Protests against high fuel prices in the form of road blocks permitting, we are holding a fundraising Christmas Fair this weekend for Twilight, the home for old and disabled dogs I support here in France (you can read about the amazing work Mike and Leanne do here)
I am ‘womanning’ the Twilight stall which will have calendars, Christmas cards, tea-towels, tote bags and aprons for sale along with a few of my hand made dog collars and some key fobs made from the leftover collar materials.
Remember my big crochet dog with the slightly sad face I made with super chunky wool?
Well, I thought I’d offer her up as a prize in a ‘guess the name of the dog’ game at the Christmas Fair.
I think she looks like a female dog so I racked my brains to come up with 30 girly dog names – which proved much harder to think of than male dog names for some reason. People can choose a name for a euro and the winner can take her home. With any luck, and just a little bit of friendly cajoling, I might be able to donate 30 euros to the cause which we wouldn’t get if I just put her up for sale.
I haven’t had the most wonderful month. November has become the anniversary of some recent sad events in my family and I’ve had a couple of other stressful situations to deal with. So, just for a bit of fun, and because it’s approaching the festive season, I thought I’d ask my readers if they’d like to guess her name and, if anybody gets it right, I’ll send them one of the aprons I’ve been making out of the fun tea-towels Twilight produce or I can leave it as a tea-towel if you prefer.
Here’s a close up of the possible choices
First come first served – once somebody has chosen a name, I’ll cross it off – if I can work out how to do that – otherwise you can just have a look at the previous guesses.
Just leave your guess in the comments and, because I think it’s only fair, the game is only open to those already following me. So, if you are a follower but don’t usually comment, and you would like a free apron/tea towel – and who wouldn’t? – now’s the time.
The fair is on Saturday 24th so I’ll reveal the answer on Monday 26th.
Go on – have a guess!
A couple of years ago (could be more) I bought a pattern from Sew Fresh Quilts and made this dog cushion…….
………as well as this block which is yet to be made into anything.
I might make another cushion out of it and put it in the raffle at the upcoming old and disabled doggy fundraiser Christmas Fair, if I get the time. I think I must have done a similar thing with the first one as I can’t find it anywhere.
Flushed with stitch and flip success, I bought a more Christmas themed block last year but, unfortunately, my Mum suddenly became very ill and such things got put aside.
Looking for a new project to work on with my sewing friend on a Wednesday afternoon, I remembered the reindeer and we started searching through our scraps of brown, black and white fabric – actually quite difficult colours to find as brown and black fabric isn’t something I buy that often Anyway, we found enough between us and shared out what we had.
The pattern is available here
I must say, it was a different prospect to the dog as those antlers are formed of quite small pieces. Accuracy is not my strongest point when titchy bits of fabric are concerned and I found trying to keep the seams and resulting larger pieces straight quite challenging which is a euphemism for ‘I undid seams lots of times, had to re-cut fabric on a few occasions and swore a lot’. No fault of the pattern at all, I must say, but I find working in somebody else’s workroom a bit weird. For this reason, I’m not that great in lessons or workshops – too many distractions. I like to have my own things around me and to work at my own pace. Also, we only meet once a week for a couple of hours and, often, the project we’re working on goes ‘off the boil’ for me.
Anyway, after a few Wednesdays of plumbing the depths of my Anglo Saxon vocabulary, it was done.
But what to do with a pieced reindeer head I hear you ask. I’m big on blankets around the place but not so keen on cushions or wall hangings – although I have been known to succumb now and again.
Remember the table runner for my coffee table I made from a Tim Holtz fabric selection recently?
Well, I thought I could make a more Christmassy one using the same quilt as you go method as before but with the reindeer head in the middle and various strips of leftover Christmas fabric either side, thereby using up some scraps – and some of my friend’s too as she had lots more than me.
First I bedecked his antlers with some festive bunting. Not at all because I was trying to hide the fact that my piecing left something to be desired. As if!
Then I joined scraps of Christmas fabric in strips of varying widths on to the backing and batting.
Then I quilted it some more using wavy lines across the width and used a double fold binding stitched down by hand on the back as I do on quilts.
So, I don’t think I have any more Christmas scraps left now – I used up the smaller pieces on the binding. Result!!
It will look quite festive at Christmas on the coffee table – at least the glimpses of it under the usual covering of bucks fizz glasses, mince pies and chocolates – once the morning’s over it might get worse 🤣
Oh, and I found a felted bead in my stash of ‘things’ – I don’t know where it came from, but I knew exactly where it could go.
Joining in with Kate & Gun’s ScrapHappy Day Challenge which focuses on using up your scraps of fabric/yarn/paper/wooden offcuts/anything leftover. More details and list of participants here.
Now I must go and convert more tea towels into aprons for sale at the Twilight Retirement Home for Dogs Christmas Fair on Saturday 24th. I know how to have fun.
We had to say goodbye to Taz on Friday.
Having survived a spleen removal operation this time last year and being almost totally blind and deaf – he was diagnosed with a tumour in his mouth in August and it became more and more difficult for him to eat which was, really, the only pleasure he had left. Friday morning, the side of his face was swollen badly and I decided it was time.
He was with us for thirteen years since being dumped out of a car as a puppy, picked up by a boy who’d seen it happen and taken into the vet’s office where I just happened to be, a few hours later, with one of my cats. Obviously, he came home with me.
We’ve had dogs for a long time now and, to be honest, Taz wasn’t one of the dogs for me. You might know what I mean – there’s always one or maybe two that really get deep into your heart. Like some sort of canine stalker, he spent most of his time outdoors ignoring us and being obsessed with the dog next door who he could see in the garden below ours and ran up and down for hours, watching him and barking at him, until he wore a path in that particular part of the garden that has never disappeared.
He had his moments though.
He liked a snuggle with the cats.
Even though he wasn’t a team player, he occasionally turned up for a game.
He suffered our traditional ‘dog hat photos’ at Christmas even though he gave us the stink eye.
He’s now gone to join Phoebe the German Shepherd (who was the dog for me) and Susie the gentle Golden Retriever over the Rainbow Bridge.
We’ll miss his silly face.
When the new session of the F2F block swap started (details here), I decided to make a scrappy block every month in the colours each participant had chosen – partly so I’d have something to show on Scraphappy day if I’m honest – which I always try to be with you dear readers. I made a couple of blocks with random scraps then changed my mind and decided to make the same paper pieced block for each person plus one for myself using the remains of the fabric used for them or similar colours from my scrap bin. I confess the scraps are quite big scraps (more like small remnants ) as anything too small wouldn’t work for the design I’m using. I’m still putting it forward for ScrapHappy day this month though because the fabric was all leftovers and because I haven’t had time to make anything with smaller scraps as I’ve been in a bit of a dressmaking frenzy which will be the subject of a future post. I hope Kate and Gun will forgive me for using biggish scraps instead of littleish scraps. (‘Littleish’ – now there’s a word you can really get your tongue around. Is it even a word? If not, it should be.)
On a side note, if you think paper piecing is wasteful of fabric – what about dressmaking? I can’t believe how much goes in the bin and most of it’s no good for scrappy stuff being too thick or thin or whatever.
Anyway, I have adopted a paper piecing pattern called Zeppelin which you can find on Craftsy here as a free downloadable PDF. It doesn’t have too many pieces which is good when you have to make quite a few of them and I like the clean lines and contemporary look of it.
I started in July with Claire’s colours of turquoise, grey, black and white.
Then, in September, Nanette’s colour choices were blue and blush pink.
I parted with some of my precious ombre fabric for this one.
Moira chose browns and creams with duck egg blue as a highlight in October.
Earlier on in the swap, I was ‘Miss June’ and later made one in my own neutral(ish) palette of greys, creams, and vintage pink.
I still need to make one in Sue’s colours – I missed making a ‘Sue Zeppelin’ in July. Her choices were similar to Nanette’s but with white instead of blush pink to go with the blues but, eventually, once I have a Zeppelin in all nine participants’ colours, they will make a small quilt or throw which will be quite a nice souvenir of the 2018/2019 block swap.
The four scrappyish Zeppelin blocks so far flung against my design wall. I say, ‘design wall’ though it is just a flannelette sheet held in place by books on my bookshelf – but you get my drift.
Wondering what ScrapHappy is? Have a look on Kate’s blog here and join us once a month – or less if you can’t come up with a duplicitous way round it like me – well, let’s call it a ‘compromise’.
Do you ever have those times when you’ve not even thought about a a new project but, all of a sudden, something pops into your head and you have to start on it there and then despite having numerous others on the go? Of course you do.
Ages ago, I kept spending loads of money with a company called Massdrop (are they still going?) until I realised the error of my ways and unsubscribed. However, I will always be grateful to them for my stack of beautiful ombre fabrics
and my thick felted wool ironing pad thingy which is in constant use.
Anyway, one of my impulse purchases from them was a stack of fabrics from Tim Holtz called ‘Eclectic Elements’ which has languished in my stash ever since as I couldn’t imagine any of them in a quilt and keep forgetting about them when I need something a bit ‘quirky’ in a craft project.
I decided (all of a sudden as previously mentioned) I needed a table runner for the coffee table in the living room.
My décor – such as it is – in there is not really something calling out for my usual selection of quilting fabrics so I thought these would work being more subdued in tone.
I took out the blues as they definitely don’t ‘go’ with anything in the room and added a couple of toning fabrics from elsewhere in my stash.
The ‘Suchard Chocolat’ piece was in the original Eclectic stack but I had already sewn it in to the runner by the time I’d thought to take a photo because it’s my favourite piece and I used quite a bit of it as the central strip. My second favourite is the butterflies which might be moths – must put my specs on to read the teensy writing, something I’m finding myself saying more and more often these days.
I was intrigued by a method I saw here where you cut out the backing and batting to size, cut your strips of fabric and lay one centrally, right side up, across the backing and batting. Then, you lay the next strip right side down on top of the first and sew a quarter inch seam, then press seam open. On the other side of the first strip, repeat with another strip and carry on like that, alternately in each direction, until you reach the ends of the runner.
I had this red and cream floral fabric in my stash which I think coordinates well with the other fabrics and also with the room it will be used in which has a red theme going on but not a bright red.
So you have, effectively, sandwiched and quilted the layers at the same time – a sort of alternative ‘quilt as you go’. You can leave it like this or add some further quilting – which I did, using a very French makeshift template.
I bound it the traditional way with a double fold binding and some plain red from my stash.
I’m surprised how much the quilting pattern showed up once the runner was in position – especially here where the sun was shining right across it.
Oh look, there’s blue in my rug – I could have left the blue fabrics in after all.
I would be drummed out of Instagram for not plumping up my sofa cushions before a photography session. Still, let’s call it ‘keeping it real’ this time and be amazed there’s not a dog or three draped across it.
So, not a ‘pretty, pretty’ table runner one often associates with quilting projects but I don’t think that would have worked in this room so I’m quite pleased with it.
Now to get back to whatever it was I was supposed to be doing when this popped into my head.
An occasional (can’t manage more than that) series of posts where I say not much at all.
Remember my stained piece of gorgeousness picked up in the junk/charity shop?
Thank you for all your suggestions.
Here it is now
I decided to trust the oxygenating stuff (known as Vanish here and in the U.K. at least) and soaked it overnight. Then I sprayed with a dilute white vinegar solution and laid it out in the sun. Then repeated both actions before hand washing in mild soap and rinsing thoroughly followed by another bout in the sun.
I am as chuffed as whatever a chuffed thing is. **
Here’s the final result of my project using leftover yarn.
One or two people might be getting a blanket for Christmas.
The other day a friend and I had a spot of lunch before mooching around a couple of junk shops.
Unlike the U.K., we are very ‘poor’ in charity shops (thrift/op stores) around here but we do have quite a large one within a half hour drive. There is so much stock that some of it ends up outside to be rained upon and this includes furniture, sewing machines and all sorts.
You could be forgiven for thinking this photograph was taken outside the junk shop but, in fact, it’s part of the terrace at the back of my house – the shutters are a clue. This, however, is the position this wardrobe door was found in – leaning up against an outside wall in all weathers – with the only damage being the veneer at the base starting to peel off a bit.
I’ve been looking for a full length mirror to put in my sewing room to help with fitting issues and I might not have thought of an old door separated from its wardrobe if my friend hadn’t suggested it.
Anyway, the door was purchased and (wo)manhandled by the two of us into my car – it was a tight squeeze .
I thought the wood veneer might look a bit ‘heavy’ in my workroom so decided to clean and lightly sand the surface …..
……… protect the lovely bevelled mirror with masking tape and whip out the chalk paint.
Here I include a word of warning to anyone over the age of about 40. Never actually look at yourself when bending over a mirror – gravity is not your friend.
I love this bevelling.
Not much distressing of the chalk paint was necessary as the wood stain shows through a bit anyway so I just rubbed a bit at the mouldings and brushed some soft wax over it all. I left the little lock cover on as it’s pretty and I’m not trying to hide the fact it was once a wardrobe door – it’s more interesting that way.
Not bad for 5 euros (about 6 US dollars)
Despite having this antique suitcase stuffed full of vintage linens that I must have a rummage through one of these days, we also went a bit mad in the linen department of the aforementioned junk shop.
I say ‘we’ but it was mostly ‘me’.
I find linens really hard to photograph which is probably why I still have a suitcase full of the stuff instead of having it in my online shop. Well, that and I’m not very knowledgeable about embroidery or different kinds of lace so the descriptions are a challenge for me too.
This piece is lovely and only has a general, slightly tea-stained look about it – no single stains. I know I have some readers who are vintage linen aficionados and wonder about the best and safest soak for an overall ‘freshen up’ for this piece. (You should be able to click on all the photos to enlarge them)
I got told off by Mr. Tialys for buying this next piece because it definitely has some staining which the thread, in particular, has absorbed. The work on it is so lovely though and the lace surround so pretty and there’s no other damage (more excuses ready if needed) that I had to buy it.
Obviously, the darker threads are stains although at first I thought the maker might have just run out of beige thread 🤔- but I also wonder why the light cream and the darker cream embroidered squares are placed in these positions – it seems a bit random. I don’t think I’ll be able to get the staining out of those threads – unless you know different – but wondered about deliberately ‘tea-staining’ the whole thing. Any thoughts from my knowledgeable readers much appreciated.
Changing the subject ever so slightly, I hear that mustard is big again this autumn which I hope is true or this –
will have been a waste of time.
Not that most people in the corner of rural France I live in would know or, still less, care but I do at least try to keep up appearances.
Can a person get addicted to a crochet pattern? If so, I’m on my way to rehab. Remember these two Little River Blankets? (pattern designed by Emma Varnam )
The one on the right is made with Scheepjes yarn from the original kit and, to be honest, is still my favourite due to the softer feel of the cotton/acrylic mix and the more carefully planned out colour scheme which the pattern provides. The one on the left is made with 100% cotton yarn and I made the colours up as I went along.
All the yarn came in cute little 10g balls and, in the original, only one row is crocheted with each ball. Even so, I still had some leftovers from both projects
Perfect for yet another version using the scraps and enabling me to participate in ScrapHappy day this month.
I am breaking the rules with this one due to the limitations of using scraps and am having to change colour part way through a lot of the rows. I’m just trying to keep some sort of blending going.
This is it so far, unwoven in ends and all. The blue I’m using to create the unifying ripple every 7th row and the eventual edging is the only new yarn I bought for this version. The 7th row should have been the 5th row but I forgot and didn’t want to frog it so decided to keep it at every 7th – who will know? Or care?
I think the reason I’m addicted is the pattern is easy, though not totally mindless, so perfect for getting something useful done when I’m Netflix bingeing in the evening. It also keeps me from having a glass of wine or falling asleep – the two usually go together.
A double whammy from the scrap department this month. I made these two blocks for Kate’s newest quilt project for Ovarian Cancer Australia. Their colours are teal and cream and Kate likes to indulge her love of puns when naming the quilts. We’ve had ‘Tealed With A Kiss’, ‘Signed, Tealed, Delivered’ amongst others in the past and this one will be called ‘Go Teal It On The Mountains’. So, Kate and some of her readers of the patchwork persuasion are making blocks with a mountain theme. For some time now I’ve had a stash of of teal blues (and similar) kept specially for these projects. The blocks are assembled, quilted and finished by Kate and then auctioned to raise funds. You can read a bit more about it on Kate’s blog here.
This first block of mine was just a case of joining strips really.
I found the original idea online here
My second block was foundation paper pieced, a method I have come to love.
Free pattern found on Craftsy here
Kate asks for 12 inch finished blocks and this one was only 7 inches but I found this useful guide on how to enlarge and reduce paper pieced patterns here
Here’s another little scrap
Joining in this month with Kate and Gun’s Scraphappy Day for some inventive uses of scraps and interesting blogs. If you want to use up some scraps and show what you’ve done with them – could be paper, yarn, fabric, leather, wood, whatever, just let Kate know here and she can add you to the list of participants even if you don’t want to do something every month. Find more details on Kate’s blog here