Monday, 30 March 2015

A slow Sunday

The weather today has been overcast and showery so a perfect day to get on with some sewing. First we took Scamp for a walk. He wasn't particularly keen on going out since it was cold and windy and when it started to drizzle he dug in his paws and wanted to go home. I managed to persuade him to keep going and promised him a treat when we got home. Once he realised we were going for a walk whatever he wanted, he decided he may as well enjoy himself. Once off his lead on the common  he enjoyed running around and found a squirrel to chase and puddles to splash through. He was rather damp and muddy when we got back so I had to clean and dry him. The rest of Scamp's day was spent snoozing on a comfy chair.

I decided to make the blocks for this months rainbow scrap challenge. The colour for March was yellow. I don't use a lot of yellow fabric so this proved a little difficult. I'm making churn dash blocks this year and doing 4 each month. The blocks finish at 6 and half inches.

The angle I've taken the photos at makes the blocks look different sizes but there aren't, however I do need to trim them.

I then completed the quilting on another block of the Star Trek quilt. I was going to continue working on it but Picasso decided to come and play. I've now got a long scratch down the back of both my hands where he caught me with his claws. He likes to try and catch the needle and he doesn't like to be moved once he decides to play.

Picasso is rather difficult to see since he's a black cat against a dark background. He behaves like a young cat but is actually 11 years old. I tried to move him off the fabric but he settled down for a snooze so in the end I gave up. I have some unpicking to do later as I developed a slight tuck in the back. Fortunately I hadn't done very much quilting in that area. Although it was only a little tuck I can't leave it as I will know it's there. Once Picasso woke up I packed away my quilt and machine.

This evening I've been working on my hexies for Lucy's quilt plus for the last block of last years rainbow challenge, opps I running a little late. I did some hand stitching and I also cut out some more templates and fabric for the hexies.

I started the grandmother's garden quilt for Lucy before I started Kathryn's or Richard's quilts. Because Lucy's is all hand stitched it's taking a lot longer. Using 1inch hexies doesn't make for a speedy job either.

I'm linking this post up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday. I hope you've had time for some stitching today. 


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Upcycling and reading

I'm getting on with the Star Trek quilt but seriously when quilting such a large item on a domestic machine you need some diversionary therapy. My arms and shoulders are aching from hauling the fabric around. I know FMQ  means you can stitch in all directions so no need to turn the quilt but you do need to get the area you are working on under the needle to begin with. Then as you finish an area it involves re rolling the quilt sandwich to the next area to be done. Just so you know I'm having a great time doing the quilting, it just makes the old arms ache.

As a rest from the quilting I decided to a little upcycling. I bought this plain linen skirt from a charity shop for just £2. It fits beautifully but is very boring. 

I love bright colours and purple is favourite at the moment so I choose this dye to pep it up a bit.

Before I started the dying I used elastic bands to tie the skirt a little up from the hem. I followed the instructions to the letter (which is a little unusual for me) and the end result is a much more cheerful linen skirt for the summer.

Now all I have left to do is shorten the lining a little as when I bought the skirt it was peeping below the hem.

Over the last year I haven't been doing very much reading, well not reading for pleasure. I have read a lot of students essays and in preparing my teaching I read textbooks, research papers, government documents and guidelines and other tedious reports but nothing for fun. I decided to get back into reading for 'me' and decided to start with something light weight but fun.

Stella Rimington was the Director General of MI5 between 1992 and 1996 and since 1994 has written novels about a female intelligence officer. I enjoyed the book a lot. The plot was interesting and not about Russia plotting against the UK and the US. It was good easy reading and if you like spy fiction I can recommend it.

This book, that I've only just started is a lot heavier, in content terms not weight of the book. Last year Lucy and I visited the World War 1 exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London. It made me realise just how little I know about this period in history. Lucy is very knowledgeable as this is the period of history she is really interested in and she filled in a lot of the gaps in my knowledge. I decided to get a short history and find out more. I've read the first chapter so far which is about the lead up to the war. The book is well written in a witty opinionated style and as a result I'm enjoying reading it.

When we took Scamp for a walk this morning I commented to John how slow spring was this year. There are snowdrops out and some daffodils but the trees haven't really started to take on the greenish tinge that shows the buds are developing. Although we haven't had snow this year in London it has been cold and not many sunny days. With Easter next weekend I was hoping for some better weather. 

This evening I think I'm going to catch up on sewing some blocks. I haven't done this months rainbow scrap blocks and I'm way behind with a couple of other projects. I'll get back to Star Trek later in the week.

I hope you having a good weekend where you are.


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Another Friday finish.

This really has been a good month for sewing. First I finished my Votes for Women quilt, then my pillow for the Tree Bird blog hop and now I've finished the baby quilt for Mel. She 's looking forward to starting her maternity leave and really likes the idea of waking up on Monday and saying 'no I don't need to get up yet as I'm on maternity leave'. I did warn her to make the most of it as she will be busy when baby arrives. Most of the time I have lovely memories of having young children, all the good bits but just occasionally I remember the overwhelming tiredness following another night of disturbed sleep. 

Anyway yesterday I showed you this photo of the baby quilt.

As I had limited time I used a panel for the centre of the quilt and kept the quilting simple by just quilting along the lines between the pictures. The borders had a large meander. Mel was very pleased with it especially as I had managed to choose fabrics in the colours of the nursery decorations. 

I really wanted to take the quilt outside to take a photo but I just didn't get time to  so I took a snap of Mel holding it. Unfortunately our building is all glass - huge floor to ceiling windows all the way round so really difficult to get a great shot. Never mind it gives the overall effect.

That's the second baby quilt this year but I still have 3 more to make. I have also been asked to make a sensory quilt for a blind toddler. That has now moved up to top of the list for next month.

I've nothing much planned for this weekend so I'm hoping to get a lot done on the star trek quilt  and maybe I'll have another finish next week.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Work in Progress Wednesday

So far March has been a good month to get my stitching projects done. There are still a few days left and I'm hopeful I will complete all my goals.

I had two major goals this month. The first, to finish Kathryn's quilt, was easy to do and she is now enjoying using the quilt. My second was to get Richard's Star Trek quilt finished. This quilt had reached the stage of finished top.

The quilt is large and so yesterday I enlisted Richard's help in making the quilt sandwich. I didn't want to crawl round on the floor and was planning on making do with the dining table. The table is oval and the fabric heavy so help was definitely needed. Richard turned out to be a real asset. He was great at moving the fabric around keeping it all nice and flat and he was also excellent at getting rid of unwanted wrinkles in the layers. I must encourage him to help in the future. The quilt sandwich was soon made and I had time to start on the quilting.

Richard had specific requirement of the quilting. He wanted the Enterprise in the central blocks to be outlined and then he wanted the background of the remaining blocks to be a meander. Now I feel I've got the meander pattern really sorted so this wasn't a problem but I wanted to try something different and showed Richard the pebble pattern. We agreed I'd use this on the sashing. There are 9 blocks all 24 inches square in the quilt and so far I have finished 2 so I'm feeling really pleased.

Going round the shapes was trying

The other piece I've been working on is a baby quilt for one of my work colleagues. I'm just finishing off the hand stitching on the binding and this quilt will be all finished. I'm hoping to be able give this to my friend tomorrow - at the latest on Friday as she is then on maternity leave.  

She doesn't know the sex of her baby and doesn't want to know so the quilt had to be gender neutral.

Later tonight I'm going to go through my UFO's as I have several that need to be finished. Some are quilt related and others embroidery with a little knitting thrown in for good measure. I'm trying to reduce my UFO's so I need less storage space (or alternatively I can use the space for more fabric).

I'm linking this post up with Lee at Freshly Pieced. Why not visit and see what other people have been up to. There's always lots to see and great inspiration.

Before I get back to my sewing I'm going to turn the heating up and make a cup of tea. Although it's officially spring the temperature is cool and I'm not enjoying it.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Finished at last

In September 2012 I started work on a quilt that appeared as a block of the week at Grandmother's Choice . The blog is written by Barbara Brackman and the theme was celebrating 'Votes for Women' There were 49 blocks in total for the quilt and over the weeks I got horribly behind. I also found some of the blocks really difficult to piece. In fact I'm amazed that I stuck with it and finally finished the quilt and gave it to my older daughter Kathryn.

I chose to make the quilt using the colours of the Women's Social and Political Union in the UK - green white and purple.  The blocks I found difficult included this one. It finished a little squiffy but I'm so impressed I made it

The bottom two blocks in this photo also caused several problems, especially the circular one (yes the one join is off).

Unfortunately I was unable to take the quilt outside to get a good photo. I would have loved to have left it on my bed but I had promised it to Kathryn.

I had fun with the quilting. On a lot of the blocks I quilted in the ditch around the pieces. I love the 'puff' effect that you get as a result. The sashing has a leaf trail along it and on the white cornerstones I quilted a daisy. The border was a large meander. As the quilt is large my shoulders and back were aching by the time I'd finished.

I bound the quilt with the same purple fabric as the sashing. I love the effect you get looking at the rolled quilt.

A while back I made a large tote bag with the intention of it being a gift bag for the quilt. Kathryn was very pleased with both her quilt and the bag.

It was great to have finished this quilt but I now feel like there's something missing. Never mind I still have other UFO's to work on and I need to get on with quilting Richard's quilt.

I'm linking this post with Link a Finish Friday at Richard and Tanya Quilts and Thank Goodness it's a Friday Finish

Wishing you all a happy weekend.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Tree Bird Hop

Oophs sorry  for some reason the scheduling didn't work.

Today is my day on the Tree Bird hop. I love the fabric line but I haven't been able to get any here in London. Instead I used fabric from my stash. Thanks to Samm from Sew We Stitch for organising the hop and Lana from It seams to be sew.  keeping us on track.

I started two projects for this hop but only got one finished (the second is still in lots of little bits). Last year I took part in the 'For the birds' and for this I made a quilt for when John goes bird watching. It lives in his car and I have found it really useful when we have been bird watching in the cold weather.

For the Tree bird hop I have one project that will also live in John's car and will be used when bird watching. John has had a pillow in his car for several year. One of the children would often use it for a nap on the way home from school or it was used at picnics or bird watching. It did originally have a beautiful bright orange cover but now it is rather sad with stains that just don't come out in the wash.

and worse still on the other side .....

I'd been planning to make a new pillow for some time but just hadn't got round to it so here was my chance.

I had a fat quarter of fabric with a lovely bird on it so this was my starting point. The background had to be blue to match with the quilt. 

I just love this little bird. I quilted around the outline of the bird and some of the leaves and stems. I missed that one thread when I took this photo. So my finished bird pillow.

The back of the pillow has a fold over opening. I couldn't get a good photo to show how 'puffy' the little bird is. I realised when I was quilting round the bird and the leaves that my skills of free motion quilting have improved a lot. I could actually follow the line of the pattern without too many problems.

Following the bird theme John, Richard and I spent a fun evening last week making up bird models with Lego. Richard has always loved Lego since he was tiny and now he occasionally treats himself to one of the Lego ideas sets.

This ideas set makes three birds.

Each bird comes with its own packets of pieces and instructions

Picasso does like to help and there was a risk that he would knock all the pieces on the floor

My job was to make the humming bird and flower.

Whilst Richard made the Robin and John put the Blue Jay together

It was a fun evening and reminded me of building Lego models with the children when they were small.

I hope you liked my bird pillow . Here's the list of the rest of the blogs you need to visit today.
Thursday, March 19

Enjoy the hop and have a great day


Saturday, 7 March 2015

Sunshine and sewing.

Today we've had wall to wall sunshine in London UK, beautiful blue skies and a temperature of around 15 Celsius (59 - 60 Fahrenheit). What a lovely March day. Today I had marking I needed to get done, I wanted to walk Scamp and try and fit in some sewing. The plan was to mark two papers, sew for half an hour, do another 2 to 3 papers and then a little more sewing. First Scamp needed a walk.

Unfortunately I took on more work this year and so Scamp and I have less time for walking in the week. At present, by the time I get home it is already dark so we can't really walk in the evening. With the great weather John, Scamp and I set off for the common. Scamp loves his walks and always has but it's only recently that he's taken to being off his lead. Possibly being 'bounced' by larger dogs when he was young made him wary. However since Lucy got her large dog Buddy and we started walking them together Scamp has gained confidence and loves time of his lead. 

Unfortunately he is quite easy to lose sight of as he does blend in well with the colours of the dead leaves. He also fancies he's an intrepid explorer and likes to lead the way and find new paths. He's looking rather shaggy and needs clipping. Although he's a Yorkshire Terrier and therefore fairly small he loves the great outdoors. Letting his fur grow isn't an option as he jumps in puddles and acts as a mud magnet.

There were several large clumps of snowdrops in flower.

Back home again Scamp settled down to a post walk nap and I logged on to my computer and marked two essays. I followed that by quilting the flowers in the centre of the remaining cornerstones of Kathryn's quilt. Then it was back to the marking. This time I decided to mark 4 essays before my next half hour of sewing. I had finished two when the system went down. All the essays are marked on line so if the programme crashes you can't access the work -what a shame. Never mind I made good use of my time and quilted the borders and trimmed the quilt ready to apply the binding. Sadly at that point the system was working again so back to the marking grindstone......

I've now finished that batch of essays so I'm going to do a little hand stitching before bed. Tomorrow I have another batch of essays to mark but in between i will attach the binding to the front of the quilt by machine and then start the hand stitching on the back.  A couple more days will see the 'Votes for women' quilt completely finished.

I hope you've had some good weather where you are. Tomorrow is set to be another sunny, warm day here.


Lean stitching times but plans for March.

The last two weeks have been very lean sewing times. I've had a lot of marking to get finished and it has to take priority. I hate it when I have to put my machine and quilt project away especially when I am so close to finishing an old project. I started the 'Votes for Women' quilt in September 2012 when the blocks appeared as a block a week on Barbara Brackman's blog Grandmother's Choice It ran for 49 weeks. I didn't manage to keep up with the weekly blocks at the time but now I'm so close to finishing. I had hoped it would be a February finish but ran out of time. However it will be ready to post as a Friday finish next week. When I get this close to a finish I hate having to stop until it's done.

My plans for March will be.

1. Finish the 'Votes for Women' quilt.

All the blocks have been quilted and the sashing. I just have to finish quilting the borders and then stitch the binding. It will take quite a while to stitch in all the ends.

2. Star Trek Quilt

This is all ready for quilting. It should be fairly quick to do as Richard wants an all over meander. However the quilt is large at 90 x 90 inches.

3. Finish my Tree Bird project.

Sew we quilt

I'm taking part in the Tree bird blog hop at Sew we Quilt. My day is March 19th and I'm looking forward to sharing my project with you. I'm not using the Tree bird fabric as I've been unable to get any in the area of London where I live, but I have lots of birds.

4. Another Little Quilt Swap  9

Another Little Quilt Swap

This needs to be finished this month ready to swap in April. I know what I'm making and I've got most of the fabric but haven't started yet.

5. Baby quilt for Mel.

I have to make a baby quilt for Mel another of my colleagues. She doesn't know the sex of her baby and doesn't want to know so this has to be a gender neutral quilt. She goes on Maternity leave on the last Friday of the month.

There are also small projects to work on, the blocks for the rainbow scrap challenge and the 'book it ' project. Oh for more hours in the day.

I haven't been doing any of my hand stitching recently and I need to get back to it. I started doing a minimum of 30 minutes stitching a day and starting tomorrow I'd like to try and do this again.

John and I were supposed to be walking tomorrow but we both have work we must do so we've scrapped that idea. Instead we'll take Scamp for a walk over the common and then spend the day working. Tomorrow evening the machine will be coming out to get the quilting finished.