Monday, 18 November 2019

Christmas Countdown Complete


Another happy finish to report!  This Christmas Countdown wallhanging was fun to make and hopefully will bring much pleasure to CT in future years.

The pattern is by Hadley of Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle blog from Quilt Now Magazine some years back.

My WIP list is getting smaller- yay!!


Thursday, 14 November 2019

Strippy Heart Wallhanging - a finish



Although there was a lot more chattering and catching up about our families and all things stitch related while we #threadsacrossthesea girls got together at the beginning of the month, there was a weeny bit of sewing happening too.  Hot off the back of my productive retreat weekend, I took my Strippy Heart Wallhanging along to our Saturday sew day at Judith's fabulous studio and finished the quilt off by stitching the binding down by hand and adding a little label for posterity.  So, happy with this little quilt.

Committee please note that I have one finish as promised!

Monday, 11 November 2019

Fancy a picnic?



One of CT's favourite things to do is have a picnic with Daddy.  Rare pic above of Mummy picnicking - I am not generally a fan of eating outdoors, even in nice weather (bugs) but CT and Daddy picnic all year round!!  This year their first picnic was on New Year's Day - brrrrr!!

What does this have to do with sewing, you ask?  Well, CT doesn't play particularly well with toys and I'm learning that those toys that stand any chance of interesting her and actually getting played with need to be toys that are relevant to her experience.  She enjoys a little kitchen play because she loves to eat and occasionally loves to help with "mixie", but she would struggle to play with a vet's kit because I wouldn't be able to explain that to her properly - no relevance.  So, as the approach of the festive season is looming I had a brainwave and decided that a toy picnic set might be a good idea for her Christmas stocking.




Et voila - one picnic basket and blanket!




Oh the cuteness!

Believe it or not, most of the fabrics for this were scraps resulting from other scraps I worked with on my Scrappy Heart Wallhanging - I tell you, those things are multiplying!!

With 340 1.5" squares I whipped up little four patches, alternated them with 84 2.5" squares and finished with a small 1.5" border to give a 28.5" picnic quilt.



It's a very busy little quilt, like the little lady who will be its recipient!


An upscaled version on Ayumi's Fabric Basket tutorial serves well as a picnic basket, holding the little quilt and a yummy picnic lunch for Peppa and George to feast upon!




CT is slowly getting a little better at imaginative play so I am hoping that being able to relate to this might motivate her to do more, and for a little longer.

Feel like I should hashtag this post with #makingitupasigoalong iro the picnic accessories and the parenting of a child with Learning Difficulties!

Monday, 4 November 2019

Armchair Caddies in triplicate




I was blessed to get some time with my lovely sewing besties this weekend.  It wasn't enough time as always, but we did much catching up, a smidgin of stitching and had a few giggles, too.





You may remember I had a lot of fun making an armchair caddy myself earlier this year, so I tripled the fun and in honour of our meet up I made one for each of them (pattern from Sedef Imer's lovely book, Zakka Home).


With a little help from friendly types on IG re fabrics for Judith's caddy, I made fabric pulls and got stitching. 




This time I made the binding as per the book instructions and it definitely looks neater than the wider binding I used on my own (because I already had it left over). 





I also switched the little button tag on the pattern for an embroidered name tag (mainly because my button stash just wasn't up to it). I think it looks ok.


 I'm having a hard time deciding which is my favourite because I love all of the fabric combos.



What I do think is funny is that, not knowing that I was making a gift for Judith, the IG responders to my fabric cry for help overwhelmingly voted for the denim essex linen background above the natural shades and the darker navy I had offered up as choices.  I mean, denim essex for the queen of denim makes - how much more appropriate could it get?!


Of course, I was also the recipient of beautiful gifts too.  We all agreed it was like Christmas morning during our gift swap, only better because we knew we were going to like what we opened!!  Trudi made each of us a stunning Clearly Carry All pouch (pattern by Zeriano). Trudi made this is my favourite ever Bonnie and Camille Ruby fabric and added gorgeous embroidery detail on the contrasting linen.  Judith made us all tweed kantha drawstring bags and each had a humorous mug inside.  My mug says 'I might look like I'm working but in my head I'm sewing'  - oh how apt!  Mind you, one of the other mugs said 'I sew because punching people is frowned upon' - that could have been for me, too ;-)  Di gifted us all the Cake District reusable shopping bags from Booths which we all very much appreciated since our sewing skills are fairly well matched to our cake eating abilities! Di also has little pouches for us with thread snips, a needle thread (which given the poor state of my eyesight is going to come in handy) and then two beautiful woodturned gifts made by her lovely husband.  We each received a little wooden Christmas tree and a stunning little wooden needle case - it really is divine!

So, you see, we sewing besties #threadsacrossthesea really know how to spoil each other, and it's no wonder that we really love getting together when we can.



Sunday, 3 November 2019

Mini Archie's October Furtle

Archie The Wonder Dog

This month has been all about going on retreat stitch-wise.



Most of my work early in the month was preparation for projects I wanted to take away last weekend and, of course, my pincushion for the swap.  I feel like I've already overloaded you with the details for all of it in the various posts, but in case you haven't seen them you can catch up on the links below:



You can read all about my pincushion thoughts here.

The two little piles of fabric became this


and this



And these three got machine bound to the front of the quilts, though I appear to have deleted the photos so can't upload here -




Christmas Countdown - it's now just waiting for the binding to be hand stitched on the back.  The little number squares have all been made up in anticipation of the final finish.




I pushed through to a finish on my Strippy Heart Wallhanging flimsy and got it quilted in advance of going away.  I bound it by machine at retreat and finished the binding by hand this weekend.  Pics to follow on a post soon.





I also managed a fabric basket and bound a mini quilt to go along with it.

It was a busy but very productive month thanks to the motivation of and dedicated stitching time at retreat.

I hope you've all had as fruitful a month as I have.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Quilting Retreat - Oct 2019

Last weekend I had a fantastic break at Just Jude Designs inaugural Quilting Retreat.  I wish I could be doing it all again this weekend, though I'm not entirely sure I'd have the stamina!


Judith chose a really beautiful venue for her retreat in Dundrum.  Sited on a National Trust reserve on Keel Point, Dundrum, we stayed in the very comfortable manor house (if that's the correct way to describe it) of Murlough House.  The inside of the house was just gorgeous, and we were made to feel very welcome by the staff custodians of the house.  Our sewing space was located in a hall behind the house, and was a great hub of activity all weekend.



As you can see, after settling in to our very comfortable accommodation and eating a most satisfying evening meal (fab food all weekend), we wasted no time claiming a sewing station each and plugging in those machines.  Whirr, whirr, whirr.

Prior to this retreat, I spent time prepping two quilts for stitching and progressing three of my WIPS to their binding stage.  I also cut fabric for another small project, just in case I should have time.  It really was time well spent because it helped me to have a very productive weekend.



My Friday night effort resulted in a completed Giant Star flimsy.  I'm not superwoman - remember, I took blocks already cut and HSTs made, but I did stitch like the wind and got them all together and bordered before I faded away to bed at 22.50.  So much for my dreams of sewing 'til midnight!




I managed to nab a happy (but tired) pic of the main lady herself, Judith, and me just before bed on Friday night.  It may have been the only 30 seconds she was able to stand still all weekend. She's a superstar and made a lot of sewing enthusiasts happy and inspired this weekend.





We were all eager beavers again on Saturday morning and I managed another pre-cut quilt between the morning and the afternoon free sewing sessions.



This one is a reduced size Moda Love Layer Cake quilt.

I'm hoping that in a few weeks' time at home I can pick up on these two quilts again and progress them gradually towards finishes.  If I can manage that sometime around Christmas/New year I would like to donate them to CT's Pre-school or perhaps the charities she is supported by so they can raise a little money perhaps by auctioning or raffling off.


We had a fun pincushion swap on retreat (as well as a rather animated game of sewing Bingo and a block race for some charity quilt blocks - but I forgot to get a pic of those).  There was much oohing and aahing as pincushions were passed over to their recipient and revealed to a nosy congregation of expectant retreaters.



This was the pincushion I made and swapped with the lovely Janet.  I've blogged about it separately here.



Rather coincidentally, the luck of the draw then revealed that Janet was to share her pincushion make with me.  Isn't it sweet?  There's no sense of scale from my bad photograph but it's a weeny little jam jar with pincushion topper.  I'm thinking this would be very handy for applique stitching when I could pop my appliqué threads (which I keep on bobbins) into the little jar beneath the pincushion.



Once my two quilt tops were pieced, I moved on to binding three projects I brought already quilted.  My Countdown to Christmas panel didn't take very long at all.


The strippy heart wallhanging makes me smile every time I unfold it and I love the aqua binding.  I so often choose red binding for my Bonnie and Camille quilts, but opted for this one for a change.




I also bound this 28" square mini-quilt which I'll tell you about another time.



And THEN, on Sunday morning I stitched up a fabric basket, an enlarged version of the Pink Penguin Fabric Basket tutorial.  It's been a long time since I made a fabric basket.  I had forgotten how satisfying they are to complete.

Phew, that was a lot of stitching! I am convinced that it was being well prepared for this retreat that allowed me to tick off so much of my to do list.  It was a very helpful way to maximise machine time which I don't always get at home, and move closer to proper finishes on three of my WIPs.  A little bit of hand stitching on the binding and that should be sorted soon, I hope.

Our wonderful accommodation for the weekend allowed us the opportunity to wind down in more ways than just stitching.  The house had lovely resting space in lounges and little seating areas, beautiful gardens and, right on the doorstep, a beach with a view of the Mourne Mountains - yes, those that sweep down to the sea. See?


Having a pre-breakfast walk on the beach with friends was a soul refreshing way to start both days of doing what I really love.  What an indulgent weekend!


Sunday morning's sunrise was warm and stunning.



And, of course, retreat was a time for catching up with friends, some new and some of whom I haven't seen for too long.

Can you tell that I loved EVERY MINUTE of my October retreat weekend?  I truly didn't want it to end.  Thank you so much Judith for creating a restorative and inspiring weekend for us all.  You worked your socks off to make sure everybody was happy - can't thank you enough.









Sunday, 27 October 2019

Pincushion Swap

I've been away at Quilting Retreat hosted by Just Jude Designs this weekend, and, oh my word, how fabulous it has been!!  I promise to tell you more about it soon, but for now let me tell you about my contribution to the pincushion swap.

I've been pinning pincushions to my Pinterest board since I knew this was happening and had quite an overload of ideas for a while.  I wanted to try so many things that I'd seen, but still wanted to do something a wee bit different, too.



While I pondered, I made a pincushion in the style of Fabric Mutt's Deluxe Pincushion design.  I loved it and was going to keep it but gave it away to someone who loved it just as much.  It's heartwarming to give to someone who loves a thing, isn't it?




This practice pinnie was great for getting my brain to think around how to execute some of the ideas weaving about in my head, so I started drafting and calculating and came up with a plan.  With fingers tightly crossed, I gave it a whirl, and ended up with this to swap -




One of my ideas was to try to include an area for needles as well as pins.  I don't know about you, but when I pop needles into my pincushions I can't distinguish them easily from the pins (middle aged eyesight probably), so I end up hunting around for one usually to discover it disappeared inside the pincushion months ago!  I thought a little felt needle landing would be a nice inclusion so the needles have their own dedicated space.

Aware of the popularity of Wonder Clips of late, I made a little clip tab as well.  I know it only holds 3 or 4 but that's enough to deal with a 'hold it together emergency' while you hunt out your pouch of wonder clips for the rest. 

I loved the idea of a scissor pocket like the one on the Fabric Mutt design, so I wanted to have one of those too.  And, of course, some actual space for sticking pins!

The tallest part of all that order was getting all of the elements to fit in a pincushion that wouldn't come out measuring 12" square.  It did take some puzzling and a few drafts and re-calculations to achieve the resulting pincushion which measures approx 5" x 6.5".

Fabric-wise I chose some reliably pretty Bonnie and Camille prints with the addition of a little lace trim and mother of pearl heart shaped button. 



The backing is Essex linen in natural (right pincushion in pic above).  I attempted to get the gorgeous texture of matchstick quilting that one of my old pincushions has (the one on the left).  I've always felt that texture has really helped the pincushion's hardiness and it's also just lovely and tactile.  But for some reason, it just didn't really work on the Essex linen.  I don't quite know why, but it's definitely very flat compared with the older pincushion back.  Aw well, you win some ...


As you can see, I also incorporated one of Carina Envoldsen's teeny mandala embroidery designs in the pin part of the pincushion.  I had enjoyed a few stitchy hours working up this mandala on my holidays but didn't quite know how I wanted to use it.  When it came time to think about this pincushion swap I wracked my brains as to what to feature on the pin area and I almost went with a downsized quilt block design. Fortuitously, when rooting around my sewing pile for something unrelated, I came across the mandala again and thought it might be nice to try to work it into the pincushion design.  A little porthole worked beautifully in the pink scallop design fabric and the embroidery popped neatly in behind there.

Next time all I would do differently is make the scissor pocket just a little bit taller (and perhaps add something more reinforcing in the bottom of the pocket).  Other than that I'm rather pleased with the resulting pincushion and hope the swapee who received it is too.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Quilty Textured Bliss - Strippy Heart Wallhanging


I've been on a bit of a mission to bring some of my WIPs almost to completion so that I can take them away with me to retreat at the end of the week and get them bound, ready to bring home again and finish on the sofa on these dark nights.

I'm thrilled to report that this one will definitely be making it to Dundrum with me for some binding attention!



I opted to quilt this straight lines which should be ¼" either side of the seam.  In reality they are anything but.  I promise no alcohol was consumed prior to quilting but I just could not hold those lines straight at all.  I'm going to blame the multitude of seams for making it 'bumpy' ;-)


Regardless of my rather dubious quilting (which you can see for yourself above), the result is a fabulously textured wallhanging in waiting.  I really love how it looks and feels!


This quilt was not very square when I went to trim it back after quilting.  I don't usually have much trimming to do on my quilts but I found this one, and it's bigger sister, were bit a bit 'out' when finished quilting.  I wonder is it to do with it being made of so many strips, rather than blocks?  I think maybe a bit of a wave happens when working in strippy pieces, but maybe I'm just making excuses for my inaccurate piecing.  I did eventually trim away a fair bit to achieve something squared off, so I'm hoping it will look alright when actually (eventually) on a wall.

I'm very excited to be so close to a finish now!


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