Sunday 30 October 2016

Creating a Sewing Nook

If you're following me on Instagram, you'll know that my latest stitchy excitement is that I've created a new dedicated space in which to sew.  Meet the Sewing Nook.  It's at the bottom end of my kitchen / dining room and is actually the space under our stairs.  A little Potteresque perhaps, but thankfully not enclosed and no Aunt Petunia.

My spring time introduction of the Ikea trolley has helped to get me sewing downstairs again, after the luxury of having a whole room to stitch in previously, but well, it still wasn't as handy as I'd like.  Sometimes, it felt like having to set everything up and pack it away was eating up the little time that I do have  available to sew.  You can tell this hobby is in my blood, right?

So, after very much deliberation, I worked out how to have a space that I could manage with my OCD tendency for tidiness all in the same room as the kitchen, the dining room, baby high chairs, car seats, bouncy chairs and a gazillion scattered shape toys and rattles (yes, that OCD tendency is challenged daily).  Thanks to Judith and Di for their planting of seeds of ideas that I finally gave in to letting grow.

When you have a limited space, where do you start?  I knew I wouldn't get absolutely everything I wanted downstairs into this space, but I'm prepared to have a good go!  I know that I want this space to be as free to work on at an instant as it's practical to make it.  For me, there's no point in creating an area that needs re-arranged every time I want to grab half an hour to sew.  All that re-arranging is going to use up my half hour and rather defeat the purpose of having this space in the first place.

So, I started with the basics.  I'd want my machine, a cutting space and some lighting (because the cubby is a bit dark).  Oh, and of course,  my 'Hope' mini-quilt for a bit of wall focus.  We added a floating shelf too, so that not everything has to be held on the table top.

So far so good!

There was then a slightly crushing afternoon when I realised I needed to fit and re-arrange all this sewing paraphernalia (and some more that was being stored upstairs) into that small space.  Truthfully, I looked at it and scratched my head for quite a lot of the time.  It was trickier than I thought to make those decisions.

But I did eventually squeeze most of it into place, using pretty tins and jars for the shelved items and my original large storage boxes for under the table.  There's much more I'd love to have here, but I seemed to grow rather well into having a whole room to sew in for a few years and I need to learn to stash less than I sew now - lol!  It will be a work in progress to reduce current supplies to allow those stored upstairs to slowly feed downwards ;-)

 I enjoyed adding pretty touches to the corner - some fab little heart lights (battery pack powered, from Iceland £2.99) and sweet little jam jars and baskets and tins.  I'm not great at arranging them so they look 'natural' and pretty rather than cluttered, but I can live with this set up.

I tidied up the Ikea Bygel trolley and slid it in alongside the wall to the right, hung up a few more mini quilts, mug rugs and name tags from friends and hey presto, one pretty Sewing Nook that I haven't had time to stitch in - ha!!  (But of course, I will!)

You'll have noticed that the blog has also had a wee spruce up!  It had it's old face since 2012, so I thought it was time to declutter, change the scenery and switch a few things around.  It has been tempting to let the blog go a bit, especially as we all head to other, more immediate social media spaces and as time has been short here.  But, really, I don't want to give up the journey just yet, so I guess even though it might be more sporadic than I'd like, I still want to commit to sharing my journey here.  I hope you'll keep popping in to see what I'm up to now and again.  I'd miss you all if you didn't.


Saturday 29 October 2016

Happy Days BOM - Month 7

Finally, I have caught up on the blocks from Month 7 of Sarah Fielke's Happy Days BOM.  Round of applause please. (Taking a bow, right now.)

The song bird from Block 10 was the very last of the main blocks I stitched.  It was prepped for ages but I think I avoided it because of all the overlapping sections.  It did require a bit of concentration not to stitch the wrong pieces over each other, but eventually I did it.  Probably not one for sewing late at night, but needs must ...

This stunning foundation pieced block is Block 4 and my very favourite of the FPP blocks in the quilt.  Its crisp lines really appeal to me and I was really happy with this fabric combination too.

I also managed one more of the border blocks too, so now there's just the matter of those last 3 border wreath blocks and maybe I can start putting this quilt top together when Sarah's instructions for step down piecing arrive.  Another technique I've not tried before.  Bring it on!

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Quilt Now BOM - quilting begins

Hold on to your hats my lovely readers!  Yes, you see before you a basted Quilt Now BOM quilt.

It has taken long enough, hasn't it?

Now, don't go getting over excited and expecting a finish any time soon or anything, but yes, quilting has begun.

Well, a little bit anyway.  This quilt has been calling out for hand quilting rather than just machine quilting, I feel.  So, after some stitching in the ditch to stabilise the quilt, I've threaded up with perle cottons and am outline quilting the bits of the design I want to pick out.

I would love to get this quilt up on a wall soon, but as with all of my projects it'll just take as long as it takes.  At least this one's on the go now and will be a good one for cosying under while stitching on darker, chillier evenings.

Monday 24 October 2016

Weak weak weak - Cosy Christmas Sew Along

Yes, I am weak.  I could not resist Lori Holt's Cosy Christmas Sew Along, especially as I have a Cutesy Tootsie who makes a perfectly good excuse for such frivolous sewing!

Block 1

Now, I am not naive enough to believe this will be a sew along that I can keep up with, but that's ok.  There's no rush and Cutesy is too little to be excited by a Christmas quilt just yet anyway. Phew, that gives me another year, possibly two, to actually bring it to conclusion!

Block 2

I have all the constituent parts of the quilt already cut so that it's ready to go when I get around to the appliqué blocks that are the main feature of the quilt.  Of course, I have been impatient and there are now three little blocks stitched up already.

Block 3

The cuteness of these just tickles me.  Oh yes, I am enjoying having a little daughter to sew for!  I will probably overwhelm her with girliness and she'll turn out a pink-hating tom boy just to serve me right - ha!

(Forgive the unkempt edges of my blocks.  I've decided when I'm holding blocks for a while before they will finally be stitched into their quilts that I won't trim them until nearer the time just to protect the seams from coming apart  in storage and handling.)

Are you sewing along with Lori this year?


Saturday 22 October 2016

Happy Days BOM - Month 9

Month 9 of Sarah Fielke's Happy Days BOM is the last of the quilt block patterns.  Sarah's versions of her finished quilt centre are so inspiring and motivating.  I can't wait to see all of my blocks finished and properly laid out together.

This foundation pieced block (Block 15) was perhaps the easiest of the FPP blocks in this BOM.  Planning the colour graduation was fun and I love this colour scheme so much, I think I'd like a quilt for our bed in it.  Wouldn't that be fresh and crisp for Spring?  (Must NOT start another quilt - keep repeating - Must NOT start another quilt.)

This rather colour-washed photo is of block 12.  I really does look better in reality.

Scalloped hexie flowers are adorable, don't you think?  Lovely EPP and appliqué choice from Sarah for this "final" block (Block 20) of the BOM.

Of course, it's not my final block as I still have the song bird from Month 7 to stitch and five of the wreath border blocks, but I'm getting closer to being up to date.  Just on time for another month's instructions to land in the inbox and put me behind again - lol!

Just keep sewing. Just keep sewing.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Happy Days BOM - Month 8

I'm not going to lie, Month 8 of Sarah Fielke's Happy Days BOM too me a long time to finish.  Two foundation pieced blocks and a humdinger of a Hawaiian appliqué later I have been challenged but not defeated!

Block 18 is a super pointy star block.  This one was quite straightforward piecing and my favourite part was choosing the fabrics.

Block 8 wasn't actually difficult but there did seem to be an awful lot of sections to join which resulted in this mighty convergence of seams (and tricky paper removal).

But, I hope you'll agree that Sarah's pattern was worth persevering with.  I love this one!  There are many fabric placement options for this block and it was hard to decide (and then remember) which to piece where.

I know that Block 16 has had some of us shaking in our boots but I didn't want to let this Hawaiian appliqué go by without at least trying it. There were certainly an awful lot of twists and turns as the needleturning got underway.  I'll admit that I got a certain distance in and then got a wee bit overwhelmed, leaving it aside for a week or two.

However, as is often the case with these things, the fear of the block was worse than the reality and aside from a struggle between my fat fingers and those internal cut out sections, it finished without much incident.  I wish that there was better contrast in this block after all that work.  Funny how sometimes a fabric turns out not to have quite as much as contrast as you thought.

Now I must see if I can fill in the gap and finish Month 7's blocks!

Tuesday 18 October 2016

A Little Happy Christmas Sew Along

Did you see the Merry Christmas Mini Quilt Sew Along by Pretty Fabrics and Trims? Are you joining in?

I spotted Sarah's sneak peeks of this little sew along on IG quite a while back and I waited eagerly to see how it would look and when it might be available to follow.  Well, it's up on the blog now.  Every Friday for five weeks, instructions to make the very pretty little Christmas wallhanging are being posted on the shop blog.  If you fancy joining in, the first post was on 30 September.

I've managed to follow along and keep up to date for the first three posts anyway.

First week - piecing the background

Second week - Appliqué tree and hexies

Third week - redwork embroidery Christmas pudding and greeting

I'm enjoying the variety of techniques in this little project and the fact that there is indeed a good chance it will be ready to use this year.  Good to be up to date with one of my projects, right? ;-)

If you fancy giving it a go yourself, you're not too late.  Each week has only taken me about an hour's worth of work, so it's not too time intensive to have a little bit of pretty in time for your seasonal decorating.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Bee Blessed October Block Call

I haven't been as diligent on my blog lately as I'd like and part of the fall out is that I've not reminded you about the wonderful Bee Blessed and their monthly call for blocks.  Let's try and put that right.

This month, they are asking for Wonky Cross blocks which are fun and speedy to stitch.  I did these ones in next to no time at all.  All the details are on the Bee Blessed blog.  Please do go and take a look and whip up a few blocks for their next "man quilt".  You've got plenty of time to get your wonky crosses to the Bee Blessed crew - deadline for receipt is 14 November.

If you want to contribute regularly to Bee Blessed please follow their blog (you know, just in case I go awol again) and have a read at the wonderful posts sharing their great makes and the stories of how they are passed on with a wee bit of love and care to those who are facing tough times.

Saturday 15 October 2016

Moda Modern Building Blocks Quilt - top together

I need a wee bit of advice folks.

Some weeks ago I got all of my MMBB quilt blocks out and stitched and stitched and stitched some more, piecing them together to become a quilt top.  I was so excited to finally be joining all 48 of the blocks into one humungous quilt.  It's so huge that I cannot even get a decent shot of it standing on my little Ikea step stool.

However, when I sewed the very last seam all the way across the middle (horizontally) I have ended up with a horrible wavy bit in the centre.  It's hard to see in the pic above, maybe a wee bit easier in the cropped one below.

It's underneath the aqua points of the very large star, mostly around the green and pink 6" squares.

So, folks, how do I fix this?  I couldn't really figure it out the day it happened and rather than rush in and make a bigger mess, I just folded it all up, rather disappointedly, and packed it away.  I think it's probably something to do with all the bias edges involved in all the blocks stretching it all out a bit. But would it just be fixed by increasing the seams sewn on the smaller blocks?  I feel that might be the way to go, although I'm going to lose a lot of the points if I do.  If you are more experienced than me, what do you think?  What would you do?

I'd love to resolve this and send it on for quilting, instead of it sitting as a bogeyman of a quilt in the cupboard.  Suggestions welcome - though the easier the fix, the better.  Anyone got a magic wand?

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Happy Days BOM - Month 6

Sarah Fielke's Happy Days BOM is now into Month 9 but I'm not quite there yet, so I'll fill you in on the months as I complete them.

I was full of grand ambitions to stitch Month 6's blocks whilst on my holidays in the Lakes this year, but I had forgotten just how busy a holiday with a baby can be.  So, best laid plans were shelved and I just enjoyed my hols without stitches.

This appliqué is Alain Lapin, so named by Sarah herself for block 11.  My Alain, as you can see, is embracing his feminine side sporting pink fluff, but isn't he cute?

As you know, I love hexies and EPP so I'm delighted they are part of this BOM (Block 5).  I went bold with my colour choices for this block.  Hope they won't dominate too much or stand out like a sore thumb in the overall quilt.

I thought I'd be smart and sew the petals on to block 17 after sewing the block together (not the way the pattern suggested), but I didn't really execute it well at all.  My petals don't line up anywhere near where they should at the corners of the checkerboards, and this pic is even after I fixed a few.  The rest, I have decided to live with.  Feel like I made a mountain out of a molehill trying to get that placement right before turning the edges under to appliqué.  Do you ever do that?  Make something much more difficult than it needed to be?

I have some more blocks to show you, and other projects too (if you're an IG follower you'll have seen them).  I just need to load the photos on to the laptop so I can write the posts.  Hope to be back to share more with you soon.
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