Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Turtles and Clamshells

Yes, Chief made it back to the country. No, he couldn't stay for the weekend. (There was no way he could manage our cottage stairs) What he did manage was to call in for a coffee (because I just happen to live not that far from the airport he flew into.), an assisted shower and to deliver a goody bag of swag he picked up on the island. I also got to see a sampling of the 5000+ (yes, you read that right.) Photographs he took on his trip.  Once he'd headed back home to see his doctor and sort out a hospital appointment for an x-ray, I could get on with stitching my clamshells together.

I found the process relaxing, but didn't manage to get even pointy bits of my clamshells. I'm happy with how it turned out though.  I suspect it would be hard to find a method of doing clamshells better than Fiona's. So if you're thinking of doing hand sewn clamshells yourself I'd urge you to check out the tute.

I had some company as I sat and stitched in the form of Little Bebe Turtle one of the things in my swag bag from Chief. Also kind of ironic because I hadn't expected any kind of gift from Chiefs trip as I knew he had very little down time and Ascension is hardly a shopping Mecca. When he mentioned in his last call he hoped he got home to give me my present; Mum and I joked about what he might have found me. From Cyprus he brought me back a wild Flamingo feather. I said to Mum maybe it's a little baby turtle. It's something I'd love to see in the wild.

Saturday night sewing
Little Bebe Turtle checking out my work in progress

I used probably two thirds of a charm pack and lots of other random charms I'd collected from swaps and gifts. The backing of the cushion is some Essex Linen I found on the side by my cutting mat. If I'd bought it for another project, I can't remember what! I quilted the  back with the same variegated Aurifil as I'd used to hand quilt the clamshells. I was aiming for a very organic wonky straight line and I sort of achieved it.  The inside lining (because I thought that was better than just leaving the unfinished wadding.) is a white curtain lining someone gave me recently. There is a little bit of pink trim on the back was left over from binding another quilt that I've not shown you finished yet! And I didn't get a picture of the back. I have been waiting for decent weather to take the front shot. But that isn't about to happen any time soon!

Clamshells and Turtles

I need to get a fatter cushion form so it fills out and looks nice and plump.

All in all a good weekends work I think, especially as it's all made from stash. It went some way to making up for not having the weekend with Chief I'd hoped for.

Friday, 23 May 2014

What I am doing while waiting for news

I know I have probably a zillion projects I could finish rather than start new. But last night I had a plan and it'll involve three cushions. For one I've needed to order something special (not fabric!) for and I have to keep that under wraps until later in the year. Cushion two is something I'll share with you once I get under way. First off though I'm going to follow this great tutorial and tackle some clamshells. Now I've always liked the idea of these and as the most complicated of the traditional English Paper Piecing shapes, I've been put off from doing more than dabble with these (many moons ago), because when I'd seen other peoples attempts they often looked a bit 'lumpy' and nobody wants a lumpy clamshell do they?!

Something to take my mind off it

Making these might be just the distraction I need. Chief is due home on a flight from Ascension tonight. Only last night he phoned to say he'd injured his back and they might not let him fly. I don't have exact details of what he was doing when he hurt his back. Only that they were doing quite arduous walking over rocky, steep and even terrain to do more conservation work when Chief hurt his back. He was unable to sit down or stand and that poses some difficulty unless you happen to be a bird not a human. He's doped up on pain killers and tried to hide the pained sound from his voice. 

If he doesn't phone tomorrow am from the airport to see he's back in Blighty then he's stuck on Ascension until he's fit to fly. Given there are only two flights out a week it could be some days. If that does happen I guess at least I'll have plenty of time this weekend for sewing. Although even if he does make it home he's unlikely to be able to stay here because I have steep, windy cottage stairs and they're a struggle if you're incapacitated in anyway. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


You may recall I bought fabric this month. (It's entirely possible I'll buy more before the month is out. Especially as I have a $25 voucher I won to spend!) My purchases thus far have had projects in mind and I've already completed the first one. Although it didn't turn out quite as I'd intended.

Some of you may recall my turning an off cut of Liberty Tana Lawn purchased at the Fat Quarterly Retreat in London last year into an infinity scarf. I had always wanted to make more as I've had a lot of wear out of this little scarf. The perfect thing when I need a little extra warmth around my neck, but not so much I feel suffocated and get too hot. 

  Liberty Tana Lawn Infinity Scarf

When I saw M is for Make had some of the lovely blue/grey Birch Flight voile fabric in I thought a half yard would make another great infinity scarf.  However, when the voile arrived it was clear that whilst it was going to make a longer loop than the Liberty fabric had, it was going to be skinnier. So once I'd made the tube of fabric I decided to embellish the end with some lace trim and leave it open. This way I could wear it however I liked and not have to always loop it 10 times (ok exaggerating a bit!) over my head in order to get it to look and feel right.

I then needed some help with taking photographs of me modelling it. I had to rope in my Mum and find a camera she could just point and shoot without a lot of effort. Any pictures of me now with non photographers behind the camera usually result in my pulling faces as if to say: What on earth are they doing with that camera? 

I had to grab a cardi' to cover up the fact I've a very bright multicoloured
top on underneath!


And while we were at it I got her to take a picture of me wearing the Liberty one.
Something I'd not managed to do in the previous year!


I'd twisted and looped the latest scarf. It's longer than your standard scarf; this gives more options of how to wear it and it's skinny enough to still be versatile.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Day Tripping

Last Saturday my Mum and I went on a coach trip organised by a local gardening group to Saville Gardens in Windsor. It was a lovely sunny day and a great opportunity for me to try out the new-to-me camera I acquired from Chief a while back. I say try out, in reality I've been glued to it from the moment he let me try it out!

One of my fave' flowers
I absolutely love Iris'. One of my favourite flowers!

Chief would have liked the bird life:

Saville Gardens

There were a few Egyptian Geese around the place

Jackdaws hang about the food areas outside and steal crumbs or drink out of 
discarded milk jugs.

Saville Gardens, Windsor

I heard the ring-necked parakeets before I spotted them. Then when I did they were hard to photograph due to my small lens and them resting at the top of tall trees. Even though these birds are not native many ring-necked parakeets survive in parks around the south of England. It's thought some escaped from film studios when "The African Queen" was being filmed. 

Saville Gardens looks quite exotic at the moment with so many flowering shrubs in bright colours, loaded with blooms.
Saville Gardens, Windsor

Saville Gardens, Windsor

Saville Gardens, Windsor

Mid afternoon we left the gardens for a couple of hours in Windsor. Being a Saturday afternoon the town centre was heaving and it was very busy along the banks of the river. I took hardly any pictures and what I did take was hurried and not really what I wanted. I don't know if there is ever a quiet time to visit Windsor as I've only been once before and that was a summer weekend too.

I have managed to fit some sewing in. In fact I'm getting better at waiting until I can photograph sewing properly, rather than just taking any old rubbish so I can blog with a picture. On the downside it means you have to wait to see what I've been up to.  I actually have a stack of projects that I've not shared with you yet!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

So just where is Chief?! Winner is announced.

Firstly apologies for not announcing the winner sooner. 5pm pst is the early hours over here and I've been out all day at Windsor, so the winner picking has had to wait until my return!

I have been completely overwhelmed by the number of entrants to my sew mama sew give away day! Not to mention all the lovely new followers - who have taken me zooming past the 200 mark on Google Friend Connect. (Hmmm I may have to have another give away shortly to celebrate!)

I have loved reading each and every comment, especially the ones guessing where Chief might have gone. Australia was certainly a favourite, with Bermuda and Hawaii being popular choices too. Whilst a couple of people mentioned generally where he might have gone and several mentioned the place where the plane that dropped him off of was continuing on too; nobody actually named the place exactly.

Chief is actually on Ascension. The Ascension Islands are a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic. We stop off there on the way to the Falkland Islands to refuel (It's only another 10 hours to The Falklands!) The Ascensions, like The Falklands are an Archipelago - a cluster of islands comprising of Ascension (where Chief is), Tristan da Cunha, St Helena; as well as some smaller uninhabited islands.  The British took over Ascension Island to stop the French rescuing Napoleon when we imprisoned him on St Helena.  I've always wanted to go there and The Falklands because it's not the sort of place everyone gets to go. In fact you need a permit to land on Ascension Island and proof of onward passage. Whilst it's largely made of volcanic rock; it's sub tropical and has some of the best beaches in the world. It's also very British so I could take my sterling over there to spend. Although I think shopping opportunities are some what limited.

In case you're wondering what Chief is doing out there: Well he's counting Sooty Turns (amongst other bird related things.) As he's on a conservation expedition with the Army Ornithological Society. Virtually the moment he stepped off the plane he was at work catching and collecting data from Sooty Turns. I had a three minute phone call Thursday night after he'd finished for the day (Before his phone card ran out!) and he said he'd already seen Miner Birds, Canaries and spotted a Frigate Bird. He said the Sooty Turn chicks were really cute little balls of fluff that haven't really got the hang of how to hide. It seems when they run away they just stick their head between two bits of rock and forget that whilst their head is hidden, their body isn't!

But that's not telling you who the winner is, is it? I used Mr Random Number Generator as I couldn't bothered writing everyones names out and finding a hat. I had to delete some duplicated comments too.
The winner is...

Number 36 which was:


I'll be off to email you shortly. 

Thanks to everyone who entered. 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Parting is such sweet sorrow

I had the day off work yesterday. It had been planned for a long time. I was to spend a relaxing day with Chief before he took his flight off to...well I can't reveal where he's gone until tomorrow, when I announce the winner of the Sew Mama Sew Give Away Day. Thank you so much to everyone who's taken part so far and welcome to all my lovely new followers. I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond to comments this time. I do love to read every single one and it's been fun to see where you think Chief might be going. I can't reveal if any of you were right just yet.  I informed Chief of my question and he said I'd been mean and not given nearly enough clues.

Anyway, back to my day off. It got hijacked by life. Firstly my friends funeral was in the morning. It was a very sad occasion and my first ever funeral at a crematorium. I was pleased it was fine as there was a lot of waiting about outside and I regret wearing girlie shoes, as I was standing for over an hour all told. It was a moving service and even the vicar wiped tears from his eyes during the service.

Now would be a good time to show you the fabric I fell off the waggon for because of news of her death.

Good Mail

Regular readers won't be surprised I was drawn to birdie prints. I have projects in mind for each cut of fabric so I'm not hoarding honest!

After the funeral service Chief and I went off to run errands. It was for stuff he needed to take with him on his trip. You may be even more intrigued if I told you that involved collecting a card reader device for his ipad, a garden kneeler cushion and a sunglasses string. He also wanted to take some test shots with various camera lenses before making the final decision on what he was taking with him. We had a nice meal sat in the garden before he had to pack the last of his stuff and head off for his flight. He should be at his destination by now. Mobile phones apparently don't work there and Internet access is £10 per day so I probably won't hear from him again until he's home. It's very odd not to keep getting texts or phone calls and he's not been gone 24 hours yet!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Sew Mama Sew Give Away Day!

Hello and welcome if you're calling in today because of the Sew Mama Sew Give Away Day! Please feel free to have a look around my blog if it's new to you and if you're a follower of old: Welcome back!

For the give away I'm giving away this charm pack of Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket for Moda. With summer coming and going to the seaside being one of my favourite things to do it seemed to fit into the summery theme.


My sewing mojo has really ramped up recently and the projects I've been making have been filling my scraps boxed to the brim. It was already hard to get the lid on. So how about I also fill a ziplock bag full of scraps for the winner too? I always think other peoples scraps are more interesting than my own and I know a lot of people feel the same way. 


And in case you're wondering what scraps might be found in my scrap box - Heather Ross, Joel Dewberry, Denyse Schmidt, A M Horner, Laurie Wisbrun, Echino, Lotta Jansdotta and many many more!

So how do you enter? Leave me a comment any comment. If you want you can guess where my other half is flying off to on Wednesday. I'll give you some clues. He's in the British Army and it's work related and I really wish I was going with him! If the winner happens to guess right I'll throw a little extra something in too!

You can have a second entry if you follow me or become a follower. Just leave a comment letting me know how you follow.

The give away will be open until 5pm, May 16 PST.  Please make sure if you're a no reply blogger you leave me some way of contacting you.  This give away is open to anyone anywhere.

Now I'll leave you go check out some of the other fab give aways over at Sew Mama Sew!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Not so much falling as jumping...

It has been a strange week. Only last weekend as I walked the fields I pondered how this year I'd got through this much of it with only one funeral to go to. So unlike last year when it felt like friends and family were dropping like flies. But I must have jinxed things because on Wednesday I was shocked to discover via facebook that one of my closest friends at primary schooled had died from Myeloma. She leaves behind a devastated family and two small children. Even though I had very little contact with her as an adult my heart goes out to them all and I've been struggling to get my head around it all. Reflecting on the fragility of life and remembering those little incidents and details of a childhood friendship together: She was the girl who dramatically had her glasses broken and face smashed in a bat flinging incident during a break time game of rounders, the girl who introduced me to Nancy Drew and Judy Blume books and made me and (a few others) little cards when we left primary school to go to different schools, thanking us for being her best friend at primary school.

Cow Parsley Study

The funeral is next week when I had the day off to spend with Chief before he flies off to foreign parts. In the mean time I've been trying to take my mind off things by sewing. I was going to spend the evening making PJ pants from FQR13 class. Until I realised the fabric I want to use I'd not got around to prewashing. So whilst I'm waiting for that to dry I'm going to buy fabric. Yes, I know I'm on a fabric diet and have been really good up to now. But I don't so much as feel as if I'm falling off the waggon as jumping. I have been coveting some fabric for a couple of projects and I don't think this fabric will hang around in the shop when the fabric diet ends and I have been toying with the idea of extending the fabric diet beyond the 6 months anyway. And as my friends untimely death has proven. Sometimes you have to live now and not for the future, because none of us know what that holds.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

One for dirties

I'm firmly onto the pretty hand made travel thing. With that in mind I whipped myself up a little travel laundry bag as I hate it when I have to put dirty socks and undies back in with the fresh ones. Particularly if I then struggle to work out which are clean and which are dirty. I'd wanted to make a travel laundry bag for ages. Maybe using some of that Heather Ross fabric with clothes on a clothes line or some other fabric that has clothes or undies on it. But as I've not bought any previously and I happen to be on a fabric diet, I decided to raid my stash again.  I'm quite enjoying all this stash raiding! I've also decided for May at least to keep a note of just how much of my stash I'm using. So far I've used two yards and it's only 4 May!

Travel Laundry Bag

I used a half yard of fabric (can't remember what it's called.) plus a length of Kona Snow I had left over from sashing my HipBee quilt. I didn't feel that the half yard cut alone was big enough. I also only made a very simple turn over casing for the ribbon tie.  I was all set to do a fancy wide one when I remembered I really like to cram as much into my travel bag as possible and I thought this might create just a little bit of unnecessary bulk. That might make all the difference when it comes to packing a souvenir of my trip or three. 

Now what else can I make next travel wise?!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Preparing for take off?

I think it was about May of last year I cut out the pieces for the Aeroplane Bag and then put it to one side whilst I contemplated interfacings.

Aeroplane Bag 

It was only after talking to Sonia at FQR13 that I bought some car scrim which was a recommended substitute for one of the interfacings. It still left me short of another and I'd pondered using a substitute; as I have several stiff interfacings bought for bags and purses over the years and then not used (maybe because I'd bought the wrong thing online and realised it wasn't suitable for my needs after it arrived.) Anyway, I'd done nothing more than ponder the interfacing issue until another chance conversation with Katy re: the Aeroplane Bag. She sent me a link to exactly the interfacing I was missing and suggested I didn't even try and substitute. So I ordered interfacing there and then. It arrived on Thursday and I dug out the Aeroplane project bag and got planning.  I'll confess the thought of making Katy faint with shock was a partial motivator to get cracking with this. We've talked about this bag so many times and I'd still not managed to make it! But I'm also intending to get as many of my WIP's tackled this year as I can.

Aeroplane Bag
Ta Da! It's finished!

The bag came together like a dream. I only wish I'd tackled it sooner. When I'd read the pattern previously I'd been a little bit put off by the instructions that told me to cut some of my own pattern parts rather than give me a template. But really when I got down to it this wasn't an issue at all. Although I think maybe I would have preferred a lining template, the bag didn't suffer for my tracing my own using the outside as it was suggested.  Nor was installing the big zipper the drama I thought it might be. The biggest struggle with the zip was sewing the second side lining. It was only when I started and opened the zip and it came apart that I realised the process would have been so much easier had I realised earlier that the zipper I had was one that came apart at the end. The only modification I made was: I excluded the internal zipped pocket in favour of a slip in pocket. This is because when I had a clear up of my sewing stuff earlier in the year I tidied away too carefully my zips. I could either get on with the bag while the mood took me or spend time looking for zips!

Aeroplane Bag
Lining is a fabric I've had for ages. I only included a simple slip pocket inside.

I can definitely see more of these in my future. This wasn't a make I laboured over. In fact if I had maybe bits would be neater. But I'm OK with it.

Aeroplane Bag

I've told Chief I need to christen the bag with a night away. He said he hoped he was invited. Invited?! I was hoping he would be taking me!

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