Monday, 22 October 2018


You may recall that for the last two years I've participated in the Instagram-based quilt-along for Tula Pink's City Sampler hosted by Gnome Angle. The basic premise is that that you post a block a day from the book in order each day for 100 days. And of course by day 100 you have a pile of 6" blocks!

The 2016 blocks remain in piles, unsashed and unfinished. However,the 2017 blocks were finished quite promptly after the end of the sew-along as Christmas quilts for Mia and Jess. The 2018 quilt-along started in July when I was feeling particularly rough with this pregnancy, but I forced myself to join in - it was the push I needed to do at least a little bit of sewing, and I figured that by the end of Summer, my energy and sewjo would be back and I would regret not joining in. My energy and sewjo are only just coming back now, as we post our final blocks, but I don't regret joining in at all. I'm glad I did some sewing over the summer!

Rather than start a new project, which I knew would get me in trouble with The Committee, I decided to earn some brownie points with The Committee and use this opportunity to make progress on a quilt I started *a while ago*.... I've looked back through blog posts and it would seem that this start was pre-Mia - January 2014! I started making 6" blocks in Architextures and Botanics fabrics by Carolyn Friedlander. I made 28 blocks using patterns from a variety of sources, and then didn't touch them again.

But 100 days after picking them up again (and adding in some of Carolyn's later fabric lines), I now have 130 blocks and this layout. And it's all pieced! I confess that I didn't love it at first, but it's definitely growing on me!

Now all I need to do is get this quilt finished - pick a backing, buy some wadding and quilt it! Not adding sashing definitely helped me get to this point. And it's on my Q4 Finish Along list!

Friday, 19 October 2018

Bjorn Bear [A Group Finish]

Back in April this year, a sewing friend had a baby boy. Four of us decided that this called for a quilt! We settled on the Bjorn Bear pattern, and started by selecting a backing fabric and working with the colours from there - duck egg blue, orange and grey (to match his nursery).

We split the piecing of the bears between us, Jules sashed it, I quilted it (just a cross hatch), Rose bound it, and Dona created the label!

It so happened that the backing fabric we picked also comes in peach, so we bough a half meter of this colour-way and made his big sister a matching cushion! This is such a good pattern and I love the bear's glasses! I'm making a rainbow version for a different baby and I have to say, even as a rainbow lover, this quilt definitely looks better in a limited colour palette... I need to do something about the other quilt, but I haven't decided what yet... so no photo!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Sewing Date Traveller [A Finish]

I have to confess that when I first wrote my Finish Along list for this quarter, I wasn't sure if this project would actually be made, let along be one of my first finishes! But here is my finished Sewing Date Traveller! I first came across the pattern at the start of the summer and mentally added it to my list of one-day-I'd-like-to-make things. Then at the Sewing Shindig, I saw a few in real life, and it was added to the list for certain. I'd already picked up some Essex Yarn Dyed Linen with this project in mind, and the Shindig weekend convinced me to use Tula Pink's Zuma for the rest of it. This can be blamed on @rosedahlia who made a beautiful Sew Together bag in Zuma over the weekend, and Olive and Flo Handcraft who had a pop up shop with, you guessed it, Zuma!

The interfacing on this project scared me a bit - and was the main reason I wasn't sure it would get done. The pattern  (which is free!) calls for Pellon 65 which I couldn't source in this country. It was suggested that Soft and Stable would be a good alternative, but that's not cheap (for the 2m called for in the pattern, the price was heading towards £50!). I did some research at Shindig, and felt up a few bags and baskets, and decided that Bosal R was very similar. And much cheaper. And wider, so I needed less of it! Winner! I bought a meter for under £17 and maybe have enough left to make another one!

I cut all the fabric and interfacing out before our NEMQG Retreat, and quilted the outer panels in organic lines in pink thread. This meant when I arrived on retreat I was ready for construction! My machine was not keen on multiple layers of the interfacing, and I swore quite a lot, but a change of needle helped (quilting needle). I managed to get my top-stitching finished neatly and all the pockets attached. However, the side seams and boxing seams were a bit of a nightmare.... the centre zipped pocket also has Bosal R in it, making it very stiff and hard to get accurately under the machine. If I made this again, I would use a heavyweight, but not foam interfacing for this pocket, as I don't think it needs as much structure, but those seams do need to be better!

I had a bit of an issue with the handles... as in I didn't cut the fabric correctly and didn't bring it with me to recut. Luckily the binding fabric is cut far longer so I had plenty left over to patch the handles, and actually ended up making them about 2" longer than the pattern called for. I didn't however, making the interfacing in the handles longer, which means where the handles meet the bag and are sewn in the lining, I was one layer of Bosal down on what I should have been, which I think allowed for a much tidier finish at this point. Definitely a "mistake" I will be repeating should I make it again!

The lining was a bit large for the basket, but I folded it down and tacked it in place before adding the binding, which in turn made the binding much easier to attach. It's finished off by hand sewing the binding on the inside.

I love it! I can fill it with so much crap. It's easy to carry, and feels sturdy. It was like I gave myself a present and I'm already using it. And whilst it seemed like a big make when I first started, the techniques are straightforward and once prepped, it only took me maybe 6 hours to get it all together. Whilst I said at the time, I would never make one again, a few days have now passed and there may well be more in the future. There are also great opportunities for personalising it, especially on those external pockets!

This is my second finish of the quarter - you can find my original list here.

Marci Girl Designs

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Another Retreat and a Wee Braw Bag [A Finish]

A promised in my Finish Along Q4 plan post, the wee braw bag is my first finish of the quarter. It was made as a swap for our North East Modern Quilt Guild Retreat, which took place last weekend. We spent the weekend in a beautiful cottage in the Northumberland countryside, sewing and eating cake. The cottage kitchen/diner was perfect for sewing with a big table, space for a few extra tables, a sofa for hand sewing and tonnes of floor space for laying out blocks. And there was a separate living room for Strictly! Everyone was very productive and the projects we were all working on were gorgeous. We won't discuss the spiders at length, suffice to say they were HUUUUUUGE!

Picture stolen from @lupilotty cause I forgot to take any photos of the cottage
But back to the Wee Braw Bag....I was making for Tina, who I know very well, but that didn't make it any easier to pick out fabrics. Until I remembered I had this sugar skulls fabric (it's from Michael Miller, but there was no other information on the bit of the selvage I had left). I teamed it with some solid pale blue, and a bright pink fro Libs Elliot's Mix Tape range, and some black tone on tone for the lining.

I didn't have enough of the feature print to use it for the main body of the bag, so used it as an accent on the front pocket, and then appliqued the scraps onto the reverse with some embroidery stitches in Finca #16 Perle Thread. I even pressed it after I'd taken this photo!

I couldn't believe how smoothly and quickly the bag went together, and the resulting pouch is a really satisfying size, that sits open beautifully. Mega useful!

I added some chocolates and a pretty pair of scissors as the little gist inside - Tina has a bit of a thing for scissors! Sarah @lupilotty made a Wee Braw Bag for me - Alison Glass and hexagons! Perfect. And a Unicorn, which I will not be sharing. And chocolate. Ditto.

And here are all six of the swapped items together - it was amazing how many of us used pink for the casing at the top of the pouch!

The Wee Braw Bag pattern is by Laura Cunningham and comes with two size options. This is the larger option, but I definitely fancy trying out the smaller one soon!

This is a finish from my Finish Along list - you can find that list here.

Marci Girl Designs

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Sewing Folio and Needlecase

If you have read my previous blog post, you'll know I've recently attended the Sewing Shindig retreat in Shropshire. Part of the retreat was a swap between Room Mates. You can see what Andrea made for me in my original retreat post. So here's what I made for Andrea. We decided to keep things simple as I'm lacking in energy and she was lacking in time, so we agreed on one pouch from Aneela's Stitched Sewing Organizers book, and then a couple of little extras to go with it. I started by making the fold-up sewing folio.

I wasn't sure of Andrea's tastes in fabrics, so I thought this print was inoffensive and pretty. I then went a bit bolder and paired it with lime green and a coral!

I also made a matching needlecase - the pattern is from the same book.

And I added some delicious chocolate truffles! I have made both of these items in the past for myself and find them very useful - I hope she does too!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Sewing Shindig 2018

I went away on retreat a few weeks ago. It was my first retreat and I wasn't sure about signing up to start with, but I am so glad I took the plunge! The retreat took place at Eaton Manor in Shropshire - literally in the middle of nowhere! It was run by the very lovely @tuppencehapennyquilts - she was a force to be reckoned with and the organisation and planning that went into the retreat were phenomenal. Her partner, Patrick, did all the cooking for us for the weekend - the only guy on site! But the food was amazing! The homemade flat bread with chicken and dips and veg and salad was fabulous, and I have never had such good sausage and mash!

My room-mate for the weekend was Andrea @frustrated_crafter. I didn't know Andrea at all when the room mates were first announced, but it turns out she lives very near where we go on holiday every year, so we were able to meet for coffee over the summer and get to know each other, which was either a huge coincidence, or some very clever stalking by Pennie! We did a roomy swap and Andrea made me some beautiful pieces: a clear pouch from Aneela's book, a scissor holder and an origami pouch. Along with chocolate and a Sidmouth tea towel! I'll share what I made for her in a separate post!

Pennie also organised the most amazing goodie-bags and lucky dip over the course of the weekend. The goodie bag had threads and fabrics and money-off vouchers, and my lucky-dip prize was amazing! A box of Aurifil 50w threads and some Liberty fabric. Now I'm not a liberty fan, but these prints are not all your normal ditzy florals... I may have plans and I may have purchased some linen to go with them!

The very lovely Saira from Olive and Flo Handcraft had a pop-up shop all weekend. I'd pre-ordered a fat quarter bundle of Tula Pink's new line, Zuma from her and picked that up, and may have possibly bought more later in the weekend - again, I have plans!

There were options to take three classes over the weekend. I didn't, as I knew I would never get prepared for them in advance, but some fabulous makes came out of the scrappy improv cushion class with Susan @canadianabroad, there was some beautiful embroidery from the class with Aneela Hoey and some pretty impressive free motion quilting from the class with Trudi. I spent my weekend doing Social Sewing. There was a lot of talking and laughing, and yes, we did some sewing too. Though I didn't stay up sewing until 4am unlike some people... I worked mainly on my Awesome Ocean quilt, a Bjorn Bear Quilt and made good progress on the Round We Go quilt.

It was the people who really made it such a good weekend. I met so many people in real life, who I have got to know through Instagram, as well as some new people. Everyone was amazingly friendly, and willing to share and laugh and we all had a great time. A special mention goes to Maria @stitchy.stitchy who is possibly the worlds most crazy quilter - I picked her up on my way down and we got on like a house on fire, egging each other on to start new projects and cause Instagram mischief!

There will be another Sewing Shindig next September. And despite the 7-hour drive each way, I've already signed up - the kids will be having a Daddy-weekend! And if I've whetted your appetite to join us, I'm sorry but 2019 is already sold out!!! In just 2 days! The sign of an excellent retreat!

Finish Along Q4

Quarter 3 was definitely not my most productive quarter, with just one finish. It was however, a finish that took a lot of work and that I love. But by finishing it, I seem to have re-found my sewjo, so I'm writing my Q4 list with that in mind! Let's see if we can tick some things off the list, as recently I've been adding things faster than I've been completing them.... not really anything new!

Bjorn Bear Quilt: a 12-block baby quilt for a little boy. Seven blocks are done already - here you can see that whilst working them on the recent Sewing Shindig retreat, I forgot to take the chin pieces, so they were square-jawed and unfinished - those 7 blocks are now finished and five more are cut waiting.

Sloths and Unicorns Quilt: the quilt is pieced, the backing is pieced, the quilt is quilted. I just need to get the binding on.

 Marcelle Medallion: I started this back in Spring as part of a quilt along. The quilt-along is long finished, but I have this in mind as a gift, so I need to pull my finger out!

Wee Braw Bag: this needs to be my first finish of the quarter because it's a swap for next weekend! I can't show you anything here because it would be a dead giveaway for who my secret swap partner is!

Tula Nova: I'm really enjoying this project and I don't want to rush it, so I may not finish it this quarter, but I hope to make some really good progress on it. I'll just have to see how far I get. This is all the parts I've pieced so far... It's just a case of adding in the joining parts.... but that is a lot of meters of hand sewn seams ahead of me!

City Sampler: Architextures and Botanics: I've been making these blocks as this years #100days100blocks quilt-along over on Instagram, and I'm conscious that once I get to day 100 (just a few days away now), it will be yet another collection of these blocks sitting round unfinished. I have a few extra blocks I'm adding in, and I don't plan on sashing it, so my normal excuse of hating sashing isn't valid!

City Sampler: Neon City: this was the collection of blocks I made for the first #100days100blocks event in 2016 and it is a pile of blocks and a bad of sashing. I have put together a couple of rows, but this isn't a full size quilt, and I'd love to get it finished.

Original City Sampler: This is the version of the quilt I made when I was pregnant with Mia.... I finished piecing the blocks 5 years ago at the end of the quarter, but because I'm custom quilting it, it has languished unfinished.

ABC embroidery: This has been on the go for a while now. One of the reasons was that I didn't know who to give it to. Well, I think it will be for the new baby. Decision made, no excuses. Also there's lots of new embroideries I want to start!

Threadfolk Embroidery: I actually added some more to this just last week. A few evenings solid work and this could easily be a finish.

Fancy Forest: this is a full size version of the quilt and I've done all the rabbits and foxes, and some of the hedgehogs. I do still have the owls and the fireflies to go, which are the most complex blocks, but I'd like to give this to the girls at Christmas.

Awesome Ocean: the partner quilt to Fancy Forest, I'd like to have this done at the same time as Fancy Forest. I'm further ahead on this one, with the majority of the blocks done, and the rest at least cut.

Lisa the Unicorn Quilt: this is a request from my sister-in-law, so really should have some kind of priority attached to it! All four blocks are cut out - here's the rainbow mane!

Kittens Around: I've made one block, and cut the remaining three.... if I don't finish it soon, it'll be too small for Mia!

Dachshund Cushion: This would be such a quick finish. I just haven't finished it yet.

Penguin Party: this maybe the most unrealistic on the list.... I've made one block, I still need to buy more background, and it would be lovely to have for Christmas. And then she laughed and laughed and laughed!

Jet Set Sewing Station: I have all the supplies.... now I just need to start.

Sewing Date Traveller: I saw loads of these at the Sewing Shindig Retreat and I need one. I've bought some extra Zuma fabric and it's going to look amazing (and bright). I've also found the essex linen I originally bought to go with it and the interfacing has arrived. I've read through the instructions and it sounds easier than the Jet Set Sewing Station, so I might tackle this one first!

Placemats: a Christmas present. These are the original placemats I made, but more are required! I want to do similar (black and rainbow), but not the same.

Coasters: another Christmas present based on coasters I made a few years back.

Alison Glass Triangle pouch: I got a bunch of Alison Glass EPP traingles in a swap and I'm going to make a pouch with them.

Twenty-one projects: I'm back to being a part of the #ridiculouslylongfallistgang this quarter, and while it's unlikely all or even most of these will be finished, each individually is feasible - it'll just depend on what I fancy playing with this quarter!

Marci Girl Designs