Monday, 31 October 2011

More minis and bits

I can now show you another mini quilt I made as a pay it forward gift. This one made its way across the Atlantic to Leanne in Canada

I am determined to tackle my fear of curved seams, especially as the quilts I love most are those with circles so I tried again with the drunkards path block. I had a complete different plan for this but I totally misread the instructions and basically had a brain fart so I ended up using all of the yellow solid as a background. It probably would be easier if I did bigger blocks as this little ones are very fiddly, but in the end they turned out ok and the seams nearly all match.

I hummed and hawwed a lot about how to quilt it, but in the end decided the straight lines and corners set off the curves nicely. It ended up about 15.5inch square.

Over the last few days I've gone back to some bits I had hanging around to turn them into minis as well as I enjoy making them so much.

This first one was my first attempt at handstitching hexies using leftovers from my tufted tweets top (which is still in the ufo pile). I never really had a plan for these so I satin stitched them onto the background with the quilt sandwich already in place. I practised a background FMQ stitch from Leah Days fab blog at As the hexies were looking extra big and puffy I didn't want to flatten them much so just freemotioned a flower design around them. Its clearer to see on the back. This little one is 11.5 inch square.

Then I turned to this one. I used a template to make the flower designed in the cream solids and tried to follow a marked line for the first time. It went a bit wonky, but still shows the design ok. Then I just made the rest up as I went along.

The centre was also a Leah Day design and it turned out really easy to do, well, a lot easier than it looks. Again, its most visible on the back. This turned out at 16.5 inch square.

I also made a few of these little baskets using this tutorial I tweaked it slightly by using heavy interfacing rather than wadding, but I'm pleased with them all the same. Sorry that the pic is so shockingly bad, but I couldn't get the lighting right on a miserable day.

Now I'm off to play with another orphan block I have hanging around to practise more FMQ.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Bloggers Quilt Festival

I missed the last bloggers quilt festival for some reason so am pleased to be taking part again this time around.

I had two quilts to choose between, but in the end went with Scraptastic. I love using my scrap pieces and try to do something with even the smallest pieces. I save all my little triangles, even the bits you get when joining binding strips together and it is surprising how quickly they built up. I didn't start out with a plan, but decided to start piecing them into the corners of a 3x4 inch white block and put them together like this.

After I built up a few blocks of 16 I started looking around at my other scraps and realised I had a lot of long strings from trimming backings that I wasn't really making a dent on so I thought I could border the white blocks with them. I still didn't have much of a plan and then I made a quilt where the blocks were quilted before being joined and I fell in love with the technique. It was so much easier to FMQ a little block than a full quilt so I had a play with one of the blocks and tried out feather for the first time. It didn't really matter if I messed it up, this was a scrap piece anyway. It came out better than I expected and I then did a loopy repeat around the border pieces.

I carried on with the blocks and it was a great way to practise the feathers, by the end I was feeling really comfortable with them. When it came to joining them all together I went with a white sashing which worked well I thought with the centres. Even the binding was made from scraps left over from other quilts.

So this is what my Scraptastic Quilt turned out like

And the back shows up the quilting really well.

For lots and lots of fabulous quilts check out the list at Amys blog.


Favourite things friday

Its time for favourite things Friday again thanks to Shay at

This week its something nice and simple, a seam roller.

Wooden Seam Roller

I find this little tool to be a huge advantage when paper piecing. Every time I do the flippy thing I can press the seam down with this. I don't bother with the iron until the block is finished. That saves me loads of time as I don't  have a perfect, ergonomically designed sewing room (i.e. I have to get up to the iron and ironing board). Especially if I am doing something really fiddly with lots of little pieces this works a treat.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A bit blah!

For some reason I've been a bit blah all week. Nothing bad is happening but nor is anything exciting, its all just been a bit dull. I think there is something my subconscious is trying to tell me if the state of my dreams are anything to go by.

I don't normally remember dreams, most nights its more about my insomnia, but this week I have been having loads and if I tell you that thousands of zombie dogs wrapped in clingfilm stacked up in a frozen warehouse was about the most normal of them you get its been a bit wierd.

Even on the sewing front I haven't been feeling very inspired. I have my list of things to work on but I wanted something simple and basic so ended up making this little quilt that about 36x52 in. I had some cowboys and zebra type fabric and added some charm squares that were boyish in colour and nothing floral. I know very few of my quilts would be appealing to boys. It isn't very big and it hasn't any fancy quilting but it just kept me sewing.

After finishing that I felt a bit more motivated and carried on with the last block in the mystery quilt. I then managed to piece all the blocks in the wrong order to Sheila's plan, but what the heck. I couldn't be bothered unpicking and I like it this way anyway.

Hopefully I will get a bit more mojo back soon and that you are all feeling a lot more zingy!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

My first pocket!

I know, I know a pocket isn't exactly exciting, but this was the first time I ever made one. Its not even a complicated pocket, but still I made it.

I made this little bag using the tutorial found at this flickr group It is slightly different to the little bags I've made in the past and the pockets on the outside end up sewn down by the handles.

I used and old pair of jeans for the most of it, you can see the seam down the leg showing on the horizontal line just above the pocket. Because I was using the denim for the handles I didn't want as many layers folded together as the pattern uses so I used the herringbone pattern to secure the raw seams together. I took the raw edges from both sides into the middle and sewed straight down. I think it will stop fraying and it is nice and strong.

For some reason, I didn't want to do anything complicated these last few days, so this was a nice change of direction.

Friday, 21 October 2011

English is a foreign language

I started wondering the other day, how much do bloggers think about the places their readers are from and try to ensure that the language you use is understood around the world.

I'm not even talking about thinking about non native English speakers here. In my experience, people who I interact with who don't have English as their first language are usually very proficient and they put me to shame with my lack of skill. I did 3 years of French at school and dropped it as soon as possible. I am definitely in the lazy English camp where I coast by on the knowledge that lots of people around the world speak my language. And thank you to everyone of you for making my life easier.

No, I am mainly talking about how different words have different meanings in the various countries where English is spoken. How much do you try and account for this in your blog posts?

I know I am always aware of batting/wadding when I write as I know that a lot of quilt blogs readers are from the US but apart from that I think I stick to English English.

A pillow in what you put your head on in bed, it doesn't sit on a sofa, that is a cushion.

When I read anything that mentions fanny or fannypack on a US blog it make me snigger like a schoolgirl.

And if I read on a US blog about someone in vest and pants, I know you imagine someone looking like this...

but I see in my head...

I enjoy the differences though, do you?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Discovering the joys of mini quilts

So I've been playing with mini quilts and now this has reached its destination (Sarah at I can show it to you.

I know I'm late to the minis party, but I finally realised how much fun they are and what a great way to practise new techniques.

I have wanted to try a New York Beauty block for ages, I'm happy with the paper piecing but was more worried about the curved seams which are still a bit of a mental block for me. On this small scale, it was less intimidating and I was really pleased with how it turned out.

I also got to play some more with free motion quilting on it and did some feathers and swirls on it.

I have a whole list in my head of others I want to get on with now as I enjoyed making it so much, but I have to finish some of my UFOs first.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Are you a joiner?

Ever since I started quilting a couple of years ago, I wondered whether I should join a quilting group. I found out quite early on that the few near me have waiting lists of at least a year so I never got round to it but I still had it in the back of my mind.

Today I went to an exhibition of one of the local groups and I really enjoyed looking at there work - but I also realised, I don't want to join.

I even chatted to a few members and they were very nice and friendly, but I really didn't feel I had anything in common with them. They were all white, middle aged and above and middle class. It was like a stereotype of the Woman's Institute! I just couldn't see that apart from loving quilting we would have anything in common.

And even there, most of the work displayed fell into the traditional category. Don't get me wrong, I love those as well, but I also love modern and basically, just want to try everything. I didn't even feel most of my quilts would have fit in.

Then again, I've never been much of a joiner or a follower anyway, I've always been know for toddling off down my own path no matter what other people thought.

And now I can cross the idea off my list, I can still keep an eye out for the shows to go and enjoy them like I did today but without the nagging thought that "should I be part of this" going on.

What about you? Do you join?

Friday, 14 October 2011

QAL progress

See one of the blog buttons I have over on the right - for Becky at Sarcastic Quilters paper piecing QAL. Well, the QAL finished months ago but have I finished? Oh no.

But, I am making progress. In my defense, I did make the decision to paper piece a full sized quilt so knew it was going to take quite awhile.

In total I need 80 blocks to finish at 60x75 inches - so far I've made 48 so I got quite excited this week about breaking the half way mark. I decided to start sewing some together and made up a quarter of the final layout. I think I want to quilt it in 4 parts as I know I will be able to do a better job that way so I will keep it in these sections until I'm ready for that.

Its going to be a symmetrical pattern so all the lines form a diamond shape. Some joins aren't perfect between blocks, but I don't think many will notice them.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Another one off the UFO pile

This one was sitting on the UFO pile for a long time - the top was finished some time last year. I don't want to look up when as I think it was quite early in the year and that will make it even worse.

I finally got my arse in gear and got it finished off this week. I didn't want to do any complicated quilting as my last few have been hard work so I just went with a old favourite. Wavy lines with the odd loop straight across the width of the quilt. Being a big more comfortable with it, I went for a strong blue which was perfect for the blue blocks but really stands out on the cream. I haven't used such a strong contrast in colours before as it makes the bad quilting stand out, but I knew I was fairly comfortable with this type so thought go for it.

The quilt is only around 40 x 56 inches, so once I got the horrid basting done it went nice and smoothly. The backing is from stash, some of the bargain yardage I stocked up on earlier in the year and the binding is some blue dotty fabric that I've used quite a bit and found I still had a big chunk left over.

This will be one of the charity ones, whenever I get around to sorting them out and sending them off. One day....

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Don't enter this giveaway

Because I want to win the Aurifil goodies - I love Aurifil thread and even though I am building up quite a large collection, you can never have too much.

Lynne is running a big christmas giveaway, the main page can be found using the button
Christmas Gifts for Quilters

and the details of the Aurifil that you aren't allowed to enter can be found here....

Sunday, 9 October 2011

My new friend

I haven't been able to pick a name for him yet though! Any idea?

He is made from half of a leg of an old pair of jeans and some samples fabric an aunt gave me. He is stuffed with scrap wadding and has a few bits of felt. I have loads of old pairs of jeans saved, I have a tendency to wear them out at the inner thigh (the joys of being a bit wobbly) and have decided I need to upcycle them into something.

I got the pattern from a toy making book, but I haven't got it to hand and can't remember the title, sorry.

I hadn't sewn denim before, it was easier than I thought. I have ideas for bags etc at somepoint. So much to make, so little time!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Favourite Things Friday

My Favourite thing this Friday is a TV show that I've only recently discovered. All the episodes are being shown on E4 weekdays and its one of the few programmes that makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis.

The only thing worrying me is I've developed a bit of a wierd crush on Sheldon! Oops....

Group Pictures #1499

For more FTFs, check out Shay at

Thursday, 6 October 2011

New techniques

I forgot to blog about this, I made it a while ago and am turning it into a pennant for the Quilts for London campaign.

This was a pattern from a book about folding techniques based on scrapbooking. You fuse two pieces of fabric wrong sides together then cut out a pattern on it and fold back some of the pieces so that the back fabric can be seen from the front. The top is then layered onto a third piece which is shown through the holes.

In my example the brown fabric was fused to the back of the butterfly fabric and flipped back so you can see it then the blue fabric was placed behind so you can see it through the holes.

Then it is all stitched down. I got some practise with satin stitch to achieve this. Its not perfect, but it was good to give it a go.

I like the effect of this technique, but it is fiddly and the satin stitch took forever, I will give it another go sometime when I'm in the right frame of mind.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

So back to the pictures

So, laptop is all sorted. In the end the tech in the shop swapped out the hard drive from the bust one into a new one so I got to keep all my data, result! I thought it would get sent away and I would have to wait weeks.

So for some sewing news. I've finally caught up again with Sheila on the mystery QAL but she will probably go and post again soon to put me behind.

I can't show you some of the bits I've been doing as I haven't sent them off yet, hopefully I will get my act together this week though.

I did have a big go at my scraps again. I know I bleat on about how much I enjoy working with scraps, but it is so much fun.

First, I made a few more string blocks and then went ahead and quilted them all. I used all sorts of scrap batting/wadding as well and did straight line quilting in all different direction. I plan to put them all together using a gray sashing. Suddenly there is nearly enough for a full quilt.

I had managed to build up quite a pile of triangles again as well. I've already made two tops out of scrap triangles (one stars still waiting to be finished off and one using the Gwen Marstons book which became the Scraptastic quilt) so wanted to put them in a different configuration. I used some bits of solids hanging around and made 3inches squares and then sewed the triangles to opposite corners. I've put them together in blocks of 16 in a 4x4 setting with all of one background together and the scraps all the same colour.

I haven't decided if I will sash them yet. The chances are I will as then I can use quilt as you go so it makes it all so much easier. But, it doesn't matter, it will be months before I reach that point and I will see what it looks like when I have more.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Mmmm.. Yummy

I don't know if you have notice that picture of a spectacular wedding cake over on the right and below? Well it was made by someone with lots and lots of skill and imagination (so not me then) who is working very hard on her wedding cake business.

Melanie is based South West of London so if you need something special please check out her website and get in touch with her.

And guess what? I managed to make my first button!

Daisy Chain Cake Company