Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Short and sweet!

A TA-DA!!!! of sorts ........

The dogs are all done.  The whole litter is made and joined - hurrah!!  With very limited studio time this week this is really as far as I have got.

I'm working on another part of the quilt as we speak ....... a little sneak peek below!

It's secret ..... firstly because it's for my daughter's birthday in October and secondly because I need something to reveal when it's my turn on the Dog Gone Cute Blog Hop :)  - a full schedule of which can be viewed here.

Linking up with the lovely Lorna over at Sew Fresh Quilts

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Works in Progress ....

A  mini quilt for the Quilter's Guild Modern Group challenge - equilateral triangles surprisingly enough!  Just need to cut to size, add a small border, quilt and bind .... don't you love the way I say 'just'?!

Last week I saw a lovely quilt over at mary emmens and I immediately knew which fabric from my shelves I would use to make one up.  These were the first fat 1/4s I ever purchased.  I was living in New Zealand at the time and we've been back in the UK nearly 3 years now so that gives you some idea of how long they have been on my shelf!  The problem, of course, is a NZ Christmas is warm and these colours are perfect but not quite so good for an English Christmas.  I knew I had no fabric suitable for the sashing to pull them all together so I went looking.  Whilst I liked the green it was too cold for this country and then luckily the lady in the shop pulled out the red one - perfect!  Going to make it up to this pattern from Moda Bakeshop.

And then there's my Dog Gone Cute project!  Did you know the Quilt-Along is in it's final week?  Where has September gone .....  This week's free patterns can be find over here at Sew Fresh Quilts.  I finally got going on this properly at the weekend.  It's for my daughter's birthday so I have to keep it secret, which is no mean feat when you home educate aswell and want to steal away and do some sewing!  My studio has the door closed and is out of bounds which feels weird but hopefully I'll get to the stage where I can fold it up and out of the way soon.  In fact who am I kidding it has to be finished soon in time for her birthday.

I have to lay out each one before I start sewing to ensure that I have all the pieces - there certainly are a lot of pieces!

I marvel every time when all those little pieces come together just right - well maybe after a little unpicking by me - user error certainly no fault of the pattern!

In  a bid to speed up the process I was trying to be organised and have everything cut and ready to sew.  However, then I would get confused and still like to finish one block at a time.

There's going to be 11 dog blocks, a name, some hearts, some borders ..... well that's the plan at the moment.

Here are four little pups that I made on Sunday. x

I will be linking up to Let's Bee Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Our Home Ed week ....

Home Ed activities are now back in full swing after a break over summer.  It has been a busy week with me trying to catch some moments in my studio when I can!  Our week looked something like this ...
Literature - starting on Gothic Literature in a lovely group taken by a wonderful Home Ed mum in her house
Science - followed on from Literature, starting on cells and specialised cells
Workshops at St John's Museum in Warwick, the Victorian schoolroom and the Victorian Laundry
Lunch and play at a friend's house
Lining up to go outside for Drill

Drill in the gardens

A non tactile demonstration of the cane!

Scrubbing detachable shirt collars

Using the dolly to agitate the washing in the dolly tub

Folding up the washing as it comes through the mangle - far quicker than Miss C thought!
Girls first session at the local Home Ed sports session in nearby town
Visit to my Mum
Tap dance lesson followed by singing group
Monthly Home Ed club recommenced after summer break with a circus skills workshop and some great face painting by another mum

A rare shot of both daughters!
And to top it all off the Rugby World cup started!!!!

A healthy dose of Lego interspersed these activities along with reading, listening to music, watching Little House on the Prairie (season 2), knitting, crafting .....

Phew - what a week.  I think next week's shaping up to be just as varied! x

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Eyes, dogs and geckos .....

Well what a week it's been - what with birthdays, anniversaries and the start up of all the Home Ed activities.  I am leading a science session next week on sight and the eye so have lots of preparation to do, including preparing the dissection kit and sourcing the pig's eyes!
In more sewing matters I have started on my Dog Gone Cute blocks.  I have been somewhat slow in getting out of the blocks on this one and whilst I have myriad excuses reasons for this I think the only valid is good old procrastination!  I have never made blocks like this before and from someone else's pattern.  I'm not a pattern kind of girl and this has led to a whole lots of silly questions swirling around my head.  What is the best colour to use?  What if the background doesn't quite work?  What if I don't get the technique?  How long will the blocks take? What if I would have done it differently?!  Really there was only one way to answer all those questions and it was to sit down and make one!  So I did.  One night after the girls were in bed I made the block below.  The colours weren't my choice but black, white and blue had been requested.  I have to say I like him and more importantly I liked the process!

The pattern, created by Lorna from Sew Fresh Designs, is amazing.  There is a wonderful quilt along happening at the moment where you can makes these cute little pups for free!!  There were a couple of times when I thought this can't be right but following through step by step it all came together.  There are a few points not exactly where they should be but on the whole I was happy.  The one thing I didn't do (you see I told you I would change things) was to iron the seams open.  I have never ironed seams open and thought I would continue with ironing to the sides.  Well on the second one I decided to follow Lorna's advice ...... what a revelation!!!!

With all the pieces involved it made it far easier to iron the seams open and gave a much more accurately pieced block, especially on the blocks where you making triangular shapes such as the ears and muzzle.  These blocks were made to the small block size and were intended as a birthday present ....... but sadly the birthday has come and gone.  No worries I have another intended use for them!

My studio had gone a bit crazy whilst making Straight Line Bow and, having acquired some fat 1/4s at the shows I have been to recently, I realised a tidy was in order.  Bits and pieces of fabric were everywhere - can you believe it took all afternoon just to get these two shelves looking like they do?!!

Tidying and sorting is something that often gets put to the side for a lot of us because we'd rather be sewing right?  Well what a difference this made to my sewing.  Later on that night I popped down there before I went to bed and I was able to easily and quickly locate fabric to have a play with these triangles.  I think I am going to enter a Guild Challenge where equilateral triangles play a major part, well the only part really, so I made a couple of foundation pieced triangles as an experiment.
I managed to get a Project Linus top on my frame over the weekend which was great.  It was a bit of struggle initially because it was rather out of square ...... I had to take off the border it came with, give it a bit of a trim and then piece on some new borders.  It still wasn't great but I managed to get a nice stippling pattern all across it and hopefully some child will be cheered up to receive such a lovely colourful quilt.
My other love, which I realise I haven't blogged much about at all, is crochet.  I learnt as a child and usually always have a project on the go.  A friend recently asked if I could make her a gecko, he's going to be the mascot for her new branding line, so I jumped at the chance.  Here he is ....

Again this was made to another person's pattern but I did take some take some liberty with the pattern and made it to a hybrid theirs/mine version! x

I am going to link up with Let's Bee Social and WIP Wednesday today.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The colours and smells of our autumn ...

Blackberries and apples from my Mum's house - we 'found' three apple trees laden with fruit that we didn't know were there!!
 Damsons from a tree that is split in two, chewed on by cows, totally neglected but continues to produce fruit.  Unfortunate most were way out of reach.  Topped up with some fruit from a friend's tree ...
Blackberry pudding .... very easy and very delicious ...

Plums, from a friend's tree, thrown into the pan with all the other ingredients for plum sauce.  The smell was divine ...

The satisfaction when it is all bottled up ...

Straining the blackberries and apples for Bramble & Apple Jelly ...
all bottled and labelled ...

Just love the jewel like colours of this with the sunlight catching it ...

And the damsons ... here is the gin!  Just got to wait 3 months now ...

it didn't quite all fit in!  I had to decant into a better container.  This colour is after only 3 days ... and it tasted quite nice too!

Friday, 11 September 2015

A week of finishes ....

A bit of a different Finish it up Friday over here today.  Lots of finishes but not all of a textile nature!

1. The finish of my first Quilt Show entry.  I finished the quilt, please take a look over here for the full story, and it was driven up to Harrogate for the Great Northern Quilt Show.  I had planned a couple of days up there, visiting the area and the show.  I was really excited and somewhat nervous about going on Saturday morning and to my HUGE surprise I had won a Judges Merit rosette.  To say I was happy was an understatement - I was walking around like the Cheshire Cat all day!

2.  The finish of another year of marriage.  No, not the finish of a marriage - I wouldn't be quite so blasé as to announce that here, but the finish of our 16th year of marriage.  My niece came and looked after the girls and we got a child free day (which is something of a rarity in these parts seeing as we home educate!) of tiki touring around the Cotswolds.

3. The finish of my eldest daughter's birthday celebrations until next year!  She turned 11 on Wednesday - where does that time go?  She had a birthday party sleepover at the end of August and then we spent the day together as a family on her actual birthday.  We took the girls to the West Midlands Safari Park - it was amazing!!  I had never been before either so it was a great way to spend the day doing something new to us all.  The bunting was finished too in time to hang up and is another item ticked of my FAL Q3 list.

4.  And for the final finish of the week ...... eating the last of the blackberry pudding I made yesterday!!!  It is the season here in the UK for foraging in hedgerows for all things edible.  Yesterday we gathered blackberries, damsons, apples and plums on a gorgeous autumnal sunny day.  The blackberries became this delicious, and very easy, pudding, and were also mixed with apples for a bramble and apple jelly.  The damsons were placed in containers with sugar and gin to slowly become Damson Gin (and I have to say the duck recipe with the damson gin sounds rather nice!) in time for Christmas and I have just finished boiling up the plums with a few other ingredients to become plum sauce.  Our kitchen smells divine at the moment!

I have had very little time in my studio this week but need to getting in there and start starting, and finishing, things that are on my ever expanding to-do list! x

And I am linking up with Amanda Jean over at Crazy Mom Quilts today.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Straight Line Bow - it's finished!

Ta-da!  I have finished my current quilt ........

What an experience it has been.  It feels like I have been making it for a long time and there were several occasions where I would have folded it all up and put it on the shelf if I hadn't been making it to a deadline.  When I actually looked back I started cutting it on 08 August and put the last stitch in the binding on 27 August.  So that's under 3 weeks with some days when family life took precedence and I didn't even enter my studio!
It developed as I stitched and was my own design, although design makes it sound like I had it all mapped out before I started - I didn't!  I knew I wanted to make a quilt containing all the colours of the rainbow but had never been sure whether to have white or grey as the background.  The choice was taken out of my hands when my LQS only had white!  And what a story that turned to be .... but one for another post.  This post I am concentrating on enjoying my finish!
It was a bit nerve wracking cutting the pieced top in two along a random angle ...
but I liked the result.

I then did it again to incorporate the flying geese ...

and liked the result even more.

I added plain white borders and then it was ready to be quilted.  In July I bought a Handi Quilter Avante longarm quilting machine and this was my first attempt at custom quilting a top I had pieced.  I have been playing practising on some Project Linus tops but the majority have been an edge to edge all over design.
So there were straight lines, which are more difficult than I thought and took far longer to do ...

pebbles .......

some type of feathery design ....

and some simple stippling ...

It is now up in Harrogate waiting to be hung at The Great Northern Quilt Show.  It's the first time I have ever entered a quilt show so I am very excited but also nervous.  My husband took it up there yesterday and I have the official receipt - so it is really happening!  It will be interesting to see how I feel when I see it up there at the weekend .........

Quilt Stats

Size: 48 1/2" by 79 3/8" - random size but perfect for a single bed

Design: Abigail Sheridan de Graaff

Top: machine pieced from various fabric both from stash and bought as fat 1/4s from the Festival of Quilts

Wadding: 100% cotton white

Backing: white on white extra wide backing from my LQS

Thread: white was Fantastico by Superior
              coloured thread were Glide both top and bottom

Start: 08 August 2015

Finish: 27 August 2015

Issues: for another blog post methinks!

I am linking up to Let's Bee Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts today.  It's been wonderful linking up there these last few weeks and receiving such encouragement as this quilt has progressed.  Go check some of the other blogger out - you will see amazing work! 


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