Sunday, 5 October 2014

New beginnings...

... of a quilty kind ;-)

Simple 3.5 inch squares, so easy, but the plus quilt is actually a very effective design with the right fabrics. To my mind, cat nap suits it perfectly, especially when mixed with a few eclectic others!

Even with the help of the ironing board, I can only lay out about a quarter of the intended quilt at a time, so will have to match the edges carefully...

So far, it has come together beautifully, and I'm really happy with my choices.

Just managed to photograph the first quarter in the October sunshine! It's such a glorious autumn in England, we have been incredibly fortunate so far, with lovely warm weather for long dog walks. With a bit of luck, this quilt may be done before the cold hits us... 

Left my sewing room for a minute, and Rosie commandeered the machine! She is working on a complete quilt set, given to her by the very generous Jennifer. Do so hope she can do it all be herself...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Therapeutic stitching...

One of the things I love about blogland, is we're not just about pretty fabrics and what we make of them ;-) There have been some excellent, insightful debates doing the rounds lately too, and I've really enjoyed reading people's views, and admiring their willingness to stick their neck out.

For the last year, my day job has been working in an addiction clinic. This certainly means I feel alarmed when people joke about their fabric addiction, and I've been so touched by the bloggers who have detailed the seriousness of this lately.

Other people have raised the (considerable) cost of fabric, and the price of each quilt. I don't know that we will ever win the battle on changing the mindset of the general public, and creating awareness of the financial cost and the workload that goes into handmade items... This quilt probably cost around £60 in materials but, again through working in a therapeutic clinic, I know that is the cost of just one session of therapy, while this has given me a whole week of gentle creative calm...

The debate around Aurifil and the setback to the feminist movement was extremely well covered, I felt, and informative. I didn't leave comments at the time, as I'd never used Aurifil before. If anything, I tend to react against the 'in thing' and so stuck with my usual thread of choice. However, I succumbed, to see what the hype was all about, and the quilting here is my first ever use of Aurifil, in a pale pink shade. 

Well, I do like it, and have no complaints over quality... but I don't get the hype! I did, however, enjoy a different moment of enlightenment over free motion quilting. My previous attempts have been mixed, and not that encouraging. Who knew that setting my stitch length to a precise 1.8 would lead to a complete transformation?!? I'd read before that you should have it on the shortest possible, but somehow 1.8 gave me precision stitching, with very little issues. Even creeping up or down by 0.2 of a stitch lead to problems on my rough piece.

Additionally, I experimented with speed. I'd heard people say set it on the fastest, others on the slowest... Turns out, my machine likes it bang in the middle. These discoveries lead to a whole new level of satisfaction :-)

The central Liberty fabrics came from a bonus ebay voucher I received, and from a seller there. The outer, edge pieces, were a purchase from Ali, and I so recommend her if you are shopping, not least for her great customer service! I was hugely fortunate to win her giveaway some months' ago, and have received a gorgeous package of Liberty charm squares every month, with one more to go. Exercising restraint, I have stored them away until the set is complete, but nearly there, so it was time to get some practice in!

Lastly, a few items for the never ending cycle of birthday gifts for the many parties Rosie goes to :-) I finally tackled the boxy pouch design, and love the end result.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Quilts for my daughter

Last week, Nesta nominated me for the Round the World Blog Hop... Thank you, Nesta! For my entry, rather than focus on the things I'm currently working on, I decided to show a couple of quilts which I haven't blogged about before...

My daughter was already about four when I started quilting, so I sadly missed out on making all those cute baby quilts! However, I'd just finished my very first, sampler quilt, when she announced that I had to make her an elephant quilt next :-) This made great use of some Laura Ashley precut squares, which two ladies passed on to me, no doubt relieving their guilt that they had bought them twenty years previously and never used them! It suited me fine, and this was my second quilt.

Next up, Rosie had the role of a rain cloud in her infant school assembly... She wore a blue t shirt, with wadded clouds on the front and back, along with some big blue rain drops. With her vivid imagination, as soon as it was over she requested a quilt with one rain cloud, and the other turned into a sheep! I had so much fun making this, it was before I knew about designer fabrics, or any of the fashionable quilt blocks, and just went with the flow...

Interestingly, therefore, this next one to me is far less creative, and more stilted. I felt constricted using these designer fabrics, and compelled to show off the cute pictures of the prints rather than unleash my own imagination... However, this one often makes an appearance on the guest bed when little friends come for a sleepover :-)

The triangles quilt is the most recent one, and I still love the fabrics I chose. Yes, it is a common design, but did involve some skill and precision stitching. I love the serenity of the fabrics, and it has the most gorgeous backing piece!

So, those are the four main quilts for my daughter...not including her various sofa throws! On to the trip around the world questions:

1) Where I live or have lived?
I grew up in Hertfordshire, then moved to the beautiful, historic city of Durham for University. I also spent a year living in Zaragoza, Spain, and a couple of months in Yverdon, Switzerland. Now I'm back in Hertfordshire, though more by default than by any strategic plan!

2) What am I working on?

Lately, I have worked hard at completing all those unfinished projects... So, I am only working on two: an Insanity quilt which involves handstitching 1333 hexagons, and which has been on the go for a mere six years, and my economy blocks. Then I have two pieces in line for quilting, my stunning Bee quilt, and a recent experiment in using blue.

3) How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Hmm, as above, my best tip if you want to be 'different' would be to stop reading blogs and go with your own instincts! However, blogs and their interaction and friendships are so much fun...
4) How does my creating process work?
Process?!? There really isn't one, I just launch in...
Now, technically I am supposed to pass the baton onto other people for this blog hop... However, it really feels that most bloggers have done this now, and the rest are so busy getting their kids back to school this week! Down my sidebar are just a few of the blogs I follow, so you may like to visit one of them for a change? There's so much wonderful inspiration out there :-)

Monday, 25 August 2014

Feeling blue...

Some time ago, I decided I really needed to branch out more with my colour palette, specifically aiming to use more blues, rather than my usual pink, purple and grey combination...

I ordered a FQ pack of the new Hadley range, in blues, by Denise Schmidt. Not for the first time, I like her fabrics better online than I do in my sewing room! I'd ordered the solid turquoise at the same time, as the shop's suggested coordinate, but really it is too strong for me, and I would have been better with a subtler solid.

I also blended in several low volume prints, which I'd been collecting lately. These certainly help to tone things down!

As simple, therapeutic sewing, this wasn't a bad project, but I can't say I love the result. My plan is to go ahead and quilt this, and add it to my shop or next craft fair stall. It is far more masculine that any of my other quilts, and may appeal to someone who favours different colours to myself!

Just as well I took the photos when I did - we are enduring the traditional Bank Holiday downpour today... Hope you are having a fun long weekend!

Saturday, 16 August 2014


Finally got there :-) A quilt and a cushion all made from the rainbow charm swap I did over a year ago... My daughter made the large cushion as a present for me, piecing and quilting it herself. Although I finished the quilt top some months' ago, I've only just quilted and bound it, so a very satisfying finish to link up with the slow bloggers.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


A huge thank you to Jenna, my partner in the Big Stitch Swap. This week I received an amazing parcel from her...

Our swap was all about incorporating handstitching, or hand quilting into an item... I am so fortunate in having Jenna as my secret partner, as she sussed me out totally! Not only did she make this gorgeous handbag, but the smaller zipped pouch to go inside it :-)

Jenna couldn't have known, but the fabric she used on the inside was one of my first ever favourite fabrics, when I started patchwork. I still love it, and have used dots in many items, but mostly all given away! Needless to say, Miss PatchyRose tried to get her mitts on this straightaway, but I fought her off. 

Meanwhile my recipient, KraftyKat, has just received her item from me, so I can show you the whole cushion cover...

Kat's collage was an intriguing one, which immediately made me think of these cushion covers which I've made before. The difference this time, was including the hand quilting and stitching.  Kat has six kids (!) so I wanted to make something robust, just for her, feminine and yet not too girlie. The end result was hard to photograph, too light and the embroidery disappears, especially the seed heads and their flyaway seeds... Too dark, and the other fabrics look grubby. Still, you get the idea!

The small one was complaining recently that she didn't have a special cushion on the sofa, which was easily rectified with this free tutorial from Lori Holt:

It was a painless project for the warm summer evenings, and a great use of scraps. The backing is a special piece which the girl picked out for herself when we were last in a fabric shop - 

And the little cut off corners were saved, stitched before trimming, and used to make this 5" mug mat - 

This was my first attempt at a mug mat, and I am very pleasantly surprised by how well it turned out! After our wonderful, long heatwave, the evenings are getting a little cooler, so the quilts may reappear soon... Hope you are having a fabulous August!

Thursday, 31 July 2014


All my swaps seem to be coming together right now! Firstly, my item for the Big Stitch Swap is ready for posting, as soon as the window of opportunity opens up on Monday :-)

My secret partner put together a very intriguing collage to drop hints about what she likes! As soon as I saw it, it made me think of these cushion covers which I've made before. However, as the theme of the swap was hand-stitching, I incorporated various stitch designs into the project, rather than machine quilting. I'll show you the rest of it once my partner has received it...

After watching a few Artist Trading Card swaps, arranged by Ali, I decided to take the plunge and join the next round! Then I read the small print, and realised just how tiny these cards have to be: 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. That detail had passed me by when I'd previously admired the ones which appeared online... With less happening at the moment, I decided to start dabbling and experimenting, going with the theme of this round, getting away from it all.

This was my first attempt, complete with 'signature' on the back - I went with August as that is when the swap officially takes place. For this one, I sewed right sides together and then struggled to turn it around - but got there in the end! For my next attempt, I went with a binding, to see how that works...

Also tricky in its own way, as quite fiddly on such a small scale. This is the back of that one:

And a little shot of them together, mainly because I am loving my recent brainwave of using the Christmas tree as a prop!

Next week, I will find out who my partner in the swap is, and get a feel for their tastes. Hopefully I can employ some of these techniques in the card which I then make to send away. Must admit, these are very addictive, the perfect small project for lazy summer days! However, I did find the energy to baste my giant star:

This is from the first swap I ever did, the Rainbow Charm Square swap. The top was finished ages ago, but I followed a free online pattern, and ended up so disappointed with it that I lost my enthusiasm. However, better to finish it all the same! Just to complete the four swaps I've done, this is the quilt I made from the Low Volume Charm Square swap: this one certainly made me happy, and it lives on the sofa in daily use!

Thank you so much to everyone who asked about the sale I did a couple of weeks' ago. It was great fun! I had a lovely day, sitting under my gazebo, with loads of people coming in for a chat. Better still, I also sold a couple of quilts - Posy and Scrappy Doo - and several small totes and zipped up bags. So many people commented that they have a half finished quilt at home, and hopefully they left inspired to finish them!