Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Where have you been?

Months have gone by again without me managing to write a post. I'm actually getting quite good at not writing them now!
I seem to be consumed by work these days and all work and no play has made me a dull girl. The editing work, ie the work that pays the bills, has been so manic the last few months as we have had to fit putting together an annual special magazine on top of the regular monthly issues.
And then there is my quilting and a lot of my recent quilting is so tied up with my fabric business (the work that doesn't pay the bills), that I don't like to post pictures of them here first.
But hey ho
I have been quite productive over the last few months and have finished quite a few of the quilts I've made from Hoffman pre-cuts; I really love working with them now!
Here's a few pics of them........
This was made from a Cherry Bali Pop

A Tiramisu Bali Pop and Snap

This quick quilt was made using a Tonga Treat Mini pack from Timeless Treasures

And this final quilt was my first attempt at free motion quilting, which was a little silly as its straight lines and would have been better quilted with my walking foot!
So a lot of quilting has been going on but very little quilting for me.......


Friday, 28 June 2013

Blog Silence

I've had trouble finding the time to do a blog post recently, mainly because I have been busy with work; both the editing kind and also the quilt shop owner kind with two quilt shows since mid May.
It's not like I haven't been working on quilts in that time, far from it!
Hopefully I can remedy the situation shortly!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Jigsaw Stars - the whole story

I decided last night that if this blog is going to be an online record of my quilts and my quilting, I really ought to do a blog post for each quilt when its finished recording everything that went into making it.
So this is the whole story post for Jigsaw Stars, the quilt I finished last week.
A lot of my quilting is of course tied up with my business; to some extent the two are inseparable. Jigsaw Stars was made with one of the new Hoffman Bali Crackers; a 10" square charm pack. These are Hoffman's version of a layer cake which I have just started stocking. Quite often with new products you need to make something up to inspire people. This particular colour pack, Parfait, was actually my favourite in their 5th collection of pre-cuts but it wasn't very popular among my customers. And so it fell victim to being used by me.........
I spent quite a while playing around with designs, working out how much could be cut from a 10" square. I finally settled on the design and added a dull pink Hoffman batik as a background fabric which went well with all the colours in the pack.
The piecing went together quite quickly. I cut the squares up in a methodical manner as I worked as it was important to keep the squares in the right order. I think it was about then I decided the design was good enough to be made into a pattern that I could sell.
I always take work in progress shots of my quilts. Often they are just to post on twitter etc but they are then useful for adding to pattern instructions.
I used a new wadding for this quilt, a bolt of polyester wadding from Legacy by Pellon. I've wondered about using this for some time. Just thought it was cool to have it on the shelf!
I was disappointed with it. It did say to pre-test with dark fabrics but this quilt has a variety of tones in it. It didn't beard where I was quilting but I just had a layer of fluff on the surface of the quilt which then collected in little balls of fibre like this.
 However, I have to say now that the quilt is finished and bound, it is behaving better!
This quilt was a first for me...........the first quilt I have free motion quilted. The stars in the centre were echo quilted using my walking foot but the pink background was stipple quilted. I'm quite pleased with my first effort!
I used King Tut 925 - Caravan in the top and a blue Masterpiece 138 in the bobbin as the quilt has blue backing.
The binding was put together with leftover bits from the Cracker pack...........and another first........I double bound the edges and used Wonder Clips for the first time!
Quilt summary - Jigsaw Stars
Top - Parfait Bali Cracker + Hoffman 1895 Orchid
Wadding - Legacy by Pellon Polyester
Thread - King Tut 925 + Masterpiece
Backing - Hoffman 1895 Swordfish
And that is the story of Jigsaw Stars

Sunday, 12 May 2013

I Made a Quilt!

When I say I made a quilt, I mean I have actually finished one; quilting, binding, hanging sleeve. The lot. Well apart from a label, which I will add shortly.
This is a rare occurrence for me.
I do actually make a lot of quilts.........well quilt tops. I'm designing and creating all the time, especially now that I have developed this addiction for pre-cuts. I have a further three pre-cut quilt tops to quilt and started another one over the weekend using the new Hoffman Bali collection pre-cuts.
And not meaning to boast, but I finished quilting quilt #2 on Saturday so that just needs the binding and hanging sleeve added and then that is done too!
So where is this new found explosion of getting things done come from? It's because I am combining my learning to machine quilt with making all these quilt tops. It's just so quick to whizz around with the machine. It doesn't need to be perfect, its not for a competition. It just needs to be good enough to make the quilt look good and I think so far I have achieved this.
Everything has just come together nicely as this first completed quilt is going to be a pattern that I will be launching it Quilts UK this coming week. Wanting to make it into a pattern made me realise that I really needed to learn machine quilting for me to do this. I love hand quilting but its just not practical if I want to make something as a display model.
So this is the start of something new!
And as for the quilt itself............here it is! It's made from a Bali Cracker plus background fabric so its layer cake friendly.
Quilt #2 is possibly more suitable to teach in a class as its simpler........this is something else I think I need to start doing! 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

A Good Day's Quilting

Spring has finally sprung here and we have some beautiful weather this weekend. This always gives me a real dilemma. As it's the weekend I can finally get down to some serious guilt-free sewing as I don't *have* to work but on the other hand when the sun is shining I feel that I should get out in the garden, especially as I am a bit of a fair weather kind of gardener!
I've been designing and making quite a few quilt tops recently using Hoffman pre-cuts, with a view to making them up as patterns but of course they need quilting. And they need quilting before I can have the pattern for sale! I hoping to release the first one at Quilts UK in a couple of weeks so I can show you a sneak peak but not the whole quilt just yet. It's made using a Bali Cracker ie layer cake. It was the first time I had stippled quilted ANYTHING and not quilting in straight lines was totally out of my comfort zone!
I'm quite pleased with my effort. Just need to add a bit more stippling to some bits of background in the centre and add the binding...........and its done!
I have had real problems with the wadding though. Its a polyester batting, one of the ones on the bolt from Legacy by Pellon. So much fluff and fibre has come through the fabric, not as I'm stitching just generally.
I was really disappointed although it seems to have settled down a bit now.
What I was amazed at was how quickly I was able to quilt. I know stippling isn't the most exciting of machine quilting techniques but hey it's a start!
So its onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Practice practice practice!

Practice makes perfect, or so they say.
I decided it was time I practised my machine quilting skills or lack of them, on an actual proper quilt; rather than rambling around on a piece of calico. So I dug out a really simple quilt. It was a quilt top I put together when I had a quilt shop, which was (wow) three years ago this summer! The quilt was intended to be a display sample for a beginner's  quilt kit. I think when it's finished I'll still do that with it as the quilt shows some good and not so good quilting, ideal for not putting people off trying!

The quilt top was just a basic Trip Around the World pattern in rainbow colours and I thought I would quilt it in a simple spiral pattern. Despite this being straight lines, I still used my free motion foot. It would have been easier to use my walking foot and I did in fact when I quilted the border, but saying that, I think my control over my quilting when using the free motion foot has improved quite a bit.

I'm quite pleased with how it has turned out. Just need to sew the last few ends in and add the binding and it's done!

Otherwise I've been playing with another Bali Pop and made a nice nine patch quilt which I've added to my pile of quilts that need quilting................

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Getting on with it!

Somehow I have reached my mid 40s. No idea how I got here really. I'm sure I don't feel any different to how I did 20 years ago........or is that because I'm getting older and can't remember?!
I tend to find family celebrations and other occasions difficult now; Christmas, Valentine's Day, my birthday.............
For some reason it's drilled into me that I need to have that special someone to make me feel complete, that that person will spoil me on these occasions; and because I don't have that special someone, I get upset or lonely on those days because no one seems to care.
But it shouldn't be like that though should it? I shouldn't need another person to make me feel whole?
I am where I am now because I decided to leave a loveless marriage where I was incredibly unhappy. I thought I was madly in love with another guy and without him I might not have had the courage to leave, but I did. Unfortunately he turned out to be a lying cheating womaniser who broke my heart.
Yet without this chain of events I wouldn't be where I am now. Ok I get lonely but I am in charge of my own destiny. I own my own home, I now have a job which I love, I am self sufficient financially. I can do what I want, when I want..........well son permitting.......and I have my quilting!

Where would I be without my quilting? I can't imagine not having this creativity in me, bursting to get out all the time, seeing design inspiration everywhere I go.
The Red Cross is progressing nicely. I kind of wished I had started quilting a frame of cross hatching in white and then crossed hatched the centre of the white area in red, but what I'm doing already will be fine!


Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Red Cross

I think that is what I will call the red and white quilt that I am working on at the moment.
I quilted a little sample the other day  to help me decide how I wanted to quilt it. I knew I wanted to do some cross hatching on the white background but wasn't sure which colour; red or white?
This is the sample

The scale of the cross hatching is 3/4" which is the same as it will be in the quilt.
Top left corner has horizontal red lines of quilting and white vertical lines. Top right corner has all red quilting and bottom left is all white quilting.
Both threads are solid King Tuts.
I decided I liked the mix of red and white threads together; it toned down the strength of the red. Weirdly if I rotated it so that the red lines were vertical, they seemed more dominant than when they are horizontal.

So I went ahead and started working on the quilt. It's going ok so far. Just hope I can keep my lines straight as there isn't any room for error!

And here's the whole quilt

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Something Different - part two:Veg

Last year I thought I would try and introduce more of a variety of veg into our diets, by trying a new one each month. This was a bit of a failure and only lasted a couple of months.
So part of the new year's resolution for not buying food in the supermarket was to get a vegetable box delivered each week. I hoped this would also force us to use vegetables we wouldn't usually buy.
I had tried veg box deliveries in the past but they were fortnightly and the problem was the potatoes and carrots ran out really quickly and we ended up with masses of onions.
So this time I signed up for a small weekly box from a local farm. The first week was fine, although there were too many types of veg - eight - for us to get through in a week.
The second week I downgraded to a very small box of 6 types of veg and added a small fruit bag, to keep us over the minimum order level. The veg were ok. I made a squash soup with the round squash; although when I cut it open it did smell like a melon and I suddenly worried about whether it would go with the onion and garlic I was already softening in the pan! As luck would have it the farm shop phoned me at the precise moment I was wavering about whether to continue and confirmed it was indeed a squash!
I was already building up a stash of onions so I made an onion soup for lunch one day which was rather yummy.
The fruit bag was a bit of a disaster; apples and a grapefruit so that was scratched off the order and replaced by a box of eggs each week. Might as well do some baking each week?!

Week three was not good. No delivery! They had a box for us but we weren't on the delivery list. They did offer to deliver the following day but I was away last weekend and when I heard what was in the box I said not to worry - didn't like half the things in it!

Week four was nearly a disaster - left the empty box out for them to take away with them when they delivered  - but it was still there when I got home late afternoon. Was beginning to think I had been forgotten again when it arrived at 6.20pm! It didn't have the parsnips I was hoping for/thought were coming unfortunately.
So after a month, I'm thinking it isn't really being successful. It's a bit hit and miss so I'm going to cancel it and visit a farm shop instead. I have about three or four in a 15 miles radius of here. Spending £10 a week on veg and not really liking or getting through half of it, doesn't really make sense does it?

I have the day to myself today which means it's a sewing day! I have a little quilting experiment I want to try and will blog some photos of that next time


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A little different - Part one:meat

I've been meaning to blog about my shopping habits for a little while now. Not the most exciting of topics I guess, so this will fall under the 'and other stories' part of my blog!
This year, I decided I would make it a New Year's resolution to try to avoid going to the supermarket for my food shopping.
It took me a few weeks to actually put this into action, and then another week or so to pluck up the courage to go into the local (award winning) butchers and buy something and then another week or so to arrange for a vegetable box to be delivered from a local farm shop. I even bought some fish from the market last week.
The problem is, I live in a town where the main shop on the high street is a massive Tesco and it's a lovely building.
And the other problem is having a son there are certain store cupboard type things that I still need to get, like ketchup and baked beans and the cats still need catfood.
So at the moment I am still visiting the supermarket but haven't bought any meat or veg in it for a number of weeks now.
Every little helps as they say?

A few weeks in and it's going reasonably well and in light of the recent meat scandal, it was a wise decision; not that I used to buy many ready meals anyway. However this week, I nearly wavered and didn't feel like walking down the high street to my butchers. But I did and I'm glad I was strong.
I'm starting to feel that if I can educate my son that buying fresh local produce from independent shops is better, it will be something he takes into adulthood with him. It may be an uphill battle though as he asked the other week if we were poor because I wasn't shopping at the supermarket anymore. Interesting thought process going on there!
As a society something has gone wrong somewhere. We are buying processed mass prooduced food and losing the skill of cooking. It's time to draw the line and get back to basics. We have gone too far.

 It would seem I am not the only person trying to live without a supermarket. I'm enjoying reading this blog written by a guy living in Cornwall who is trying to give up using a supermarket for more than just Lent. He admits as he's single it's maybe a bit easier for him to #shoplocal but I have real admiration for this family blogging about doing it too.

Part two will be about my veg experiences,,,,,,,,,,

Saturday, 9 February 2013

What I am doing now - Feb

I had a free weekend last weekend..........and used it wisely; well it was Groundhog Day and I was kind of hoping that would mean I would be very productive if I spent the day sewing and had to relive the day over and over again!
I managed to make a few more scrappytripalong blocks in my red and white fabrics. I'm just making them as and when. Here are the first four
As I make more I am realising that whilst I thought it would be quite clever to restrict my fabric palette to red and white fabrics, it is also quite limiting and a little bit of me wishes I had continued with making a totally scrappy one like this.

I'll keep persevering with the red and whities for now though.

I've been doing a bit of quilting this week on my Kaleidoscope quilt. As this isn't a traditional quilt, each stage of the quilting needs a bit of thinking and every now and then I hit a bit of a brick wall, but then it's a fantastic feeling when I break through that wall. I'm quilting some parallel lines for some background quilting at the moment.

The other thing I have been working on the last week or so is a red and white challenge quilt that my mother has issued to my sister and me: to make a quilt 1m square using a bag of red and white fabrics she gave us at Christmas. My first reaction was "oh". I was already making a New York Beauty style red and white quilt, had started the red and white scrappytripalong and really didn't want to make another red and white quilt. Plus I don't have much time for making quilts for me so any time taken out making this challenge quilt was going to be time taken away from my own quilting. So I have compromised, kind of. I've made something quickly by machine but will probably hand quilt it.
It echoes a modern minimalist phase that I am going through at the moment.

I foundation pieced the fabric strips to ensure they were accurate and straight. Each one is 3/4" wide. They would have been all over the place if I had just pieced them by machine!
I'm thinking about quilting it with cross hatching, possibly in red and white threads. Might experiment with doing the cross hatching vertically in one colour and horizontally in the other.

Seeing as I was working with my red and white prints I made a start on the next block for my NYB quilt, really want to crack on with this now!
Linking up with Lily's Quilts Fresh Sewing Day post and Small Blog Meet
Lily's Quilts
Lily's Quilts

Friday, 18 January 2013

It may be cold outside.......

............but it's warm indoors, especially if you have a quilt you are working on!

I should have been doing some more quilting on my Kaleidoscope quilt this week as it is lovely and warm with a wool wadding, but I haven't even got it out! It's been a busy week with a trip to Worcestershire for some photography and of course the snow which has meant son's school has closed early twice this week.
We had snow in the east on Monday. It wasn't too bad, but it has been really cold all week. However the frost on the trees and bushes in the garden has been wonderful

(For some reason wherever I post the last image.....it never gets shown the right way round, even though I have rotated and saved it the right way up!)

Then there was more snow yesterday but worse in the west this time. We maybe got about an inch of snow. It was enough to bring all the birds in the garden, which is pretty cool seeing as we never get birds in our little garden. An especially new visitor was this cute wagtail, who was obviously cold as he kept on lifting one foot off the ground

So what sewing have I done this week? Mainly I've been putting together a sashing row and been joining row C onto my SBS quilt. I really need to find a virtual design wall so that I can insert the images of each block in it. Maybe that will be my task today?!

I have also been sidetracked a little with the scrappy tripalong that is doing the rounds in Blogland, thanks mainly due to Katy at I'm a Ginger Monkey. Katy has a serious addiction to this! The original tutorial is at Quiltville. I have been fairly restrained so far and only made two blocks, but I can hear it calling to me!

The trouble is, I'm also thinking how cool it would look if I cut a strip from each of my red and white prints.........

My plan this weekend is to add the borders to the new layer cake quilt I have been working on........assuming I can resist the lure of the scrappy tripalong.......

Thursday, 17 January 2013


I've been trying to find the time to sit and write a 2012 review for the last few days, having read Lily's Quilts post on 1 January. But so far all I have done is feel very humble and almost inadequate compared to all the other bloggers who have linked their blogs to the post, either for Fresh Sewing Day or the Small Blog Meet.

I only have one FINISHED quilt to show for 2012!

This is it!

My layer cake quilt that I made for British Patchwork & Quilting.

Otherwise all I have made is quilt tops..........plenty of them! And all of them tops to display fabrics, so I'm not particularly attached to any of them.


And then I become addicted to pre-cuts using Hoffman Bali Pops, Snaps and Crackers. This one is a really quick one using a pack of 5" squares (Snaps) and a strip pack (Pops), both in Tiramisu. I think I will actually quilt this one!

I have made a couple of other quilt tops using pre-cuts, but they are kind of secret at the moment as I'm thinking about turning them into patterns..............once I have quilted them!!

And that's about it!

As I said........humble is the word x