Sunday, 28 April 2013

What do I know?

Ok so, I have tried to be all sensible and seek the opinions of you folks who are cleverer/more tech savvy than me in order to make an informed decision about the move from Google Reader (boo sucks) to another reader.  Frankly, it's all a bit overwhelming and I'm kinda losing the will, so i grabbed the bull's ears and and am shifting to bloglovin' - at least for now.

Part of that process is the claiming of your blog which I'm not entirely sure I understand but am now doing it anyway by pasting this here:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Cynical me, thinks I only have to claim this so you can click on a link for Bloglovin's purposes rather than for mine (tut, tut me).  Anyhoo, you don't need to do anything (unless you actually do want to follow me on Bloglovin").

Blog claimed, I hope!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Queen Bee Me!

Woohoo!  It's my turn to be Queen Bee at hipBees in May.  It's my first ever Queen Bee moment, can you tell that I'm excited?

Making my mind up about what task to see my friendly little worker bees has been tricky.  I thought I had it all sussed several times and then changed my mind - again and again.

Fabric decisions were just as tricky.  I thought that I might send out these Kaffe Fasset fabrics that I had gathered some time ago for an altogether different plan.  I even went as far as cutting them into pairs ready to package and send, but then I got cold feet and decided to keep these fabrics for the original quilt plan.  These Kaffe Fassets would not be fabrics that I would describe as my normal taste, in fact they are really quite out of character choices.  However, they will (hopefully) work in the jewel-like scrappy quilt they were intended for.

So, what have I chosen instead?

Well, these ...

There's a story behind these fabrics too.  I have been collecting red and white fabrics for the last two years in the hope of one day making a beautiful quilty creation.  However, collecting these has been a little more tricky than you'd think.  In my quest for true red and whites I occasionally order a wee fq online, or pick one up at a show only to discover when I get it home and into the light that it's not the right red or more often that it's cream and not white at all.  (Yes, I'm fussy like that.)  Anyway, as I result I have now got a gorgeous little subsidiary selection of red and creams and these are now winging their way in pieces to the bees with my royal decree for the month.

I can't wait to see what those wonderful ladies will create for my first hipBees quilt - do me proud, my lovelies!!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Making Me Smile - 17/52

It's not really the flags in the picture here which are making me smile this week, but all of these ones.

From the tragic events in Boston it just makes me smile that folks want to come together to express their love and remembrance across cities, countries and continents for those so recently bereaved and injured and for those living with shock and fear.  It makes me smile that in some very small way I can be part of those heart-felt wishes.

To Boston With Love

If you would like to contribute a flag to the 'To Boston with Love' project check out all the details here.  Ladies of the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild, thank you for letting us share in your efforts to bring wishes of peace and love to Boston.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Armed and Dangerous!

I recently ordered one of these little gadgets for a bargain price -

and now I'm a woman on a mission to see what crafty things I can glue the life out of!

My first victims were these kitchen caddies which, pretty as they are, are sadly a little lacking in the airtight department and they let the biccies get soggy and the coffee get slightly damp.  Rather than throw them away I though that perhaps I could repurpose them for storage in the sewing room.

I found this lovely button ribbon which was the perfect width for covering the tea and coffee labels on the tin. The after heating up the glue gun, burning a finger or two and covering the sewing table in angel hair glue strings(!), I now have these lovely habby storage cannisters!

Now, what else can I stick?

Friday, 19 April 2013

Making Me Smile - 16/52

Things to smile about today:

- sunshine, yes really (see up there behind that quilt)!
- not having to wear my coat on the way home from work!
- finishing work for the weekend!
- a gorgeous riot of colour in the Bee Blessed crazy scrappy quilt I'm binding (maybe you can spot your block up there?)!

Hope you have something to smile about today too!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Show Time!

It's show time at school very soon and as part of the extravaganza this week I was presented with the usual list of costume requirements.  This year, thankfully, the list was one I didn't have to rob relatives of obscure garments to fulfil.  The only "extra" required (ie beyond what I could find at home) was an oversized bow tie - I can do that!!  Cue relieved mummy smile.

One helpful tutorial, a bit of super-sizing and some fabric selection and voila - one oversized boy's bow tie!!

Doesn't the wadding gave it lovely structure?  My only complaint in this whole procedure was when DS chose this lovely Nicey Jane print (admittedly louder than my usual fabric style) because his fabric brief was "the more ridiculous the better"!  Ridiculous?!  Hmpfff, might just be having a wee mummy huff now that my fabric has been so maligned!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Le Challenge #1 - Geometrics

For the past month I've seen a few mentions of Lucy and Nat's monthly Le Challenge popping up on some friendly blogs and thought that sounded like a fun idea.  I just didn't quite get around to deciding to actually participate.  Until last night at 11 pm that is!!  I think I may have had a moment of sweet insanity, but here I am joining in having only taken the decisive leap 24 hrs ago.

So, what do you make to fulfil Le Challenge when you've given yourself precisely two and a half hours of a Monday night to create something in the geometric theme?  A little quilted coaster of course!

This is a little 4" paper pieced Lemoyne Star block, border added and lovely geometrically quilted chevrons to finish.  I could kick myself for changing my fabric choice on the star points after I started stitching.  I got so carried away by loving the pink berry print that I completely forgot it wouldn't contrast with the white background fabric like my original green choice would have. Doh!  Anyway, it's just for me in my sewing space and I like it.  Eh voila, le challenge is met!

Are you playing along?  Fancy having a go next month?  Nat and Lucy's theme for next time is wings!   Hmm, might need more than 24hrs for that one!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

EPP taking shape!

The mysterious EPP pieces I cut before Easter are now beginning to come together nicely.  In the words of Rolf "can you tell what it is yet?"

I'm not sure if this photo is giving you a proper perspective of this project but I do hope so.  I bought this pattern by download from Romanian Quilt Studio. I fell in love the instant I saw it back last summer and have been not-so-patiently waiting to make a start among all the other projects I've had on the go.  Geta calls this pattern  Flower Ball, but I prefer to call it my hexi globe.  I just love the way those irregular hexagons create that spherical perspective.  Can you see it?

I bought the smaller version (scroll to the bottom of her page) for just a few dollars, though sadly I note that it seems only to be available now as an addition to the larger pattern which is 38".  The smaller version comes as a pdf with a printable pattern of 121 pieces measuring 25" diameter and is easily taped together and then cut into the requisite pieces ready for piecing back together as per the numbered chart provided.  So far it's all been nice and straightforward if a little strange to be piecing irregular shapes that do not lay exactly on top of one another.  I am still a little bit apprehensive about those final slivers of pieces that will finish the circle eventually.  Anyway, not thinking about it yet and so far I'm having great fun!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Whirlygig block

Whirlygig for Karen -

Sorry about the blur - having some pic problems the last few days.

Pretty whirlygig blocks are popping up on the hipBees flickr page for Karen's month as Queen Bee.  In my opinion, the magic of the whirlygig block only really happens when the blocks get pieced with others and then they are fabulous!!  I had great fun making a whirlygig quilt last year.  I hope Karen enjoys her whirlies - she has sent out some gorgeous prints to match with her beautiful textured white background.

Hope your quilt is great fun K!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Making Mountains Out Of Molehills


I am about to show you two very similar Infinity scarfs.  Can you to spot the differences?

Give yourself a point if you spotted that they're different colours.

Another point if you area able to tell that the lower scarf is lightly narrower than the top one.

And, give yourself five bonus points if you were able to identify that the pink/vanilla one took an hour and a quarter to make while the purpley/magenta one took just 15 mins!!!

Let's just say that what I thought would be a nice little straightforward make became a bit of an exaggerated drama.  I had some difficulty interpreting the tutorial explanation for joining the loop and ended up trying to figure it out from three different tutorials and several blog commentaries.

Lots of head scratching, photo peering and mumbling because one tutorial stated clearly NOT to twist the scarf before joining and yet the pics of another showed a finished scarf with a definite twist in it (like my top photo above).  I followed the first tutorial but found the photographs confusing and ended up with a flat looped scarf.  More head scratching, muttering and some careful unpicking not to destroy or fray the voile fabric and I just did it how I thought it should be done in the first place.  Hooray!  An Infinity scarf with a twist which sits on the neck just as it should!

Cue the making of scarf number two which then took about 15 mins, 10 of which were spent pinning and pressing!

Result! (In spite of my Urghh! moments.)

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Making Me Smile - 15/52

This week's smile is one of amazement.  The snow has only just disappeared from my garden today after two and a half weeks.  All that time with two feet of snow dumped on top of the newly flowering lenten roses in my front flower bed, and I am stunned that those beauties have survived!  Just look at the hardy wee blighters!  I am delighted that the heavy snow hasn't utterly trashed them.

(I never promised decent photography - sorry.)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Sampler Blocks

With 8 blocks already stitched for my MILs birthday quilt, I am finding it increasingly difficult to decide which blocks should be next in my selection.  I'm not sure if it's just that there are so many to choose from, or if it's because I am looking at the finished blocks and trying to ensure that whatever I make next balances out the quilt.  Am I over thinking it?

Anyway, for my next two blocks I chose the Churn Dash Redux - tutorial by Jenna at Sew Happy Geek (really like this one)

 and the Rambler block from 501 Rotary Cut Blocks by Judy Hopkins.

My MIL has been in a rambling group for many years, so I thought including this one would add a little meaning to the quilt for her.  It looks lovely, but it was badly misbehaving in spite of me starching the life out of the fabrics.  It's finished a fraction under 12.5" and I think that the centre square has wonked a little but I'm going to hold on to it and hope that I will be able to make it work when the time comes to make up the quilt top.

I showed you this book before when I made the cushion for my MIL for Christmas and said I would show you the inside of the book, just in case you might be interested in it for yourselves.

I would not recommend this book for beginners as there are no written instructions beyond cutting measurements and diagrammatical construction drawings, but if you have some knowledge of patchwork blocks, then you should be able to follow the construction diagrams without any problems.

All of the blocks in the book are shown in colour diagrams at the front of the book in alphabetical order for ease of reference.

The block instructions are then listed in black and white diagrams with a very handy cutting measurements table which lists the cutting dimensions for various sizes (usually 6) of each finished block.  Really handy if you don't want to do the maths to downscale a block yourself.

There really are 501 traditional block patterns in this book, so it's reasonably good value for money if you like to have block patterns all in one resource.

So, 2 blocks this week means just 2 more to go - guess I'd better start checking out those 501 suggestions!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Testing Totes


From tomorrow Northern Ireland is introducing a 5p charge for every plastic carrier bag given out in shops.  Now, I do already do my bit by having reusable bags for the weekly shopping and a great Ikea reusable shopper for hiding away in my handbag for those other little errands that get run every week. However, none of those bags are exactly pretty and what sort of a stitcher am I if I don't make myself a cute little tote or two to replace all those incidental plastic bags I acquire?

So this weekend, admittedly feeling a little bereft of any decent sewing time of late, I sneaked in an entire afternoon of playing with tote patterns to get myself ready for the placcy bag tax avoidance scheme!  (Please do not tell my hubby, how many 5ps I would need to spend to recover the cost of these new totes - that's our secret, okay?)

Anyway, just in case you'd like to know, here are the totes I made with my thoughts and a wee link to the patterns (all free online).

First up is the Simple Reversible Totebag from Skip to My Lou.  This is the tutorial that Susan and those other Mouthy Stitches ladies chose for the totebag swap last year.  It's been on my list to try ever since I didn't have a chance to participate in the swap itself.  This is a really nice straightforward tutorial with plenty of pics to support the instructions.  The tote itself appears quite small when finished, but as you can see it is big enough to hold my A4 EPP instructions and quite a bit else thanks to its boxed corners.

Next, I came across a tutorial for a Singlet Style Shopping Bag (think that means 'vest-like' to you and me).  This tutorial is based on making a pattern from an existing grocery store shopping bag and I was intrigued to give this one a go because those grocery bags have great expansion in them, particularly allowing larger flat items to be place in the base.

Of the three bags I made, this one was the trickiest, but only because of a little bit of dexterity required at the finishing of the handles, and it does indeed expand just as you'd expect any plastic grocery store carrier bag to.  It takes quite a bit of fabric to make this because of the folded gusset areas (I'd say you need almost three quarters of a metre of outer fabric and the same again for lining if you are ordering new fabrics).  The tutorial also provides instructions to create and attach a pocket to the bag outer into which the bag can be folded so that it fits conveniently into your handbag or coat pocket but I was lazy and opted not to make it this time.  A wee wraparound strap like the next tote has would be very useful, and if I make another one of these, I will definitely add one.

The final tote is the Compact Groceries Tote by Lisa Lam - this tutorial is available free, but you do have to sign up to the Stitch Craft Create newsletter to access it.  Alternatively, it can be found in Lisa's book A Bag for All Reasons.

As you can see this tote has a wraparound strap to allow the bag to be wrapped up and slipped into your handbag or the glove compartment of your car.  The pattern suggests attaching popper buttons but I keep forgetting to buy the right kind so I used the sew in ones here and added the red button just for decoration on top of it.  Lisa also added a little loop for a trigger hook which would allow you to clip the bag on to a child's buggy or to your handbag strapping.  I didn't bother with it on my version, but it would be very easily added if you would find it handy to have.  Of the three totes I think this one is probably the biggest overall and I like its generous size, although it is not as wide in the base as the Singlet Style Shopping Bag.

All in all a successful afternoon's tote making!

If you know any other good tote patterns please share them in a comment.  If I get enough, I will collate them and re-post them all in one place for reference.

Bee Blessed Starflowers for April

This month our Bee Blessed Block is the Starflower block.  We have asked for blocks with a coloured solid background (not our usual white) with contrasting scrappy stars.  I think these will look brilliant when they are all gathered together.   Why not have a wee look at the ones already popping up on our flickr page?

Told you they looked good, didn't I?

Given that some of you lovely peeps have already been dashing off your starflowers I thought it was time I got my bum in gear and added my contribution for the month.

I went with green solid and am still waivering as to whether it was a right choice or not.  It was supposed to pick out the green in the two blue prints but I'm not sure that worked quite so well as it did it my head.  Oh well, here they are anyway.

If you fancy joining us and making a block or two to donate to Bee Blessed, there are two different tutorials you can use this month to achieve your 12.5" unfinished block:

Ellison Lane Quilts tutorial very usefully provides the cutting measurements for making two blocks at once.
Modify Tradition has the measurements if you just want to make a single block.

Go on, you know you want to!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Making Me Smile - 14/52

We are just back from a lovely long weekend in the South of England where my men competed in the JK International Orienteering Festival (and yes, I froze my bum off waiting for them to finish their races) and a two day whirlwind stopover in London on the way home.  What has really made me smile over the past few days is the pleasure my lovely son has had in seeing the sights of the capital city for the first time.

I have been to London just a few times myself but being with him on his first visit reminded me how amazing it can be to take in all those famous landmarks for yourself.  Frequent "awesomes" were uttered and I lost track of how many times he said "I can't believe I've actually seen Buckingham Palace/Big Ben/Tower of London/Tower Bridge" etc etc.  It was wonderful to share in his first experience of the capital city and I think his age is just perfect for taking in all that he got to see and do. His fascination with the Tube was also unexpected, but after two and a half days nipping from place to place on the Underground, he's now a dab hand at figuring it all out and at balancing while standing in the carriages.  Who knew some of these things would be such a big deal to him?

Anyway, I hope you have all had Easter breaks to cause you to smile too!

PS - I did take the "mystery" EPP with me to while away the waiting hours, but we were much busier than I had expected so I haven't got much to show you on that front yet.  But soon, I hope.  I really hope.
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