Sunday, 27 March 2016

Slow Sunday

Yesterday we travelled to Derbyshire for a weeks holiday. Travelling was awful as it rained heavily all the way. By the time we got to our cottage I was exhausted having driven all the way. Scamp whimpered most of the way because of the noise of the rain beating on the car.

Talking of Scamp, he is looking adorable having been clipped ready for the warmer weather. He seems so much smaller when his fur has been clipped.

Today we are having a slow day.We walked into Buxton and got caught in a hailstorm. The up side is that I am spebding tome stitching. I finished the 1066 block of the millennium sampler and have moved on to the spitfire.

I have no internet acess so I'm writing this on my phone. I'll see if I can sort something out to do a post tomorrow.


Friday, 25 March 2016

Quilt Qwazy Queens

Quilt Qwazy Queens

Hi everyone, it's great to have you visit for a while. Come in and sit down, maybe make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and let's talk about quilting. Many thanks to  Marion from Seams to be Sew for coming up with the idea for the hop and for doing all the organising. 

Many years ago my mother taught me to sew, both hand sewing and using her hand cranked Singer machine. Most of the sewing we did was dressmaking and as a teenager I would use the money I earned from my Saturday job at the kennels to buy fabric to make myself up to the minute fashion items. One day she showed me how to do english paper piecing and I spent many months sewing together hexagons to make a quilt top. During this time I moved to London to start my nurse training and when finished the top sat in a cupboard for a few years as I couldn't work out how to do the quilting. In the end I turned it into a duvet cover rather than a quilt. I loved using the cover as the fabrics were all left over scraps from dresses I'd made and I knew at some point in the future I would make quilts. I continued sewing, making clothes for myself and the children when they were younger but as they grew and my working life got busier this tailed off.

Now fast forward to October 2011 and I decided I wanted to try and make more time in my life for sewing, knitting and other needlecraft. My quilting journey started with this quilt kit that John bought me from the Stitching and knitting exhibition.

The quilt on display at the exhibition looked fabulous and I was sure it would be easy to follow the instructions. It took until February 2013 to make the quilt and I learnt a lot along the journey. When I first read the pattern it was very confusing as there were many new terms to get to grips with. From dressmaking I'd learnt to read the pattern through and make sure you understand it all before you start. I employed the same theory and so the first few weeks were just spent making sure I understood the instructions until I was finally ready to get cutting and stitching. I love the quilt and it lies along the back of the settee ready for snuggling under when needed.

In April 2012 at Guides we started a project to make rem baby quilts and we extended the project to include the younger girls. My love of quilting grew as we taught the Guides how to make the mini quilts. The Rainbows designed their quilt and they also learnt to use the sewing machine. The quilt was donated to project Linus. Scamp is posing on the Rainbow quilt in the header photo and the photo below is of the top part of the quilt.

Part of my delight in quilting comes from being able to turn scraps into useful and pretty quilts.  This one was made for the Tetris quilt a long run by Melissa at Happy Quilting. I won a jelly roll as one of the weekly winners

Here's the Christmas quilt made from the jelly roll.

The internet is a great source of quilt patterns and I followed the block of the week to make the Votes for Women quilt. Quilts are fabulous because they can help celebrate events. This quilt was made in the colours of the suffragettes to celebrate my paternal grandmother, I enjoyed making the blocks and learning more of the movement across the world to secure votes for women. Putting the two hobbies together, quilting and history is a great idea. Some of the blocks were very challenging to make and involved learning new techniques. If you want it to, quilting can challenge you and push you to increase your skills.

Quilting lets you make the perfect gift. My son is a Star Trek fan and his quilt went down a storm 

This quilt gave me the opportunity to practice circles using free motion quilting. The meander was mastered a little earlier. I was also able to finish the quilt on my home machine although it is 90 by 90 inches. So this really is a hobby that you can do at home.

Of course quilting isn't just about the big pieces, it's fun creating smaller items,

 Mug rugs are fun to make and are perfect as presents.

Several friends asked for tea cosys

It's fun making book and folder covers.

An original piece of quilting made from a drawing done years before.

Finally I love the historical aspects of quilting. It was very interesting seeing the quilt produced by Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit now you need to visit the other blogs on today's hop

There is also a giveaway for you. This will remain open over the weekend. I'm away on holiday and I'm not sure about the internet access so Marian is going to notify the winner. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today I'm going to be catching up with my visits to the participants of this hop. I've visited several of the blogs and it's been fascinating reading about the various quilting journeys. Today I'm not working and I'm having a little me time. Mmm a nice cup of tea and reading some blogs. Sounds like a perfect morning.


Sunday, 20 March 2016

Happy World Quilting Day

Happy Quilting Day. I hope you've been celebrating by enjoying some quilting time. I've been stitching around the fishes on the baby quilt. What a great way to enjoy world quilting day.

I last posted on Wednesday which is always a busy day for me as we have Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. This week we were doing some Spring and Easter crafts. That meant cooking with the Rainbows but the Brownies and Guides were decorating eggs in the style of the eastern european decorated eggs. The girls loved looking at the pictures we put together to show them and enjoyed decorating their eggs. We used hard boiled eggs for the Brownies but the Guides blew their eggs. This egg was the work of one of 13 year old Guides. It's not finished in the picture.

This was also the work of a Guide. The egg broke so she decided to set it up as if the chicken had escaped.

During the evening on Wednesday my right elbow started to be very painful and to swell. When I got home I had to ice it to reduce the swelling and pain Because of this I haven't been able to do any hand stitching. Instead I got out my colouring book. Kathryn gave me this book for Christmas. When hand stitching I use my right hand to work the needle but I can colour using either hand.

I started colouring the elephant ages ago and last night I finally finished it.

This picture had a partner with space for you to create your own patterns. I started colouring it without adding any additional patterning. I think I prefer the plainer elephant.

Today we all had a lie in. It was John's birthday on the 15th March and because of our work commitments we hadn't celebrated it.  Last night John, Richard and I enjoyed a large take away curry and settled down with wine to watch Sceptre. I've always liked the James Bond movies and had been looking forward to seeing this one. I know most people think that Daniel Craig is the perfect Bond but I'm not sure. My all time favourite Bond has to be Sean Connery. Anyway just as we started the film Lucy popped in and so we sat and chatted for a while Later, we switched the film back on but it meant it finished rather late.

Although the weather was cold John, Scamp and I headed to Wimbledon Common for a walk this morning. 

 Scamp loves a walk over the common. There is plenty of room for him to run off his lead which he loves. Today we didn't follow our usual route because John wanted to visit the high points in Wimbledon. No not the high life! He is try to visit all the highest points above sea level in our local area. It's a little geeky but it is quite fun. The oddest bit is often the actual high point looks like it isn't. The perspective of the land is really odd at time. As well as visiting the high points I wanted to find a couple of blue plaques. These plaques are erected in London to celebrate where famous people have lived. There are several blue plaques in Wimbledon. This one is to Robert Graves who was a writer.

Photo of plaque

You can find out more about Robert Graves here 

It's great having Wimbledon Common so close to home as it's like walking in the country even though you're in town. Rather than going across the common we walked along this path today.

Although it looks very rural it runs alongside a busy road.

We didn't stay out as long as usual as the wind was bitter but when I got home I had a parcel from Amazon waiting. I pre-ordered this book earlier this year.

It was released in the UK this week. There are some lovely patterns and I have plans for later in the year.

That brings me to the point where I set up my machine and continued stitching the fishes down on the baby quilt. This quilt top will be finished by tomorrow. I then plan to put it away until I've finished the quilting on the nine patch quilt. I've plenty of time to get the baby quilt finished as the baby isn't due until the end of June plus I need to buy fabric for the back. It's lovely not to have a tight schedule to work to.

Tomorrow I need to catch up with making some blocks and I also want to make the quilt sandwich for the 'It's a dog's life' quilt. 


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Wednesday Progress

Over the weekend I got going on the baby quilt and reached the point of stitching down the fish. 

I had intended stitching down another four fish on Monday evening but I ended up leaving work late and we were going out to dinner. John came to London forty years ago on March 14th and wanted to mark the event. We all love living in London and love going out to dine so we were very happy to join him. We chose northern indian cuisine and it was fabulous. The restaurant doesn't sell alcohol but are very happy for you to take your own so we had a great red wine that worked well with the food.

Yesterday was John's birthday but the family weren't available and John had an evening meeting so we have yet to celebrate it. This was good as I had a migraine and wasn't in the mood for anything except an early night. 

Today is a day off and I'd been looking forward to getting some more sewing done but my head is still muzzy and I'd be sure to make mistakes so I decided it was safer to do some preparatory work instead. One of my goals for the year is to move the double wedding ring quilt forward. I should really say get it started as I've done so little of it. Anyway I wanted to try and get the arcs stitched. There are 98 of them in total and I think I've made 10 so i decided to cut the fabric pieces ready for this. 

I set up a system for storing the pieces using envelopes. I decided to cut 10 pieces at a time and put the 98 required in the right top corner and crossed it out to show I'd got 88 pieces left to cut. Later I'll check how many arcs I've already made and reduce the number appropriately. OK so I'm a little OCD but it helps to keep me organised.

I'm using solids for my arc and decided on the pastel shades for a change. I realise this is unusual as I always tend to use bright colours. I want this quilt for my bed and I think the pastel colours will be more soothing prior to sleep.

I'm going to start stitching these a little later. First I need to print out the arc template. I also need to prepare for Brownies and Guides this evening. I need to check what we are doing and pull all the bits we need or go shopping. Next week is our last meeting before Easter and we will be having an easter egg hunt and some easter crafts but I'm totally blank about this week's meeting.


Coming soon.

Quilt Qwazy Queens

The Quilt Qwazy Queens blog hop starts on the 18th March. Here's the full schedule;

This blog hop isn't about making a new piece but what makes us love quilting so much. Of course they will be lots of quilty eye candy. I can't wait to see everything.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Lots of pretty fish

Today has been a fun sewing day. I had loads of other jobs to do, such as the ironing, but I really wanted,.... no I really needed a sewing day. Sewing is my favourite way of chilling out and as the last few weeks at work have been very busy, chill out time was top of my agenda today.

Yesterday when I left off sewing I had all the pieces cut out for the background and I'd stitched a couple of pieces together.

 I had also cut out the template for the fishes.

My first job was to cut the fishes.

Next I stitched all the pieces of the background together. I laid the top on the bed to take a photo. As I was taking the photo the covers started moving. Picasso had snuggled under the bedclothes and he wasn't happy to be disturbed.

Next I ironed the fish onto the quilt top. I'd used some iron on adhesive to aid the applique. It stuck very well to the fabric I used for the fish but it didn't work so well attaching some of the fish to the quilt top. I was disappointed by this as the fusible was quite expensive. I pinned the fish onto the top to ensure they stayed in place.  By the time I packed my sewing away I had top stitched all the orange and green fish to the top.

I'm very pleased with how this quilt is coming. Before I started making the quilt I was a little worried that it might be too boyish but the bright fish and cute fish fabric make it suitable for both a boy or girl. I'm making the quilt as a gift for one of my work colleagues whose baby is due in June. She doesn't know the sex of her baby and doesn't want to so I needed to make a gender neutral quilt. 

Normally on a Sunday I try not to machine stitch but to do some hand stitching but I wanted to get on with the quilt. Having put that to one side I pulled some hand stitching. I had been working on my millennium sampler but I wanted a change so I pulled out the christmas tree cross stitch. This is where I left it a few weeks ago.

So this evening I was working on this whilst watching TV. I carried on with the sky as I didn't need to keep changing threads. I'll see how much I can get done this week. It would be good to finish it for next Christmas.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching link. i can't wait to see what everyone has been doing.


It's raining scraps!

We all have scraps right? Are you plagued with them or do you embrace them enthusiastically as you plan out your next scrappy quilt. I love scraps. They look so pretty in their boxes and it's amazing how much money you save by using up the scraps. If I go to my local quilt shop here in London most of the good quality quilting cottons cost between £14 and £22 a metre (20 to 31 US dollars) so using up the scraps saves me a lot of money.

Last year I set out to get my scraps organised by cutting into useful sizes and storing them by colour and size.

The only problem with scraps is that the more you sew the more scraps you produce, so on a regular basis I try and revisit my scrap basket so I can keep the scraps under control. On Thursday evening I got out my cutter and the scrap box and spent a little time cutting 1 1/2 inch squares. I didn't get very far as it is quite a time consuming job but I did end up with a small pile of squares that I can use on my nine patch baby quilt.

I still need to cut a lot more squares in order to finish the baby quilt. Sarah from Confessions of a fabric addict has a new linky party so we can share how we organise our scraps and then how we use them. My goal with my scraps for March is to cut enough 1 1/2 inch scraps to complete the 9 patch baby quilt. Simple! I also want to press all the scraps in my box and start the cutting process . I tend to cut scraps into 1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2 and 3 inch squares. I've found these are the sizes I use most frequently.

Now I need to cut the pieces for my 'Once I caught a fishy' baby quilt. This is my 'Let's book it' project for March.

I found this lovely fish fabric. The fish have such happy faces.

I also have a pale blue for the fish to be appliqued onto. I have already cut the template for the fish from a thin plastic sheet.

Today the weather was fabulous here in London. Yesterday morning was cold and foggy. The fog in town wasn't particularly bad, but you can see the frost on the car windscreen,

Looking across to the city from the 10th floor of work  you couldn't see most of the tower blocks

In contrast today was clear and sunny and very warm, up to 17 degrees C (62F) 

So John and I made the most of the weather with a trip into London to go to an art exhibition at the Tate Britain and then later we took Scamp for a long walk on the common. This afternoon I got the cutting done for the baby quilt and made a start on the stitching.

This quilt should go together very quickly.  I'll let you know how I get on tomorrow. 


Monday, 7 March 2016

Preparing hand stitching.

Today was a tiring day at work as I had 6 hours of teaching with a new group. The traffic was quite light on the drive home and so was quicker than normal Once home having greeted Scamp and Picasso and spoken to Richard I decided to get on with preparing the three blocks I am behind on the splendid sampler. The first is from a week ago and when I first saw it I hated it. In looking through the photos of the  block as made by other people I still wasn't sure I wanted to be bothered with it. Still I'm not a person who makes rash decisions and so I had another look at it and decided I would see what I could do. I found some floral fabrics and fussy cut out the shapes and this is what I have so far.

Everything is fused down but it all needs top stitching and I need to embroider the stems of the flowers. It's growing on me slowly so I'll see how it goes as I top stitch. I love the effect of the flowers jumping out from the fabric. I'm hoping that will stay as I topstitch.

Block 7 is an embroidery block so I drew this one out. My following the lines wasn't very good as I usually use fabric solvy to transfer my embroidery patterns but it will be OK. I'm currently deciding on the threads I want to use.

Again I'm having a period of indecision. Do I just outline the quilt or should I add some quilt block patterns to it. I'll think I'll complete the little one and her two snuggly friends before I make a final decision.

I should have had time to complete the stitching on one of these blocks but my younger brother phoned. He's recently had spinal surgery and needed to talk. Still the blocks are all ready to start on tomorrow. I've also chosen the fabric to make block 6 which is pieced and that should go together quickly tomorrow evening.

I was going to cut the fish template and individual fishes for the baby quilt but I forgot to print out the template so I'll do that tomorrow . I have almost enough plain fabric for the fish but I do need to purchase a couple of colours.I can probably do that on the way home tomorrow. I feel I deserve a browse in a quilt shop. 

Today was very tiring or it could just be me getting old so I've decided to go to bed and curl up with my book and Scamp. He loves to cuddle before I settle down to sleep. Richard gave him a bath yesterday so he smells all lovely and fresh and clean. His fur is very soft like hair and it is so relaxing to stroke him. I'm also going to have a chocolate rice crispy cake. I had some rice crispies left over from camp and I bought some chocolate. Melt the chocolate and add the rice crispies and you get super easy chocolate cakes that don't need cooking. Ummm yummy.

I'm going to take the flower block to work with me to stitch during lunch time. The good news here in London is that after tomorrow the weather is supposed to turn milder. It would be lovely if the temperature would go up as I'd feel much more like exercising.