Friday 24 October 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival

The time has come again for Amy's Creative Side's Blogger's Quilt Festival once again. It corresponds with Quilt Market and happens twice a year (just in case you are new to this blogging online quilting community). It is a brilliant way to see what people have been making over the past six months, get inspiration, or - if you are like me - be left in jaw dropping envy at the skill of other quilters out there in the world.

So take some time to click the link and see what other's have been up to. It is a wonderful way to lose a few hours, or more.

I've had a think about what I wish to enter this time around, and have made my first choice. My Hex-a-Mini.

I made this mini on a whim. Fussy cutting appears often in my quilting, and I am known to like a hexie or two. I wanted to make a hexie quilt with the machine though. So I used my Go! Baby to cut the hexies and the triangles and the piecing went together like a charm. Not a 'Y' seam was encountered anywhere in the making of this mini.

I quilted the low volume areas in a tiny stipple, leaving the stars to stand out without any quilting on them at all. The white border was quilted in a slightly bigger stipple and a yellow thread to soften it a little.

The sashing, backing and binding were all in shades of blue as there was no darker blue in the mini rainbow of stars. It finished at 18.5"x 20.5" and it just makes me happy when I look at it.

I think this mini very much encapsulates so much of what my style is with quilting - if I have a style that is.

If you have stopped by my blog for the first time from the quilt festival thank you for doing so. If you would like to see other things I have made there are tabs on my header that will give you a quick review. I can also be found on Instagram. I am canadianabroad there too.

I hope you enjoy the Blogger's Quilt Festival as much as I do.


Tuesday 21 October 2014

Nothing Like Good Service

I've been busy lately. Time has been filled with real life money earning stuff that I don't talk about here on the blog. Mostly because it is boring, necessary but still boring. So while I do what needs doing I've been thinking about projects I have coming up and I knew I needed some fabric, and I needed it quickly.

So I emailed Tracey and Natalie, the lovely sisters behind Pin It & Stitch, and told them what I needed. Without looking at their new and well laid out website once myself. They emailed me back what they thought best suited my needs. I said yes please.

They know what I like and understood what I needed this time round, and got the fabric pull perfect. And I have totally fallen in love with the navy one, with the rocket ships and solar system drawings on it. It is such an awesome shade of navy, just right. And anyone looking at making a boy quilt like I am then take a look at the prints in Rocket Age by Riley Blake.

And a boy quilt is what I am planning - minus the hot pink feathers, which may have snuck into the order just because I love them.

The point of this post is we are all busy people. The value of a fabric shop that provides good online service should never be underestimated. We all know some. We also know the shops that fail to see the immense need of a good website. (Does everyone else just refuse to buy from places that have crap websites that are impossible to negotiate your way around?) And the shops that take their time sending out orders, pack them haphazardly and - one of my huge pet hates - rip instead of cut your fabric order. I know, I know, ripping is traditional but you should have seen my face a couple of years ago when I received a whole FQ bundle where every piece had been ripped. I was so not impressed.

I buy 95% of my fabric from about a half dozen shops. I do so because of the selection and prices, but most of all I do it because of the service. So thank you, Tracey and Natalie, for saving me time that I couldn't spare and for getting it so right. Oh, and thanks for making me want to order the rest of your yardage of that navy solar print.


Monday 20 October 2014

The HST Glut Is Further Reduced

I looked at my sewing space today and my eyes landed on yet more HSTs that were a bi-product from projects long since finished. Today I tackled more of the Denyse Schmidt HSTs leftover from the Fruit Loops quilt I made for my niece.

Still on yesterday's no pinning kick I made quick work of sewing them together in a replica of a cushion I made from this same HST glut before the summer holidays.

I am finding my ability to get points to match is about equal without pins as it was with pins - in other words some thrill my heart and others I glare at in outrage. This doesn't mean that there aren't times when pins are essential in my sewing but it does prove to me that I may not have to use them as much as I have previously, and it is mind boggling how much time is saved when you don't bother.

I started this project about 11:30am and it was finished by 2pm. This is great for me as I can usually make a project drag out for days, if not weeks, months, and occasionally years.

This cushion will be a house warming gift for a friend of mine on the Isle of Wight. I backed it with some pink corduroy I had leftover from the recent LPQ quilt. As per usual, I whack the zipper in as a colour 'feature' rather than trying to hide it. I like the bold bit of colour slashing across the back. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I've an idea of what I want to tackle tomorrow. I am a little behind in the gift making department. And the bee block making too. Let's see how much time the world allows me to belly up to my machine and just get on with it.


Sunday 19 October 2014

Don't Tell The Quilt Police!

I had a lot of the 'necessary' to do today so when I finally had some spare time to sew I wasn't in the mood for rules. I just wanted to play. So I picked up the HSTs that were offcuts from Paper Snowflakes and chose a pattern I liked. And I pieced. I just sewed those little buggers together, without pinning or pausing.

This was about relaxing and enjoying myself, not about perfect points. Some of them worked out fine, but others? Well, just don't look too closely.

Don't get me wrong. If this was for someone else, I would have been taking it a lot more seriously and done my best to get those points just right. But this was for me, for fun. Perfection wasn't on my list of requirements at all.

Once I piece this cushion cove to be, I dug around for some backing fabric, and instead found some fusible fleece. Excellent as that meant no need for fabric to back the block. Quilting commenced forthwith.

A quick spiral, where I got the centre right for the first time ever. I drew on the start of the spiral with a water soluble pen and stitched the beginning with my free motion foor, the one with the open front so I could switch over to my walking foot when I had enough of a start. Why have I never done this before? Why?!

Despite a weekend of doing 'real' work (Ha! Like motherhood and sewing isn't enough.) it was nice to get some fabric time in. It's good for the soul.


Saturday 18 October 2014

Paper Snowflakes

Two fabrics in a quilt. Only two fabrics in a quilt. And those fabrics being solids. This is so out of my comfort zone, which is usually the school of  'the more you throw at it the merrier mode of sewing'.

But I am happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone. Paper Snowflakes measures up at approximately 78" square. I have an idea for the backing. The question of how to quilt it on my domestic machine is boggling my mind though.


Thursday 16 October 2014

One brick block short of a full load finished quilt top.


Wednesday 15 October 2014

In The Interest Of Science I Made A Cake

Two weekends ago I took a cake I had made to the Brit Bee Retreat. It proved to be a hit with the others and they asked for the recipe. It was a recipe I had used before, from my Pinterest boards. I had never had a problem with it. Well, some of the others have made it and there has been a varied success rate resulting.

It's a cinnamon roll cake and the recipe is very simple in that you put all the ingredients, bar one, into the mixer and combine, and then add the melted butter, combine and the job's done for the batter.

You then make a mixture of butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon and dot it all over the top.

Take a skewer and swirl it through the topping and batter, cutting that cinnamon through the cake but not too much. You to be able to distinguish one from the other still.

When it comes out and has sat for a moment you will have molten craters of cinnamon goodness, and while the cake is still warm you drizzle on an icing.

So what went wrong for some of my friends? First up a mistake by me. I pinned the recipe - twice. The recipes look exactly the same but they are not. One has more butter in the cinnamon mixture, tells you to cook it longer and insists on a glass baking dish. This is not the recipe I have used, but unfortunately the one that did get used by Sarah. Sorry Sarah! I've deleted the recipe from my pin board now. A little too late for you unfortunately. The other slip up in the making involved plain flour and self raising flour. This recipe definitely uses plain flour. Apparently self raising works. It just makes it puff up more and a lot fluffier in the eating.

Sarah also had a problem with the cinnamon mixture bubbling up and caramelising. I can only presume that this was due to the added butter in the mixture for the recipe she used, and the longer cooking time given by that blogger.

So my conclusions, if you ever want to use this recipe - and really you should as it is very yummy indeed despite the problems - are the following:

- a glass baking dish is neither here nor there but having a baking pan that is big enough is. This is a big cake, a sharing cake. You need a 9" x 13" pan, or one of comparative size.

- the baking time for the recipe I use is 28-32 minutes. It could use a minute or two more but if you leave it for longer you are in danger of the caramelising thing happening with the cinnamon mixture around the edges of the pan. Not that I don't mind a bit of caramelised cinnamon mixture mind.

- if you are used to using weight measurements instead of cups then my books tell me that 3 cups of flour equals 15ozs in weight. And 1 cup of sugar equals 8ozs. That being said I weighed the flour I measured before putting it in the mixing bowl and my scales told me I had 18ozs. I do not sift my flour. Can. Not. Be. Bothered. This may have influenced the weigh scales. If you don't have American style measuring cups then you might want to invest in some.

- I think that the full amount of the icing is too much. But that's just my subjective opinion.I like sugar but enough is enough. I make about 3/4 of the amount indicated and am happy with how much icing I have.

- 350F = 180C = Gas 4 = 160C fan oven

I hope this does away with any confusion. After all this, if you are curious, and hungry - here is the recipe. 

You know that it has to be a pretty good cake if four of my friends went home and made it less than a week after having it at our retreat. It's like chocolate flapjacks. Addictive.


Tuesday 14 October 2014

Back To The Sewing

I sat at my machine today for the first time since the weekend away. I'm not sure how nine days past without anything being made. Well I do know, but it really isn't acceptable. Life needs to be more flexible to my creative needs!

Joking aside, it felt good to sit and sew today. Yesterday was the kneel (on the floor) and cut day.

That was 380 pieces of fabric. Which should be sufficient - if I've done my maths right - to complete five more Paper Snowflakes blocks.

Today started with the piecing of 80 HSTs and the subsequent trimming. I figured it would be best to get the worst chore out of the way and then everything else would seem quick and easy in comparison. There were 20 of the square blocks with the diagonal red, and 40 each of the strips.

And then I took the HSTs and strips, plus an extra strip of red and made up 20 of these portions of the snowflakes - which are straighter than the one above appears.

Fingers crossed, I might be well on my way to finishing these snowflake blocks tomorrow. I hope so. I can't wait to lay the nine blocks out together and see how they look together.


* deltabird - you left a message on a post asking which issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting the orange and blue blocks are in. I cannot reply by email as you are a no-reply blogger. The cushion was in issue 7 and I believe you can order back issues from the Love Patchwork & Quilting website. Link here. 

Saturday 11 October 2014

I Made A Quilt

Actually, I made this quilt before the summer holidays but now I can finally show you. It is in Issue Fourteen of Love Patchwork & Quilting which is now appearing in the post boxes of subscribers. So I can blog this -

I really struggled to come up with a design when I got this commission. Seriously struggled. And then I had work to do for my husband's and my company, and a holiday looming. I was falling into a blind panic. I rejected idea after idea. And my brain was having a major freak out thinking I was headed for failure.

So I came up with this idea, and chain pieced like a mad woman. I posted this to Love Patchwork & Quilting about six hours before we left for our Swedish holiday. I was more than a little relieved (as you can imagine), and happy too, because despite the panic and stress I am really happy with what I eventually made. The fact that the pattern does not fall on a 45 degree angle really appeals to me. As do the colours.

Photo on right by Love Patchwork & Quilting
This quilt was supposed to be for snuggling under as the days get darker and colder. With this in mind I backed it with a super soft, fine pink corduroy. It gives it a little more weight and ups the snuggly factor. It didn't make quilting it any more difficult than normal though. The photo on the left clearly shows the wavy lines I quilted it with. Despite them being close together the quilting went very quickly. (Maybe that was just the panic of the deadline driving me on.)

All three photos courtesy of Love Patchwork & Quilting
To go with the quilt were three accessories. A hot water bottle cover, a mug rug and a coffee cosy. All of these were made with off cuts from the quilt, but could be made as stand alone projects. The hot water bottle cover was designed to be pieced, rather than using a template. The HSTs that were used in two of the projects were off cuts from piecing the diamonds in the quilt top. I have a lot of these wee HST off cuts still. One hell of a lot. I'm just not sure I can face making a cushion cover from such tiny little pieces. They are destined to sit stuffed in a mug for a while longer I think.

Keeping projects secret is the hardest part of making commissions. I am so pleased to finally be able to show you this. Please remember that when I start humming and hawing and hiding things from you again. It is not by choice, but necessity and eventually I do get my ta-dah  moment.

Issue Fourteen is actually chock-a-block full of Christmas ideas so if you have started turning your mind in that direction and started making gifts then this is the issue to buy. I love the cover quilt myself. It totally works for my colour loving brain.


Thursday 9 October 2014

The Other Thing I Did On The Weekend (Last Post I Promise)

Once I had the orange and blue blocks sewn into a completed quilt top I felt that I could give myself permission to start something new. I sketched out this block ages ago. I bought the fabric for it this summer. I was ready to finally try piecing it.

I've wanted to do a red and white Christmas quilt since last winter. I'm calling the block Paper Snowflakes. Not sure if people will think that the name fits or not, but it is what it is. It's a 24" block. After I made the trial block, and my cutting instructions for myself worked (with a tweak here and there), I went ahead and made three more blocks.

Five more blocks and I will have a quilt top. I'm not sure if it looks like paper snowflakes now, or something rather Roman in essence, but I like it. They are not too difficult to piece and nine blocks will make a good sized quilt. I may have another border planned again too. I'm into borders these days.


Wednesday 8 October 2014

What I Did On The Weekend

You may - or may not - remember that I designed a bee block for myself based on the + and x block last winter. Then all my Stitch Tease bee mates had to keep quiet about it as Love Patchwork & Quilting commissioned a cushion made with the same blocks.

That's the cushion I made for the magazine above, and to the right is how the blocks looked together when I had 27 of them. I really like the effect of the blues and oranges in various shades together. This weekend I finally rounded the blocks up to 30 and pieced them together. Then I decided they needed a border.

 I cannot express how happy I am with this quilt top. For me, the border makes a huge difference to the overall look of it. I like the pattern floating on the white. The borders also brought it up to a size that was more to my liking. It measures approximately 58" x 68" now.

I still have to source a backing fabric. And I plan on using medium to dark blues in a scrappy binding. But I am that much closer to a finish and a Christmas present for someone on my list. I know where this will be headed but will refrain from saying on the off chance that person ever looks at this blog.


Tuesday 7 October 2014

It's All About The People

I think we all firmly established a long time ago that quilting people are the best. Spending a weekend hanging out with your quilting friends and sewing therefore has to be one of the best ways to spend time. This past weekend was no exception. It was all about spending time with some of my friends.

Ceri and Nikki seemed to have dodged my camera fairly effectively!
We stayed in a converted stables on a farm just north of Uttoxeter which put halfway between the Glaswegians and those on the south coast. The house was perfect for our purpose because it had six bedrooms with multiple beds in each room. And the huge kitchen had three full sized tables for us to set up our machines at. We had twelve machines in use and there was enough space between that no one struggled in the least.

The weather was abysmal on Saturday morning which was perfect as we were not tempted to go outside at all. Breakfast over we all sewed, and sewed, and sewed. And talked a lot of course. Drank copious cups of tea as well. Most of sewed until 11pm that night. Seriously, so easily done when you are in like minded company.

Lots got made/completed/worked on. A lot!

We also unveiled these gorgeous quilts Brit Bee have made for Terri's future grandchildren. It has been a group effort to help Terri achieve some of her goals.

I also made these two star blocks, and then started the embroidered prayer on one of them, as per Terri's request. These will be in two quilts made with Terri's original Brit Bee blocks, and will be for her daughters. There are just four more blocks to be completed to bring the total to 50 and then the quilts can be made.

And here is a sampling of some of the other projects worked on, big and small. The projects were so varied, but the one thing they had in common was how gorgeous they all were. There was a general air of excitement whenever someone got a project to their weekend goal - finished, quilt top or whatever.

I would show you what I was working on, but there are demands being made for dinner here so I will tell you about that tomorrow.


Monday 6 October 2014


I'm speechless right now because I'm too tired. I talked all weekend.

My screen printed t-shirt made this weekend.
Hadley was the star designer and wielder of the paint for me.

But what a weekend it was.

Left to right:
Hadley, me, Nikki, Sarah, Ceri, Fiona, Trudi, Laura Jane, Di, Ange, Sarah and Katy

Tomorrow I'll show you some of the stuff that was worked on over the weekend. We were productive despite all the chatter and eating of mega amounts of food. Right now though, I am ready to go to sleep. It's about 8:30pm. Surely it's way past my bedtime.


Thursday 2 October 2014

Today Was All About The Food

I spent the whole day in the kitchen today. Making food, and then more food, and then prepping some more. Because this weekend is a Brit Bee Weekend. We are gathering just south of the Peak District to spend the weekend sewing, talking and eating. Unfortunately there will be some notable and much missed absentees. It won't be the same without them.  Life throws some curve balls at people that are totally not deserved at times. Just saying.

But today was about me aiding and abetting the eating part of the weekend.

I've made a meat and a vegetarian filling for fresh Vietnamese spring rolls.

Sausage rolls, and little mini twice baked potatoes in three versions - the works, vegetarian and non-onion versions. The potatoes will be finished in the oven once we are there.

Needless to say there is a big tray of flapjacks too.

Additionally, I have a bowl full of teriyaki chicken marinating which will be grilled tomorrow before departure. And lots of fresh veggies to grill and then throw in a simple marinade too. Maybe a cake if time allows.

I've not packed, nor considered which sewing projects to bring. But we won't starve so as per usual my priorities are with my stomach. Why can't I lose weight? Why?!


Wednesday 1 October 2014


... Stitch Tease bee blocks done for Ange.

Five little 5.5" blocks with low volume backgrounds and high volume bright plus signs. Just in case you think I am lacking imagination here in the colour department - I asked Ange which colours she was short of which, seeing as how late I am with them, seemed the fair thing to do. Reds and blues were her request.

Another box ticked. Bit by bit I am making progress.