Scrappy happiness

Starting today’s post with a scrappy mosaic of flowers in my garden. πŸ˜€

I’ve had a word with myself! ‘Look at your to-do list! Humm! Time to do some admin!’ ‘Admin?’ Well, immediately quilt projects came to mind… The procrastination queen is on her throne! But I think I’ve found the perfect project, providing me with respite at the sewing machine but not sapping my limited brain power away from the admin list :-). Remember I started a ‘leader and ender’ quilt? Β I tapped into the Scrap Vortex instructions posted by the Queen of Scraps, Amanda Jean Nyberg at Crazy Mom Quilts? Well! No! I’m not surprised you don’t recall the start of my scrappy quilt as it was way back in March!

Anyhow, I feel I’ve now enough pairs of scrap fabrics sewn together (the leader and ender phase of my scrap quilt) to move onto stages 2 and 3 of the Scrap Vortex quilt. It’s very relaxing just grabbing two pairs of fabrics, straightening out the seam edges and then stitching them together before repeating until the chain pieced scraps are all behind the machine. Actually, even pressing a heap of seams has it’s charms after a half hour or so of admin-ing πŸ˜‰

Leader-ender scraps

My workstation – teaming up scraps, trimming edges straight and then chain piecing the lot.

Scrap units sorted

Small scrap units on the left, medium-large on the right

After stage two (that is: sewing the paired pieces together to make squares or rectangles of four or more fabric pieces) I pressed all those seams and sorted the misshapen blocks into one pile of small blocks and another of medium-large blocks. My intention was to stitch together some of the smaller blocks so all the blocks would be similar in size. Fortunately I paused to read Amanda Jean’s instructions which clearly stated that, although it goes against a patchworker’s natural instincts, at this stage we should not be concerned about blocks being uniform in size!

I hastily jumbled my two piles of blocks together and began matching, trimming and chain piecing…

Then I did some admin… and pondered how my bin of scraps remains half full despite all this sewing…

Half full scrap bin

My half full/half empty scrap bin!

Time for pressing and trimming away fabric tails to even up the outside edges of the blocks of many sizes.

Blocks of varying sizes

Blocks with edges trimmed

Stage four of the Scrap Vortex process requires more pairing of the ever enlarging blocks. If blocks need adjusting to match up the advice is to add pieced strips to make blocks bigger, rather than cutting them down to fit together.

Scrap Vortex blocks on the design wall

Scrap Vortex blocks on the design wall

I have absolutely no idea how these blocks will all fit together but I am really enjoying the process πŸ™‚ Linking with Leanne for Scraptastic Tuesday.

Head on over and find inspiration for your bin of scraps – I don’t promise you’ll have fewer scraps at the end but you’ll give yourself the opportunity to bask in scrappy happiness πŸ˜€


Posted in Inspiration, Modern quilts, Quilt Alongs, Scrap Vortex Quilt | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

A wintry table runner

Norrland by Bethan Janine for Dashwood Studio

I know, I know we have barely stepped from Summer into Autumn and here am I using fabrics strewn with the icy hues of mid-winter! But these, Norrland by Bethan Janine for Dashwood Studio, are pretty irresistible any time of year!

I bought these five fat quarters a couple of months back with the intention of making another Star runner. The entrepreneur in me thought a version in ‘this years’ fabrics might arouse some interest for a re-run (ha!ha!) of the table runner class. I set some class dates with Viv at Purple Stitches and then thought I’d better make the sample to promote the class.

Norrland fabrics with Star Runner pattern

These fabrics were so lovely to use πŸ™‚ All the prints have little touches of metallic gold that just help to lift the cool colours. The turquoise reminds me of the snow melt-water I once saw rushing down a mountainside in Austria; the geometric design on white makes me think of ice crystals; and the designs on the coats of the animals suggest to me the intricate knitting and weaving patterns worked by peoples native to the Arctic Circle.

I had a thoroughly enjoyable time in the sewing room on Friday making lots of half square triangles and putting the patchwork top together. I felt like a ‘real’ pattern designer as I jumped from the sewing machine to my lap top to tweak the written instructions as I worked my way step by step through the pattern. On Friday evening I put together the quilt sandwich and on Saturday morning I set about quilting the table runner.

Star Runner - Winter

It was a close thing but by my 11.30am deadline the runner was finished bar sewing in some thread ends. I had a date at the quilt shop in the afternoon for the fourth and final class of the second Beginners Course we have run this year. Here are the happy ‘graduates’ with their completed quilts πŸ™‚ (Just the bindings to stitch down and labels to attach).

2nd Beginners Class

I’m linking with Beth for Main Crush Monday because I’m still crushing on these fabrics and she’s crushing on fabrics too!


Posted in Colour, Fabrics, Quilt Design, Venture | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Back to the sewing room

Although our children left school quite sometime ago it still seems easy to slip into school holiday mode! All through August we’ve had days out, caught up with family and friends and just enjoyed the luxury of moving between indoors and outdoors without having to factor in the changes of clothing required to cope with sudden alterations in temperature.

Now the long holiday season is drawing to a close, the racks of school uniform and stationery are displayed at the entrance to just about every shop and there are even a few splashes of Autumnal pinks and golds popping through the rich greens of our well watered hedgerows.

Box of works underwayThat’s all a long winded way of saying that I’ve found my way back to the sewing room! :-D So, without further ado, here are my works in progress: two plucked from this box (a collection of what I’m calling ‘projects underway’ as distinct from long term UFOs) and the third a fresh project.


Work in Progress No1 – a modified version of the Purple Stitches Beginners Quilt. I made this quilt to use for demonstration purposes as the four class workshop has progressed. The third class was all about basting and quilting. In the final class I’ll be demonstrating squaring and binding a quilt. I’ve done my homework, quilting the demo using a mixture of walking foot and free motion quilting, all ready to be trimmed and bound. It was good to find that all the fmq I did on the garden quilt earlier in the year has created a reasonable ‘muscle memory’, quilting the leaves in the borders felt comfortable.

Quilting on Beginners Quilt

Beginners Quilt ready for binding

Work in Progress No2 – the ‘Candy Diamonds’ quillow. This is slowly coming together. I’ve made a quilted pocket to sew to the back of the quilt, added a label to the backing, basted the quilt sandwich and begun quilting.

I quilted in-the-ditch around the inside seam of the border and around the central diamond patterns. Then I had a long hard think about the rest of the quilting. In her book ‘Growing Up Modern’ Allison Harris recommends quilting large open designs across a quilt destined to be folded and squished into a quillow cushion. I have watched A LOT of free motion quilting videos on You Tube and Craftsy and most, if not all, are patterns stitched on a small scale – usually not more than an inch or two apart – which can make a quilt relatively stiff and not very squishy. On a practice quilt sandwich I tried stitching large scale loops, hearts and flowers but wasn’t confident that I’d be able to decorate the wide, white spaces in ‘Candy Diamonds’ neatly enough to ‘give it a go’. Then Angela Walters came to my rescue. I’d seen her video ‘Machine Quilting Diamond Blocks‘ earlier in the day (tablet propped up on the kitchen window sill while I washed some dishes – did I mention I’m obsessed with patchwork and quilting? :-D) and thought I could scale up a design she had used. Here are my attempts – not perfect by any means but I’m pleased with the effect and I’m going to pursue stitching fmq arcs through the rest of the quilt.

I think this advance in my free motion quilting endeavours deserves a nod to my word of the year, VENTURE πŸ™‚ (My silly boys have adopted the phrase ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ and use it far too many times in any conversation – I can almost hear the giggles if they should read this!)

Work in Progress No3 – a disappearing ninepatch table runner. As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve designed this in the hope of conducting a ‘table runner in a day’ workshop, so I’m writing a pattern alongside making the runner.

It’s good to be back in the sewing room! Looking forward to seeing other works in progress through linking with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social.


Posted in Free Motion Quilting, Inspiration, Modern quilts, P&Q Books, Projects, Quillow, Quilt Labels, Tablerunners, Venture, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The ups and downs of working at home

For the past couple of weeks we have been out of routine, entertaining family and friends, visiting others and enjoying days out. Lovely!

World Athletics Championships 2017

The Olympic Stadium London hosting the World Athletics Championships – great to be Β in the stadium again

Family outside the stadium

Outside the stadium πŸ™‚

River Test at Houghton

The River Test at Houghton, Hampshire

The Silk Mill at Whitchurch along with silk scarves made on the Mill looms.

Friends and family have the impression that I am an organised person. πŸ˜€ As a student nurse I did learn how to think through and prepare all that was needed for a task before getting it underway – anything from changing a bed to a complicated dressing or surgical procedure. And I guess that training has translated into how I approach practical tasks out here in ‘civvy street’. But really I spend most of my time reacting to what happens around me, being distracted away from jobs and then being surprised as I come across the forgotten half finished ‘whatevers’ later in the day!

Today is my day at home. My ‘boys’ were all out to work by 8am. I made my way to the sewing room (ready to morph back into it’s guest room role), decided on some background music (The Lighthouse Family – I know, it is a bit bland but it’s smooth, easy on the ears and emotions) and set about turning bunting triangles inside out ready for pressing.

Bunting pointer

This little wooden tool was in a packet of nail files. It’s a very handy ‘pokey pointer’ pushing out the points of bunting triangles!

Within 15 minutes I was being beeped at by 1. the washing machine, insistent that I should go congratulate it on finishing another load of laundry, 2. my phone desperate for a battery recharge and then the door bell rang to announce the arrival of the weekly shop *sigh*. Some time and one broken finger nail later: the washing on the line, the phone sucking up electric juice, the shopping put away and here I am sat down in the sewing room. Of course, in dealing with these happenings I found a few other things to do: I refilled the bird feeder while I was hanging out the washing; put away some dry laundry from the clothes airer; remembered to send #1 son a text (and that reminds me I need to contact a cake decorator…); and decided to switch on the laptop and write it all down!

You’ll be glad to know The Lighthouse Family were completely unphased by all the distractions and continued to play regardless – good for them! I know it’s only 9.50am but I’m feeling the need for a mug of coffee… Must contact cake decorator first!!

Ha!Ha! 10.10am, coffee in the mug and finally the iron is heating up again. Back to the bunting :-), working to the snappier sound of The Beatles – ‘Eight Days A Week’ – how handy would that be?

Bunting flags arranged

The bunting flags all pressed and arranged on my make-do design wall sofa!

Pink buntingTwo hours later: I drank the coffee before it went cold (little triumph of the day!); completed three sets of bunting; and had a chat with my brother about the arrangements for our Dad’s 80th birthday celebrations this weekend; oh! and exchanged messages with the very kind cake maker.

Chocolatier BOM 3Yesterday evening I lead the third Chocolatier BOM workshop at Purple Stitches. We made two blocks. Here are my versions of ‘Louisiana’ and ‘Framed Plus’. The top two are in the BOM fabrics the lower is my practice block which I will add to the other practice blocks with the aim of making a table runner.

Talking of table runners, I was awake for a couple of hours in the night thinking about new projects to make and teach. My brain whirred so much I gave up trying to sleep and snuck downstairs for 4am tea and biscuits. After catching up with the Archers on the BBC iplayer I did manage to get back to sleep and raced through a whole host of crazy dreams. Anyway, putting aside the dreams of run away toy animals and snowfall in July, I am pleased to say those wakeful hours have led to some fresh ideas. I’m thinking of creating ‘making a table runner in a day’ classes, exploring a different patchwork block technique with each runner. Does that sound interesting? I’d be glad to know your reaction to this idea πŸ™‚ I always like getting a workshop project finished or very near to completion on the day rather than bringing home a new UFO.

Yeah! It’s lunch time. As the forecast is fair for the rest of the day my plan is to visit the allotment; pick the runner beans and courgettes; maybe cut some of the grass which after several wet weeks is growing like it’s Spring again; and bring home the tools we left in the shed when ‘rain stopped play’ on our last visit.

So this is a post about a fairly typical ‘at home’ day where doing a days work isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds and most certainly is beyond my capacity to organise!

Thank you for your company today! Linking with Lorna for Let’s Bee SocialΒ – she’s paper piecing mermaids!




Posted in Family, Home, QE II Olympic Park, Quilt Blocks | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Refreshed after a holiday

In the run up to our holiday I just couldn’t keep up with the project to do list and maintain a written record here. We arrived home last Saturday and have been getting stuck into a new routine since Monday as our youngest son, on a 4 month Uni vacation, started a temporary, full time job. All seems to be going well so far πŸ™‚

So, the holiday: we spent a week in the Derbyshire Peak District, about 180 miles north of home. It was beautiful. Here is the holiday home we stayed in andΒ views from the front window πŸ™‚

We stayed just outside the very picturesque town of Bakewell – home of the Bakewell tart *yum* – and spent quite a bit of time walking up and down the peaks and dales. It’s ideal walking country as the views are wonderful and it’s possible to feel ‘in the middle of nowhere’ and then walk on a mile or two further and find some tummy filling, thirst quenching respite in a comfortable tea room or pub!

Ilam tea room

Enjoying the view of Dovedale from the National Trust tea garden at Ilam

Of course, it would be rude to visit another part of the country and not drop into a local quilt shop or two… In Darley Dale we found Patchwork DirectΒ which needs two premises to house all the fabrics, quilting and embroidery notions, not to mention the knitting yarns and patterns (the shops are called ‘Heirs and Graces’ and White Peak Embroidery’). I was fairly restrained buying a roll of twenty 2Β½” strips, 3m of wadding, some much needed new pins and more machine bobbins. After a few days of stroking the fabric strips I came up with an idea for a quilt top, smiled sweetly at my husband, and returned to the shops for a couple of metres of background fabric πŸ™‚

Fabrics and notions from Patchwork Direct

My holiday purchases

Although the wifi reception in our holiday cottage was intermittent (a good thing really!) I did manage to fulfill one goal: namely sorting my Pinterest boards. I amalgamated a few, separated out others, renamed some to better describe their contents and purpose and tracked down a few rogue links that I’d manage to pin inappropriately (I smile every time I use this word: a few years ago we were amused by a restaurant menu that listed ‘appropriate potatoes’ which of course begs the question ‘what is an inappropriate potato?’). I hope you’ll take a look at my boards – most are related to patchwork and quilting, some more to figuring out how to run an online craft business and a few others are more general. I endeavour to update the Pins of the Week board every Tuesday, this board contains links to helpful/interesting quilty blog posts I’ve read during the week and searches I’ve made online.

Pink bunting July 2017Whew! I feel better for having got to the keyboard and written this post :-). Before the holiday I arranged on-going projects next to my sewing machine in order of urgency and since being home I have sorted out the hems on a pair of trousers and completed two lengths of pretty pink bunting (my bunting tutorial). Now to get my version of the beginners quilt ready for the second class on Saturday…

2nd Beginners Quilt

Linking with Lorna for Let’s Bee SocialΒ who is sharing her cute giraffe quilt pattern in several colourways.

It’s lovely to be back with you.


Posted in Fabrics, Family, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments