Thursday 30 August 2012

Sew Many Plans - September 2012

Remember those ambitious plans I had for August on the first of my Sew Many Plans posts?  Well, now it's time to account for what I managed or didn't and also to see what's on the clipboard for September.

1. Orange/Aqua Ladder Strip Quilt, 2. Wonky Grey Quilt finished, 3. Wonky Grey Quilt finished, 4. hipBees Block - August 2012, 5. DSCF4224, 6. Hopscotch Quilt Top in Progress, 7. Cutting for Squares and Strips Bed Quilt, 8. Border progress on Hexagon Quilt, 9. Zakka Pencil Cases for HipBees

  • Both the Orange/Brown/Aqua Ladder Strip quilt and the Grey Wonky Block Quilt were finished and gifted to delighted recipients.
  • I completed the house block for Reene's initiating month as hipBees Queen Bee and posted mine off to join the other fab little abodes fellow Bees were busy whipping up from Reene's gorgeous Summersville layer cake.
  • "Ruby" Wedding Quilt Update - top pieced as planned.
  • Hopscotch Gift Quilt - top pieced as planned, but its purpose may change.
  • Squares and Strips Bed Quilt from recycled shirts - I attacked the pile of old shirts and now have lots of little packages of pre-cut pieces ready and waiting to be stitched into blocks.
  • Hexagon Quilt - well, it came on hols and I made some progress and I'm loving the extra border I decided to add (even if it does mean more work than I had planned).
  • And, finally in a pre-hols whizzy blur I stitched up 12 Zakka Pencil cases - 11 for hipBees and 1 for a work colleague.

Whew!  I think that I can probably pat myself on the back for getting through that lot.  Feels good not to have fallen short of my plans.

As I said last month, I was able to be a little over-ambitious with my sewing plans due to some long-awaited hols from work.  With September's return to work, school and the extra-curricular activity routine, my plans are returning to a more normal (sane?) level.  So what's my plan for the next month?

"Ruby" Wedding Quilt - since the big day itself is later this month, finishing this quilt really needs to be my priority for September. Eeek!

hipBees - Judith is our Queen Bee for September and has set us a great block and some lovely scraps which I can wait to get stuck into.

Bee Blessed - a block or two for this month

Squares and Strips Quilt (recycled shirts) - I would like to try and finish cutting up my shirt pile into little block packs if I can.

Hopscotch Quilt - I need to decide if I'm going ahead with it as the gift quilt, and if not, I'll have to choose another to make in its place.  Not really expecting to have time to work on this one or its replacement (as nec) but I do need to make a decision.

Doesn't seem a lot after last month's stitch fest, but I think that'll be more than enough to be getting on with for September since it is always a crazy month chez nous anyway.

Monday 27 August 2012

Holiday Stitching

Part of my plan for August and having a two week break from work was to make a start on piecing two quilt tops.  So with lots of preparation (ie a cutting marathon) pre-hols, our luggage included little kits for the "Ruby" wedding quilt and the Hopscotch quilt.

I did wonder if I was expecting too much hoping to get two tops finished, but it is amazing what you can do when you have no internet distraction connection of an evening!  And, on the plus side, those Moda pre-cuts for both quilts fluffed up the holiday cottage and not my house.  Why, oh why do they insist on those pinked edges?  They make such a mess!  (In case you wondered, of course I dusted and vacuumed the cottage before we left!)

First up is the Ruby quilt top which I was so pleased to get together.  Although now it absolutely must be layered, quilted and bound in the next three weeks to be ready for the upcoming wedding - no pressure then!

The pattern for this quilt is by Corey at Little Miss Shabby and is available free on Moda Bakeshop here if you are interested.

Secondly, there's the Hopscotch quilt which was potentially to be a gift but I am now rethinking that plan for a couple of reasons.

Obviously needs a good press and trimmed but you get the idea.

This pattern really tested my abilities and as a result isn't quite as securely made as I'd like a gifted quilt to be.  It's also much bigger than I thought it would be (60" x 70" which to me is fairly large!) and it has far to travel so I might go with something a little more my usual size and make it easier to post. Besides all of that, I really love the pattern but do not really love the idea of making another one for myself in a hurry, so maybe if I can come up with an alternative gift quilt this one might just remain resident at my house.  (Cheeky of me, I know.)

When the machine wasn't whirring, I picked up on my hexagon quilt again.  This little paper pieced  top was started in the Lake District two summers ago and holds a little significance for me in that it was instrumental in reminding me how much I loved to sew and that really I should make an effort to make time for something I enjoy so much.

Although it has been long in the making and still has a way to go before it will be finished, this hexie top holds a special place in my sewing history and heart and I have truly enjoyed making it, even if my fabric preferences are a little different these days.  (These fabrics were originally bought about 11/12 years ago for a purpose I can no longer recall and stored away until I found them 2 summers back.)

This holiday I had thought I might complete the cream border, but when I got all the edges stitched in it still looked a little incomplete to me, so I basted another stack of hexies and got stitching on a coloured border which I think really helps to finish it off.  (You can see the difference in the top pic.)  I love this little quilt so much and hope it won't be another two years before it's finished, but I'm making no promises.  Who knows, by the time I'm finished my fabrics might be back in fashion - country vintage or Debbie Mumm revisited perhaps?

So, I'm well pleased with my holiday efforts - enough to have been productive, not so much that it was a slog.  And, all just in time for me to be back at work tomorrow and school to resume on Wednesday signalling the loss of treasured sewing time during the week.  If only we could live off thin air!

I should also have shown you the lovely wee gifts that I received from Di and Catherine when we met up during my time away.

These jams (showing you my pic 'cos Di's were missing from her post as she'd already snarfled them) and the little hostess tray were from Catherine.  I think this little tray will be a great help as a thread tidy on my sofa arm when I'm working at finishing that hexagon quilt border andI have warned the men of the house to touch these jams at their peril!

Di had bought Catherine and I these lovely little felted Jubilee brooches which are very fashionable given the Jubilee and Olympic Brit Summer that is just now drawing to a close.  Need to think of somewhere clever to pin this now so that I will be reminded of Di when I see it.  Maybe on a winter scarf which no doubt I shall be needing sooner than I want to believe!

I also had a bit of a rummage in the charity shops while I was away and snapped up this lovely floral sheet and pillow case for £2.  Don't actually think it has ever been used it's in such nice condition.  I though perhaps it might make a nice quilt backing some time when I'm doing something a little more traditional.

Di and I found this blue duvet cover in another charity shop and thought that it might be useful for some of the Bee Blessed quilts.  Since it's a double we should be able to get two backings from it - a snip at £3 which Di kindly donated.

And finally, here are a few new fqs I chose at The Quilted Sheep in Milnthorpe.  I didn't really have anything particular in mind to purchase, hence the odd selections but I really liked them.  This teeny wee shop is stuffed full of lovely fabrics and wool, and the owner was very friendly and chatty - maybe worth a nip in if you are in the area.

Goodness, I had a lot to say today - forgive me.  I guess that's what two weeks disconnection does for me!

Sunday 26 August 2012

Home Again

We just got back from a lovely two week break in Ambleside, Cumbria last night and I am feeling in need of some virtual connectivity.  So much happens in this online space in just 2 weeks - you folks have added 435 posts to my blog reader and left reams of emails for me to comment on!  Not being one who likes to miss anything, I will get to them all eventually, promise.

Our holiday was great fun and the weather was really very kind to us for the most part.  My men had their legs out in shorts for two full weeks which is more than has been possible in Northern Ireland this summer.

One of my favourite things about staying in Ambleside is our early morning walk to the Lake (Windermere) to feed the ducks.  It's just a really peaceful time of the day just before the hustle and bustle of the little holiday village gets into full flow.

The men in my life had loads of opportunity to get active and adventurous -

He got blisters on both hands on the second day doing this, but refused to let anyone else row!

At the top of Skiddaw

And, just in case you were in any doubt, my idea of adventure is ordering ice cream in a flavour other than Vanilla!  Ripping, I know!

At Bowness-on-Windermere

I knew that hubby would snap this pic of me with two pokes.  I was just holding the second one while junior put on his coat (honest)!

It was windy - hence the bad hair day!

And generally, we just had fun being a family away from our normal routines -

At Muncaster Castle

Me and my boy at the Old Bridge House, Ambleside

I also had a wee day with Di and Catherine - chatter, laughter, sunshine, friends and sewing - what more could a girl ask for?  (Borrowed the pics from Di's blog 'cos I was so busy talking I didn't take any myself!)

Ah, good times!

I did get some sewing done in the evenings, but that's for another post when I get myself organised and get through at least some of the mountain of laundry which now occupies every available surface in the utility room!

Friday 24 August 2012

Who knew...?

...that I liked orange fabrics so much?

I was working on a secret project recently and when I was putting together a few orange scraps for it, I had a little lightbulb moment and realised that actually I really quite like orange and that I use it more often than I consciously realise.

Sometimes, of course, it's really much more obvious

Bright enough for you?

I realise as I look at these projects that orange does feature in my colour choices when I want to be bright and add a bit of cheeriness to a project.  When I was making the quilt recently I even ordered a few orange solids to trial as bindings.

Top to bottom they are Klona orange, Kona Tangerine and Kona Orange.

I'll admit that I find the Kona Orange (bottom one) a bit murky and drab but the others are definitely oranges I would order again.  In particular the Kona Tangerine is a stunning, deep shade and the Klona Orange, while not as rich as the Tangerine, was perfect for the quilt.

Let me just quickly qualify, for any family family members who may happen upon this post, that I would most likely probably NOT wear orange, so please don't be adding orange clothes to your Christmas list, but a wee orange fq is perfectly permissable!

Hmm, you learn something new about yourself every day.

Anyone else have a colour you realise you like to use a lot but wouldn't necessarily have listed it as one of your favourites?

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Deconstruct before Reconstruct

In the odd moments between other things, I have been deconstructing this pile of shirts (and a few more) for my son's slow-time Squares and Strips bed quilt.

When I first posted my intentions for these shirts, the lovely Trudi sent me a very helpful link on shirt de-boning.   You should take a look if you are interested in making the most of every bit of available fabric there is to be had from shirts - it made me think twice about some of the areas where the fabric is more usable that I had first thought.

I must admit though that I wasn't quite as diligent as Bonnie in my de-boning, probably because I'm too lazy or life is just a wee bit too short at the moment.  In any case, I am making inroads to the pile, measuring and chopping and storing away for the future blocks.

I suspect (or perhaps just hope) that this cutting will be by far the most time consuming part of working on this little bed quilt.  Whilst there is something special about repurposing family clothing, there is also a LOT to be said for nice big pieces of flat straight fabric from the bolt that allow your rotary cutter to whizz through them.

Still, there's no rush on this one and I did declare it to be my slower time quilt, so I shall plod on measuring and cutting the pieces individually as the various shapes of the shirt pieces will allow.  I am looking forward to how the blocks will come together though, and so is my son who keeps popping in to the sewing room to see if I cut any more pieces today!  I love that he's keen on having his quilt made but a little too cool to admit it ;-)

Friday 17 August 2012

Bottoms Up!

I am so excited to show you some bottoms today!


These cute and fabulous derrieres belong to this little swarm.

Aren't they adorable?

Several weeks ago I thought that I'd like to send something to all of the hipBees as a wee "hello" from me.  But what to send?

Well, the advantage of having some super crafty friends is that you know just who to go to when you have a secret commission.  Enter the gorgeous and talented Shannon, who blogs over at The Crafty Teen and sells her amazing polymer clay makes on her Etsy shop Poppy's Pocket.  She was just the girl for this job and I commissioned her to make these little bee charms for us.  Didn't Shannon do a sterling job?  And, how could you not love their flowery hippy bottoms?

Bee Paranoia:  "Does my bum look big in this?"  "Um, yeah!"

I am so chuffed to be able to send these to all of my hipBee friends a wee hipBee bee charm and I hope they have now arrived safely at each address.  The pressie is really all about the Bee charms but I did stitch up one of these for each of the hipBees too - Zakka Pencil Pouches.

Hope you all like them ladies!

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