Monday 31 December 2012

The 2012 Round Up

I've sat here the past couple of days, going through my photos files - which I have come to realise are woefully disorganised - trying to figure out what I have made in the past year. Some things I had forgotten all about, some things are not my favourites, and other things I love.

First up are the quilts. There aren't as many of them as I would have liked there to have been finished. But I did end up with a couple of quilts that I adore and use on a daily basis. That's what makes me happy at the end of the day.

From top left; clockwise -
Brit Bee quilt, Sew Stitchy, One for the Birds, Stained Colourful, Emily's quilt, Siblings Together
Centre - Terrain
There were the obligatory pouches. More than I thought. My fear of zippers well and truly conquered.

Cushions, all gifts or swap items. I like making cushions. Satisfying makes, useful and they don't take forever to produce.

Hoops. Well, I thought that I made more of these. Not sure if I  missed some out, or if I just imagined that I did more than is shown here. I would like to do more hoops in the coming year. I enjoy them - a lot.

There were a number of table toppers, and table runners. Mostly made in the past little while. These are another thing I like to make. I find the more I do the more my imagination wants to stretch my design abilities. My most recent runner - the Cherry Christmas one - is most definitely my favourite.

Then there were the 'little makes'. The pin cushions, and needle books, fabric baskets, and other assorted odds and ends.

That is my year on the crafting side of things. For 2013 I have so many ideas bubbling away in my brain, and I am not sure which ones will win and make it from thought to fruition. Most certainly, if you had asked me twelve months ago what I planned to make in 2012 I would not have come up with 95% of the items shown here. That is part of the fun of all this. Seeing where my imagination, swaps, gift making and the like lead me along the way. Most certainly I enjoy myself whichever route I take.


Sunday 30 December 2012

To Save My Sanity...

... I started to think about sewing today in the 'House of the Sick'. All visitors to us for the holidays have now been cancelled. The freezer over flows with food I made in advance. I eat the cookie mountain with abandon. I avoid the germs, and am getting bored senseless.

So there was only one thing to do. Get the fabric out. After all, I no longer need to keep the dining room table free for sumptuous buffets of food for guests. The gingerbread house got shoved to one end of the table. But I thought you might like to have a peak at it anyway.

I've been contemplating what to make first for 2013. First on my list of 'must do' projects are my long overdue bee blocks for various bees. Some I can show you and some I can't. But all will be done before too long. The fabric was cut for Cindy's blocks.

And I raided the girls' maths kits for a compass to draw circles for Sarah's blocks. Oh, and used my handy dandy mini rotary blade to cut out those circles. It is amazing! Love it already. Who knew I needed one of these and so soon too?!

I fished around in my stash and found the bulk of a layer cake of Salt Air. I want to make a quilt for someone special to me and this line seems very appropriate for her. I paired up squares and pinned them together in preparation of sewing lots of quarter square triangles.

And then I dug up this delicious pile of ten inch squares that were sent to me as an extra in the For the Love of Solids swap last winter. I have always been in such awe of this gorgeous pile that I knew I wanted them to not go straight in my stash but for most of them to be used in a quilt together. I have finally decided which design I want to go with. I am ready to start cutting. But scared too as I love this stack so much I don't want to mess it up.

That's as far as I got today. But it was enough to make me feel better mentally. Gave me something to focus on and has my mind all stirred up and ready to sew again. Woohoo!


Friday 28 December 2012

Just Popping In To Say Hello

I do hope everyone is enjoying their holidays. We are quietly going about ours here. With unfailing predictability we have been the house of sick here. Not me. Them. I don't think I will say much more than to state I am not a good nurse. I have neither the patience nor the sympathy levels required.

Despite the germ invasion we have been having a good Christmas. I had everything organised enough for once that I was able to double duty nurse and chef duties. The meals turned our great (if I say so myself). Toasts were made, maybe some champagne drank. Presents were given and received, and there was a general feeling of good will to all. Just greatly diminished appetites and humongous amounts of time spent in bed by some, and copious amounts of medicine consumed.

I thought I would drop in today and show you the fabric (and related) goodness I received as gifts. I was ever so lucky in the gift department. I shall skip showing you photos of chocolates, etc. Suffice to say they too were gratefully received.

My Brit Bee Secret Santa gift was a gorgeous infinity scarf in lush coloured voile.
And a fabulous button FQ, and some needle threaders.
Thank you, Secret Santa!
Lots of handy dandy bits and pieces that are very useful.
I have wanted a 12.5" square ruler for just about ever.
And I am now addicted to spray basting thanks to this lovely lady.
Assorted FQs.
More perle - because you can never have enough.
And some Heaven and Helsinki which I love and have wanted for ages.
A low volume quilt is on the cards for 2013.
Any and all links to the best ideas gratefully welcome.
Someone who knows me well cut me a whole assortment of 2.5" squares.
I want to do a postage stamp quilt too.
Not a scrap vomit one - these are way too pretty to even be considered for that!
And some Cuzco by Kate Spain.
I. Want. More.
This line is so very, very gorgeous in person.
As you can tell I have been thoroughly spoiled. And I'm not complaining one bit. Quite the opposite in fact. We shall continue to fight the germs here, and intersperse our days with the odd hot chocolate. You can't go wrong with marshmallows shaped like snowmen and trees after all. Nor with lots of squirty cream.


Sunday 23 December 2012

It's Starting to Feel a Bit Like Christmas

Everyone has a trigger that sets them on that proper Christmas spirit. In this house it is doing the gingerbread cookies. It signals that my mum and stepdad are here - because we don't do the cookies without my mum. It signals that there are only a couple more sleeps until Christmas morning. It signals that all shopping is done and there shouldn't be any reason to leave the house other than for pleasant walks and to pick up the turkey from the village butcher.

All the gifts are bought/made, I hope! Just lots of wrapping to do still. I'm not very good at doing that in advance as much as I plan on it year in and year out. The family time has started and everyone is winding down from routines, and fighting germs. It's all good here.

So with lots of gingerbread dough made a couple of days ago all we needed was the child labour.

A myriad of sprinkles. This was only the tip of the rainbow -

And four piping bags. Then the fun began.

I finished off the Christmas cake at the same time. It isn't my finest moment - but then again cake decorating is most definitely not my forte. It also didn't help that Emily decided a big blob of icing (that was supposed to resemble a pile of snowballs) would be the perfect finish. She and I glared daggers at each other for a while. But you can't stay mad when you are decorating cookies. And I had to admit that as the cake was not exactly a work of art in the first place so did it really matter?!

Much more important that it taste good.

I hope that everyone is enjoying their own Christmases in their own way. I shall be taking a week or so off blogging to concentrate on the important stuff - my family.

A very Merry Christmas to all and the very best for 2013!


Friday 21 December 2012

Private Swaps

Many people in the blogging world set up their own private swaps with their bloggy friends. I hadn't until recently when the lovely Sadie from Stitching up a Storm asked if I would like to participate in one with her. Needless to say I jumped at the chance as Sadie is wonderful at stitching all sorts of things.

I quickly discovered that private swaps contain none of the pressure of big online swaps. Because we were keeping what we were making for each other secret. So no commenting on Flickr, or hours spent stalking. Just some happy sewing for someone you like, making something you hope they will like.

Well, I got my parcel came from Sadie this week and she did so good! Look for yourself -

 Did Sadie get me right, or what?! DS, Sew Stitchy, Oh Deer!, Pez. Hexies, diamonds, perle! OMG she is spot on here.

And that gorgeous counted cross stitch decoration. I really admire that because long ago I tried counted cross stitch. I never made it to the finish line. I was halfway through, realised that I had gone wrong somewhere and that was it. No more counted cross stitch for me. But Sadie is amazing at it.

And I just love those little lines of deer on the envelope back. Thank you so much Sadie - you did a brilliant job!

What did Sadie get in return? Well, remember that perle stitching I have been doing of late? And that hidden zip? It was all for her.

Forgive the rather deflated look to this cushion. I did not have a cushion insert big enough to plump it up properly. I am hoping that plumped up it looks much better. An anorexic cushion is not much good for anything after all.

No matter how many photos I took of this cushion the navy linen refused to ever photograph properly for me. But Sadie managed to get one that truly shows the colours. So I nicked borrowed it to show you.

I would also like to mention that Sadie sent me chocolate too, and for the girls. That didn't make the photo, but the gift was appreciated. I feel terrible as I bought chocolate for Sadie and forgot to put it in the package. Honest! I hang my head in shame.

I have another private swap lined up for the new year already. And I am planning a second - though the participant(s) don't actually know it yet. Doing this with Sadie showed me that it is a great way to exchange things in a low pressure way.


Wednesday 19 December 2012

I. Am. Done!

Finished, done, complete, and not a moment too soon. No more Christmas making for me this year. And next year - barring any children being hospitalised, etc - I shall have everything done at a much earlier date. Well, that's the plan, and you can laugh at me when I work myself up into a state again.

Yesterdays sewing started with the butchering of a coat hanger. It was only a small one, and no longer needed as mini people do not reside in this house any more. I required a wooden coat hanger, but not as big as all the ones I could find. Then, in the girls' wardrobe I found a hanger that goes all the way back to when Helen was a baby. All pretty, and padded, still bearing the ribbons it came with. Not for long!

Once I had my hanger, I cut some fabric to the curve of it, and knocked together the perfect gift for the man who has everything. A peg bag. For someone in the family who always hangs the laundry. He's good like that. So I thought a suitably masculine peg bag was in order. The recipient will laugh.

Then came the final Christmas present to make. One last tote bag. I love the colours in this, and used most of my precious FQ of Field Study. Additionally, I used some Stof linen and it's lined with It's a Hoot home decor weight. I added a split pocket on the exterior of one side, as I thought this would be handy for the recipient who likes to go swimming. They could pop their bottle of shampoo in there, etc.

I almost don't believe that I actually managed to get everything I needed to make done.

I've lost track of what I have made. I know that as much as I love sewing, putting the machine away for a week or two, and having a dining room instead, is going to be nice. And relaxing. I am looking forward to the relaxing bit.

The next few days will be dedicated to housework - something had to give with all this making so we won't even discuss the state of the house. Baking needs to be happening too. That will be fun. I love Christmas baking. And the eating that follows.


Tuesday 18 December 2012


When two sisters are close in age you have to take this into consideration when making gifts, especially when they are still young. Like for like, and all that. For once I am not talking about my own girls, but someone else's. So two girls and favourite colours. The same gift, but not quite.

Add in a couple of treats and I think that their presents are sorted.

I would love to stay and chat, but I am off to help out at a school Christmas party. Then there is a carol concert tonight. And two more gifts to make. Because I counted wrong the other day when I looked at the list of what was left to do. But it's all good. I can do it. Honest, I can.


Monday 17 December 2012

The One That Made Me Smile

Despite the speed that I am churning out Christmas presents right now, sometimes something I make really catches my fancy. Yesterday I started a table runner as a gift for someone. I didn't do any sketching or planning, just thought up something in my head, and started cutting fabric.

And I am chuffed to bits the way it has turned out.

I fussy cut some of my Cherry Christmas and then pulled a couple of other Christmas charms and fussy cut them too. I contemplated adding more colour to the fabrics chosen, but decided that the blue/red/grey theme worked for me.

They were pieced in one long strip, using yet more of that Empress Mills white cotton that has proved so useful in so many of my Christmas makes.

Out came the perle cotton. The red shows up stunningly well on the white. The bold quilting was needed to make the squares that had a white background stand out. But I decided that the red squares should be quilted with aqua. And in total abandon I backed it in the Christmas graffiti fabric that I seem to have an endless supply of. Why?

The machine quilting was heavy and straight line. I wasn't sure about it when I was halfway done, but am more than happy with it now.

All in all, this runner makes me smile. Yet another box ticked too.


Sunday 16 December 2012

Two More Ticks

I am feeling quite positive about the Christmas making these days. What seemed insurmountable at the beginning of last week is starting to look more doable by the day. I have four more items to make after the two shown here. None of which have to be posted. Yay!

First up is a sneak peek of an item I have been making for someone who reads this blog. And also to show you that I have managed to do my first concealed zip. Not sure if I did it the 'right' way, but I think it looks good and that bright blue zip - the only one I had long enough - doesn't clash with the pink this way. Honestly, if it was for me I would have slapped that bright blue zip on there and let it show because we all know I like my colour, but I wasn't sure the recipient would feel the same way.

Then I made another tote. It is for my MIL, who most definitely does not read this blog, as she doesn't have a computer. So safe to show.

She once told me her favourite colour was green, so I pulled the green strips of Bliss from the Moda scrap bag, added in a couple of red, and teamed it with Kona navy. Deciding that it looked a little too humdrum like that, I broke out the red thread to give it a boost. I like the contrast. I hope my MIL does too.


Saturday 15 December 2012

It Doesn't Matter How Busy You Are...

... a rainbow will always make you stop and smile.

Photo taken by Emily on my phone in the car today.
Notice the fields are still flooded round here.

Friday 14 December 2012

Santa's Little Helper

Head down, machine purring rumbling along. Working away at that list. And making progress.

More crochet star bunting.

Number one tote.

Stof grey linen, pale grey lining.
Loulouthi flower. Deliberately wonky quilting.

Number two tote.

Kona Coal with grey lining.
Red scraps. Heavy quilting.

Number three tote.

Elephants with navy Stof linen.
Natural cotton lining.
Straight line quilting.
I am trying to tailor these to the likes of each individual they are intended for. Hope I am getting it right. I like the elephants the best, but this is about others not me.

If this was a marathon I would be around the halfway mark. But this is not a marathon. I don't do marathons. Short legs and big boobs make the very thought ridiculous. But I digress (as Rhonda would say). I have more totes to make, and several other items. So back to the machine this little elf goes.


Thursday 13 December 2012

Hand Stitching

When I posted an update about my sashiko style stitching the other day I received some really lovely comments. And I thank you for all of them. I was, however, left with this feeling that lots of people are afraid of hand stitching. Don't think they could get their stitches small enough. Or even enough. Or something or another enough.


Before I get started though let me make something clear, I am not an expert in any way, shape, or form. This is just my opinion and how I do things. Many may do it differently. And their way is most likely as good as or better than mine.

Hand stitching is not about getting every stitch exactly the same length. Experience makes you more likely to have even stitches but it is not necessary. It is more the overall effect created by the stitches, and if anyone ever comes up close - quilt police style - to examine each and every stitch then poke them in the eye I am sure this is not someone you associate with normally and don't offer them a mince pie, cookie or cup of tea.

When hand stitching with perle cotton you are not going for teeny tiny stitches. That would be counter productive. You are going for impact, enhancement of the quilt design, etc. Big is better, really and truly.

The other thing you need to do is look at the back, because if you are trying to get the stitches on the back of your quilt to look exactly like the ones on the front then you are a way better person than me. Personally I am trying to do what quilting does, hold the quilt layers together, compliment the piecing and fabrics with the stitching, create something usable and pretty.

As you can see above, the stitches are there, the pattern is there but the stitch length is shorter and the gaps between wider. It is what happens when you weave a needle in and out between quilt layers. Trust me here, when I first tried this I spent anal hours trying to make the back and the front exact. What a waste of time!

Sometimes, horror of horrors, you might not properly catch the backing layer of fabric, or just get the needle through a little bit. The world will not end. Remember, two photos up, the back didn't look too bad? Now look even closer. Imperfections abound, if you are the quilt police and looking that closely.

My other piece of advice about hand stitching with perle is to do with seams. When I am stitching something like the Christmas stars I did a couple of weeks ago I never try to get close to the seam. I go with the same 1/4" rule we use in our seam allowance. There are two reasons I do this. In my mind it looks better set back from the seam. And two, you have less layers of fabric to stitch through if you have pressed the seams in that direction in that part of the quilt. You wouldn't think two more layers of cotton would make such a big difference, but it does.

I am not sure if this blog post helped anyone at all, but if it encourages just one person to buy some perle and try it out I shall be smiling.