Saturday 29 October 2011

Today I Had a Mission

It is pretty obvious from the title of this blog that I am a Canadian who doesn't live in Canada. If you have read me before then you will know that I currently live smack dab in the middle of England. It's a good life and a happy life. But sometimes I hanker after things 'Canadian'. Dare I say that Halloween is one of those times of year that I sort of, maybe, wish that I was in North America.

If you grew up with Halloween then you are generally hooked for life. It was never a teenage, trouble making thing that some people tell me it is in England. Is was just darn good fun. I'm a mother. I want my girls to enjoy Halloween too. And they do, they absolutely love it. From the first time that I took them trick or treating and Emily's three year old self declared it 'The best thing ever!' to the present day.

Luckily the area we live has embraced it and most of their friends go trick or treating in the village with lots of houses welcoming them. We never go to houses that don't have some indication that the trick or treaters are welcome - pumpkins or decorations outside are usually a dead giveaway. This year the PTA is hosting a Halloween party tomorrow night as well.

So what is my problem, you may wonder? Pumpkins! In particular, pumpkins of a decent size. Anyone who has experienced Halloween in North America will know that pumpkins are everywhere, in every size, stacked outside farm shops and the like. Finding your perfect pumpkin each year is no different than finding your perfect Christmas tree in a couple of months time.

Places like this, pumpkins galore - that's what I want!

We went to buy a pumpkin yesterday. We were in Tesco. The 'large' pumpkins there were smaller than Emily's head. Not that Emily has an unusually small head but her head size is not the same as a large pumpkin! I refused to buy one. Unfortunately we went to two garden centres and there wasn't a pumpkin between them. So we went to the Coop where the girls said there were most definitely pumpkins. There were, but when I went to lift one puny specimen out to have a look - at this point getting a little desperate and less picky about size - my fingers sank into a rotting bit in a rather gross and off putting way. We did not buy one of their pumpkins!

Today I awoke with a mission. Pumpkins must be found. I would like to thank Sainsburys for not only coming through for us, but for actually providing pumpkins of a size that gladdened my Canadian heart.

It also soothed the savage beasts that are my children. Having inducted them into the joys of Halloween at a very young age they couldn't face Halloween without a pumpkin either. Who knows where I might have ended up today in my quest if Sainsburys hadn't provided?!

Emily's owl.
Stop and look a minute. That is not two mouths - those are the claws.
And there are wings to either side.
Helen's spider.
Eight legs, fangs, the whole scary lot!
(Oh, come on, you didn't seriously think that I wasn't going to do one too, did you?!)
Pumpkins carved, MIL over for lunch as we hadn't seen her in absolutely ages, and it was eventually time to do some sewing. Woohoo! Well, the 'woohoo' held for a short while. I got out the recently purchased fusible fleece, read the instructions (please see photo) and got going with the iron on the wool setting.

I cut, I layered, I covered all with a dampened tea towel and I got to work.

And it all did just what it was supposed to do. I did find it a little strange cutting the fleece to the same size as the cushion top but did this as I didn't particularly wish to have the fleece glued to my tea towel. Those of you who have used this stuff before - does this happen or can I merrily cut a little larger?

I then went about quilting without any backing fabric, as Lynne had suggested. It worked a charm and I had no problems at all. A quick stipple and it was done. Ready to finish with sewing on the cushion back.

Great, thought I. And I went about doing it all over again with another cushion cover. I thought I would do the other firemen one as I already had the colour of thread I wanted on the machine. I would change from a stipple to a loopy FMQ. Easy peasy and quick, thought I. (Too much thinking was going on and you just know it had to go wrong!)

First the thread broke several times. You can see one of those times in the bottom right hand corner of the photo. Then my thread did this to me! See that clump. It was the end of the spool, but I have never had a spool of thread do this to me before, at any point in using it. It made my machine make funny noises - which always makes my heart lurch! And I don't have any more of that colour, there is still a third more of the cushion cover to quilt, I am annoyed, I am worried that if I go back to my machine it will start making 'those noises' again.

So I walked away and wrote this post instead. Seemed the most sensible option. I am going to ignore that cushion cover. Pretend it didn't happen. Maybe go try some straight line quilting, if I get back in the mood. I am not going to try picking out all those stitches today. So not in the mood for that!

If you have stopped by from Ellison Lane Quilts through Jennifer's Spotlight feature on me today - Hi! - and yes, this is fairly typical of one of my days. Unpredictable, seldom goes to plan, but I have fun. Most of the time - when my thread isn't doing the above to me. Hope you enjoyed your visit.



  1. I'm so glad you found Sainsbury's because that would have been the very direction I would have sent you in. This Canadian girl has yet to be disappointed at the size or the price of their pumpkins...I think I must have trained them well ;o)

    As for your machine, go back, unthread everything and take the needle plate off and give it a good clean. I suspect you have fluff gumming up the bobbin area especially if you have be free motioning with wadding as your bottom fabric. Re-thread everything and try some normal sewing and see how it goes.

  2. Love the jackolanterns! By far my fav thing about Halloween. Glad you managed to find some decent sized, non rotten ones! Sorry your machine started protesting, i hate when that happens! How fun that you got featured, I'll have to check that out!

  3. Woot Woot from over here for being on Jennifer`s and I love your pumpkin carving...was yours a self portrait taken after your phone call with Accuquilt?

  4. Love the pumpkins!! Know what you mean about the UK, it has never been very popular, I wonder if it's because bonfire night is only 5 days later and more is made of that. Linda x

  5. Love your pumpkins, they are fab! I have one waiting at home to be cut into....these have given me a few new ideas :-) The firemen fabric is cool - must try fusible fleece!

  6. Yes, your fusible fleece WILL stick to your tea towel, or your ironing board if you turn it over. I usually make it 1/4 inch smaller overall, it reduces the bulk in the seam allowance too.

    Now, my machine makes funny clunking noises and then does rubbish stuff to my thread to. You know what I do? Take my project out of the machine, stick in a piece of scrap cloth (an old sheet cut up in my case) and just sew, ignore the noises, ignore the clumps, just put your foot down and it rights itself!! Don't know how but it works on my Husqvarna...

  7. Love the pumpkins! Try using baking parchment (or greaseproof if you only have that - not quite good but works ok!) to protect your ironing board/tea towel from the fusible fleece...and good luck with your machine - I hope a good clean and rethread, etc. sorts it out!

  8. Love the pumpkins! I've only used fusible fleece in bags so it's always been cut to the same size as the bag parts. Good to hear it works for cushions though. Need to try that!

  9. Phew, glad Sainsbury's came through for you! I definitely think it's because of bonfire night that we don't do halloween so much - my only trick or treat experiences were when I lived in North America, but it makes for good fun at uni for costume parties :oD

    As for the quilting, that looks a tad scary! Hope it was only a slight aberration with the end of that spool and it'll resurrect itself again with a new one

  10. I am glad you found the pumpkins. CBC told me last week that there is a pumpkin shortage in Canada this year, just so you can appreciate your success better.

    I agree with Jane (your first commenter). In addition, sometimes when the thread shreds like that it is because you don't have the right size needle eye for the thread, so consider changing your needle if the rest does not work and also maybe your hands are moving a tad fast.

  11. Hi Susan!
    I am visiting from Ellison Lane Quilts. I too am canadian and I am so glad you found some beautiful pumpkins to carve!! You guys did a great job!
    I hope you get everything figured out with your machine and can finish your FMQ! Good luck and Happy Halloween!!

  12. Where's the recipe then? What did you do with all the guts and innards?! I've been using the fusible fleece for bags for ages, dunno why I never thought of it for cushions... hope your machine noises and thread issues behave tomorrow :-)

  13. Great pumpkins, we have a Tesco special festering, awaiting gutting tomorrow!
    You know that stuff never goes to plan - hope you get sorted soon x

  14. Way back in the old days when I was growing up, we had hallowe'en lanterns made out of turnips (swedes)here in Scotland - it must have been murder scooping it out, my dad used to do it.

  15. Way back in the old days when I was growing up, we had hallowe'en lanterns made out of turnips (swedes)here in Scotland - it must have been murder scooping it out, my dad used to do it.

  16. The best way to get a good pumpkin is to grow your own - they are so easy to grow, and they come out nice and large. Or you could just stop by my house and choose one of ours!

    Pomona x

  17. Great feature on Jen's blog! What a gal! Cushion is looking great - hope it behaves when you decide to go back to it. Jxo

  18. Hello to you from Voncouver Island. My nervousness at trying fmq for the firt time is diminishing because of the trials the seasoned quilters have as well. I am learning so much by reading about the problems others have. It is a great help to learn about some of the things I may encounter that will discourage me. So thank-you for being willing to share the problms you encounter. It is a great way for us newbies to learn! Love, love, love your Star quilt. Dacia

  19. Glad you found your pumpkins because you and the girls did a great job of carving them. Do you bake the seeds? I love baked pumpkin seeds!!! Yummo!!!

  20. fabulous pumpkins, we will be doing ours today: it is Beccys birthday on Halloween. I know the feeling with the FMQ'ing. I was doing really well with my quilt and then suddenly half way through it all started to go wrong, loopy threads on the back, thread snapping etc. I have yet to go back to it, but I will

  21. So glad you and Sainsbury’s came to an agreement. Those pumpkins look pretty much exactly like the ones I’d go looking for if we did the Halloween thing here. Scary pumpkin faces.

    Blerk at the thought of pumpkin guts everywhere as I am sure it would be if I started trying to carve a pumpkin. Im not known for my dexterity . Who can forget when I chopped the end off my finger last time I tried to carve vegetables.

    I used fusible fleece earlier this year and cut it smaller than the block too as suggested here by someone else. Worked a treat!

  22. Oh no! Stinky FMQ. It was looking good on the fire trucks, though :) I love your pumpkins. Being an American here on our lovely(damp) island of Ireland, I too am having a rough time finding a good pumpkin. Good for you scoring those beauties! They're looking great :)

  23. I love the jack o'lanterns! So much better than the hack job I usually do! And what is this bonfire night I'm hearing about? Sounds interesting. Good luck with your machine, I'm sure you'll get it sorted out. The cushion covers are looking great so far!

  24. Wow how did you do such pretty pumpkins? Mine always end up looking terribly deformed!

  25. Oooo great carving skills! Did you use an apple corer for those eyes? They are perfect circles! and I love the owl and the spider too.

    Re the fusible fleece, I've got stuff stuck to the ironing board and the iron before, it's a nightmare so I've started using greaseproof paper...I'm not sure if this is a fire risk, but it seemed to work for me!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I read them all and I love them all. I do my utmost to reply to comments as often as possible. If you comment and never receive a reply from me there is the possibility that you are a no-reply commenter.