Thursday 25 February 2016

Stuff I Made

I sewed over the weekend. And when I say that I mean I actually focused, got on with it, avoided distraction and sewed. And sewed. And sewed some more. So much easier to do when everyone is doing the same.

I turned my two piles of cut Lecien Ls Modern Basics into two quilt tops. All the charms I cut were turned into this.

Then the other pile of fabric became this.

I am going to finish these quilts (eventually) and they will donated to Siblings Together. I have given to this charity for the past few years and would like to continue to do so. I really like the thought of these two quilts going to sisters (or brothers, or a brother and sister) who are in care but unable to live together. And I like that when I have lots of fabric leftover from a commission that I can put that fabric to good use.

Those two quilt tops took up almost the entirety of my weekend sewing time. All I managed to squeeze in otherwise was a Brit Bee quilt block for Jude that measures up at 15" x 30". I was glad that I managed to make a feather the right size in this bee what with the nightmare I had last time I tried. Though Di bringing me templates would have more than a lot to do with me getting it right this time.

I wonder when I will be able to accomplish that much that quickly again?


Wednesday 24 February 2016

Big Birthdays and a Plus One

We Brit Bee managed to pull a couple of surprises this weekend. As we are quilters we like to make quilts to celebrate occasions within our group. It would be silly not to really. This time it was the turn of Fiona, who celebrated a big birthday in the past twelve months. (We like to make quilts but no one said we give them in time.)

As always we each contributed a block or two for the quilt. Katy coordinated us all and pieced them. Trudi, our quilting guru did the quilting and then Di did the binding.

We totally caught Fiona by surprise. She is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Being able to see her receive this quilt was a total pleasure.

Next up was the turn of our youngest member (and founding bee mama) who is about to add to our Brit Bee The Next Generation population. Again we had a quilt, and a few baby items as well because shopping for babies is too much fun to pass up.

There is almost five years of history in our Brit Bee group now. There has been more happenings than we ever could have imagined. And I wouldn't be without a single one of them.

I leave you with this happy photo.

I am so, so lucky to be a part of all this.


Tuesday 23 February 2016

Cutting Fabric

The end of last week - Thursday and Friday - I cut fabric. And I cut and cut and cut. It is totally out of character for me to cut out all the fabric for a quilt top. It is a small miracle for me to cut out everything I needed for two quilt tops. I doubt that will ever happen again.

Those two piles represent 252 five inch squares and 378 pieces of fabric to make 63 eight inch blocks. They are all cut from the Ls Modern Basics range of fabric from Lecien. Individually these are all blender fabrics really, and may not look like much on their own. But pair them up with each other, or other complimentary fabrics and they shine. It's like a magic trick.

I packed these two piles of fabric, and a few other things including my sewing machine, and went off for a three night weekend with my Brit Bee people and a couple of other friends. Ten of us were having an escape.

The house we had rented for the weekend was in Bedfordshire and it was perfect. Absolutely prefect for us.

Huge open living space with a table big enough to fit ten machines comfortably. A 'U' shaped kitchen island that provided ample room for dining, and an incredibly useful cutting surface between meals. All the bedrooms had twin beds, that could convert to king sized but finding a place with all twins was fab. And four of the five rooms were en suite, which meant that the fifth bedroom got the big family bathroom with the jacuzzi tub all to themselves.

It was a seriously good weekend. I'll show you what I made and other highlights in the coming days. Suffice to say I want to go back. Next weekend would be nice though there might be a revolt in my house.


PS: Ten of us managed to devour the best part of four cakes over those three days. I am so proud of us.

Monday 15 February 2016

Productivity Levels...

... have dropped.

But I have to say that spending a Sunday afternoon lying on the sitting room floor doing massive dot to dot puzzles while Em lies beside me and does her incredibly detailed colouring book is a mighty fine way to spend some time.


Thursday 11 February 2016

How My Brain Works

A couple of weeks ago I told you I had joined another swap and I showed you my idea for the cushion cover I was thinking of making.

So last week I sat down with paper and pencil and drew up the template that I needed for my little curved appliqué pieces.

I pulled some low volume fabrics and quickly knocked up sixteen quarter square triangle blocks that would eventually finish at 4" for the background. And then I had a happy little browse through my stash picking fabrics for my half orange peel shapes and started appliquéing.

As per normal with me I chose the fabrics a couple at a time and did the appliquéing, then I would place them together before I decided on which colours of fabrics to add next. Eventually I had sixteen circles.

I pieced it all into a 20" cushion top and then I did a teeny tiny little stipple in all the low volume areas. This gave it a really cool texture (well, I thought it did).

I was really happy with the way this looked, only it didn't look finished to me. So my brain - as per the usual - turned to the perle cotton.

I thought the stem stitch worked better with this project than hand quilting a running stitch. I wanted to emphasise those circles.

And that is a little project, from inception to completion (other than the cushion back and a zipper). When I have my ideas I seldom actually know what the finish will look like. It just evolves in its own happy way. Each and every one is just a wee little adventure in sewing for me. Which is one of the reasons I love this quilting lark so much.


Sunday 7 February 2016

I Made A Cake

No big surprise in the title. I do tend to make cakes here. I also tend to eat cakes. Usually I eat more cake than anyone else in this house because I am physically in the house more than anyone else and I am very prone to giving in to temptation.

The cake I made on the weekend - the birthday cake - was with a recipe that uses six egg whites but none of the yolks. So I did a search online for cake recipes that used just yolks and I came up with this one - Egg Yolk Sponge Cake Recipe.

It was a bit of a weird recipe for me to contemplate. But it would use up all the egg yolks, (in interest of honesty here I did not measure my egg yolks but just decided that six yolks looked 'close enough' to 3/4 cup. No idea how accurate that decision was) plus another whole egg of which I now have a constant glut.

I also used lemon juice instead of the orange juice called for because (a) I thought why use orange when you are already using lemon zest and lemon extract, (b) I had a lemon but not an orange, and (c) I thought the lemon would have more impact than the orange for adding flavour. I also put more of a very healthy (overflowing) 1 tsp of lemon extract rather than the 1/2 tsp called for, and I zested the whole lemon and chucked what I got in without measuring.

The recipe got weird because the final step calls for 6oz of boiling water to be added to the batter. I have never encountered this step before but as the reviews were generally all good and I didn't think I had a lot to lose other than a few basic ingredients I went for it.

Whatever the science is behind that boiling water, it worked. The cake came out looking like, well, looking like a cake.

I then segued from the recipe again and made a drizzle for it with the remaining juice from the lemon and some granulated sugar. I chucked this on top while the cake was fresh out the oven confident in my belief that I would never, ever get the cake out the bundt tin intact. So I didn't try.

The cake went with me to a friend's house for lunch. We unanimously (all two of us) declared it a total success. Really, it is a lovely cake. Dense but still a light crumb. Good lemon flavour, but I take full credit for that. I left some of the cake with my friend to share with her family.

The rest of it was in the car when I picked the girls up from school. They had two friends with them. And then himself was home early from work.

Apparently they all like the cake too!


Saturday 6 February 2016

Things That Make Me Happy

I have a quilt in the latest issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting. Not only is it in the issue but it made the cover.

Sorry, I don't want to come across as a complete smug, braggart here - but this made my day week month. I've wondered if I would ever get to be cover girl. And I am so freaking excited by the fact that I finally did.

The quilt is actually a dark pink not red like lots of people think. I love the simplicity of it. So not the usual for me and I really have to try more quilts along these lines. It's easy peasy to make as well.

So a huge thank you to Love Patchwork & Quilting for making a quilty dream come true. Now I'm just going to go sit in the corner and hug my copy for a little while. Oh, and phone my dad and make him buy a few copies too.


Friday 5 February 2016


I have finally managed to do a little bit of sewing. I needed to work on the next Brit Bee block which was designed by Jo and I was making for Hadley. Each block in this round of the bee is 15" by 30" so they are a whoppers.

It began with a whole bunch of flying geese which I made using the no waste method. I am never sure why I do this because I get frustrated with all the trimming and the fact that they can be just big enough...  just. Even when I use scant seams, ect.

Hadley set the colour choices. I just followed her requests. But I do like they way they look together. Puts me in mind of springtime. Because I get all optimistic at this time of year.

Next up for the block was some needle turn appliqué.

Thankfully this didn't phase me as much as it does some of the others. Lots of 'favours' are being pulled this round I do believe.

And this is what the completed block looks like.

Those tiny geese at the bottom finish at 1" by 2" and they were a right b***h to make. Just saying. But the finished block is really cool so worth the effort I would say.


Thursday 4 February 2016

Fifteen Candles

Helen turned fifteen on the weekend. Seriously, I'd show photos of her when I first started blogging to show you how she has changed in the past five years, but I won't. Because she has full approval of any and all images I put on her or IG of her these days. Which is fair enough.

So this is the photo I was allowed to use.

Needless to say I am endless proud of her. She celebrated her birthday by having her three closest friends over for the night. Emily joined the fun by having her bestie over as well.

Emily took the responsibility of cake decoration on. She chose a Dr Who theme with Helen's blessing. Ever seen the Doctor, his sidekick and daleks made with marshmallows before?

You have now. The icing is that lurid shade of pink because we flavoured/coloured it with a crushed and sieved punnet of raspberries.

Anyway, I would have recovered from the weekend by Monday, if Helen hadn't needed to see the doctor. And then be taken to A&E Monday night when it turned out she is allergic to some antibiotics. Poor thing.

It's been a long week. Much longer for her than me. She's so itchy! Bless her, she decided to return to school though.

I might get to sew again.