Sunday, 28 April 2013

Guthrie Ghani Grand Opening

 
If you have been watching the Great British Sewing Bee on TV, you are quite likely to know that one of the finalists, Lauren was opening a fabric and haberdashery shop, called Guthrie-Ghani, in Moseley, Birmingham on Saturday. Now Moseley is not too far from where I live, so I went down to join in the celebrations.
Fortunately I got there earlier than I had intended, but even so there was quite a crowd to witness the opening ceremony. A kind lady let me get near enough to take my photo. This is Lauren with her husband Ayaz.
Stuart another contestant was there to help with the cutting of the tape
 
and then we were less loose on the goodies inside. My goodness! What a treat that was!
Lauren has wonderful taste in her choice of fabrics for her own sewing and that shone through in all stock she had ordered. I didn't know which things to Ooh and Aah over first.
There were drinks and cakes and a delightful large cake decorated with all things haberdashery!
 
and so many visitors that some had to wait outside until there was space enough to be let in. Tilly arrived and helped Lauren serve and chat to customers.
 
The shop is beautifully laid out and even has a seating area where you can rest awhile, have a coffee and peruse the patterns. It even has THIS wonderful vintage treadle Singer sewing machine on display!
I remember my gran having one just like this. Funny, it looks smaller than I remember it, as a child. Guess I've just grown taller!

The queue for the till stretched round three walls of the room, but the atmosphere in the shop was so vibrant no-one cared in the slightest! Ermmm, that happens to be ME behind  Tilly with my arms full of books and yarn!
 People had come to visit from far and wide and I was lucky enough to meet up with fellow blogger Gilly from Gilly Makes. It was great meeting Gilly for the first time and she kindly took this photo of me and Ann, who was this year's winner of the Great British Sewing Bee.
Ann is 82 and makes all her own clothes. She has so much energy and enthusiasm and was encouraging everyone to give sewing a go, whether they were 5 or 55.  I want to be like her if I live to 82!!!!
Guthrie-Ghani is going to be a wonderful addition to the fabric shops available in the West Midlands. There is an amazing,  well-lit studio upstairs with beautiful oak beams where a wide range of sewing, quilting and knitting workshops will take place, and if you live too far away to visit, don't worry - they have an online shop too!
 





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Monday, 22 April 2013

Farmers Wife Quilt

Pin ItMy Farmers Wife quilt is growing!
I managed another two blocks over the weekend.I think I picked just about the most complicated blocks in the book! Or maybe I've just got to step up, as I think there may be quite a few like this.
These pieces are so tiny!
That block on the bottom right of the top picture nearly got the better of me.
There are 33 individual pieces in one 6" block and you have to be so accurate - which you can see from the photo, I'm not :(
The un-picker tool got a lot of use this weekend!
Despite the challenges, the tiny pieces look really sweet, especially when chained pieced like these - almost miniature bunting.....
 
The blocks I completed this weekend were numbers 53 and 64
and here is an excert from the letter that goes with them saying why the author would be pleased if her daughter should marry a farmer.
"Nothing ever compels so sweet and deep a response in a women's heart as does strength. I hope my daughter's husband, strong with the sun-browned strength of a farmer, clean minded, true, may inspire in her the kind of love that will dare any obstacle."
I guess these days with modern machinery, it's not strength that the farmer needs, so much as determination - and in the UK, you're not going to get many sun-browned farmers, just wind browned ones maybe. The letters are providing interesting reading though.
I said on Friday that I hoped to spend some time gardening, and as Saturday was a glorious day, I spent the whole day in the garden.
I had a small plan to try and gradually raised the level of the lawn at the bottom of the garden as it flooded a lot over the winter and I lost a lot of plants. My son offered to help, and before we knew it the small plan had become a big one with levelling (we used a spirit level!!) and raising of the border, taking out plants, and ordering turfs.
Hopefully we can get the turfs down next weekend as it looks a bit bare at the moment, but I'm sure it will look great in a couple of months time.
Finally, it's Earth Day today, and as I'm sure you know if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, I love organic cotton, so if you are starting a new project, consider using organic and do your bit to help this earth of ours :)
 
I'm linking up with "Let's Get Acquainted Monday"  which is over on the  Quiet Play blog this week
 
Plum and June

Friday, 19 April 2013

Beginning the Farmers Wife Quilt

 
The Farmers Wife is underway! This is a totally different quilt to any I've made before. This is a sampler quilt. Each block will be unique and is from the book The Farmers Wife Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird.
There is a story behind this quilt pattern. It has its origins in the US in the 1920s. This was a time of exciting changes - the advent of radio, the movies, the car. The difference in the pace of life between the city and the country became more pronounced and the commonly held belief of city dwellers was that to be a farmer's wife was a poor and miserable existence. "The Farmers Wife", a popular magazine of the time, challenged this perception and asked its readers to write in and tell them whether they thought their daughters would be better off marrying a farmer or living a city life.
Samples of the letters they received are matched up with pairs of block patterns in the book.
I've started this quilt for several reasons.
Firstly, I've been fascinated by sampler quilts for a while.They are a good skill builder. Historically children learned the necessary skillls by making samplers. I'm sure you've all seen antique embroidery samplers in stately homes, museums etc.
It's a good process to go through.
 I chose this one because of the social history of the accompanying letters, and maybe I've been thinking a lot about how distanced the food on our plate is these days from the farm it originated from. They may have been written almost a 100 years ago, but I believe I'll find that the wishes and concerns of the 1920s farmers wives were not that different to the wishes we have for our children today.
Secondly, this is slow quilting, a process to be savoured - one block at a time. It is for no one in particular, it has no deadline. It won't be finished next week, nor next month, nor probably in six months time, but that doesn't matter. It is for quiet moments, when I can just relax and enjoy the process - like eating at the Ritz (not that I ever have!) instead of McDonald's.
The pieces are cut using templates, and some of these pieces are tiny! It is totally different to how I normally work. I'm sitting at my desk with a small cutting mat and small rotary cutter instead of slicing through fat quarters on the dining room table.  No width of fabric strips and cutting mulitple layers here, just small pattern pieces, small scraps of fabric, short seams and delicate 6" completed blocks. It feels good!

 
I completed two blocks today (one is at the top of the blog - the other just below) I deliberately took myself slightly out of my comfort zone. Although I'm using lovely Liberty fabric, I don't usually turn to reds and blues, but this will be good for me.
 
And the letter that accompanies these blocks? Here is an excerpt:
"The good things I desire for this daughter are peace, a love of nature and  time for quiet, happy thoughts. Can they be had by any other class of working people as easily as by the woman on the farm? She doesn't rush to finish her work that she may spend a day bargain huntinh - a day of hurry, worry and "me-first" thought; of spending money she shouldn't spend and gazing at things she wants, but can't have. No she may sit on the front porch a bit while she sews or mends........"
Still relevant today? I'll leave you to your own conclusions (I just hope there aren't any farmers reading my blog today!


Finally, a bit of an update on my 2013 Stashbuster Project - I'm trying to knit 52 items, one for each week of the year for Greenfields Africa. using only the oddments that I have in my stash.
By my reckoning we are coming to the end of week 16, and I've just added items numbers 17 and 18, so I'm doing OK :)

 
Just a basic little cotton DK hat. The pattern for the flower is in my Knitting Patterns page at the top of the blog.

A little cotton cardie (sorry about the horrid grey shadow over it - it didn't look like that in Photoshop!!). I had quite a lot of this Debbie Bliss Eco Baby yarn, so this should fit a toddler.
It looks as though we're going to have a spring like weekend here in the West Midlands, so I'm hoping to get a lot of gardening done. Hope you all have a good weekend too............Julie
 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Wishful Wednesday




My goodness, how quickly Wednesday has come round again. I've been busy in the garden (finally, Spring seems to be here!), seeing friends, doing jobs and suddenly here we are again!
The blanket above has to be the most colourful item for Wishful Wednesday yet.
It is from Elizabeth at  Another Vegetarian and is knit in Stylecraft DK yarn. My crochet skills are pretty basic so this would be a great skill-builder, if only I had the time!

picture from A Quilters Table blog
Second up on my list is a fabric version of the time homoured memory game. My kids loved playing this game, but we didn't have a bought version or a fabric version. I just sent them off running round the house to bring me 10 things that would fit under a tea towel (I was usually trying to cook dinner when we played this!) We then laid the items out, they tried to remember them, covered them up with a tea towel and I sneakily took one away. They then took the tea towel off and had to try and remember which one had gone. Aww, fun times, good memories!
The other version you can play is where you lay all the cards face down, pick up two at a time until you can remember where the pairs are. When you turn up a pair, you get to take the cards, and the one with the most cards at the end wins.Either game can be played with the sewn version, and all the cards fit nicely into the pouch. The fabric to make the cards and the pouch is available on Spoonflower and the tutorial for making the game is here.
 
 
Third is a knitted shawl or wrap. I'm not really a shawl person. I like the idea of knitting them more than I do the wearing of them, but I could certainly see myself wearing this on a summer's evening. It is a free pattern and the link can be found on Ravelry
 

 
Finally, no wishing for the quilting project ..... Actual commencement! My Farmer's Quilt book arrived, and I've downloaded and cut out the templates. Eeek! Some of these are so tiny!!!
Hopefully by Friday I'll have a couple of finished blocks to show you.
An amusing thought has occurred to me... This is a Farmer's Wife quilt. It's going to be made out of Liberty fabrics.... could I name it "Taking Liberties with the Farmer's Wife"? Hmmm, perhaps not!

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Monday, 15 April 2013

Le Challenge #1 Geometrics

Finally the day has arrived when we show our entries for Le Challenge. This is a new challenge run by Nat from Made In Home and Lucy from Charm About You and the subject of the first challenge was Geometrics.You can use any craft you like in this challenge so no matter whether you are a sewer, quilter, knitter, embroiderer, paper crafter or whatever, why not take a look and possible join in with the next month's challenge.

This is my entry:

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It is a table mat made using the paper piecing method if quilting. I had never done this type of piecing before so I headed along to Craftsy and found that This Free Class has a tutorial for the Circle of Flying Geese which I have had my eye on for a long time.
I had a bit of a pre-conceived idea that paper piecing was time consuming and fiddly but Amy Gibson, the tutor quickly dispelled that myth and I loved the technique. It gives such sharp and acccurate piecing lines, although I do think it's a little wasteful of fabric compared to rotary cutting piecing. I loved the technique though, and I know I'm going to using it a lot in the future.
I printed off the downloadable templates and chose my fabrics
I chose to use Klona Solids from Backstitch.  It's a very economical fabric at just £5.80 metre and there is a wide range of colours. This meant I wasn't going to stress if it all went horribly wrong - which I'm pleased to report.... it didn't! I did take the precaution of labelling all the fabrics with the numbered section they were going to be used for, and I'm very glad that I did.
First you unthread your machine and perforate all the sections of the template so they will tear off easily when the block is complete.
Next you sew you fabrics to the underside of the template along the marked lines, progressing from number 1 to number 2 etc until you have completed the block (which is actually one quarter of what you see on the finished table mat)
Once I had completed the block I treated it as a mini quilt and made a quilt sandwich with solid grey Kona on the back and wadding in the middle.
I shadow quilted around the geometric shapes, which helps define them and also produced an eye catching quilted star shape in the middle
I used some organic Happy Drawing Scribbles by Ed Emberley in Grey for the binding. I originally bought it from The Village Haberdashery but I notice that they only have a blue and green version left in stock now.
 
I like the look of the quilting on the back
 
I didn't really know where I was going to use this mat when I started, but at present it stands in pride of place on the coffee table, complete with a little bunch of knitted daffs from my pattern wehich you can find here. I'm so pleased I chose grey for the background. I started off thinking off white or black, but neither of those would have fitted in with the house as well.
 
I'm linking this post with Le Challenge and really looking forward to finding out what the next challenge will be.
Did you notice the new header and cleaner line to my blog? (Well, what else is a gal to do when it starts to rain on a Sunday afternoon when she hoped to spend it gardening?)
 
Till next time..................Julie
 
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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

It's Wishful Wednesday Again!

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Hi, It's Wednesday again, and time for me to share with you the projects I would make if I had all the time in the world.
Did any UK readers watch The Great British Sewing Bee last night? It was so amusing to watch them attempting to make a pair of man's trousers. I think they all did extremely well in the crazily short amount of time given. I love taking part in challenges, but the pressure of the time constraint would totally ruin it for me. It was sad to see Tilly go. She has so much creative energy, but the judges wanted flawless construction as well. Tilly has been putting her design skills to good use though and as well as a tutorial for a skirt on her blog she has a downloadable pattern for this blouse - it's a re-vamp of the blouse she made on the TV show, and so this is number one on my wishlist this week.
Second up is a really really gorgeous afghan.

There is a free pattern for this on Ravelry. It is knit in Noro, so it would be a luxury blanket, to say the least, but oh the pleasure there would be in being surrounded by all that lovely yarn creating those ever changing colour pennants. It would be something to hand down through the generations too, I think.
Third up is more achievable!
A crocheted baby jacket. Isn't this just so cute! I love the different coloured buttons. There is a free pattern for this here. It's from Canadian Living so the instructions will be in US terminology not UK.
 
Finally, I wish, wish, wish I could start this. They are Farmers Wife Blocks blocks found on Pinterest.
I soooo want to start my Farmer's Wife Quilt, but Amazon really dissappointed me by sending me an email to say my book for the quilt would not be here until Saturday :(
 
My fabric for it did arrive today today though
 
It is some more Liberty quilting cotton fat quarters (I have a sizeable stash of these already, but I tend to veer towards the pastels so I needed - yes, needed! - a few brights, and some reds to get enough variety . I shall just have to make do with looking at these until the book arrives!
Till next time........................Julie

 
 
 



 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

In Love With Paper Piecing

 
Pin ItIt's official. I am totally, head over heels in love!!........with paper piecing!
I have been planning my submission for Le Challenge , a new monthly crafting challenge instigated by Nat and Lucy. As well as coming up with an idea for the challenge theme.
I also like to set myself a personal challenge when entering these sorts of things, so I wanted to learn a new technique for this one. I decided to learn to paper piece. I had a very naive impression that it was time consuming, and fiddly. WRONG!! It is quick and precise and I absolutely love it!!!
I'm not going to give anymore away, as I shall be posting in more detail on this next Monday for the challenge, but I have a suspicion that not a lot else other than paper piecing will be happening in this house for the rest of the week.
Now I know that I like it I'm taking the plunge and have pressed the "Buy Now" button on Amazon to get the Farmers Wife quilt book. For those who are not quilters the Farmers Wife quilt is inspired by an arrticle in a magazine in the US.
 The 1922, The Farmer's Wife magazine posed this question to their readers: "If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?"
The best answers to this question are included in this book, along with the traditional quilt blocks they inspired
 
The quilt can be made to look very different, depending on the fabrics you choose.  This was was made by Lori Holt who blogs at Bee in my Bonnet


I'm thinking of making mine using Liberty prints. I do hope the postie brings it soon, I can't wait to get started.
With all this quilting going on, I haven't forgotten my  Stashbuster project for Greenfields Africa.
I have three new items to show you.
A baby blanket-come-quilt made entirely of scraps. It's not quite a quilt because it has only a front and a back - no wadding, but that is what they need, so the Mum's can tie it around themselves like a sling to carry their little one.

A quick to knit little baby hat.

And finally a little baby cardigan.... I was very lucky with this. I had just enough yarn to finish it, but it was touch and go right until the end. I was sure I was going to have to undo the sleeves and  have a short sleeve version instead.
 
 
I'm linking up to the Let's Get Acqauinted Monday Link Up whih is being hosted by Nat from "Made in Home" this week


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee


Image source: radiotimes.com

Last night a new sewing show hit the airwaves in the UK - The Great British Sewing Bee.
This is a copy of the Great British Bake Off format, and is a 4 part series showing on BBC 2.
If you live in the UK and are able to watch on i-player  I can thoroughly recommend it. Whilst it may not get the sensational viewing numbers that the Bake Off did it is certainly of interest to more than just us "crafty types". I had been eagerly awaiting this show for weeks and was hooked from the outset, but my son was equally interested once the show started.
Eight amateur sewers take on three challenges each week to try to stay in the competition. They range from 82 year old Ann, who sews all her own clothes,  Mark an HGV mechanic who sews steampunk costumes to somone many blog following sewers will already know: Tilly who blogs at Tilly and the Buttons
Image source: guardian.co.uk
The judges are May Martin from the WI academy and Patrick Grant, a Saville Row award winning designer - one stern and intimidating, the other charming and generous (I'm not saying which is which - no spoilers here!). The host is Claudia Winkelman
The challenges so far are all of the dress making variety, but whilst the judges are deliberating and the contestants are amiably sipping coffee in the nearby cafe, Claudia shows us how to make a simple sewn item. This week is was a laundry bag
Image source: radiotimes.com


There are full details each week's projects on the BBC 2 website and of course there is a book to go with the series, available from Amazon
I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It made me want to get my machine out right there and then and make something. (It was probably fortunate that my machine is away having a service or I would have been up all night sewing!!)
It's Wednesday so I need to show you my Wishful Wednesday projects - the items I would love to make this week if only I had all the hours in the world.
First up is this gorgeously warm looking jacket. (I could have done with this when I was walkng along the beach at Brean Sands in the bitterly cold wind a few days ago!)

The pattern is a free download available here. It is knitted in chunky weight yarn and the pattern gives five sizes ranging from 28" - 46" bust (71 - 117cm)

My sewing project for this week was really difficult to choose (my head is still buzzing from Great British Sewing Bee!!), but in the end I settled on this top.
I'm thinking forward to summer and I'm thinking economy now. It's made by adapting a ready made man's T shirt, which could be purchased really cheaply in a supermarket. It would be a quickly made wardrobe staple. The tutorial is available here

Finally, for my crochet project this week, I've chosen this quick and easy tissue holder:
The free pattern is here
I really need to make one of these, as the tissues in my bag get torn to shreds really quickly and it is so embarassing when you offer one to someone, only to produce a shabby, grubby plastic wrapper. No wonder they hesitate!! I'm thinking I might get to sew it quicker than I'll crochet it, though!

Till next time.................. Julie






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