Dr. Why

 

Paper Pieced Tardis Pattern

Do people sometimes ask you why you make your own clothes?  Or why you knit your own jumpers/socks/blankets?   Or why you make quilts or greetings cards or paint pictures.  Does there always have to be a logical answer to questions about why we want to create certain things?

Mr. Tialys cannot see the point in buying perfectly good fabric and then cutting it up into smaller pieces and joining it up again – this is a very common ‘man’ question I believe.  If I were smashing plates and making mosaics, I don’t believe he would ask the same thing.  Although he might look askance come dinner time.

Another question he often asks is why I have so much fabric that I would have a job using it all up in my lifetime (no matter how long that might be) yet still, occasionally, well quite often actually, buy more.  This, I don’t really have an answer to except that it makes me happy and keeps me out of the casinos, pubs, betting shops and places of ill-repute that I might otherwise frequent and spend my money in.  Unlikely scenarios but you get my drift.

Sometimes I make things ‘just because’ – although I do usually have some sort of vague idea why I want to make something even if it’s to try out a new skill or method to see whether I want to continue down that road or never touch it again – needle felting anyone?

Needle Felting Equipment

NeedleFelted Chick

(This is not to denigrate the craft of needle felting in any way because there are some awesome needle felting artists out there – just my own lack of proficiency at it. Just saying..)

Anyway, I recently got the foundation paper piecing bug which, for anybody who doesn’t know what that is, involves laying small pieces of fabric on to the reverse side of a printed paper pattern, then flipping it over and sewing each, sometimes teeny piece, onto the piece adjoining it in the order stipulated by the pattern, until you have a completed patchwork block or image.  Then you have to tear all that paper off which has hopefully been thoroughly perforated by your sewing machine needle and, voila, a finished work that should be very accurately pieced.  You may well ask ‘why?’.  Well, I like it because I sometimes find accuracy fairly hard to achieve using other piecing methods and this appears to be my best shot.

Here is how a piece looks from the reverse side with some of the papers removed.

Tardis Paper Piecing Pattern

So, inspired by a recent project by a blogging friend Avis of OhSewTempting,  and because my Dr. Who loving daughter has just moved into her post-university flat and needs a few soft furnishings in her life, I decided to make a paper pieced Tardis and then incorporate it into a cushion.

So far so good.  I had a project with a purpose and could use some stash fabric to make it.

I found some ‘constellation’ fabric that had come in a ‘stash building’ bundle of ‘blues’ I’d ordered online and didn’t even realise I had.  (Slight pause while we all stop laughing at the very idea I need any ‘stash building’ ).   This would made a perfect background for the Doctor’s tardis hurtling through space and time.

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Then, I remembered I had some ‘Police Box’ ribbon I’d bought for making quirky dog collars.

Dr. Who Ribbon

It was meant to be.  My life was complete.

The first mistake I made was not checking my printer settings so the pattern printed out to finish at 9.5 inches instead of 10 inches which I didn’t realise until I’d already started piecing and, as it didn’t really need to be a specific size as it’s not going into a quilt, I let it be.  This, despite the fact that, two posts ago, I wrote about this self-same thing.

PDF file instructions

The second mistake I made was believing the designer had made an error  and put the outside written notice on the wrong side of the tardis – something my daughter would have immediately picked up on.  So, I reversed the pieces, forgetting that because you sew the fabric on the reverse, the reverse eventually becomes the front.  I expect your brain hurts now.  I know mine did.  Anyway, trying to be clever made joining those window and door pieces more difficult than they needed to be but I got there in the end.

It was all coming together so well.  All the individual sections looked good.

Detail Paper Piecing

Then I started to join them together.

This was the first result.  I had noticed the slight overhang on the right side of the tardis wasn’t overhanging slightly or in any way at all on my version but thought it wouldn’t matter too much as the rest wasn’t bad.  Then, what wasn’t that obvious in ‘real life’ became glaringly obvious in the photo – the right hand side of the tardis was in its own time warp and waving about all over the place and there was bagging in the background fabric.

Paper Pieced Tardis

It was around about that time I found myself  asking the question ‘why?’ and also cursing quite a lot in a very unladylike manner.

I had to unpick many many teeny stitches and, after a couple of attempts at re-doing it through the papers, eventually  took the seams apart up the sides,  separated the mid section, redid the ‘police box’ line, took the papers off and then joined it all up again with 1/4 inch seams of my own devising.

Well, I am older and wiser yet again and have now tackled teeny pieces in a pattern and have ended up with a vaguely acceptable tardis.

I’m going to put a border round it to make a bigger cushion and do an envelope back edged with more ‘Public Telephone’ ribbon.  Any ideas for the border colour? I’m thinking of the navy I used on the box itself  or maybe some navy with little white stars but other suggestions welcome.

Dr. Who's Tardis in fabric

O.K., there are still a few areas I could improve on and, if I made it again, I would stitch those little window frames as Avis did as it looks a lot neater (as does her whole project but I have aspirations), and the good thing is that the pattern – printed free from Craftsy here – says ‘intermediate level’ so perhaps I can now feel I’ve graduated from ‘beginner’.

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28 Comments

Like The Queen

DogwithCrown

Like the Queen, I had a big birthday in June and, also like the Queen, I managed to spread the celebrations throughout the whole of the month of June.  Unlike the Queen I at no point wore a tiara or lime green outfit and I didn’t turn 90 – but one day I just might.

Anyway, that’s my excuse for not blogging myself, not commenting on some of your blogs as much as I usually do and generally being out of cyber circulation.  In order to get myself back in the swing of things and start posting again on a vaguely regular basis, here is a brief whizz through some of the things I got up to.

I flew over to Bristol and met up with Mr. Tialys in the beautiful city of Bath , with its Roman baths and wonderful Georgian architecture, where we stayed for 3 days in a delightful ’boutique guest house’ called Dukes which is run by the most charming people and, if and when I am next in Bath, I will refuse to stay anywhere else.

Flowers & Champagne

A bouquet of flowers (from himself) and a bottle of something sparkly (from my friend) were waiting for us when we got into the room.

Here’s something I can cross off my bucket list.

Four Poster Bed Dukes Bath

The left hand pillow was not crumpled when we arrived but Mr. T. couldn’t resist flinging himself on to the bed when we arrived and I forgot to straighten it before the photo.  But you get the idea.

After a lovely weekend of eating good food, visiting the American Museum (mostly for the quilts but it was all interesting), admiring the city generally and avoiding the Euro 2016 matches being shown in almost every pub,  Mr. T returned to France to take over the dog wrangling from my friend who was house and dog sitting and I took the train up to London to spend some time with Mlle Tialys the elder who has just finished University and therefore not averse to hanging out with me for a bit.

We went to Camden Market and did five circuits of the street food market before we could decide what to eat but, on the actual day of my birthday we went to one of my favourite places (Brighton) and had fish and chips on Brighton Pier with a glass of sparkly.

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I couldn’t eat it all😦

…. and I certainly couldn’t go on the helter-skelter afterwards.

Fish & Chips on the Pier

My daughter wore a dress she had made herself which had a foxy print and people kept complementing her on it so she was very pleased and encouraged to keep on with her sewing.

Fabrics From Ditto

We went to Ditto Fabrics (as I always do when I go to Brighton) and I was very restrained and bought three pieces of fabric with a specific purpose in mind.  The purple jersey on the left (obviously Liberty but not priced as such), will be a sleeveless skater dress for my other daughter.  The middle navy and white cotton will be the backing for a quilt I’ll be making for Mr. Tialys and the one on the right will be a skirt.  Does anybody recognise it from the penultimate episode of the Great British Sewing Bee?  When I bought it the assistant told me it would be on the show that week but I thought she’d got it confused with the African Wax Fabric section in a previous week – not because it is wax fabric but because of the pattern – but then it appeared.

We went to see a girly film –  Me Before You – because we knew nobody else would ever want to watch it with us – and had a weep, along with the rest of the (almost uniquely female) audience.

I then went to see my Mum and had dinner with an old friend who I’m hoping I can persuade to come over to France for a visit now that her son is off to University.  I’m talking to you Alyson!!  We didn’t get anybody to take a photo – I refuse to take selfies – but here is one of us both in Brussels from back in the day when we both worked for an airline and got ‘staff travel’ so could zip off to European cities for a day trip at weekends for next to nothing.

Me and Alyson

We looked everywhere for that bloody Manneken Pis – expecting it to be much bigger (these were the days before Google!) – and were mightily unimpressed when we found it.  I have no idea why we are both wearing cords and something resembling a hacking jacket but it probably made sense at the time.

On the Saturday morning of my flight home, I had booked myself into a Tilly and the Buttons workshop on Freestyle Machine Embroidery.  I have messed about with it a bit myself but wanted to learn from scratch and pick up some tips and I do love a workshop.

Free Motion Embroidery Course

 We were given a choice of two designs to work on – a pair of scissors or a cat – but I went off piste and did my own for which I had a good reason – to be revealed at a later date.  It was good fun and we had a lovely, enthusiastic teacher called Sophia Palmer of Jessalli.   I will definitely be playing around with this technique on some future projects but am also hoping it will be useful with my attempts at free motion quilting.

I flew back to France with a planeload of Welsh football supporters who were coming over for the Euro 2016 match against Russia – which was fun!

Then I had a birthday lunch with some friends here but the photos the waitress took of us are too terrible to be displayed in the public arena.  They were made worse by the fact that it was a hot, sunny day and we are all bathed in the blood-red light caused by the scarlet parasol shading the table so we look as if we are all having a hot flush at the same time – which could have happened actually but that’s beside the point.

The following Thursday I treated my friend and house-sitter to dinner at the amazingly beautiful l’Abbaye-Chateau de Camon and we were a little early so had our aperitif on the terrace in a bower of  lush greenery.

L'Abbaye Camon

Then, my birthday present from Mr. Tialys finally arrived home with him from the U.K.

Daisy Dog Sculpture

This is a sculpture by U.K. artist Christine Cummings which he had ordered back at the end of April in order for it to be ready for my birthday but, what with one thing and another, he didn’t actually receive it until a couple of weeks after my birthday so he wasn’t best pleased.  However, as I had used the fact as an excuse to keep on going with the celebrations until I had my present,  I wasn’t worried at all!   Isn’t he gorgeous?  If I could ever bring myself to buy a dog from a breeder  – this is the dog I would have.  As that isn’t going to happen, I will content myself with one that doesn’t dig up the garden, poop and bark at inappropriate moments as I already have three who fulfil that brief adequately enough.

My liking for these dogs goes back to when my daughters were tiny and I used to read this book to them.

Daisy Book

Which I still have – obviously! Along with most of the other books we read together.  Some things you just can’t part with.

The Queen at 90

Anyway, I might not have had as much pomp and ceremony as June’s other birthday girl but I enjoyed myself and, according to my mother who knows about these things,  managed to spread it out even longer than I usually do.  I can’t think what she means.

 

 

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34 Comments

When An Inch Makes All The Difference

Now, now, settle down.

This is what I mean

PDF file instructions

With the amount of independent designers creating patterns to be printed off as PDF files these days, those of you who use them for dressmaking, patchwork  or other crafts will know what I mean by the all important inch square when printing patterns.  There is no use briefly wafting a tape measure in the general direction of the square and saying ‘yes, that’s about right’ because a minute fraction of an inch bigger or smaller is a mistake that will multiply itself throughout the whole pattern and you will end up with something too big, too small and possibly unusable.

I don’t really hold myself completely to blame as I have never set any scaling on my printer but it seems to have taken control and robbed that inch of a teeny tiny morsel so that after two or three hours of painstaking cutting out, sewing on, joining up and congratulating myself on a beautiful bit of paper piecing, I placed my 12.5 inch square ruler on top of it and realised it was the wrong size.

So this block that I had been so proud of only minutes earlier…..

Foundation Paper Piecing

….. had to have a border put round it to bring it up to the requisite 12.5 inches as it is for the new round of F2F Block Swap which starts this month where all the blocks need to be the same size.

MyBlocksforSandra F2F2016 -17

So, it’s still not perfect because those outer triangles have had their inner points a little truncated because of the sizing but I think I might still give it to the person I made it for either as a spare block for her eventual quilt or to make a cushion to match.

I know I’m a European and all (for now, anyway😉 ) and should be speaking in metric tongue but, with patchwork, it really is easiest to keep it in inches.  It seems to be the universal language of patchwork – except in France.  (How is it in the rest of  non-British Europe?  – can anybody enlighten me? Do inches rule?).  When I was cutting out fabric for another FPP block the other day at my friend’s house, she only had metric rulers and cutting mats.  Quelle horreur!   However, in a desperate attempt to get on with it, I converted the centimetres into inches and cut the pieces out accordingly.  When I got them home and measured them against my imperial rulers, they were all wrong.  I think I said ‘merde’ because it is one of the few French swear words I know which is not too rude.  Although no French swear words are as bad as some of the ones I know in English (again, unless somebody can enlighten me😉 ) So, in future, when I go to sew ‘chez Sandra’ I will be taking my own mat and ruler.

I am the first recipient of the blocks this time round and I have already made my three, two of which I have already shown you but here is a ‘little’ reminder

Practising Paper Piecing

Paper Pieced Star for F2F 2016/2017

and this is the third one

Paper Pieced Block Esther Franzel

This is called ‘Building Blocks’ – guess why.  The darker ‘side of the block’ is actually navy blue but you get the idea. I just love those little dogs.   The pale grey background, morphing into a slightly darker grey is not because the colour ran in the wash but is part of my haul of beautiful Gelato ombré fabrics.  The colour starts dark(ish) at one selvedge edge, fades gradually into the middle and then starts getting darker again.  I bought a half yard bundle and so have a lot of colours.  It is actually very useful and you can see some more of it in the pale greens I used in the ‘failed’ block I showed earlier.

I’ve decided that the colours I’ve chosen for my blocks this time round are quite ‘masculine’ and realised I have never asked Mr. T. whether he would like a quilt to have in his weekday U.K. apartment as a reminder of home comforts – or perhaps he likes to get away from the fabric fest during the week.  Anyway, he liked the idea so that is where my eventual quilt will end up – in the London flat frequented by my husband when he’s not here, shortly to be shared with Mlle. Tialys the elder who has just finished University and has landed a job in Shoreditch which, I am reliably informed, is dead trendy these days.  At least I know she will be fed properly three evenings a week.

A bit early – Sandra isn’t due to receive her blocks until July – and in the full and certain knowledge that she will not see this blog – here is the block I re-did for her after I re-sized that inch.

'Out There' FPP Pattern Esther Franzel

I know the stripes go in different directions on alternate corners but it was deliberate to give the block a feeling of movement – like the blades of a windmill turning.  (Yeah, right)  However, that did make sense to me once I thought of it as an excuse  so I’ll stick with it.

This lovely pattern is by one of our talented F2F Block Swap members, Esther, in the Netherlands.  She is so talented and I’m glad she’s participating again this time because she sent me such amazing work last year and it was what inspired me to try foundation paper piecing out for myself.  Now, I’m hooked.  She has lots of beautiful patterns available on Craftsy and you can download this one called ‘Out There’ for free on Craftsy here.  (Esther – I hope I’ve made you proud:) )

Have you ever had a disastrous experience with PDF patterns?

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish Kate of Tall Tales from Chiconia – a blogging friend and one of the organisers of the F2F swap – a full and speedy recovery from the back surgery she underwent this morning (Australian time) and hope she gets back to a normal, pain-free life and continue with the things she loves to do as soon as possible. 

 

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42 Comments

Some More Practice, A Bit of Tidying and Some Sadness

 

F2F Quilt Label

As you will know, if you come here often, I have just finished putting together my quilt from the F2F Block Swap and I have inexpertly written out a label in permanent ink on fabric and attached it to one of the back corners to prove it.

So, that’s done then.

I was the first out of the hat to receive blocks for the next round so I decided that, before getting going on the next nine months of making three blocks for each participant, I’d better get my house in order.  Well, the part of my house that is my sewing room anyway – the rest of it lies sadly neglected as usual although I do have to do a bit of ‘damp dusting’ this afternoon as my Mum’s coming to stay.  Her eyesight isn’t what it used to be though so she won’t be able to see the rugs closely enough to know that one of my dogs is severely in moult at the moment.

Despite the fact that I’ve made any number of fabric storage boxes and bought shedloads of Ikea’s ‘fold this bit of floral card up into a box shape’ triple packs, I have come to the realisation that nothing really does the job like a bit of see-through plastic and a label.  So, I bought some, promptly filled them, then had to go and buy some more.

Plastic Storage Bins

These are most of them, but not all – there are two large ones labelled ‘Liberty Tana Lawns’ off camera:/  A fabric that I rarely use for anything but one that I can’t resist when I see it, still less when I feel it and at least I can get it out every now and again, Golem -like, and indulge in some stroking.  Still it all looks more ‘accessible’ now and is mostly divided into colours so when I’m reaching for the specific tones that people have asked for in their F2F blocks, I will know exactly where to find them.

In a slight digression – wouldn’t be my blog without at least one would it? I share my workroom with lots of vintage haberdashery items.  I’m not always sure why but, when I see them, I can’t resist adding them to my collection (are you noticing a trend?).  Anyway, you may or may not remember the fabric I bought that screamed ‘Hexagonal Sewing Box’ at me – well, I listened and it has come to pass.

Hexagonal Sewing Box - Haberdashery

See! I knew I’d need an old printers’ drawer some time.  I actually have another one mounted on the wall downstairs with which I amuse myself by trying to find teeny tiny things to display in those teeny tiny compartments.

Anyway, back to the patchwork blocks.  I have been practicing my paper piecing and behold my second attempt.

Paper Pieced Star for F2F 2016/2017

In case it turned out O.K. I made it in the colours I’ve chosen for my next quilt and I’m pretty happy with it.  There’s something about designs like this one – where it looks as if the square is threaded through the star – that make me absurdly happy in a childlike kind of way.  I can’t draw or paint but I love the fact I can achieve this effect in fabric.  I know, I’m easily pleased but there are no grilled, salted almonds or alcohol involved so I count patchwork porn as one of my lesser vices.

In a sudden change of mood I have had some sadness lately.  My lovely cat Beau, plucked from the refuge as a kitten with his sister Betty and bought home to live with us for the past nine years, has been missing for four weeks.

Beau - chat perdu

He is identified with a tattoo in his ear (which they do a lot in France) and is sterilised.  His photograph and details are on Pet Alert on Facebook, the Chat Perdu webiste and all the bins, bottle banks and poster sites in the village.  There is no sign of him.

He has always reminded me of the fish ‘Dory’ in Finding Nemo who had a short term memory of about 30 seconds.  He would start eating, get distracted by something and wander off, only to forget he’d been fed in the first place and come back to ask for food.  I’m hoping he’s just sort of forgotten where he lives and, any time now, he’ll remember and come back.

If you see him,  let me know😦

 

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40 Comments

Finished F2F Quilt – Bring On the Next One

Folded Quilt

What’s that bundle of lovely turquoiseness?*    I hear you ask.

*made up word

Can she possibly have finished putting together those 36 pieced patchwork blocks – 33 of which were sent to her from Australia, the States, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. as part of the F2F Block Swap?  Yes,  she has.

12inch block sampler quilt

I had a little help in the last stages

Sewing in the Sun

although as I had to unpick quite a lot of the work I did that day, maybe I should work alone in future

Cat with PatchworkAs will be obvious to most, if not all of you, the design on the back of the quilt had to be reversed – a bit like when you’re printing out something you’re going to transfer on to something else so you have to flip it round.  Well, I didn’t.  So my cunning design on the back was all random and not how I wanted it to be so rows had to be unpicked and re-joined.

Never mind, it’s done now.

Quilt As You Go Sampler Quilt Back View

I used the Quilt As You Go Method which is ideal for this sort of quilt.  Each 12.5 inch square block was layered together with batting and backing and quilted individually.  The resulting ‘mini quilts’ were then joined together with sashing and regular readers will be pleased to know that I remembered to ‘butt up my backing’ this time so no squidgy empty bits in the middle.  This is the best quilting I’ve ever done because it was so easy to get each 12.5 inch ‘quilt sandwich’ under the machine.  That is a Superking sized bed so there would have been a lot of quilt to push around under an ordinary sewing machine.

A risky ‘flung on the grass’ photo shoot.

Sampler Quilt

‘Risky’ because I have 3 dogs and 5 cats who are enthusiastic garden users.

Much less risky and probable, eventual home.

Superking Size Sampler Quilt

Thank you to all the participants in the block swap – as you can see, all your hard work has made for a lovely quilt which will be well used.  Also, knowing there are other people waiting to see the results of their efforts is a really good kick up the arse incentive for getting a quilt finished in a much quicker time than one is used to doing.  No languishing in the WIP pile for this baby.

Not all twelve of us are joining up for the next F2F swap – some have other commitments – but we have a few newcomers and there will be nine for the next one so perhaps I’ll make just a double sized quilt or even a couple of lap quilts .

Speaking of which, I’ve been practising my Paper Piecing and, while still not perfect, I’m happy enough to show you the whole photo this time without censoring the bottom half and it just happens to be in the colours I’ve chosen for the next round which is just as well because it starts next month and my name was first out of the hat to receive blocks.  Eek! Here we go again.

Practising Paper Piecing

Bring it on!

Now, I really must do some housework.  Well, after I’ve had a cup of coffee……

 

 

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55 Comments

Make Do and Mend

I used to ‘do’ upholstery.  I have all the gear – a hide mallet, tack remover, a webbing stretcher, hammers, tacks, horsehair, etc. etc. but after a few years I went off the idea.  I bought a chaise longue (interestingly, not called that in France unless you mean a garden recliner) from a junk shop and did it up but, nine years later, it had got a bit faded, saggy and generally in need of a facelift.  I know the feeling.  It was still comfortable – ask my dogs! – and the framework is very good as it was made before the days when most furniture is made to be chucked out after a few years, so I decided to pay somebody to re-do it for me.  It took her about a week – it would have taken me much more.
Chaise Longue Turkish Fabric

I can’t get a brilliant photo because it is next to a French window and the light is shining on the metallic threads so it is not quite as ‘blingy’ as this  but you get the idea.  I got the fabric from Turkey and could have had red to go with the cushions on my sofa but decided to go a bit mad with the orange – although there are dark red bits on it which you can’t see for the duff lighting.

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Anyway, to make up for being lazy with the upholstery, I decided to buy some more of the Turkish fabric – both in the orange and also some red mixtures – and make new cushion covers for the L-shaped sofa we have as the current ones are splitting at the seams and spewing feathers all over the place.  Two completed ones above although not being displayed on their intended sofa because this one has better lighting.  Mr. Tialys has insisted – despite my protestations and tears – that they should all have piping.   I drew the line at zips though and they will all have envelope backs albeit generous ones.  Two down sixteen to go.

Then I had a couple of dog collars to make and, while I had the webbing to hand, I fixed my neighbour’s sandals.

sandals

All of which is to explain why my F2F quilt is still not finished.

Kate who, along with Sue, organized twelve of us for this block swap, is keen to see another finished quilt so I am trying to steam ahead with it and thought I’d do a progress report and prove to her that I am on the case.

QAYG Blocks

Thirty six blocks have been sandwiched and ready quilted (I’m using the ‘quilt as you go method’).  This will be the second row but I have laid them out as a double row for ease of photography.

backs of QAYG blocks

The backs of the blocks where you can see some of the quilting – machine only I’m afraid but I am trying out different methods such as free motion quilting on some of them as, at this stage, they are like mini quilts and easy to get under the machine.

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I had enough of this blue marbled fabric to do the requisite amounts of backing blocks but didn’t chant the ‘think twice cut once’ mantra  and so ended up two squares short.    After a fruitless search for more of the same fabric – including an unanswered pleading email to the wholesale supplier  (thanks for that Pascale & Beatrix) – I may have to ‘make do and mend’ by joining (as above) and quilting in a cunning manner to hide the join line.   ***

quilt cornerstones

Using the four backing fabrics, I made some improvised blocks for cornerstones.

F2F Patchwork Block

This block, from Emmely, was a natural choice for one of the corner blocks of the quilt and lends itself to my favourite form of quilting – on the machine, in the ditch, easy!

back of quilted QAYG Block

and it also worked well with the back.

Some of the blocks were a little ‘scant’ when I came to join them and didn’t quite get taken into the seams of the sashing strips.  I used this printed tape, attached with bondaweb and then sewn into the seam allowance at the top to hide the gap and prevent fraying.  It’s not an ideal solution but I couldn’t lower the sashing strip any more otherwise I’d risk losing details from the adjoining blocks.  Any other ideas gratefully received as I’m sure I’ll come across other anomalies when I join the remaining rows.

Repairing Scant Measurements

So, here’s one row sashed vertically and once horizontally just to prove that I am getting on with it.

MyF2FQuiltConstruction First Row

I’m waiting for more piping cord to arrive in the post now and all of my neighbour’s other sandals are in good condition so no more excuses and, hopefully, the next images will be of the finished quilt.

Now I’ve put it in print I have to do it!

*** My friend Sandra returned from a week in Spain, had her fabric stash raided and, as I suspected she might, had a length of the turquoise marbled fabric hidden away in there which is now with me😉

SPOILER!! The block row joining is not going as well as I had hoped – the seam ripper has been put into service and many many tiny stitches have had to be undone.  This is mainly due to the fact that I was concerning myself more with attaching the sashing nicely and not with butting up the batting properly so ending up with empty sashing which is not a good look (or feel).  Although, now that I’ve put it down in plain type,  I think ‘butting up the batting’ ought to be a phrase brought into common usage.

 

 

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37 Comments

New Tricks

This is Taz, one of my three dogs.

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He is old(ish) – he’ll be 11 this year – but it’s not him learning new tricks, it’s me but I’m much older than 11 and not as good looking in close-up.

If you remember, I have been taking part in a patchwork block swap called F2F  (organised by Kate and Sue) which involved twelve women from around the globe, making three patchwork blocks a month and sending them to one of the recipients in turn so that all twelve of us end up with 36 blocks, having made 3 for ourselves to turn into a quilt. ( You can read about it here if you are interested.)  Well, I was leisurely putting my blocks together and joined up for the next swap which starts in June when my name got drawn out of the hat first so I will be the first person to receive blocks – probably in around 7 weeks time.  So, that’s put a fire under me and I’m  now desperately trying to get the first quilt finished before the new blocks arrive.  I have learnt a lot from doing this swap and have started trying new things and challenging myself a bit so that the blocks I send to the other participants are not boringly safe or complete pants.

This time, there are only nine of us but that’s O.K. because we can either make a slightly smaller quilt or make more blocks for ourselves.  I have persuaded my Wednesday sewing friend Sandra to join the swap this time which will be a challenge as English is not her first language, she doesn’t blog and is a bit scared of the computer.  We usually find a project to sew together on Wednesdays and, lately, I’ve been running out of ideas.  Here’s our latest project.

OwlTeacosies

Who wouldn’t want an owl as a tea cosy?  Cute aren’t they and will also be useful once I have stopped using mine as a mannequin head which is creeping out anyone who enters my sewing room.

Mannequin and Tea Cosy

The free pattern and tutorial is by Buzy Day here if you want to repel all visitors during sewing time as I try to do unless they are bearing a cup of tea.

Despite owl cuteness, I thought we might be better employed doing something more patchwork(y) now she’s got involved in the swap.  So, for a project last Wednesday afternoon I decided to try paper piecing and forced encouraged Sandra to join me.  Lordy!  What a revelation to the uninitiated.  Not having a light box, we were holding printed patterns and teensy bits of paper up against her windows and trying to join things up backwards and in reverse.  Lots of unpicking was done and I’m sure I saw her take a headache pill at the end of our session.  I continued at home and although I’m chuffed to bits with my first try at a paper pieced block it is not fit for eyes other than my own and so I will show you the half that is only a bit terrible and not the half that went completely to pot.

Half a Paper Pieced Block************************CENSORED*****************************

I think I might actually grow to like paper piecing so I made a light box out of an Ikea box frame and one of those little LED lights that you can stick up somewhere and press for ‘on’.  Basic, but it works and was free as I already had the two components lying around.

Homemade Light Box

I’ve also been trying out free motion quilting on my blocks as I’m ‘quilting as you go’ with this quilt – two new tricks for me in one there –  with varying degrees of success.  FMQ is a lone pursuit and requires you to concentrate like hell while apparently needing to be chilled out at the same time.  I think I’m relaxed then realise my shoulders are up around my ears with the tension.  One YouTube tutorial I watched was by a very sensible lady who suggested you might like to have a glass of wine by your side to help you relax.  A woman after my own heart but I’d be too scared to knock it over on to my fabric.  Maybe it would be better to have one before – and then maybe another one after.  I do need lots more practice but, to date, have been achieving some (very) free form designs which are just about acceptable although how anybody manages to do some of the more intricate FMQ designs I have no idea.  The whole bottle of wine by your side perhaps?

I am far too easily distracted – I blame it on being a Gemini – although I’m not really a believer in astrology it’s just that I can’t think of a better excuse.  For instance, once I had walked the dogs and fed the seemingly ever growing menagerie that lives in our house this morning, I had a whole day free and thought I’d get on with the quilting.  However!  I bought some fabric the other day I’m dying to turn into a sewing box and so I thought, ‘I’ll just get all the pieces cut out so they’ll be ready to put together in the future’ – a stage of the box making which is by no means quick – and ‘whoosh’ there went the rest of the morning.  Now, at lunchtime, instead of eating, I realised I hadn’t posted anything for ages so here I am telling you about what I should be doing instead of doing it.  Hey ho.  There’s always this afternoon.

Haberdashery Fabric by Makower

Fabric is Haberdashery Box by Makower

So, I’m learning FMQ, paper piecing and QAYG and, for my next trick I became a model for a day.

I am involved with a group that raises funds for our local dog and cat shelter and we decided to do something a little different.  We get lots of second hand clothes donated and, to be honest, they don’t look that inviting when hung up or laid out in piles like a jumble sale.  So, we decided that six of us would pick out something from the donations that suited us (or fitted us) and do a ‘fashion show’.  We hired a hall with a stage, some steps and somebody lent us a runner to use as a ‘catwalk’.  One of the organiser’s  partners is a D.J. so we could walk down the catwalk to music and we had a ‘presenter’ who read out descriptions of the outfits we had written ourselves – mostly in humorous fashion and we had clothes by designers such as ‘Terry Err from London’ , ‘Walter Spanielle from Yorkshire’  and ‘Beau de Collie from Paris’.  In other words, helped by a glass of champagne on arrival, everybody had a good laugh.  We modelled five outfits each and they were on sale afterward for 5 euros each.  All the remaining clothes were sold for whatever people chose to put in the donation box.

Fund Raising Amateur Fashion Show

We made a whopping 1400 euros for the Shelter which I can’t help but consider in terms of how many castrations that will pay for😉

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A Sunday Sorbetto

TimeforTealDresdenPlate

Time for Teal (2)

In case you thought I had totally given up on dressmaking in favour of patchwork and kitten rearing, I thought I’d post about a ‘wearable’ fabric item for a change.

Ages ago I showed you some fabrics I had bought on a shopping trip to Toulouse and, almost as long ago, I actually started to make something out of one of those fabrics. Since then, it has been on a hanger in my sewing room waiting for the warmer weather to make an appearance and inspire me to finish it.

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Nothing exciting really, just a Sorbetto with sleeves but I thought it suited this gauzy fabric and the pleat down the front serves as a little ‘modesty panel’ because, as you can see below, you would need to have your best bra on if standing in front of a sunny window.

As the fabric is so fine, I used French seams.  These are apparently called English seams here in France in the same way (sort of) that those horrible ‘hole in the ground’ loos are called ‘Turkish toilets’ by the French but ‘French toilets’ by the Turks.  This is according to my friend Sandra who may well be mistaken – although she is French so I tend to take her word for these things.

french seams

The fact that I had run out of good weather by the time this top was nearly finished last October was not the only reason for the delay but I decided an ordinary hem wouldn’t look right on the fine fabric and wanted to do a rolled hem.  I can never be bothered to change the spools on my overlocker unless it is for a VERY good reason and I also don’t like unscrewing one of the needles in order to do a rolled hem so I kept putting it off.   The jersey pencil skirt I made recently, however, required a navy thread and, as a bonus, I broke the left hand needle while I was overlocking the seams so that presented me with the perfect opportunity to do a rolled hem on the blouse and complete an early ‘me-made’ addition to my Summer wardrobe.

rolled hem

I put it on for the photo but it hadn’t quite reached ‘thin blouse temperatures’ as you can tell by the tights so it’ll be going in the wardrobe until it warms up  a bit more.

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I wish that Romeo bloke would just leave me alone.

The top photo – to get back to patchwork for a minute – is the second block I’m going to be sending off to Kate for her ‘Time for Teal’ quilt she is making to raise funds for ovarian cancer.  It’s been ages since I made a Dresden Plate block – I hope that doesn’t show too much – and big thanks to Ali at Thimberlina for sending me some pieces of leftover teal fabric she had after she also made blocks for Kate.  I was having trouble finding the right colours in my stash or in the limited local fabric shops.

I’ve just eaten a home-made hot cross bun – courtesy of my daughter – and I’m intending to tuck into some chocolate Easter egg tonight – courtesy of Mr. T .

A Happy Easter to you too.

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A Tale of Two Kitties – The Final Part (possibly)

Yuki here – I’m guest blogging today.  Do you remember when I was very little and my fur was all scraggy and I had a broken tail and couldn’t eat?  I had just spent some days stuck behind a wall and I cried so much that I strained myself and can’t meow now only a little growl comes out.  The Missus says they should have called me Eartha Kitt but I think that might be a little joke – well it makes her laugh.  If you missed the beginning of my story you can read it here

Tiny KittenI had three brothers and even though they were much stronger than me the Missus decided to take all of us in instead of leaving us to live ‘in the wild’ which sounds quite exciting but I don’t think it would be really.  We were around 3-4 weeks old then.

These are my brothers.

Three Tabby Kittens

We lived in the spare bedroom and after a lot of this…..

bottle feeding kitten

……..and even more of this

Yuki (2)

……..two of my brothers got adopted and Mac and I now live here all the time which is lovely even though the Missus took us somewhere the other day where we met a man who made us go all woozy, then go to sleep and when we woke up it seemed he had been practising doing sewing on us.  Apparently it’s so that there is less chance of more kittens like us being born around here.

 The Mister calls us the ‘Golden Kittens’ because, even though there are four other cats in the house, we are the only ones allowed to stay in at night with a litter tray and we have special ‘kitten food’ and, if we stray too far, there is panic.

Mac&Yuki 6 Months (2)

So, 5 months later, this is us and we have definitely reached the top of the cat tree.

Although I have always had it in me……….

kitten in slipper

…………now I’m older I wanted to learn how to smize* properly so I have been copying Tyra Banks.

tyra banks smizing

Mac&Yuki 6 Months (1)What do you think?  Have I cracked it?

* to smize – smiling with your eyes as advocated by Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model.  If you want a laugh to learn how to do it like Tyra just click on her photo above.

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A Quilting We Will Go…….

 

TimeforTeal Block

Time For Teal

Having received all my blocks from the F2F block swap back at the end of October and having signed up to do it all over again later this year, I really want to get this quilt finished before starting the next swap.  I have made a start by laying out the blocks in rows as they will appear on the final quilt and then putting them into bundles of eight blocks not forgetting to label each bundle with the row number.

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 Some of the participants are making a  couple of smaller quilts with their 36 12.5 inch blocks but I have a Superking size bed so a huge quilt is needed in my case.   Apart from the quilt we made for Pat which we rushed to get finished in order for her to see it before succumbing to ovarian cancer,  Avis from Sew Tempting was the first to finish her quilt which is beautiful and has inspired me to get a move on.

These are the four backing fabrics I’m using which I chose to coordinate with the top.

backing fabric F2F quilt

Here is my complicated and technical ‘plan’ for which blocks will be backed with which colour.  I know you’ll be mightily impressed but I have to keep it simple otherwise I get a headache😉

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 The four corners I’m not sure about yet  but I’ll think of something.

My hand quilting is not perfect by any means and I am very slow at it too and, with such a large quilt, I would be here forever if I attempted to do it all by hand.  My machine is not particularly adapted for quilting and I couldn’t bear the thought of forcing the huge quilt sandwich through it so I am using the quilt as you go method.  This way, I can make each block into a sandwich with the backing and a layer of wadding and quilt them individually.  I am going to use this tutorial which has been recommended to me by several of my quilting friends in blogland.

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This also means I can quilt each block according to the design on the front.  Much easier to handle – although I’m still not quilting them all (if any) by hand!

This is the turquoise batik I’m going to use for the sashing

turquoise sashing

and here’s one of the blocks I’ve made into a ‘sandwich’ so far  – it’s one of the lovely blocks that Kate, who jointly organised the F2F swap, sent me.

quilt as you go block

Apologies for the garish yellow background but the only decent light for photography that day was underneath the skylight in my workroom which is where my ironing board normally sits and that’s the cover!

Since we made the quilt for Pat which will be auctioned in aid of an ovarian cancer charity in the U.S., Kate decided to contact the equivalent organisation in Melbourne and offer to make a quilt – using teal and cream or tan to raise funds for them.  She asked her blog followers if anybody wanted to contribute a block or two so I made the one in the top photograph which I’m hoping she will be able to use in the centre of the quilt which she wants to resemble a large tablecloth laid out for tea.  I didn’t have any teal fabrics at that stage but did have some teal coloured thread so used it for the appliqué stitching and for the ‘tea pouring’ effect.  Then there will be a border of dresden plate blocks so I’m going to have a go at making one with the help of some pieces of teal fabric kindly sent to me by Ali over at Thimberlina who has also made a couple of blocks for the quilt.  Then, there will be an outer border of more freestyle blocks made using the same colours.  Kate is calling it ‘Time For Teal’  – she does love a pun.

When we moved into our house there was a huge, hand made ladder hanging up in the shed.  It was really too big and probably too dangerous to actually climb up so Mr. T recently treated it for woodworm, sanded it down, gave it a couple of coats of varnish and cut it in half.

I’m using one of the halves for a quilt ladder.

QuiltLadder

I am running out of room to drape, throw, fold and generally exhibit quilts around the house so it seemed like a good idea to store and display several of them at once.   It doesn’t normally stand in front of a door but there wasn’t enough natural light to take a photo of it in its usual position.  Luckily I am a very slow quilt maker but there is always the second half of the original ladder to fill.

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