Saturday 30 July 2011

Family Day Out with Quilt Inspiration

Today the sun was shining and it actually felt like summer!

We headed out for a while to the Ulster Folk Museum which is not too far from home.  It's an open air museum of traditional homes and businesses from the past and if you should ever visit NI I heartily recommend it for a pleasant day out (especially if the sun is shining).  Many of the oldest buildings - churches, cottages and schoolhouses - were once situated in various parts of Northern Ireland and have been transported brick by brick or stone by stone and rebuilt in the park rather than become lost to development.  Today there was a lot of street theatre happening around the village and at some of the rural homesteads too.

Me and the Bean - in front of the Old Rectory

It was break time at the schoolhouse,
so I tried playing on stilts - not my forte!

This is one of my favourite cottages in the museum park.

Inside my favourite cottage - I'm not arty or good with
a camera but I loved what the sunlight was doing
with this window recess and the geranium.

Cross Stitch in all its antique loveliness

Anyway, among the thatched cottages and workmen's terraced houses, the old school houses and weaver's cottages I found some quilting inspiration. See?

The tiled floor in an old Roman Catholic Church

A hexagon/star/square cushion in the Old Rectory

Bed quilt

Single Irish Chain quilt - though I suspected this one was made
 recently to "assist'" the exhibit rather than being genuinely of the period.
There was a truly scrappy quilt in the courthouse steps pattern in the blacksmiths house.  It was made from pieces which cannot have been more than 0.75" wide and looked to me to be the oldest quilt (certainly the most well-worn) on display in the properties we were in today.  I tried to take a picture but the room was really tiny and filled with other visitors so it didn't come out. I wish the museum would provide a little more information on the quilts, but that's purely because of my personal interest, and probably not of interest to the masses.

There was a tiny bit of mummy sewing later in the afternoon.  As a mum, I sewed the Bean's latest swimming achievement to his swim bag.  Not so exciting to you but a big excitement to him.

And then, for my own mum I made another little pocket tissue cover - this time using a different tutorial (from Sew Much 2 Luv) and to match her birthday handbag.

Wee tissue cover - not the most exciting pic in the world, I grant you.

The birthday bag - blogged earlier
There wasn't maybe as much sewing achieved today as I'd have liked, but as you can see it was never too far from my mind.  Hope you are having a great weekend too!

Friday 29 July 2011

A Challenge, an Update and a Promise

The Challenge 

Yesterday, my lovely nine year old son set me a challenge - to make something small very quickly and he would be timing me on his ipod stopwatch.  Hey presto, 15 mins or so later and I had a bright little tissue holder for my summer bag.  I've seen these on various blogs and always wanted to try one out, so this was my chance.  In fairness most of the 15 minutes was spent choosing and cutting the fabric strips, not in the actual making up.

Sadly my time doesn't show up in this pic, but my son insists I include it!

Pocket Tissue Holder

The Update

Last night was class night and I made some progress on my Beach Huts Cushion.

It looks nice and tidy all trimmed off and squared up ready for adding the back.  Doesn't it look cheery?  The was a lot of quilting in this little cushion front and my bunting string looks slightly like it was caught in a gust of wind rather than hanging nicely on a calm summer's day, but I tried to smooth it out three times and it just seems that breeze was determined to blow!

The Promise

Just a few days ago I noticed my son eyeing up some of the JoAnn's fabrics that I received recently.   He struck up a conversation and in the end I found myself promising to make him a new pencil case from the fqs he had chosen.  Actually, I was delighted that he wanted me to make him something.  Sometimes it feels so difficult to find things to make for boys - there are loads of little possibilities for girls but no so much for boys. Anyway, here is his new pencil case courtesy of me (and of course Terri's great tutorial) - 

Hope he's happy when he sees it in the morning!  Please note - promise kept!

Actually, all these little things and Agnes cushion are part of my attempt to clear a few things off my list before they become UFOs.   I realised that life has been so crazy this last couple of months and as that looks set to continue I need to be careful not to commit to too many projects at one time or I will end up with the world's largest UFO list!  So, in an effort to keep myself on track I'm keeping a wee note of current projects and what I hope to achieve in a given month.  Then at the end of the month I have something to review and see how I did - hopefully, this will also keep my WIPs from becoming UFOs.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

At last Agnes has a cushion!

A number of projects have been sidelined by this summer's unexpected turn of events.  I'd left a little pile under the table in the sewing room and sort of forgot about them temporarily.  Among them was Agnes' cushion front - originally blogged here.  All it needed was a backing and a filler to be complete, and of course to be able to be gifted to Agnes.

I still love those Greenfield Hills blues!

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Caroline's All Heart

Yes, she is, 'cos this fab lady is planning to make quilts, yes plural, to raise money for the worthwhile cause that is Cancer Research.  Caroline has sent out a wee call for help in the form of blocks and since 99% of you who read this will be lovers of block-making, perhaps you can give her a wee hand.

Check out her blog for more details, but basically she's after an 8" square block with an appliqued heart on it.

Personally I dithered over opting in, not because I didn't want to help such a great cause, but because I don't really know how to applique except by hand.  Bull by the horns time, Sarah!  Yep, I practiced (no photo 'cos it would frighten poor Caroline) and then had a stab at a simple single heart.

I did it!  I did it!  I tell you, folks, some days I even impress myself (not often mind).  This block is probably officially the world's slowest machine appliqued heart, but here it is, its not fancy but I hope it will suit Caroline's project well.  It's actually a lovely deep red but my pics make it look very orange, and I promise the stitching is nice and neat even if you can't see it very well here.

Friday 22 July 2011

Beach Hut Beginnings

Made a wee start at the Beach Huts foundation piecing at class last night.  I loved the fun and freedom of this design - choosing cute and amusing fabrics to create fairytale beach huts.  Wouldn't you like to spend a sunny summer afternoon in one of these?

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Pulling fabric fun!

There's a new project on the go this week at class - Judith's going to take us through the steps to create her amazing Beach Huts cushion.  So I spent the afternoon hoking (it means having a good old rummage for those of you not familiar with this fab Northern Ireland word) in my scraps box for suitable bits and bobs to make the cushion.  So, here's my fabric "draft"

I love it so far, although it might need a little tweak here or there when wise and critical eyes have had a look too.  It's very bright but I'm going for the children's drawing look.  I love the sea fabric that looks like it has little jellyfish all over it.  Don't the huts look like they're wearing turbans with the fabric folded across them like this?

My plan is that this little project will be the start of my Christmas gifts and if it turns out as well as I hope it will be destined for a special two and a half year old girl.  There is no doubt a small issue of the unseasonal nature of a beach huts cushion gifted in December, but she's two and a half and I am well known for my unseasonal touches (I once made a full on Sunday lunch with all the trimmings in May and it turned out to be the hottest day of the year so we all ate it - apple crumble and all - at a plastic garden table in full glorious baking sunshine).  I may not be seasonal but at least I'm consistent.

Monday 18 July 2011

Farmer's Wife Blocks

A few more FW blocks to join my first two:

Block 2 - Autumn Tints

Block 68 - Postage Stamp

Block 73 - Rainbow Flowers

Block 92 - Streak of Lightning

Still very much playing catch up with these little blocks, but life is throwing other stuff at us lately so these blocks need to remain a pleasure not a pressure and they have been fun to make so far.  Of this little group I think my favourite is the Streak of Lightning.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Kaleidoscope Recovery

I'm happy to report that with a little patience I think I will be able to rescue my kaleidoscope blocks.  Yippee! Doesn't this little block look much happier than the travesty I posted yesterday?

It's not going to be the speediest recovery but I am so delighted that all is not lost.  And, since it's just for me there's no big deadline for this quilt anyway.

Friday 15 July 2011

Kaleidoscope QAL - oops

It's definitely exciting and inspirational to watch all the beautiful kaleidoscope quilt tops popping up on the flickr group for Don't Call Me Betsy's QAL.  So in my excitement to keep up (now that I had finally caught up a little) I started putting together those lovely kites I had assembled last weekend.  Remember them?

Well, happily assembling away, I was impatient to see one finished block and so instead of being a good little chain piecer I made four quarters into two half blocks and then lined them up to stitch into one block.  Uh oh!

Not looking good!

In a futile attempt at denial (it will be okay, it will be okay!) I tried to join those two half blocks - yikes!  I couldn't even take a photo it was so depressing.

In the vain hope that this problem would only occur with one set of pieces, I tried another four quarters to two halves only to find the same kind of discrepancy!  What on earth had I done?  I retraced my steps - yes all the seams are scant 1/4", all the pieces are cut to size of templates, template is 6.5" tall - what else?  With a little prompt from a friend I checked the template for symmetry - no, not symmetrical at all! How did I miss this?  I read all the posts about checking the scaling on the pdf templates, measuring the height of the template to make sure it was right etc, etc.  Why on earth didn't I think to check whether the thing was symmetrical? I could have cried.  Clearly the issue is mine (or my printer's) as Elizabeth's great instructions and templates are working for so many others.  Do I feel like a dummy or what?

Anyway, after an afternoon of despair, I decided not to give up hope and definitely not to let all my precious blue & whites go to waste.  So now I'm in the process of adapting a foundation pattern for a kaleidoscope block and making it large enough to make the most of the fabric pieces I have already cut.  Yes, the overall block size (and consequently quilt size) will drop a bit but that's much better than wasting all that effort and fabric.  Wish me luck as I start to unpick all those pieces and then foundation piece them back together!  I guess in essence I'm now departing from Elizabeth's fun QAL in order to rescue my quilt, but fingers crossed I'll still have a kaleidoscope top at the end of it all!

Notes to self:  when using pdf templates check, check and treble check everything is exactly as it should be before cutting 360 pieces of gorgeous fabrics AND always make a practice block first to check that I've got it right!

PS If you stuck with this whinge right 'til the end you are truly a dedicated reader of this blog and I thank you for your fortitude and perseverance!  Hope to have more joyful news next time I blog about this quilt.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Liebster Award

Rachael from Tiny Pink  has very kindly awarded me a Liebster award, which in accepting I am supposed to nominate some other new/lesser known blogs worthy of a peek.

So here are my nominees in return for accepting this liebster award:

Listen to the Birds Sing - a very new blog but given the stunning items Karen is posting I definitely think this is one to watch!
Poppy Makes - the lovely Fiona is stitching up a storm of beauties on her blog!
Scissors and Thread - I just came across this blog a few days ago and so far I like some of the interesting things I'm seeing there!

Hope you go to check these blogs out if you haven't already!  Happy snooping!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Exciting Giveaway - Baby Go Cutter!

Don't miss out on the great giveaway over at Lily's Quilts.

An Accuquilt Baby Go cutter could be yours - check it out (though don't feel obliged to enter and I might have a better chance of winning - just kidding!)

Special Delivery from JoAnns!

Check out this special delivery from JoAnns all courtesy of my mum's collusion with her big sister who has just come "home" for a visit from Florida!  Yay - more fun fqs and mini-jelly rolls!

Thanks Mum and Aunt Roberta - I'm sure I'll be able to fit these into one of my future projects very nicely!

Sunday 10 July 2011

Kaleidoscope QAL - catching up

I've been playing catch up today on Don't Call Me Betsy's Kaleidoscope QAL which I joined and duly fell ill and therefore was unable even to make a start.  But after a big effort today, I'm on the way to being (almost) on track for the next set of instructions coming this Thursday.

First off there were 120 HSTs and 240 kaleidoscope triangles to cut -

Phew! that was a lot of cutting.

Then, I tried to pair up the HSTs with the kaleidoscope "arms" so they would  be in keeping with the pattern I'd designed for my Kaleidoscope.

Draft of my pattern - mixing darker blues with lighter.

Lights and darks paired alternately.
 Next came the biggest chain I've ever pieced - 120 joined pairs!

It just kept going and going.

Joined and pressed - these look like little kites to me!
 And finally some laying out to try to keep the values of my design correct for the final blocks.

It's all coming together, though I must admit to a little trepidation as I started to join the solid triangles to the blue kites and I have a sneaky suspicion that I'm going to lose a few points in the final make-up.  Might just have to live with them on this occasion though.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Picnic Quilt Ready to Gift

It's finished (and on time) so here it is in all its ragged edge fluffy glory -

It's hanging sideways to keep it off the wet grass!

Look at those lovely fluffy, cuddly seams.

All folded, ready to be wrapped!
All ready to be a pressie next week.  The beauty of this quilt belies the thread-fest that was required to get it to this state (I had to clean the lint filter 6 times during tumble drying and had to hoover it on the washing line when it came out) - but all totally worth it!

Check out Judith's blog post to see the other amazing picnic quilts made by the ladies at her class.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Special Pressies for A Very Special Friend

In between other projects I have been sneaking in a wee extra here and there for somebody's birthday.  This was nerve wracking stuff 'cos the person they were for is my inspiration and encourager and it's quite scary making offerings for the person you admire most in patchwork and quilting! Thankfully though, she's also a beautiful, gracious and forgiving person, so these were for her special day and now that she has received them I can show them to you.

Firstly, a fabric basket as a gift bag for her real pressies in purple, her favourite colour. (It had a few wee bought pressies inside for her to enjoy.)

Then I made a mug rug as a celebration of her special day.  I really enjoyed this one and got carried away with the little embroidery pieces which made the final mug rug a little bigger than normal - just right for an extra large piece of birthday cake with her cuppa!

The finished mug rug.

The little embroidery windows - a cupcake ...
sort of self-explanatory this one ...

yep, it was a special birthday ...
and a girlie cup for her tea!

And finally, remember my scrap fabric - well, I made it up into her birthday card.

There's a wee pun  Fab 40 -fabric 40, get it? and 'cos she really is fab in all sorts of ways, not just her stitching talent.  The buttons are there just because she loves them. I know this card isn't the most sophisticated she'll receive but I thought it fitting since she taught me how to create the fabric for it (and almost everything else I know about sewing).

Happy birthday (a little belatedly), my dear sweet friend. May your celebrations continue all year and may this new year bring many of God's richest blessings your way!

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