Thursday 29 March 2012

Fabric Goodies!

Can't beat a wee bit of fabric goodness!

This new Ikea print is just £3.99/m - wouldn't it make fab backing for a quilt?

the photo is a wee bit out of focus, but hopefully you get the idea

And these I ordered from ebay just for fun - the postmarks are definitely my favourite!

Wednesday 28 March 2012


Hooray!  The messenger bag was very happily proclaimed "not girly AT ALL"!  I managed to get him to pose for a pic before he dashed off to start filling it full of junk holiday "necessities".

Feels good to put a smile on someone's face!

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Next up ...

While working on my tote bags this weekend I was reminded that a particular half metre of Ikea print was purchased some time ago for a special request.  Here was my brief:

Use the Ikea fabric (chosen by my son) to make a travel bag to store all the sorts of things a boy needs to occupy himself on ferry and car journeys (ubiquitous anti-social e-gadets, pens, paper, sweets and whatever else you can sneak in when mum's not looking).  The most specific part of the brief was that this bag was to be in NO WAY A GIRLY BAG.  Easy, peasy - not!

All the bags I know how to make are reasonably girly in style no matter what fabric you'd make them from.  So what did I do?  I hid the fabric in a drawer as a delaying tactic under the guise of considering my options, that's what I did. (Bad Mummy.)

I think he chose great fabric.

Anyway, I was reminded this weekend that I did say I would make it and that the fabric was ready and waiting for my creative expertise - ahem!  Also, since we are now (unexpectedly) getting a little trip to Scotland over the Easter break I thought that I really should do something about it before he gives up hope and before he gets too old to want to be seen with any of mum's handmade items!

So here it is - do you think it's girly?

Funky divided pocket inside.

No, I don't think so either, but I am considering egging it up and claiming it's really girly just so I can keep it!  I LOVE LOVE  LOVE this bag.

I hadn't a clue how to make a messenger bag, but I did it all by myself. (Can you tell how proud I am?)  Could I repeat it?  Probably not, since I was so busy working it out I didn't write it all down properly (doh).  It was hairy in places and certainly isn't perfect, but I'm very pleased at my first effort with the messenger bag style - now we just have to see if it passes muster with Mister.  I'll let you know!

Monday 26 March 2012

Trio of Totes

Squeezed in some time in the sewing room last weekend and came up with these three totebags -

This one is child sized and is my favourite of the three!

There are plans for these wee bags but that's a story for another day.

I have also been working on another small Bee Blessed pram blanket, this time in blues -

I love this one!  There's another one to come which I love too - it's a brights one (watch this space).  Check out the pink one here.  I have loved the challenge of making sure these extra blocks get a special finish to allow the group to spread more blessings to their recipients.  If your blocks are here, I hope you like the finish, and thank you so much for your contribution.

Sunday 25 March 2012

I'm IT!

I've been tagged by blogging friends in the last week or so, not once but TWICE!  Prepare for Q&A marathon...

Firstly, the lovely Di over at Willowbeck Designs has asked the following questions:

What is your favourite time of day, and why?
At weekends my favourite time is the morning, but during the week I think it has to be that time late in the evening when the days tasks are done and my head can have five minutes of peace.

What has been the best holiday that you have ever had?
Em ... not sure I have a single favourite.  We have had some fantastic family holidays in Scotland and the LAke District doing things that are quite basic but having space and time to be together.  One of my holiday highlights though has to be the trip hubby and I took to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  We spent 4 days in Rome together chilling, soaking up the historical surroundings, people watching over amazing coffee and occasionally indulging in the MOST FANTASTIC ice-cream I have ever tasted!

What constitutes a ‘perfect day’ for you?
My idea of a perfect days starts with relaxing breakfast with my family at our local coffee shop, followed by a walk in crisp morning sunshine.  In the afternoon there would time for some sewing, which would go swimmingly (not a seam ripper in sight).  Dinner somewhere nice with hubby would be a lovely end to the day.

Where do you sew? Do you have a dedicated room or space?
Last spring we re-arranged our guest bedroom (which hadn't been used by a guest in considerable time) to create a permanent space for my sewing.  I feel very blessed to have such a lovely space to spread out and create in. And thanks to Ikea it really didn't cost a lot to make the conversion.

Are you coming to the FQ retreat in June?
'Fraid not.

What is your favourite time of year?
I love crisp autumn days when it's chilly enough to wrap up well but not to freeze.

What is the best quilting tip that you have been given? (it can be a little one!)
I'll probably think of one later but I'm having a brain freeze now.  Recently though I have been introduced to spray basting and in spite of my initial reservations I have to be honest and say I will probably never pin baste a quilt again!  So my tip would be to try spray basting yourself (Well, not on yourself but on a quilt obviously).

What do you enjoy making the most? (Quilts, bags, pouches etc)
I love making quilts most, but it's nice to have variety in my sewing and bags, pouches and little things are nice projects to provide quicker finishes from time to time.

What other things do you do in your spare time?
I like to crochet and read and catch up with friends, but sadly there's just not enough spare time in my days!

Are you a ‘neat and tidy’ person or are you happier living with domesticated mess?
I am a neat freak by nature but with current hectic schedule I am having to learn to live with domestic mess - it's driving me CRAZY!

Di was also kind enough to nominate me for another Liebster Blog award.  Thank you so much Di!

Then, my good friend Judith wanted to know the answers to these:

1.       What is your favourite ice cream flavour/brand?
Haagen Dazs Cookies & Cream every time!

Proof - or perhaps evidence!

2.       What kind of stuff do you like to watch on telly?
Period dramas - I love a good literary adaptation.  It's the telly watching equivalent
to soaking in a great big bubble bath while sipping hot chocolate with

3.       What are your favourite colour combos for fabric at the mo?
Not sure I have a particular one just now.  I see some lovely grey/aqua 
combinations around and I also love Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection in citrine
but these aren't exclusively my faves.

4   & 5. Who in your life do you most admire and why?
That would be my Hubs! He may not seem it to others but to me he's a sweetie.  He 
is hard-working, dependable and honourable.  That's to be admired in a society that
seems to encourage egocentricity.

6.       What inspired you to first start sewing/quilting?
Don't know exactly.  I've been stitching in one form or another since I was a nipper. 
My mum and my aunt were both knitters and I remember torturing them to teach 
me, and after that it just seemed that every time I came across someone who could
teach me any kind of needlework I absorbed what I could.  Having a sewing
machine was way out of my league until after I was married so machine patchwork
and quilting is a very late addition to my repertoire, greatly inspired and
encouraged by dear Judith herself!

7.       What part of your body do you like the most?
Are you serious?!  My eyes - eyes can't be fat can they?

8.       Give me an example of something you have made that you are really proud of?
This - 

okay, and this too - 

Not quite finished yet!

9.       Would you describe yourself as more of a patchworker or a quilter, or both?
I'd say patchworker because the quilting is the part I hate the most.

10.   What has been your favourite decade so far?
I think (or perhaps I hope) that my favourite decade is yet to be.

11.   What are you most looking forward to this year?
Hmmm ... summer holiday, I think.  Two weeks in the Lake District feeling well
enough to enjoy it this year!

Are you still with me?  Do you care?  Have you given up the will to live yet?

Anyway the rules now dictate that I should interrogate 11 more folks with 11 questions of my very own.  So here goes ... 

1.  What was the first music single you bought for yourself?  If you're a wee young thing, what was the first download you bought?
2.  If you could elect President of the World, who would get your vote?
3.  Which TV show would you outlaw?
4.  If you could visit one place you've never been to before, where would it be?
5.  What sewing or quilting pattern/design have you not tried that you would really love to?
6.  What is your idea of a perfect Saturday afternoon?
7.  At school what was your favourite subject?
8.  If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be of? (I know you may never in a million years choose to do this, but just for fun ...)
9.  Which piece of technology do you most fear/hate?
10. If you could put one item that you have made into a time capsule, which would it be (please show us a pic)?
11.  When I was little I wanted to change my name to Stephanie (it seemed more interesting and sophisticated somehow).  Have you ever wanted to change your name, and what to?

You're going have to forgive me if I break the rules of the game a little.  I noticed that almost everybody I know whom I could tag has just recently been tagged by someone else.  So I just have a few folks to offer the tag baton to on this occasion:

Linda @ Sew Nicely

Ladies, there's no obligation to play along, but if you'd like to we'd love to hear a little bit more about you!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Pink Wonky Star Finish

Just a few quick pics today of the finished Bee Blessed Pram Quilt made with the remaining wonky stars made by the group and our generous blogging friends -

Small, but cute and practical!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Bee Weekend

I've been a busy Bee this weekend - the Bee Blessed kind of Bee.

Yesterday we got together as a Bee group to stitch away the afternoon bringing together quilts for gifting to  folks who need a little touch of thoughtfulness in their lives.  If  I had remembered to take photographs with the camera which sat beside my sewing machine all afternoon I could show you some of the five or six different quilt projects that were on the go.  Sorry!

I can show you this fun, bright dinosaur panel which was very generously donated and on which I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning at work.  It's now ready just to have the binding stitched on the back and a wee label added.   Isn't it so much fun for kids?  I think this one is destined for a nursery unit at a Social Action Project in Belfast for families in need.

I also spent today working on a smaller Bee project.  I used the remaining beautiful pink wonky star blocks to make up a little girl's quilt.  This one is just 37" square but would be a great little pram blanket or play quilt.

And, just so you don't think that all of my quilting is waves at the moment here's proof of some diagonal line quilting.

It does now have some gingham binding added but I'll have to show you a pic another day as the camera battery just died.  (Not great with cameras you may have noticed!)

And finally, here's a pic of my Dad's retirement quilt finished - better idea of the navy and cream fabrics in this outdoor shot.

Great fun!

Friday 9 March 2012

Waving Windmills?

Okay so I though I was going to be all sensible and quilt nice and neatly and precisely in the white windmills of this quilt.  Buuuuuut ...

I have been having a little fling lately with wavy line quilting - in grids, a little horizontal on a cushion and on the diagonal - and I did wonder if it might work on this quilt too.  I was apprehensive about giving it a go and risking ruining a pretty quilt top, so I was beginning to chicken out of the wavy quilting option.  Until, a very clever friend suggested chalk testing the waves on the top to get an idea of how it might look - now why didn't I think of that?  Duh!

Hope you can get some idea of what I mean from these pics - it was hard to capture

Anyway, I know Judith gives great advice, so I got handy with my chalk pen and trialled out the quilting lines. I marked out a wavy grid (ie wavy horizontal and verticals) but wasn't so keen.  However, when I took it back to just wavy horizontals I can see movement being added to the windmills and I like it very much!  I may have found the way to go here.  Just waiting on the backing fabric now to make a start.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Great Post!

No not this blog post, but this post all the way from Minnesota!

This is the pouch made for me by my secret partner Katie in the Mouthy Stitches Pouch Swap.  Isn't it cute?  My photo doesn't do justice to the beautiful red linen fabric - it is not a rusty red as it appears, but more like a deep cranberry (just my thing). And don't you just love those wee snails and turtles - they make me want to take it easy for a while!  This pouch is a great size for all sorts of purposes but I think I'll be using it for a little portable hand-sewing project or two.  Katie also added some fun and beautiful scraps for me to play with too.

It's a great pouch - thank you so much Katie!


One and only offspring has discovered the Keep Calm app for his ipod touch and so I have been on the receiving end of his affirmation today -

If only he thought I was this "fantabulishus" every day!

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Pink Windmills!

The pink windmills are pieced and growing on me.  I like the colours a lot more than I had expected.

Now just to do it justice with the quilting.  Will it take me another two months to decide how to quilt it?  (It can't, I've got an Easter deadline!)

More another day!

Saturday 3 March 2012

Progress, procrastination and progress

No more excuses, progress needed to be made, so I manned up, or womanned up I should say, and got stuck into quilting the navy man's quilt.  Here it is all pieced and ready for basting

and this is how it looks now that it's quilted and bound.

Sorry about the light in all these pics!

More wavy line quilting (it's becoming a favourite) - this time on the diagonal.

Just need to finish handstitching the binding and add a label but I can get to that in front of the telly some evening.  It's purpose is to gift to my dad who is retiring at the end of this month, but we are wondering if he'll sit still for long enough to actually make use of it!

Then, after this little bit of progress I looked around and saw these again -

I know I need to start this quilt but I just couldn't bring myself to do it, so there followed a few hours of procrastination during which the following "play" occurred.

Two tea bag wallets

and a zippered pouch

The tea bag wallets are cute, quick and fun.  I kind of went with the flow and just stitched them up as I went along, but if you'd like a wee tutorial for them you'll find one on Karen's blog.

The pouch was a bit of a trial run and as I didn't like these fabrics so much I deliberately chose them to practice the bow effect with. However, as I worked with them they kind of grew on me and I quite like them now.  There are lots of things I'd do differently if I wanted to make this little pouch up again but it's neat, the zip ends are good and it'll be fine.

After this I looked around again and yup, the pinks were still there!  So, what's my problem with the pinks?  What is it that is making me avoid this quilt even though I know I need to make it and actually I do want to make it?

It's all about the pattern.  I have thought and re-thought so many different patterns for this quilt and just could not make up my mind.  Then I'd leave it for a few weeks and find another pattern and think that one to death too.  The thing is, I want this quilt to be right - not too traditional, not too modern, not too plain, not too fussy.  It has to work for its recipient (don't they all), and it has to work for me given the limitations of my fabric budget and my time resources, and I want it to be fun.  I don't want this to be a serious quilt, am I making any sense?

Well, before lunch I did it.  I MADE UP MY MIND!  I enjoyed the pattern of the navy man quilt (see above) and how it came together and then I remember seeing something similar but with angled wedges like windmill blades.  I think they might also be called whirlygigs, but of course now that I want to find them online I can't.  So, it was out with the calculator and the scrap fabrics to stitch up a test block -

For a simple looking block this was a bit of a tester on the old sizing front!
Wee bit more complicated that I thought at first glance, but I liked the finished look, picked up the rotary cutter and went for it.

So now I have windmill wedges like this

I trialled a first layout -

Not so keen on the way the darker windmills seemed to clump together a bit in places, so I tried another diagonal layout

Much better!  And so here we are, my afternoon's piecing is ahead of me and this quilt is officially in progress.

Haaaaaaaaaaaaa! (Big sigh of relief.)

So tell me folks, are you always good at making decisions about your quilts or do you ever/always struggle with things?  Has it ever taken you two months to work out how to make a start like this one?

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