Saturday, 22 April 2017

Oh dear

I have been steaming through my UFOs recently, but it couldn't last I knew that sooner or later I'd return to type and start working on other projects!

Of course, I need to spend some time on Down the Rabbit Hole, and I'm currently adding the leaves.  I'm using the same green fabric, but as it's mottled, the leaves are slightly different shades.

One day recently when I was bored, I made a few of these cute dollies.  It's another Sarah Fielke pattern, and I loved choosing different hat designs.  They will slot into a quilt sooner or later. 

Then I was momentarily good, and got out this EPP I had done a while ago, and sewed it onto a background ready to complete it. 

Then, at Hannah's Room on Thursday, I saw a lovely Irish Chain quilt, which I thought would look good in scrappy colours.  I couldn't resist trying it out.  It's just 2.5" squares arranged in a 25 patch, with three plain squares in each corner.  I think this will look great and certainly use up some of the contents of the 2.5" bin! 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Quilting 'Happy Days'

i have layered up my Sarah Fielke 2016 BOM and have been quilting the main part. I decided to do an all over design rather than quilt each block separately, a decision which I have slightly regretted.  I chose a stylised flower motif, and all went well to start with, but I have a tendency to move the fabric too quickly, which results in some long stitches and iffy shapes.

You can see the shapes here.  But I was too far along to undo it all, so pressed on. 

Here is the main part done.  And done is done.  I wasn't going to enter it into any competitions, and I think it looks fine.  I'm having a breather before tackling the border.  I intend to do feathers there, but need to get some appropriate thread for that.  

Meanwhile, I've pulled out these improv Rocky Road to Kansas blocks and started putting them together.  If you like gaudy, this will be the quilt for you! 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Insey winsey spider . . .

I have so much enjoyed making spiders web blocks that I've gone a bit overboard with them. I've finished my scrappy one, 

and I love the effect, and the way all the scraps and strings are put to such good use.  I went to the Fabric Guild in Leicester and got this great backing, 

perfect for Linus quilts, excellent quality and £2 per yard.  I bought 4 yards but wish I'd bought more! 
Then at Knit and Stitch we made some blue spiders webs. 

I cut pale blue backgrounds which look super. 

And I still hadn't had enough fun, so have started this pink, red and orange one!  This will be hot, hot, hot! 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017


I saw a new book advertised as being 'stash-busting' and thought, 'that's just what I need!'  Something to literally bust a hole in my stash!  Fabulous!  I had a look at it, and nearly called Trading Standards to complain about misrepresentation.  The quilts were just lovely quilts, with motifs made in different colours.  So, flowers, not all cut from the same fabric, but all different ones.  The instructions list read, 3metres of background, 1 metre of border one, half a metre of border two, and fat eight of lots of different colours etc.  That's hardly going to bust a hole in anybody's stash, let alone mine!  Plus, I'd have to go out and buy the yardage, so would have to buy more new fabric than came out of my stash!  Take this quilt. 

Now, this could be described as stash-busting.  Apart from the white and the blue border, it's all made from scraps from my stash.  The piano keys border came straight out of my 2" strip box.  And here is my 2" strip box now. 

I can get the lid on a bit easier, but it's still stuffed!  The only quilts which are stash-busting are the ones designed by Bonnie Hunter.  After making one of her mysteries, I find my purple bin (for example) is only half full or I have run out of light 2" strips and have to get more.  Otherwise, any book which calls itself 'stash-busting' is a sham, and should be put straight back on the shelf! 

Steps off soapbox to show completed Stars in a Timewarp quilt.  I think the outer border should have been a bit wider, but at least it's a finish! 

And here is my hearts MAM.  The turquoise border pulls your eye to the hearts very nicely, I think.  Another good one for Linus. 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

UFOs - begone!

Despite hardly being in the country for the month of February, I'm doing very well with my UFO challenge.  Once the binding is sewn down, I'll have five UFOs completed! 

Here is my Stars in a Timewarp quilt just ready for a bit of restful hand sewing.  There should have been leaves as well as flowers on the vine, but I didn't feel they added anything, so left them out. 
My Down the Rabbithole is coming on too. 

All the flowers are done, and I need to get on with the leaves.  I'm thinking of cutting them all from the same fabric for a change, as I think it might add a bit of calmness to it.  We'll see. 
The next UFO is spiders webs.  This is a cheat really, as I hadn't actually started it, but had always wanted to.  I'm hoping it'll make a dent in the strings! 

Looking great so far.  I might add another row or not.  Ill definitely make more quilts like this, as they are such fun. 

The MAM is waiting for the last row to be added, then a turquoise border to pull it all together.  That's for another day! 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Blast from the past

Since I was tempted to the dark side (well at least the sticky side) by the lovely Roxanna Pallett of Hannah's Room, I have been layering my quilts by using 505 spray glue.  This works very well for smaller quilts, but when I decided to layer up my Sarah Fielke 'Happy Days' quilt, I thought it would be better to tack it together.  

So out came my wooden planks, I extended the dining table, found my big doll needle and set to.  Here it is nearly completed with lime green thread!  Now I have to decide how to quilt it. Shall I quilt each square individually according to need, or go for an all over pattern?  Thinking caps on! 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bitting and bobbing

I have been doing quite a bit of sewing recently, but bits and pieces.  I have quilted my brown bag quilt, and am currently sewing on the binding.  That will be number 3 of my UFO challenge quilts done, and since it's still March, I'm bang on schedule! 

Can't resist a bit of mindless sewing, and the Mile a Minute is always a favourite for this.  I made these free form hearts as well, to add a bit of structure to the blocks.  That's always fun. 

My Down the Rabbit Hole quilt is coming along.  It was a struggle to fit all 26 circles on here.  I planned it out carefully with some paper circles, but obviously I didn't plan it carefully enough!  It'll be fine.  Flowers are organic, and sometimes grow in front of each other or very close together! 

This quilt is now a top.  I put part of the border on a while ago, but wasn't sure the turquoise border was right.  I got it out of the drawer, and it looked good, so I sewed the rest on.  I've got some backing for this one, so maybe it'll get quilted soon. 

And here is another challenge in progress.  The stars were made in 2015, but I couldn't work out what to do next.  I've decided on an appliqué border with trailing vine and flowers.  I'll just bond this as I have enough appliqué on the go at the moment! 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

A finish and a surprise!

Back home now, safe and sound, and happy to be back in my sewing room.  While the washer was humming, I dug out my 2017 UFO Challenge list to see what was next.  (I know I haven't done the February UFO yet, but that needs some thinking about, so I thought I'd do the March one instead, and then at least have two quilts done.). Number 12 is next and that was a lovely Linus top donated by Madeline which just needed layering and quilting.  Easy! 

It was Madelines first attempt at patchwork, and I don't know how she could bear to part with it.  At least it's now out of the cupboard and will provide a lovely hug for some lucky young person. 
Then I started to work on my Sarah Fielke 'Down the Rabbithole' BOM.  The first part is a circle with forty rays.  Yes, forty!  That's a recipe for a potential bra cup rather than a flat circle!  Since my record on accuracy isn't very extensive, I was pleased that Sarah gives a clever tip.  Make up the first quarter (just 10 strips) and then check to see if it covers a right angle.  If it's too big, take smaller seams and if too small, take larger seams.  I made my first quarter and nervously checked it against my ruler. 

What a surprise!  It couldn't be better! 

Here is the completed circle, as flat as a pancake!  Now, it may not be completely circular, but at least it's flat! 

Saturday, 25 February 2017


I always like to take some hand sewing with me on long journeys, usually some appliqué.  I cut out the pieces before I travel, but read that the rules on carrying scissors in hand baggage had changed, and that scissors with blades of less than 6 centimetres in length were allowed, so decided to try them out. I put my good scissors into my case - I've never forgotten the time when my husband decided to rearrange the luggage and I witnessed my best Fiskars embroidery scissors (which I had packed safely in my case) being tossed into the contraband bin!  I didn't want that to happen again, so put some cheap scissors into my bag with my sewing, and waited to see what would transpire. 

Most of the airports we travelled through picked up the scissors, but on having examined them, and in the case of Santiago having measured them, returned them to me.  Experiment - success! 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

More snaps

We didn't buy anything at the weaving coop in Peru, but I couldn't leave without a fabric souvenir of some kind.  When we stopped for lunch at a restaurant, this lady was sitting outside, keeping busy in the shade.

I love the way she's using her foot as the other end of her loom!  I decided to buy one of her braids, and then I'll use it to decorate a bag. 

This is the one I chose, a lovely Bargello in red, orange, pink, purple and yellow!  No green, but I love it anyway! 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Holiday snaps

'I don't usually put my holiday photos on this blog, but I think these will be of interest to some people.  We are on holiday in Peru, and today went to a weaving coop to see a dyeing and weaving demonstration.  They use baby alpaca (very soft and silky), alpaca (soft) and wool. 

Here you can see weaving looms and in the background, baskets of dye plants and the wool which has been dyed by using it. 

Here is the speaker, Nellie, all ready to go.  Can you see her 18 month old daughter on her back?  She's eating Guinea pig, which is a delicious local delicacy.  

Here she is washing the wool using a natural soap made from a grated root.  They only need to wash it once for it to be ready to use. 

Once the wool had dried, it is spun using wooden spindles. Then comes the fun part, the dyeing.  There were various plants used to get yellow, green, a good blue and various browns, but the biggest surprise was cochineal. 

The cochineal beetles live on cactus leaves.  They are the dusty patches on these leaves. 

Nellie put some of the live beetles on her hand, although this photo isn't very clear.  Then she 'sacrificed' them, and hey presto! cochineal! 

The dark red colour from the beetles is at the bottom right.  By adding lemon juice, the gorgeous orange on the right appears.  Then above the red is a purple colour and above that a black, both made by adding other ingredients.  This is how they are able to make their wonderful bright colours. 

Then for the dyeing. 

And here are the results.  Fabulous. 

Then, of course, the weaving. 

And here is the final product.  Everyone in our party enjoyed the presentation, and then came the opportunity to buy! 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Up to date!

We are going on holiday soon, and I like to be ahead of the game, so I've been beavering away at my to do list recently.  I don't cope well under pressure, and want to have various March commitments ready to go once we return.  First is my Rocheberie BOM. 

I decided not to border.  I don't need (or want) any more big quilts, plus, I didn't want to quilt another big quilt, when it looks perfectly fine as it is.  So, I quilted in the ditch round the blocks and then I machine quilted hearts in the setting triangles and round the appliqué.  I'm binding it in white, which isn't showing up much in the photo, but really finishes it off well.

Then yesterday I went to the Piecemakers Sit and Sew.  Apart from great company and a lot of laughter, I managed to put the last two borders on my En Provence.  Those neutral fourpatches are quite tedious, but worth it in the end, as I love the way the design floats on them.  This is roughly half the size of Bonnie's, and perfectly big enough for me!  I'll probably quilt it in a meander, as in the ditch would be a killer!  

So now, I should start on this month's UFO challenge, number 8.  Here are my Barbara Brackman 'Strars in a Timewarp' which I made for a one block quilt.  They need bigging up, but at the moment I'm not sure where to do with them.  A neutral frame first, I think, then some more head scratching!  

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

To border or not to border, that is the question

I have put the edge triangles on my Rocheberie BOM quilt, and I think it looks fabulous! 

But where do I go from here?  Half of me thinks that it's great like that, the size is fine and it would be much easy to quilt.  The other half of me thinks that it would look even better with a nice border, so get on and bite the bullet!  Any opinions? 

Meanwhile, now panto is over and I've had a couple of nights in front of the tele, I've quilted and bound this UFO, which is the first one on my UFO challenge.  The striped binding pulls it all together nicely.  One down and eleven to go! 

Monday, 23 January 2017

A finish and a half

I wanted to get on with the Linus 'En Provence' top, so people who had contributed could see it.  

Here it is.  It should really have a couple more neutral four-patch borders, but I think that's fine for a Linus quilt.  I'll take it to the next meeting to see if anyone feels like quilting it.  

And so, back to my 'En Provence'!  I'm planning on a nine patch, which should be a reasonable size once all the borders are added on.  Onward and upward! 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Not much progress

I haven't had much chance to do much patchwork this week, as its panto week!  This means being out every night except Tuesday (phew!), spending time going back to the costume hire and finding alternative costumes, altering costumes, repairing costumes and making a new outfit for one character - due to no fault of my own, and just what I could have done without on dress rehearsal day!  Oh well, at least I'm pretty much done now.  Except for helping the principal girl and dame get their walk down costumes on, and more repairs, things have calmed down.  

Here is a cast photo with the director and producer in the middle.  There were 37 costumes in all, which is a lot to source.  I haven't made many of them, but the coordination has been a headache at times! 

But of course I've managed to squeeze in a little patchwork.  I have put my Rocheberie BOM blocks together.  I need to finish off the hearts for the corners, then I'll decide whether it needs a border or not. 

Plus, I've been putting this Linus En Provence together.  The individual components were made by various people, but I think it'll look great when it's completed. 
Two more panto shows today, then it's back to normal, whatever that may be!