Friday, 31 August 2012

Bee in my Bonnet Row Along - Row 1


 There is very little that gives me more enjoyment and satisfaction in crafting than learning something new. Just following instructions, not knowing how it will turn out, but trusting that I will be satisfied with the results or spurred on to try again is such a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. And, that is exactly what I did yesterday.
I started the Row Along Quilt over on Bee in my Bonnet. I had seen this about a week previously, wondered about doing it and then forgot the idea. When I saw this week's post however, I knew I had to join. I was going to learn loads! The first row is just postage stamp size blocks, but I have never made blocks this way before, and it's brilliant!

I chose some fabrics from my stash, mainly fabrics picked up many years ago, or given to me from people who no longer quilt. 
Some are VERY vintage! Does anybody remember these? I forced myself to add the purple. I really don't like it at all, but I've quite a lot of it, and as we were working small scale I convinced myself this was a good opportunity to use up a bit. It also amused me whilst I was pressing and cutting this fabric to think about the person or people it once belonged to. I tried to imagine what their sewing areas looked like, why they bought these particular fabrics and what they did with them.

These pieces are 3" square, and it starts off in the normal way. You pair up the blocks and chain sew one seam.
Then without cutting the links, you sew the opposite seam

Then you cut them apart and cut them all in half.
Press them open.

And sew them together, end to end in one long string.

Now comes the really clever part. You cut the first block in half, discard the bit you have cut off and let the remaining half fall over onto the second block (these are in their unpressed state, so it naturally fallls into the right place. You then line your ruler up along the stitched seam and cut the first complete block away.

What I find so clever about this is that you have the chance to straighten up any less than perfect blocks each time you cut. See that little yellow overhang sticking out from under the ruler? It gets cut clean away aand I have as near as possible a perfect four-patch, which at this minute scale I could never have done normally
I know I was relaxed, taking my time, and just enjoying the process, but these are most definitely the most accurate four-patches I've ever made, and the completed size of each will be only 2" square!
Aren't they cute?
I then joined them all together to make the first row of the Row Along quilt.
I can't wait to see what next week's row is. If you are thinking of joining in, I totally recommend it. The instructions are clear, with lots of photos, and not knowing what the final outcome is going to be just adds to the fun. For more detailed instructions on this, or to find out more about the Row Along, hop over to Lori's blog and see for yourself.
Till next time............Julie

Monday, 27 August 2012

Garden Trellis Quilt

It's been such a productive weekend!
And I mean in more ways than one. I've enjoyed the sunshine of the weekend to the full, and spend a lot of time gardening. Everywhere looks spick and span and I'm busy harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers,beans and courgettes (zucchini? in the US), but I've also aced my quilting target.
I thought I was going to be showing you this as a work in progress, but I've finished it!
I wanted to design an easy to make quilt for beginners that wasn't too busy, was modern and would complement any decor. I was a little concerned as I got part way through that it was going to be too "white", but I'm truly pleased with the final result. I could easily see this with a light grey or taupe background though, or even made entirely of solids with the darker fabric as the background and perhaps white for the chain, I used some remaining strips for the binding....

.....and I'm so pleased that I did! I didn't want to introduce another print, or prioritise one colour over another.
I quilted it with diagonal lines which I marked on with a ruler and Hera marker
This is such an easy tool to use, and it's so nice that there are no lines to wash out at the end of the quilting. I do find that if I've handled the quilt a lot (I rotate through 90 degrees at the end of every row of quilting) the lines are getting a little faint towards the end of the task, but it is no problem to lay the quilt flat again and re-mark them.
This quilt will make a great play mat when the youngest members of the family come to visit.
The pattern is available in my Etsy store. Instructions are given for 5 sizes from Baby to King.
Let's hope the rest of the week is as productive, and enjoyable!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Oh How exciting!

Oh I'm sew excited! I've just found out that I've won this book in a giveaway over on Sarah Fielke's blog. I was blown away by the wonderful designs for boys in this book when I saw it. As a mother of boys, all be it grown up ones now, I know just how hard it is to make stuff that they consider cool, and this book has coolness in bucket loads.
I shall thoroughly enjoy making every single one of the projects in this book, and I know three grown up people who will be fighting over who is going to have what! Lucky, lucky me!!
I promise to blog the photos as I make them.
If you are really dead jealous and want your own book, you can get it at The Fat Quarter Shop. I don't know of anywhere in the UK selling this book, but I find that most stuff at the Fat Quarter shop is very competive, and even with postage to the UK, I don't usually end up spending any more than I would if I was buying in this country.
This might just be the book that persuades me to break open that fat quarter bundle of Kona solids I bought!!

Monday, 20 August 2012

New Knitting Pattern - the Marlow Boots

Finally!! I've forced myself to sit at the laptop, checking and re-checking numbers, words and photos for long enough to be able to get this pattern listed on Etsy. Its been a work in progress for a looooong time :(
I love designing something, but I don't love writing it up, so these sat in my knitting bag for so long that I had a hard time deciphering all my initial scribbles, so basically I just had to start over, re-knit and make myself type at the same rate as I knit. Thankfully its all done now, checked, tested and up for sale.
They are so cute and easy to make.
I knew I wanted to design a pair of boots that looked a bit like the Jaden Boots
but that were a lot easier to make. Although Jaden are knit flat, they use a circluar needle to get round the cuff, and that initmidates some people, so these new boots needed to be worked on straight needles only.
The new Marlow Boots are based on skulduggery and deception!! They look as though they have a side opening, but when you look real close...... it's false !! They just pull on.
This makes them a whole lot easier to knit, and as they are worked entirely in garter stitch, they are great for intrepid beginners, as well as more experienced knitters who just want something relatively simple, but modern to knit whilst watching TV.
If you want to have a go, the pattern is for sale on Etsy.

Let me know what you think of them.................Julie

Friday, 17 August 2012

Festival of Quilts 2012 - the photos!

OK, now that my feet have recovered from all the walking, my arms are back to normal length after all the carrying,and  my credit card is getting used to being firmly back in my wallet, here are the photos of my wonderfully exciting day at the Festival of Quilts, NEC, Birmingham UK, yesterday.
I got there well before opening time....... but so did everbody else!!! I have never ever seen such a long queue to gain entry in all my years of visiting the show. The queue went right from the entrance at Hall 7 to the end of the exhibition centre at Hall 12 before the doors opened, and the horrific length of the queue was the sole topic of conversation that I heard whilst waiting to go in. Despite everyone's fears however, once the queue started moving, it moved quickly and when inside we all seemed to disperse enough to be able to get good views of the quilts and to shop without too much pushing and shoving.
So, if you are not able to go in person, here is my little take on the highlights of the show.
First there was the quirky... a patchwork cat from Nel Whatmore's new Cat-Club
the Jennie Rayment workshop that is on Friday and Sunday (wish I could have attended this)

some English Paper Piecing.....

which is just a close up of this full size quilt !!!! -
There was the traditional.....

 the modern.....

the humorous take on the Olympics....

a close up of a small part of a romantic.....

a clever combination of piecing and texture....
a great modern graphic....
which had some lovely hand embroidery.....

a miniature (I guess about 12 inches (30 cm) square.......

another miniature (I wish I had hands nimble enough to do this)....

and finally a couple more of my favourites......

There seemed to be fewer mixed media quilts this year (I always love the paper ones) and I didn't see any journal quilts, but I know there was a bit I didn't get to because it was nearly closing and I was just too tired, so maybe I just didn't see them.

Oh, there is one final picture to show you.... the stash that I bought! I couldn't find everything on my list, but I did pretty well.

I got my Sketch, my Summersville (see those cute houses and flowers just waiting to have some random embroidery added) and a bundle of Klona solids all from Backstitch on Stand G6. I got one of the Jelly rolls I wanted (not on my list, but I knew I wanted it as soon as I saw it!!!) I got some Liberty Tana lawns, and I pre-ordered some of the Liberty Lifestyle (Fabrics Galore, Stand A28 actually had it in stock, but I only found that afterwards). I also got a chalk pouncer for marking designs - I've never used one before so I thought I'd give it a go. I was also very tempted by a Sewezi table - a smallish portable table on which your sewing machine sits flush with the table top.
My machine just has to sit on an ordinary table at the moment, and it does cause problems when I'm quilting a large quilt, as it keeps getting caugth on the machine.
Has anyone got one of these tables? Are they any good, or are they too small? I would really love to know what you think.
If you are going to the show, have a wonderful time.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Some Amazing Fabric Birds

Hi. I had hoped to be showing you my latest new knitting pattern today, but it still isn't quite finished. It's a new design of baby booties. The booties are all knit up, in all sizes, photos all taken, but I'm still checking and re-checking what I've written. Does it make sense? are there any typos? etc.
You would be amazed at how long it takes me to be happy with a pattern, so you are going to have  to wait a little while longer...No, not even a sneaky photo today!
Instead, I have to show you an Etsy seller that is so talented it's just mind-blowing.
Oh, how I wish I was able to make something like this!!

Or this!!

They are made by Etsy seller Emma Verner-Webb of The Cotton Potter
She uses a variety of incredibly well chosen fabrics and facial details are carefully handpainted.
They have  glass  eyes and a  polymer clay beak.
The legs are made from painted wire and the birds are filled with wool stuffing.
The blue tit and goldfinch above and the woodpecker below are all favourite British birds (she has many others on her site too) 
and have been handcrafted with such attention to detail that they are instantly recognisable.

 In fact they are so life like that I think my cats would be trying to chase them!
Speaking of which - one of my cats, Ruby, spent yesterday afternoon asleep on the birdtable.
Hopefully, she wasn't taking an after-dinner nap!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Festival of Quilts 2012

Yay! It's now less than a week until the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham UK. This is the largest quilt show that we have in the UK and I'm incredibly fortunate to live just 15-20  minutes away from the venue! Yep, I could spend all day every day for the 4 days it's open cruising those aisles and still be home in time for dinner each day! Only problem with doing that is I'd be flat broke and have enough fabric to open a shop!
I shall definately go for opening day though, and maybe another one as well - just depends how much dithering I do on the first day!
I always have the same dilemma - do I admire all the quilts first (and you could spend a whole day at least doing just that!) or do I shop first? Or maybe half and half? No, I get seriously lost in the shopping aisles as it is - I'd end up doing the same section twice!
I shall be very good- take a shopping list and stick to it buy what's on the list and a load more as well.
So far my list looks like this:
1. New fabrics to look out for:
   a) The Sew Stitchy line by Aneela Hoey - a UK designer
This have sewing related images printed on them, and I think the pins or spools of thread or a patchwork of both would make a lovely journal cover for sewing notes. Can you see those tiny cute stitched birds in blue and grey? They are awesome!
b) The second item on my list is probably on everyone else's too!
It's the Bloomsbury Garden Range from Liberty Lifestyle. This is a quilting weight cotton from the renowned Liberty Fabrics, but at a normal fabric price (Liberty fabrics, probably best known for their Tana Lawns are absolutely gorgeous, but very expensive!).
This is just one of the colourways due to arrive shortly and apparently Backstitch who will be on stand G6 have sample swatches and we can pre-order at the show :) They had better keep those swatches on a very strong chain!
2. Fabrics I have been craving for a while:
a) Summersville by Lucie Summers - another  UK designer - Yay!
I'm amazed I haven't succumbed and bought some of this before now. I just love those quirky houses, and I've seen some of this randomly embroidered on Pinterest - it looks wonderful and I can think of so many uses for it (that's me justifying the whole range to myself!)
b) Sketch by Timeless Treasures
This has only just arrived in this country I believe. It's a solid with a grainy, linen-like look. I want to get using more solids in my quilts and sewing generally, so some of this is a must. I hope that is a nice grey at the bottom. I'm very into greys at the moment - as you'll see by the next item on my list.
c) A range of greys
Now scouring the internet, I've come up with two pretty appealing ranges
Curious Nature by Parson Gray (hubby of Amy Butler)
Little Black Dress by Basic Grey
I think I've said before I love all things Basic Grey, but I'm really not sure which of these ranges I prefer - that's why I need to see them first hand, which I hope to do at the show.

Anyway I think that list is long enough by now. It will be very amising to see what I actually come back with, and how  much it deviates from this list!
I promise to post photos of my favourite quilts and arty items and anything else that takes my fancy.

I also promise that there is a knitting related post coming soon - it's long overdue!

Till next week..... Julie

Monday, 6 August 2012

Sewing just for Me!!!

Hi! It's been rather a wet weekend here in the Midlands in the UK, so I've spent a lot of time sewing.... and what's more, I've been sewing for me!!
I cut out the pieces for this top on Friday afternoon, not really expecting to do any more to it for a day or so, but I actually finished the whole thing in a weekend!
I bought the fabric a while ago, half price in a sale. I was never over the moon about it - I bought it because it was cheap! Why on earth do we do that! However, now it's sewn up I like it more than I thought I would. It won't ever be my fave thing I wear whenever possible, but it's very practical to go with skinny jeans and I really do need more tops that are longer than the ubiquitous T shirt.
The pattern is New Look 6110
I wasn't quite sure how this was going to work out, as I needed to adapt the pattern, using one size on the top half and the next size up on the hips, but that bit was actually a breeze.
I really like some of the small details, like the crossover where the sleeve joins at the underarm, rather than a straight seam.
I didn't like working the placket on the front at all! Either my facings sewed up a little too big or I'd cut the opening a little too small - either way, it took two attempts and good bit of pressing with steam to make it acceptable to me. Sorry no photo, I tried but it just looked like a mass of pattern - which is probably a godsend, it means no-one will notice the ill-fitting placket when I'm wearing it !

The instructions for the facing told me to press the raw edge under and stitch in place from the top. I hesitated at this - my gut feel was to slip stitch it in place by hand and then top stitch, and I really wish I'd listened to my gut!

Actually when I look at this photo now it doesn't look too bad, and I know no-one can see it when I'm wearing it, but next time I'm going to follow my instincts and take a bit longer to get it just right.
I think I fancy making something from a downloadable pattern over at  Burdastyle next.

I'm linking up with the Small Blog Meet over at Lilys Quilts later on today. Its a link up for any quilting/sewing blogger with fewer than 50 followers who would like to meet a few more likeminded bloggers. I've been reading Lynne's blog sporadically for a while, so I think it's time to get a bit more pro-active and waste spend even more time in blogland!!
Till next time..... Julie


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