Monday, 29 December 2008

More Christmas Quilted Items.

I made two sets of coasters this year as hostess gifts.
I was quite pleased with the outcome - even though my SIL refused to let anyone use them as she said they were too nice to use. I am hoping that I will make more Christmas items next year as this is the first year for ages that I actually managed to make any.

Finally a family photo taken on Boxing Day of my MIL with 4 of her 5 grandchildren. My Boys are the two on the left!

Sunday, 28 December 2008


Things have been busy here and today is the first day I have had chance to catch up with my blog reading and posting.
The first photo shows the dining room after its mega tidy! Usually this corner is piled high with fabric, quilts and works in progress. My main pressie can be seen on the top of the display cabinet - a wireless printer - DH has only just got it to work wirelessly as I am writing this. I am hoping that it will be very useful for my City & Guilds course. The tree, as every year, is decorated with my collection of TY teenie beanies. I was a big collector of these a few years ago!

This little cat tape measure is one of my favourite pressies!

And of course I got some new books!

I hope to improve my FMQ in 2009!

Saw this one at the FOQ in August - lovely folk art designs. I have just started to cut out a bag from a pattern in here using some Cath Kidston fabric and some recycled fabric.

And finally the book I have wanted for a while - still studying it but hope to do some practice blocks soon.
Hope Santa was good to you all!

Friday, 19 December 2008

November Birthday Block - Birdhouses.

As you can tell from the title this block is very late and I would like to apologise to Jovita in Lithuania for whom it has been made. One of the reasons it has taken so long is that it is all hand stitched - which I really enjoyed.
I am finding it really difficult to take photos at the moment as the light is so bad but you can click on any of the photos for a closer look.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Dyed fabrics.

The last weekend we had at college I did some fabric dyeing. I must have dyed at least 10 yards of fabric! Most is just solid colours but the best results came from the space dyeing.
The picture below shows my favourite piece which I think looks like a sunrise. It is my intention to turn this into an art quilt!?
This second piece was done by simply folding the fabric into a concertina.
The main problem is that the fabric I used for the space dyeing is an Ikea quilt cover that I bought for 50p because it had holes in it. So some of my best pieces have holes in - but I will just applique something over them and pretend thats what I always intended!
I also did some threads which vary in thickness from double knitting cotton yarn to quite fine embroidery thread.

And finally as I was saying in my last post I have been tidying up for Christmas. I have piled loads of stuff onto my quilting table and Patches has decided that it makes an excellent bed. Note 2 BQL challenge bags here and one of those fab Kath Kidston Tesco bags!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas Wallhanging.

Here is what I have been working on this weekend. It is a little gift for my great-neice Freya. I like to try and make her a handmade gift for Christmas and I am very pleased with this years offering. It measures around 10 x 12 inches. The santa is hand stitched using a design from a quilting stencil and then I have trapuntoed it. I have also used my new favourite technique - hand quilting with beads to give it a snowy appearance.
Clare, my neice has just announced that she is expecting again in June so next year there will be two gifts to make!

What I am most pleased about is that it was designed, stitched and finished all in 2 days. I know that may not sound brilliant to some of you quilting queens out there but for me it is a real step forward. Usually I would spend days just thinking about it and never get it finished. In fact finishing things is one of my weak areas so lets hope this will spur me on to finish some of my other projects.
The main reason I have not had much time for posting or sewing lately is because of the big Christmas Clean in this house. I have this strange need to clean the house for Christmas which usually takes over all my time at this time of year. I really do not like housework and usually do the minimum but now I am cleaning tiles, window frames etc. It is also all the piles of magazines and carrier bags of fabric which need to be found a home. We also took a car full of stuff to the tip and I have sorted lots of bags for the charity shop. The whole thing just starts to spiral out of control - I was even cleaning under the bed this morning. The sad thing is that the only guest we are having this Christmas is my uncle who wouldn't notice if I hadn't hoovered for a month! I think it all goes back to when the kids were small and I used to spend all Christmas Eve cleaning which was really horrible - one year I even wrapped their presents at 3am on Christmas Day! So I think I just don't want to leave myself with all the cleaning to do on Christmas Eve - maybe I'll be able to spend it quilting and drinking sherry this year!

Monday, 8 December 2008

City & Guilds Cupcake Wallhanging.

I have been at college all this last weekend so sorry posts were thin on the ground last week as I was busy working on my City & Guilds pieces.
So, not wanting to confuse anyone, I can now reveal my finished wallhanging - yes I decided to go with the alternative design!!
It is only 14 inches square so I was not sure about it being big enough but I have checked with my tutors and it is fine. The biggest problem was choosing a binding fabric but after a visit to Hobbycraft on Thursday I found the perfect fabric!
This is my scale diagram of the wallhanging.

These close ups show detail of the quilting - the cupcakes are handquilted around their shape and then I have quilted the background with seed beads. Sue, my tutor says it is more like a tying than a quilting technique
but either way I am pleased with it! She also really liked it so even better!

Finally a quilt label - this is a birthday gift for my great niece for next year. (I have NEVER had anything finished do far in advance!!!)
Thanks again to Sue for the idea of a cupcaked shape label!

In case you were wondering what I am going to do with the cupcakes I was working on? They will go into my workbook as stitched samples and I intend to make a bag and a cushion with them at a later date - so nothing will be wasted.
So is this the end of the cupcake journey........ well no!
After doing some experimental artwork I came up with another design that I liked even more!! I have decided to make that too! Details to follow shortly!
Finally a big hello to my fellow classmates who may be reading this - I know some of you do! And 'Get Well Soon' to our course leader, Diane who sprained her ankle badly this weekend after slipping on some ice and could not be with us.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Introducing.....a new member of our feline family!

We have had this new addition to our family for a few weeks. She was adopted by my uncle but things didn't work out so she came to live with us instead. Her name is Maisy and she is around 6 years old. Those of you who pay attention to my cat family will know that I already have another Maisy - pictured below! So the new Maisy needs a name change! Any suggestions would be welcome but at the moment she is known as 'Catzilla'. This probably gives you a clue as to her interaction with the other cats! Things have been a bit difficult but I have had many cat behaviour problems over the years so we will persevere. We have had many tortoiseshell cats (are they called calico in the US?) and some of the darker ones are often a bit grumpy!! Also when you adopt an older cat you don't know how their previous experiences have moulded their character!
This photo of my other Maisy shows why you should not leave your bag all ready for the morning on the dining room table!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Cupcake alternative design.

As part of each City & Guilds piece you have to show an alternative design. This could be just a drawing but I decided to make a quilt sample.
I have used a different cupcake shape and have used the bondaweb method of applique followed by hand stitched blanket stitching around the shapes. No tucks and no trapunto so a much flatter design.
Here are two of the cupcakes in close up.

And here is the completed mini quilt top.
I am now going to back it, hand quilt around each cupcake and bind it in a black and white spot fabric.
Only thing is.....I wonder what happens if you actually prefer your alternative design..........?

Monday, 24 November 2008

And the winner is.........

Thanks to everyone else for your comments and for taking part.
Please email me your address Jude and I will get the fabric in the post to you.

Sorry no photos today but I am still making progress on the cupcakes - hope to have some photos for you later in the week.
Had a good day in Harrogate yesterday but it was much quieter than previous years so perhaps the credit crunch is starting to bite!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Cupcake Update.

Progress has been slow this last week, not for any particular reason.......
Although I have been decorating the kitchen (cleaning it actually takes longer than the painting!!). And I have been teaching........
Anyway I embellished the first cupcake sample with bugle beads which I do actually quite like although I did not know if they would be big enough. I also blanket stitched around the top of the cupcake which I also quite liked.
Sue, my tutor didn't like the blanket stitching so I am going to try without on the real piece first before I decide. She has so much more experience on this that I am going to take her word on it for now!
Also this week I have been dyeing fabric for the cupcake wallhanging. This photo shows why you should wear rubber gloves! Although it is only so bad because I spilt a whole plastic bag full of dye on the utility room floor!

Because I was so busy cleaning the floor I did not work the dye into the fabric as much as I should so the purple pieces have come out more mottled than I wanted. However I think they will still look OK so I am going to use them.

I have decided to have a real push at getting this first piece finished for our December college weekend (6th & 7th). I have been doing the artwork which I will show soon and I am trying to work on some aspect of this piece every day!
Tomorrow I am going to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate....lots of shopping to do!!!
And don't forget - still a couple of days to enter my giveaway - see next post!

Monday, 17 November 2008

My First Blog Anniversary!

Well I did not quite make it to my 100th post but my first blog anniversary arrived on Saturday. The weekend was very busy as I was at college all weekend.....
But here it is - the giveaway!!
As promised it has a Welsh theme and a vintage theme.

This is an original pack of Laura Ashley patchwork squares from the 1980s. There are 100 squares, 5 designs and this will make up to 1 metre square of patchwork.
All you need to do is leave a comment on this post before midnight next Sunday - 23rd November and your name will go into the draw to win this lovely fabric.
Don't be shy - say hello!
I would love to 'meet' more of my blog readers and I will happily post this fabric anywhere in the world.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Cupcake Progress.

I have been working some more on the cupcakes.
First I needed to attach the polyester wadding for the trapunto using the wash away thread. The wadding is then cut away around the shape.

I then machine quilted in a spiral pattern to try to mirror icing on the cupcake. The wash away thread was really difficult to remove - it is the Madeira brand. It says on the package that it can be removed by the steam from the iron but I could not get this to work. In the end I had to wet it with a damp cloth. I am sure that it would disappear after washing in the machine but I did not want to do this with this piece. Also I was unhappy with the stitching holes left behind.

I then made the second cupcake using the fabric I had painted with the pearlised paint. I much prefer this look - much softer and more like real icing! I attached the trapunto wadding with a glue stick and tacked around the shape so that I did not get any stitching holes in the painted fabric.

I spiral quilted it again.

Next stage is the embellishments which I will probably do at college. I have enough materials to make two more cupcakes but first I need to decide what to do with them as I am not sure about making them into a wallhanging anymore.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


For my second City & Guilds piece I am working on the theme of cupcakes!
Cupcakes seem to be very popular at the moment - on cards, in magazines, fabric and knitted ones too! There was even a National Cupcake Day in America in October! They always make me smile!
This wrapping paper from Asda is my inspiration.
Initially I had decided to make a cupcake wallhanging - but now I amnot so sure so I am going to work on this a bit more this week and have a chat with my tutors at the weekend.
I wanted to record my progress so far as I hope it will help get my creativity going again. The first problem was the bun or muffin cases. I had the perfect fabric but struggled with the pleats. Anyway one of the reasons why our weekends at college are so great is that all the tutors and students have loads of helpful ideas. (One of the main reasons I would not like a distance learning internet based course). Anne-Marie came up with the perfect solution - by varying the stitching on each pleat I got the perfect cupcake case shape. The stitches are closer to the edge of the pleat at the top.
I then appliqued the case onto my background fabric followed by the top of the cupcake. I need to get some texture into the top so I am going to try machine trapunto next, then a swirly quilting pattern and finally the embellishments.

One of my tutors ideas was to try painting the fabric for the tops so I am also going to try this. I have used some pearlised fabric paints. I have done some samples but the pearliness doesn't really show up on the photo.

Hope to have some more progress to show before the weekend which is our November City & Guilds class.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Repurposed Fabric.

One of my greatest pleasures in patchwork is reusing fabric. I firmly believe that patchwork should not be just for those who can afford to buy fabric at £10 per metre but should be accessible to everyone. More importantly I much prefer working with repurposed fabric particularly if it is also vintage. I almost never buy fabric at full price - I buy from discount fabric stores such as Kisko in Leicester and Aberkhan in Mostyn as well as a couple of outlets in Yorkshire such as The Shuttle in Bradford which can be found at many of the quilt shows.

Anyway to get back to the point - for the last couple of weeks DH and I have been to our local Sunday market which has lots of second hand stalls, and I have bought quite a few items for repurposing. Shirts are my favourite but I also like skirts, curtains and even baby clothes. Of course all are 100% cotton and my golden rule is never to pay more than 50p for a clothing item. I will pay more sometimes for curtains!
Here are 4 shirts I bought yesterday. One of them is even a designer label!
What I need now of course are some darker blues to go with them!
I do also buy from charity shops but often I find their prices too high for me - with the exception of vintage Laura Ashley which I am always on the lookout for! Oh for the thrift shops of America! - I could spend an entire holiday just looking round them - however I would not be able to afford the excess baggage charge!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

American Presidential Elections

Our TVs have been full of the American Presidential Elections and the coverage will be on all through the night tonight.
Whoever becomes the next US President will affect us here in the UK but I do not want to make any political comment - I just wanted to share these fab crochet patterns which came with the heading - 'Crochet the next American President'.
Well they made me smile!

Barack Obama

John McCain

Blog Anniversary!

On 15th November I will have been blogging for one year!
It may also coincide with my 100th post!
As it seems to be tradition in Blogland I will be having a giveaway - the clue will be vintage fabric! All you will have to do, as is also traditional, is to leave a comment on the giveaway post which I will post on November 15th. I know I have quite a lot of readers out there but soon you may have to actually introduce yourselves! Looking forward to meeting you all!

Here is some 1950s fabric we saw on our recent trip to Wales! This is not the giveaway fabric - but there is a Welsh connection!!

Halloween Party

Halloween is the birthday of my good friend Caroline and we always have a party to celebrate. Every year she adds to her Halloween decorations for both the house and garden.

Here I am with my eldest son - my how tall he is getting!

The birthday girl with her hubby!

And finally - my pumpkin pie!!