Sunday, 25 September 2016

#100days100blocks [Blocks 31-40]

We're another ten blocks into the #100days100blocks project so here is another round up of ten-things-about-me!

Block 31: James
This one is for my nephew. The first time I made this quilt, I made this block in his favourite colour: green so it didn't look quite as girly!

Block 32: Jessica Violet

And for my youngest daughter. The quilts I've made from this book will always be associated with my children.

Block 33: Breakfast Church
My mother-in-law is very involved in the local Methodist Church and they've started running Breakfast Church one Sunday a month. We finally made it this week, spurred on by the promise of bacon sandwiches. It was a lovely, family oriented service, and a great way to introduce a toddler to church.

Block 34: Alnwick Gardens

We live about half an hour away from Alnick and have a year's membership to the garden. It's a great place for Mia to run and let off some energy. The water features are beautiful and the gardens are lovely year round - we were just a bit too late for the roses this time!

Block 35: Hotch Patch
This is the patchwork group I go and sew with on a Monday evening. There's a lot of chat and laughing and a lot of space which makes it great for laying out quilts, trimming quilts are quilting, and cutting large pieces of fabric.

Block 36: Embroidery
I've been doing a fair amount of embroidery lately. Not only have I been really enjoying it, but I also feel I have stepped up a gear recently in terms of the quality of my embroidery - a few of my current projects have opened my eyes to new stitches and improved my skills at some familiar ones.

Block 37: Gall Bladder

This was the block for 22nd September. The day I had surgery to remove my gall bladder. I was diagnosed with gallstones 4 months ago and I've been controlling it pretty well with my diet, but not being able to eat what I want really does make me grumpy so I knew removal was the best option. This didn't stop the date of the op standing in front of me like a wall, with me struggling to see past it, fixating on it. The relief when I woke up from the op, knowing that it had happened, it wouldn't be postponed, and I could move on was huge.

Block 38: Recovery
Inevitably after the op comes the recovery. I'm not great at sitting and doing nothing, but from everything I've heard from people who've had the same op, I really do need to let myself recover fully. We've got a great support network and they are all helping out, Linda especially. The silver lining is two weeks of hand sewing!

Block 39: Apples
This is one of my least favourite blocks. When I first made this quilt, I fussy cut an apple for this block, hence the name. My parents have an apple tree in their garden. Although the apples are small they are tasty. This is the first year in a while we won't be visiting at the right time to help pick the apples, but Mia had a great time picking the apples with Grandad last year!

Block 40: Osborn Road

Where I grew up. We moved there when I was 18 months old and my parents are still in the same house - lots of great memories.

I ten days time you can learn 10 more fun facts as we hit the half-way point!

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Splendid Sampler [twelve more]

I started the Splendid Sampler with the idea of making just a few blocks - the ones I really loved, with no pressure. The thing is that I like most of the blocks. I particularly love the variety of techniques involved: basic piecing, foundation pieces, applique, embroidery... I'm not attaching any pressure to this and I've not even made half of the blocks that have been published so far, but I'm enjoying making a few every so often and it's been a couple of months since I shared any here.

Snug as a Bug: this was one of the early blocks that I went back to and loved stitcing up: I was so pleased with the yellow detail to the bedspread.

Sew South

Stitch in the Garden: I really have enjoyed the embroidery blocks: I adapted some of the fillers from another project for the largest thread reel.


Dashing By Chocolate

Simple Surprises: so simple but I really love it - might be that Alison Glass background!

Flights of Friendship

Pencils: I've been looking forward to making this one since I first saw it

Homeward Bound

On a Whim: I used raw edge applique machine blanket stitch to put this one together and it's really effective (if not quite straight!).

Lina's Gift: another early block I've only just got round to finishing.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

A few more blocks and I'll get them all out for a group shot.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2016 [Sunrise Quilt]

I couldn't decide which quilt to enter in the Bloggers Quilt Festival this time round, so luckily we can enter two. You can read all about my Pixelated Heart Quilt here, but the second quilt I'm entering is Jessica's quilt:

Our second daughter, Jessica, was born in April this year, and I was determined she would have a quilt when she arrived. She kept us waiting - I was 12 days overdue when she finally make an appearance, but she came home to her very own quilt.

The idea for this came from a quilt by Lee from Freshly Pieced, but as I live in the EU (for now, at least) I was unable to purchase the pattern at the time, and so drafted my own paper piecing template. I'd been inspired by the colours of a sunrise for months, and it seemed appropriate for a baby quilt so I put the two together and came up with this.

Apart from the background fabric, all of the fabrics were straight from my stash and there are a few fabrics which appear not only in this quilt, but also in the quilt I made when our eldest daughter, Mia, was born. I like that connection between two very different quilts for our girls.

I knew from the minute I started working on this quilt that I wanted to quilt it with a spiral. And the backing is a butterfly print from Heather Ross (I think). You can read more about the quilt in my original finish post here.

The finished quilt measures 33" x 39" so this fits into the Small quilt category at the festival.

Bloggers Quilts Festival 2016 [Pixelated Heart]

It's Bloggers Quilt Festival time again. I love looking at all of the pretties and finding new people to follow and inspiration to pin. This year I'm entering a quilt in the rainbow category.

This is my pixelated heart quilt. I signed up to a workshop with Katy "I'm a Ginger Monkey" Jones in summer 2015 to make the pixelated heart pattern that had appeared in one of the early (maybe the first) issues of Quilt Now. The pattern calls for, I think, seven fabrics and a background and in some cases more than a fat quarter. Unfortunately my stash consists mostly of fat quarters, so I was struggling to find fabric for this quilt without buying more.

Then I had one of those stupid brainwaves: one week before the class, I decided to go rainbow scrappy and cut from all of my fat quarters: a rainbow heart and a low volume background. I multi-tasked and cut the sky for My Small world quilt at the same time - I haven't finished that yet!

Piecing this quilt was easy and fast. Mostly the workshop was all about hanging out with Katy. I steamed through seven of the nine sections in the six hours we were there. And then I totally ignored the quilt. The problem was that I wanted to make it bigger - bed-sized rather than lap-sized. But I couldn't quite decide how. I'd had a plan when I was cutting, and cut enough extra squares to carry out that plan, but then I had another idea which would involve cutting more, so I stalled.

In the end, done is better than perfect, but my original idea, which I went with in the end, turned out absolutely perfect (in my honest opinion...). And once I'd made that decision in January, I had a finished quilt in just a couple of weeks! I quilted it with wobbly "straight" lines approximately 1/2" apart and I backed it with half a duvet cover from Asda.

This is one of my favourite quilts - I hope you like it too! You can read more about it in the original finish post. As I couldn't decide on just one quilt to enter, I've also entered another special quilt, Jessica's Sunrise Quilt - read that post here.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

#365QuiltChallenge [catching up]

Ever since Jess was born I have been behind on this project, I knew it would happen: any sensible person would not have chosen a year in which a new baby was expected, to do a block of the day challenge. But I've been determined to catch up... At its worst I was about 84 blocks behind and the catch up has been incremental: I would have a spurt and make 15 blocks in a day, but then not make anymore for ten days, so the reality was I had only caught up five blocks! A block every day is absolutely unrelenting!

It's been a while since I shared the journey here on my blog so I thought it was about time I did: April,  May and June could not have been a worse time for falling behind. We moved on from the 3" blocks: whilst some of the three inch blocks were truly ridiculous in terms of number and size of pieces, this was nothing compared to some of the 6" blocks that were to come!

July and August brought respite: or so I thought... back to the 3" blocks. I have learned that you can actually fit quite a lot of pieces in a 3" block. Especially when the piece of fabric you're cutting is just 7/8" - that means more seam allowance than fabric on the front!

And here is another picture of the quilt top so far: I added the light borders a few days ago and it transformed the whole thing. It's not the most enjoyable part of the project - there are a lot of points that can be easily lost, and a lot of pins to get in and out. But it feels so good when it's done!

I am still thoroughly enjoying nearly everything about this project. I say nearly... its all-consuming nature means I've fallen behind on some other projects which I'm missing. Hopefully, now that I'm caught up, I can keep on top of this monster and I can spend time catching up on some other projects. Although given the fact I am typing this one-handed while holding Jess, she may have other ideas!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Scraptastic Tuesday [Pineapple]

Please don't ask why, but all of a sudden I've got a plan to make fruit quilts....

Here's the first,  a mini quilt pieced entirely from scraps. There's a lot of pineapples about at the moment, but this is my own layout. The size will be repeated for a few more mini quilts so watch this space.

I find it amazing that I've pieced a mini quilt from scraps that are small enough that most people I know simply throw them away. It's like free fabric! The thing is, that I seem to have rather a lot of it, and this little quilt didn't make so much as a dent in it!

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday.

Scraptastic Tuesday

Thursday, 15 September 2016

#100days100 [Blocks 21-30]

I love this project. I love making the blocks - they are beautifully simple compared to other projects I'm working on, so go together very quickly, resulting in almost instant gratificaton. Also, check out the hashtag on instagram for some gorgeous blocks, mostly far better photographed than mine.

Here's my round-up of the next ten blocks: Block 21: Motherhood

The way that central piece of fabric is cocooned in the outer fabric made me think of motherhood back when I was pregnant with Mia.

Block 22: Six Brothers

My maternal Grandfather was one of six brothers: Harry, Walt, Gordon, Frank, Eddie and Ken. All six joined up: two in the navy, two in the airforce and two in the army. All six went to war in the 1940s and all six came home. I thought that should be celebrated.

Block 23: Harrogate

Each year we go to a quilt show in Harrogate to be inspired and spend lots of money on fabric! This year was no exception. I came home with a light purse, heavy bags and so, so many ideas!

Block 24: Health

Since Jess arrived, my own health has been under the spotlight. It took me a while to recover from child-birth because I did too much. Three weeks after Jess was born I started experiencing severe abdominal pain and was diagnosed with gallstones. I've had to cut most of the fat out of my diet in the intervening months, and it's made me conscious that I was eating dreadfully. While I was pregnant I also lost 2 stone. I really want to keep this off - obviously cutting my fat intake has helped, but I've also started a GP-referral exercise and gym routine at the local sports centre. I'm hoping that little steps will result in big changes. My gall bladder is due to be removed next week, but I need to keep up the healthy habits I've adopted.

Block 25: NEMQG

A group of us are currently setting up the North East Modern Quilt Guild. We meet once a month in Birtley to sew. Theoretically. There's a lot of chat too.

Block 26: Roast Dinner

Nothing beats roast dinner - even on a low fat diet I can still enjoy it! But I'm missing pork crackling at the moment!

Block 27: Aunty Margaret

This one is for my husband's Great Aunt. Yes - there will be a block for Aunty Mary too. Later.

Block 28: Family

I come from quite a small family: my dad had no Aunts or Uncles. My Mum had loads, but we didn't see much of them. My husband's family is the complete opposite. The extended family are quite close - it took me years to work out who was who (and to be able to tell the difference between Aunty Margaret and Aunty Mary!). And the more immediate family are a bunch of nutcases. Really. We see each other regularly, there's lots of banter and laughter and if you ever need anything they're always there for you. They're a canny bunch really. But don't tell them I said that!

Just a small note on the fussy cutting for this block: When I saw that "Dinosaur" would fit, it was perfect. When I first showed our 12-week scan photo of Mia to Michael's cousin he bravely said all he could see was a Dinosaur... he is still alive!

Block 29: Sea Fret

It's definitely Autumn now - we've had a 'delightful' sea fret for the last two days here. Apparently it's lovely just a mile or so inland. But here it is damp, grey and miserable.

And finally, Block 30: Milestone

Come back in a few days and you'll see exactly what sewing milestone I hit today! And in 10 days time we'll do this all over again!

Monday, 5 September 2016

#100Days100Blocks [Blocks 11-20]

Back to this project and a little bit of "ten things about me"...again!

Block 11: Tall Ships

Blyth was hosting the Tall Ships Regatta this past bank-holiday weekend: it was fantastic and deserved to be remembered in these blocks!

Block 12: Michael

This one's for my husband, Michael.

Block 13: Finish Along

The Finish Along led by a group of global hosts is a really important feature of my sewing. It really encourages me to finish, as well as start, projects and has pushed me to finish those projects over the years which could truly have become long-term ignored! I imagine the quilts from this project will eventually end up on one of these lists.

Block 14: Mum

Doesn't take much explanation. This one's for my Mum.

Block 15: Driver and Navigator

When I met Michael's family I got drawn into an annual family holiday: The Berwick Classic. This is a classic car rally which takes place in and around Berwick Upon Tweed and the Scottish borders each May bank holiday and most years we marshal at tests. However, I've entered the rally as a navigator a few times for both my late father-in-law and my Dad. I have to say we broke down in some very picturesque spots! It wasn't until 2013 that I finally navigated for Michael at a one-day rally. As it turns out I was also pregnant at the time - doesn't seem to have done Mia any harm!

When we broke down in Churnside... (with the Cavalier)
When we broke down at Tantallon Castle (with the Midget)

Block 16: Amelia Lily

This is for Mia - with her full telling-off name!

Block 17: Cakes

I like to bake. I didn't always. I use to hate The Great British Bake Off, now I'm hooked (and it started again this week...). Every year, my Mum use to run the cake stall at our local church fete. And bake most of the cakes for it too. I always visited that weekend to help with the mammoth bake. We seriously use to buy 15 dozen eggs... This use to be it for the year, and I didn't want to see another cake. Now that we don't do this mega bake any more, I find I'm baking more at home. I have some beautiful recipes for lemon drizzle, raspberry and white chocolate, and what I'm told is a lovely receipe for chocolate banana cake (yuck). But the best chocolate cake ever still comes out of a packet - just add water and oil. I simply can't beat it.

We baked about half the cakes...
Block 18: Steph

A block for my sister-in-law. She's an A and E nurse and I truly admire her - I could not do what she does. However, she is also pretty crazy. She went to Australia for a few weeks a couple of years back and we managed to convince her that drop bears were real but wombats were made up. I think that one day we may let her forget it. But not yet! She's going to be Jessica's godmother and I couldn't think of a better person!

Block 19:Anticipation

This was a block name from 2013 - I made it around the time I found out I was pregnant with Mia but before I had the first scan. I hated this time. Apart from being sick, waiting for that first scan seems to last forever. It doesn't seem real until you actually see it. I was the same with Jessica.

Block 20: Appledore Road

Where we live.

As you can see, towards the end of this group of blocks, I've started making more of an effort with the photographs of the blocks. I'm hoping to keep that up... wish me luck. I'm also really enjoying going back through photos old and new to add in - hopefully you're not finding it too boring.

Here are some group photos of the two quilts I'm making.