Saturday 31 August 2013

Making Me Smile - 35/52

My boy brings a smile as he looks all smart and grown up starting Grammar School this week.  Very proud of him.

Even you might smile, if I tell you that this pic is a FRIDAY afternoon VOLUNTARILY doing homework! Not sure whether he has been inspired by the excitement of a new term and new school or maybe he's just afraid of the English teacher!  Whatever it is, I never thought I'd see the day when homework was effortlessly sat down to without a lot of nagging from me.  I shall enjoy the spectacle for now as I'm not entirely convinced yet that the new leaf is turned all the way over!

I hope you have things making you smile this week too!

Thursday 29 August 2013

hipBees August block

Fiona's month as Queen Bee brings our first year of hipBees to a close.  Happy Birthday to us!  With gorgeous Amy Butler Gypsy Caravan prints to play with, Fiona asked us to surprise her with whatever blocks we liked.

This one started out as a plan to be the Envy block from the Modern Stitches book but, as you do in a Bee, I made a few wee adjustments to be able to make the best use of Fiona's fabric - so it's sort of been re-Christened by me as "green with Envy" since it's not quite the original block. I tried to choose a block that let the prints speak for themselves, and hopefully Fiona will think they do.

It can be daunting to ask for surprise blocks in a Bee and have no idea what you're going to get back in your little parcel, but if Fiona is even half as lucky as I was when I asked for similar surprises in May, she will have a truly original and fantastic sampler as a memory of her first Bee quilt.  All part of the fun!

Now, anyone ready for year 2?

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Holiday Stitching - 3

Before I was lovingly shunted off the cottage dining table to make way for Picaso by Numbers (read yesterday's post if that's made your brow furrow quizically), I made a start on two very different quilt tops.

Before our hols I prepared fabric and then transformed these

into this giant star quilt top (a la Jeni's instructions)

These gorgeous Punctuation fabrics were kindly donated to Bee Blessed some time ago and I think they look great in this enlarged starflower design.  Hopefully, when I get around to quilting and binding it, it will find a good home with someone who needs a special comforting gift.

Then, a la my own Churn Dash tutorial and my precious Ruby and Marmalade stash, maybe with some Vintage Modern thrown in (all Bonnie and Camille, so what's not to love?) I made a start on the blocks for my own bed quilt.  SO excited about these, but there are a load more to make and it's not going to be a big priority project over the next few months, so it could be a while before there's more progress to share.  In the meantime, I might just lift them out of the box and stroke them and make cooing noises over them from time to time.  (I know I am not the only one who does this, so don't act like I'm some kind of crazy lady when you do the same thing! - ha!)

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Holiday Stitching - 2

I promised to show you the other cushion I finished up while I was on holiday, so without further ado -

Circular portholes

We have a front and a back, or a back and a front depending on your preference.

Heart Porthole

I know that two useful cushions could have been made from these FQR porthole samples but realistically I don't have the space for two cushions and I wanted them to pretty up and make comfy my sewing chair.  A few rounds of simple borders and a hidden zipper and I have averted the all-too-easy phenomenon of samples being chucked in a drawer never to see the light of day again - feeling quite virtuous about that!

The portholes weren't the only FQR projects that I worked on over the hols too.  At the mid-point of our break my son discovered the joys of painting by numbers and commandeered the small table in the cottage we rented to create his masterpieces!  After that, my sewing machine didn't make any further appearances but it did "encourage" me to work on the embroidery I had started at the retreat.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed having time to play with new stitches I'd never tried before (lazy daisies and stem stitch).  Handstitching is so entirely therapeutic to me.  I'm sure there's some profound psychological explanation for it, but whatever it is I am really thankful for it's calming and restorative influences. Perhaps I should really be thanking the painting by numbers for providing the opportunity to get on with some, instead of grumbling under my breath about the plans that I didn't complete!

If anyone is interested in this little pattern, it's downloadable as a free pdf from nanaCompany here.  I have yet to decide what the embroidery should become - a cushion? a small wallhanging?  a pouch?  If you have any suggestions I'm happy to throw them into the mix.  For now, I'm just pleased that the embroidery worked out so nicely.

Come back tomorrow for my last holiday stitching post and I'll show you some work I did on new quilt tops (prior to loss of sewing table).

Monday 26 August 2013

Holiday Stitching - 1

We returned from a lovely family holiday on Saturday night. Can you guess from our silly pic what our holiday purchases included?  Rain hats!  I refused to go all "Australian outback" with mine, but the men in my life are heading off to look for wild horses to break in for their daily commutes!

Our holiday time involves lots of adventure sports (this year: gorge scrambling, Go Ape highwire forest walking, rowing, lake swimming, mountain biking to name a few).  I can now set your mind at ease by confirming what you probably already suspected - I do NOT participate in said adventure sports. My role is to gleefully wave my men goodbye for a few hours and meet up with them for coffee and tourist activities later in the day.  While they live on adrenalin, I am free to stitch some peaceful hours away.

After stitching up the brooches (better pics than the previous post)

I had immense fun appliqueing hearts to some gorgeous Kaufman Essex Linen and embellishing it with a little lace and buttons, hoping to achieve a sort of pretty, vintagey look.

There was a lot of chalking grids and measuring to make sure everything lined up nicely.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of stitching this little cushion.  It was fun and freeing to just play with design and some notions.  I like the simplicity of it and hope that its recipient will too.

And, because I adored the print from the central heart, I used it on a contrasting band for the envelope backing. I think it might be from Denyse Schmidt's Shelburne Falls line, but didn't know that when I bought it.  I do know that I wish I had bought more of it!

So, this will be off to its new home soon, I hope.  And, hopefully tomorrow, I will show you the other cushion I made while I was away.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Siblings Together Block Drive Updates

I have been a bit slow to post the latest arrivals for the Siblings Together Block Drive so it is with apologies particularly to Rhonda and Frances that I show you these today.  I did have the pics all ready to post just before my hols and hoped to use Blogsy while I was away to share them with you all.  But  in a stunningly dim move, I left the little lead that connects my camera to my ipad at home so the photos were here but I was not!

So, here are the lovelies sent by Rhonda all the way from Tennessee -

from Rhonda

more from Rhonda
 and these gorgeous zigzag blocks are from Frances in the Netherlands -

from Frances

again from Frances

Arriving home from our holiday last night, two of the parcels in my mountain of post contained these yummies from Audrey

from Audrey

who thought she had made a mistake making a yellow block , so she made another blue one for the quilt

Audrey's apology block

I'm secretly a bit glad she thought the yellow was a mistake (which it isn't) because I love the navy print she has included in this one!  But ssshhh, don't tell I said that.

And then the very generous Anne B sent me some extra blocks from Down Under -

from Anne B - the bottom print is a great wee design
 of little motifs from around the world
So, thanks to all your very generous block donations I now have 33 blocks in this little pile, with a number of pledged blocks still to arrive before the end of October.  

I think there will be two amazing international quilt tops from all of these wonderful churn dashes you ladies have stitched up for the Siblings Together project.

As always, I cannot thank you enough - you are stars!!

Thursday 22 August 2013

Making Me Smile - 34/52


Orange leather handbag - total impulse buy and a bargain to boot! Not given to impulse buying usually, so I think I'm still slightly in (pleased) shock.


Tuesday 20 August 2013

Happy Dancing!

Sorry, no pics of me being an eejit and actually happy dancing, but I am so delighted to finally be able to tell you that my hand-stitched hexagon quilt is now finished! Yes, really!

It has taken three years from start to finish and has been entirely pieced and quilted by hand. In August 2010 I took some little hexies on holidays and started to fiddle with granny flowers. I had been itching to start sewing again and spreading my creative wings a little after the years when my son was very small and I hadn't really had time to have a hobby. During that holiday I decided to start carving out more time to pick up on my stitching and crocheting. I whipped up a circle of 7 granny flowers while on hols and decided to just keep going and see how far the fabrics I had found buried in a cupboard would take me. When I came home I signed up to Judith's new classes, learned to patchwork and quilt by machine and haven't looked back since. Admittedly, during the three years this quilt spent many, many weeks and months in a basket at the side of the sofa as I pursued other projects.

This little quilt has played an important part in my stitching history and I think it will always have a special place in my heart. Although sometimes I wish the fabrics I had found in the cupboard were a bit more modern, I do love this quilt and its cos warm colours and have thoroughly enjoyed all the stages. I'm glad I opted to keep the hexagon shaping at the borders and not square it off in any way, and of course I'm pleased that I changed my thoughtlessly machine stitched label for a hand stitched one to maintain the quilt's hand made authenticity.

I cannot imagine that I will ever make an entire quilt by hand again, not because I didn't enjoy it but because it takes sooooooo long! There will be more hand-quilting ahead though, as I have really enjoyed the process and love the effect even though mine needs a lot more practice!

If you fancy having a go at hand making a quilt yourself, I really would recommend it. Just allow yourself the time required rather than insisting on a quick finish. I guarantee you a certain satisfaction when you look at your finished quilt and know you did it all with your own hands! And, of course, it doesn't have to take you quite as long to finish one as it has taken me!!


Wednesday 14 August 2013

Making Me Smile - 33/52

I guess this is what happens when your mother gives off for the gazillionth time because you "forgot" to wash your face!


Sunday 11 August 2013


Yesterday I decided that it was time to tackle the brooches I had taken with me to FQR but never quite got around to working on. I stitched up these Liberty yoyos with some co-ordinating solids - ash, purple and a steel blue colour Riley Blake solid that came in my FQR goodie bag.


These ones were little oddments that I started at a workshop long ago and figured I should just add a brooch pin and somebody might buy them. Admittedly they aren't the prettiest, but they might appeal to someone and raise a penny or two for Bee Blessed.


Some more in hot, bright colours which I had cut with the intention of making up in January. Seems the deep, grey winter was making me long for some colour!

Last week as I was tidying away the scrap remnants from my MIL's Birthday Sampler quilt, I suddenly thought that the fabric trimmings would make sweet brooches. So I played with the soluble fabric and my slivers and made more scrappy fabric to cut wee hearts and flowers from. The first one will be for my MIL.

And this little lot should hopefully attract our exhibition visitors to part with their cash. These are my favourites I think.

So, brooches made, job done and a tick off my August list! Successful stitching Saturday.


Friday 9 August 2013

Making Me Smile - 32/52

Sometimes it's the simple, small stuff, the familiar stuff that makes me smile. This is our favourite local coffee shop and my son's predictable "morning coffee" order of apple and cinnamon scone and hot chocolate. He declares this hot chocolate to be the " best ever" and compares hot chocolate everywhere we go to it. I don't know what makes it so special - the chocolate syrup that it's made from or the extra helping of large flump mallows that the ladies in the coffee shop indulge him with! Simple is good!


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