Monday, 30 June 2014

London Baby!

Chief and I took our first trip to London together on Saturday. It nearly didn't happen because of my generally feeling tired and a bit bleugh the day before. As it was we went, just not for the time we'd planned. Chief spent a couple of years living in London so knows it pretty well.  When he asked me to come up with a plan of where to go my mind went blank. Well, if I'm perfectly honest everything that leaped into my mind was fabric related - Liberty's, Shaukat, V&A etc etc. Some how I didn't think a day spent doing 'Fabric' in London would be quite his cup of tea. Can you believe when I did mention Liberty he said: I have no idea what that is?!

Anyway, in the few hours we were in London we crammed in: China Town


China Town
Can you spot me? We actually did China Town twice. I really
wanted to get a few pics and on our first (and most 
comprehensive)walk through it was raining like mad!

Leicester Square (where we had lunch at Chiquitos.) 

Chiquitos starter
Only took a picture of my starter. Was too busy eating after that!


We walked around the Theatre District
Theatre district from an Alley
Shame about the rain!

It was only when we headed for Trafalgar Square we found out London Pride was on. We saw bits of the parade but generally tried to avoid it because of the crowds. Not that easy. There were certainly some sights to be seen and quite a party/carnival atmosphere.


Rainbow Zebra Crossing - London Pride

Gaydar - London Pride was on!

Soho Glamour

We had a wander through Soho. If I'd been here before I wasn't aware I was in Soho. 


Adults Shops in Soho backstreet

There was a quick trip to Davenports. I'd heard of this place before from Chief. I was expecting it to be more Harry Potter like. Well, it is a magic shop. It was a fun place to go and see the tricks so Chief could decide which ones he was adding to his collection.


Davenports in Charing Cross
Davenports Magic Shop in Charing Cross

There was a walk around Covent Garden (we were so glad that most of it is indoors thanks to the rain!)


Rainy Covent Garden
Great British Weather

We were contemplating a trip to Harrods from here. I've never been. But I was sooooo tired that we decided to get a brew and head back to get the coach. It was a fun trip and I'm already making a list of things I want to do next time. I'm also hoping next time we have better weather as there were so many other things I wanted to photograph!

Of course a weekend gallivanting around and I've done no sewing in what seems like an age. I'm itching to get back to it and maybe if I can get the chores I keep neglecting done, I can get to some stitching.







Saturday, 21 June 2014

What's flown in around here?

In my last post I mentioned I'd had a few birdie things fly in by mail recently. None of which I'd photographed. I've rectified that. Not the best photos in the world. Really if you waited for better you may be waiting for a long time. 

First up a scarf. (Actually there were two, one was for a present so I'm only showing you the one I'm keeping.) It's quite big, light and the drape is great. It came from Maude and Martha. They had a great facebook deal recently. Obviously too great for me to resist!


Scarf

Next there was these beauties from fabric.com. The only downside was getting stung for customs charges. Don't get me wrong I accept we have to pay customs VAT when we go over the threshold; I do resent the handling charges though. What I didn't realise when I placed my order with fabric.com is they use couriers rather than USPS. This means the couriers (in this case UPS) can charge their own collection fee which well exceeds the £8.00 Royal Mail charge. In fact I paid significantly more in fees than I did the customs VAT charge. Oh and it took 48 hours for the package to get from the US to the UK and then four days for my local UPS depot to email me to ask me if I wanted the parcel delivered and if so I had to pay?!

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The Pretty Potent was a bargain. (OK so no longer a bargain thanks to those pesky fees!) and I had intended to make some pillow cases with it. I've changed my mind. I don't think I can bear to just make pillow cases with it!The Aviary fabrics already figure in my stash in half yard cuts. I've not wanted to use them because I love them so much and know the moment I use them I'll wish I had more. This fabric is not that easy to find in these colour ways so I had to have some too. My intention is using this for the Cargo Duffle Bag. I may change my mind I'm fickle like that. The other fabric is purple and has bird on it so it's no wonder that I had to have a yard of it!

Next up are these bird cards. Please don't tell Chief as he'll no doubt end up the recipient of several of these. In fact I bought so many because I couldn't decide which ones he'd like the most!
They're by Thirteen Rabbits. I love the Union Flag touches. Definitely British Birds!

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And last but not least, more fabric. This time from here.  Super fast service - they were here in a flash it seemed. 


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Each piece has birds on it in some form.  Some destined for bags and other accessories and some destined for a secret project.

So whilst I've not been doing much sewing I've certainly been doing some shopping. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Slacking

I've had a busy couple of weeks. Not helped by a stomach related bug that hasn't come out properly, just lingered around sapping my energy and either giving me a blinding head ache or making me need the loo at in opportune moments. It's meant lots of cancelling of non-urgent plans (particularly ones involving eating out.) whilst trying to limp through getting essential stuff done. Like making sure the car got in for it's MOT and service. (Passed. Phew!)

I've had no extra capacity for sewing. Which has really been frustrating me as I've planned my next couple of birdie blocks and have other sewing I'd like to be getting on with. Not least making some more cushion covers. I've a woeful shortage of cushions about the place. Hard to believe I know!

I've also completely slacked on photographing the lovely (and mainly bird related in some way) mail I've been getting lately. I think I need to get on with that and do one big blog post with all those pretties.

I've also slacked because my 4th Blogiversary has just passed and I'd planned on doing a give away. Only I've not got that full organised. I promise I'll get that organised soon.

I did treat myself to some new bed linen from my local Asda. French text on pillow cases and fitted sheets. I've relegated the duvet to the spare room for the rest of the summer and am sleeping under my vintage sheet quilt. Which is about the only quilt I've made that is just about bed sized. It was a tad cool to sleep under just that, so I opted for another not-quite-bed-sized quilt on top of that. It's all very eclectic and cosy but it makes me smile when I go to bed and when I wake up too.

All Change



Sunday, 8 June 2014

Starting Something New

You'd think with a basket of WIP's I could get on with actually finishing I'd not be starting something new. Well, I'm not that predictable and when yesterdays plans changed I decided that most of the day would be spent sewing. I started off making a bag for a give away I hope to have very soon. (More on that in another blog post!)  After that I decided to put into action a plan that I'd recently discussed with Katy. I've been hoarding saving bird fabrics with the idea that I'd eventually make a bird themed quilt. However, I could never decide what to do with them. I wanted to do something other than just make rectangular blocks full of different bird scraps. Other than that I wasn't sure what to do. Especially as a lot of the fabrics I had gathered for this project had been swapped or donated by kind friends and as a result there were tiny perfect fussy cuts to larger pieces which meant making a uniformed block quilt hard. Katy said I needed a feather and some flying geese. Now I had been toying with making a feather quilt, but hadn't thought of featuring it in my birdie quilt because if I'd used any of my birdie fabrics it wouldn't have been clear there were birds on the scraps used in a feather. Katy had also suggested because my bird scraps varied in size I should use them as more of a background in the quilt. I then decided the bird quilt would  not just be themed as in the fabrics but in a variety of blocks too.


AMH feather

I'd loved those little birdies every since I had a charm in a LV charm swap. I'd got a half yard of them in my stash waiting to be used. I can see them popping up a lot in this quilt too!

Once I had the feather I added some charms either side.

Feather and Bird squares

As with all the best scrap quilts the fabrics already have little stories behind them. Like that charm top left was sent to me by VeryKerryBerry as part of a flickr swap. The bright tits and toucans were sent to me by Nicky and I went on to buy more of this fabric too. There are several scraps swapped with Susan when she was doing her One for the Birds Quilt. Then bottom right is a left over scrap from when I made a baby changing mat for Sarah

Next I made flying geese. I'd only done these once before for a bee block (I think). I don't recall how the bee block went, but I lost a few points with these. I've also got a nearly non existent seam on the owl one as I was trying not to 'lose' the owl. Hopefully I can reinforce it and use some fray check (if I buy some!) to keep it in place.

I then spent ages on the Internet looking for more bird inspiration and found the instructions for a bird block here. I set about making it this morning. I chose not to add the full wing. Instead I added a full square rather than a half square to hint at a wing. It was almost, but not quite the size of the flying geese I'd made. I could either unpick one or add a sashing strip under the bird block, which I did with a lovely scrap I had.

Birdie and flying geese

I'm a long way from a quilt top. I need to find more bird themed blocks and scraps too. I might use this project to push myself out of the comfort zone and try some more complicated foundation paper piecing and possibly some freezer paper piecing and other techniques. I'm open to suggestions.  Unless it ends up looking a complete dogs dinner then this might just be the bedside quilt I keep saying I'll make. You know the one I get professionally quilted!





Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Dove Stories

There was no sewing over the weekend because Chief came down and Saturday was spent walking around Blenheim Palace. Well one of the lakes to be more precise. The main lake. The one that covers something like 2000 acres. We just wandered and it soon became a case of finish what we'd started or turn back. Each corner we rounded we assumed we'd hit civilisation again. Eventually we did. Of course this didn't really do Chiefs bad back much good; that's another story.


Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace - a World Heritage Site

I fancied playing tourist and doing something that wasn't bird watching. We'd not walked very far when it turned into a bird watching session.

Black Headed Gull
black headed gulls darted about the lake in the hope
 some of our sarnies would head their way.

Great Crested Grebe Family
One of the adult great crested grebes has babies on it's back and the other adult kept
feeding them.


We saw lots of other wildlife too - a bee swarm, two different kinds of deer. Also other birds: a few herons which nest on one of the islands, a Jay, a common tern and twice we saw and a raven fly over - distinctive by the 'cronking' sound it makes.

The next day I let Chief decide where we went before he headed home and he picked Otmoor. We saw three cuckoos fly over and heard turtle doves before we saw them. When we did see them they were happy to pose.  They're 'red status' birds these day as numbers of turtle doves migrating these days has significantly declined.

Turtle Dove - Otmoor
I love the sound the turtle doves make. They are very pretty birds too.


It was a good opportunity to work on my bird photography too with smaller birds that posed. 

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler

The turtle doves were not the only dove story over the past few days as on the building next to work a collared dove has set up a nest on the top of a security light bracket.

Collared Dove an unusual home







Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Doing the Justification Dance - Fabric Fast Check In Time

Regular readers will know I jumped off the not buying fabric waggon in May to buy this fabric:

Good Mail

You can read about why I bought this fabric here. I think all things considered I was pretty restrained. I only bought fabric I had a specific use for and in at least one case I was fairly sure this fabric would not hang around long enough to still be available after I've finished dieting. I also had a voucher to spend at Southern Fabrics thanks to a give away hosted by Lily's Quilts. Spending the $25 voucher meant spending another $28 dollars in postage and making up a small amount of purchasing shortfall.  Despite all the lovely fabrics at Southern Fabrics I struggled to choose what to buy. All of my very first choices were out of stock. I really was spoilt for choice though because there is so much loveliness there! I seem to be out of the fabric shopping habit. I am also finding my mindset at the moment has changed towards fabric. I'm making more by not buying fabric to hoard. I seem to remember this is what happened last time I went on a fabric diet. I really think I'm more motivated by using up what I've got than wanting to add to it!

Anyway, so I didn't feel quite so bad for bringing in new fabric I've done a little monitoring of the fabric I've removed from my stash during May:

Aeroplane bag (in addition to pieces I'd already cut out)  1 yard
Laundry bag. 3/4 yard
Pyjamas 21/4 yards
Sew Mama Sew Give Away 1 Charm Pack and Scraps
Voile Scarf - 1/2 yard of newly purchased fabric above.
Clamshell Cushion - 3/4 yard of recycled cotton curtain, 1/2 yard of Essex Linen for backing, 45 charm squares

Before I had chance to post this on the blog my Southern Fabrics order arrived so I thought you'd want to see what I've got.

Good Mail Day!

I have decided that whilst I may relax a bit on the fasting - call it a fabric diet now not a fast. I am going to do monthly check ins to see what I've used against what I've added to the stash.