Monday, 28 April 2014

I'm dreaming of...Fabric Fasting April Check In

I think I was on a blogging holiday last month so didn't check in. I had nothing to report as I'd been good and not bought any fabric. Just as I've been good this month and not bought any fabric. But it's kind of wearing thin now. I'm missing the good mail days of coming home from work to a parcel or two of fabric goodness. The pleasure of unwrapping brightly coloured tissue paper and getting my mitts on some lovely fabric, previously i'd only drooled over on online. I'm missing those random fat quarters that pop into my shopping bag because I can justify postage better if I buy just a couple more.

I miss fabric through the mail. I don't miss customs charges

I'm hoping after this sixth month diet I can shop much more sensibly, because there is nothing like shopping your stash for a period of time to know what it lacks.  I've next to no fabric suitable for bindings. I don't seem to have much in the way of those blenders that add interest to a quilt binding like stripes or spots. I am woefully short of go to solids. No white. I was going to make some Bee Blessed blocks last month until I realised the back ground fabric required was white and I had none. Even in my scraps I couldn't eek out enough to do one measly block.

On the plus side I've made two quilts this year and am working on hand quilting a third and all those quilts have been made from stash. The backing of the one I'm currently working on had been purchased for attempting dressmaking. As I need backing now and making the PJ's it was intended for can wait for another day (or month) I just used it. It feels quite liberating.

Something that has surprised me is however much fabric I've been using up I'm not noticing the hoped for big gaps in my fabric drawers. By now I'd really expected to see some gaps to justify a little fabric splurge after the fast is over.  If I don't free up space I may be fasting a whole lot longer. The whole reason behind deciding to go on a fabric diet was to use up fabric before it burst out of the space I have for it.  They way things are I might need to fast all year!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Gone Stitching

So I basted the quilt top this am and luckily the bit of backing I'd joined - thinking I'd not have enough backing overhang, wasn't needed so I cut it off once the quilt was basted. I have then, intermittently, been stitching around the stars in perle.  For frugality sake and because I'd left my bee mates such an open ended brief I bought Klona as the backing fabric. It was the cheaper solid option and meant I could send out decent sized chunks to everyone. I'm sort of regretting that frugality now as the stiffer texture, than say, Kona means it's hard work stitching with perle through the seams of those lovely stars. It will be worth it in the end and I've done 5 blocks already.

And so it begins

The binding will be scrappy using left overs of the DS fabric I have. I'm really excited about how this quilt is progressing and am wondering why I didn't tackle it before!

All the hand stitching is making me plan future projects too. I'm feeling the need to get bag making and as I have enough shoulder and tote bags (can I really have enough?!) I may finally finish the Weekender or Aeroplane Bag. I love seeing those shots of people travelling handmade with all their weekend bags being made by them or friends in swaps. Who knows with a new bag or two I would have to road test them with a weekend away. (Hint hint Chief!)

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Whistle Stop Catch Up!

I'd meant to be back before now because there has been a quilt finish and another quilt top pieced ready for backing. However, the quilt finish is destined for a present I'd hoped to have handed over by now, so I have to keep the big reveal a secret just a while longer.

Easter was super busy with no sewing. All the more scandalous that when Chief made me a meal I didn't even remove the sewing machine from the dining room table!

Surf and turf fajitas cooked for dinner by chief
surf and turf fajitas

Chief didn't get down until Bank Holiday Monday. We ended up with three days that centred around 'birding'.  This wasn't really planned. The weather was a bit unpredictable and whilst I'd hoped to go to the likes of Blenheim Palace, I was reluctant to pay a premium to go in anywhere only to find it rained and we didn't get value out of our trip. It was a chance to practise bird photography, walk and enjoy the countryside. First off we went to Farmoor Reservoir. We walked a complete circuit of the biggest of the reservoirs and also explored the nature reserve and river side walk. I heard the cuckoo for the first time this year and saw my first swallows.


There was also a lone Turnstone wandering in the margins of the reservoir. I'd not seen one of these before as they're not common around here.


The next day we went to Otmoor. Neither of us had slept well and the weather forecast was pretty dreadful. We were so lucky to always happen to find shelter as the rain did come down. We did a lot of walking and heard more birds than we saw. The warblers are definitely our in force. 

Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler

I even managed (thanks to Chief spotting them) to see Bullfinches. I'm always on a mission to see bullfinches and nearly everywhere we go, someone has just seen and photographed them moments before I got there! Not the greatest picture, proof I saw them though.

Mr & Mrs Bullfinch

We had a very late lunch in the Chilterns and a brief visit to Aston Rowant Nature Reserve late afternoon, where Chief got buzzed by a very aggressive but cute Goldcrest. I think it wanted a job on Angry Birds.


A Chiffchaff did a bit of posing too.


The next day we were back at Aston Rowant Nature reserve - this time the opposite side of the M40 (the M40 splits the reserve into two.) There are stunning views. We'd been so active the past couple of days that we hoped for a more leisurely stroll.

View from Bald Hill

View from Bald Hill

Orchid at Bald Hill 
Orchid on Bald Hill

If we'd have stopped at the top of the hill, rather than walking down it, we might have had that leisurely stroll!

Steeper than it looks
Ok this was near the top, walking back up and it doesn't look that steep a walk
Try doing it when you're carrying camera equipment 
including a 400mm lens!

We'd parked in the car park of Cowleaze wood and decided to explore the wood. The bluebells were pretty; I found out later that this wood is usually one of the best bluebell woods in England and this year they aren't at their best. I am not very good at photographing bluebell woods.

Bluebells - Cowleaze Wood, Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire

Cowleaze Wood

We had lunch at Studley Green in a cafe that's known to feed Red Kites on left overs. I made the mistake of ordering a special club sandwich off the menu. I say mistake purely because it was huge. I had to have a doggy bag for some of it. (Too nice to leave behind!) I'd already said no to the cheese and bacon so Chief had it on his burger. The meal was HUGE without it. So huge regulars stared when it came out of the kitchen and one asked if he could photograph it as it was so big! No picture taken by me because my phone was dead. We then spent the afternoon on stools in the car park trying to get decent red kite action photos. Probably to the amusement of other users of the car park. At one point we got some very odd looks from a group of RAF personnel stopping off at the cafe for take out food and drinks. I'm yet to go through those pictures yet.


The kites are fast. They circle en masse and then one will be brave enough to go down, then another and another does. The one in the picture above is eating a chip mid air. They deserve a blog post of their own!

Chief went back on Wednesday and I was back at work on Thursday. (For a rest!) He's up North this weekend working so I could get on with my neglected and partially pieced HipBee quilt. I had all the blocks sewn together. Today I spent time adding a border of co-ordinating squares and then a skinny solid border.

What I'm working on today #hipbees quilt top. Want to get top finished today!

A finished top. Now to work out what to back it with given I'm on a fabric diet. #hipbees

Being on a fabric diet I had to hunt my stash for suitable backing and decided on some fabric I'd bought to make pj's with at the FQR class. (In the end I used an old sheet as I didn't want to mess up the good fabric.) Like a numpty I cut the fabric too short so I've had to add a band along the bottom of the left over fabric and the pattern is running in a different direction. It was my only option and luckily the fabric is quite subtle pattern wise so it's not that noticeable. That'll learn me to calculate backing the same width as the batting!

So that's what I've been up to lately. I hope you had lovely Easters!

Monday, 7 April 2014

In for a penny in for a pound - Q2 Finish-A-Long Link up

Finish Along 2014

So it's time to link up for the second quarter of the finish-A-long. I really feel I can't do much worse than quarter one (I completed one project!) But having just sewn a whole quilt top up at the weekend and quilted it I'm feeling confident I can at least match the quarter one results.  I'm certainly raring to sew!

On to the list!

1) Having completed this quilt top on Saturday and basted and quilted it on Sunday I only have to finish sewing on the binding and do a label. (I often don't bother with labels but as this is a special gift I'm going to make the effort!)
St Louis 16 Patch Lap Quilt Top

2) The HipBee's are on their second cycle. I was part of the first and when it was my month I sent out selections of Denyse Schmidt fabric from Flea Market Fancy, Katy Jump Rope and the odd bit of other ranges done for the likes of Joanns and asked my fellow bee's to make me stars. I got a lovely selection back but as the bee was only doing one block there has never been enough to do more than a baby quilt. Which due to my lack of a baby would be rather redundant. It's meant that from time to time I've got them out and pondered whether to make loads more stars to make the quilt bigger or add some more negative space or even a border to size it up. But pondering is all I've done. That and decide that when it is a quilt top I'm going to hand quilt it in perle.

I'm still open to suggestions on this one. It's going to be a challenge as I'm still on a fabric diet for the rest of this quarter so can't go out and buy more Denyse Schmidt fabric to add big borders or something. I really do want to get this one finished though.

I think doing something with these lovelies at long last will be my next quilty project #hipbees

3) It was on the list last time and has been lurking on my cutting area. I'd like to actually turn it into a cushion and maybe offer it up as a give away prize?

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

4) Another from the list last time. These are the attachments for what will be some camera cushions for a hide located where Chief works. I have a huge bag of poly balls to stuff the camera cushions with and for that reason (if no other) I'd love to get them made and get rid of some of those damn balls. If I don't hurry up and make them there is a very good chance Chief won't be working there any more, so they'll be surplus to requirements and I have all the materials!

I'm going to stop there. There is other WIP's crammed in a basket.  I want the list to be manageable and given my track record this is more than enough to keep me occupied!

So what do you want to get finished? Or what do you want to see me get finished the most. I feel I will need plenty of encouragement!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Has it really been a month?!

I am not sure whether I lost my sewing and blogging mojo or whether it's just been a case of my head being full of so many other things that there just wasn't enough space for me to sew or blog about it. Either way it seems a whole month has slipped by and I have felt completely out of the loop. I had decided to myself that I wouldn't blog again until I'd sewn something. Mainly because it would be all to easy to completely turn this blog into non sewing blog. Whilst I never did want this blog to only be about sewing; I know that's why the majority of my readers stop by.

So today I can blog because today I sewed something. A whole quilt top in fact!

St Louis 16 Patch Lap Quilt Top

I'd pulled the fabric for this from my stash and cut it into the strips needed over a month ago now. All the fabric came from my stash. I am on a fabric diet (not that I checked in last month. I didn't by fabric though!) so I had to shop my stash for this one and it worked out really well because it forced me to use some fabrics I'd sort of been hoarding. I used the instructions from here to make the blocks. I know I'm really behind jumping on this particular band waggon. I usually am behind with these things!

This is destined to be a present and I will back it that famous Ikea numbers print everyone uses and have a rummage in my stash for suitable binding. 

I hope to try and stop by more often. And sew more often. Sometimes the niff naff and trivia of life gets in the way. There are some potentially life changing things happening over the next few months. It feels exciting and exhausting in equal measure. In the mean time I have wadding to cut for this quilt and backing to iron. I'm sort of on a deadline with this one.  Hope you've all had a good Saturday too.
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