Saturday 31 May 2014

What On Earth...

... could cause such a reaction as this?

You may want to pass if anyone ever offers you one of these.

No children were harmed (permanently) in the taking of these photos, and any and all abuse was self inflicted.

Just saying.


Friday 30 May 2014

My Other Obsession

It is well established that I have an obsession with fabric, and many of you may have long ago sussed that my other obsession is food.

I am a city girl at heart abut somewhere along the line I fell in love and had children, and got transported into the countryside to live. I really do love our lives and think it perfectly suits our family, but that doesn't mean I don't hanker after having busyness around me at times. Most of all I miss a choice of restaurants. (Oh how I miss having a choice of different ethnic foods!) Which would be why when I do go wandering off to London and Newcastle (as I have currently done so) food features highly on my list of things to be enjoyed.

This time is no different.

I went to an absolutely amazing Lebanese restaurant.
Cannot wait to go back there!
We found a new to us Japanese takeway.
Very good and great prices.
Then there was the Chinese buffet which is our budget option in town.
A trip to the Oriental supermarket got savoury options for me,
and filled Emily's Oriental sweets obsession.
Then there is the obligatory visit to the American Candy store,
where they had Pixy Stix which are a total blast from the past for me.
Sweetarts are mine too. I didn't bother taking photos of the girls loot.
It will be back to my life in the countryside on the weekend, but maybe that is for the best when considering my waistline.


Thursday 29 May 2014

Machine Cover Give Away

I am pleased I to say I have another project in Love Patchwork & Quilting this month. They asked for a machine cover with a pattern suitable for a beginner. I think that I managed the brief.

Photo courtesy of Love Patchwork & Quilting
I think that just because a pattern is easier to make does not mean it does not have to be visually striking. I love the contrasts of the linen, the summery colours of the patchwork and the charcoal grey.

I did random close quilting, without quite crossing over into matchstick. With a nice sunny backing fabric. In addition, I made a sewing set to match the cover. A needle book, pin cushion and scissors fob.

Photo courtesy of Love Patchwork & Quilting
It was a satisfying project to make and, as always, a total thrill to be featured in the magazine. I really appreciate their faith in me to produce these varied projects.

And to spread this happy feeling, I'm giving away this set. The machine cover, pin cushion, needle book and fob. Unfortunately for the winner, that really cool pair of scissors is part of the photo shoot and will not be included.

If you would like a chance to win this set then please leave a comment here on this post. For a second chance to win then follow the Love Patchwork & Quilting blog and leave a comment here saying you do so.

If you have never had a chance to look at this brilliant magazine (lots of incredible quilters are in it every month, this is not about me) then they have some special introductory subscription offers (click on links for more details) -

As with all giveaways please ensure you leave an email address if you are unsure if you are a no reply commenter. If the first name out the hat is a no reply commenter then I shall immediately do a redraw. As the Love Patchwork & Quilting issues arrive at different times in different areas of the world this giveaway will open for quite a while, so please be patient. The draw will close on July 2nd and a winner will be announced soon after.

I attempt to reply to comments left on my blog as often as possible but in the case of giveaways that is sometimes not possible. Thank you for stopping by and putting your name in the hat, if you have done so.


Giveaway now closed. Winner posted on July 2nd post. Thank you to all who entered.
Susan x

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Day Tripper

I have disappeared up north again,with the girls this time. Doing the usual - revelling in not having to cook dinner being near the top of the list. I do love to cook, but I also love taking a break from it all. I didn't bring any hand sewing with me, thinking that I would start learning EQ7 but am having problems getting the computer off the girls when I do have a moment. But mostly we have not been home for me to do any learning anyway.

Monday we spent the day down in York. I love York; have done since I was a child. This time was special because it was the first time I took the girls there.

We started the day by visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre. Why they trusted Emily with a massive battle axe is beyond me, but we will skip over that part. We all really enjoyed the museum, and it had been over half a lifetime since I had visited so it was good to see how it had changed and improved. The girls are one quarter Viking on their father's side so we like to think of this stuff as family history.

The day was lovely and sunny so we ate a lunch al fresco, each choosing from different food vendors, wandering the streets and just enjoying life. Then it was off to the Minster as it really must be seen, inside and out.

The Minster is magnificent. I am lucky that the girls are quite happy to go places like this. Not sure what I would do if and when I get the eye rolling and groans of agony at the very suggestion of visiting places of historical interest. What age does this happen? Can I hope that they are missing that gene?

We spent ages exploring the nooks and crannies. Then the girls and I (not my mother who opted to go have a nice cup of tea, wise woman) headed up to the top, climbing all the stairs to admire the view and the architecture from a very different angle.

If you ever have the chance to go to York do not miss the opportunity. I fully appreciate the fact that I have the privilege to live in a country steeped in history and do not take that fact for granted. Passing my love for these things on to my children is such an added bonus.


Sunday 25 May 2014


I didn't pretend to enjoy this project, but it is done and now up north (with me and the girls) for imminent delivery.

The placemats are for a small round table - of which I do not possess so cannot demonstrate how they fit on such. I was given a template to work from so this shape is not my own invention. I was also given the colours that were preferred. you would think that green, blue and yellow would be easy ones to find in my stash but the particular shades required, to match the recipients china, were actually few and far between in my stash. I think I got there in the end though.

The background fabric is a natural linen, closely quilted and then the 'stripe' was appliqu├ęd on top. Originally I planned on doing a sinuous strip of the colours but my plan failed and I fell back to the easy straight line of colour. I used some excess to requirements fabric on the back and then turned and stitched down the edges rather than attempting to bind all those curves.

Job done. Hope the recipient likes them and that they suit her round table. She is a lovely lady and it is that fact, and the other fact that my mum accepted the job on my behalf, that had me doing this commission. It's done and delivered. Time to enjoy half term.


Saturday 24 May 2014

Another Cushion

I made a cushion, but all I can show you for now is this.

All these things I love in this little peak. My favourite fabric. Plus a kerchief girl. A corduroy back and a contrasting zip. Things that make me happy. What makes you happy?


Friday 23 May 2014

Totally Distracted...

... because this happened today.

Never been on any version of EQ before so it is all totally new to me. Any hints, suggestions or all out advise will be gratefully received.


Wednesday 21 May 2014

Apparently It Was Me!

I've not been doing too much sewing the past few days, having lots of other stuff to get on with as life dictates at times. But I did start a project I have been avoiding - because I didn't want to do it and rather than getting it over with I've been ignoring it until the last moment.

You may remember that a while ago I told you my mother told a good friend of hers that I would love to make some placemats for her in a very specific shape. Sometimes mothers get it wrong.

The colours were specific as well as the shape. I am finally getting on with them as I have promised they will be delivered up north next week. Still don't like them though, if I am going to be brutally honest. The straight line of piecing wasn't my original idea but the original idea didn't work, and I cannot come up with anything I else. So wonky piecing on a straight strip on a kidney bean(ish) shaped placemat it is.

Yesterday I did a quick jaunt up to Trudi's to return the machine she leant me when mine went ick. She had treats too, bless her. As we all know, quilty friends are the best of friends.

So, having returned the borrowed machine my newly serviced one went all crap on me today whilst I was working on these placemats. Not happy! I bundled it up and headed off to the machine shop. The man sorted it out. Turns out the thread is hopping out the tension bit in the bobbin case. Um, apparently, upon testing it repeatedly it just might be my fault. I am sewing faster than my machine wants to go. Oooops! My lead foot has been reprimanded (by me, not the man in the shop) and suitably chastened I returned home and got on with the job some more.


Monday 19 May 2014

Siblings Together

This is my third year making a quilt for Siblings Together. I love supporting this charity and hope I can do so for a long time to come. I chose to use some of my bee blocks this time round. I had some lovely churn dashes from my time in the Modern Stitching Bee and it was long overdue that I turn them into a quilt.

If you would like to learn more about this charity please read about it here. Lynne tells it way better than I could. And there is a Flickr group here.

I asked for 12" (finished) blocks in purples, blues and aquas. I got a beautiful selection of all those colours. I think they blend together really well.

The blocks were pieced into six rows of four so the finished quilt is 48"x72". I backed it in the ubiquitous Ikea number print and used Kona Charcoal for the binding. The quilting was a big loopy fmq to keep it nice, sort and cuddly.

I think this quilt would suit a girl, but not a really girlie girl. I really hope that the recipient loves it and knows that she is as important in this world as every other individual.


Saturday 17 May 2014


The Bloggers Quilt Festival is well under way now, and there are some amazing quilts to be seen.

Seeing as how you can enter two quilts into the festival, it would be silly not to. So here is my second entry. (My first entry can be found here.)

This mini quilt was conceived during the drive to my friend Ange's one day. By coincidence I had my freezer paper in the car. Honestly, I have no idea why but there must have been some purpose. This meant that as soon as I was there I could roll it out and get down to the business of drawing this out.

It just took a ruler and a pencil and I soon had my 'rays' sorted, my pieces numbered and all those little lines between each piece drawn on. Ange thought I was mad. I know, because she flat out told me.

I had to wait until I got home before I could start sewing because a lack of forward planning meant I didn't have my stash in my car. Freezer paper piecing goes together quite quickly. It took me longer to pick the fabrics than it did to sew them together.

The size of the quilt is 18" square. This was dictated by the width of the freezer paper. I would love to make this in a larger size. I just have to figure out how.

I quilted with a free motion zigzag stitch. It is much easier to see on the back than on the front. The backing fabric is just muslin as I intended this to be a hanging all along. I used five colours of thread, overlapping the zigzag pattern from one colour to the other - red, orange, yellow, pale grey and medium blue. Therefore there are five rows of zigzags mirroring the colours in the quilt.

The binding is Kona Charcoal, and I just finished sewing it down on the back a short while ago, so this is my most recent finish.

I couldn't decide whether to call this Sunrise or Sunset so I stuck with both. Sunrise/Sunset. I am entering it into the mini quilt category in the quilt festival.

If you have stopped by from the festival, thanks so much for taking the time. If you would like to see more of the things I make you will find two tabs at the top of the page where I have galleries of my makes. Hope you are enjoying the quilt festival. I know I am.


Friday 16 May 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival

I don't think there are many people left in the quilting online community who aren't aware of the Blogger's Quilt Festival organised by Amy from Amy's Creative Side twice a year to coincide with Quilt Market. It keeps us all entertained when we aren't stalking IG to see what new lines of fabric are being released. I have found and followed so many new blogs through this quilt festival because so much talent is on display from around the world. So if you have never joined in, please do. The more the merrier.

To those new to my blog, welcome and thank you for stopping by. I am a Canadian living in the middle of England. Wife, mother of two, quilter, baker, and champion ditherer at times. If you would like to see some of the other things I have made over time there are two tabs at the top of the page where many of them are shown.

To those who follow my blog it will come as no surprise that I am entering my hexie quilt, Blowing Bubbles, into the festival. After some deliberation I put it in the Scrappy Quilts category. There were an awful lot of different fabrics used in this quilt.

The original idea for this quilt came about when I was doodling on some scrap hexie graph paper one day. The idea took hold, and the LV/blue ombre effect developed in my mind. I started it before Christmas, but what with the holidays I didn't get much done. Then, come the start of January, I entered it into a local quilt show here in the UK. That lit a fire under me, let me tell you! I needed to have it delivered to the organisers by the middle of April.

The quilt is made with 1.5" hexies. It is all hand pieced. I chose my blues, got out my LV fabrics (thankfully very varied from participating in a few charm and layer cake swaps) and worked on it in chunks, piecing the blue hexies and interiors one by one, and then slowly joining them up. My approach was a little haphazard but it got me there in the end.

I quilted it by machine, one hexie at a time - except the blues. The LVs each got a swirly, curly snail FMQ'd on them. The blues were hand quilted with perle cotton.

The binding was scrappy as well, reflecting the ombre effect of the blue hexie 'bubbles'. And the backing is the ubiquitous Ikea numbers fabric that so many of us use.

What I love about using so many different LV fabrics is how much colour and quirkiness is in the quilt when you look close, but how these fabrics do their job of dropping to the background when the quilt is looked at as a whole.

The finished quilt measures about 49" x 53" and contains approximately 500 hexies. It is my modern take on a traditional method of quilting. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the hand piecing. I won't do another for a little while but I am not ruling it out from happening again in the future.

Thank you so much for stopping to read about my quilt and I do hope you enjoy the Blogger's Quilt Festival as much as I always do. 


Thursday 15 May 2014

Fabric Dieters Look Away Now

Sorry, I know so many are on a fabric diet, but I never signed up for it. It would have been setting myself up for failure and there was no need for that. I just cannot imagine even trying. I know that sounds horrible but I had my fabric diets when there really was not a chance in hell financially that I could indulge myself so now that I can on occasion I do.

On that note, here's what arrived today from Pink Castle.

For me this stack is colour bliss. And I've got ideas lurking that I wish to start as soon as I feel I have obliterated enough of my FAL list.

I wasn't home stroking fabric all day though. I went off on another meet up. This time with Gill (blogs here), who I've been trying to meet up with for quite a while but life got in the way. Totally my fault, not hers. I would like to show you a photo of her but totally forgot to take one when we were together. We met in Stratford-upon-Avon which is such a pretty town, but truly comes into its own when the sun is shining like it was today.

I had a wander along the river before the meet up time, and then stumbled upon Crabtree & Evelyn when I went into the town centre. I didn't go in intending to buy anything but that picnic basket, full of treats, was on sale for only £10. Obviously I had to bring it home with me. Didn't I?!


Wednesday 14 May 2014

The Pleasure of Quilty Friends

Yesterday I got to spend a few hours in the company of one of the nicest people in blogland. Someone that lives quietly in her corner of northeast England and writes some of the funniest blogposts going. Recognise her?

Hint - I'm the one on the left.
Still don't know who she is? Maybe you recognise this fellow instead.

This is the most famous Archie the Wonder Dog, and he is as wonderful as his title professes. He let me know that my paparazzi shots of him were being tolerated but I had better get his best side. I bribed him with handmade (not by me, I might add) dog biscuits that I made a special trip to the Tynemouth Market to buy on Sunday. Thankfully Archie is completely open to bribery, but Helen gets much better photos of him than I do.

Helen is the person in the photo with me. The lovely lady behind Archie the Wonder Dog. We've been online friends for absolutely ages now and I never realised that she was so close to the route I take up to my mum's at regular intervals. Now I know, I am going back to visit her many more times. We had such a good afternoon. I just wish you all could meet her too.

We talked. We ate. We talked. We talked. We laughed, a lot. We may have eaten a little more. And I admired her sewing.

The above are just two samples of the lovely things Helen makes. What many do not realise is she sews everything by hand! Yup, pieces by hand as well as quilts by hand. And her piecing is soooo precise. I wish I had taken photos of every last project she had on the go, or finished. I am slightly envious of her skill, but not too much because I like her too much to be feeling stuff like that.

Suffice to say, it was a brilliant day. Quilty friends are the best. And I know the gnome is in the best of homes. In return, I have a new mouse living with me.

Name suggestions, folks?


Tuesday 13 May 2014

Every Gnome Needs A Home

And this gnome is going to a new home today.

I'm meeting someone very special for the first time today. I am so excited.


Monday 12 May 2014

Almost There

The binding is sewn onto the front of the Siblings Together quilt and shall be hand sewn down on the back whilst I am 'up north'. (I've gone AWOL for four days. Childfree!)

The next time you see this it will be officially finished. Woohoo!


Saturday 10 May 2014

I'm One Lucky Instagrammer

I have to admit that I have won probably more than my share of prizes within the online community. I am not complaining obviously. I doozy of one arrived this morning. From Aylin in Germany. She blogs here and is on nilya2011 on Instagram. And she makes beautiful things.

This bag is proof positive of that fact. I admired it the whole time she was showing the stages of construction on IG. I was floored when she said she was giving it away. And I was over the moon when I won it. The paper pieced swimsuit is even in my all time favourite fabric. This bag is so, so lovely!

Aylin's labels are so sweet too. One day I will get around to having some labels made. Meanwhile I will just enjoy having such a fab bag as it is two things I do not do - foundation paper piecing and properly made bags. This would never appear from my sewing room made by my hands. Ever!

Aylin also included this mug and pen that she had printed at Vistaprint. A proper quilty mug and pen. No one is going to use these in this house but me. Just saying.

So a huge thank you to Aylin for being so kind to share her wonderful makes and being so talented. I love what I have won and am in awe of her talent.


Friday 9 May 2014

Not Sure How I Feel

Well the judges comments are back on my hexie quilt and I am really not sure how I feel. It's a mixed bag to say the least. I suppose that is the risk you take putting a quilt out there to be judged. And putting a modern quilt in a traditional show. I certainly did not expect any ribbons, and I feel a bit like I am behaving like sulky child,  but I did think my design was better than 'satisfactory'. I guess that was the score that hurt the most. Oh, and the 'satisfactory' for originality too. Really?!

It would totally suck if the other judge didn't rate it 'very good' in both these categories. Suffice to say, I think one judge liked it more than the other. I've never done this before. Didn't know what to expect, and have to take the good with the bad. I know that.

I'm going to focus on the actual comments rather than the ticks.

'Lots of fun! Circular quilting is very effective in the hexagons.'

'Sympathetic use of fabrics using traditional piecing in a contemporary format. Lovely quilt. Well done!'

It's all a learning curve. Will I enter again? Let me get over this one before I decide. Probably yes, because at the end of the day it was sharing something with my friends and challenging myself. I can't make people like what I make any more than I can ever fall in love with batiks, etc. To each their own. It would be a boring old world if we all made the same things.


* I've turned off comments for this post. Just putting the results out there so you all know what the judges thought. If anyone feels they really need to say something then please email me directly. Thanks!

Thursday 8 May 2014

Easily Distracted

I've been quilting, honestly I have. But last night, about 9pm, I had the sudden urge to do a little embroidery. Far be it for me to deny myself an urge like this so I rustled up a scrap of linen, and spray basted a wadding scrap to the back, because I seldom use hoops and this adds structure while I am stitching.

I looked at a few photos online and before you knew it I was attempting to stitch some lavender.

On the left is what I accomplished last night. This morning I finished it, and immediately embarked on another. This is a super easy stitchery to do. I used my water soluble pen to sketch out some lines for the stems, but if you look closely you will see I ignored those lines for the most part. You can make this up as you go along, really.

The other great thing about this - for me - was I finally took the advice of a wise lady and ditched the French knots for colonial knots. OMG! Why don't I listen more often? Love these. They don't unravel like some of my French knots are prone to do; nor simply disappear like you never wrapped the thread around the needle in the first place. I am totally converted. If you are curious how to do them there are some very good tutorials online. It's how I learned last night.

Crap quality of the photos totally due to the equally crap weather today.

My embroideries are now lavender bags. I have the urge to make more. Not like I have anything else to do.

Focus, Susan, focus!