Friday, 27 August 2010

I want this book

So even if I don't win the giveaway over at I will have to buy it.

Crochet and knitted flowers - whats not to love?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Row row row your boat ----

all the way to Norway. Yep, that will be me on saturday off on my first cruise to the fjords. I'm so excited!!! I've wanted to do this trip since I was a kid. Not the normal kid dream I know, but I was always marching to a different tune back then!

I'm finishing off the ironing (well I had to do it for the trip) and getting all my clothes organised for my packing. Its only a week but clearly as it is a cruise one needs many many outfits! And as I am driving down to Southampton and getting the ship from there I don't have any weight restrictions to worry about.....

I have been distracted all week with this holiday coming up so haven't done much sewing. Just been working through more of my scraps with lots more wonky stars made and some crumb blocks.

Its madness really how much one weeks holiday can distract you - but as this is the most expensive one I've ever taken as well and I've needed lots of new things, shoes, bags, clothes, makeup, undies and nightwear its no wonder I haven't done much else! I was tempted to buy a new suitcase but thought that might be going a bit far!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Scrap management

I've mentioned before a bit about how I manage my scraps but as I've spent the last couple of days working on them I thought I would go into a bit more detail.

Above is the pile I've been working with. I sort my scraps into six categories and the plastics tubs are ideal. Here in London these are what we get our chinese takeaways in and they are very useful! Obviously too many slack teas as I have a whole pile of them!

1. Any big pieces like the edges of the backing after quilting I keep separately as they will be useful for binding at some point or for the centres of string blocks. 

2. I then keep leftover bits of binding aswell in one of the tubs.

3. Then I cut what I can into 2.5 inch squares. I'm saving these at the moment to make another scotty dog.

4. I am sorting my strings into colour sets as the next string quilt I want to make will be colour blocks rather than random like the two I've made so far.

5. Any roughly triangle shapes and the actual triangles trimmed from making binding are going towards making these wonky stars. I've been making loads of these blocks in the last few days, my tub had got so stuffed it looks like I haven't made a dent at all. But I promise I have. I use a 2 inch square as the base for them so they finish up quite small. The trimming is a pain but it comes good in the end. I am using the same cream and gold fabrics for the background and centres for all of them so only the points will be scrappy.

6. Finally any little crumbs bigger than about 1 inch square I save and make into these crumb blocks. They are finished at 3.5 square but sometimes I make a much bigger piece and then cut them down. Eventually I will turn them into a new top as well. In a few years when I have enough.

I know a lot of people would chuck them out when they get this small but I can't bring myself to. Even though I have stacks of good fabric untouched waiting to be cut into. I'm not this frugal in the rest of my life let me assure you!

Oh by the way, I am also saving the scraps of wadding/batting to use as stuffing in the scotty dog when I make it.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

timber grey stars 1

I finished my first quilt in what feels like ages and here it is.

This was the top I was going to use for a backing but decided it was too good. It is around 36 x 52 inches before washing. I've heard that the denser the quilting the more it shrinks so I will see when it comes out of the machine.

As you can see I really went for it with the quilting to practise my free motion. The stitch lengths still leave a lot to be desire, but by the end of it I was feeling more confident. I had to made a mad dash to the shops to get more thread half way through as I didn't realise how much I would use, about 900 metres!

The backing is just a simple pattern from my stash of ones that I've brought especially for backing and it goes ok. I didn't get many puckers in the back either, another thing that is improving.  For the binding I used some of my scraps of the Timber fabric as well as some kona coal.

In real life it has a bit of a sheen to it, I don't know if that is due to the kona cotton, the quilting or just my mind playing tricks on me after spending so long on it quilting!!!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Crampy fingers and improving the mind!

Wow! I've just finished the freemotion quilting on my latest quilt and my fingers are all cramped up! It isn't even a very big quilt but I not going to show it until I get the binding sorted tomorrow hopefully!

How does that improve the mind I hear you ask? Well I'm a big fan of podcasts at the best of times and love the content available from the BBC. From comedy to science and everything in between.

The series I've been listening to while working on this quilt is a history of the world in 100 objects. All objects found in the British Museum. If you have even a passing interest in how human civilisation has evolved and you can access it where you are I can thoroughly recommend it. I'm only up to the Egyptians but each programme is short and gives a taster of what life was like at the time.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

When piecing goes wrong!

I'm busy at the moment with practising my free motion quilting on one of my recently finished tops so I thought I would share with you my solution to the problem of when your piecing accuracy is so bad that nothing matches up.

I made this quilt last summer and it was at the time the most complicated piecing I had done but my accuracy was dreadful. I went on my merry way making blocks from a Kaffe Fassett jelly roll and various cream fabrics but didn't think at all about how I would put them together. I knew the points in the individual blocks were a bit sloppy but I hadn't understood that it would be worse when I tried to put the blocks side by side.

It was an awful mess, so I went with the solution, Sashing! Up until then, I hadn't been that keen in sashing in the quilts I was looking at in books and online but know I got why it was so useful. It disguises a multitude of sins!

I also did my second attempt at free motion quilting on this and my first pieced backing using some of the scraps from the front and even the binding used some more of the strips.

This ended up as one of my favourite quilts (the fabrics are lovely) and I never intend to give it away. Of course it still hasn't got a name, or a label yet! 

Friday, 13 August 2010

Coasts, Castles and Cottages

Last pics from my week in Ireland. As you will see from the skys it wasn't exactly glorious summer weather but we didn't get much rain which was the main thing.

This is Banna Strand, Co Kerry where some family friends live.

Beagh Castle is a ruined 13th century tower on the banks of the river Shannon at Ballysteen, Co. Limerick. Not far from where my Mum is from.

Curragh Chase is also nearby and is now a country park. The big house was devestated by fire in the 40s and has never been restored but a least the hoi polloi can enjoy the grounds these days.

Finally for garden enthusiasts this is the garden I would like to have, if I had the space, time and energy to bother! I'm ashamed to say it is all down to an 83 year old woman who spends most of her time fundraising for the church! My great aunt has built this up from nothing really. The cottage was where my granny was raised and is just around the corner from the one where my Mum was born!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Latest tops

So after my subtle grey tops I went for something complete different. This is made from Tufted Tweets and Kona banana which is a colour I love. It reminds me of some of my 80's teenage outfits.

I used a pattern from which I slightly adapted. I liked the simplicity of it.

I also finally sorted out my string quilt. This was the first time where I realised after piecing it all that I had put some blocks in wrong and had to unpick. I put it off for a few weeks but gave myself a kick up the bum yesterday and got on with it.

The smaller blocks are 5 inch and the larger are 10. I used muslin foundation this time which is a lot easier than paper but it does end up heavy. I suppose the fact I use a lot of narrow strips adds to that as well.

I really will have to start finishing some quilts now. I've got too many tops built up that are awaiting the final finish!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Back at the family homestead

In the cottage in Ireland where my Mum was born my Cottage Garden Quilt has settled into its new home. The cushions in front were made by one of my aunts who now owns the cottage and the painting above was done by one of her sons.

Here is a quilt the same aunt hand stitched along with another who is now deceased. They worked on it together on and off for years using the paper piecing method.

Finally and by no means least, this is a quilt that my Granny made. I would guess in the 50s or 60s as before those decades she would have been too busy raising 13 children. It is getting a bit worn in places as it is made with some sort of polyester and has a blanket inside instead of batting. Love the use of solids though and the multi-coloured ties. She never had a sewing machine, yet it is machine pieced so she may have done it at the local womans group where she borrowed one.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Cardiff - SciFi and Castles

My very short trip to Cardiff was dominated by castles. We visited 3 in one day! It wasn't planned, just turned out that way.

First off was Cardiff Castle in the city centre. We did a tour of the private apartments that were renovated in Victorian times by one of the richest men in the world the 3rd Marquess of Bute who had the castle as his holiday home. There is a room under the clock tower that would cost about £18m today to decorate! Just one room!

Next off was Caerphilly Castle just outside Cardiff. We didn't go into this one, just sat in the grounds and watched the world go by for a while.

Last was Coch Castle. This was also owned by Lord Bute and I was able to take some pics inside. This bedroom was for his wife at the top of a tower and is very tame compared to what we saw at Cardiff! I loved the green walls. Can just see those patterns in a quilt. Another one to add to the list.

In the evening we went to Cardiff Bay for dinner. I was hoping to bump into Captain Jack while I was there but Torchwood must be busy! (n.b. this sentence only makes sense if you watch Doctor Who or Torchwood!)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

I got home the night before last from my trip to Wales and Ireland but am still recovering from all the driving and all the talking. It feels like I was talking none stop for over a week except when I was in bed!

One of the best visits was on thursday when I delivered the Loony Limerick Ladies quilt to the Loony Limerick Ladies. Here they are posing with it pretending to be asleep standing up (it made sense at the time!). I had a bit of a job getting them to keep their clothes on for the photo!

This one with me was hard to get as someone elses hand was going for a wander and I am very ticklish!

During the day we had gone into town and just happened upon the first day of a new monthly craft fair that is on in the renovated cornmarket. There was lovely stuff there, even two quilt stalls so I managed to buy a bit more fabric!