Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Back home, some sewing and a catch-up

Arrived back home yesterday lunchtime from a family holiday here:-

 
We have been in Florida for the past two weeks, enjoying Disney World with our daughter, SIL and 5 year old granddaughter. We have had a magical time, fitting in SO much in such a short time. Little GD had the time of her life: theme parks, meeting Disney characters, doing so many of the rides, shows, swimming, crafts etc.
 
So now it's down to earth time!  Unpacking (all done), washing (all done), grocery shopping (all done), picking vegs from my garden ( see photo below) and, finally, a bit of sewing! 
 


We have one rhubarb plant - crown? - which was a piece taken from my MIL's garden 15 years ago.
I don't know the variety but I think Mum used to call it a Strawberry one.  It grows well in our garden but in Mum's garden it was amazing.  Very tall, thick stems of rhubarb which were very sweet and tender even though the stems measured a couple of inches in diameter. a couple of pieces were enough for a pie! Every time I pick any I think of her and remember the size of the rhubarb in her garden.

This year I have 3 tomato plants in pots: a shorter shrub like red cherry tomato, a normal red cherry variety and an orange variety.  All had done well in our absence so this morning I was able to pick a bowlful of both red and orange ones. We ate a few at lunchtime and they were delicious, full of flavour.  Then I picked the red chillies you see on the saucer.  Quite small and all from the one plant I have in a pot on the terrace.  I picked quite a few chillies just before we went on holiday and popped them into a small glass jar and put it in the freezer.  Hope that works and that I can just use the chillies when I need them.

Last night I was trying to keep awake so I could go to bed at a more normal bedtime so watched a few TV programmes I had recorded.  My fingers were itching to sew - I didn't take any sewing to Florida as I knew I wouldn't have time for stitching, but of course, I missed it.  I am hand quilting a baby boy quilt for a friend in New Zealand whose baby is due later this month. The quilt is completely made from scraps and in the centre is a Noah's Ark panel I discovered when I recently did a sort-out in my Sewing Room.  I was very unsure of how to quilt it but copied an idea I saw my friend Sarah use in one of the baby quilts she made recently.  I am using a variegated yellow/green Perle cotton, sewing parallel rows across the Noah's Ark panel at approximately 1" intervals.  I am very pleased with my choice as I think the stitching actually enhances the panel.  I will decide on how to quilt the borders when I get to them.  Very much a 'suck and see' experimental quilt but I am very happy with it so far.

A photo of the centre panel:
 

And a close up:
 
 

Then this afternoon I decided to reward myself for being such a good girl with the post-holiday chores to disappear into my Sewing Room for just over an hour to continue with the String blocks I started before our holiday.  I did another 7 blocks which pleased me.

Now  I must make our dinner: plaice (a flat white fish we get here in the UK) and fresh vegetables.
 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Festival of Quilts: Part 2

This post will be photos that I took at last week's Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham.

A fabulous quilt by Lea McComas;
 

 
 
The programme details told us that the quilt contained 90 fabrics and 114 different threads!
 
Dream Catcher Quilt:
 
 
And a butterfly detail from this quilt:
 



Peacock Quilt:

Jumpers Quilt:
 
 
 
A  wonderful appliqued flowers quilt:
 
 
And some close-ups:
 





 
Two such realistic quilts from a Gallery:
 
Dragonfruit

Cherry Pie
 

And, as we are in the midst of remembering the Great War, a Poppy Quilt:
 


Sorry, I am running our of time yet again tonight so I will finish now. I have lots more Festival of Quilts photos to share but as I am going away on holiday that will not happen for a couple of weeks.
 

 
 

 
 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Meeting a Blog friend at the Festival of Quilts


Linda, me and Peggy


I have followed the Razzle Dazzle Quilt Blog for quite a while.  I love the projects Linda makes and the custom quilting that she does.  She also lives in New Zealand, a very special part of the world to me.

Then I discovered Linda and her sister Peggy were coming to the UK for a long trip and would be visiting the Festival of Quilts which is a show I visit every year.  However, I don't have to come thousands of miles from NZ to see it as I live about 20 minutes' drive away from the huge NEC Exhibition complex where the FOQ is held.  I had my sister, Pat with me too that day and the four of us met for a short while and chatted over coffee.

Pat very kindly took this photograph of the three of us. It was lovely to meet a cyber-friend in real life.  I hope we can meet up again one day, perhaps in NZ? In the meantime I will continue to follow Linda's super blog.

As always the FOQ was stunning and, I think even better than ever this year. The standard of the Competition Quilts was just amazing!  I took lots of photos and I will share a few of those with you now:

One of my favourite places in this country (UK) is Southwold in Suffolk.  My husband and I 'discovered' Suffolk a few years ago and try to spend a few days in Orford each year.  Southwold isn't too far away.  It's a lovely town, full of interesting shops, a great beach, a pier full of shops and end-of-the-pier type games, and a long row of delightful beach huts - every one different, all with a whimsical name and lovely painted details.

So, when Pat and I (she is also a Southwold fan!) saw this Group Quilt made by 23 members of the Saint Felix Frolic Sewing & Quilting Group I had to takes loads of photos.




Can you see The Pier?


 
 And a couple of beach huts?


 
If you have been to Southwold you will recognise so many of these buildings and shops - just as Pat and I did.  It was such a beautifully made quilt - Congratulations to The Saint Felix Frolic Sewers!
 
More quilts depicting places I know:
 

Lindisfarne Causeway, Northumberland, a county where we lived for the first 10 years of our marriage.
 
Sydney Opera House, one of the quilts in a great Gallery called Golden Textures of Australia.
We have visited Sydney several times to stay with good Aussie friends so this is another special place for me.
 
Another Gallery featured The Tentmakers of Cairo.
Two of the Tentmakers, Hosam Al Farouk & Tarek Al Safty came back again this year to demonstrate their wonderful art of applique.  Their fingers move at lightning speed as they needleturn the pieces in their quilts - flower stems, flower heads, birds etc. The colours are all extremely bright, their quilts are all works of art.  Lots on display and for sale and, considering how long each one takes to make, they were not overpriced.  Hosam told me the quilt he was making took six months to complete and as this is their full-time job I can't imagine how many hundreds of hours that represents.
 
A few photos:





I have lots more photos from the FOQ to share but that will have to be in another blog post.  we are going out soon, for supper at our next door neighbours, so I mustn't be late!
 
 




Saturday, 1 August 2015

Finished baby quilt - Robots in Space

On Thursday I finished hand sewing the binding on my latest Baby boy quilt. As the weather was actually quite pleasant and sunny yesterday I took the opportunity to take some photos outside. 
The first one was held up by my 5 year old granddaughter who then decided her arms were tired so my daughter was asked to complete the job.


 
And then a couple of close ups:
 
 
 
 
I am SO pleased with this quilt.  It measures 42" x 34" and is really bright and cheerful, ideal for the baby boy who is due to be born in three weeks' time.
 
I started with 2 gifted strips of funky robots and airplanes.  I made the centre row first, adding Bondaweb to the back of the robots and planes, hand blanket stitching with embroidery floss. Then I just built the strippy quilt around them, finding suitable fabrics and scraps from my stash.  Two of the fabrics used were won in a Giveaway so this quilt hasn't cost me much to make.
 
The quilt came together very quickly and I love the hand quilting in a variegated Perle thread.  It looks great on the back too. Just realised I forgot to take a photo of the back ( using the yellow striped pieced backing I recently blogged about) so I must take some more photos tomorrow.
 
So, everything in this quilt was from stash.  I have 4 of the robot and plane motifs left so  hope to make another baby quilt, using the striped rows in this quilt.
 
It was such fun to design this quilt.  Definitely a unique gift!
 


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Creative Use of Stash

As I have been trying to get my stash in order for several years, making loads of Scrap Quilts, cutting up smaller pieces into squares and strips I wholly empathised with Bonnie Hunter's blog post that she wrote a couple of days ago.

As you might imagine the amount of fabric I own and am dealing with is a mere 'drop in the ocean' compared to Bonnie's!  I gazed in awe and wonder at her filing shelves of see-through plastic shoe boxes containing FQs, sorted into colours, one or more box for each colour collection. She even had enough FQs to differentiate between the shades of pinks etc.

But of course Bonnie is a designer, teacher and prolific maker of HUGE quilts whereas I quilt as a hobby, making quilts for family and friends, the local hospital and good causes. I don't have a huge basement as a studio either, just a small bedroom that belonged to my son.

But, I do have a chest of drawers full of fabrics, a bookcase holding books and plastic boxes of threads, ribbons, embroidery floss, tins and jars of buttons, plastic bags and boxes of strips and squares of various sizes, a big box of batting off-cuts and bags of larger pieces of batting, three bags of strips, and tins of small scraps of fabric to use for making Crumb Blocks.  A lot for me to keep on top of and to keep moving from stash to finished quilt.

Very conscious that I need to use up some of this stash, I have been concentrating on using some of the pieces of fabric I re-discovered in my recent Big Sort Out.

I found a lovely Noah's Ark panel - bought so long ago I had completely forgotten I owned it and can't even remember where I bought it.  So, before it got buried again I decided to USE IT UP!  As I sorted I gathered together fabrics, squares and strips that I thought would blend with the panel colours.  Quite an unusual combination of muted colours but I found plenty to make a Boy Baby Quilt.  This morning I managed to use more from that fabric collection to make a pieced backing and it is now sandwiched ready for hand  quilting with a variegated yellow and olive green Perle cotton.

Every single part of this quilt was what I had squirreled away in my Sewing Room and I am pleased with the result.  Even more pleased that this quilt completely uses up stash that has been lying around for far too long.  Of course by the time I trim the quilt for binding I will create yet more scraps and strings which will go back into my stash.  You can't win, can you?

Here's the quilt:
 


And here's the pieced backing:
 


Of course there is another ulterior reason for my Big Sort Out. From 6th - 9th August it is the large Festival of Quilts Show at Birmingham's NEC.  I will be going on three of the days as there is far too much to fit into one visit. On the Friday I will be taking my sister with me so that's a nice opportunity for us to spend quality time together.  There are vendors galore and now I know what stash I have I know where the gaps are: batting, neutral fabrics ( 1/2 metres and FQs ), large pieces of green, yellow and blue fabrics, especially for backings and some solids.  Good job I am making more than one visit so I can carry everything home with me!

Happy sewing!
 
 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The importance of labelling stash

I have always liked to label things so I know exactly what is in bags and boxes. Saves so much time and effort fruitlessly looking for things.

About three years ago I sorted out my Sewing Room, labelling drawers and boxes so I knew where everything was.  But then I did loads more projects and everything got mixed up again. 

During my recent "Spring clean" I came upon lots of labelled packs, fabrics I had gathered together for future projects etc.  Amongst those I found this pack of strips ready to be made into a backing, I had even slipped a little note inside the pack with the dimensions it would end up as and a little sketch of the order in which to join the strips!

 
The strips all needed a good press because they had been folded away in the plastic bag for years!
 
 
But I pressed them, sewed them up and made just the right sized backing for another Boy Cot quilt I put together last week.  More stash used up.
 
The quilt is sandwiched and ready for me to start hand quilting tomorrow when I am at my Patchwork Group meeting.  The quilt has used up scraps from my stash too.
 
So, my tip is "Label your stash"!
 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Elephants on Parade - a Finish!

I finished my baby boy quilt, Elephants on Parade.

Here it is:


 
And a close up of some of the blocks:
 
 
I am so pleased with this quilt.  Such lovely 'cool' colours, all found in my stash to compliment the elephant Fat Quarter I found.
 
Then I used this pale green with lemon spots fabric for a backing - I literally had just enough for the quilt backing!
 
 
It's not the same shade of green as the fabrics in the front of the quilt but is somewhere between the green and turquoises in those fabrics so, in my eyes anyway, it works. The lemon dots tie in with the lemon stars in 4 of the charm square patches.
 
The batting was a piece I had in my stash of remnants.
 
The hand quilting is a mixture of deep turquoise Quilting thread in the ditch between the blocks and in the sashing joins and a variegated turquoise Perle cotton larger stitch around the appliqued hearts and in the sashing.
 
So, another finish for 2015 and a baby Boy quilt to add to my stash of completed quilts.
All of the fabrics and the batting and threads were from my stash so nothing bought especially for this project.