Sunday, 30 December 2012

Blue footed booby

Regular readers may have noticed I'm a committed sewer/crafter  with an interest in everything.  

This causes difficulties  when you are also blessed with an enquiring mind and the practical attention span of a blue footed booby. 
 Earlier on the year I listed over 30 ideas and WIPs and UFOs (yes, I am making a distinction there it makes the whole mountain of things easier to comprehend!!)  The total is now at 'around' 35, with not one item finished this year.

I have used 'development as a quilter' as an excuse to 'just try this'' most of the year. I have done that twice in the space of 10 days!!!   

I started a little bit of crochet  for the tactile quilts and 'tried' out the tile  log cabin technique this week. 

I have seriously defaulted on my commitment to finish the had quilted wedding quilt.  That's really bad news.

So. Deep breath.  I will not begin another project this year.  
No wait.  That's not enough.  
With so many begun, I can faff about for the next three years and not finish anything.  'Completion' has always been an issue for me and I can never work out whats at the root of that.  
Regardless, I need to master it!

  1. I will buy no quilting fabric for one calendar year.  IGNORE THE SALES!!!  THERE WILL ALWAYS BE BARGAINS!!  (Notice I have left an opt-out here, with regard to charity shops!)
  2. I will work on on one machine project, one leaders and enders project (bow ties) and one hand pieced project at a time unit they are finished and gifted or in use. 
  3. The first hand sewn project will be the wedding quilt.
  4. The machine project is moth in the window.
5. I will complete a tactile quilt by February 13th as I have bagged a Linus fund raising day at work for 14th (UK Valentines day).
6. A colleague at work encouraged me to commit to three finishes by the end of March.  That's my first target. On my birthday I will re-asses.
7. I'm going to add to the list: I will not buy any books for one year, charity shops or otherwise!

Just has a skype call with my son in the far east and I told him if he catches me buying fabric this year I'll give him £50  .His response?  I'm quids in then!  I thought you were supposed to support addicts, not tell them they will fail!

Saturday, 29 December 2012


Tile log cabin blocks: one light, one dark dominant. I think I'm going with the dark dominant, to use up more of the murk green uglies.

 Spiral stitching on the back........

Friday, 28 December 2012

The Quilters Apprentice

Here is my read for this week-not much of a challenge, but it's ticking along. It's a Bookcrossing ring-it started its journey in the US, and has been to Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and now the UK, I'm the 8th reader so far.

I couldn't resist

It will only take a couple of hours........

9 1/2" background square  and a pre-cut 3 1/2" square, wrong sides together and centred.

A rummage in the 2" strip bin......and a bit of hand stitching....I have pulled out browns for the backing squares, from tan to dark brown
with some judicious folding...
Each strip is folded so the first third matches the 2nd third, leaving the last third to be sewn down on the next round. It's stitched in a spiral, through all thicknesses.  I used thread that matched the back so you can't see the stitches-it's difficult to get them even as you stitch through three thicknesses, five layers on the corners.

The finished block, using up some uglies.  These blocks will be mixed fabrics, using up some poly-cotton light coloured shirts that I had donated from a colleague.  I'll slip a few other fabrics in there too, I have some silk and lining and curtain fabric to use up. 
There are three green shirting strips in here. I'll also get to use up that hideous bear paw print fabric (the picture was misleading, I bought 3 bargain metres!!). It looks like cut off paws, not prints!

The backing is a smidgen too small for comfort for when the blocks are joined, so I have cut the next four at 9 3/4"-another dodgy buy, the pattern was much bigger than I thought it would be!
I worked out the finished quilt will weigh about 5 1/2 lb, not as much as I thought. 

One more block, then its going away!

Dissolving Resolve

Having outed myself on a previous post about all I am going to get done in the next few weeks-it's my birthday at the end of march so there is a TARGET date-I didn't  get off to the most the most industrious start! To be fair, visiting took up time over Christmas (excuse!) and I was really tired yesterday (pathetic!).  Hopefully by the end of today I will have organised everything I need to in order to have a clear conscience and proceed forthwith with the sewing tasks! 

I needed something to occupy those spare moments over the festivities so I played with some crochet cotton from a charity shop that I had had in the stash for years (not enough of it to make a garment and too nice a colour for dishcloths) and made texture effects for the tactile quilts-enough for several dozen! I got a bit carried away as I haven't done crochet for years, I had forgotten how relaxing it was and how quickly things grow...............

I have been thinking about the tactile quilts non-stop as it's going to give me a chance to practice texture effects, which have long been on the list of things I want to master.  Must finish Moth in the Window first, before I do a single tactile-orientated sewing stitch!  I think I may end up doing far too complicated a job for what is required, but as I will only make one to start with there will be time for feedback. I will be setting aside practice blocks for my own quilt along the way.

Oh, and I also told my son I would loose 14lb by the time he got back from the Far East at the start of March.  Hmmmmm....... it should me me that's dissolving, not my resolve!

Sunday, 23 December 2012


I work as a purchaser for a sign company.  
 One of my key suppliers, a metalwork company, that I have spoken to every day for 7 years has made me a quilting frame for Christmas!!!
I sent him a design sketch 18 months ago and it fizzled as an idea, but he's done it now as a gift!!   I supply him and his small workforce with cakes on a fairly regular basis as I am often harassing him several times a day, poor man, to do-this-do-that NOW pretty please.
It's still in the car at the moment, so no pictures yet...........yes, I *really* want to try it out, but I had an accident last Sunday-I was steam cleaning the living room carpet and knocked over the machine, spilling 4 litres of water!!!  I have been sitting hand quilting with a fan heater on full blast pointing at the carpet for a week that I scrounged from work, trying to dry it out.  Took a while to figure out how to point it downwards without it scorching the carpet..............

I think were OK now, so I will be able to finish the other half of the carpet later today and re-assemble the living room into some sort of normality!

I was talking to a colleague at work about my UFOs, and have made a commitment to finish three by the end of March....erm!

Her sister works with severely disabled children and receives quilts from project Linus in the UK (I have previously donated fabric and wadding but not sewn). 
Well, they are in need of specialist sensory quilts, so I have at least one to make by 14th February (UK Valentines day) as I have bagged a fundraiser day at work and I need an example of around 40 x 40 inches to show everyone. 

I will be doing red, yellow, blue, black and white, bold colours. I found some cheap fur fabric and silky lining on the internet, so now to practice my texturing- I have this lovely book for ideas......

So, actually, that's FOUR by the end of March.  
I'd better get on with it!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


At the weekend I wanted a bit of non-thinking hand sewing so I  put the last few hexies onto five of these 'random hexie' blocks and sewed a few more papers in whist watching catch-up TV.  

I need to press ahead with the hand quilting project for the next month and get it finished. I did a bit last night and should get  a lot done over Christmas.

A rather fuzzy photo-as this is my first go at hand quilting, I wisely chose a 'camouflage' backing so you can't see the beginners uneven stitching on the back!  Love it!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Ah! A use for the non-cotton clothing items that I currently throw out!

Oh, ANOTHER long term WIP!

I have just watched an episode from season 10 on The Quilt show, where Pepper Cory demonstrates an early log cabin technique from the Isle of Man in the UK, called locally a 'tile' log cabin.   I  don't like throwing out poly-cottons, or other fabrics when the clothing has passed it's best so here is what I'll be using them for!

I found machine instructions on the   

I think I will be using Pepper's hand technique as its portable and I like the idea of traditional handwork.   There is some more information on her blog.   Now to beg for castoffs on Facebook.......

Good job there's no one to say stop! 


I often hear on the news information on the state of the fish stocks and there is a good series, Trawlermen, on the North Sea fleets-such as they are these days.  Fresh fish from the supermarket is prohibitively expensive most of the time.  And I only live 30 miles from the coast.

So I thought I would 'Kindle' this. Looks uninspiring, doesn't it?   Its actually quite a good read, I'm 1/4 way through.  History, politics through the ages, the state of current fish stocks; the text is engaging me.  Cod=cash=international trade, in times past.

Kurlansky has written other books on related subjects (salt, the Basques) that I may read too, as I like his style of writing.

There is a wonderful quilt by Ruth  B McDowell, featuring a school of cod, that I love.  I wish I had the time to acquire and practice her techniques.

Friday, 14 December 2012

A little exercise to clear the cobwebs.... two respects!

I have been feeling distinctly under the weather for the last couple of days, haven't been to work.  Yesterday I slept ALL day. And I slept late this morning until 10am.  Not like me at all.  I could have stayed there longer but my back was aching from all the laying around!  I had the fidgets this evening, no doubt from feeling thoroughly rested so I started moving a few things into my sons room while he is away to decorate....I'm going to email him this picture!  The double bed is buried, all the floor space is taken up with fabric in storage, wool in storage, UFOs, two huge rolls of wadding, FOUR giant bags of polystyrene beads to make bean bags (I've had those over 5 years), boxes of strings and more. I'm not sure this will fit in the little bedroom!  Good job I got my son to put his fishing gear in the loft before he went.

I will be taking up the old carpet and maybe prepping the paintwork this weekend.  I have hoovered away the cobwebs already.

I will have to work round this unit, there is nowhere to move it to.............. has my browns and larger pieces/backing in.  I can never resist good quality fabric at silly prices for backing!   I almost weakened today and bought 8 metres of Makower strawberry fabric for backing, but I stopped myself!  Whew!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Last week

Earlier in the week I was chain piecing mauve moths for the 'Moth in the Window' borders

At the end of the week I went away for a chilly break by the sea to Weymouth.  The town must be awfully crowded in the summer as its not very big, neither is the beach, but its a popular holiday destination. December was the perfect time of year to explore, it was cold but with no wind and the bay was like a millpond.  Quite nice old buildings, shops a little bit trinkety-seaside.  I kept thinking of Thomas Hardy's Wessex novels whilst I was there! No pics as I walked into town at 3.30pm as it was getting dark. 

This is a view of Chesil beach  and Weymouth Harbour, location of the sailing for 2012 Olympics, from Portland

I spy a colour scheme for a wedding ring quilt!

At Lulworth Cove I took some texture study pictures for 'one day', the chalk weathers differently from my local chalk in Sussex....
Its beautiful to me!  There were a few fossils, but I had left my hammer in the car. 
 More texture. 

This was a good fundraising idea: on the lane down to Lulworth Cove (famous as a beauty spot and geologically magical)-all the buckets left on the beach  put in a tree!  Cute friendly chickens in the pen next to the wall, too.

Never been around chickens, they make a rather comforting relaxing noise, in the manner of a cat purring, I'm sure they were talking to me.......yes, I'm quite well, thank you.  The rest did me good!

  Lulworth Cove under brilliant December skies.  Wrapped up, It was warm enough to sit on the beach and read for half an hour.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Huge peg, small hole

I can't see how this is ever going to fit into that little space under the machine to quilt!  
Watch this small space.....

I have been thinking about tying patterns for 'Moth in a window' as an alternative if it won't squeeze in there.

I seriously considered an 820 when I was looking for a new machine, but they hadn't been out long and they still had problems.  I found two suppliers who wouldn't sell me one so I researched on the net and found the first issue batch needed to go to the breakers yard!. I wanted to try one at an exhibition, the retailer had two there, neither of which they could make work to strait stitch.
That pretty much decided it!

Border for the moth quilt...... I sewed the odd lengths of 2" strip greys into two lengths, enough for a scrappy look to go round the quilt twice.  Boy, do I ever overdo my requirements for every project.

 That will need bringing into line or I will end up with dozens of sets of blocks/strips  that will only make half a quilt.  I have 40  complete moth blocks and about four hundred 4 patches and more grey strips left, as well as over 40 sewn up inner moth blocks!  I will have to make something out of them or make a mini quilt that will become part of a backing. .

I thought that small grey and cream moths would be too plain, so off  to the the 2" squares box-a row of these all the way round, in between the  two grey border strips.......all the creams are pre-cut too.
I had originally thought grey and purple, but  I think all purple.  They finish at 3". Slowed down a little by having to pencil the sewing line, I'm all over the place! There is something familiar about this process..........

Yesterdays bow ties! I made way more than I had estimated.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Moth traps

Experimenting with the layout this morning:  I don't really have enough room  (:¬/  The conference room at work was in use this week so I couldn't commandeer it. 

It took me all day to web the grey sashings in as I wanted to make sure that there were no adjacent strips. 

 Oh well, too late now. No one will notice, shhhhh!

I made 20 or so bow ties whilst I trapped the moths.  I don't have a picture of the finished top, there will be others here tomorrow to hold it up for a snapshot.

Can't decide what to do with the border: the top so far SHOULD finish at a troublesome 93 1/2", but I haven't measured it yet, perhaps the measurement is actually more cooperative!  I'm thinking about mini moths. I have a maximum border allowance of 7 inches on each edge.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Fifty pages in and I'm caught.......early night with a hot water bottle and a hot toddy!

Such a pleasure to come back to an author who was a favourite years ago and still find the magic.

After JG Ballard's Concrete Island and it's contrived cliched prose last week, this is a breath of fresh air.

So much for sewing!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Kitting up again

Not much sewing done during the week-Tuesday and Wednesday I had family for dinner after work, Thursday I was tired from cooking two evenings. Friday I fell asleep in the chair by 7pm. What a waste! Saturday was family visiting, today I've been really lazy!  Just fitted things to do with bow ties in here and there during the week.
I had to find the perfect 'knots' for more bow ties kits from the 1 1/2" bin, easier to tip them out than rummage as if you rummage the bin ends up full of a big knot!

I pulled a few more 2" squares out of the boxes, all brights.  I found out this week that someone is expecting a new arrival next year, so maybe some brights will go into a cot quilt.....

Now the drawer is stuffed to capacity

And the storage box is full....
And the overflow is heaped next to the sewing machine.  Enough!  But it filled those spare moments this week. 

I kept a few chain pieced bow ties in the machine and I have only finished ten. 

I will have a little go tomorrow evening, to finish whats there.  

I hope for a more industrious sewing week!

I have to iron the last of the moths, then I can put the top together.