Friday 30 September 2011

Summer Sewing Wrap Up

I am combining two posts here. I long one and a very short one, but if you have come over from Quilting in My Pyjamas I do talk about my Favourite Thing Friday after I summarise my Summer Sewing. Thanks!

A long, long time ago, I signed up to Sarah's Summer Sewing challenge, over at FairyFace Designs. I listed all sorts of projects I expected to complete by the end of summer here. Well, I am not going to talk about that original list because that would make me look like I had one big fail on my hands. Plans change, new projects crop up, but things did get made and here is a summary of them -

Seems like such a very long time ago,
but I finished Sherbet Pips Number 2 within the Summer Sewing.
I then took Lynne's tutorial for Double Fat Jack
and turned him into a fatter Jack by making a huge pillow with it.
Perv Bird was my first ever quilt swap.
It involved all sorts of 'firsts' for me in the sewing department.
P51 was a secret project at the time.
Our Brit Bee made a quilt for someone who really deserved it.
It was a huge pleasure to be a part of this.
I found a love of pillow cushion making
and for HSTs - which was quite  shock!
I managed to finish Sherbet Pips Number 3 to my satisfaction.
I was so pleased that my vision of an escaping pinwheel worked.
Wonky Stars is my favourite quilt that I have ever made.
It has gone to a good home in Finland,
but I may have to make another one because I love it so much still.
Another first for me was inserting a zipper in a cushion.
Well actually, it was inserting a zipper anywhere. It's not perfect but I had to try.
The girls had school bags made with recycled denim.
Emily's here.
And Helen's here.
I went on a pin cushion craze.
Splashy was my favourite.
I signed up for my first mug rug swap - Goodies Swap 2011.
This was for one partner.
And this was for the other.
Unfortunately the first mug rug partner didn't stay in the swap.
So I made a different mug rug for a newly assigned partner.
And then I completed the Across the Seas QAL quilt.
There were numerous other things like the bee blocks - which have been a pleasure to work on each month. Charity blocks and quilt tops for bloggy friends. Swaps in the process but not yet complete. It is just an ongoing process. I even think I left a couple of things off the above list, but there is enough there. I'm not going back and adding more!

And the biggest thing on the go for me right now is the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap. I have a huge (for me!) number of talented people signed up - 41 last I looked. I am thrilled, excited and slightly scared. But it will be good fun. Right?!

And that is my Summer Sewing Wrap Up. Thanks Sarah for making me focus and see just what I was getting done - or not as the case may be. In the end I did far more than I expected so I am pleased with my quilting progress.

I will end this post with a link up to Shay at Quilting In My Pyjamas and her Favourite Things Friday. I have two favourite things today. After writing this post I think I will have finished projects as one of those things.

But much more importantly, I have had a really crap day and my favourite thing today is chocolate. Some days you just can't get through the daylight hours without any. Today was one of those days. So Mr Cadbury - thank you very much!


Thursday 29 September 2011

ATSQAL Finished!

I am so pleased that I signed up for the Across the Seas Quilt-a-long. Sarah and Jennifer are brilliant, put tons of work into the pattern and all the tutorials along the way, and must have spent hours cheering us all as we progressed. I am amazed at how different this quilt can look depending on what fabrics people chose. Having seen some other people's choices, in retrospect I  might have made different choices myself - but I didn't and - despite this - I am thrilled with the resulting quilt.

I made the baby size. This would fit one big baby! Not complain, just saying. It is a perfect size to toss over our sofa and hide more of its ugliness. I am almost there in the quilting disguise. Maybe just a cushion or two more.

Seeing as how the weather has been so nice this week, the quilt and I went out for a little outdoor photo shoot yesterday.

The vibrancy of the colours really showed up in the sunshine.
I love that bordered cross on the back,
even if it caused me more trouble than anything else about this quilt.
Just hanging around.
I'm happy with my decision to go with a scrappy binding.
And that is my Across the Seas Quilt. My first ever completed quilt in a QAL. I say that because I started the Farmer's Wife quilt ages before this one but I have a feeling it will be a lot longer before I am finished it too!

Today I have spent a great deal of time at the computer compiling the data on the people signed up for my Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap. If you haven't signed up for it then I have to tell you that this is an amazing group of people who have joined. Here's a little mosaic of things made by some of the people in the group. Wouldn't you love to get something made by someone capable of making things like this?!

I know I would. That's why I started the swap. I'm not silly!


PS: If you have signed up for the swap but not yet provided me with your details, or made a mosaic, you need to do these things by Sunday night because that is when sign ups close and partner assignment starts. A mosaic and an address are required to participate.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Goodie Goodie Gumdrops!

First, I have to ask if you had that saying when you were growing up? I remember we used to say it when something was particularly good or exciting when I was growing up in Canada, but as I named the blog post it occurred to me that many of you would not know what on earth I was talking about. Never mind, half of you already think I am on the brink of insanity anyway!

I got my second package for the Goodie Swap today, and I have to say - sorry folks, but it is mine all mine and I am doing a happy dance that would mortify the girls if they were home. Look what I got!!

This amazing package arrived from Jan, whose blog I have been following for absolutely ages and I also consider a bloggy friend - which made this so much more wonderful on top of all the goodness she sent. You can find Jan's blog here. Now you can go have a look, if you haven't already, and you too can become a bloggy friend of hers.

Let's seperate the goodness above into individual items so that you can truly appreciate it.

My glorious mug rug. Great colours and lovely design, all beautifully pieced. What more could a girl ask for?

This little purse is so great, and I am inspired by the dense quilting in straight lines. I must try that some time soon. Inside was that beautiful little broach made with red glass beads. I am hiding it from Helen - no offence to my eldest but she can't have it. In fact I think I had best hide the purse as well as the broach!

And I got scraps. Scrumptious scraps at that. Jan remembered that when she did a post about sorting her scraps I had commented on the pink and white one on the top of one of her piles. She sent it to me! That would be the butterflies above. I also spread the piggy fabric out for you to feast your eyes on. I love that it has little piggy rear ends as well as their various faces.

If you looked very closely at the first photo you may have noticed that the chocolate wrapping wasn't quite as smooth as it should be. That would be because I had the self control of a three year old and had already opened it and had a bite before I got around to taking the photos.

And that is what I got in the post today. I don't think I have ever had so much fun with the post as I have had this past month. I should have got involved in all this stuff years ago!!

I finished my Across The Seas quilt today. But I am not going to blog about it until tomorrow. I was far more excited about showing you what I got from Jan in the Goodie Swap than showing off the quilt. My other accomplishment today (other than not ignoring all the must do household chores) was to make a mosaic for the Scrappy Swap that Kat set up.

Now, I think I am going to go out in the sunshine and have an ice lolly with my girls. Only then will I consider bringing in the bed linen and putting it all crisp and lovely, smelling beautifully of this Indian summer, on our beds.


Tuesday 27 September 2011

Turning the Tables

Instead of life interfering with my sewing time today, I made sure that sewing took over my life. I thought about what to make for dinner, and decided that sausages, chips and beans would sort out that problem. No prep to do then. I looked at the hoover. I decided that it was happy being ignored in the corner. I haven't even done the breakfast dishes yet, but I don't care.

Because I got things done. In particular I got things done on my Across the Seas quilt. More than I expected. I am so pleased! First I pieced.

Hint - when there aren't any children to stand and hold a quilt top for you
the droopy badminton net is not a suitable alternative!
I then got down on my hands and knees and pinned for England.

Without even considering cleaning the bathrooms, I proceeded directly back to machine and got stippling.

I would like to say that it was just a simple matter for the quilting. But I can't. It was back to feeling like I was wrestling with a walrus, only this time the walrus was winning. That quilt got away from me a number of times. Do not look at the quilt too closely, or the battle scars will be obvious. The highlight was when the quilt really did get away from me and I got to witness what happened when the machine needle hit a basting pin. Dear me, it was not pretty!

I got there in the end. The quilt is stippled, in a bigger stipple than I normally do. I thought that this would be easier but the bigger movements were part of the problem with me controlling the quilt, and it also hard to break old habits of wanting to keep those little wandering paths of stitching closer together.

Finally, I trimmed the excess backing and wadding.

Now I am going on the school run covered in thread ends but inordinately pleased with myself. The girls won't be when they see the state of me though!

So, just the binding to do and then it is going to do a fabulous job of hiding my ugly sofa, as demonstrated above.

Finally, the postman has delivered more bee blocks to me. I am so thrilled with these because (a) they are stunning, and (b) Terri, who made them, has had a tough month so I was fully prepared to wait for them to be done when she was good and ready. So, a huge thank you, Terri, and so pleased that you are part of our bee and I have your blocks for my quilt.

And thanks for the chocolate. Devoured today when I had to step away from the stippling when I tried to sew the basting pin. Sometimes chocolate is the only thing that can fix things! for everyone else, who didn't get to enjoy the chocolate, here is the joke that came with it -

Two elephants walk off a cliff...

... Boom! Boom!


Monday 26 September 2011

Goodie Swap!

I think I mentioned last week that I had received my Goodie Swap items at the beginning of last week. I had incredibly self-control (for me) and didn't open them until this weekend so that I was doing it at the same time as many of the others. And was I happy when I did!

I loved those bright hexies when I saw them posted on the Flickr swap group. They are pieced beautifully. And the hand stitching! There are stitches here like you never see on my quilts, they are so delicate and perfectly done.

If that was not enough there were some yummy chocolaty treats - and you know that you can never go wrong with chocolate and me in the same room together. And this plump gorgeousness of a pin cushion. Which is great because I am going to start keeping a pin cushion with my hand sewing and another by the machine and then I don't have to keep chasing it round.

Aren't those wee dots of flowers lovely?! So a huge thank you to Ros from Rosa-Munda who put such a lot of time, skill and thought into my swap items to make things that suited me so well.

In other news, I am sure that you are pleased to see I survived the weekend with a modicum of sanity. (Yes, Hadley, I am waiting for a pithy comment to this!) You may have all laughed that I got Sunday dinner - it was not a roast! - ready two days early, but let me tell you that it was very appreciated by me last night that I only had to bake some potatoes and reheat the chili. I wasn't up to any more effort than that!

I had a friend over for lunch today so very little time was left for sewing between that and other tasks. But I do finally have the background fabric cut for the Across the Seas quilt so the final piecing should be done tomorrow. Woohoo!

I am taking the girls into town after school as Emily has some birthday money burning a hole in her pocket and Claire's has a sale on with some amazing Hello Kitty bargains and Emily is terrified that they will have all sold out. It will be straight to dance - via the chip shop - from there and that pretty well ties up the remainder of my day.

So I hope that you are enjoying this Indian summer sunshine and having a great Monday.


Sunday 25 September 2011

Day of Rest?

Can I go to bed now? It is almost 4pm. Oh, I could use a sleep though. I've been to the cinema with a friend...

... and nine children. Then we took them all to lunch. It went pretty well. The buffet had lots to choose from - Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, etc. There was only one child who professed to not like one single thing on the whole buffet except chips (aka fries). They all found things to like in the dessert section, especially the chocolate fountain. And it is done, Emily's belated and shared mini birthday party. It's tough being an August baby and either being away for your birthday or having all your friends away. This was to make up for it. Plus she got to share a birthday do with her best friend. That's go to be good.

Shared sodas.
Shared birthday parties.
And matching Hello Kitty lip glosses.
Is anything more required from a day like this. I think not!


Saturday 24 September 2011

Reconstructive Surgery

I haven't a lot to report today. Life has been interfering with my 'real life'. So it was all about helping children, doing laundry, driving to dance lessons, buying gifts for Emily's best friend's birthday. Oh, and catering to the masses. Then there was the learning how to thread numerous wires down metres long tubes to help himself. (Don't ask, it is not exciting!) All this gave very little time to actually sew.

I can report is that Goldilocks had reproductive reconstructive surgery. (Thanks for the surgery reference in the comments yesterday, Sarah, because the originality comes all from her and not me!) Goldilocks is bearing some minor scars from said surgery but everything is now where it is supposed to be. And, please, if for some strange bit of fate I have still mullered it - don't tell me. Just let me live in my little dream world. Thanks!

In other news, the lovely Annabella over at Life's Rich Pattern is having an amazing giveaway. I know that I have actively suggested that you check out her blog before, and if you haven't - why not?! Her blog is a fantastic blend of sewing and photography that I love. And now you have the added incentive to get over there, because wouldn't you like a chance to win some of this?

Moroccan Mirage by Kristian A Howell
You might be tired of listening to me tell you that in actual fact the Go! Baby is darn good fun and has opened my world up to more sewing ideas. Or you might wish that you too could win one. Well, despite the giveaways having slowed down, they have not stopped. You can find one going on right now here. Good luck!

If you are interested in Christmas things (No, this is not a plug for my swap this time. I'll do that again during the week!) then you might wish to top off your Christmas fabric stash a little. For those of us living in the UK and Ireland, Emily over at Strawberry Patch is setting up a charm square swap. Each participant buys one metre of Christmas fabric - and puts it on the Flickr group so everyone knows what has already been purchased - and then cuts it up into 56 5" squares. We send that off to Emily and she divides all the squares between all 28 participants. You get back 2 squares each of 28 different fabrics.

Only we need 28 people to take part for it to work. We are looking for cool Christmas fabric. Not the kind that makes you cringe when you go into your local quilt shop. My current favourite in my stash is this -

Colourful Christmas by Mind's Eye for Riley Blake
Not sure if I could bring myself to chop it up into 56 squares, but absolutely promise I would not dump this on you -

Bought years ago in a moment of madness. I blame sleep deprivation!
And that's all I have to say for today. Gasp! I would like to say that I am going to go commune with my fabric and get on with the backing for the ATSQAL, but in actual fact I think I have to go and finish cooking dinner. Today has been a clear case of domestic priorities overpowering sewing ones, and winning. Hmmmff! Back to the kitchen with me then!


Friday 23 September 2011

Has Someone Put Something In My Tea?

You would think one day a week having energy was enough. It is most certainly what I am used to. So I am very suspicious that someone has been tampering with my tea, or sold me magic bananas for my cake. Because I was at it again today, and far too cheerful about it for this behaviour to resemble anything approaching normal for me.

It might be the weather because I love this weather. Crisp mornings, bright skies, autumn tinges on the trees. When I needed to do errands around the village I chose to walk. It was just so nice strolling here and there, getting things done. If I could have thought up more errands I would have done them just for the pleasure of being out there.

Instead I came home to hang out the laundry, make dinner and make Sunday's dinner - as I will be rather busy that day. When that was all sorted I set to sewing with a vengeance. I got the backing blocks done for the Across the Seas quilt.

Baby bear.
Mama bear.
Papa bear.
Those three blocks were simple. Just pieced them without thought. The trouble started when I attempted to piece the last one without thought. Me and my seam ripper were BFF today. Dear me, but I did make a lot of silly mistakes, including the class dunce attempt at sewing the fabrics wrong sides together, instead of right. I messed up one of my corner blocks and didn't notice until the block was all done - then it stood out like a sore thumb. (Really it was just a repeat of my last attempt at the FWQAL blocks!) Is it any wonder that I don't usually sew to a pattern and quite often make it up as I go along?! Then I don't make mistakes, I work with them and quite often turn them into an intentional part of the pattern.

But I got there in the end -

I can only presume that this block is Goldilocks!
OMG! I've done it again! It's like groundhog day with these blocks instead of the FWQAL ones. Because it is all wrong, isn't it?! Why aren't the mistakes visible to me until I put a photo on my computer screen? Which part of my brain just does not link to my eyes until too late?

Well, this post is over. I have more seam ripping to do before I take the girls to Brownies - and helping out there tonight too. I had best check the fridge that there is a bottle of wine in it. I just might have driven myself to drink again!