Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Whoops times two!

One the few evenings we have been relaxed in front of the to I have been doing some appliqué to keep me sane at this time of year.  A new baby, called Ivy Winter, has arrived in the family, so I searched in my stash for quilt inspiration.  I found a Baltimore panel of eight squares which was dated 2003, and seemed just right if I could make another block to make up into a 9 - patch. 

I used ivy as my theme, and was quite pleased with it until I assembled the blocks on my design wall, to find that the new block stuck out like a sore thumb as it was white!  Whoops! 
Never mind, I decided to tea dye it, to tone it down a bit. 

Oh no!  Too much tea and the block still stands out like a sore thumb because it's too beige!  Whoops again!  I quickly dunked it in some biological washing powder, hoping that would take some of the tea away. 

Result!  Not quite the right colour, but pale enough now not to poke you in the eye! Phew!  Now to decide where to go from here.  To sash or not to sash, that is the question! 

Friday, 23 December 2016

New stuff

I knew I wouldn't be able to keep finishing UFOs, but have done very well so far. 

Here is the Snoopy quilt finally bound and done.  That makes 306 quilts donated to Project Linus Leicestershire this year!  Great total, and many thanks to all the people who sewed, donated fabric or bought from the rummage box to fund wadding etc.  The U.K. total for the year is over 30,000 quilts, so that's lots of love! 
Once that was done, I had the urge to start something new.  I started by looking in the strip boxes, as the 2.5" box is very full.  However, I found that it had a lot of ugly fabrics in there, especially quite a bit of brown and taupe.  Ugh!  But then I remembered the old dancing gingerbread men pattern, and got going. 

There are a few, with eyes, mouths and buttons embroidered on.  I've actually cut more components and made them into a kit for Knit and Stitch in January.  They are quick and fun to make, so should hopefully take someone's fancy! 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

It's a top!

LI have thoroughly enjoyed working on the Sarah Fielke design 'Happy Days' but was unsure about which border options to choose.  Sarah suggests either a one fabric border, a border made of large equilateral triangles or one with embellished equilateral triangles.  I wasn't sure that such a busy quilt needed more busyness, or at least, I should say, l wasn't sure that my busy quilt needed more busyness - other people have to decide what is right for their quilt.  So I started at my local quilt shop, Sew Charming.  The owner of the shop is used to me bringing tops in and spreading them out to choose border fabric - the only way I can see if it's right is by auditioning fabrics. 

So here is my choice!  A narrow turquoise border and then a wide Kaffe Fassett magenta fabric with orange spots.  This isn't a perfect photo, but was the best I could manage, and it gives a good idea of the result.  I'm delighted with it, but not looking forward to the layering up and quilting! 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Slow progress

This month has so far had lots of treats which have lured me away from my machine.  A day with daughter and son in law in Cambridge, several Christmas meals, a day in London (it was heaving!), shopping for presents, concerts, meeting up with friends and family etc.  It's the same for everyone.  But I have sneaked a little sewing - it's my therapy! 

I'm up to date with the Bonnie Hunter mystery, En Provence.  Neutral fourpatches done, magenta tri recs done and purple and lilac four patches done too.  I've done half the number she suggests, as usual.  

I've also got this top quilted for Linus.  The Snoopy fabric was too good to cut up, although I had to do a bit of bodging to get it into a decent shape.  Can you see the miss match? 

This bottom corner is a bit of a mess, but the fabric's so busy, I think I just about get away with it! I'll bind it and then it'll be another finish. 

And I always like some mindless sewing, so I've been using my 1.5" strips in another scrappy log cabin.  I love dark and light designs and how your eye makes meaning from randomness.  At the top of this arrangement, on the top row, there are two very similar blue fabrics, one vertically on the third from the left and one horizontally on the very right hand block.  It's amazing that despite their similarity, your eye accepts one as light and one as dark, just because they're in the light or dark position.  Fascinating. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Full steam ahead!

I'm delighted at the progress I'm making in finishing up my various UFOs and PIGs and haven't got sidetracked (much) yet.  With the Bonnie Hunter mystery for this year started, it spurred me on to finish last year's quilt, Allietare.  Allietare means to gladden in Italian, and it certainly makes me glad when I see it. 

I made half the blocks, as usual, and it makes up at 66" square.  Big enough, I think.  I quilted it mainly in the ditch, as I think the quilting should enhance the design, so I wanted the geometricity to stand out.  I'm happy with that. 

My patchwork of the crosses quilt is finished too.  Just four blocks which were teaching samples, but they make a nice Linus quilt.  

Even nicer with this Michael Miller fireflies fabric on the back.  I don't usually splash out on such fancy fabric, but when I was in Manchester recently I paid a visit to a shop called Abakhan.  It's near the city centre so well worth a visit if you're in the area, as they sell fabric by weight!  It's remnants, not yardage, but some of the remnants were 3 or 4 yards, so not small pieces.  The quilting fabric is £22 a kilo, and for £24 I bought about 6.5 yards.  Good value I'd say.  The shop also has an extensive range of beads, sequins, trims, feathers and lots of other things you've never seen before, but are very covetable!  
So, what now?  I have pulled out my challenge blocks, as they will be easy to sort out. 

A bit more modern than my usual quilts, but the blue/green/white palette looks very fresh and clean.   I think it needs another row of blocks, so it will be 48" square.  A simple green or blue binding will set it off.  I just need the four extra blocks! 

Saturday, 26 November 2016

It's that time of year again!

I don't mean Christmas, because it's still November, but it's time for Bonnie Hinter's annual mystery!  This year it's called 'En Provence' and is based around images of lavender fields in Provence.  Here are my colours ready for the off. 

We have dark purple, lilac, sunflower yellow and grass green.  Fabulous! 

Add to the mix a piece of magenta for the constant, and of course neutrals, and I was all set yesterday when the first clue was announced. 

So, here are the first blocks.  Neutral four-patches.  I love these as the fabrics have come solely from my 2" scrap bin!  Using up the scraps first, although since I have to make 111 blocks (I'm doing half of the requirements, as usual) I may have to creep into my yardage before I've done them all. 

I've also made up some taster kits for any one to make a few blocks each time and then donate them to be made up for Linus.  These should be fun! If anyone not coming to Knit and Stitch next week would like one, let me know and I'll pop one in the post. 

Friday, 25 November 2016


Madeleine was so kind to give me her hexagon top for Linus, but I was struggling to finish it.  She had used light card as papers, and while I was sewing the hexagons together to even it out a bit, it was hard going.  I know you don't actually sew through the edges of the card, but you can't help catching it in the stitches slightly. 

I sewed a few, then gave myself a rest.  When I came back to it, I couldn't find my needle, so I went a little crazy and took a new one out of this packet. 

All of a sudden the sewing was a breeze!  The needle went through the fabric like a hot knife through butter!  We are all used to changing our machine needles regularly, but I hadn't connected that the same goes for hand sewing needles too!  We just blithely carry on using the same needles time after time, and new needles cost pence.  Why not retire your hand sewing needles and replace them with new ones.  You'll be surprised at the difference! 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Finishing, finishing.

I'm still enjoying finishing my UFOs and ticking them off on my list.  This one was good to quilt, as I think the quilting in the ditch round the pinwheels has really made them look good. 

I'm still sewing the binding down - black binding isn't such a good idea at this dreary time of year! - but I think it's turned out better than I'd thought.  

Here is my Bonnie Hunter Allietare from last year.  This too has turned out well. I just need to quilt the dark grey final border when I've managed to get some thread the right colour.  I only gave light grey, which wouldn't look good.  Just a reminder that Bonnie's 2016 mystery will be kicking off on Friday.  Why not have a go?  Just remember to either do half the blocks (like this one) or a quarter, as Bonnie's quilts are always very big! 

I've started putting the next border on my lozenge quilt.  This is using up some HSTs from my scrap box.  It's always good to have a few components all ready done.  

And here is my hand project.  Madeleine gave me her first attempt at patchwork, these pretty hexagons.  The blue was only down one side, and as there were some blue rosettes already completed, I thought I'd even it out.  I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this one, but I'll get the blue row on and then have a think! 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Rocheberie BOM blocks

I go to a lovely group in Rugby, and we have been doing a block of the month this year.  It's been quite simple, based on triangles and flying geese, and has been very popular.  Several people have been awed at how to make these basic quilt components, just confirming that there are plenty of beginners out there.  Hooray! 
I made all my blocks in red, for a change. 

Here they are, in their basic arrangement, although I will probably shift them around.  The one on bottom right is a bit dark, so needs careful placement. 
I'm looking forward to seeing all the other versions of this design.m

Sunday, 13 November 2016

No iPad

Last weekend I had a lovely time visiting first my daughter in Cambridge (new house, lots of excitement!) and then my son in Manchester (theatre visit and Manchester city centre on Saturday night, quite scary!). All was well till I arrived home to find I had left my iPad in Manchester.  I might as well have left my right hand there, as of course, all my contacts are on it, and I was adrift.  Luckily it was sent back to me, so I'm now back on track. 

I have put together my Sarah Fielke top.  It was a puzzle to put the blocks out, as every time I thought they were looking good, I saw one which clashed with or was too like its neighbours.  I'm not completely happy with the turquoise appliqué in the centre, but it was the best arrangement.  Now I have to wait for the border instructions.  Do I go pieced or wimp out and buy a piece of fabric for the border?  I'll wait and see. 

Another completed centre is the circles quilt.  I'm really pleased with this, and have managed to get more of the teal and purple fabric for the final border.  Unfortunately I couldn't get yardage, just fat quarters, but I've joined them carefully, so I think it'll be OK. 

And here is a Linus quilt I'm bigging up.  The Snoopy fabric is so gorgeous, and as a change from flying geese I made some Delectable Mountain blocks for the border.  The red corners are not right and will have to be replaced by green ones I think.  Shame, as they were out of my spare parts box.  They'll just have to go back in there and wait for their chance to shine! 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Steaming along!

I am steaming along with my UFOs.  And the good thing is that it looks even better than it is, because most of them are nearly tops, so a border or two makes a finished top!  Why on earth didn't I finish these before?

Snails Trail is done.  The snails bit was done, and I just added a fun pirate border (snails and pirates go perfectly together!) and tick!  There are a couple of big mistakes on this, but I don't think they spoil the quilt -just give it individuality! 

Another finish is this scrappy log cabin.  A different arrangement of this perennial favourite. 

The Mariners Compass is layered top.  This took a little more work, but not much.  The centre was done and all the stars.  Lots of the flying geese were done, some were made from HSTs and some were made specially.  The corner stones were blocks left over from Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion.  Just the job! 

This black and white pinwheel has got two borders on it, both of which came from stash! 

And here are the lozenges appliquéd to a background.  Onward and upward! 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Going down the list

Now we're back from our holiday (lovely, by the way) I'm getting back on track with my UFOs.  

The scrappy log cabin is finished, and looking good.  I love the way the way the dark fabrics all present as dark, even though some of them aren't really very dark at all, and the same with the light ones.  The design fools your eyes, and uses up a lot of 1.5" strips! 

The Bonnie Hunter Monkeying Around is done too.  This has made a (small) dent in the 2" scrap box.  

A small detour was made for this snowball and 9-patch top.  I am demoing this design at the Big Textile Show next week, and so put together some blocks made at Knit and Stitch.  Another way of using up scraps, this time 2.5". 

The lozenges are ready to be appliquéd to a background.  

These stars I made from a Barbara Brackman series go well enough with the Mariners Compass class sample.  I must find a different way of adding a border than flying geese!  They are my go to pattern!  

On the end of the list is this beautiful quilt made by Piecemakers members during a Brown Bag challenge.  I provided the centre block, and then it went into a bag and different people took it and added borders.  The first had to have triangles, the second, appliqué, the third stars and the last squares.  I love it, but have decided the appliqué round will be even better with a few swags on it. I've got one on, and the rest will follow.  Thank you to all those who worked on mine.  If you want to see the other brown bag tops revealed, go to www.lutterworthpiecemakers.blogspot.com for a real treat! 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Last three blocks of BOM

I have been doing a Block of the Month with Sarah Fielke this year.  Sarah is an Australian quilter who loves appliqué and foundation piecing, and her use of novelty fabrics is a delight.  There have been more than one block per month, but even though I joined late, I've managed to catch up.  This month there have been the last three blocks.  Here are mine. 

The one on the right was pieced, the one at the bottom was foundation pieced and the appliqué one is my own design.  The final block was a a vase with sort of hexagon flowers in it, and it didn't appeal.  Since it's my quilt, I decided to do another appliqué block, and really enjoyed it.  
Can't wait for the joining up and border instructions, as I'm anxious to see how my colour choices end up. 

Monday, 17 October 2016


PWe're having a little break in Lanzarote at the moment.  It's been a busy time for us recently, with the production of 'See How They Run' and other stuff, so we were ready for a bit of a chill out. 

Here I am relaxing by the pool.  Bliss. 

And here is my holiday sewing so far.  It's a Sarah Fielke design, and the funny purple thing in the middle will be a bird.  There are more leaves and two more flowers to add, apart from the rest of the bird, but I'm not in a rush to finish it.  See you all when we get back! 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Reality check

The postman rang the bell this morning with a lovely oblong package for me!  It was the book I ordered a few days ago.  Great excitement! 

I have followed Sujata Shah for a while, and love the way she uses colours and shapes, so decided to buy her book.  I know I'm not making any tops at the moment (or not supposed to be!) but I couldn't resist a bit of inspiration. But. 
My book collection is starting to get out of hand.  I do go back to certain books on a regular basis, but something has got to give.  So I have decided that it's got to be 'one book in, one book out'.  At least husband can't complain at that!  But which book goes out?  It's got to be one I haven't used for a while. 

And here it is.  Thus is one of the first quilt books I bought, and I made several of the designs in the book.  Lots of sentimental value here, but against the Sujata Shah, there's no contest.  Out with the old and in with the new! 

Sunday, 2 October 2016


I have been doing a Block Of the Month this year.  It is designed by Sarah Fielke and called Happy Days.  Sarah has previously collaborated with Kathy Doughty on several books and I like her style, so I thought I'd have a go.  You don't get any fabric with this BOM, which is a relief!  I have plenty of fabric I need to use up, plus I like making quilts which are my choices, rather than someone else's.  It costs $60 for the year, which gets you a digital pattern and instructions, and a video showing you how to make the blocks every month.  That's about £3 a month, so I think it's good value. We're down to the last three blocks, so I laid all my blocks out to see if I needed to do some colour balancing. 

It was a very dreary day yesterday, so the photo is rather dark, but it was enough to show me what I had so far.  I think I need a bit more colour in it, rather than neutrals.  There is only one block with an orange background, so I need one more, and I think perhaps one with a turquoise background would be good.  
The last three blocks are foundation piecing, piecing and appliqué.  I'll do the foundation piecing one first as its my least favourite.  Off we go! 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

More ticking off

I have been having some sewing time recently, as Richard is currently directing two plays ('See How they Run' and 'Aladdin') and has been at rehearsals several evenings in the last week or two.  While the cat's away, the mouse will sew! 

UFO number 3 is done.  I'm pleased with it, and even more pleased to see it finished! 

Number 4 is nearly a top.  This Bonnie Hunter design is great for using up 2" strips and squares. 

Number 5 is being quilted.  I'm doing the light areas in cream and the dark areas in blue, and then a blue binding. 

I've been hand sewing the Kansas Stars onto this quilt.  It's looking good, and I think it'll benefit from some fancy borders, but that's a decision for another day. 

And gradually, the lozenges are being sewn onto this Lucy Boston example.  Only another half dozen to go.