Monday, 30 April 2012

A lovely afternoon....

After a very busy month, the only time I've had for sewing has been after a stressful or long and tiring day.  I've been working on a 12" mini for the LMQG challenge, and I just haven't been able to get it right, because I've been tired, and so have taken short cuts or made mistakes with proportions when my brain's not working!

So today I sought professional help!  I took my brain-curdling efforts over to Aneela, with the plan to have a cuppa and chat while we did some sewing. Once again, there was too much chat for us to be able to concentrate on stitching!  I got some advice - mainly don't sweat it - on the mini, we talked about upcoming projects, brain stormed an idea for a new tv show (yes, really, we have a great plan!) and then I had a truly breathtaking glimpse into her fabric stores.  Oh my, I hope I didn't get too much drool on them!

There was obviously the full range of Aneela's own designs, and some other ranges I recognised, but the most exciting of all was the stack of beautiful Heather Ross fabrics, that previously I've only read about. There were aliens, cats, dogs, camper vans and ice cream trucks.  And then there were the supermodels of the fabric world - the unicorns and Princess & the Pea of Far, Far Away, and the truly beautiful Mendocino.  I have a fresh understanding of why they have been so sought after.... and a huge regret that I didn't start quilting longer ago, so that I might have bought some myself.

Next time, it'll be my turn to host, although I doubt there is anything in my little range of fabrics that would even compare with the contents of Aneela's sewing room.  I might have to resort to chocolate brownies in recompense!

Oh, and that photo at the top?  They're now mine, all mine.......

Friday, 27 April 2012

Just a quickie..... please vote for me!

OK, so I've got a bit ahead of myself this week, and entered a competition!  I've submitted the double wedding ring wall hanging that I made for my sister to the Quilting Gallery weekly contest.

Please click here and give me a vote.


Pretty please.....

oh, and don't forget to tell everyone else you know!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

Where does the time go!  This last week has been so busy, with my day job seriously impacting on sewing and blogging time. We've been to exhibit at a wedding fair today, and all I could tihink about was how much it was wasting good sewing time! Over the coming weeks we have some big birthday celebrations for the OH as he reaches 40, and then wedding season kicks in and so it's work, work, work.

In the meantime, I thought I'd show you my little bag that I made. 

I decided the night before the last LMQG meeting that I needed a bag to carry my stuff in and so at 9.30pm, I set to.  Needless to say, in spite of a very late night, and an equally early morning, I didn't get it finished.

I used a layer cake of Hometown by Sweetwater, and was really pleasantly surprised that the fabric I'd struggled with when trying to lay out for a quilt top, was transformed when used for this.  I went from indifferent to loving it.

The pattern called for a contrasting fabric for the lining and handles, but I thought I might as well get full use out of the layer cake and so I pieced them.  

The contrasting strips and binding round the top are Moda Bella Solids in Snow. (nestling in the bottom is my Sew Stitchy still hidden in it's envelope!)

It's a really generously sized tote bag, and the pattern also has instructions for adding pockets inside and a tab closure with magnetic clasp, but I decided to forego those options - I wanted something big enough to carry my cutting mat, without anything to get in the way.

So, I'm really looking forward to showing it off at the next meeting!   It's just the right size for the myriad parcels of fabric I seem to bring home every time...... 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Primary school art

I wasn't sure I was going to blog this, but here we go..... honest opinions only please - even if it's not great! Let's face it, taking criticism is all part of the learning process.

On your marks, get set, go......

Monday, 9 April 2012

Busy weekend

After my sewing fest on Friday, I decided I had a few things to tackle in the sewing room - namely this:

Off I went to IKEA - yes, on Easter Saturday!  Have to say I was pleasantly surprised, and thanks to the research done on the website first and a skillful swerve away from the markethall area, I was in and out in under and hour.  Once home, I set about emptying the sewing room of the accumulated bits of furniture and boxes and yes, rubbish!

So all that frenzied activity left me with this, a nice clean empty work table.  After a little bit of a DIY false start, eventually I had the right tools and spent a very happy day yesterday sorting out bits and bobs and putting them in pots and boxes.  And then building flat pack, putting up shelves and rails and ending up with this:

Never too old to play 'shop'!  Thanks to Michael at Tricolette for the idea.

New floating shelf with new boxes.  Patterns and books at the other end

fab hanging pots mean that everything is now off the table, except the sewing machine, so lots of fantastic workspace
Still a spare bedroom too, so Sherbet Pips Munki quilt is now gracing the bed

An extra hanging rail behind the door - the Next bag is full of wadding scraps!

All that's left to do now is hang a couple of mini quilts to add some colour and inspiration!

I'm really happy with my new space, especially with the fact I did it all for under £50!  The rails and hanging pots were a bargain from the IKEA kitchen section, although I suspect the pots are being discontinued as they were reduced from 59p to 5p each! Seems a shame if they are stopping them, as I can think of hundreds of uses for them, and they come in all sorts of colours so good for the man's shed and garage as well as kids' rooms.

Last night I did some more work on the 'Not the LMQG Challenge' quilt, and I have to say I'm really, really liking it.  It's still not going to be the entry, but I'm not so unhappy with it now.  Today I'm going to be spending a lot of time doing some maths, and drawing out the plan for the quilt that WILL be the entry, so that when my new fabric for that arrives in the week I can just get started.  (BTW isn't it amazing, with all that fabric in my new shelves, I STILL didn't have  the right material for the challenge!)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Let battle commence......

This year I gave up competing with my spaniels at agility to concentrate on quilting, deciding that was more relaxing.....

.... more relaxing, that is until an element of competition was introduced this month with the LMQG challenge!  We're to make a 12" mini quilt which expresses 'what modern quilting means to you'!  Well, right up until yesterday it meant relaxation, escape, peace, happiness.

After yesterday, I might have to revise those adjectives!  I've seen two of my co-quilter's entries so far, Kelly,  who produced this rainbow-hued wonder (and that's not even it finished, it gets better!) and Charlotte, who completely blew me away with this fully-functioning beauty.

Right then, I thought, where the flippin' heck do I, as a fairly novice quilter, start to even begin to come up with anything remotely close....

Well, step 1 was looking through the modern quilting flickr groups.  Step 2 was feeling more and more inadequate as each page passed!

So, stop that, Pennie!  Thursday night ended with me reading a Jo Nesbo thriller for hours, trying to eradicate all thoughts of pretty, stunning, clever quilting.

I was determined I was going to design my own unique quilt - having never done it before.  (Those of you who are getting to know me will suspect I'm not one for making my life easy!)

Out came the notebook and Bic, and two quick sketches were produced.  The first one was to be words and the second was to be a visual representation of those words.  I even toyed with the idea of making both and using one as the back....

Anyway, off I went to Hobbycraft, bought a pencil and sketchbook and drew out the winning design to 12" size.  Measured, drew, rubbed out, re-drew, tore up, started again, finally, 'that's it', I thought.  And off I went. 

A multitude of methods were tried - applique was favourite to start with, but I knew really I needed to foundation piece it.  I'd done FPP before but following a pattern.  This time I had to make the pattern myself.  And oh boy, did that cause some ructions - each time I tried the next piece, it was either upside down, back to front or just not cut right.  I couldn't work it out... Then eureka!  I realised I had the template I was sewing onto back to front.  (I did say 'novice' didn't I?!)

That sorted, it got a lot easier.  Even so, having started the whole process at about 11am yesterday, it was 11pm by the time the main block was put together, and I was finishing off the bits I did decide to applique (another thing I've never done before!).  I laid it out on the table and went to bed.

And tossed, and turned, and fidgeted, and huffed and puffed.....

And this morning when I woke up I knew instantly it was wrong.  It's too simple, too basic, too twee.  It's a pretty mini-quilt for my wall, and I'm proud of it for what it represents to me - my first design, my first mini-quilt of it's style, my first applique, etc, but it's just not up to the mark.  It would be like good primary school paintings exhibiting in the Tate gallery!

So, inspiration has struck again this morning, and I'm off now to try and put that idea into practice and hope it's a better result!  Let's just say that relaxation is no longer the theme!

Have a lovely Easter weekend, think of me with my now even messier worktable to clear up, new boxes to fill and curtains to settle down to while my mind churns with my new idea which I can't start yet 'cos I'm missing a fabric!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Disorganised chaos

First job for the long weekend.... find the work table!

Second job, sort out the stash boxes, especially as there's now tonnes of new fabric to somehow fit in there!

Did I say 'job'?  Both sound like a great excuse to while away some hours stroking fabric..... 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Feeling 'sew stitchy' this week.....

So, when I posted about my lovely birthday on Sunday, there was one thing I left out.  The excitement levels made me think this little piece of news deserved it's very own post.

I got a little gift.....

..... from Aneela.....

I was beyond excited, although I might not have shown it too much at the time as I was driving!! 

These are pieces from Aneela's new collection Sew Stitchy, which for those of you who haven't seen them on her blog are themed around sewing.  The gorgeous pieces here include pins, embroidery and chain stitch.

I have the perfect project lined up for them.

I had a lovely new Janome for Christmas from a very generous Santa, and thought it does come with it's own uninspiring white plastic hard cover, it mostly spends its time sitting on my sewing table stark naked!

What better use for a sewing themed fabric than a funky sewing machine cover....

So, I have a couple of other things to get out of the way, not least 9 pairs of curtains (!), but once they're done I'll be getting started.

Huge thanks to Aneela, and I just hope I'll do her gift justice!

Monday, 2 April 2012

What a day!

So, yesterday was my birthday and I wasn't exactly looking forward to the arrival of 45!  However, once I realised it co-incided with the next LMQG meeting and that it was possible the lovely and talented Aneela Hoey might be coming, all of a sudden it seemed like it might be quite a good day after all!

Aneela and I travelled into London together, and were so busy chatting about everything under the sun, the poor sat-nav woman had a job telling us where to go, and it's fair to say we got a bit lost and were a bit late!  Still, I'd gone armed, not only with Aneela, but also the best chocolate brownies in the universe, so I was sure of a warm, if belated welcome.  The rest of the group didn't know Aneela was coming, and their faces were a picture!

However, my day wasn't complete yet.... the lovely Charlotte had made me a pretty little iced fairy cake for my birthday.  I've also got into an expensive habit of ordering a few bits and pieces from the Village Haberdashery for Annie (our group president) to deliver at the meeting so she handed over a very, very, very exciting bag with not just one of my weekly covets, but two!

I'd also ordered a stack of Magical Lands and some lovely embroidery cottons for me to have a play with.

To say I was a happy girl would be an understatement!

We got on with the meeting, including talking about the Siblings Together project.    Judith (Needles & Lemons) has offered to collate some blocks and make them up into a quilt.  I handed over 6 simple log cabin blocks made with Pezzy Print (which I forgot to photo! you can now see on Judith's blog here) so I'm looking forward to seeing them appear in one or more of the final quilts.  If you want to get involved then go over to the Flickr group (linked to above)and sign up.

Our challenge for March had been to make a wonky log cabin or crazy block using the scraps we 'won' in the swap at the beginning of the month. It was incredible to see how, even in a small group of 20, we all had such differing tastes as so many of us commented on how we'd found the received scraps hard to work with as they weren't our style or colours!  I confessed I had shamelessly cheated, as I'd been dying to make something with the Pezzy Prints, and so I used the smallest of one of my scraps and then made up the rest with lovely Pezzy!  I thought it worked really well with the geometric design.

Once the meeting part was done,  the important part of fabric buying started!  So Michael and I trotted through to the back of the shop where I indulged with a few stash boosters - some that will go with existing stock and some that are just too-much-fun-to-leave-on-the-shelf-and-will-come-in-handy-at-some-point!

The afternoon was rounded off  back at Charlotte's lovely house, with a fashion parade of her amazing quilts, a very envious ferret through her drawers (oo-er!) in her quilting shed and a lovely cup of coffee!