Friday, 29 June 2012

Mandarin Duck

I've been seeing all the lovely mosaics of Kona loveliness to link up with Cindy of Fluffy Sheep Quilting's give away and knew exactly what I wanted of my first bundle. (See how I predict I'll be making more than one virtual bundle?)

This one I'm calling Mandarin Duck.  Ever since I saw this picture over on flickr I've wanted to make a quilt in the colours of this gorgeous bird. If I could buy individual fat eighths of Oakshott (not in a bundle) I may have made this quilt already. But lately I've been thinking maybe Kona would be the way to go and this bundle would be top of my Mandarin Duck dream list.


Mandarin Duck


Thursday, 28 June 2012

Bee(n) practicing.

I haven't had a lot of time for sewing this week. I had the day off work on Monday and Chief and I went to a local arboretum. Neither of us had been before and we're not so inclined to go again. It was really humid and we were both getting eaten alive by horseflies.  We didn't stay long and headed off to Waterperry Gardens so Chief could try out some new lenses.  I haven't sorted my pictures out yet or I'd show you some now.

Yesterday, after school I took my niece and Mum to the local pick your own. Where we picked strawberries, raspberries and broad beans before having tea and cake in the on site cafe.


Soft Fruit
Lots of raspberries as I have a cake recipe I want to try ;-)

This afternoon I managed to get sewing and inspired by the launch of the hipBees I decided to practice my block making skills and what better way with the June Block for Bee Blessed.  I was feeling quite smug as to how well it had gone until it came to trimming the block. Regular readers will know me and maths are not friends. So somehow when I was measuring and trimming I managed to trim more off one side than the other. I probably need a good trimming-for-idiots tutorial.  My trimming error was made all the more frustrating when I realised the ruler next to me was a 12.5" square ruler. I'd thought it was only a 12". If I'd been using this ruler first time round maybe I'd have found things much easier!!!

Anyway this is how the block turned out.

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Chocolate Brown, oranges, blues, pinks and green scraps.

I don't think it's as wonky in real life as it is in this picture.  It was very windy when I took this picture. It nearly blew away to Judith in Belfast saving me the price of a stamp!

When Chief came down on Monday he had a gift with him.

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This is Chief's old number two dress uniform which has recently been replaced due to a change in style. His every day uniform has also changed this year, but in order to have that replaced free of charge he had to hand it back in. It's probably because they are then sold to Army Surplus stores? Anyway, the number two dress must have less resale value and so they didn't have to hand them in.  Chief though I might want it to make into something else, namely a bag.  He left his medal ribbons on and his rank badges but it came without buttons. New uniforms are not issued with buttons. They have to sew on their own. I found this quite amusing. But apparently as badges and buttons are specific to each individual and regiment, it's easier to issue these separately. As Chief belongs to a regiment different to most of his colleagues and subordinates there was a shortage of the right buttons, so he had to rob this uniform.  It's probably as well this didn't come with brass buttons as the thing that surprised me the most was how heavy this uniform is. Clearly the heaviest suit I've ever lifted up.  Oh and in case you're wondering this kind of uniform is the type that's worn at parades like those held on Remembrance Sunday. Chief doesn't have a number one dress uniform as they're quite expensive to buy and you only get issued (for free) with any uniforms that are required for your job.   

I'm looking forward to linking up with Sew Fresh Sewing Day in a few days time as I've been pretty productive this month!


I'm a hipBee chick!



I have been keeping a little secret for a week or so now. You have no idea how hard keeping this secret has been. In fact how I got through my last post without peppering it with pictures of bee's on flowers in a not-so-subtle hint I'll never know. But drumroll I have joined my first ever proper Bee. I am officially a hipBee. 

hipBees

As many of you know I have been nervous about joining a Bee for a variety of reasons. Will I be good enough? What if I'm asked to do stuff I can't do without messing up and messing up using other people's treasured fabrics. What if I send treasured fabrics off into the ether and they're never seen again? Oh the list of reasons I've given myself for talking myself out of joining Bee's goes on and on. Maybe it's because the first bee's that came to my attention were Bee's like Ringo Pie. Where you have to have some advance degree in paper piecing and basically be channelling the uber talented Kerry.  Believe it of not the one time I was asked to join a Bee it was by Lynne of Lily's Quilts before she was super famous. I thanked her for her invite and ran away and hid in the corner.

So you may be wondering how I've ended up a hipBee? Over the past year I've been seeing how much fun the Brit Bee girls have been having and it's made me completely re-evaluate Bee's and the pro's for me really do out way the con's. I'd sort of decided I'd join a Bee with a couple of proviso's. 1)I'd prefer to join a UK based Bee. 2) I'd rather join a Bee where I knew some of the people already. They'd be familiar with me and what I'm about (and capable of) and maybe if they were UK based the chances of meeting up in the real world would be increased.  So when Di invited me to join the hipBee's it seemed like fate.  I already know a few gal's on the list and am looking forward to getting to know the others.  

  1. Tanya - Second Chance Tan - http://sewasecondchance.blogspot.co.uk/
  2. Rachel Addison - Mamma Fairy Sews - http://mammafairysews.blogspot.co.uk/
  3. Karen  - Lisnaweary Quilts - http://lisnaweary-quilts.blogspot.co.uk/
  4. Fiona - Sew Fi - http://go-sewfi.blogspot.co.uk/
  5. Collette - Poppie and Poochie - http://poppyandpoochie.blogspot.co.uk/
  6. Renee - Nellie's Niceties - http://nelliesniceties.blogspot.co.uk/
  7. Lynz - Domestic Light and Magic - http://domesticlightandmagic.blogspot.co.uk/
  8. Jan - Isisjem - http://isisjem.blogspot.co.uk/
  9. Catherine - Sew Wonderful Life - http://sewonderfulife.blogspot.co.uk/
  10. Sarah - Sew Me - http://sewmeblog.blogspot.co.uk/
  11. Judith - Just Jude Designs - http://judith-justjude.blogspot.co.uk/
  12. Di - Willowbeck Designs - http://willowbeckdesigns.blogspot.co.uk/
So I'm pretty excited. :-)


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sew Inspired

People sometimes asks me what inspires me to use the fabrics that I do together, given that I rarely buy bundles or use just precuts, where the hard work of choosing which fabrics to use together is done for you. If truth be told I do not find this choosing hard work. It's probably one of my favourite bits. One of the things that greatly inspires me is my garden.

I wish today I could have you all round. Despite the breeze there is a blue sky and it's quite mild.  We could sit in my garden and just 'be'.  There are flowers in every kind of colour and shape you could imagine and if you closed your eyes you'd be able to focus on the gorgeous scents on the breeze: the mock orange, honeysuckle, lavender and many roses.

My garden is a typical cottage garden.  I was fortunate enough to be able to pretty much completely re-do this garden a few years ago. I'm always hearing how difficult cottage gardening is. Far harder than most kinds, as that romantic chaos is supposedly harder to do and get right than just regular gardening.  I am not sure about this. I think if you have the hard landscaping in place and you get the planting balance right you can do this kind of gardening pretty easily. But one thing typical of this type of gardening is that no colour is wrong with another colour. Over all it works out and if it doesn't clash in nature then it won't clash in a quilt. At least that's my theory. You may have to tweak value or pattern in the fabric.

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One thing you'll notice from the above photo is that green focuses pretty heavily. If the above was a quilt the green would be the background colour or a kind of neutral. Without even realising I am drawn towards green in quilts, where it sometimes becomes a neutral.

Freebird by Momo for Moda Quilt
The quilt I made from a Freebird Charm Pack and some Kona Chartreuse.

Rolled up string Green's quilt
String Greens Quilt.

The influences of my garden are obvious in things like my hexie quilt and the recent Ferris Wheel Cushion I made.

Ta Da! All finished the piecing at least Ferris Wheel Cushion Finished.

But sometimes I look at individual flowers and I see the potential of putting colours together I'd have maybe not thought of before.


Lupins
Purple and Yellow Lupins


Looking forward to a long weekend.
Purple, green and jewel like pinky reds in this poppy shot.


Lovely colours

Imagine a quilt purple, pink, yellow, white and a pop of red, all with a green background?


I see endless possibilities in my garden.  When you're deciding which fabric to make into a quilt what inspires you?

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Frame Purse #2 (The Double 'A' Side)

I whipped up another framed purse last night. I wanted to try and make a shorter fatter version than the first pouch so drew myself up a completely different pattern, and then looked at how it seemed to resemble a squashed baguette and thought I'd not use up all my Melody Miller viewfinder fabric in case the frame ended up looking like the aforementioned  flattened French Stick.  So I opted for a purse that uses view finders on one side and type writers on the other. Lets call it the double 'A' side.


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One side has these lovely Melody Miller View Finders



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The other side has these Melody Miller Typewriters.

With bold fabrics like these I didn't feel the need for any extra embellishment.  I used more texty print in side giving the impression that maybe it had been whipped up on those type writers. 

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Hometown by Sweetwater texy fabric lining.

And I have to say it went together really well and yet I'm left with this nagging, horrible feeling that both pouch 1 & 2 have gone together remarkably well. Too well. Which has left me thinking what if the glue is only superficially holding the purse together.  What if I send one of these off to my partner and they go and put stuff of a weighty nature in the pouch, sling it in their bag and then later when they retrieve the purse, they actually find they are retrieving the pouch sans frame and contents...  I may wake up screaming in the middle of the night having nightmares about this now!!

And as I'm over achieving on the making front at the moment and possibly about to be without my sewing machine if I take it in for service soon, I've started on a little embroidery - inspired by the many I keep seeing popping up on flickr and in blog posts.


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Summersville 

I'm thinking this will end up as a mini decorative hoop or maybe an inset feature panel in a pouch.



Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The one where I invent the Dresden Caplet

I've read two posts recently when the Finish-A-Long has been mentioned and how the end of the month is the time to link up the latest quarter finishes with some faberoony prizes. I'm partial to a faberoony prize. It's a while now since Mr RNG decided to spew out my lucky number, so I may be due to 'do a Hadley' at any time now.  So I thought I'd best check up on my FAL list and see what was on it (I couldn't remember) and how many completed items I could link up for the chance to win something.

This is the bit where it all went a bit pear shaped in my attempt to win a faberoony prize. Despite only putting three items on my list. I've managed to not complete any. To be fair I did soon crack on with item one 'The Hope Valley Colour Brick Quilt" but that needs the binding sewing on to be properly finished and it was also the first time I mentioned having walking foot issues. So that's been put to one side for now while I decide if my sewing machine can cope.

Another item on the list was the over sized dresden that was first part of a QAL over at Lily's Quilts. I only ever intended doing one dresden and despite showing you the blades all cut out in this post, I never actually did sew them together.

So I grabbed them out of the drawer and decided to whip up a dresden ring.  I thought I'd ignore the funny noises my sewing machine was making and maybe try and work it into submission.

It was super quick and easy to sew all the blades together and they make a nice satisfying ring:


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Dresden ring in a selection or greys, oranges, blues and greens.

Having reached this stage I remembered why I'd been procrastinating over finishing it. Even if I applique the big circle onto a piece of fabric - Which is looking the more tempting than piecing it into the background - I would like to piece in the centre circle. This will mean something scarily akin to maths. It will require the compass from a back to school compass set, that I bought with this job in mind.


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This is me recreating the scene last night when 
I decided to have a really close look at the big gap in the middle. 
I reckon I could get my head through here!

And then in a rash moment. I thought maybe there was an even better idea than piecing or appliqueing the dresden.  Maybe I could just pop it over my head and turn it into an outfit.

Voila! I give you the The Dresden Caplet

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I can tell everyone who made one of these dresdens and turned them into a quilt
 are secretly gutted they didn't spot the sartorial style opportunity that is a dresden caplet.

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This is me modelling it from the side. I'm thinking for next years retreat never mind name tags 
everyone could just turn up in a dresden caplet in the fabric of their choice.

Now I'm thinking a bit of bias tape round the outside and the inside of the dresden and I can call this finished and link it up for a chance to win one of those faberoony prizes.   

Of course it may just be the world is not quite ready for the Dresden Caplet and it's better to finish it the conventional way. Now Lynne if I get stuck can you help me with the circle in the middle? As you can see mine is er...head sized :-) 

An update after yesterdays post: Thank you for all your comments on yesterday's post. I popped into a shop in a nearby town that I thought, as they sell basic sewing machines, they may also service them. It turns out they do have a chap come in and for £65 he'll service the machine and give it a 6 month warranty. Any additional parts and labour are charged on top. But as I'm quite happy with my machine I think this is what I'll end up doing. The alternative is buying a much fancier machine and that would mean a bit of saving and probably no fabric buying for about 5 years. So it's something to save up for gradually if possible!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

I blame the elves.

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Ferris Wheel Cushion Finished.

I have started this post off with a lovely picture of my finished Ferris Wheel cushion. That way if you don't want to read on about the drama of completing it this afternoon you can leave now and go and make a framed purse or king sized quilt. You know something fun. 

I should have known I was going to have a few drama's when the fusible fleece I ordered to complete this cushion arrived and it wasn't fusible. Not the fault of the shop. My fault. I had ordered the wrong product. Probably because I'd been looking at so many options, in several online shops. Anyhow, I knew I had a can of 505 spray baste so I decided to go with what I'd ordered. (Well I have enough of it!)

I decided before I risked using my walking foot again, which has not played nice during my last two attempts to use it, I should try it out on some scrap fabric. I made a little quilt sandwich of the material I was lining the top of the cushion with and the not-fusible-fleece. In case I had issues with speed I sewed really really really slowly.  If I had been sewing any slower I'd have not been using my foot, but turning the wheel manually with my hand.  I was still getting the tiny stitches -  normal stitches thing going on. The little arm seemed to get stuck and then judder as it swapped stitch length. I fiddled about with tension and stitch length as I tend to leave my machine to the same settings and I wondered if the problem was with either of these. 

Then I thought I'd clean the machine out. 

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You need another nice picture because this post is getting more depressing by the second ;-)

I couldn't shift a crucial screw, so at one point I was pouring oil into my machine having turned it upside down. It was the only way I could access a section. I even tried WD40 on the naughty screw and the quilting practice I'd just done came in mighty useful as I had to mop up WD40!! I took bits apart, I blew on them to clean stray fluff, I brushed, I gave my machine TLC. 

I then tried the walking foot again and it didn't seem to be so keen to do the juddery arm thing. Woo hoo I thought I could quilt my Ferris Wheel cushion after all! Off into the garden I went with my trusty 505 spray baste and despite giving the layers a jolly good spray they weren't inclined to stick to each other. I can only assume the not-fusible-fleece stuff has some magic (note the sarcasm as I say magic) spray baste repelling properties. Bad basting and a temper mental walking foot are not ideal starts are they?

Back inside I went with the intention of stitching in the ditch around the big block of coloured Ferris Wheels. And do you know what happened? Well whatever, stitch length, tension I set the stitches came out tiny. It was like they stitches had be done by the Elves (of the Elves and the Shoemaker fame.) I mean they were tiny. So small I checked several times to see if there was still thread in my needle, as I couldn't see where I'd stitched! 

It meant the the cushion is not quilted very much. Oh and now my machine is making a lot of noise when I sew. The sort of noise that it makes when it needs a clean out...not after it's had one. Either that or the Elves doing the small stitching have whipped out road drills to annoy me.

So I'm beginning to wonder if I should be saving for a new sewing machine. I have to say I've never particularly wanted to replace my machine. Ok if I won a fancy schmancy one I wouldn't mind. But I've not been hankering after a replacement for my machine - which has been with me 20 years now. I guess I could get it serviced, but it's knowing someone good locally, reliably and cheap! Don't want much do I? 

But for now I'll leave you with a final picture of my cushion. Which I'd have liked to have stitched a frame all the way around, but wasn't risking that with a noisy machine and a naughty walking foot. 


Ferris Wheel Cushion Finished.

This cushion is destined for a spot on my bed. It may not be perfect but the prettiness hides the elves best attempts at sabotage!


Monday, 18 June 2012

Before I forget again...

Just after I posted on Saturday I realised the date. It was too late to go back and add it to the post as some of you had already commented. Then Sunday I completely forgot to mention it again! So before I forget again, I'm going to say: Saturday was my 2nd Blogiversary! 

Two whole years of blogging, wonderful supportive online friends and creative challenges. Having this much fun no wonder it went by in the blink of an eye!

Poser
And because I don't like blogging without a photo here is a dragonfly I snapped the other weekend.  
Yes, I know I can be a bit random!  
I believe it's a four spotted chaser or something. I don't really know one dragon fly from another. 

Anyhow, you know what a blogiversary means don't you? Imminent giveaway that's what. I just have to work out what. Now would you prefer a little hand made something or a little something to do your own making or are you the greedy types (like me) who is rather partial to both?


Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Best Kind of Sunday!

Do you ever have days that start off in an ordinary way and then just get better and better? Well, today I had one of those days. I spent the morning cutting out fabric for my first ever attempt at a frame purse. I was philosophical about it. There were so many things that could go wrong and this was all new to me.  After I'd cut out pieces I decided to embroider some flower detail onto the Echino.  It was a surprisingly quick job and I managed to get it all done before lunch!

After lunch the sun was shining and whilst part of me wanted to get on with making my purse, I was conscious we've hardly had lovely summer weather to enjoy. So I took myself off to Monks Risborough where I knew SilverSilverSilver would be exhibiting in St Dunstan's Church as part of Buckinghamshire Art Weeks. (I completely missed Oxfordshire Art Weeks because I don't think it has been advertised so well this year or last.)  I've got several pieces of SilverSilverSilver jewellery as a good friend of mine, who I introduced you to in this post works with one half of the jewellery making team and I'd always marvel over jewellery Sally had bought when her colleague, Violeta had taken jewellery into work to sell.

Anyway, I treated myself to a pair of earrings.

  New Earrings
Silver earrings by Violeta Corzo of Silver Silver Silver

If you're in the area and get a chance to visit St Dunstan's while Art Weeks is taking place, it's well worth a look. In fact Art Weeks in your local area are always worth a look. A great way to see what's being made in your area and engage with the artists themselves.

My Mum, who was with me, and I were about to get a cream tea at the nearby church hall when we realised we were actually still too full up from lunch so we headed for home. On our way I randomly decided to go to the Pick Your Own. First time this year and it was absolutely heaving!  You can see the fruits of our picking labour here:

Strawberries
Strawberries and some clotted cream from the Pick Your Own

When I came home I decided to crack on with my purse frame. It's odd how things work out. There were two aspects of the process that were making me a tad nervous. I figured if anything went wrong it would go wrong with these stages; one being the pattern making, the other being the gluing. I'd read of other bloggers attempting framed purses and getting glue all over their precious fabrics. At the very least I expected swearing. In the end the bit I found the trickiest was sewing together the pouch for the 'turn through method' it was really hard to manipulate the fabric at the hinge seam points. I'd clipped curves and trimmed some bulk from this area as well as clipping curves at the top of the pouch. But prior to it all going into the frame it was all looking a bit...less than perfect!

Anyway, I cracked on. I pressed, I glued, I waited for the glue to get tacky which was far quicker than the five minutes suggested in the U-Handbag instructions. The gluing was far less traumatic than I'd expected.  I actually got more on my fingers than on the frame and none that I can see on the fabric.  But enough wittering on. You want to see how my first frame purse ended up don't you?

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The finished pouch. Can you see the embroidered highlights? 
It's not wonky it's just not easy to get an empty pouch to stand up by itself and look anything other than wonky!

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The Sweetwater lining. Understated but lovely I think!

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I boxed the corners so the bag would stand up by itself. 


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Another shot for fun!

So I rate my first attempt a success. Yes, there are tweaks I could make to future pouches, But would I be happy if someone sent me this pouch in the swap?! Yes, I bloomin' well would!

And I hope you all had such a good day as me!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Saturday Stitchiness

It feels like I've been sewing on and off for most of the day, but I was determined to get my ferris wheel top pieced. And Ta Da! here it is:


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Ok it's not the greatest picture but one outside in the rain won't be much better! 
You'll have to take my word for it when I say it's pretty darn lovely.
 I may have to order some fusible fleece in order to finish this cushion!

Sewing this up has given me a bit of chance for reflection today.  A couple of people have said after the retreat they felt in awe of the talent around them and I have to admit I feel pretty much like that every time I read someones blog. And inspiring as seeing all the fantastic things you all make is, I confess at times I look at what I make and think. Meh - when did I get to be so rubbish and uninspiring. I've been sewing for more years than I care to remember, at times it feels I was better when I was a beginner than the intermediate I'd say I am now.

I've come to realise feeling like that is actually making really lack confidence in trying new things. There are some aspects of sewing I could do to an advanced level. I'd say English Paper Piecing and Embroidery are two of them. There are other things I really want to master like Paper Piecing - both foundation and freezer paper. I've been quite scared of both. Although in the case of foundation piecing. I don't know if I'm thick, but it's like the instructions are written in some foreign language and even the videos on U-Tube everyone swears by, have just made me feel like I need to be able to pop my head on upside down or something to master it.

I had to visit a neurologist recently who got very excited about the fact I really struggle with knowing my left from my right. He made me do all kinds of stressy tests designed to see if I could work out my left from my right. I wonder if the part of the brain that makes something as elementary as knowing left from my right, is also in charge of whether a person can foundation paper piece!

One new thing I'm super excited about trying is making a framed purse for the In The Frame Purse swap.  I'm very excited to have a partner with tastes very similar to mine. This means my practice purse could end up for me or my partner depending on how purse number two goes. It may seem a bit of an odd way of approaching practicing, but I've lost count of the times I've made a practice item in less than lovely fabrics and it's gone like a dream. Then I go to recreate the item with the correct fabrics and everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. So my plan is to make a few purses and decide which my partner gets afterwards. 

So this is what I've pulled for pouch attempt number 1:

Pulling fabric for Practice.
Some Echino - not sure what it's called. Some Sweetwater text fabric and Perle threads. 

The plan is Echino for the external side and the Sweetwater for a pop of interested lining fabric.  Then perle on the outside to add a spot of embroidered goodness. All I have to do then is hope I've not messed the pattern making bit up and I can glue the assembled pouch into the frame.  I'm going to have fun though and that's the important thing isn't it? And if I mess it up I already have ideas for fabrics for purse number 2!


Friday, 15 June 2012

Not Slacking!

I've read that a couple of people have lost their mojo since the retreat. It's almost like all that great stuff has overwhelmed them. I get this a lot. Sometimes I just want to make so many things, making anything seems impossible.  I didn't go to the retreat, but I found chatting with Katy about it and reading all the blog posts has totally kick started my mojo and I feel rejuvenated to sew.

So the last couple of days I've been back piecing the background to the Ferris Wheel I started. Doing the background is pretty tedious. Mainly because, as much as I love texty fabric, it's not as fun pulling that for the ferris wheel, as it was pulling the gorgeous coloured fabrics. Even though it's slow going I'm determined not to let it languish in the unfinished pile.

  Hand stitching
I'm adding texty fabrics to 'square' off the hexagon to make a cushion top!

I've also joined my second swap in a week as Brit Quilt round 3 has started. I could have made a mosaic twice this size!

For Brit Quilt Swap Round 3
My inspiration mosaic for Brit Quilt 3 - 
Click on the picture to go to Flickr and see the artist credits

I have another project I'm itching to get finished over the weekend. I can't share that one with you just yet as it's a present for someone.  After that I'm not sure what I'll be making. I want to work my way through a few more unfinished projects, although I can't rule out starting a few new ones!  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Paying It Forward: I bet you thought I'd forgotten?!

I am not going to trawl back through my posts to find out exactly when it was I received the lovely mini cushion from Reene and so kicked off my own part in Pay-It-Forward. Suffice to say it's an embarrassingly long time ago. I procrastinated over what to make. I hinted on more than one occasion that I was about to start making and then doubts set in and I decided to leave it a while long for a flash of inspiration. But today I've made my PIF items. I started these Zakka style pinnies last month. They've languished unfinished for want of some stuffing. I could have used left over wadding scraps. But I wanted to use proper toy stuffing to given them a nice even stuffing.  I had a feeling I could get stuffing in a furniture shop in a nearby market town that also has a bit of a home sewing department.  Anyway, it's taken me a month to get to the store to buy the filling. Seeing the sunshine this afternoon I popped off to the shop straight from work and purchased the stuffing and finished off the pincushions.


Pinnies
Yes, I know I only need three pin cushions I have a spare ;-)

While I was in the shop I spotted some nice 'British' ribbon and thought I'd buy some. When I got home I decided it was about time I had a go at a fob or three to make the most of the fob hardware I ordered last year. So I've also whipped up these fobs. 

Some Very British Fobs.
My first ever attempt at this type of fob.

I think I need to find some bigger pliers as trying to close up this fob hardware with the pliers I normally use for jewellery making made hard work of it. 

So if you're one of the three people that signed up for Pay It Forward from me these will be going in the post shortly. I hope you'll think it's been worth the wait. Because you really have had to wait so long!




Monday, 11 June 2012

My Mystery Tour of a Weekend

Yay! Chief and I got away for a whole two nights together. He kept the destination a complete secret until the last minute. Mainly because there was a lot of last minute on the day hotel booking. He'd tried in vain for a couple of days to get in here or there, but with it being the end of half term week the places on his plan A list were fully booked. I think by the time he did book he was down to plan G or something.  But we had a fab time!

We spent a night at a Days Inn at Winchester Services on Friday as he'd no idea what time he'd finish work and what time it would be when he made it to mine, let alone what time we'd be checking into a hotel. I couldn't find my make up wipes so Chief said to use his. (Well to be fair he never said he had make up wipes...) He was quite amused at me running round the room taking pictures. Military Wet Wipes. Apparently you can buy these in the NAAFI and they're ideal for removing Cam Cream. So maybe he did say I could use his make up wipes. ::wink:: ::wink::


His and Hers
His and Her's Wipes?

The next day we got up, had breakfast at the nearby services and headed off to coast. We couldn't check into our next hotel until 3pm so we headed towards Chichester. We were making it up as we went along. Chief spotted a sign for a butterfly farm, so we stopped by Earnley Butterflies, Birds and Beasts. They had themed gardens with some very pretty and sometimes kitsch planting. My butterfly pics were not so good though and I've not got them on flickr yet.  It's well worth a visit if you're in that neck of the woods and ideal if it's a wet day as it's mostly undercover.

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Me at Earnley's Butterflies, Birds and Beasts.

From there we headed off towards Bognor. We briefly stopped off at Pagham because we could see a path to the beach down a side road.

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Pagham in West Sussex. It was very breezy but lots interesting plant life growing on the beach.

Then we went off to Bognor Regis. I'd never been there that I recall and Chief had only been there on a lads weekend stopping at Butlins. What can I tell you about Bognor? Hmmm. There isn't much there to get excited about. We did sit on a bench by the beach eating fish and chips. The nicest I'd had for a while, but then they always seem nicer at the coast. Bognor may have hidden depths but on out brief visit we didn't find them.


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The Pier at Bognor Regis

We were then in need of petrol. Badly. I'd wanted to go to Brighton and we looked in Worthing for petrol and it was looking like we'd be breaking down due to running out of petrol and then that would probably mean repairs too because some cars just do not like you running out of petrol. It all get's a bit blokey and technical for me now. But Chief was a tad concerned. We couldn't believe how there were no garages or signs for fuel. Eventually we got petrol and then we got a bit lost first heading off in the wrong direction and then missing the sign for Brighton completely and heading off into East Sussex! (This is what happens when you natter too much!) But eventually we made it to a very sunny (if breezy) Brighton. It was absolutely heaving so parking was looking to foil us. But eventually we found a space and had a few hours to explore.  I'd have liked to have spent more time there, as I'd not been since I was a child and there is so much to see and do.

The burnt out remains of the West Pier looks quite striking and they even have some artefact's in storage under cover at the land end of the pier. The Pier has actually had quite an interesting, if chequered history. You can find out more here.

The West Pier at Brighton 
The West Pier at Brighton. 
(Or what's left of it)

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I took some more pictures in Brighton which are in this flickr set if you'd like to see more. As the time was about to run out on our parking ticket we headed back towards Portsmouth to check into our hotel suite.   Chief had wanted to stay at least one night somewhere more wow than a travel lodge. He'd even looked at hotel suites in Brighton. But those that still had availability wanted £20 extra parking. We're a bit adverse to these charges. After all if you've spent nearly £200 on a hotel suite for a night can they not give you a nights parking free? Anyhoo the Portsmouth Hilton was nice enough. I've stayed in a suite in a local Q Hotel and I have to say that was much bigger and better and cheaper! Still we ordered room service and chilled for the rest of the evening!


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Room Service and the lesser spotted Chief reflected in that mirror!

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And a photo for Ceri to see me using (again) that lovely pouch she made me!


Things did not quite go as planned on Sunday. Chief was taken ill at breakfast when he accidentally sugared up his cereal. We think something he put as topping had a ridiculously high content of sugar and despite him saying 'mmm this isn't very nice, it's very sweet', he kept on eating it. When you have diabetes the fine line between not enough sugar and too much can cause problems if you don't walk that line carefully. So after rushing out of the restaurant to be sick and then feeling quite blurgh for the rest of the day we decided to head straight for home. The original plan has been a bit of a wander around Portsmouth. But it was raining too so home seemed the best option. We did stop by Otmoor on the way home. It's like his second home when he's down here. But I've not even begun to sort those photos yet. Then after lunch at Waterperry Gardens it was time for him to head home. I'm glad I had the day off of work today as it's cold and wet and I'm a bit tired. I can't think why though!

Oh and my order from U-Handbag arrived this am. It's order one as when they had a discount that was due to run out today I decided to do another bit of shopping last night. ::Wink:: ::wink:: I decided I was too sleepy today to do anything with the frames. But I will be swotting up on the best tips and techniques in preparation!





Thursday, 7 June 2012

Out of my comfort zone and into the frame.

I have been thinking lately that I need to try more 'new' things. To grow as a sewist and not keep making the same old same old or avoid trying things out of my comfort zone in case I mess them up. I have learnt over the last few months that even things I've done time and time again can still go pear shaped, so why not just say what will be will be and get on with some new stuff?

So having never made a framed purse before. And having always been a little fearful because they look tricky. (There is glue and tricky hardware to muster for goodness sake!)  So earlier today, before I thought too hard and talked myself out of it I signed up for In the Frame Swap.  I've already ordered supplies. I've read tutorials and I've also made this rather lovely mosaic.

Frame Purse Inspiration
Click on the picture above and it will take you to flickr,
 where you can view details of who's work these beauties are.

I am set to make a practice one as soon as my supplies arrive. Yes, I am nervous, but excited too. I'm encouraged by the fact many people signing up have only made one pouch before (doing the class at the retreat) so it's not like I'm the only novice in the group. Wish me luck though! 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Tea for Two - well storage at least.

Well, it's still the first week of June and already I've managed to double my productivity on May. 

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Any ideas what I've just whipped up? 

Chief is planning a weekend away for us shortly. He suggests one place and then his mind flits to somewhere else and he's had a change of plan and location. I'm leaving it up to him. It seemed he was looking to 'push the boat out'. I sent him a text and said: "This isn't instead of Paris is it?" Apparently not. It's as well as Paris. It's because Paris has not happened yet and I guess he wants to make some extra effort because this year the British Army has found even more inventive ways to scupper our plans at every turn. It's pretty much accepted that the needs of the service always come before the needs of the individual. So you really just have to get on with things in good humour and seize opportunities when they arise.  Either that or find yourself a partner with a 9 - 5 job ;-)

Part of my contribution to this weekend away is to sort out the snacks and drinks for the journey and the 'brew kit' as we're rarely impressed with what's on offer in hotels and I like decaff tea after mid morning or I'm liable to be wide awake until stupid o'clock, even if I'm worn out.

So tonight I got around to making myself a brew kit holder. I've been meaning to make one for ages. I even made Chief one and showed you in this post. That brew kit was a bit more man sized than I needed. So I made a slightly longer version of those tea wallets you get to pop in your handbag. I didn't do much in the planning I just got on with the sewing and made it up as I went along. Sometimes spontaneity works. Sometimes it goes wrong. Thankfully this was the former.

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The teaspoons are just visual aids to show you I've made the two end pockets 
deep enough to stuff in milk or coffee sticks.


There is enough room in this holder for plenty of assorted drinks. I used some Essex linen in sand that was left over from making the Go Anywhere bag the other day. The gingham type print is by Lakehouse Dry Goods and the tea pot and jam fabric is some I won from a give away held by VeryKerryBerry when I was first blogging.  I've nearly used it all up now. It's nice to have eeked out in so many projects though.

Talking of which this month I have my second bloggy birthday. I think I'll be needing to do a give away don't you? Just have to think of what first.