Sunday, 19 April 2015

Blocks, blocks, blocks.

I thought March was busy but April has proved to be pretty hectic too, mainly to do with home improvements but thankfully the workmen have now all departed and there is just the cleaning still to be done as the dust settles.......oh joy!

Despite the mayhem I did manage a couple of sewing sessions and am thrilled to have finished the first Bee a Brit Stingy row, for Lucy. Her plan is a quilt for her wee boy which will look like a forest, she asked for Flying Geese and I came up with this. It measures 12.5 x 48.5. I do enjoy foundation piecing but oh, not the ripping out of the paper..............

One of my planned workshops for next year is called Going Large. On the day we will construct a block, a big one, like this - this measures 24" (finished). My aim is for students to use it as a jumping off point to explore other big block options with a view to making nine of them, enough really for a double quilt. This year my students made their quilts using QAYG techniques and using this new skill on these blocks would be a doddle.

My own intention is to slowly work through my scraps & stash making blocks as the fancy takes me. I think for a link I will use white in every block.This next one won't be universally liked but I made it for several reasons.
Say hello to my Big Granny.

This will not appeal on several fronts - the use of BROWN, the inclusion of batik fabric etc.
But here's the thing - I have boxes of precut scraps from last summer when I went through my organisational period (!!) The granny patches were 4.75" square so I pulled ready cut charms from these boxes. I don't have many batiks left, I don't hate batiks like mostly everyone in blogland, but, I do think they are tricky to marry with other fabrics. The other obvious fabrics in this big block are the Aboriginal prints. Now these bring back my wonderful holiday to Oz in 2012 where despite our best attempts, my friend and I were unable to find any Aboriginal fabric. Despite our not brilliant attempts, we were also unable to make contact with blog pal, Salley. On our return to the UK a package arrived from Salley containing the above fabrics. One of the things I love about quilting is looking back and enjoying the memories that different fabrics evoke. So for the above block, not even in a quilt yet, I will always think of my UK pal and my Aussie pal, all of us Grannies, and smile.
And to make you smile, here is a gratuitous pic of my lodger cat, Colin. He has learned to appreciate quilts in a very short time.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Open Day 2015

So despite rain, hailstones and computer problems, the Open Day happened, it was a great day and for those of you unable to come along or those blog followers who live far away, here is my annual slideshow. Fortunately, I managed to photograph many of the quilts prior to Sunday which was just as well as despite making sure that my camera battery was well charged, my memory card filled up rather quickly!!

Edit - when you hover over the play button, the big P for Pinterest appears, click just outside the P to be taken to the slideshow!

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In excess of 100 lovely people braved the foul weather to come and see this year's quilts. 30 of our "Modern Samplers" were on display - I really think my students have excelled themselves this year, the standard of work was just so high.
The Viewers' Choice this year was a lovely quilt made by Ann MacNeill - what viewers didn't realise was that Ann has actually made two identical quilts for a pair of single beds. You will have seen one the slideshow, Ann quilted her quilt using a twin needle and I suspect this tipped everyone's vote - it looked stunning. This year I asked my ladies to give me a maker's statement and this added an extra point of interest. Here is what Ann said on hers -

This quilt was inspired by the material which a friend of mine presented me with on her return from a holiday in the USA.
This made me think of American blocks such as Bears Paw, Underground Railroad and Crossroads. I thought the material and these blocks would go well together. With a few other blocks here is the result.

So, interestingly, the most popular quilt leaned towards the traditional and another that wasn't too far behind was the Underground Railroad sampler, by Amanda, a beauty, made with Downton Abbey fabrics.

The main feature of my course was for the blocks to be floated on a bigger than usual expanse of background fabric which I think leads to a more contemporary look, and of course all but two students used quilt as you go to assemble three or four quilted panels into one quilt. The two student rebels chose to hand quilt
As usual, we had our Bring and Buy Stall selling donated books, quilting magazines and this year, several large donations of fabric - sales from all of this plus teas & coffees gave us a grand total of £630 which today, I have handed over to Ayrshire Carers.

All that's left for me to say is a huge THANK YOU to all my students for continuing to support my classes, and to my lovely volunteers who helped organise and make Sunday such a successful day.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Before another month disappears...

I will try a quick post.
First of all, many thanks for all the lovely comments I had about the Princess and the Pea quilts - the gift was well received by an over excited three year old and had stiff competition from a b i k e!! However, she was tickled pink by the hidden pea and two weeks later has bonded nicely with the little Princess. Job done.

March has gone by in a blur - my classes all coming to an end for the current session, enduring a seemingly never ending virus and having a couple of indulgent days out.
The first was a trip to the SECC in Glasgow for the Quilt & Stitching Show - although we enjoyed our day well enough I did feel the quilt part was over hyped in advance and with the demise last year of the Loch Lomond Quilt Show, some of us felt the gap was to be filled in a bigger way. The quilts on show were indeed worth the trip and those traders who were there deserved every sale they got. Much of our griping really had to do with the organisation - usually this show takes place in 2 large halls with most of the papercrafts in one - this year everything was in one hall and it all felt terribly cramped.
Hopefully organisers will pay heed to the multitude of complaints that I believe they received.

Last Saturday was a much more enjoyable experience as friend Janet and I motored through to Edinburgh for a Screen Printing class with the lovely Karen from Karen Lewis Textiles. The class was held in Jo's shop, MyBearpaw and we had such a super day. I have wanted to try screen printing for so long, not sure why I haven't really - Karen was a brilliant and encouraging teacher and we both came away determined to do more..........

As I mentioned already, classes are coming to a close this week and on Sunday my annual Open Day will take place - if any of you local peeps are at a loose end, do come along, we will be in Alloway Village Hall, from 11 - 3 and as well as a Craft Stall, we have a Bring & Buy stall with sewing related items, and teas/coffees with home baking. All proceeds from the teas & B&B will be going this year to Ayrshire Carers.

My ladies have all been working so hard to finish up this year's project, a QAYG Modern Sampler - I have been busy photographing quilts but will keep you in suspense just a wee bit longer.
Meanwhile I can show you mine - as well as making a single sized sample in advance of the course, I decided to make another along with the classes, this time a double. Mixing things up a bit, I used a b&w spotty background fabric to show off my bright selection of prints, many are Kate Spain designs and the quilt will be destined for an 18th birthday, next January. For once, I am well ahead of the game.

Quilting on those spots with black thread was not the easiest thing I have ever done.

Looking forward to April................................

Monday, 2 March 2015


as promised, all 20 little quilts for the Princess & The Pea project that I decided upon nearly 2 years ago. The fairy tale was always a favourite (of mine) and I thought it would be a fun project for grand daughter Ava - she's going to be 3 next week so my pace was quite slow. The fairytale princess slept on 20 mattresses so I have just translated that into 20 wee quilts, not all have been made by me. Let me show you, in no particular order.

The left of each twosome shows the front of the quilt and on the right, the back. The first one here was a lovely prize from a Sew Mama Sew Giveaway - it was made by AnnMarie, who blogs at Run and Sew took me quite a while to decide to use it as a Princess quilt. When I started the project I thought I would be making all of the quilts to a specific size and then I realised that they didn't need to be. Different sizes just adds to the comfy, eclectic feel of the project.
The 2nd quilt is an old class sample from about 2005 - it has a Pineapple block in the middle, 4 Courthouse Steps blocks and 4 regular Log Cabins. An unremarkable back to this one.

The next one, on the left was made with scraps from my Mod Pop quilt I made in 2013. And below that is one of the quilts made by my Bee a Brit Stingy friends, last year. I requested a couple of little blocks that I would use for this project and this one uses Bright Hopes blocks, teeny ones. I also requested some charms that I could piece for the back.

Next one, on the left was made by my friend Janet - she loves to piece with tiny scraps and gave this one to me Christmas before last. I hope you can see the heavy quilting and lovely effect from being washed and tumbled. Below that one is a Feather block - I think this was the first block I made in the Stingy Brits and I made an extra when I saw the size it turned out. (about 18" long)

Next up is my other Stingy Brit mini from last year, I love this one, full of Wee Grannies.
Below that is my mini Mile a Minute quilt with little 3" blocks made from the scrappiest of scraps.

The first one below started life as a bit of improv piecing by friend Janet - she passed it onto me for the princess and I trimmed it, layered it up and had a play at FMQ. The one below that, I made from some charms that I won from Reene at Nellie's Niceties many months ago. They are all 30s style so I kept them altogether and pieced them in a sort of brick fashion. The backing was a similarly themed fat 1/4, included in the win.

A mini Trip Around the World comes next and was pieced with more scraps from my Mod Pop quilt.
This is followed by a sample piece of Crazy Patchwork that I made for the first Stitch Gathering, in 2013.

Next is another Crazy sample, machine pieced, but hand quilted. 
And then a little EPP. The blue hexies were a wee kit that we received in our Stitch Gathering goodie bag and I used all of them to me the A. (for Ava)

A trio of Cora Dantini panels next. These were simply "bagged" and then hand quilted over many sewing bee evenings. Such beautiful artwork.

For those of you still with me, nearly there..........first up below, is my Heather Ross Princess & the Pea fabric quilt. I had a fat quarter, kept it simple and used it on the back too.
The one below that, I made from scraps using my Accuquilt tumbler die - I really enjoy using this die, its design makes it so easy to piece. I backed it with some leftover 1001 Peeps fabric which featured heavily in Ava's baby quilt.

and finally, the one I shall have on top of the pile, made using a 10" panel bought at the Festival of Quilts in 2013, from a French trader. Using colours from the panel I simply log cabin-ed around, & bagged it with a cheery backing. I am reliably informed by Christelle (one of my students who happens to be French) that the phrase on the panel translates into "I have had enough!!"
I hoped to post this a few days ago but my lovely, sunny photo shoot of the quilts on the bed was taken with no card in the camera. (Katy has her work cut out with me in her camera challenge)
Since then we have had hail, snow, rain and possibly a plague of locusts so today, I succumbed to an indoor shoot. March has truly come in like a lion.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Katy's Camera Challenge

Back in the New Year, Katy announced a Camera Challenge to help hapless souls like me to make more of our cameras.
Last year, I moved on from a point and shoot camera to what I believe is a bridge camera, I think somewhere between a point and shoot and a proper DSLR model.
Mine is a Sony Nex C3 and my main reason for buying it was a desire to take better quilt pics. Jury is still out on that one although I think I have some pretty good people snaps.
I think my undoing was that the purchase coincided with a phone upgrade and the phone cameras are so quick to use, always in your pocket or bag...........

But, I want to learn and Katy is taking tremendous trouble to put together challenges and give hints on good practice so I am determined to try and be a model pupil.

I am a little late with my first assignment though - my blog reading has suffered this month as life around here has become just a tad more hectic of late. But yesterday I managed a couple of quick shots. Our challenge was to take some photos using our automatic mode and then try again using the more specific pre set options, landscape, portrait etc. I haven't so far tried the sports mode which is for moving objects or people. So here are my results.

Landscape taken using "Intelligent auto" (not necessarily matching my abilities)
Please ignore signpost - I really was pressed for time, could have cropped it out but trying to be honest here.

And here it is again, using pre set landscape mode.........

What do you think? I am not seeing much difference.

Moving on swiftly to portrait, maybe I should have been going for more of a close up but here is Intelligent auto............

and portrait mode...............

Obviously "my subject" moved position but I think number two is ever so slightly clearer.
These were taken in late afternoon sunshine shortly before a stonking hail shower.
Location - the Millennium Footbridge over the mouth of the River Doon, in Ayr.
Hopefully I will try and do the Sports Mode too, maybe over the weekend. In the meantime, to avoid detention, I am going to link this quickly to Katy's Camera Challenge 2015.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Going Large

Well I had hoped to post a bit more frequently but life is a bit hectic and I'll need to be satisfied with as and when I can manage.
I have a bit of time at the moment but as luck would have it, BT Mail is playing up and I am having trouble receiving emails  downloading attachments before my connection drops out. It is so frustrating as I have sent myself pics from my phone for this post. I'll concentrate on the words for now. (edit; it's taken most of the day on & off but have made it!)

So, January - managed a bit of sewing. I made a start on my Bee a Brit Stingy Row by Row quilt. The first row is for ourselves and I really liked the NY Beauty in one of my Pinterest pics. But I wanted to experiment a bit and drew up a square block inspired by the points of a NY Beauty. The trial block ended up in the bin - too many points coming together creating a big lumpy mess.
Take two - not too bad so I soldiered on and got my row completed.

I have asked my Bee mates for a basically black and white scheme with one extra colour of choice in each row, in each block. Background to be black or white in alternate rows and I am happy with greys being thrown into the mix. Funny to think I won't see this row back until about this time next year....

I have also been beavering away on my class quilt, quilting the four panels that will come together QAYG style to make a double version of my Modern Sampler quilt.
In an update to my last post regarding backing, I am regretting my choice of the Ikea duvet cover - it was cheap, it felt cheap and well, I just wish I had bought better stuff. It quilted fine, but I doubt it'll stand the test of time and when you consider the time and cost that goes into making a quilt top, it probably deserves something a bit better quality.
I should've known better...............

Yesterday I managed to make a whole quilt - it took me about an hour. Yes, you guessed - it's another for the Princess and the Pea project. I have been working on this wee project for over a year in a very relaxed manner. I want to make 20 little quilts to adorn an Ikea dollie's bed for Grand daughter Ava's 3rd birthday. The birthday is now only 6 weeks away so I need to pull out the proverbial finger now and finish them up - I think I have 3 to go. yesterday's was made quickly from slicing up a Heather Ross fat 1/4 and adding in strips of another fat 1/4 that I have been hoarding because I loved its colours. Not a lot of measuring took place and I bagged rather thank bound. Needs must. I will, I promise do a separate post to show all 20.

On Sunday, in Alloway Village Hall, directly opposite Robert Burn's Cottage, I held my first workshop of the year. It was 25th January, Burn's Birthday and I suppose we should have been taking part in the Haggis Hurling, but believe me, I think we were happier sewing. The workshop was one of my Accuquilt ones, using diecut animals to make a baby quilt.

The ladies had fun cutting,


                                                                 They made quite a mess,


                               Some got carried away and seemed to be planning a Safari Park,

Quilt tops were created,

And not a pink elephant in sight - just lilac giraffes.

                                                       Great fun was had by all.

                                              And finally, remember my Mega Pinnie?

Somebody always has to go one better - it really was more like a small pouffe, no end to the variations on a theme. Coffee mug in the pic is for scale, honest!!

Little & Large.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sewing Again

Isn't it good to get back into a routine after endless days of holidays, chocolate & Christmas cake!!

I made a gentle start to my sewing by making two Bee Blessed blocks. The January block is Maple Leaf and Judith has a great tutorial on her blog. Pity I didn't pay more attention to it!! My blocks are straight & square but were snapped lying on the back of a settee so they look a bit weird. I am trying hard to use the pre cut, useful fabric that I organised last summer and pulled what I thought was perfect for these blocks. I decided to compromise and have a contrasting stalk, so far so good. However, I hadn't looked out the 3 x 4.5" print squares and of course, didn't have enough to complete without adding in the little imposter, and I had already made the HSTs.............hope it's ok.

Next I want to share a great tip - during this next term, my students will be joining the blocks of their Modern Sampler quilt and getting ready to Quilt As You Go. I have always tried to encourage a bit of creative thinking when it comes to backing fabric in an effort to save the pennies. Those of you in the US will be shocked to learn that craft cotton here in the UK is averaging the best part of $22m - totally not an economical option for backing. I have seen loads of gorgeous quilts over the last couple of years appear in blogs, with backings made from the ever popular Ikea number fabric - secretly I felt I was slipping dangerously towards recruitment for the Quilt Police because I have looked at this fabric a couple of times and turned my nose up at it.
About a year ago my friend Janet, clever girl, took herself off to Ikea in search of ideal backing and opted for a duvet cover. Now this is just genius because you basically get twice the fabric for your money. A double duvet cover is 2m x 2m and you get both sides, that is a lot of fabric.
So I threw caution and prejudice to the wind and took a trip too. And got this -

I grabbed the double duvet cover at £15, not realising until I got home that the quilt that I am making is 84" long! You might be noticing a pattern in my approach to projects............
Anyway, inspiration struck and I unpicked a couple of the pillowcases that were included and would you believe an unpicked pillowcase measured 70" wide!! So I have joined sections on to the panels I have cut ready to layer up.

Onward, ever onward.


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