Wednesday 18 December 2013

Happy Christmas

My blogging is going to take a little festive hiatus now until next year.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by and for all your lovely comments on my makes over the last 12 months.

Seasons Greetings to one and all and see you in the New Year.

Saturday 14 December 2013

And the winners are...

Thank you to everyone who entered my Sew Mama Sew giveaway.

Random Number Generator has spoken and the winner of their own cushion/pillow cover is:

Which is:

She also said 'Vintage, text, floral' which is a challenge because I'm not sure I'm a vintage, floral kind of a person but I'll do my best.

Second winner who gets a wodge of my scraps is:

Otherwise known as:

I shall be emailing shortly unless you get to me first.

Thank you again to everyone who entered.

Monday 9 December 2013

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day

*** NOW CLOSED ***

I'm doing what I like doing - offering to make someone their own cushion/pillow cover.

Same simple rules as before.

Leave three words for your first comment describing what sort of cushion/pillow you would like eg. scrappy, text, solids etc etc.

Second comment for followers who get an extra two words, giving you five in total.

I'll also do a second/runner up prize of a wodge of my scraps and I'll base the contents of the scraps on the words you have used to describe your ideal cushion if you mention text, solids etc your scraps will contain some of those.

Please don't use extra words such as 'thanks for the giveaway' etc as I won't include you in the giveaway. Really, absolutely make your words count to the prescribed's fun :-)

Giveaway stays open until the wee hours of Friday night into Saturday morning, after which time the job of picking winners gets handed over to the Random Number Generator thingy.

Good luck.

Friday 6 December 2013

Pillow talk

I didn't piece this quilt. The blocks were done for Andrea from a bee she was in and she decided she was going to give them away as she knew she'd never get around to making them. So I stuck my hand up and said I'd take them and make them up into a quilt to raise money for charity.

Andrea's blog was one of the very first quilt blogs I started following, back when she was called Millions Of Thoughts Trapped In My Head. Then she took possession of her very first longarm quilting machine earlier this year and is now called Urban Quilt Works. If you've ever wanted to follow the journey of a longarm machine from being unpacked to learning how to quilt on it, Andrea's blog is worth a look.

Photo nicked from Andrea's blog

I believe all these blocks are made from Denyse Schmidt fabrics and my original idea was just to sew them together, add batting and backing, quilt it and be done with it.

But then something happened.

Ann Petersen came into my life.

I've been aware of Craftsy for a while and although tempted by the various classes, I wasn't tempted by the approx £25 per class. Then a few months ago, I think they had a sale and I bit the bullet and bought the Learn How To Machine Quilt Big Projects On A Small Machine by Ann Petersen.

And suddenly Ann had me hooked. We've spent quite a bit of time together these past few months, although admittedly she's done all the talking. I've cooked, watched TV, done  helped the kids with their homework and quilted with Ann. We've also been to bed together a few times but to be honest Ann, one night I was really tired and you wouldn't stop talking, you just went on and on and I wasn't really listening to what you were saying and I'm afraid I fell asleep.

Sorry Ann.

What Ann doesn't know about quilting, I would imagine isn't worth knowing and suddenly I started thinking I would complete these blocks using Ann's QAYG (Quilt As You Go) instructions. I thought it would be a brilliant way to treat each block as a mini quilt and practice my rather limited repertoire of free-motion quilting skills.

I just kind of went random and did my own thing.

And I found the (imo) perfect fabric to segment each block together.

Which I then echoed in the three extra blocks I needed to make, to bring it up to a reasonable size.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process from start to finish. I felt I was more in control of my quilting, that I was really able to focus on one portable piece of stitching at a time.

I loved the way you could use up left over scraps for the backing pieces and random bits of batting for each block. And I used up leftover binding from other projects and the whole quilt just felt like it was pieced from scraps and leftovers and that felt good.

You kind of end up with a secondary quilt on the back with lots of little different quilted squares.

And so when I'd finished it I kind of felt Ann and I were done and I should look for someone new.
Cue another Craftsy sale last week and I purchased another class. Unfortunately things didn't work out: I just couldn't click with the teacher, I didn't feel that what they had to say was worth my money and I didn't really want to spend time with them. I'm sure it was all me but the feelings just weren't there. Very graciously, Craftsy took on board my feedback and I got a full refund.

I've licked my wounds, picked myself up and I'm heading back to Ann if she'll have me. I've realised the grass isn't always greener on the other side and that Ann is a very hard act to follow. I'm looking forward to snuggling up in bed with her as she talks  Beyond Basic Machine Quilting.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday

I don't know about you Ann but I can't wait.

Wednesday 4 December 2013


Sometimes I think our children's expectations of producing the proverbial rabbit out of the hat for friends' birthdays are heightened by the misplaced belief that we love to sew anything: at any time, at a moment's notice and are on 24 hour call for personalised requests.

Sometimes, just sometimes,  I think it would probably be an easier ride being a non-sewing mum.

And then I see the end result, am secretly pleased with it and those thoughts disappear as quickly as they came.

Saturday 30 November 2013

Feroz Khan

My latest epic marathon of a quilt top has come to an end.

You may remember I started by hand-piecing honeycomb shapes.

My original inspiration had come from here.

For a while I had been wanting to make a kind of old-fashioned, antique looking quilt but with a mixture of traditional and modern fabric.

Just because really. A kind of modern heirloom quilt I think.

So I let it grow and grow, making up rounds as I went along.

And then in the last few weeks it grew and grew until it didn't want to grow any more.

If you're making your own medallion quilt there are ways around making sure each border fits. I mentioned in the previous post about this quilt how to break the Flying Geese blocks with larger pieces of fabric so you don't have to worry about fitting a particular sized block into a particular sized border.

I was also faced with the same dilemma with the final border in this quilt.

I could get my measurements to work for the shorter horizontal borders but for the longer vertical borders I was one inch too short.

There are 38 individual pieces in the longer border so all I did was piece eight of those pieces with a seam allowance that was 1/8th off the magic 1/4 inch...if that all makes sense. So cumulatively, that added up to the extra one inch I needed. And with the eight blocks randomly interspersed throughout each longer border, you'd never know.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday even though it's Saturday

Next stop - the long, slow road of hand quilting this one as it's a bit of a whopper and I don't fancy wrestling it through the sewing machine.

I hope you like it Feroz Khan because this is your last chance to comment. Your inane spammy drivel was just the push I needed to switch to registered users only for comments.

Enjoy :-)

Previous posts about this quilt are here and here and an explanation on hand-piecing the centre is here
to clear up any misunderstandings that this is EPP...which it's not!

Thursday 21 November 2013

X-Factor Pillow Swap

I finally found time to join in on a round of the X-Factor Pillow Swap on Flickr. It's such a fun idea. Each round has a theme - this round it was 'low volume.' You make a pillow/cushion cover to that theme, email a picture and the details to Tiina who posts all the pictures up so no one knows who made them.

At the end of the deadline voting begins and you get your first or second or third choice etc based on how many votes the cushion cover you made got (I think). And then it gets posted out to you and you still have no idea which one you are getting until it arrives.

It's really hard though to rate the cushions in order but there was one in particular that I just loved. It was the simplicity of the piecing and the lovely quilting and it turned up on my door-step.

Made by Melissa at Cut.Sew.Press.Love

And I made this one...

...which has just arrived at its new home in New Zealand with Adrianne at On The Windy Side.

Round 8's theme is 'log cabin and text.' The deadline isn't until 25 January so that's oodles of time to create something fab.

Are you in?

Friday 15 November 2013

A quarter square triangle quilt

My starting point was these fabrics.

I wanted to use them for no other reason other than they were big, bold, bright and happy fabrics; the perfect antidote to the onset of winter gloom.

I thought that just on their own though, they'd all be shouting to be heard and that even by my standards  it would be a bit OTT.

So I added in some more.

Checks and plaids and then some 'quieter' florals. I also slipped in a bit of text fabric as well because well, you can never have too much text fabric.

And then I dusted down my Go! Baby from Accuquilt and used the quarter square triangle die to crank out lots and lots of triangles.

Accuquilt has been around since 2008 but then a couple of years ago they really ramped up their marketing and started reaching out to quilt bloggers to really get their product out there, including this side of the Atlantic. Quilty blog world was awash with the world and his wife extolling the virtues of owning the fabric cutter and at the time, I was one of the lucky ones to win one.

And then in to the fray stepped Sizzix. Originally devised as a die-cutting machine for paper back in 2001, Ellison (the company behind Sizzix - I would link to Ellison but their website appears to be down at the moment) obviously saw the success Accuquilt was having and in the spring of last year, started producing their own dies specifically for quilters.

And then a funny thing happened. Quilty blog world in these regions stopped talking about Accuquilt and suddenly Sizzix was the name of the game. It would appear Sizzix has proved to be the stronger marketeer.

Now I don't own a Sizzix and have no affiliation with Accuquilt so this is my opinion per se about fabric die cutters for what it is worth:

  • if you're just starting out I wouldn't buy one. Work out what kind of a quilter you want to be first and then you can make a better judgment. By that I mean if you're a modern, improv, slash and stitch kind of a quilter you probably won't have use for a die cutter. If on the other hand you're an appliquér extraordinaire with a love of pumpkins, birds, snowflakes, pears, hearts, owls, butterflies (several sizes), cats, lions, dogs etc etc then you clearly need one in your life
  • bear in mind if you do purchase one, dies are expensive and you'll have to work out if you would use that die sufficiently to get your money's worth from it. In particular I am thinking about the strip cutter 2 1/2" die offered by Accuquilt - usually the width you'd cut for binding. Is it really so much easier, quicker (not to mention less wasteful of fabric) than using a rotary cutter and mat? 
  • if you buy some of the triangle and square sizes you are stuck making quilts with those sizes - if you fancy different sized triangles and squares it's back to the rotary cutter and cutting mat anyway
  • maybe it's just the cutter I've got but it doesn't always cut cleanly so you're left to snip off bits still hanging to your wastage
  • yes, there is wastage. How much depends on how canny you are with your cutting but there will always be wastage. It's the nature of the beast.
  • i think they are a brilliant idea for circles and circle based shapes which is where I think they come into their own. The one die I most definitely have got value out of is the Drunkards Path. Circles really do come out as circles and I think it probably is the best way to achieve perfection
Is it worth buying a die cutter for?
Weigh up your usage and interest against cost and that's your answer.


So when I'd got all the triangles cut, I initially played around with values but it looked too contrived and I reminded myself that I'd cut these shapes in the first place just because I loved the fabrics and the random way they played together.

However, should you have a more ordered mind than me, there are endless possibilities of creating secondary patterns by playing around with the values.

A badly illustrated star shape but you get the picture.

A square on point. Could be all lights. Could be all darks. Could be one hot mess so then the triangles to the left, right, up and down could be more subdued.

Or sub-divide the square on point to a pinwheel block with the use of light and dark values.

Or don't look at it at all in terms of blocks but look to highlight a grid effect with choice of values. So I started highlighting what the vertical would look like but loss the will to live putting the horizontal dark and light annotations in but you get it.

Of course I didn't do any of this and just randomly sewed and sewed and sewed.

And I've just come to the conclusion that I really rather like random.

I find it more exciting and visually interesting.

And I think I like randomly pieced quilt backs too. I think it gives you a chance to show off mad, bold fabric too.

And I've also come to the conclusion that the more values and colours you use in a quilt, the harder it is to photograph and really show the quilt's true colours.

And if you add blue skies and fast moving clouds into the mix, your quilt gets another look entirely.

And the trade off for a longer, leaner shadow at this time of the year is the disappearance of any signs of a waist.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday

Friday 8 November 2013

Completely mad and bonkers...

...but I completely love it.

It will return for a full reveal when it's been quilted and it stops blowing a hoolie and pouring with rain.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Spinning plates

So if you may remember, my latest hand-piecing project had got thus far and you can read  the whys and wherefores here plus a hand-piecing post in general here.

I've added a couple more rounds to it and it now looks like this.

My aim was to make the centre honeycomb shapes darken out to the edges in a random, smudgy kind of way. I then added a Flying Geese border on.

I do like the points on my Flying Geese blocks to be as perfect as is possible. Leanne wrote a very informative and interesting post about the various ways of constructing and trimming them here. For trimming, I went with one of the options she mentioned: the Bloc-Loc.

As you can see, it only takes millimetres off but if left untrimmed, those millimetres have a pesky habit of multiplying into centimetres and so on which, on a long row of Flying Geese blocks is going to really be noticeable. For ease of cutting, I've been using a rotating cutting mat. I think without one, the task of trimming would be quite cumbersome.

If, like me, you're making up your medallion quilt as you go along, there are always ways to make your borders fit. My Flying Geese blocks had to be 2.5" x 5" finished because I'd bought the Bloc Loc and wanted to try it out. However, the maths wasn't working out for that sized block to fit along the edges.

I therefore decided to break the rows of Flying Geese blocks in the middle with a different piece of feature fabric in each row and added cornerstone squares in too, in another different piece of fabric.

To my eye it all works because the larger pieces of fabric have already appeared in the honeycomb centre and the Flying Geese blocks going different ways adds another element of interest.

So that's where I am so far.  I'm going to have a ponder and work out what the next row should be.

In the meantime, it swapped from being a hand-piecing project to a machine piecing one when I started to assemble the Flying Geese blocks. All it took was one restless evening of having nothing to do with my hands and I was back upstairs cutting my next hand-piecing project which involved these.

And this (the large size template)...

...which so far has become this.

I was going to crop my trainers out but I'm going to leave them there in all their triumphant matching glory because whenever I go out in them the children cry 'Oh no mum, not those trainers. They're just toooo bright.'

And finally, I felt my Accuquilt had been gathering dust for too long so I cranked out these...

...which are well on their way to becoming this.

I think I have enough plates spinning at the moment.

01 09 10