Finished Quilts

Monday, 9 March 2015

Another weekender....

...but not a bag!  A much better weekender, which involved sewing, cake, lashings of tea, chat, laughing and more food.  A sewing retreat weekender!  Huzzah!

Nearly a year ago, the Stitching Together ladies mused on organising a weekend away dedicated to sewing.  9 months (and 1 impregnation) later and we were packing up Hannah's roof rack and heading to Norfolk on a Friday and staying until Sunday.  The venue was a B&B called the Old Bakery in Hindolveston run by a lovely couple Alison and Mike.  Alison is a quilter and so, as well as the usual B&B clientèle, she offers quilting/sewing retreats and workshops.  We made what, in retrospect, was a school girl error of stopping for lunch on the way because if there was one constant over the weekend, it was food!

Anyway, my usual approach to retreats is to pack erratically and wing it.  This time I had a plan and actually planned for the plan. I was going to FIGHT THE FEAR and make a chuffing dress already.  Yep, my dressmaking demons would be tackled head on by making the Mortmain dress from Gather Kits which is marked suitable for"ambitious beginners!"  I'd bought the pattern and fabric (from the Village Haberdashery) last August....

directional print fabric, you nutter!
As usual, I need to make things a little trickier so I decided to buy some slippy dippy fabric to fully line the dress too.  Matching thread and metal teeth zip joined the dressmakers carbon paper and other various tools.  I even took an old sheet that Tanya had given me to make a toile.  People - I was taking this seriously!

So we arrived just after 2pm and were immediately offered coffee, tea and two choices of home made cake (delish).  Then it was unpacking, setting up and sewing.  We were staying in the holiday cottage but were given full run of two big rooms in the main house for our sewing activities.

thanks for the photo, H
We sewed until 7, where we were served an amazing two course dinner, with a trio of desserts...

all using local or home grown ingredients
Then it was back to work, for another couple of hours or so.  My sewing yodas were on hand when I had a big wobble - "follow the pattern, you must" (thank you Hannah!) - and to help with great hints (Lizzie!).  At the end of day 1, I had made my toile and realised that the size 16 fitted me perfectly - no FBA needed thank goodness.

Day 2 started a two course breakfast! Thank the Lord I had roomy troosers!  Then a full day's sewing, interrupted only by Alison bringing refreshments and cake, a two course lunch and two course dinner...

chocolate trio
By the end of the day, I have made two more dresses - the outer dress and lining version, all french seamed to within an inch of existence....

unlined and unzipped but extremely satisfying
Check out the pattern alignment of the top and skirt - a happy accident :)

Day 3 and another two course breakfast.  And we had to get as much done as we could before lunch at 1pm (with elevenses included of course!).

This is where things started to go a little awry. I think it may have been that croissant after the american pancakes.  Anyway, see that squint zipper ^^^^^  That took me three hours to put in and it was all wrong. And the bottom of the zip on the right hand side as you look at the photo is all queer too and the waistband doesn't line up. But on the plus side, I am loving the fit across the back, if you excuse the dodgy posture.

The others were more productive...

simply awesome cross stitch by Hannah

and Hannah's foxy quilt top

a maternity dress for Lizzie (and a skirt for her Nancy)

an adorable baby quilt by Tanya (along with cushion covers)
However, by then we had run out of time and I had run out of patience, having bent two needles in the zip inserting process. So it was a quick pack up and tidy around, then lunch (more cake, obvs.) and packing the car.  Big hugs to Alison (with plans to return!) and we were off, never to eat again.... well, not for a while anyway.

A brilliant focussed weekend, with lovely stitchy friends hosted by a fab couple.  If your interest has been piqued by the Simply Solids Sew-in Retreat in September, I would say go for it. The chance to have dedicated sewing time to focus solely on what you want to do, with no pressure to attend classes, is a brilliant opportunity.  You will be with people who will help and support you and vice versa.  I can't guarantee that you will be able to eat your own body weight in cake though..... Or head of to Mike and Alison's in Norfolk and take your elasticated waistbands!

I was hoping to show off my finished frock by now but after breaking 4 (FOUR) more needles and the dress nearly getting flung out the the window along with the sewing machine and my sanity, the zip is still not fitted.  But I did have a Eureka moment this morning on the drive to work - use a different type of needle, stupid!  So that's the plan (and a not exposed zip either).  Watch this space for my first fully finished frock......

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Flowered Up

Remember when a weekender meant something other than a bag....  distant memories indeed.  A little like the workshop run by Mandy at one of our first EMMQG meetings two years ago next month.  The plan was for us all to make an Amy Butler Weekender bag, guided by Mandy who had already bitten the bullet and made a lovely one.  I could only stay until lunchtime because Forest were playing at home that afternoon!  I managed to get some (but not all) of the pieces cut out before heading home to look after the wee man while his dad went off to the footie.  The bag pieces were packed in a box and shoved under the wardrobe.

About 6 months later, I sewed up one of the sides of the bag, added piping (really badly) and again it was all packed away.... out of sight, out of mind.

Last month, nearly two years since starting, I decided to pull out the box from under the wardrobe and finish the b*gger!  I was working on half memories of other people's experiences and working with some dodgy sewing done 18 months ago.  I mostly ignored the pattern instructions and decided to do a couple of things differently....

I put a zipped pocket on one side....

trust me, that pocket has a zip!
 I put a seam in the middle of the pocket on the other side....

honest guv!
I used leather handles that I've had for years, bought for some forgotten project, instead of the fabric ones.  I didn't put pockets at the ends of the zipper panel, just because.  And I kind of sewed the lining in as I went along, which kind of sort of worked....

didn't all go according to plan....

And after some focussed sewing days, I had a finished bag....

It's sooooooo not perfect but it's ok.  The whole experience did allow me to see how much better my sewing is now than then.  The bits I did two years ago annoy me a little because I would do them better now but still I am glad it's done. If I was a good girl, I would unpick some of it and redo but that ain't going to happen.  Made with some of my most precious MM fabrics, it is now my sewing machine bag and I love it!  AND it's finally off my flipping WIP list - woohoo!  I feel a little lighter :)

PS a little musical interlude for those of you in a nostalgic where did I put that smiley face t-shirt......?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

going on a bear hunt...

Just as I was sitting down to write this post, I started singing "I'm going to write a blog post, it's going to be a big one, what am I going to do? I'm not scared".  With immense apologies to Michael Rosen, it made me giggle.  Anyway *awkward shoe shuffle*, cracking on....

After my last post, Pennie commented that I should join up with the #sew4sanity gang over on IG. The rules are pretty straight forward:

  1. finish something I've started
  2. sew with hoarded loved fabric
  3. make something that's not a quilt (like a bag or garment)
  4. sew something completely outside of my comfort zone.
And you can mix and match so one project could cover more than one of the rules.  The aim is for it to be a monthly goal to meet all of the rules. At the same time, I've been waking up thinking about patterns and sewing, so McMojo is clearly feeling better and (whisper it) a bit keen.  

These two things have given me the incentive to get off my backside and make the side kick tote I promised Sue, the incredibly patient winner of my giveaway in October last year. To meet the rules, I used some hoarded Tula Pink raccoons for the lining (#2), I made a bag (#3) and I took myself completely out of my comfort zone by putting in my first ever flush zipped pocket into the bag lining (#4).  Boom!

I couldn't quite get my head around the flushed zip until I realised it was like a porthole then it all clicked and I was away.

not perfect, but not bad for my first time
It was only after I'd finished that I'd figured out that I could have practised on scrap fabric rather than going live with the poor raccoons. D'oh!  Anyhoo, it worked out OK. The rest of the bag came together pretty easily.

I need to iron it!

It was a fab accident that ninja racoon showed up and hit the middle of the zip and it give anyone not allowed in the evils!

I added a wee label, you know, to make it more designer!

So, this bag has really helped get me back into the swing of things and ultimately, I really enjoyed sewing it together.  I haven't quite got my sewing space organised yet and am still losing things all the time but it's all about forward momentum.  Just got to make a couple of wee mindings and this bag will be heading off the its new owner and I feel a little lighter.

Now to choose a WIP to might even be my weekender...Now that would be a bear hunt!.....*feels a little faint*

Saturday, 3 January 2015


Happy New Year to you all.  I hope you have had a grand festive season and are all set for 2015.  We had a quiet Christmas, if you can have one with a toddler trying out his karate moves on you with the heavy end of a pumpaloon. And the workmen next door taking a total of one day's holiday (New Years Day) from using a pneumatic drill on our adjoining walls.

The usual pattern for the first post of the year is to do a review of the past year's makes and set out a plan for the coming year.  I'm going to divert slightly from that, partly because of my miserly output in 2014.  A grand total of two quilts, a shed load of bee blocks (but not as many as planned as I decided to take time out of of the current Bumbling Honeys Bee) and some other odds and sods.  I say two quilts but I realise I've just shown you one so here is the second, a swap for the #IGminiquilt swap thingy. My partner was pretty vague (like I usually am) but had this image on a pinterest board about her favourite quilt colours....

from a great site :
So I chose to copy slavishly use it for inspiration and came up with this....

paper pieced from a made up, slightly wonky hand drawn pattern
My partner went on a big overseas holiday the day I posted this to New Zealand so I don't really know whether it was what she wanted, but hey she liked it on Instagram so that was a relief.

I was fortunate enough to have Nikki from the Ochil Tree as my making partner. I have long been a major fan of Nikki's work so was stoked with this lovely Cotton & Steel creation...

usual apologies for crap photo

On Hogmanay, I spent two hours in a loud (but I have to say quite lovely) soft play centre where the wee man hooned around and I tried to draft my crafting goals for 2015.  The notebook I used had my "to do" list for 2013 and 2014 and it would seem that I have achieved almost nothing from either list.  I could cross out 2014 and write 2015 (which is basically what I did in last year) but no.  I have a slightly different plan.  Use what I have learned, namely:

  • setting goals for the year doesn't really work as it is easy to think "manana, manana".  Perhaps setting myself a monthly make or WIP to complete would work better.  Chunk things down, as it were.
  • I use "fear" as an excuse not to start things. Even things I've done before so shouldn't be frightened of.
  • I can be creative and driven (bonadoochi, even the mini quilt up there ^^ shows that I think) when I am inspired.
  • I am super untidy and it stifles me.  I need to get my sh*t organised so I can feel less burdened by it all.
  • My health has a direct impact on McMojo and having spent the last 6 months in various stages of poorliness, it's time to set up and take responsibility for becoming healthier.  I hope that this involves #sweatnsew but it will definitely mean better eating.  I am loving "A Modern Way to Eat" by Anna Jones and feel inspired to return to my vegetarian past (part time anyway) as a way of boosting my immune system.
  • McMojo will not be told what to do.  For much of the past few months, I have tried to make her go to rehab, she said no, no, no!  I need to trust that McMojo will work it out and come home to me.  I really think she is on her way back, which is nice.  She needs to be inspired home.
  • I love love love Instagram but miss the in-depth inspiration that blogs give me.  I have badly neglected my blog reading and commenting this year (I feel really bad about this).  I hate Bloglovin' with an unnecessary passion so need to sort all of this out.  Inspiration from my fellow creators is key to pushing me on.
So here is my plan, I am going to buy myself a new sewing machine this year (not sure which one) but will only do so if I actually use my current one and finish things.  I am not going to list what I will make now as things change and you never know what direction they will take but there are a number of WIPS that need whipped and some things I'd really like to make.  I will aim for one make a month, excluding bee blocks!  I will try not to get enticed by swaps but never say never.  

Onwards and upwards (now to find my seam ripper under all of this mess......)

Sunday, 14 December 2014


I am extremely fortunate that I have some amazing friends, many of whom I don't get to see very often but when we do get together, we just pick up where we left off.  As is the way of things, some of them have had to endure some real hardship over the past couple of years and it is always difficult when you feel that you can't be there as much as you would like to help and support them.   The recipients of the first quilt I have finished this year are a perfect case in point.  I have been friends with D for many years; indeed, he was the originator of my kettleboiler moniker.  In my mid 20s, many a Friday night was spent in the Black Bull pub in Edinburgh with him and others, hogging the juke box and laughing to some truly terrible but always hilarious jokes.  When we all started to gradually move away, D was the constant there.

He was friends with S for years and when they reconnected, they did so through letters.  This resonated with me as my mum and dad met when they became penpals and much of their early courting was through letters.   10 years ago, D and S got married and we were fortunate enough to be in attendance.  D made THE best speech I have ever witnessed, and left most women in tears and most men cursing him for the grief they would be getting later on!  They became a beautiful blended family, joined by their own little J, with the usual ups and downs that life throws up.  A couple of years ago, S's sister passed away unexpectedly on the same day as my mum did.  Almost exactly a year later, S lost her mum too. So this year, they decided to reclaim the summer and, as it was their 10th wedding anniversary year, they chose to renew their wedding vows and show the kids that good things happen too.

I decided to make them a quilt to help them celebrate. I asked D if they had a favourite song and he mentioned "Everyone's Gotta Learn Sometimes" by the Korgis as one of them so I thought I could include some of the lyrics in their quilt.  The initial idea was to have the whole chorus but realising that this would mean the quilt would take until their 20th anniversary to finish, I reigned in the ambition.  Also, I got my quilt maths wrong so it would have meant an superkingsizer.  

Although it has taken me a little longer than I hoped to get it done, the Bonadoochi quilt is finished and ready to be delivered in person next weekend...

the not quite finished quilt top

a little trudification happened

..with some personalisation too.
backed with Tula Pink's Bird and Bees - can you see the join?

thanks to my quilt hangers!

It's mahoosive at around 80" x 90".  There was no way I could quilt this beast myself so it was given some beautiful Trudification by Trudi.  You can see that she quilted "S and D" in the central heart for me.  It's backed with some Tula Pink's Birds and Bees and bound with a couple of Denyse Schmidt Chicopee prints and a AMH Innocent crush one.

I love this quilt. The paper pieced letters were a b*gger at times but worth it (just my type by Kristy at Quiet Play). It's my own design.  I used thangles for the HSTs that made up the heart and they rock!  It's not perfect but I'm (almost) cool with that.  I am looking forward to seeing my friends again soon and handing it over.  This is the reason I love sewing and quilting.  Of course, it's all about me!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

the road to recovery

So, if I was bucket list-minded, I could now add and tick off "catch pneumonia" to the list.  Not much fun, especially when Laughing Boy caught it too (well, I caught it from him) and, to be fair, his was much worse #obvs.  We don't do things by halves, chez kettleboiler! Still, the drugs have worked and we are both on the road to recovery.  Neither of us are back to work yet, but it's heading that way. Poor wee man, it's definitely not much fun having two sick parents and he keeps telling me that he is just too poorly to do as he is told. Thankfully, he is fit and well.

A long winded way of apologising for not announcing my giveaway winner sooner.  Drum roll please.....

Congratulations Sue (mumasu), I'll be in touch via email to work out the details with you.  And I love your suggestion too! Thank you to everyone who provided a mocktail or booze free suggestion.  Lots of you opting for a nice cuppa tea #classy.  I have to admit I did have one hot toddy (whisky based) when I was super poorly but that was purely medicinal.

I am hoping to dust down old Bertha this afternoon and do some sewing.  I have been occupying my convalescing time (when not kipping!) with my first ever cross stitch....

HUG by Emily Peacock
See, further proof that I don't do things by halves!  It's for my sister's 40th which was last year (long story!) so she may get it in time for her 50th!  hopefully early next year.

Right, off to the sofa for a nanna nap (oh for those days when it was a disco nap!)....

Monday, 29 September 2014

the "about flipping time" giveaway

McMojo is still suffering from Buckfast withdrawals (let's not talk about the deep fried pizza cravings) so progress is slow but there is progress, which means that we're heading in the right direction.  Anyway, this is my 200th blogpost, which has taken wa-a-a-y longer to reach than I'd thought it would.  By some bizarre co-incidence, I now have just over 200 instagram followers and more followers on bloglovin' than I ever expected.  And I haven't had a giveaway for yonks so, it's definitely time for an "about flipping time" giveaway.

Here's what's up for grabs....

I've had much fun making divided baskets for my friends to use as nappy holders and generally enjoy Anna's patterns so I am offering to make the winner a noodle-head pattern of her choice....

here are the options from the noodle-head shop
 I'll also include the social tote with the options about

social tote_carolyn friedlander and anna graham
courtesy of carolyn friedlander's website
I've tried to do this Rafflecopter thingy so that I'm totally down with the kids, lolz or somesuch!  I hope it works!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Basically, answer the question for one chance to win and for an optional second chance, follow me on instagram.  Simples.  Open to all.  Oh, and I will try really hard to get the finished thing to you by Christmas (McMojo permitting!).

Like others, I'm planning to Go Sober in October.  This will be in memory of the parents of my best friend who both passed away in the same week in September.  I am not collecting sponsorship myself, but if you would like to donate a little something please do so either via  or Pippa's link