Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Quilt for Gertie

When I say a quilt for Gertie. I actually mean a quilt for me to use in Gertie. It is going to just about break every rule in Chief's book as I've already been warned I'm not going to be allowed to fill her with "Girlie S***". But one little quilt to keep me warm is hardly filling her with 'Girlie S***' and as I feel very much like a guest when I'm in her. (No doubt it's his territory.) I do want to have a little bit of something that makes me feel more at home when I'm out and about.

The major difference between Chief and me is that Chief puts practicality over beauty. And whilst I can be as practical as the next person, I can't see why you can't mix beauty with practicality. I like colour. I like texture. He may not understand how a bunch of nice flowers can make my heart sing, let alone get why I love fabrics. Colour makes me happy. So I've decided the quilt for me to use in Gertie will be the Amsterdam Quilt and today I made a start.

No fancy design wall for me. Couldn't even remember where I put the washi tape so it's taped
to the wall with a torn customs sticker!

I have made 8 of these blocks today. Two I've trimmed a bit too much so they're about a quarter of an inch smaller than the rest so I may have a final row of the mistakes! I've put them to one side for now and joined four blocks together with wider sashing than the pattern calls for because I'm trying to get this quilt up to size without having to make loads of flowers. 

The actual block comes together quickly and easily (more so when you concentrate and don't rush! More haste, less speed and all that.) 

A while back Leanne sent me a bloc-loc ruler. This is genius for squaring up half squared triangles. It makes such a huge difference.  I have always had a bit of a problem with HST's and have come to dread any block that requires them. Mine still aren't perfect but they're a lot nearer to it than they were previously thanks to the bloc-loc ruler. 

I am trying to make this quilt entirely from stash. Although I will need to buy some wadding as I used my last 'roll' up.  I've been getting through the low volume fabrics lately too so I may have to buy some more of low volume stash blenders. I'll see how I go. I'm really wanting to use up some stash. But why is it I can have so much fabric and still so much that won't play nicely together?! 

Friday, 27 February 2015

10 Things: Week 8

1.Read: I'm still plugging away with both the Rhoninton Mistry book and the Val McDermid one. Maybe if I was only reading one by now I'd actually have had one finished. I'm conscious I need to get the next book group choice and read it too. I've also been reading and re-reading the piece the family have asked me to read at the funeral.

2. Made: I had plans for making that just didn't happen in what's been a busy and difficult week. I feel numb and unable to settle and conscious of all the stuff I need to get done.

3. Watched: I've been watching that zombie apocalypse reality show on BBC3. More out of curiosity than anything else. It's pretty slow viewing to be honest. But they do make the victims look like they are being properly attacked by zombies.

4. Worn: I promised pictures of me in the hats of late and pictures you get. Or at least one picture because it's the only one I've got of me in one of the hats. I'll still be friends with you even if you snicker.  In fact I'd be more surprised if you didn't snicker.

Me looking like a twit at Blenheim Palace
You even get me pulling a silly face as just as he was going 
to take the shot I spotted a kestrel zoom over his head and land on Blenheim 
Palace - see the picture below

5. Eaten: Mum's birthday was on Thursday and we were all going out for a family meal. However, my brother got ill and we've had to postpone. I suggested I made her afternoon tea and we had a little celebration at home with my niece coming in after school to join in.

Mum's Birthday tea

6. Visited/Seen: Chief got down last weekend and we had a few trips out including spending the morning at Blenheim Palace. We have annual passes so can spend as little or as much time there as we want.

Reflections of Blenheim 
Interesting 'balls' on the lawn at Blenheim. Nicely reflect the palace.

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock

Kestrel at Blenheim
The kestrel that caused me to pull the funny face above.

7. Recommended:  Nothing springs to mind this week.

8. Stash: In 0 Out 0. I am very conscious I need to sort out my scraps which have started to overflow badly. Think fabric Niagra out of a plastic box!

9. Birds Thanks to a trip to Blenheim Palace and a drive around our usual countryside circuit out between the villages of Chalgrove and Ewelme I have managed to add a few more birds to my list. Including Ravens! The highlight of our Blenheim trip was being able to photograph that male kestrel that kindly posed for us on the house.

10. And finally: I'm hoping things will return more to normality next week.

Friday, 20 February 2015

10 Things: Week 7

Wow week 7 already? Where is 2015 flying off to? Nearer to spring and better weather I hope!

1. Read Still reading that Val McDermid on my Kindle. Although I have started another in-the-bath-book: Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry. Last year or possibly the year before (as time does fly) a friend in book group was off to India and picked A Fine Balance as her book group choice. I remember the stunned faces of some members of the book group when she showed everyone a copy because it's the size of a doorstop with titchy writing and looked like it might be the sort of book that took the average reader a few years to read. As it turned out it was the best book of that years book group choices. A book that stayed with me long after I'd finished it. A book where I felt I knew the characters and wanted to stay friends with them long after the final words had been finished. When I saw a copy of Family Matters by the same author at a book crossing get together, I had to give it ago and it's shaping up to be a good read too. One of the best things about book group is reading books by authors I'd never heard of or considered reading.


2. Made: I made the supertote and blogged about it here. It's my second full sized version.

3. Watched: The Bourne Legacy. It was Saturday night I was faffing about on the laptop with the film on in the back ground. I don't think I did the other Bourne films after the first one as they were too hard to follow for a multi-tasker like me. Anyway, I'd pretty much missed a whole chunk of the film before it caught my attention and from then on I was hooked. I think  Jeremy Renner's  character jumping out of a cupboard and saving the day (the first of many times that I saw.) might have just helped.

4. Worn: I got a rain hat in the Seasalt sale. Actually I got some trousers too. They've not been worn yet. My Mum said I look like an old lady in the rain hat and snickers every time I put it on. I love me a hat though. Any excuse. The trousers were a bargain. I've not bought from Seasalt before as I had browsed a couple of times online and anything I liked seemed expensive.  The sale prices make purchases more palatable. If I was better at selfies I'd don the hat and let you make up your own mind about my old lady status. Maybe I'll just do a post with me in every hat I own.

5. Eaten - Shrove Tuesday I made pancakes. Not my best effort. I was tired and hungry.

Cooking Pancakes

6. Visited/Seen: Last Saturday Mum and I made our first trip of the year to Waterperry Gardens, where the snowdrops are out in full force.

Waterperry Gardens - Snowdrop Weekend

Waterperry Gardens - Snowdrop Weekend

Waterperry Gardens - Snowdrop Weekend

Waterperry Gardens - Snowdrop Weekend

7. Recommended: I have to recommend getting outside and if you can find a nice park, garden or similar so much the better. I'm not a fan of winter. I am a fan of the bit of winter where you start to see signs of spring. They do me good. Make me feel better and really lift my spirits.

8. Stash: In 2.5 yards Out 2.5 yards

9. Birds: No more birds on my year list. To be fair I haven't been out anywhere bird watching and as Chief pointed out it's amazing my list has so many from pretty much just the garden.  Chief did buy me a bird identification book that he thought was really good as it has photographs of the birds in different stages/positions. I was reading up about Dunnocks. The book says they have 'red hot sex lives' taking multiple partners. Who knew those shy little birds that flit about under my bird feeders have red hot sex lives?! It just goes to show it's right when they say it's the shy ones you have to watch.

10. And finally: It's strange times. I don't even know how to articulate this at the moment. Suffice to say bereavements are hard. I'm trying to keep up beat and focus on the positives. Chief is on his way down as I type. Sometimes a girl could just use a hug.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Easily Distracted

I bought fabric this week. One of the cuts was 3/4 yard cut of Emma's Garden - Garden Bouquet in Violet by Patty Sloniger.   I am fairly sure (as I'm not buying fabric 'just because' and because 3/4 yard cut is a strange amount for me to buy) that when I purchased it online earlier in the week I had a very specific project in mind for it. By the time it had arrived I had absolutely no idea what that project was. Instead I took one look at it and thought Super Tote!


Friday I started cutting out the bag parts - pairing the Garden Bouquet fabric with some bright pink Essex linen that I also bought earlier this year with a specific project in mind and then promptly forgot what that was. Hmmm are we beginning to see a pattern here? Is it my age? All the while I was cutting I kept thinking: Shouldn't I really be getting on with that quilt for the camper van; so that if we hit the road next time Chief's down I can snuggle under it? Of course I did what any sensible quilter would do to assuage her guilt. I left the pieces scattered around the living room floor for a whole day and didn't touch them (or get on with any quilt making.)

Today I thought I'd best do some housework and picking up those bag pieces from the living room floor and turning them into a bag counts as housework, No?

I actually put the pleats in how they should be.
(I didn't in the first one I made. 

The plan for this Super Tote is to use for work once the weather improves. It might actually encourage the weather to perk up a bit as it does rather zing on these miserable February days. I'm also thinking I could pack quite a bit into it for a trip in Gertie.  And when Chief said I couldn't fill her with my girlie Sh** he surely didn't mean for me not to bring a pretty bag or two with my essentials in the quilt if I ever get to make it.


I did a pretty good job of pattern matching the back pieces. Which (in the interest of full disclosure) was a happy accident. I didn't put the zip in as I knew I hadn't a zip anywhere near the right size. I'm sort of regretting not putting a magnetic snap in to close the bag instead. But I completely forgot to do this. I may add a trigger clip on strip of fabric inside as that's useful for keys. It'll be easy enough to add one later as I didn't have one at time of making. It's lined in some random kona grey fabric I found (bought to make Christmas place mats and not used.) I put one of the gathered pockets in but neglected to take any internal bag photographs. I may have plenty of fabric in my stash, I am learning that few of the larger cuts play nicely together in projects like this.

The Supertote pattern is by Anna of Noodlehead fame. Click through to find out more details and buy.

Friday, 13 February 2015

10 Things: Week 6

1. Read - Animal Farm by George Orwell. I had thought I'd read this before although couldn't be sure if it was a version aimed at children; I thought no harm in giving it ago again. It's a slim volume and was perfect to read over a couple of leisurely bubble baths. Really the amount of baths v. showers I have these days it's a wonder I've not shrunk.

2. Made - I haven't made a single thing. Although there has been a fair amount of plotting concerning the quilt for me to use in the camper van. I was sold on tumblers and then I saw the Amsterdam Quilt pattern and I'm wondering if I could adapt that. Although could Chief cope with flowers in the van?! I have also just this afternoon decided to make another Super Tote so I've started cutting out pieces.

3.Watched - Another week of watching very little of note on TV. Although my little Father Brown addiction continues. It's perfect for watching or having on in the back ground as I wind down from work.

4. Worn - I have relegated my baker boy cap of choice to the back of the cupboard after as slight (but very painful) head hitting incident in the camper van. The peak of the cap obscured my view enough for me to give my head a good crack on the cab when climbing in from the back of the van. I told Chief I needed a woolly hat instead. (I was dreaming of those pretty hand knitted beanies that crop up on in IG in the feeds of all those wonderful knitters.) Chief on the other hand took of his black military beanie and handed me that. I may now advertise a defunct regiment, but I can't fault it for warmth.

5. Eaten - Saturday I had a belated birthday lunch at The Greyhound.  It was yummy. Chief and I have been there three times and it's always yummy. I was too busy eating to photograph my food. I did get a shot of this blue and white china that Chiefs cup of tea was served in. We were messing with camera settings whilst we waited for our food to arrive.

The Greyhound, Besselsleigh 

The Greyhound, Besselsleigh

6. Visited/Seen - I have at last ventured somewhere! Chief got down in his new camper van (Gertie) and we headed off to Farmoor. It was cold and grey and we saw very little bird life and the decision to head straight to The Greyhound was an easy one. After lunch we headed to Otmoor. When we returned to the van it was blocked in by several abandoned cars in the car park. At weekends the car park can get very full with so many people flocking (excuse the pun!) to see the starling murmuration. Still with Gertie so well equipped waiting wasn't a drama: gas heating, freshly made hot chocolate and a quick lay down watching the rugby.

Otmoor, Oxfordshire
Otmoor: It's looking quite bleak this time of year.

Otmoor, Oxfordshire

Having a hot chocolate in Gertie
Hot choc time in 'Gertie'

7. Recommended - It has to be camper vans. I still have some reservations re security etc. But I'm completely sold on 'Gertie' and can't wait for our first trip away!

8. Stash - Out 0  In 0

9. Birds - The list is now at 45 thanks to the Otmoor and Farmoor trips. Ironic considering we didn't see that many birds! I was so happy that when we turned up at Otmoor the first birds we saw were bullfinches. Sadly not the right light or location for photographs.

10. And Finally - I'm hoping to cram a lot into this weekend so there may be more sewing blog posts on the horizon!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Birds of a Feather Quilt

Finally I can reveal some pictures of the quilt I made Chief for Christmas.

Birds of a Feather Quilt
Lesser Spotted Chief holding his quilt

I hadn't even attempted to get pictures previously due to the awful winter light and nobody to hold the quilt for me. I told Chief I'd need to get pictures before he left with it and the weather was kind to us. The concept of a photo shoot for a quilt perplexed Chief rather and when we took it out to the garden he first held it folded in two. I asked him to turn it round so I could take pictures of the other side of the fold. He obliged but missed the point about me wanting a picture of the whole quilt. In the end he did hold it out as in the top picture, but the wind caught it and I knew he'd not faff about for long. His major concern was it not touching any part of the wet ground. Despite me telling him it was ok to wash it. 

Birds of a Feather Quilt

Birds of a Feather Quilt

Anyway, some quilt details. I followed these dimensions for the St Louis 16 patch.  It's the second quilt I've made following this pattern. Although this one is twice the size as the first, as Chief specified he'd like a quilt that would cover him head to toe, as he thought he'd use it in a camper van should he ever realise his dream of getting one. 

All the fabric is from stash - sort of. I deliberately picked bird themed fabrics. I had quite a few of these in my stash but when Chief requested a larger quilt it was clear I'd have to use the birdie fabrics I'd  just bought to replace some of the fabrics I've used in this quilt. In most cases I had a nice section left over after cutting, which I've put to one side to use in a scrappy trip I'd like to make. I felt a lot better about using some of my hoarded stash knowing I'd have a little bit of fabric to put in a big quilt for me. 

This quilt was actually a great stash buster. Each block uses a fat quarters worth of fabric so with with 24 blocks I busted 24 fat quarters. I used 3/4 yard of Kona peacock to bind it. I picked Kona Peacock because it was a colour named after a bird. After buying some lovely birdie fabric for the back I'd no where near enough and it was going to be ridiculously expensive to buy enough. Instead I used an old flat sheet that had been my brothers. Chief likes blue and there was a lot of blue on the front so it worked a treat. 

I can't tell you exactly how big this worked out as I didn't measure it. I quilted it diagonally through each block in both directions using a pale grey aurifil. 

Chief loves his quilt although now he isn't sure he wants to leave it in Gertie - his new camper van, as he's worried someone will steal it away! 

Thanks for all the suggestions about what quilt I should make for camper van adventures. I'm leaning towards tumblers at the moment. Apologies for not answering comments on the last post yet. Chief actually made it down for the weekend and only went back at lunch time. I'm sold on Gertie too. But that's a whole other blog post!

Friday, 6 February 2015

10 Things: Week 5

1. Read: Despite not finishing the book I started last week (it's on the kindle and I like to have a paperback to read in the bath.) I have finished another book. Again recommended to me by a bookcrossing friend. It's called: Knowing Me by Valerie Blumenthal.  Who is a local-to-me author and that's what made my friend pick up the book in the first place. I have to say I'd probably never have read this book without the recommendation. It had a pretty bland cover and uninspiring back cover blurb. But actually I found once I picked it up I was keen to have more baths so I could get on with reading it. It's about Gnat an almost-fourteen-year-old who finds herself in an adolescent home after an incident that has estranged her from her mother. The story is told largely through Gnats therapy sessions and the therapy sessions of her mother and what unfolds is a poignantly touching story about the difficulties of mother/daughter relationships. I think it would make a great book group choice as despite being a slim volume there is plenty to talk about.

2. Made: After a very unmotivated Saturday I got stitching on Sunday and finished the headboard cover.  I'm really pleased with how this turned out. It's quite a snug fit as I didn't want extra fabric flapping about, so I really hope it never shrinks in the wash. It was great to use up low volume charms I'd been hoarding and also be able to recycle and old sheet and some horrid poly batting in order to make this.

Headboard Cover

3. Watched: Not much TV watching this week. But have spent a fair amount of time looking out the window watching snow fall and then watch it turn to sleet. I'll be glad when spring is here!

4. Worn; I haven't actually worn it yet. But I did get this skirt in Boden's sale. With discounts it was a fraction of it's original price and is embroidered.

New skirt!

5. Eaten: I have of course eaten this week but nothing of note. And despite trying to be a bit more healthy in my choices since Christmas I have eaten a few of these.  Opps


6: Visited/Seen: Snow! Yes, these parts had the first snow to lay since 2013. I don't recall ever going that long without snow and Tuesday morning we woke up to find everywhere covered in the white stuff. I walked to work as it was quicker than trying to drive and more snow was a possibility. It also gave me the chance to take some photos.

Holton in the Snow

Unbelievably a few hours later it had pretty much melted. Leaving little sign we'd had any. 

7. Recommended: Dunelm for bed linen. Of course having made the head board cover I then had to treat myself to some more bed linen. The bedlinen you can just see in the picture above with the new head board cover came from Next about 10 years ago and having been unable to find two different sets I liked I bought two the same and have been using them pretty much ever since! I bought myself a new set last year but decided to wait until I could find another completely different one.  Having really like this birdie set I got from Dunelm, I had been checking in from time to time to see if I could find another one I liked. Unfortunately the only one I'd see was a silver/grey animal print one that could only be collected from store and as I don't live near a store I had to think again.


Then I saw Dunelm advertise they had new bedding in and so I got this one:

New bed linen just arrived.  Got a different set last year and it's made me realise how much I dislike the old set (2 the same) I've had for nearly 10 years.

It's white, grey and yellow and both sides have a very patchworky pattern on it. I'm not normally a yellow person. This screamed spring freshness to me and I thought it would be neutral enough to work with any quilt I cared to add to it too. And the best thing about Dunelm bedding? This double set cost a £16.99 and many double sets only cost £19.99 so certainly value for money.

8. Stash: In: 0 Out: 1 fat quarter.
9. Birds: Bird list has not increased. Chiefs is over 60 and rising. 
10. And Finally: I've decided I need an easy to make single sized quilt for me to take in the camper. Chief will have the quilt I've made him for Christmas and despite him telling me I can't fill it with "girly Sh**" I do feel the opportunity to make myself a quilt is too good to pass up. I don't want to do another 16 patch or scrappy trip so am open to and would welcome your suggestions. 
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