Tuesday, 25 June 2013

My Social Side

I seem to be flaunting my social side at the moment!
Over the last few weeks I've joined a quilting bee AND a quilt-a-long.
I was thrilled to be invited to join the The Quilting Bee by Maria over at sew love to sew 
and of course said "Yes"
The Bee is made up of 6 of us

Maria @ sew love to sew
Fran @ PatchyRose 
Sarah @ Quilt Candy 
Glinda @ Glinda Quilts 

and we are making one strip each. The finished quilt will be 40" wide and we can choose to make five 8"blocks or eight 5" blocks or whatever else will fill that width.
This is my finished strip

It's a disappearing pinwheel block using a couple of Amy Butler Soul Blossoms prints that I had in my stash. 
It is refreshingly liberating to start a quilt that you have no pre-conceived ideas about, as to overall colour or what room it is intended for.

My second social venture is a Swoon Along! 
It is being organised by Sarah @ Fairy Face Designs
I watched Katy's Swoon along take the quilt blogging world by storm last year and regretted that I didn't join in then. This time I'm on the ball! It only started yesterday, so if you fancy playing along, follow the link and join us!

FairyFace Designs

Finally, I have some finishes to share with you.
If you are a regular follower, you will know I am stash busting my knitting yarn oddments this year by making baby items for  Greenfields Africa
I challenged myself way back in January to make 52 items (one for each week of the year) using only oddments from my stash (I'm including fabric stash too). well, we are half way through the year at the end of this week, so I should have 26 items. With the 2 fabric blankets I finished yesterday, along with a couple of knitted items from earlier in the month, I've made it - just!

These bring my year total exactly up to 26 items.

Phew! That bundle is quite big! By the time it gets to December this parcel will need a sizeable box indeed! But my otherwise not very useable stash will be zapped and a few more babies will be wrapped in something other than rags.
Right now, I'm off to choose the fabrics for my Swoon.
Have a good week! 

Monday, 17 June 2013

An Amazings Crafting Class Giveaway

I love learning new techniques and new crafts, don't you?
Yes, of course you do, that's why you're reading this post!
Well today I have something very special for you - a free crafting class !!

Many of you have heard of, and doubtless used, Craftsy, a US based learning platform, but have you heard of The Amazings?
I certainly hadn't until a couple of weeks ago, and the more I learned about this enterprise, the more I felt strongly about what they are doing.
We all know that there has been a resurgence in crafting and there is a whole generation of young (and not so young) people  without crafting skills, who are very eager to learn. The Amazings works on the premise that it is the retired and retiring age range in this country who have these skills in abundance and they should be shared.
Amazings Co-Founder Adil Abrar says:

"There's nothing better than learning from someone who has a 
lifetime of experience, sharing shortcuts that you won't find in
most books or websites, and dropping in little stories that make 
the learning experience really special. We've worked hard to 
replicate that amazing-ness so people can experience it online, 
all over the world "

The Amazings are based in London and now have over 200 real life workshops run by the over 50s encompassing a wide range of crafts from Italian glass art to kiltmaking. But demand has far outstripped what they can provide, so they have now started to offer on-line classes.

I was privileged to be offered a couple of these classes and found them to be entertaining and informative. They have a relaxed approach and you feel very much as though you are just sitting in your lounge (which you probably are!!) with the teacher by your side. The style is conversational, with both the teacher and the student in the video and it is heartwarming and encouraging to hear the student asking exactly the same questions that are on the tip of your own tongue.
There are 8 online classes to date, with more coming very soon. You can choose plant pot mosaics......
 ....or silver clay jewellery making.
 Perhaps if you watched "The Great British Sewing Bee" a few weeks ago, upcycling a man's shirt into a summer dress would be more your thing.

As someone who is very conscious of what chemicals are in my food, my fabrics and also my beauty products I was totally inspired by Judith's Natural Beauty Products class and I'm now off to have a go at making my own face wash and lip balm!

Although I have done English Paper Piecing before, I still learned a few tips and tricks from Virginia's Heirloom Quilting class. She has a very down-to earth, waste-not-want-not style, using recycled fabrics. This is refreshing in a world where avid quilters can so easily get caught up in the rat race of always wanting the latest designer fabrics for their quilts. Recycling is, after all, exactly why the first quilters quilted in the first place!

The classes are economically priced, but thanks to Farzana at the Amazings,  I have a very special offer for you
You can get one of the 8 online classes from The Amazings for free by using this link
The only hard part is deciding which one to choose! Be sure to let me know which one you go for, as I enjoyed my freebies so much, I'm sure I shall soon be buying some more :)
Have fun!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Mariner's Compass Cushion

Sometimes, no matter how carefully you prepare, things just don't go the way you planned.
When the June theme for Le Challenge was announced, I decided upon an idea (the theme is Maritime) and ordered some fabric from the US. I had plenty of time, and was fully expecting it to be here when I returned from Toronto, but, alas, it wasn't! A few emails later and the company informed me that my parcel had, for some unknown reason, been returned to them. They promised to re-send it, but this, of course, meant I had to completely re-think my project for the challenge. (This was Tuesday, so I only had 3 days in which to make something!!) I spent a day and a half dithering, wondering what I could make in the time, and then suddenly it struck me - a Mariners Compass block! I have wanted to have a go at one of these for a long time, but I certainly couldn't make a quilt in a day and a half. I settled on a cushion, found a paper piecing template and used fabric from my stash.
Time was short. I had to stay focussed and concentrate. No time for mistakes!
So, I selected my fabrics....maybe not my first choice, but what I had on hand....

I colour coded on an extra template and kept it prominently displayed on my desk

I made a list of which colour each numbered segment was, and kept that on my desk too

By the end of Thursday night 3 segments were done, and by Friday lunchtime all 8 were complete

Yes, the seam ripper did come out a couple of times, but they were only small mistakes !
Joining the segments together was a little tricky. Just how was I to cope with all those seams coming together at the centre?

They don't sit as perfectly as I would have liked, but under the circumstances, it could have been a lot worse.
I decided I didn't have enough time to make a cushion front and quilt it, as I had originally planned, so I decided to appliqué the compass onto an existing cushion cover.
Hmmm, Was this going to work? I only had a 1/4" seam allowance on the compass, and a lot of seams to turn smoothly under. No time for errors.
I decided to follow a technique used by Sarah Fielke in her latest book "Hand Quilted with Love"

You cut a cardboard template the size of the finished piece and place it on the wrong side of the applique. You then wrap tin foil around them and iron, pressing the seam allowance smoothly under.

I do recommend using good quality tin foil. Mine was from the "value range" and had a tendency to tear as I was pressing the edges as hard as I could with the iron. But nonetheless, considering all those seams, I think I got a pretty smooth curve to my circle.

Sarah suggests using applique glue to secure your piece to the background whilst you hand sew in place, but I prefer not to use chemicals where possible, so it was good old fashioned pins for me.

The cushion was finished by 7 pm - just in time to sit in the evening sun and enjoy a little celebratory drink (In the middle of all this fast sewing my son and his girlfriend had phoned me from their holiday in Cornwall to tell me they had got engaged !!!)

Cheers !!

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