Sunday, 14 May 2017

Lovely day

My husband has had a lovely day today, as he has been out watching cricket.  I have had a lovely day today, as my husband has been out watching cricket!  While the cat's away, the mice will . . . . . . . . . . .

First of all I got the next two blocks done for my Challenge group.  They are the next two blocks in Pat Sloan's Garden Mystery from 2016.  The challenge is to use fabric styles from the late 19th century, and mine are conversational prints and paisley designs. 

Here is my progress so far, and I'm very pleased with this set of blocks.  There are ten blocks altogether, which will make for a good sized quilt.  
With those blocks safely ticked off my list, I continued with one of the UFOs on my list. 

This Mile A Minute Stars is now quilted and has the binding on and ready to be stitched down.  Another UFO bites the dust! 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Another finish

There has been some sewing going on here, and quite a bit of quilting.  I have more sympathy for people who enlist the help of a long arm quilter to finish their quilts, as large quilts are such hard work to quilt on a domestic machine.  Apart from the amount of work, it's the physical heaving about of it to turn and manipulate the bulk in the machine's throat.  Never mind, I think it's all worth it in the end. 

And here is my Big Circles all done!  It's not perfect, but it's finished and I love it!  The large circles are a Kathy Doughty pattern and the small ones are Kansas sunflowers.  Both sets of circles were made by hand the American method (i.e. Not over papers) as holiday hand sewing distractions.  The design, such as it is, is my own. 

This Scrappy Irish Chain is a completed top.  A great way to use up 2.5" squares.  

This is a completed top too.  I don't think I needs a border. 

And then there is this shy, retiring little violet.  It's a MAM Star quilt from my UFO Challenge list.  This is next to be layered and quilted.  I'm certainly pleased at how well I'm getting through my UFO list, and I'm not adding too many on at the end either! Well, not toooo many! 

Sunday, 30 April 2017


Despite a few days in Portsmouth this week (visiting the Historic Dockyard etc - fabulous!) I have managed a bit of sewing.  I am steadily quilting my big circles quilt.  This one I've decided to quilt block by block, and it's going very well.  The quilting process is showing my poor workmanship,and lack of accuracy, but I did the best I could, nod at least it'll be a finish! 

The pink spiders Web quilt is finished.  I thoroughly enjoyed making this and surely it must have made a bit of a dent in the pink scraps bag! 

And here is another scrap project.  It's a kind of scrappy Irish Chain.  I added a number of plain turquoise squares to the mix to add a bit of unity, and after adding a white border, will bind it in the turquoise.  This has definitely made a dent in the 2.5" box - I can get the lid on now! 

I must work up the courage to quilt the border of my Happy Days quilt, but not just yet!  I went over the The Bramble Patch yesterday and watched their long arm effortlessly and automatically sewing beautiful feathers onto a quilt.  It won't be automatic or effortless for me, but at least I'll have the satisfaction of having done it myself! 

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!