Saturday, 30 June 2012


When I decided to make a quilt this big I knew that I would have to hand quilt it, which was a slightly worrying thought. Sometimes, though, a massive amount of hand stitching is exactly what the doctor ordered. I need something to keep me busy right now, something that doesn't require too much thinking. 
I've quilted all the way around all of the dresdens and have started on the background, with lines radiating from each point. There are 46 of them. This is a long-term therapy.
And I am getting a pretty impressive quilter's callous. Sexy.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

This could take a while

After the craziness that was the last week I finally found some time yesterday to finish the fifth ring for my Bloom and baste them all onto the background. I went with grey for the outer ring in the end, so my plans for a light grey background got changed to pale blue. I'm slightly freaked out that it isn't white, but I'm trying to get over it. 
It took pretty much the whole evening (about 5 hours) to applique the first ring, and I started on the second one (red/orange) this morning. I am usually really crap about using the correct needle - I use size 9 sharps for pretty much everything - but actually invested in some proper applique needles for this. And WOW, what a difference! They are really fine and slightly flexible, so it's possible to end up with almost invisible stitches. I always thought I was rubbish at applique. Turns out I just didn't have the correct tool for the job. That's a lesson well learned.
I'm using the wonderful Aurifil 50, which is so smooth that I haven't had a single problem with snagging. Pretty impressive given that I am really lazy and always use way too long a piece of thread so that I don't have to tie loads of knots. 
I'm really hoping to get the stitching finished this week so that I can baste at the weekend. I'd better stock up on spray baste - I have a feeling this baby could use a couple of cans!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A herd* of handbags

*not the actual collective noun for handbags

I have a new 241 tote, following an unfortunate incident with a ballpoint pen last week. Those pens look like they have only a tiny amount of ink inside, but BOY does it go a long way when they leak. I can't say that I am too disappointed though, because I used my favourite Flea Market Fancy print and a lot more interfacing than last time (including fusible fleece) and am really pleased with its relative sturdiness.

It is my big girl's bat mitzvah this weekend and I *need* a little clutch bag to take to synagogue. I have a serious lack of smartish bags (to be honest, I have a pretty serious lack of smartish anything), so had a rummage around on the interwebs and found this tutorial for a cute little zippered clutch. My dress is black and white, so I used some of the Summersville I had left over from the placemats and came up with this:

which I really like, but decided wasn't quite smart enough. Something about the zip, I think.

So I went to that excellent collection of downloadable bag patterns that is Keyka Lou and decided on the Pocket Clutch. What a fantastic pattern - really well written and good value, especially when you consider that it comes with a license to sell. I broke into the Hope Valley stash (whimper) and ended up with this adorable little clutchlet.
Once again, the massive button hoard came up trumps. That's three buttons used out of about eleventy billion. This pouch is the perfect size to hold all of those (religiously inappropriate) items that I need for synagogue like my car keys, mobile phone and lipstick. I am so going to hell.

I picked up a fat quarter of Curious Nature from The Village Haberdashery the other day, not realising (because I am a muppet) that it was black and blue, not black and white, and so wouldn't go with my dress. It's such a lovely print that I thought I would use it anyway and had a go at the Buttercup Bag, which has been knocking around in my favourites for approximately forever. 
It's hard to see because of the pattern, but there are little pleats in the body of the bag. It tucks just under your arm and looks really cute. I'll use it if ever get to go out without the kids, and don't need my usual massive bag-o-crap. One day. One day.

Sew Sweetness

Monday, 18 June 2012


I'm very overexcited to say that I have a guest post over at The Daily Stitch today. It's my first ever tutorial, to make a set of Summersville placemats. Pop on over and take a look!

Quick question

When does a collection become an obsession?
This is my hoard of Denyse Schmidt fabrics. Well, the pieces that are big enough to fold. I have a whole bag of Hope Valley scraps and assorted other bits hiding in a drawer. Hope Valley is my favourite ever line, I think, and I am getting a bit nervous that I don't have an entire, untouched FQ set to stroke use. I found myself rummaging around Etsy last night looking for Katy Jump Rope. Seriously, I need to get a grip.

Fun, and a lovely lunch, was had by all at John Lewis yesterday when some of the LMQG went to see the mini quilt exhibition.
They look so fab, in spite of the assorted mistakes in the labelling (typos, missing names, the same name more than once). I think it is pretty impressive that we have an exhibition just six months after the first guild meeting. We will take over the world (insert evil laughter here)!!!!!!!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Muscle memory

I was tidying the living room the other day (trust me, it doesn't happen very often) and rediscovered the giant granny square blanket that I started making about two years ago. I'm not sure why it got forgotten, but it has been sitting in a basket under the coffee table for a very long time. There was no way, I thought, that I would be able to pick it up and carry on without going back and relearning how to crochet. Surely a two-year hiatus would have erased my extremely limited crochet skills. I was amazed, and a bit relieved, that my hands remembered what to do, even if my brain didn't. That kind of thing fascinates me.
It's about 34 inches square at the moment, and I think I have enough yarn to squeeze out another three colours, if I am lucky. It needs to be blocked within an inch of its life - my tension is not what it should be. Its pinned into submission in this photo, and it doesn't look very happy about it!
Annie (from my favourite online fabric shop, The Village Haberdasherygave me a mini charm pack of the new Kona colours a couple of weeks ago. I have a bit of a thing for colour order (I know, you'd never guess) and had great fun this morning playing around with some teeny half-square triangles (they finished at 1 1/4 inches). I love the shrapnel you get after you trim - I often wonder whether I could actually make anything with it. And then I realise that no, no you can't. Makes a good photo though.
This mini quilt is destined for a secret recipient, as a thank you for various things. I hope she likes it. I'm not sure the kids will be too happy about me giving it away!
A few of us from the LMQG are off to John Lewis tomorrow to see our mini-quilt exhibition. I'm really excited to see them on display. Today John Lewis, tomorrow the V&A! Well, a girl can dream, right?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A little grubby, but alive

Well, as expected, it rained for quite a lot of our trip. Luckily we had enough clothes with us, and the wood-burning stove did a fantastic job of drying the coats and wellies. The kids had a great time helping out with the farm animals and really enjoyed having the freedom to disappear for hours on end, in spite of the weather. That was the main reason for going, to be honest. I wanted them to be able to come and go as they pleased - it's not something that they have the opportunity to do when we are at home. On the last night there was a massive gale and a tree came down in the forest about 50 yards away from our tent. That was pretty scary, and in retrospect we were a bit bonkers for staying. Most of the other families legged it earlier in the day after they heard the forecast, sensibly. Anyway, we survived, and made it home to do the inevitable fifty-seven loads of laundry.
I took my mum's quilt with me and spent hours quilting by candlelight. I felt all pioneer woman or Victorian Farm, or something. It is now finished and washed, and I think it looks lovely. I'm glad I got it done in time for mum's birthday (today), although she will only get it when she comes to visit next week. After taking photos I laid it on a chair for a minute and the cat immediately jumped up and got comfortable. She seems to have some kind of homing instinct for freshly washed quilts. Rachel calls it "quilt nav".
Now that's finished, I've been thinking about the mahoosive Bloom quilt that I am making for our bed, and have come to the conclusion (after discussion with Aneela at the retreat) that I should add another ring to the dresden. I was worried that it might otherwise look a bit small on the king size background. Of couse, this meant a day spent doing maths and cutting paper into wedge shapes, but I think I have figured it out. The fifth ring will be 55 inches across, and I am going to make it in grey so will need to think of an alternative background colour from the pale grey I was going to use. Maybe a very pale blue or something. Definitely not white. Again. I am nothing if not predictable!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Fantastic things

A lot of pretty wonderful stuff has happened in the last few days. First, my Oakshott quilt won favourite throw quilt! Thank you all so much for the votes and comments - I am incredibly happy and honoured! This was my first time entering the festival, and it was such a great experience. I look forward to the next one.

Next was the Fat Quarterly retreat. I could only go for one day, but what a day it was. It was so much fun to finally meet all these people I have been stalking following for such a long time, not to mention hang out with the other members of the London Modern Quilt Guild. I took two classes: freezer paper piecing with Kerry and frame purses with Katy, both of which were brilliant. I learned so much. After the classes we hung out in the bar for a while (there might have been a bit of beer involved) and I came away with a really sore throat from all the talking. Which, as anyone who knows me will tell you, is totally out of character. I am normally really shy and retiring and hardly ever say a word. Ahem. 
I do love a big pair of balls. Hehehehe.
And yesterday, at bedtime, Lucy (the nine-year-old) handed me something that she had been secretly working on all afternoon. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried. A lot.
It's a bit hard to see, but she appliqued "Best Mum" on the front. Melt.
This morning she came downstairs and showed me what she had been working on overnight (I'm not sure she went to sleep, to be honest). It was a little sewing kit, with applique on the front. I know that I am her mum and everything, but she really does amaze me. She just thinks up these things and makes them work. I am so proud of her.
We are off to the New Forest today for a camping trip. The weather is looking pretty crappy, unfortunately, but never mind. A bit of mud never killed anyone, right? Right???

Friday, 1 June 2012

Last minute panic sewing

I decided, pretty much at the last minute, that I can't possibly go to the retreat without an assortment of pouches to hold my sewing guff. Just so we are clear, I'm not suggesting for a moment that I took a sneaky morning away from work to do this, and that I am now in a blind panic trying to get everything done before we go away next week. No, that would be irresponsible of me.

Anyhoo, moving on...
I desperately needed (ahem) a sewing kit, so had a go at the one from the Zakka Style book. It's perfect. Nice and small, but holds all the necessaries. I added a popper to the large pocket so that things wouldn't slide out when it was closed, and enlarged the pockets slightly from the pattern (3.5 inches deep, rather than 3). I screen printed my name so no one can nick it. I know what you quilty people are like ;-)
After that I realised I absolutely must have a little pouch for my hand quilting supplies. I'm planning on working on my mum's quilt between classes, so wanted to be able to keep everything together. And a plastic ziplock bag just wasn't cutting it, frankly. This is style C from the marvellous Perfect Zip Pouch pattern by Elizabeth. And it is. Perfect, I mean. I used one of my screen printed labels on the inside. That just leaves me with another 99 999 to use on lots of other unnecessary items.

Ok, I really must get on with work or I'll be editing at the retreat, and that would just be depressing! See (some of) you tomorrow!!!