead of making more 'fifteen' words, I've been doing other things.  One is reasonable.  The local Linus ladies made lots of nine-patches from squares, all in pink.  I'm going to show this technique at The Big Textile Show in September, and thought I'd join the blocks together as a kind of Blue Peter.  Since September isn't far off, I decided I'd better get on with it.  

I had to add a few extra blocks, but with a narrow bright border, then a wider paler border, that'll do.  But then I was browsing in a bookshop, and saw these clever basket blocks. 

The basket parts are cut from two squares, and then the handles are appliqués onto a narrow rectangle and sewn at the top!  The fairies brought a set of matching red, black and grey fabrics, so I thought I'd use some of those and make a sophisticated Linus quilt for a teenager.  Just need to appliqué more handles! 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Czech is a doddle

Next is Czech.  This was a doddle, as I drew the letters out on graph paper, bonded them on, and used another machine blanket stitch.  

Maybe the stitch is a bit big, but it adds a spikey quality to the letters, which seems appropriate for (what I assume to be) a spikey language! 

And here is the progress so far.  I've included the part-finished Dutch reverse appliqué, just to see how the colours gel.  So far, so good.