Friday, 29 July 2011

A surprise by mail and a taster of what's to come.

I got home from work and there was a white envelope awaiting me. I didn't recognise the writing, although when I turned it over I recognised the return address. When I opened it, this is what I found inside.

Fiona who blogs over at Poppy Makes was my partner in round one of Brit Quilt Swap.  Fiona wrote this lovely post about the quilt and goodies I sent her in the swap. She sent me these and a lovely thank you card.  Fiona read this post about how I'd pulled fabrics with a vintage feel and went and did the same in her stash and sent me these! It was a lovely surprise - liking winning a giveaway I didn't even know I'd entered ;-) so a big THANK YOU!!! to Fiona.

Which was extra nice as I've not won a give-away for a very very long time. In fact I have no Internet access next week so what's the betting that if I win any time this year it will be when I can't respond to the email that says: "You've won *** please respond within 48 hours or I'll select another winner!" Ha!

When I get Internet access back I will be...well here are some sneak peeks of what I'll be blogging about when I get T'interwebby back...




A new quilt.

 Of course there will be more hexies, maybe some Farmers Wife blocks, some cushions and maybe another giveaway!

So enjoy your week! 

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Fabric Pulling Inspirations for The Hex-A-Long

Lots of people have expressed interested in my fabric choices and combination for my quilt for the Hex-a-Long.  One person even referred to it as 'steampunk quilting' which had already crossed my mind as I searched online for fabric to purchase.  There are probably some very sage rules, written by some very wise quilting folk that I have broken in starting this quilt. However, for those of you that are interested in going down the thematic route, or simply curious about my inspirations and motivations I thought I'd blog about the process.
Seeing this hexie by Lynne of Lily's Quilts, and in particular the food pictures on the fabric reminded me of the beautiful illustrations in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management. 



It made me think of Victorian/Edwardian Britain. Genteel ladies in flowing flowery dresses having tea and cake. In particular I began to think of my two great aunts. One had given the other this book as a Christmas present.  I began to think of other things I associated with them. Which included vintage postcards; as they, along with their siblings had given their mother a postcard album, which she filled with cards from them. That postcard album started my collecting postcards as a child. I still have quite a few vintage cards.


And one of the things I've always loved about vintage postcards is the lovely old writing on the backs - those wonderful messages.  Glimpses into other peoples lives.


I began to go through my fabric stash and pulled together anything that had a vintage vibe about it. I came up with this bundle.

Vintage Romance - HAL

I didn't know if I'd use all these fabrics, it was a starting point though. Then I started to trawl online to find other fabrics that fitted my theme. I absolutely adore text on fabric so that was going to be a must. I had no idea I was going to luck out and find fabric with postcard backs on it!!!

Postcard Fabric Hexie

I already had some wonderful pale blue fabric with birds eggs on it and writing under each one labelling each egg.


I felt it would lift the already pinky looking set of fabrics I'd pulled. It reminded me of how the Victorians/Edwardians would collect things like butterflies and birds eggs and put them in wooden cabinets. Some Michael Miller French Journal Fabric not only gave me some bold fabrics to create giant hexies, but continued the vintage theme, refining my colour scheme in the process.   Now I had my tea drinking ladies sending postcards and letters home and collecting birds eggs. Well, maybe not. But what if these ladies were travelling around, exploring and having adventures?


Maybe they stashed all their treasures and lovely floral tea drinking clothes in an old tin trunk just like the one I have in my bedroom. The one my grandmother used to bring home some of her belongings when she travelled back to England from Australia just as WW1 broke out. Not an easy job for a woman to undertake alone in those days with two small children in toe. 

Progress so far

So rather than make a quilt that used only a specific range of fabrics that all matched completely I decided an eclectic mix within a similar palette would give the quilt a more vintage feel. I didn't want everything to be too matchy matchy. I wanted the over all feeling to make you think this quilt could be years old. It would only be close inspection of the fabrics individually that you'd see that they were modern. One of the most important elements would be the theme. Bringing together fabrics that told a story.  That gave the quilt another dimension.

If you look carefully at the one's I've sewn together so far and examined the fabrics carefully you may think that certain ones don't go together. I once heard a famous gardener (who's name escapes me now) that nothing really clashes in nature so how can it clash in a garden? Which is advice I always bear in mind when gardening in my cottage garden.  You can break all the rules and it can work. You just have to think about how you do it.

You may think that the Hope Valley fabric in one of the tumbling blocks above is too purple/pink and the heavy floral design of the fabric in some of the Penelope from Lakehouse Drygoods is too red.  Even the pale blue of the birds egg fabric doesn't go with the deep aqua blue of the clocks fabric. Well you'd be right if you want to be fussy about it. However, this is what gives this a vintage charm. As long as you place any of these fabrics so they are near ones they do match or neutralise them, before you place one they clash with, the overall effect works.  So far all the text fabric is acting as a neutral.  I can use all these aqua/pale blues together as long as they are not immediately close to each other.  I can slap in busy florals like that Penelope as long as I think carefully about what I put next to it.

So if you fancy designing a quilt this way look around you for inspiration. Trawl Flickr. Maybe create an inspiration mosaic. Pull out fabrics from your stash to fit in with your theme. Create stories around your theme to expand it. Have fun looking online for other fabrics that fit this theme and gather them together.  Then get cutting and sewing and have fun!

Cotswold Wildlife Park

This was going to be a Wordless Wednesday post only it seemed a bit random to dump some animal photos in the middle of my blog and run.  Last Wednesday Moh and I had a day off of work and I suggested we spent it at The Cotswold Wildlife Park near Burford in Oxfordshire. We visted here several years ago, but since then they'd had some new guests to stay at the park. Probably my most favourite animal. Giraffes.


How can you not love a creature with a face like this?  Well, actually Moh is not so keen. But that's because one of them hit him on the head with their own head on a previous zoo visit. It knocked him out. It was on that same zoo visit that a lion peed on him too. Hmmm should I rename him Lucky on my blog?   I got pretty excited the moment I spotted the Giraffes. Moh said: "And you wonder why I asked at the ticket booth for one adult ticket and one-adult-who-acts-like-a-child ticket?"


I love that you can get so close to them - and most of the animals at CWP. I'll confess something if you don't go telling everyone you know. I'm one of those women that sits looking smug at the TV set when other women start to well up over things like houses on Escape to the Country and I think, "Get a grip woman!" However, the closer I got to the giraffes I started to well up. I have absolutely no idea why. I just loved being so close to them. If I could have got in the compound with them and given them a hug I'd have risked being knocked out.

Giraffes aren't they only animals there. They have white rhinos and zebra's right there on the front lawn.

They have plenty of feathered friends to look at too:


And in the childrens/petting zoo you can get up close and personal with some farm yard animals.


There is a woodland aread with Timber wolves and reindeer. Moh was quite excited to see the wolves. Of course as lovely as they are it seemed a bit remote to me as my last wolf experience was when I got to walk with them and was tickling a wolf on the tummy!

You get plenty of creepy crawlies and reptiles too.


There is no shortage of Ahhhh moments with the likes of Red Panda's


If you brave the dark compound and wait for your eyes to adjust you can watch the Fruit Bats feed.


If you want to see more pics I'm still in the process of uploading all my pics to this set on flickr.  And if you're ever in the area do consider going to CWP. It's a fabulous place to take children because rather than go for gimmicks like a lot of museums and attractions, it concentrates on getting you as close to the animals, without causing harm to them or you.  Another bonus is the grounds are fantastically landscaped. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Penelope Joins the Party

I had promised myself I wouldn't blog anymore about anything hexie related until I'd blogged about something else entirely.  But today some new fabric turned up and it was just begging me to join the hexie party.


This is Penelope by Holly Holderman for Lakehouse Dry Goods. Isn't it cool? You may have already spotted some of it being used in the hexies made by Lynne of Lily's Quilts and Gayle Brindley.  It wasn't on my radar until a friend mentioned having some fabric called "Penelope" for me that I might be able to use. (She isn't a quilter and won some - I think she'd been hoping for another non quilty creative prize.) So her win is my win!  I am waiting on some more fabric from Lakehouse Dry Goods called: "Annie's Farm Stand". It's ditsy florals and spots in shades of pink, red and aqua will really add something to my quilt - I hope!

I am loving the oversized tea cups. It's a shame I can't do a big hexie out of every single tea cup on my fat quarter but sadly there isn't space to fussy cut around each one :-(



You can see more of the hexies I've made and photographed here.

I was hoping to have bound my doll quilt for round 11 of Doll Quilt Swap. But that will require me to trim down my quilted doll quilt and the last few days I've had a premonition of a cutting accident with a rotary cutter. Nothing fatal or blood curdling, just enough to know I should not be slicing up a quilt I've spent hours hand the moment!

Tomorrow I'll blog about what I was doing last Wednesday. Not a hexie will be in sight. Promise.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Looks can be deceptive...

...Take this little tin for example.

Looking innocent

Looks like maybe it originally had sweets or something in it - aimed at boys with all that camo going on?

It just happens to be the perfect size for holding spare long quilting pins.


Only it's probably best to remove the original contents first. ;-) The British Army had a health campaign a while back and handed out these tins with condoms inside.  I'm not sure how successful the campaign was.  I'm told condoms are useful for putting over the ends of rifles to keep the dust out and they also make good water I'm sure the squaddies found use for them some how ;-)

The campaign also featured some rather disturbing soft toy bears holding satin love hearts with things like HIV embroidered on them.  I wish I had a picture of those because seeing is believing!

Me - I'm just a sucker for useful tin I can re purpose into something else. :-)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

A Productive Day In The Sunshine

It's been really nice chilling in the garden sewing.  I know I have lots of chores to get sorted. Only weather like this seems to be a treat of late, so I knew I was either going to end up reading a book or sewing out there!

First off I found out a friend who's birthday is next week is actually turning 40! I had a feeling she was. Only it's not the sort of thing you can ask is it? I mean imagine if I asked and she was only 35 or something?  Anyway, her favourite colour is purple; so I finished off the purple zippy pouch I made the other day.


I added a beaded pull to the zip and sewed up the lining. Now I just need to fill it with a few bits and get it to post tomorrow!


Then I went out side to quilt my DQS 11 quilt.  I used spray baste for the first time. It is so much easier than trying to pin something small.  Of course if it's at all breezy when you baste it's advisable to stand out of the wind so you don't spray baste yourself. 


As I quilted this it occurred to me how much I'd like to join some other swaps it just me or do you get put off by swaps which you have to be invited to join the group or request it? Now I can understand the organisers probably want to avoid flakey passers by joining up and then not delivering the goods. It's just I'm a little too shy insecure to ever request to join something like that.  I mean what if I don't make the grade? What if this is some sort of quilting elitism designed to keep out less than cool quilters like me? If you need to ask to join maybe they don't want you? And it's probably another reason why I'm struggling to be brave enough to request to join a Bee.

Once I'd quilted this I went back to making some more hexies for the Hex-a-long.  I've pulled out a few extra fabrics from the stash so I get enough variety in one place.  I am waiting on a fat quarter bundle of Annie's Farm Stand by Lakehouse Dry Goods, because I thought the aqua and pink and red colour way would fit right in with the vintagey feel of my quilt as well as add some smaller patterns to the mix.  I am waiting for some other goodies too. I'd thought I may have over indulged a bit with fabric purchasing for this quilt, but seeing how quickly the fabric goes down when you're making large hexies, I'm glad I have!


Star hexie

I can't believe the weekend is almost over again. So much I still wanted to do and share with you. I guess that will have to wait for now.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Things You Wish You Had Recorded Your Other Half Saying #1

Unusual blog post title?

The other day when Moh phoned we got onto the subject of Kindles and he suggested I treated myself to one. In fact the conversation went like this:

Moh: I think you should treat yourself to one (kindle)
Me: Noooooo, they're too expensive it's too much of a luxury item. I'll just pop it on my Christmas list and if the family want to club together they can.
Moh: Christmas is ages away, treat yourself now.  You hardly ever treat yourself.
Me: I do. I am always treating myself.
Moh: When?
Me: Some silver earrings from Etsy. Oh and loads of fabric.
Moh: Fabric isn't a treat though.
Me: It is!
Moh: No, for you it's a necessity because you need to make stuff. It's like essential.

Oh, how I wish I could have recorded that conversation for future playback when Moh finds out just how much fabric costs. I have a feeling if he knew he may not be suggesting I go treat myself to a kindle!

But it does make me feel slightly better about all the online purchasing I've been doing for my new  project!  :: wink ::

4 fat quarters I'd ordered with my HAL project in mind turned up in the post today so I've spent a good chunk of the day making hexies. Once I hit on a theme for this project I realised I had very little fabric already that fitted that theme. There is actually something quite satisfying about buying fabric for a particular project. (Although it's probably not a good idea to think too hard about how much you're spending on each little online spending foray).

Big bold hexies

I managed to fussy cut these from one fat quarter. I decided to do the fussy cutting for the big hexies so I could use the left over fabric to make pieced hexies.  In fact in the last three pictures posted you can see how I used up some of the other fabric from the hexies above!
Postcard Fabric Hexie

Text and spots




I will try not to bore you all with endless posts of supersized hexies. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Hexing along nicely!

I'd really hoped that some of the fabric I've ordered would have arrived today because when you make hexies this big, little scraps tend to get used up pretty quickly. I want a balance so that all the same fabric isn't in the same area of the quilt. So for the moment I'm not sewing any of the hexies to each other. (Although I will have to at some stage because I want to be able to keep reusing the paper templates.)

This is my progress so far:

First Hexie!





Not the greatest photos and that black basting thread is far from pretty, but you get the idea.  I really love the birds egg fabric. I bought 1/2 yard when I first saw it and was contemplating a bird themed quilt. However it's vintage feel didn't seem to quite gel with the more modern birdie fabrics I like and I never did make that quilt anyway.  I think the vintage feel will make it ideal for the look I'm going for in this quilt.

How big are you going to make your quilt - or hoping to make it I should say?

This site is really useful for calculating how many hexies you will need.  Just don't go scaring yourself!  ;-)

Check out the other lovelies people are making here

Tilt your head folks - the Winner is announced!!!

I don't know why this has loaded on the wonk.  I failed the using-the-random-generator-and-then-finding-the-way-to-add-it-to-my-blog thing yet again! So I had to take a picture with my camera and then dump it in photo shop. Which I did and rotated it properly and then cropped it so you couldn't see the junk around it. But blogger has decided to show me I'm not half so clever as I think I am, and it's loaded all wonky. So tilt your heads for the winner!

Number 10 is where the prime minster of England lives is

Drum roll please


who said...

"Oooo what a lovely giveaway, scraps are brilliant for my ticker tape cushions! I like your blog because it contains a bit of everything, so keep it that way!"

Congratulations! I'll be in contact to get your email address! Thanks for to everyone for your lovely comments and for playing. Giveaways are fun are good aren't they?

Ps if anyone can tell me how to use the RNG properly before my next giveaway that would be much appreciated! :-)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Label it! Address it right!


I ordered some labels recently and they arrived in today's post.  Well if I am going to make some home made goodies for Christmas gifts then it would be fun to label them no? Otherwise people may just think I bought them. 

I have been doing a lot of fabric shopping lately. I am waiting for everything to arrive as it's all been shopped for online. I did have a parcel turn up today, alas it wasn't for me. Someone had got their address wrong so Amazon had their goodies delivered to me as the address was quite similar. (Remember this post when I ranted about a parcel going else where? Well it was to the same location just a different part of the property.)  I've been getting a few bits of mail for this person at this creative address lately. When I told Amazon I wasn't prepared to cart the parcel down to the post office - especially as this item had been courier delivered, they told me to 'dispose of it'. I was horrified they didn't want to collect it. They said they'd only collect it if that's what I'd prefer. The easiest option would be to throw it away! I confess I did pull open the end of the parcel to see what was inside and it was two cookery books and the dispatch note suggested they were birthday presents. So I got in my car and went round to deliver them. I couldn't throw someones stuff away! Someone pointed out to me that the other people living at that address had signed for goods previously that belonged to me and not forwarded them to me. But I pointed out I don't have to lower myself to their standards do I?

And the lady seemed genuinely pleased and has promised to change her address to the one on the massive slate sign outside her front gate - not my address! I just have to hope no more of my stuff goes there, as with a seemingly dishonest person living in the main house and someone not sure where they are living in the other, I don't hold out much hope of getting stuff if it goes there first!

On the plus side I finished piecing the top and took out all those distracting black basting stitches!

DQS 11 - top finished.

I don't recall it being such a faff and a chore when I removed the basting stitches out of my hexie quilt. Maybe it's because this was more fiddly?

I haven't decided what fabric to back this with or whether to hand or machine quilt this?

I feel better now about starting my HAL hexies now though!

There is still time to enter the giveaway - go here!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

What the mystery item was

In this post I asked you to guess what this item might be. I realised afterwards that photos alone and no clues would have made it virtually impossible to know that it was this:

Camera Cushion

A camera cushion.

As a treat for spending a week in hospital my other half bought himself a DSLR so he could have more flexibility taking wild life photos. He's got a range of lens' and wanted a cushion to rest the lens or camera on when he's in a hide or out taking pics. He now wants a big lens like this. Only I can't stitch him one of those so he'll have to figure that one out for himself!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Pass the Smelling Salts!!!

I'm all excited about the Hex-a-Long and I check by the group a couple of times every day. I can't stop looking at this quilt that inspired it.  I mean all those lovely hexies made up from different EPP shapes. It's just so darn 'British'!  My initial thought was to go scrappy. Most of my scraps though are those yummy fresh brightly coloured designer fabrics, where as one of the things I love about the original quilt is it's old world charm. All those candy stripes and spots, mixed in with huge flowers. I'm also going unashamedly scrappy for the FWQAL and do I want every quilt in my house to look like it's made from the same scrappy fabrics?

I briefly toyed with buying a load of Liberty fabric, but as I'd like to make a bed sized quilt that would probably bankrupt me!

Then of course Lynne of Lily's Quilts who is one of the Hex-A-Long hosts showed this block on flickr. I was instantly in love. Not only does it feature some yummy text fabric (which I love and buy whenever I see it!) but I love the fact the pallet of fabrics match in a completely non scrappy way.

When I was at work today I had a bit of a Eureka Moment, I thought what if I make my quilt evocative of a vintage era? Rather than buy a complete line of fabrics or just grab any old scraps in the bin - what if I have a quilt theme. I'm thinking: Old fashioned cottage gardens, Mrs Beeton, love letters written with fountain pens and bound with blue ribbon, Sepia coloured photographs in old family albums, Edwardian Tea Parties and that whole Upstairs/Downstairs vibe.  I wasn't sure if I could pull the right fabrics together, then I read Gayle's post when I got home and thought: Wow am I channelling these women?  This is what I've pulled out so far. I so need to add to it! More stash hunting needed!

Vintage Romance - HAL

What's stopped me rooting through every bit of fabric I own, is I'm determined to get my DQS11 quilt pieced tonight so I can basted ready for quilting.

By tonight the top should be pieced

So best get back to it!
Ps. Now how's about every time I post progress hex-a-long pics, I sneak a little inspirational vintage goody into the pic?

Looking for the giveaway? Go here

Sunday, 17 July 2011

When it rains all weekend...

...get productive!

I feel I've had a really productive weekend so far - unless you are measuring my productivity by the amount of housework I've done ;-)

Zippy Pouches

I whipped up these little pouches to put goodies inside for little Christmas gifts. (You can't even see the less than tidy zipper ends) Why is it I'm never happy with the finish on my zippy pouches? Uber critical of my own work? Moi? I admit I didn't bother with fabric zipper tabs.   I am going to add some pretty beads to the zipper pulls to make them a little bit twinkly. 

I hope my friends like these. Would you?

Looking for the giveaway? Go here

Saturday, 16 July 2011

My Love Affair with EPP: English Paper Piecing

Hexalong anyone?

When I heard that Lily's Quilts was having an EPP QAL and she was going to be offering up some templates to make Hexies just a little more exciting than normal I just had to sign up.  You see EPP was how I first got interested in sewing and quilting as a child. When I was about 7 my Primary School class were asked to bring in old fabric and we spent ages making hexies and sewing them together as a class project. The finished Hexagon quilt was then donated to a local children's hospice.  We were also given a shape (in my case rectangles) told to select some fabric scraps and then we made a very simple 'block' which our teacher machined to some fabric, we'd had to bring in from home and thus we had a a cushion/pillow cover to take home.  This pillow took pride of place on our sofa until it fell apart. So started my love affair with English Paper Piecing.

Over the years I dabbled with EPP quite often. Never tackling a really big project.  Unless you count the time I sewed a tonne of tiny diamonds, that had been basted onto card, into a 3-D star; sewing tiny star sequins onto the points and finishing it off with a ribbon before giving it away to a neighbour as a birthday present. One I thought was fabulous, although I'm not sure it was received in the same spirit it was given, as I never saw it displayed in the house.

In my late teens I became very ill. Something which plagued me through most of my 20's, which were not a happy time for me. I remember the breaking point had come when I got up one morning and didn't recognise the person staring back at me in the mirror. So not wanting to smash the mirror and gain myself another 7 years bad luck, I smashed two glass vases near by. It was hugely satisfying feeling - although a tad messy and not very productive ;-) So I decided to revisit EPP and the Grudge Quilt was started. 

Although never quite finished...


It's entirely hand sewn and doesn't really need that much more work to finish. It just represents quite a bleak time of my life so I've never really picked it up to finish it.

Last year I joined another QAL on flickr and had so much fun making friends in the group and swapping fabric to make this quilt.  These are one inch hexies.  The only fabric repeated are where I hid some characters of the Wizard of Oz, as it's a tradition to duplicate just one or two charms as a little puzzle within the quilt.  Without the QAL to keep me going I'm sure this would have floundered like the Grudge Quilt. I blogged about this quilt for the Bloggers Quilt Festival here.

the piecing of the top is finished!

Next I wanted to go smaller. This needle book and pincushion are made entirely from half inch hexies. Yip they're tiny and fiddly.

Half inch hexies turned into a needle case and pin cushion

You'd have thought I'd had enough of hexies if not EPP, yet for round 3 of The Scrappy Mug Rug Swap I was back to EPP with a different kind of hexie.

Finished Mug Rug

There was some EPP Involved in my quilt for round 10 of DQS. But it's for Round 11 that I've gone the whole hog EPP wise...


One inch diamonds turned into hexies.

So it may not surprise you hear I'm really excited about the Hex-a-Long. My first instinct was to go scrappy. But I'm going scrappy for the Farmer's Wife QAL and I do like how a range like Lakehouse Dry Goods looks for this project and I've always wanted a Liberty fabrics only quilt...oh decisions, decisions. You will play along too, thought won't you?

Looking for the giveaway? Go here
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