Sunday, 30 November 2014

Generating scraps

In my last post I mentioned wanting to at last get on with a scrappy trip along the world. Despite having a whole bundle of strips already cut it was clear they weren't going to get me very far. I then remembered I'd saved the offcuts from a 16 patch quilt I made earlier in the year with the very purpose of using them in a scrappy trip. But again they weren't going to yield many. So I did what any normal person would do...

...I started another 16 patch quilt so I could have the left overs for my scrappy trip!

2 more blocks and I have a quilt top and 20 less fqs in my stash!

Two more blocks and I'll have enough for a quilt top (unless I decide to go larger.) I have raided my stash for fat quarters and half yards that have birds on them and weren't too girly because this is going to be a Christmas present. No idea what I'll back it with. And no more reveals of this until it's made and with the recipient.

Just for now I'm enjoying sewing and making. It's beyond liberating using precious fabrics in my stash that I was hoarding for the perfect project. It turns out this is the perfect project. My stash is now 20FQ's worth of fabric smaller. Not for long. I may have bought a few FQ's in the Black Friday sales. 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Sewing to Soothe the Stress

Most of this week there has been that feeling of stress running like a backing track to my life. It started on Sunday night with a horrid email and gained momentum by mid week when my attempts to reduce Christmas shopping stress by doing it online completely backfired. First off there was a parcel the courier had claimed had been delivered but hadn't. The company concerned said I'd have to pay for a replacement while they looked into it. I said: Or you could just send me one given it's not my fault your courier didn't deliver the goods.

There was a parcel from Debenhams so inadequately wrapped that it was smashed on arrival. I mean really do they think shoving something packaged in a flimsy box into a plastic bag is sufficient packaging? And Debenhams have woefully poor customer service. You're supposed to go to the trouble of returning the goods and have to reorder and pay again for delivery and keep your fingers crossed someone will pack them sufficiently the next time. Oh and of course pay again for the goods even though you'll have to wait several weeks for them to process the refund for the damaged goods. Heaven forbid you want to communicate with a real person. My request was met with an email of the standard How-to-return-goods-for-idiots.

And talking of insufficient packaging: Lush the toiletries company have taken to sending their products naked. It's not clear on the website and I'd not ordered for a while. But when my niece put a few items from Lush on her Christmas list and I wasn't near a shop I resorted to mail order. The naked packing policy now means if you order bath bombs or massage bars they come in no kind of wrapping. Just dumped in a box with lots of spongy chippings. It means they are completely exposed to cold and damp in transit, totally unsuitable for any kind of gift giving and even if they do arrive in a usable state; are unlikely to last very long.

Then there was some issues that caused stress at work and that general feeling that for some people even 110% will not be appreciated. Just the expectation that really you should have been providing 120% and even that will be found wanting.

Of course the week was not all bad. Maybe that's why the stress feeling has been like back ground noise and not full on in your face pump up the volume noise.

I got to spend time with my niece and we had a fun couple of hours pouring over catalogues and the Internet to write our Christmas wish lists.

I also had a day off work and got to spend most of it with Chief.  We even managed to get substantial discounts off of our lunch out due to various discount vouchers.

Chief also brought me down his headboard. He's long complained of my lack of headboard. (Long boring story as to why I don't have one.) Chief is getting ready for the time to come when he'll move out of his room and will have no need of the head board. It was thinking about the possibilities for covering this that made me want to sew again. Although interestingly sewing has started on a quilt not some kind of headboard covering.

I have finally decided to do something with these strips I put to one side ages ago.

Sewing to soothe the stress

I'd forgotten just how gorgeous some of the strips are and have started sewing them together to make my very own scrappy trip around the world quilt. Ok so I'm only a couple of years behind the bandwagon. But I'd really like a cheery bed quilt to get me through winter. If the stress continues I think I'll need to retreat under some scrappy fabric goodness!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Seeing Red in the City

I had a couple of days off work and Chief and I went to London last Thursday to see the Poppies at the Tower of London. It's part of an art installation called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Blood. They have been planting ceramic poppies in the moat of the tower of London since the summer. Each poppy represents a British or Commonwealth soldier that died in WW1. The installation remains until November 11th when the last poppy will be planted. Then the installation will be dismantled and those who bought a poppy (they all sold out and I'm kicking myself for not getting one when I had the opportunity.) will have them cleaned and posted off to them. To arrive by January.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Being half term week it was very busy. We opted to follow the advice given on the underground to not go to Tower Hill Tube Station as it was very busy. We got off the tube at Aldgate and had a five minute walk to us to the Tower. We could see most of the crowds were concentrating around the entrance to the Tower so we opted to get down on the lower level from the Tower Bridge Side. We managed to walk straight down (without the two hour wait I've heard there was to get on the lower level near the entrance.). It soon got very crowded so once Chief and I felt we had enough photos we left via another entrance/exit way.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Me at The Tower of London

I'd expected it to be more moving and thought I might even cry. But it was so busy and crowded that I was too busy watching where I was going and trying to get pictures, than really registering more than a wow about the installation.  I'm so glad I got to see it though.

From The Tower we walked into the City of London. The City, often referred to as the Square Mile is home to the financial district of London. London is split into districts/boroughs and the City of London is a distinct part of London.  We hadn't a plan. Once we'd seen the poppies we just wandered until it was lunch time. We visited places by accident to do with the Great Fire of London and the impressive architecture of Leadenhall Market drew us in; where we found a military band just setting up to entertain the crowds.

Leadenhall Market, London

Military Band Leadenhall Market

Even though I've spent my life living just 50 miles outside of London and have been countless time I am still an unashamed tourist loving the underground signs and old fashioned London Buses.

Underground Signage

Old London Bus

So I had a lovely, if a little exhausting, day in London. There was definitely lots of red everywhere I went.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

"Friends are like stars... don't always see them but know they are there." 

Finished Hipbee Quilt

A couple of years (or more now!) ago I was invited to join a new bee that was starting called the 'hipBee'. I knew some of my fellow bee members already either online or in real life and looked forwarded to getting to know those members that I didn't know already.

The bee was to be a low pressure swap. I think I got to be queen bee about the third month in. There was a range of abilities in the group. Some were experienced advanced quilters and other complete beginners. Many of us were in between the two somewhere. When it was my month I gave my fellow hipbees the choice of making me whatever star block they fancied. They could go for a simple wonky star or a more complicated star block.  I sent out packs of Denyse Schmidt fabrics from a selection of her ranges and some Klona cream to use as background fabric.

I got back a lovely range of stars and promptly put them to one side whilst I waited for one last block to come in. It gave me time to decide what to do with the blocks. The hipbee members were only making one block (not the usual two blocks a month most bees specify) and to get anything other than a baby sized quilt I was either going to have to make more blocks, add more negative space or do something completely different to make it a useful sized quilt.  I kept pondering what to do for the best and not actually getting on with any sewing!

Back in the spring I got the blocks out and pieced them into a top. I made some extra blocks myself and added in some negative space. I'd wanted people to have a go at a block they'd enjoy and maybe try something new or challenging. But not get so stressed about the outcome that the bee experience turned negative.  I wasn't overly worried if the blocks came out a bit bigger or smaller. I had so many worried emails from people who'd tried something and lost points on stars of miscalculated and made them a bit big or small. I sorted the blocks roughly into size and joined them together adding bits of extra background material as needed.

I added a border of more DS fabrics and then a sashing strip of background fabric. After that I basted the quilt and started hand quilting in perle. It was not an easy job as the klona was quite stiff to sew through. If you plan on doing a lot of hand quilting with perle you might want to invest in kona not klona. Whilst Klona washes up lovely and soft it has a lot stiffer texture when unwashed.

The weather turned and the last thing I wanted to do was sew in hot weather under a snuggly quilt. So I put it to one side and only went back to it when the weather turned. A few hours here and there over a weekend and in evenings and the quilt was quilted. (We just won't look at the stitching on the back ok?!)

Chief not turning up the other Sunday meant I could make binding and get the quilt bound. I then had to wait for the weather to improve enough for me to get some snaps.

I had promised myself I'd do proper quilt photo shoots and not just sling the quilts over the back fence, the front bench or lay them out on the lawn. But really I'm so busy right now and the weather is not playing ball, so I've had to resort to my usual approach after all.

Finished Hipbee Quilt

I can't thank my fellow hipbees enough for making the blocks that went into this special quilt. Not all of them blog so I do hope they get to see this blog post and to see how the quilt worked out in the end. 

This is also my first finish in Q4 of the finish along. My original list is here. Even if I don't finish another item on the list the most important one has been done. 

Finish Along 2014

Thursday, 23 October 2014

When Life Gets In the Way

So much has happened since I last blogged. I can't even remember half of it. I've had car trouble when a spring broke thanks to the rubbish condition of the roads - or at least that's what the garage told me. They said they used to do 5 a year now it's more like that a month. It meant being without my car over night and walking to work and changing plans due to lack of transport.

Then Chief couldn't get down last Sunday as planned. He's got a frozen shoulder and sometimes it plays up really badly. On this occasion he was struggling to even get dressed and in the process of trying to compensate for what he couldn't do he managed to hurt his back. Never rains but it pours. There was however a silver lining as suddenly faced with a whole day to myself, I could make binding and finish my hipbee's quilt.

#hipbees a finished quilt. Better pics when I can get outside and it's not blowibg a gale

I went for a scrappy Denyse Schmidt fabric binding to match the scrappiness of the quilt. The weather has either been too dull, wet or windy for me to do a proper photo shoot. But I will do as this lovely quilt deserves a dedicated blog post.

I also found time to read and bake on Sunday too.

Rock cakes. Hope they taste better than they look. Mix was a tad wet
rock cakes

Then I picked my Mum up after work on Monday and she announced bro was coming up to decorate the next day. Could I clear out the bathroom, hallway and wash the walls down? I managed to get it all done.  Although I didn't do a very good job of the washing down bit. If bro thought it was rubbish he didn't comment!

And so it begins
only snap I took of the clearing out in progress.

There was a bit of drama when I found an issue thanks to ongoing damp problems. I have to pretty much face that despite doing all I can to hold back the damp in our little cottage, I'll never eradicate it. 

The hall has changed from blue to a white shade. It's made it lighter and brighter. 

My hallway used to be blue

Not sure when bro will be finished. This phase is just bathroom and hallway. I have treated myself to new towels as I was bored with spending money on worn out things (car/boiler/paint.) 

So there has been no time for further sewing (I can't get to my sewing equipment/fabric.) But having finished one item on my Quarter 4 Finish-A-Long list I'm keen to get cracking on the rest.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Another weekend bites the dust.

Thank you for all your comments and emails regarding my last but one post. I feel much better about blogging when I feel like it and more importantly about anything I like. Your continued support and friendship towards me is much appreciated.

Even though time has been lacking for sewing I have managed to go back to this:

Quilting continues x 
Hand quilting of my hipbee quilt.

It has spent the warm weather hung over the back of a chair in the living room, waiting for me to get back to it. Hand quilting a thick quilt in the summer months did not appeal. But now the weather has turned and I started to do my final quarter finish-a-long list, I was reminded of this quilt and have started quilting it. I've been at this over the past few days and have my sore fingers as testament to how much stitching I've done. I am on the very final stretch of the hand quilting bit. We'll not look at the back.

I will raid my Denyse Schmidt fabrics to make a scrappy binding. All the fabric apart from the solid and backing are Denyse Schmidt fabrics.

Like my one other bee quilt, this will be a quilt to treasure. Not in a prissy lets-put-it-behind-glass-and-never-use-it sort of way.  I want to be able to snuggle under quilts like this and remember my time in the hipbee's. The only bee I've been in and completed a cycle. I want to remember the friends old and new I made whilst in this bee.

This is not all I've been doing this weekend. Apart from the ongoing chores which never seem to end. I made some cupcakes.


Then after a delicious Sunday lunch Mum and I popped over to Waterperry's Apple Weekend. I think I went to one of these events many years ago. I've always wanted to go back. Mum has a cold so I didn't want to drag her around too much. We did a couple of circuits of the glass house where they had the apples displayed, as well as lots of tempting foody and countryside goodies to purchase. 

Apple Weekend at Waterperry Gardens

Apple Weekend at Waterperry Gardens

We had just gone outside to find there was a group of Morris Men about to entertain us. 

Morris Men Dancing

We watched them do a couple of dances and then headed off to have a wander in the shopping areas before heading for home. 

Now I'm craving a cheese sandwich with some of the apple and pear chutney I bought today; so that's what I'm off to go and get.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Q4 Finish-A-long: It's a biggie of a list!

I actually did more finishes off my list last quarter than I had in the previous two quarters! But there are still more things on the list that need finishing and part of my new decluttering/simplifying life regime means it would be far better to get finished some half started projects rather than keep starting new ones. So I'm going to put as many things as I can on this list and we'll see how well I do. I'm not ruling out Katy coming to kick my butt if I don't finish at least one project. It's not like she doesn't know where I live.

First up:

Yes, the camera cushions have not been made for the hide. Chief will be out of the army and perhaps no where near the hide they're supposed to be for if I don't do more than this!


The hexies I have made into a panel but not made into the cushion I thought they'd be mighty nice as.

Just a few bits to sew. But should I go bigger or sash what I've done so far?

Hipbee blocks - I didn't touch them as it was too hot in the last quarter to sit with a quilt on my lap and hand quilt. I really really want to get this finished as it wouldn't take that much more work and I'd so love to get it quilted and then bound.

Quilting is hard on the fingers as klona seams are quite stiff. Loving how it looks #hipbees

These just need hemming. I even have a blog post half written about their making.  Now the weather has turned it would be useful to be able to wear these!


I have this half started somewhere. It's supposed to be a cross pillow cover - I've started sewing some of the crosses together and that's all!

Happy Go Lucky - cut up and ready one day to become a cushion cover!

And talking of cushion covers I have this EPP started but not finished.

Bank Holiday Monday

And this was intended to become a cushion.  I made the panel and fused with fusible fleece and pretty much did very little else with it.


Oh and there is this panel that I created to do the kantha style quilting on it at last years FQR only I didn't make it to that table top session. (too exhausted.) I started quilting on my own with a view to making a cushion or mini quilt and didn't get any further.

What I'd intended doing on Sunday at the FQR

I decided to make a lap quilt out of my vintage sheets as a present. Can't say much more obviously. But having started to cut charms I began to wonder if my love of just doing vintage sheet quilts in squares was a bit boring so stopped. But I need to get my act together as Christmas is coming.


I bought these Oakshotts at FQR2013 because I liked them. Then I hit upon an idea to make myself a Christmas table runner. Involving dresden blades and matchstick quilting. I bought Aurifil from Cindy and didn't do any more. (Need to find my dresden ruler too.)


Oh and I had a panel and some Christmas fabric with co-ordinating kona to make some Christmas table mats. I cut up some of the panel and didn't do anything else. I actually need to find that. Can't find a picture of it. So maybe it doesn't count for the link up?

Still I have enough else on the list as it is!

Linking up with Katy for the last time this year: 

Finish Along 2014

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Trying to find my mojo

I was going to stop blogging. I have stopped sewing. I'm not sure that I've stopped sewing for good. But I just don't have the time or inclination to sew right now. I figure most people are only interested in my creative endeavours so blogging seems a bit pointless.  I know some people blog as a personal record. I am addicted to making year books via Blurb. You download software to your computer and then upload your own photos and text. Then when you've got your book finished you upload it to blurb, pay according to size, paper, number of pages etc and a couple of weeks later you get a book arrive that is like a proper book from a bookshop. So I have no need to use my blog as a personal record. I've been pondering as to whether I should keep blogging. Have a blogging break; only blog when I have made something or maybe stop blogging altogether.

I <3 Blurb books!
A selection of my blurb year books.

I saw this interesting post that actually said writers are healthier than those who don't!

So while I ponder this issue further I'll tell you about last weekend.

Last weekend my Mum and I had tickets to go to the Malvern Autumn Show. I'd been to the spring show before but never the Autumn.  I try not to book stuff at weekends in case the one weekend I pick is the one weekend that month Chief gets free. It's even harder organising to see him right now as whilst he works out his notice he's working up north a lot. Sods law that having paid coach and show tickets he then announced he could get down that weekend. As there were spare seats on the coach we managed to get him a ticket. Although I was a bit nervous as to whether he'd like it. He'd already said he was giving up a day bird watching (he had plans if I went off the show and he had the day to himself.) As it turned out I think he enjoyed the show more than me. The show is vast. It seemed bigger and more crowded than the spring one I went to a few years ago. Also we didn't look at a map or a guide; just wandered aimlessly. I kept seeing all these people with plants they'd purchased.  We only found plant sellers half an hour before we had to go back to the coach. As a result the only thing I bought all day was some black charcoal cheese, which I'm saving for Christmas.  Chief on the other hand bought a shirt and some trousers. (The latter I ended up taking up whilst he went off to pick us up a takeaway!)

Malvern Autumn Show 2014
This whopper of a pumpkin was the largest at the show. It weighed

Vintage Tea at The Malvern Autumn Show
They had a vintage area including a vintage tea shop!

The Maltern Autumn Show, 2014
Not surprisingly flowers were my favourite thing

The Maltern Autumn Show, 2014

Dahlias, Malvern Autumn Show 2014 

The Malvern Autumn Show 2014

The Malvern Autumn Show 2014
There was more veg than I've ever
seen displayed in one place.

Malvern Autumn Show 2014
There were so many animals too.
Chief pretty much stroked anything he went near.

Malvern Autumn Show 2014

I think we were all exhausted by the time we got back to the coach. The next day we woke up and despite being tired the sun was shining and it lured us out to Farmoor. Chief said we'd just walk along the causeway and then turn back. But at the end of the causeway the sun was so lovely we were tempted to walk back around the smallest reservoir. We'd not done this walk before.

I also added three new birds to my list for the year: A Kingfisher (too fast to get pics.), 

rock Pipit with a Pied Wagtail
A rock pipit (with a pied wagtail behind.)

A lone Wheatear

We headed for home around lunch time and decided to look for a pub to get some lunch. I saw a sign for 'The Perch' which I'd heard of but not visited before. We managed to bag a table in the garden, which was very busy and Chief went and ordered some food. I can't believe at the end of September I was sat in the garden like this: 

The Perch, Binsey Lane, Oxford
bare arms and tired eyes.

Soon it was time for us to get back home and Chief to get back to camp. He'd thought at that stage he was going to have go up North the same day. But luckily he had a reprieve. 

So that was my weekend. Not a stitch made other than in taking up his trousers. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

All Change

Fabric drawers emptied onto living room floor! Big sort out coming on!

See that pile up there? That's the contents of my fabric stash drawers. It was all neatly-ish folded in the drawers. Pretty crammed and all that, but still folded. So you can be forgiven for wondering why on earth I dumped it all out onto the living room floor this afternoon.

Well, the plan is to relocate the drawers into the adjoining dining/sewing room and sorting it all out so that it becomes a proper dining-cum-sewing room. Rather than a place where I sew at my machine, whilst surrounded by detritus. I'm rarely able to eat at the dining room table and I'd like to say that was because creative stuff was happening. In reality the room is just a dumping ground for anything crafty and stuff that doesn't have a home else where.

The chest is now relocated and drawers back to their crammed state. I said I'd never destash because the moment fabric is gone I'll wish I hadn't. Really there is some fabric I'll never use. The question is would anyone else want it either? 

I am going to have to be ruthless. Once upon a time the said chest of drawers actually held paper and card making materials. All that has been decanted into a big plastic box under the area where I cut for some time. I need to go through it and destash lots of other craft materials I'll be unlikely to use again. I haven't ventured into the craft tubs under the cutting area for months - years maybe. I really feel it needs to be a case of use it or lose it.

So wish me luck. This is going to be a hard one.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Opps I'm a bit late with this. As despite dragging myself out of my sick bed at the weekend to start on it I haven't been back online to post it! Sorry! 

I've been tagged by the lovely Lynz in the Around the World Blog Hop (and I've dragged myself out of my sick bed to play along. So excuse any rubbish I may type - over and above normal that is.)

So for those of you that don't know me and are checking in because of the blog hop I'll tell you a bit about myself.

Quilting/sewing is just one of my passions. I also love to read, spend time out doors and if I can combine photography with any of the others so much the better. I live in Oxfordshire, England and my other half: Chief is in the army. (For the time being at least.)

Onto the questions:

1. What am I working on

Ok, I'll be completely honest but I've not done a single stitch on my sewing machine since before my holiday in August. It's not so much lack of motivation, but lack of time as two weeks after that holiday I had another week off which involved some more travelling. Now I'm getting back to normal I have a lurgy. But the project I most want to get back to is this:

Bank Holiday Monday
This epp wafers pattern is by Nellies Niceties and is destined to become a cushion.

Before I get back to much sewing though I plan on a huge declutter/clear up which might just see at the end of it my dining room become my proper sewing room. I've also bought 6 cushion pads so I do need to get on with making some more cushions.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Umm it doesn't really. I am not a trend setter and am not entirely convinced that many of the trendsetters out there are doing anything that original either.  My tastes are pretty eclectic. Often driven by nothing more than the love of different fabrics and colours. 

3. Why do I create/write what I do?

Really I could have gone in any number of directions. I've certainly tried a variety of crafts over the years: jewellery making, embroidery, print making, lace making, card making - you name it I may well have tried it. I've always been drawn to textiles and by luck about four years ago I found this wonderfully creative community over on flickr and that got me started on blogging and firmly placed me in the quilting/sewing world. Sometimes I long to get back to the more art textiles, but as it doesn't seem to sit with what I do here, I never have taken the lid off of those storage boxes and got on with fulfilling that urge. Maybe one day! What I am sure is that I'm driven by a need to make things. Anything. Just as long as I'm creating I'm happy.

finished my hexie quilt! (Piecing the top at least)
This is the hexie quilt I made after finding a QAL on flickr. It's what started me off
blogging and quilting/patchworking again.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

I'm often drawn and influenced to the wonderful array of fabrics out there. My other biggest influence has to be my cottage garden and the countryside around me. I work my colour process by what works in my garden and to be fair in a cottage garden everything works colour wise. Of course I'm also influenced by what I see going on in this online community.

Front Garden

I hope that's given you a little insight into my creative process. I'm now tagging three two blogging friends:

First up is Rachel who blogs at Mammafairy Sews I got to know her when we were both in the hipbee's round one. I was also fortunate enough to get to met her for real when we were both at the 2013 Fat Quarterly Retreat.

Secondly is Janet who blogs over here.  I have been following Janet's blog for some time and there is a lovely mix of  creative stuff and general life. I especially enjoy seeing a countryside and way of life that is so different to mine over in England.

Now I didn't hear back from the third person I'd hoped to tag and as I'm already late with this I'll just stick with the two.

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