Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Things That Make Me Happy

Colonial knots. They always  make me happy.

Cheeky chickens thinking they are moving in. To clarify, them moving in is not going to happen and doesn't make me happy. Their cheeky and optimistic faces do.

What makes you happy?


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Schnitzel & Boo Mini Swap

Last year I took part in the very fun Schnitzel & Boo mini swap on IG so when another round popped up in the feed and I realised I had a bit more free time than I have had for a long time I jumped right on the bandwagon. There are over 1,000 people taking part this time. That's kind of unbelievable.

I looked at my secret partner's inspiration mosaic, had a think, and came up with this design.

Drawn on Touchdraw on my iPad
My partner seems to like strong colours so the other day I started cutting. I didn't actually do a fabric pull, I just started from the centre of the design and worked my way out, making fabric decisions one by one as I went.

I have lots of thoughts about whether the grey cross hatch was the right choice, but decided to stick with it and hope that my eventual quilting of the mini will make it work in my vision.

I also decided to take the pattern a little further and expanded on it.

I kind of like the way it looks like a cog. There has been one more design adjustment that I have made on the fly, as I started piecing these little bits of fabric together.

Not sure if you can tell where it is in the above photo. This is as far as I got this weekend. I may have miscounted the size this block and it will be (slightly) over size. I am hoping that this will be over looked in the belief that it was the right decision in regards to my pattern.

So, somewhere in that 1,000+ people is my partner and I am hoping she is liking this. Because if she doesn't I will have to start from scratch. At least I haven't left all this to the last minute for a change.


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Partial Seam?

In interest of people being able to walk on our sitting room floor, I had gathered up all the Stitch Tease wonky log cabin blocks and brought them into the sewing space. Today I took them all and checked sizing as some bee members chose to send larger and allow me to decide how to do the final trim. A couple of blocks needed to be made bigger. I needed to make up some blocks to fill in the 'empty spaces' in the layout.

So I did. And then I laid them all out again.

I juggled a few blocks from this layout to make sure that I limited the number of partial seams I would have to do. Then I checked it over for any over abundance of white meeting white - which I rectified by adding in a colourful strip here and there - and I was ready to go.

You might be surprised to learn that there was only one zigzag of a jog in the seams in joining this up and testing my ability to do partial seams. Despite it looking so random and hodgepodge those blocks lined up remarkably well and went together in super quick time.

And that is another quilt top done. My third Stitch Tease Bee quilt top. Amazing how time flies and how these quilts made from a group effort bring together such unique makes. A huge thank you to all my friends who contributed to making this and understanding what I was asking for so well.


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Latest Reveal

The latest issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting is out so I can reveal another quilt to you. I was asked to make a fun quilt suitable for children. This is what I can up with.

It involved lots of strip piecing, some bright pops of colour, and lots and lots of low volume. It is quite an easy quilt to make and changing the fabric choices would totally make this different. I kind of kept picturing making it like there were bulls-eyes on the quilt. Or you could add more colour and have bright hexies across the whole layout.

Surprisingly, one of the most enjoyable parts of making this quilt was doing the quilting. You won't often hear me say that!

I did a pretty tight stipple all over, except on the coloured hexies. I like the way leaving them unquilted helped them pop. Add on a scrappy binding and this quilt is totally my style.

Now I just need a child to give it to.


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Distracted (ish)

Silly stuff takes away from the important stuff like sewing. Cars that need repairs. Kids calling home from school asking to come home because they don't feel well. (She's fine now it seems.) And life in general. Focus is hard to maintain.

Then my husband goes and gets us an Amazon box thingy for our TV. Suddenly I have access to Outlander, a series I have wanted to watch since I read the books and found out they had made them into a series. Totally distracted by Jamie truth be told.

Ordering fabric for my next commission and chickens tap, tap, tapping at the window into the dining/sewing room - amusing me and, yes, distracting me.

The excitement of the first egg. Yesterday Daydream Buritto proved to be the winner in the race to lay. They are all young chickens and this will have been her first egg. It is a tiny thing but oh so wondrous despite that. And it was added to the fried rice tonight.

The time I have had for sewing has been limited but enjoyable. I have been adding a few more bits of perle to the Farmdale cushion cover. The black is done, and when I stood back to look at it I found that the red was too bold for me. I wasn't pulling it all out though. I'm far too lazy for that. I decided that I would soften it with some pink adjacent to it. I liked it so much I have started putting pink on the other side too.

I love the evolution of a handmade item. The way it tells you if it needs a little bit more of this or less of that. This is probably why I so often work without a well thought out plan. I'd rather let the project let me know which direction to take.


Saturday, 12 September 2015


... the newest additions to our family -  Erica, Gertrude, Betty and Daydream Burrito. (That last name is not a typo, that is what Emily chose to name hers.

We now have chickens. They have settled into their new home peacefully. The back garden is being made less escapable (here's hoping!) and once they are used to us we will let them out the run to wander freely when we are home. This is an all new adventure for us so here's to a fox free future, and lots of eggs.

This is Gertrude. She is mine. We each got to pick one. Gertrude will lay blue eggs when she starts laying. Blue eggs have to taste better. Don't they?!


Friday, 11 September 2015

And Yet Another Project

In interest of me doing what I want, when I want, whatever project I want - I dug out another one. My Brit Bee blocks from round 2. They have been languishing in a box for a while now. Mostly because I loved my idea but never thought it through properly.

I sent out Kona Coal and lots of different yellow, orange, pink and red fabrics from my stash. I asked for a star block or two. That was the only guidance. I said size didn't matter. Therein lay the problem. I ended up with all these amazing blocks and they were so very many different sizes I kind of hit the creative wall as I thought about how to put them together. So I put them aside and there they stayed, until yesterday.

I spread them out on the floor and stuck a post it note on each one with it's size to help me plan layout possibilities. I moved them about, made a few more small/tiny blocks and I went for it. I pieced them into a top.

It was far easier than I thought it would be. There are only two changes I would make if I had to take it apart and do it again. Obviously that is not going to happen so I'm going to go with the fact that I am very, very happy with how this is looking. It measures up about 66" square. I have no backing fabric and I have no idea how to quilt it, but I am so damn happy that it is all together in a quilt top I can barely contain myself.

This Do My Own Stuff September thing is working well for my inspiration, and my let's get things done burst of energy. Wonder what I will dig out tomorrow?


Thursday, 10 September 2015

Why Work On One Project...

... when you can work on something different each day?

Okay, I will admit it. I've gone a bit silly being currently free of commissions. September has become my month to do what I wish. And I wish to do it all, or so it seems. Each day I wake up with a new idea of what to work on, or what to start.

The latest was my decision to make something - for me - with some of my very precious Farmdale blossoms fabric. I wanted to feature the fabric so needed to keep is simple. So I made a very simple linen and Farmdale star block.

And then I broke out the perle cotton. Or should I say I dug through the container full of perle cotton and decided I didn't have the right colours, other than the red and pink, and then I spent quite a while online searching for just the right shades available in a shop here in the UK. (Yeah, I snuck some fabric in too because you have to. It's in the rules.)

I went around the inner star with the red and then had an idea of what to do next.

Stitch in the ditch with the black. I'm using stem stitch and I am loving the way it looks. When I project doesn't have a plan I love how it evolves along the way. And I love how a simple addition like this can totally change the way something looks. I think I may also be in love with black perle cotton and you can expect to see more in the future in all probability.


Monday, 7 September 2015

Not Procrastinating For A Change

Having told you about the commission that wasn't, I proceeded to ignore the blocks sitting on my table for the remainder of the week. There was a very big chance these would be destined to become a (yet another) work in process. I pulled up my big girl pants yesterday and got on with sewing on the sashing and the cornerstones to make it into a quilt top. The fabric was already cut after all. And I know me, if I didn't get it done now I wouldn't for years.

Now what are the chances that I actually baste it (I have the backing already) and finish it? I really need someone to drop by here once a week and crack the whip, put out the work that I have to do and tell me to just get on with it.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Stitch Tease - A New Round

Stitch Tease Bee is starting a new round with some new members, one being my long time friend Nicky, who is also hosting the first month.

Nicky asked us to make blocks inspired by the Alhambra and using oranges as the predominate shade, touches of teal and neutral/gray as the background. These guidelines gave us a lot of scope to decide what to make and these are the two blocks I came up with for Nicky.

And then this one.

I found the drunkard's path curves much easier to sew than the matching of all the points in the second block, but I am happy with them both. The various blocks that have already been made for Nicky are going make for a fabulously interesting quilt. I can't wait to see this one evolve.


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Round Four

The time was come, after taking the summer off, to get started on round four of Brit Bee. The plan this time round is we all do one 15" block that will be unique to our own quilts, and then design a 15" x 30" block that will appear in everyone's block. We will each make a block for each of the quilts, rotating through the blocks so that eventually we have all made one of each block, and each of those blocks exist in different quilts. Make sense? Never mind, it works for us.

So, jumping the gun, I designed my bigger block first. And then got all excited and made it too. My colour theme this round is going to be a white background and monochromatic blocks, or sections of blocks, that are made in solids and some tone on tone prints. I am hoping for more solids than prints, and I am hoping for an ombre effect on blocks that allow it.

It makes more sense visually. This is what I came up with. Oh, I forgot to mention the little, tiny pops of contrasting colour put in here and there.

It was pointed out to me (nicely, not snarkily)  that I hadn't made my 15" block yet. Therefore I got on with that too. I spent the whole school room/waiting in the car time trying to come up with something new. I failed, but I did have fun with HSTs and playing with colour some more.

And that is me not only caught up but ahead of the game for Brit Bee. That means tomorrow I shall start on Stitch Tease and it may mark the first time in ever that I am on top of both bees simultaneously. I may have to reward myself with chocolate!


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

It Was Bound To Happen Sooner Than Later

We all know what quilters do. We cut apart fabric to sew it back together again. And we use traditional blocks as inspiration, other people's creations as inspiration and - really -  most things have been done already in one way, shape or form.

So sooner or later something I was working on would appear somewhere else. And it happened this week. I had a commission to make a quilt to a design of mine for Love Patchwork & Quilting. I sent my idea off to Jenny a year and a half ago but it got lost in the myriad of things that cross an editors desk. About four moths or so ago she found it again and commissioned me to make a quilt based on it.

So I have been cutting and sewing to get back into the groove and make the deadline that was looming due the holiday interrupting the regular schedule. Then I woke up yesterday, thirty blocks made, sashing and cornerstones cut and ready to piece the top together. But I opened Instagram first and one of the first posts I saw was of a quilt to an almost identical design.

I immediately showed Jenny the post because why would LPQ want to publish such a similar pattern just a couple months after Make Modern? I totally get that.

No need to keep this a secret any more then.

Forgive the crappy evening light.
The colours are actually much more vibrant than this.
Made using Art Gallery Fabrics Imprint line.
This is the quilt that is in the latest issue of Make Modern by Bec Proschogo. I love her take on this block a lot. A lot and lot!

So, now I am temporarily (I hope) commission free and I'm playing with fabric. I'm also doing boring stuff like hoovering and cleaning the loos, but I try to pretend that isn't happening in my life. I do avoid housework reality as much as possible.


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Back To Work

Well back to work in as much as making quilts can be considered work. Which we know it isn't, really. It's what we like to do and if any of us can make a penny or two to fund the fabric budget then woohoo and all that.

So I have been cutting, and cutting some more. That's 300 2.5" Kona white squares on the right. Needless to say sugar fueled the cutting marathon.

And I have been piecing like a demon. Seriously just getting on with it. You would be so proud. But there is a story to come. Hopefully one I can tell you tomorrow. Today I am ignoring it all.

What I did forget to show you was this amazing and beautiful Christmas mini Victoria (@sewgoclimbing on Instagram) gave me when we were in the Highlands. She made one like this before and I fell in love with it. Bless her, but she remembered how much I liked it and made me one of my own.

There are so many lovely and whimsical details in the fabrics she used. This is just fun to look at and find things that you missed the first and second time around. I cannot wait to have it out over the holidays. Though I don't think I am going to hide it away just yet.

If you are new to Instagram and looking for great people to follow then please do go check out Victoria's feed. She mixes wonderful quilting with stunning photos of the Northwest Highlands, interspersed with photos of her and her husband climbing rock faces that would scare the wits out of most people. For them it is just good fun, and sort of necessary to their happiness.

Every time I see this mini I will remember our holiday up in the far reaches of this country. I do hope we return, and not in the too distant future.