Finished Quilts

Sunday, 30 December 2012


Bertha Janome is poorly sick and so no sewing has taken place since Christmas Eve Eve.  So it seems like the right time to take stock of 2012, even though I haven't had a glass of wine yet (I'm waiting for the darts to start before I do!).   Like a lot of you, this year has whizzed past for me.  Full of experiences, good and not so good, I have been amazed at how much sewing I've gotten done with the wee man here.  I've started AND finished 5 quilts

OK, it includes a mini and three baby quilts but it's a start!
And, I've started but not finished three more, still not finished a UFO from way back, and have pulled the fabric for three others.  Oh, and I have the bee blocks made for the wee man's quilt that I need to start putting together.  My current excuse is that I'm out of wadding so my fabric voucher I got for Christmas may be put to great use soon.

I've become a bag lady....

bags, purses, covers
I love Jeni's drawstring bag so much I just bought the pattern so I don't have to work out the maths to make different sizes.  Lisa's for pleat's sake and graceful kelly patterns have been put to great use.  I haven't taken photos of all my bag makes due to being a numptie but it seems to have been a "thing" for me this year.  I have plans for more and different ones next year.  I made the latest For Pleat's Sake for my MIL Carol and she made me promise to show this photo of it.....

she's a massive Rafa fan!
I joined some great bees and made these....

tried to push myself to do new-to-me blocks
I've really enjoyed beeing around - everyone is so sweet and so it makes me want to make something extra special each time. 

And then some random stuff I made -a wheelchair cosy, a swap or two, a baby blanket and applique tops for little people....

I guess if I had to choose, the wheelchair cosy was probably my best make this year.  I designed it myself and managed to sew it onto my mum's favourite table cloth. My blog post about it got picked up by website:  and loads of folks read about it.  It's a pity it didn't get used so much by my mum but we've donated it to the hospice so hopefully someone will enjoy it.

I've got big plans for next year but first need to get Bertha fixed (and watch the darts!).

Have a grand Hogmaney and see you on the other side x

Saturday, 22 December 2012

the definition of madness

I've been more or less offline for a couple of weeks, returning last week from my visit home to Scotland and spending this week working my Google Reader list of over 300 entries.  I enjoyed the break from the PC more than I thought I would but it's nice to get back.  Apologies for the lack of comments on your posts - normal service will be resumed shortly :)

Whilst in Scotland I gave my sisters their gifts.  It was decided (now there's a story!) that we weren't doing Christmas gifts for each other this year, so the gifts were given and opened.  A bit of background...  as you know, my mum passed away in June this year.  A couple of years ago (I think she knew she was poorly then) she handed me something and asked me to take it to a charity shop or throw it out as she didn't need it any more.  It was her wedding dress. I asked if I could have it instead.

January 1967, Paisley (thanks dad)
The dress was handmade to my mum's design, lovely and simple, and I think its silk satin.  The waist is a teeny tiny 24 inches and the elbows have darts in for ease of movement (nice touch).  So, partly because I could hardly even get one of my granny arms into the neck of the dress, the dress has hung in my wardrobe since then, waiting for a purpose.

After she died, I asked my dad and sisters if they would be OK with me using the dress for sewing fabric.  They said yes and my plans for gifts took off.  First off, gift bags for the main pressie...

remember these?
The bags are lined with silk from the dress.  OM.flipping.G that fabric is the devil to work with.  Thank goodness for spray starch, it saved my bacon for sure.  I tried really hard to cut with the grain but without the starch it was like sewing jelly!

The main gifts were to be baguette purses a la Lisa u-handbag using Echino Decoro fabric and some Tula Pink Hushabye for the lining.  After the difficulties with the gift bags, my worry that I would run out of fabric and the thought that it may get too dirty with use, I decided not to use the silk for the whole lining, but just for the side pieces.   I already had the pattern so I got to work cutting everything out and sewing it all up, then glued the first one into its frame.  It wasn't quite right....

No amount of shoving and pushing and swearing could get that edge of the fabric into the purse frame.  so I tried a second and a third and still the same problem.  #epicfail!  I wrote to Lisa and got a new copy of the pattern but got a case of the wobbles.  Einstein said that the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome and this was rattling my brain.  So I bought some more big ball frames, read up on how to draft your own purse pattern (thanks Emily, Rebecca and Lisa) and jumped in with both feet!  No side panels on my pattern (steady on!) so silk pockets were added....

success at last!
silk pocket

 I was so relieved AND in a fit of madness, I ripped one of the baguette purses out of its big ball frame and tried it in a "normal" frame AND IT FIT!!!
woop woop!
So I managed to save the ones I'd done wrong and used them to make gifts for two of my nieces and I was still able to keep one for myself (I also have one that needs sewing and a frame).  Although both frame types are meant to be 6"x3", I think the big ball frame is slightly longer at the sides which meant the purse fabricky bit was just too neat hence the problems.  #relieved!

I think my sisters were happy with their bags in bags, which made me happy.

Wishing you all every happiness this Christmas

MWAH xxx

Saturday, 8 December 2012

holding hands's one of the things that I love doing, especially when walking with Laughing Boy.  Since the wee man came along, we don't get much of an opportunity to do it.  But we did yesterday and I loved it!  It was my birthday - not one of those where you move up a tick box on those forms/surveys - thank goodness.  But one where Laughing Boy took a half day, the in-laws came to babysit and we went out for a child free lunch and wander round the town, holding hands.  Bliss.    AND, I totally got lucky gift-wise (you've gotta love amazon wish lists!)...

I was expecting one but got all three!
Now, a while back, my lovely MIL Carol told me (in no uncertain terms!) that she thought I would be much further forward in my sewing than I was.  After a huge petted lip, I began to muse that she was right.  I should be doing more complicated stuff and definitely should be on the FMQ bus by now.  So I joined some bees and swaps and challenge myself with them all to make something that will take me somewhere new.  And, my plans for 2013 include getting to grips with FMQ and dressmaking, hence my joy at receiving these books for my birthday.

Talking of bees, I am so behind with the FQR Bumblie Bee for lovely Liz (Ms November).  She wants selvedge blocks.  I've made one but want to do another as well.  Here's the one that's done...
based on an HST tute by Jeni @ InColorOrder
I'll get the other one done when we get back from Scotland.  I'm off to the airport to pick up my dad, who is helping me and the wee man drive up tomorrow for the week.  Have a great weekend x

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

buzz buzz busy bee

My Sunday afternoon sewing was a great success - three outstanding QATWII bee blocks done and done.  Outstanding in the "have had them for a week and need to be getting them completed and sent on" sense, I mean.
First up, Mary' Mary's colour palette really stumped me and I was moaning about my lack of creative spark and lack of fabric in the required tones to the lovely JoJo, who soothed my panicky brow and not only offered some design ideas (including pointing out Mary's love for birdy fabric) but also sent me some more suitable fabric.  I could not have done this block with out her help and support - she is officially amazeballs!  If you don't know her, check out her blog and her Flickr - she creates some totally beautiful stuff.  So freshly inspired and using mostly Jo's fabric, my block ended up like this..

all the blocks so far...
Next up was Lynne's blocks.  I was much more comfortable with her colour palette (as was my stash!) and the guide was for geometric so I opted for a block I found at Play Crafts...

all the blocks so far

I was on a roll so moved onto Diane's blocks - she wanted spring/summer colours and stars if possible, so using Jeni's HST November block, I came up with this....

all the blocks so far
Now the sharp eyed amongst you will see that I...erm... modified the design a little.  Ok, I messed up and sewed the bottom row wrong but it turns out I'm not very sharp eyed as I have only just noticed myself and the block is already on the way to Rachel.  I feel like such a doofus but it doesn't look do bad, does it?  This is what happens to me after three hours of sewing - concentration wavers to the point of calamity. 

So it was a good job that I stopped there on Sunday I think.  This week will be all about Liz's bumblie blocks and some last minute christmas pressies before heading off up to Scotland for a week with the wee man (= no sewing next week).  Maybe that's a good time to get Bertha serviced.....

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Fresh Sewing Day - november remembered

Like everyone, December has hit me with a shock.  November was awash with bee blocks, swaps and chrimbo makes (and epic fails!) oh and an impromptu gift for Lolo....

These are my (successful!) finishes.  Well, I have also finished three out of four chrimbo pressies for my sisters (the fourth is being glued as I type) but these can't be revealed til after delivery. Oh, and I saved one of the epic fails by ripping it out of the frame and regluing it into a smaller frame - RESULT!  I may do that with the rest.  Of course, it showed that I maybe should use more glue in future!  And, as I am writing this, I have just remembered the kiddo quilt I started - the quilt top is nearly done but I have run out of wadding and am not really loving it so it has been shelved for the time being.

Laughing Boy has taken the wee man to see his nana and grandad so I can have the afternoon to sew - so it's bee blocks and glue for me today.  He is a nice man, a very nice man.

Linking with Lily's Quilts....

Lily's Quilts

Monday, 26 November 2012

the postman always rings twice

...or, in my case, knocks really quietly then puts the parcels in a secret place before scarpering.  Still, he leaves lovely stuff in there, like two fabulous goodie filled parcels - one from Helen and one from Liz.

So Helen's parcel was courtesy of the Modern She Made swap...

a really lovely cushion cover which is taking pride of place on my favourite chair

and the cutest hoop with liberty lawn and Lucky Jackson embroidery
Helen - I love them both.  The hoop is up on the wall in my sewing space (the first thing up there!)and looks like it was made for there.  The cushion cover has a dark blue linen border and back and I can't believe it was Helen's first ever cover - perfect.

Then the Scrappy Swap and I squealed with delight when I saw the label on the parcel showing that it came from Liz, who has been such a friend to me over the past months.

a bag full of goodies

filled with lots of loveliness
A rubbish photo I'm afraid but somehow Liz has managed to figure out that I have a wee thing for Melody Miller (there's me thinking I'm all subtle and everything). So my goodie bag contained a pile of amazing MM scraps, a fab MM mug rug, a great wee fabric basket and some amazing vintage notions as well as a Hastings tea towel and postcards (oh and some sweeties!).  You can get a better idea here -  There was a wee tear!  You are an angel, Liz.

A third parcel this weekend resulted in this....

Fine Feathered in Whisper from Field Study No1 by AMH charm squares for the Low Volume Charm Swap being organised by Laura @ Needles, Pins and Baking Tins, all ready to be posted this morning.

If only every postie delivery could be so joy-inducing.

Saturday, 24 November 2012


It was all about the scrappy this week.  I am very excited about getting the partner I've been allocated in the Scrappy Swap on Flickr.  I do hope she likes what she is about to receive....

one fat quarter's worth of scraps

a scrappy pot holder
The pot holder was based on an Oh Fransson tutorial and at some points has 9 layers of fabric/canvas/wadding.  My little entry level Janome worked her little socks off wading through that lot!  According to the instructions I should avoid taking up jeans with her cos she might not have the power to cope!  I'm not really all that comfortable with true scrappiness but I know my partner loves selvedges so that helped decide the design.  With all that padding it had better work as a pot holder.

We have to include a small something from where we live.  I live in Nottingham which was famous for its lace industry so I wanted to get some lace. There is this fab wee shop on a really really quiet street and the owner (Debbie Bryan) specialises in antique lace in really novel ways.  So I popped into town this morning and bought the cutest coaster made using lace samples from the 19th century embedded into resin.  Debbie offered to wrap it up for me so I don't have a photo.  Hopefully my partner will take one for me. 

PS.  I don't normally go for hijacking other countries' customs.  In fact, I wrote a terse letter to the Editor of the Guardian last year complaining about a big spread they did on making food for a Thanksgiving party (no rude!).  Still, I guess when big things happen, it is worth stepping back and being thankful, like being thankful for having had a great mum who gave me a totally amazing family and being thankful for my own little family that almost didn't happen makes even the dreechest days seem brighter.

Monday, 19 November 2012

epic fail

Don't you just hate it when a plan doesn't come together?  Clearly the chrimbo pressie secrets mean that I can't go into too much detail (although to be honest there is not much chance of my sisters reading this!).  Anyway, there I was, decks cleared, fully prepped, all the fabric marked up and cut out, the interfacing ironed on, sewn together, glued and NONE of the three fit the effing frames!  I stopped then and haven't tried the fourth...sigh. The first one was definitely my mistake - I was being too clever for my own good and I had a vague Eureka moment that I thought would be the big problem solver. However the other two fit OK in three corners of the frame but are slightly out on the other one.  They just don't fit :'(

I took them to my lovely MIL for reassurance that it was the thought that counted but she (quite rightly) pointed out that I could and should do better.  I then threw a mahoosive teenage strop and I'd like to apologise to Carol for being so pathetic in the face of your kind words and suggestions #shamefaced.  I decided some distance from sewing (and the glue!) was required. [Photos of my epic fail will follow after Christmas.]

I jumped back on the horse yesterday to make some blocks for the divine Miss JoJo...

for a quilt of hugs for her lovely auntie
and finally finished the extras for my Modern She Made swap so that can go in the post tomorrow...
a nest of two fabric bowls and some lovely stuff from John Lewis
I used Nova's nested bowls pattern (a big thanks to Amy for reminding me that I had the pattern with her lovely makes for the Village Haberdashery's blog) and the whole process was a breeze.

Oh and I've ordered more purse frames. I.SHALL.NOT.BE. DEFEATED!

PS if anyone wants an imperfect baguette purse or three, let me know!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

secret santa

Working from home has its advantages (bad hair days, comfy trousers, no-one to comment on the cake consumption, time to focus).  Of course the down sides include lack of comment on cake consumption, trying to see your screen through the cat, the ironing pile falling on your head, and, in my case, sharing your "home office" with your sewing space and fabric stash.  It just calls to me.....I am sometimes powerless to resist.  I would like to think I am not alone in this.

But I was a good girl for most of yesterday and managed to get a big chunk done before my thoughts turned to Christmas and my festive to do list.  I have been working on a bunch of secret pressies for the family so can't go into much detail until after the big day.  I did finish the gift bags yesterday though...

Jeni's drawstring bag pattern, of course
I've used this pattern a lot this year (LOVE!) but these four were the most challenging so far due to the lining.  I won't say too much just now but I will give eternal thanks to the wonder of spray starch!  Now to make the presents to go inside using these beauties....

Friday, 9 November 2012

cushioning my oops

This week is (almost) all about swaps and bees for me.  I caught up on Heather's block for the QATWII bee - she wanted a mosaic block a la Elizabeth Oh Fransson....

This block was real fun to make although I got a little carried away and made a mahoosive block with a tiny slither of fabric on one side for some reason.  And here are the blocks so far...

It's going to be a really bright and fun quilt I think.

Then after a zip purchase or two, I finished my first ever pillow / cushion cover for the Modern She Made swap....

It's 20" square so quite big.  I used Judith's fab tute on hiding the zip under a flap and followed Angela's idea of lining the cover front and back.  I was dead pleased with how it turned out until 5am this morning when I realised that I'd sewn the lining on the wrong side of the zipper....

oops! can you see? 
Still, I dare not unpick and redo as that way disaster beckons and maybe I'm the only one that will know ;)  Who am I kidding?  Where's the pesky seam ripper?!

Quick question though - should I add a binding or leave as is?  I am leaning towards no binding but what do you think?

Oh, I forgot to add that my Mouthy Stitches tote and key fob were safely delivered to the lovely Erica who, in a weird 6 degrees of separation type thing, made the tote for Patti who made the tote for me!  I LOVE THAT!  She liked it, which was a massive relief as there was such loveliness and inventiveness on show that I was worried she would be a little let down.  And she took a photo of the key fob I made that I forgot to photograph..

Monday, 5 November 2012


So the sickness bug has hit Laughing Boy hard.  In solidarity with him being off work poorly, obviously to hold his hair back when he's being sick, I took the day off as a holiday.  However, having changed into my Florence Nightingale attire (complete with corset and plenty of underskirts), Laughing Boy chose to sleep ALL day rather than have me minister to his every need. That is not as rude as it sounds, honest!

So what's a dutiful wife to do when her beloved shuns her comfort?  Why sew, goddamn it!  It took me most of the morning to choose the fabrics for LoLo's laptop sleeve and then stumped for the first thing that I had pulled out of the stash but I finally got sewing and, using Elizabeth's SewMamaSew tutorial, made this....

back on the left, front on the right
Given that LoLo is one of my favourite people in the whole world and that I started a quilt for her over a year ago now and it's still not even 5% done, I wanted to make her a wee minding, using fabric from my favourite designer. LoLo is a writer who loves coffee and music so Melody Miller was a must. It's interfaced (fusible fleece and wadding) to within an inch of its life and lined with ruby star vinyl...

That big black strip is the sew in Velcro.  I followed Elizabeth's suggestion and used a zigzag stitch to sew it in and this happened...

The thread (polyester gutermann) frayed really badly as it went through the Velcro.  Next time (when I make one for me!), I'll use a straight stitch I think to see if that will avoid this problem.  I wish you could get sew in Velcro in better colours though.

Even though it took me all day to make, I am really happy with this laptop sleeve.  It's going to be winging its way to the hobbit house in New Zealand as soon as I can get to the Post Office.

Off to tend to the sick (whether he likes it or not!)...

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Lily's Quilts

It's Fresh Sewing Day over at Lily's Quilts, which gives us all a chance to reflect on the last month and start planning the next, sewing-wise. And, let's face it, spend as much time as we can checking out the loveliness that others have created.

So here's my October in finishes:

which equates to one quilt (for the lovely little Alex), three sets of Bee blocks, one swap tote (and key fob which I failed to capture as a photo - sorry) and a gift bag for my 3 year old niece's birthday.  I could have sworn it was more than that but on reflection, I've also started 2 baby quilts, one Swap based cushion cover, 4 purses for Christmas gifts and a skirt for my sister so not bad in the month when I started teaching again for the first time in 18 months.  Yep, I'll take that!

This time last year, the wee man asked if he could join in with Movember and so he did, raising over £300 for the charity (beating his grandad in donations!)....

"really mum?"
We're in negotiations about this year's hirsute attempt :)  Watch this space!

Oh and it's voting time for the BQF Fall 2012 over at Amy's place.... (ahem... # 275...ahem....)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

totes emoshe!

I am so down with the kids (or so I like to think!). Except when it comes to making quilts for toddlers as I just can't embrace the primary colour style so the baby quilts I'm making are taking an age to come together.  I'll post some progress tomorrow, hopefully.

In the meantime and much more excitingly, a fabulous package arrived on my doorstep from Saskatoon, Canada yesterday - the most fabulous Mouthy Stitches tote bag EVER.  I may have had a wee tear....

it's got it all!

The super talented Patti (blog:, Flickr ID: retiredtoquilt) has made a wondrous thing of beauty and indulged my love of all things Melody Miller and Echino.  This bag has already had a trip out to be shown off to the agog shoppers of Morrisons.  Patti was so considerate that as part of her stalking she saw that I'd received a couple of really cool webbing based key fobs and made me a different kind.  I love the hand quilting, the colours and the Tula frogs!  It is perfect and I continue to be bowled over by the fab-u-lous creations of all my Bee and Swap partners.

Check out Patti's blog - she makes awesome things.  Istarted following her when I joined the Mouthy Stitches swap and saw her inspiration mosaic and thought now there's a woman with style. I am IN.LOVE. with her feather cushions (the Tickled series)...

check them out here @
Thank you so much Patti - you are a star!

Monday, 29 October 2012


I have soo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o many things on my sewing "to do" list that it's stopped me in my tracks and I need to refocus and reprioritise.  Do you ever get like that?  Too many new ideas that you want to start now but it stops you doing anything.  Anyway, no sewing of any substance took place this weekend, which is a real shame as I had most of Saturday to myself to do some. 

As a way of clearing my head, I spent some of the time drooling over the lovely quilts on show in the BQF Fall 2012. Of course, I now have a much expanded "to do" list for 2013! One of the posts I read directed me to the Herring Run Quilters' Guild website and the following:


Here are short versions of quilter conversations:
  • NESY: Not even started yet
  • FQ: fat quarter
  • LQS: local quilt shop
  • FART: Fabric Acquisition Road Trip
  • FIU: Finish It Up
  • HSY: Haven't Started Yet
  • OBW: one-block wonder
  • PIGS: projects in grocery sacks
  • PIPS: projects in process
  • SABLE: Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy
  • SEX: Stash Enhancement Expedition
  • UFO: UnFinished Object
  • USO: UnStarted Object
  • VIP: Very Important Project
  • WHIMM: Works Hidden In My Mind
  • WIP: Work in Progress
  • WIWMI: Wish It Would Make Itself
  • WOMBAT: Waste of Money, Batting, and Time
  • WWIT: What Was I Thinking
  • WISP: Work In Slow Progress
  • WIVSP: Work In Very Slow Progress

It made me giggle and remember this from an old The Bitchy Stitcher post.

I'm hoping to finish at least one WIP and tackle one USO this week!


Saturday, 27 October 2012

BQF Fall 2012 - compliwhatsits

Amy's Creative Side

I love Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festivals.  They provide a fab chance to see some really inspiring work and to read the stories behind them.   2012 saw a return to quilting for me and I've decided to enter the Sparkler into the Fall 2012 Festival as it represents a number of firsts (but particularly because of the last on the list).
  • It was the first Quilt-along that I actually started let alone finished!  (even though it took me 6 months longer than the QAL! to complete). 
  • It was the first quilt I've finished where I had all the fabric cut out, blocks sewn and trimmed before I started to sew them together. I usually get bored during that bit and crack on before accepting that I need more blocks!
  • It was the first quilt I ever hand quilted.  I broke 3 black and gold quilting needles in the process!
  • It was the first quilt I ever put a label on, even though the label isn't about me ;)
  • It was the first quilt where I didn't use scrappy binding
  • When we were young, the family joke was that compliments were so rare they were called compliwhatsits.  This was the first quilt that my dad actually compliwhatsitted me on.  (hugs dad if you're reading this - that meant a lot ;))

organisation was key!

getting excited by how it might look

the final layout

mistakes happen!

first ever attempt at hand quilting

never as wide as you think they will be!

a gift for some lovely french friends
The Sparkler now resides on a sofa in south west Brittany, France and is looking forward to moving into its new house when it's completed.  They are building a room in it for the wee man, which is nice. :-)
Finished quilt measures: around 60" x 72"
Pieced and hand quilted by me
Best category: throw quilt, hand-quilted quilt