Tuesday, 31 December 2013


2013 has been a year of ups and downs. Although we lost both my Grandmother and my husband's Grandfather, our niece was born in March, and two engagements mean two weddings next summer. It feels like I've been pregnant for ever but we are looking forward to meeting our baby daughter - she's due in just 6 weeks. Work has been challenging but I'm lucky to have worked with a fantastic group of people and my maternity leave has now started. And of course through everything I have been sewing....

I have completed 5 large quilts (some considerably larger than others...)
Daniela's Quilt; Pac Mania; Medallion Quilt; Steph's Quilt; Debs's Quilt
Nine Baby Quilts
Murmurations; Stepping Stones; Baby Blue; Indian Summer; Bubbles; EJ's Plus Quilt; Rhubarb and Custard; Baby's Quilt; Baby Paws.

And lots of smaller projects
Paper Plane mug rug; Pepper Coasters; Block Keeper; Swap Cushion; Pembrokeshire Mini; Triangle Place Mats; Christmas Table Runners; Teddy Bear; Batik Wall-Hanging; Linen Bag; Christmas Tree Table Runner; Hexagon Table Runner; Star Place Mats

I've taken part in three bees

And I still have lots of WIPs
My own BOM; Dear Jane; Lucky Stars; Ferris Wheel EPP; City Sampler; Amish with a Twist; Sisters BOM (nearly a UFO); Aspen Frost; Mini Swoon; Fireworks; Skill Builder BOM; Joy Jelly Roll Quilt; Double Wedding Ring (not pictured)
And a couple of UFOs
Vignette; Three Peaks; Neon Stained; Strings and Hexies

A massive thanks has to go to Leanne for hosting the Finish Along this year. Without that encouragement I'm sure I would have fewer finishes! Also thanks to Lee for WIP Wednesday each week and Lynne for her monthly reviews (which I will link to tomorrow).
Lily's Quilts

Also linking with Anne at Play Crafts (if you don't know Anne, you should by and look up her Dragon Quilt of Doomity Doom Doom Doom!)

Year In Review

And for 2014: lots of plans for new quilts in between feeds, nappies and everything else that will come with Baby.

I wish you all of you a fantastic 2014!

Monday, 30 December 2013

City Sampler - a few more blocks

This was one of the projects on my Finish Along list - not a chance. But today I got a lovely parcel of fabric including the sashing and backing for this quilt so I pulled it out again and took stock: I had made up to block 65 and cut the fabric for most of the remaining blocks. So this afternoon I cut the remaining fabric, had a nap, and started piecing. Warning: there are a lot of photos coming up...

No. 66: Aunty Catherine. This is a block for my Aunt, my Dad's sister.

The fabrics are Kona Regatta, Kona Periwinkle and a batik.

No. 67: Weardale. If you head south from here you hit the River Tyne and then the River Derwent and eventually the River Wear (pronounced like Weir). It's absolutely beautiful and was the location for a sewing retreat back in September. After a rough few months (before and after) with my pregnancy, it was so good to spend a weekend sewing, chatting with good friends and eating lovely food.

The fabrics are Art Gallery Oval Elements, Art Gallery Modernology and Kona Ice Frappe.

No. 68: Violet: this one is for my maternal Grandmother, Violet. She died when I was just 8 years old, but I have some wonderful memories of her.

The fabrics are Acacia, Kona Midnight and Kona Carnation.

No. 69: Barton-le-Clay: This is the village where I grew up, right at the end of the Chilterns. The fabrics are slightly inappropriate as it's difficult to get further from the sea in the UK....

The fabrics are Salt Water, Kona Lime and Kona Asparagus.

No. 70: It's a girl: Well that's what the scans say... if it turns out to be a boy he'll be wearing a lot of pink!

The fabrics are Art Gallery Pure Elements Lipgloss, Kona Carrot and Art Gallery Splendor.

No. 71: Fireworks: I made this one a few weeks/months ago to celebrate Guy Fawkes night in the UK.

The fabrics are a Summer Island Batik and a Kona Pmoegranate.

No. 72: Ullswater: Ullswater is my favourite lake in the Lake District - we visited when we were there in October and it is just a few miles away from Patterdale, where my Grandmother lived during the Second World War.

The fabrics are Blooms and Bursts from Studio E fabrics; Kona Pear and Art Gallery Pure Elements Parisian Blue.

No. 73: Datchworth: The name of the village where my Grandparents lived when I was young. Although I have lots of memories of the cottage, I have far more of the garden, which was huge and perfect for hide and seek. It's a place I've been thinking of a lot since we lost my Grandmother recently. Especially the connection between Datchworth and my sewing past...

The fabrics are Nana's Garden from Red Rooster and Kona Lime.

No. 74: Tommy: Tommy was Michael's Granddad who passed away in October this year. Baby lost two Great-Grandparents in as many months this year.

The fabrics are Snow Queen from Northcott and a dark blue with a slight marble from my stash.

No. 75: Phil and Jane: One for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, though given the colours, probably more for Jane than Phil!

The fabrics are Art Gallery Bohemian Soul, Kona Carnation and Kona Brt Pink.

and No. 76: Stotfold: This is the village my Mum is from. My Grandparents lived there along with a huge amount of extended family.

The fabrics are a print from my stash, which was one of the very first fat quarters I ever bought, with Kona Asparagus, Kona Daffodil and Pearl Bracelets.

So I'm now 76% completed....

Batik Wall Hanging [a finish]

On 23rd December I had my final Christmas finish! The batik wall hanging for Mum nearly beat me....

This project came out of a conversation in September 2011. I had started playing with bias applique - a Celtic Knot block, and was playing with batiks for my Farmer's Wife quilt and Mum put the two together... "wouldn't it be nice if....."

I made a start in early 2012 and it was a total disaster. I tried using calico as a base and then used fabric glue to roughly attach the batiks to the calico then started stitching on the home made bias tape. Well, everything moved. I didn't get very far. It got shoved to the bottom of the drawer and I ignored it for a bit.

In October 2012 I was reminded of it again. Pulled it out. Decided what I had done could not be saved. Started again. This time I pieced the batiks in the traditional way, cutting accurately, quarter-inch seam... etc. and ended up with this.

Then I made up some bias tape and started adding it to every seam....

...I got sick pretty quickly and it got put back in a drawer.

Fast forward to Summer 2013 and I saw some pre-made bias tape in a patchwork shop. I knew it existed before hand, but this time the shop had black in stock, rather than having to order online. I bought ten metres. And then continued to ignore the project until about 3 months ago. I did a bit more. Then other hand stitching projects took priority. A week before Christmas I decided to finish it. I have these stupid thoughts occassionally.

I stitched non stop for two days.

I crossed my fingers as I got close to the end of the pre-made tape, praying I wouldn't have to get out the mini iron and tape maker. I was 24" spare in the end! Given that the first part of the wall hanging was made with home made bias tape, I reckon this has used about 10m of tape, hand-stitched on both sides, along every single seam line. All of the raw ends are tucked under another length of tape or finished with the final binding.

Of course, applique causes crinkling, so the stitching was followed with some tender loving pressing, and then I layered it up and bound it. I love the batik on the back - you need a larger area to really show the colours and pattern and this was perfect.

I had planned to hand quilt round random sections, but when I started it looked awful. I liked the flatness of the unquilted wall-hanging so eventually decided not to quilt it at all. The finished wall hanging is 15" x 23" and it will never be washed or handled very much, so I risked it.

It was wrapped up under the tree ready for Mum on Christmas day and she loved it. This was a bit of a labour of love, and if it hadn't been for Mum this may not have ever been finished. I'm glad it is.

Next week I will be linking up with the final Quarter Finish Along for this project. And I really hope to have a couple of other finishes to share between now and then. Mum and Dad have just left after Christmas, and we have no other plans for next week or so - other than a scan tomorrow afternoon, so there are two more projects I would like to see finished this year (or maybe in the first week of next year). Because obviously I have a few new projects lined up to start.

she can quilt

I have projects left to finish for next year too - so I'm already thinking about my list for the first Quarter with Katy.
Finish Along 2014

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

The lull before the storm! Mum and dad have arrived, presents are wrapped, tree is decorated and the rest of the family is en route. And the Snowman and the Snowdog has just started on the telly.

In this moment of peace I thought I'd share a quick tutorial with you. I posted a picture of my finished Christmas Tree table runner on Facebook and some friends asked for the pattern. So without making another one, and using just the photos I took when I made it, here is the briefest of brief tutorials...

I started with 16 squares of low volume prints of a creamy persuasion rather than a grey persuasion. In hindsight I would have selected lower volume prints than those I did use. I pieced them together in pairs and then created the background of the table runner.

Then I raided my scrap boxes. Green strips, red scraps and yellow scraps. I drew some stars on scraps of iron on interfacing and used it to attach the stars at regular points along the table runner. This was the only time I used interfacing because of the delicate points.

I laid out the green strips under the stars - four strips per tree. I trimmed them and replaced them. And then trimmed them again and swapped them around until I was happy and added a red pot at the bottom of each tree. I struggle with this kind of improv-y-ness, but I laid them out, made a cup of tea and walked away for a bit. I came back and was happy enough so I got out the fabric glue and roughly stuck them in place.

I used coordinating thread and shortened my stitch length and put on a clear foot and stitched round each of the shapes no more than 1/8" from the edge. I started with the stars. Constant handling and turning and rolling up meant that some of the green came lose before I got to stitch it, and I just popped a few pins in.

Then lots of trimming... ends of thread, fraying edges....

I layered it up with an offcut of Christmassy fabric on the back, then quilted. I started off by quilting organic lines across the width of the table runner approximately two inches apart. Then I quilted half way between the lines and then halfway again and again and again. The end result was quilted lines approximately 1/8" - 1/4" apart and slightly wavy.

Bound and finished!

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas is coming....

... and I've finished work today. Not just for Christmas but for maternity leave. I don't think it has really sunk in yet - maybe when I don't have to go back to work after Christmas it will feel more real....

In the meantime I have finished some hand made Christmas decorations. These will be winging their way to some Bee mates who have had to wait rather a long time for their blocks... a couple of them will get this hopefully just in time for Christmas, the other possibly not....

I got some Christmassy scraps and started with some crazy patchwork with a piece of calico in the middle. I quilted as I went and crossed my fingers, as crazy / improv patchwork isn't my forte. Once it was pieced I drew a Christmas motif and got out the perle thread. The holly is backstitch and the berries are lots of French knots - I nearly regretted this half way through as it was a lot of French knots but I love the texture it created. The Christmas tree is chain stitch, backstitch, a star-ish thingy, and some threaded running stitch.

Just need to finish the actual bee blocks now...

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

WIP Wednesday [Christmas sewing]

It may only be a week till Christmas but more importantly it's only 2 more days left in the office until my maternity leave starts!

But Christmas is what the sewing is all about round here! At the weekend I finished a Christmassy table runner - you can read more about it here, but I wanted to share it again because I just love it. A couple of friends have asked for the destructions so with enough naps maybe a tutorial will appear!

The WIPS are also Christmassy and just as spur of the moment as the table runner. This is as far as I have got - do you see a theme? Improv (well, improv for me anyway), dense straight line quilting.... I got these three to this stage yesterday and it was such good fun - I sewed straight onto the wadding and quilted as I went and made it up as I went. Each will have some embroidery in the middle... but what will they be?

The other big WIP this week is the batik wall hanging for my Mum - I still have hopes it will be done for Christmas... she knows all about it so I can share it here - just pretend to look surprised next week if I do finish it in time, Mum! Although it doesn't look like much progress has been made since the last time I showed you, all of the black that was "attached" last time (about three quarters of what you can see here) is now sewn down and the final quarter is half sewn. Once that is done I'm over half way....

Do you think I need to unpick and straighten those wonky lines?

But there may not be much more progress tonight on anything... I really need to get round to writing my Christmas cards.....

Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

Merry Christmas and see you for WIP Wednesday in the new year!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Tables Runners - four finishes!

I have four finished table runners to share today - three very different designs and techniques!

First up is a finish that qualifies for the Finish Along - and has appeared on my list a few times now. I finally can share the finished piece with you. This was the very first English Paper Pieced project I ever started. It was my holiday project for Sidmouth in August 2012 and the colour scheme was inspired by a palette I found on Design Seeds.

The fabrics are a bit of a mixture: lots of Art Gallery, some beautiful low volume texty fabrics and some proper black fabrics! The background is Primitive Muslin from Moda, the backing is Nature Elements from Art Gallery and the binding is Floral Elements from Art Gallery.

I finished piecing the hexies months ago and did the applique when I stayed in Budapest in March.

 Basting was interesting. And possibly a contributing factor in my current bad back! It took a lot of time to decide how to quilt it, but I decided hand quilting was in keeping with the rest of the project. I used Finca Perle no. 16 in a very pale pink and bought myself a Hera Marker - how did I live without one for so long!

I even finished off the binding by hand - I haven't done that for a while!

Come the end of the month I will be linking up this post with the Finish Along...

she can quilt

In the meantime I have three more table runners with a more festive theme... the first two are the same design. I wanted to thank two of the lovely ladies at the Church craft club who have made me booties and a little cardigan for baby. I can't knit to save my life and Ruth has made it very clear to me that she can't sew (and is scared of the sewing machine). So this was an obvious way of thanking her and Marion.

The block is Love in the Mist  (you can find the tutorial here) and it's still one of my favourite basic patchwork blocks. I wanted the table runners to be Christmassy but not too Christmassy, so I picked reds and greens, but not with a Christmas print. These fabrics (mostly from the Women of Courage collections from Windham) are a million billion miles out of my normal comfort zone but just right for the recipients. It took a long time to pick the background fabric, because I really didn't like it on the bolt, and Nicola, from my LQS, who helped me pick the fabrics, was determined it was the one. She was right. As usual... (don't tell her I said that).

The two table runners are slightly different lengths as I used different seams as my starting point when trimming the pointy ends. The free motion quilting stipple was just right for the traditional design and despite a tiny little issue was relatively smooth.

The binding made my head hurt - funny angles.... baby brain.... not a good mix. The backing was a good quality sheet from John Lewis which I have on hand to back small projects!

The final table runner is another festive one - this is for me and was inspired by this mug rug I found on Pinterest and all of the matchstick quilting that Leanne has been playing with!

I picked out random low volume fabrics - though in hindsight they should have been lower volume - and did some raw edge applique to attach fabrics for the trees. This was pretty close to improv for me and I really struggled to let go and just let it happen. But I'm really pleased with this spur of the moment project.

I'd been meaning to try matchstick quilting for a long time, and this was the perfect project to try it on. I think this won't be the last time... and the backing is a leftover from the quilt I made last Christmas for a friend - it was the perfect size!

I hope my husband doesn't think he can use these to put his beer cans on...