Sunday, 18 December 2016

Festive Greetings

I doubt there will be many more posts before the year end so I shall take this opportunity to post before everything gets out of hand in the last minute madness that is Christmas.
In previous years we bloggers used to post monthly round ups of our work and then perhaps an annual edition. These things seem to have lapsed, and recently on Instagram I have been seeing "my favourite nine" appearing on many feeds.

Well I have made a bit of a montage of a few of my moments of 2016. Not all the makes are mine.

You will see work done by some of my final classes before I retired in March, an image of the quilts made by my classes for Siblings Together, cushions and gifts made for and received from blog friends here and Mega Pinnie that made it into print (my 15 minutes of fame), my foray into a little chair current Bee project.

Centre stage goes to my wee grand daughter and little Beth.

My best wishes to you all.xx

Monday, 14 November 2016

Moving Forward

Gosh, more than a month since my last post, where to begin...........?

SO the Dog's Dinner has been taken down from the design wall and put to one side - I will return to it, I promise but not this year.

I have made good progress on The Wedding Quilt, as it has become known, and have quilted the biggest, central section but the outer sections have also been laid to one side as I have started to pay attention to Christmas sewing.

My sewing room/ spare bedroom has been frightened by a surge of energy not equalled in a very long time and I have purged my books and my Accuquilt so far. Twelve years of classes allowed me to amass a great many things that I will not necessarily continue to use, so I am thinning out a bit, and it feels good.

There has been great sadness this month that I am going to share as many of my former students will wish to know that little Beth passed away at the beginning of the month. It was Beth's story that inspired our fundraising in April for our very last Open Day and she defied all the medics by surviving two months beyond her fourth birthday. She was a wee girl with a big heart and lots of spirit.

During her palliative care, a new charity (MEMORIES ARE BETTER THAN DREAMS) was set up by a doctor and nurse within Ayrshire & Arran NHS, a charity that helps families of terminally ill children - this help can be in very small ways, it can be help to buy a headstone, practical help for a single parent, it is a fledgling charity that won Charity of the Year locally and Team Beth will continue to fundraise to support its work.

And with impeccable timing I had a wee light bulb moment over the weekend.

Our local Ayrshire Quilters' Quilt Exhibition came to an end yesterday and today I picked up my exhibits - I had considered offering them for sale during the exhibition, but in the end baulked at the high commission charge.
So I thought maybe it was meant to be - instead I would try to sell them now and pledge a share to go to this new charity, and that is just what I'll do. So I shall list them here and on FB. I have decided not to put them on to my online shop as I'll try to keep costs down and avoid commission along the way.
So if by any chance there is anyone interested please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

1. This first quilt is a former class sample - it measures 54" x 73", front & back is 100% cotton and the batting is Hobbs 80/20. It currently has a hanging sleeve attached but I can easily remove this if you wish.
I am asking £120 including P&P anywhere and from this I pledge £50 to Memories are Better than Dreams if sold

2.  This next one is a wallhanging - "A Bridge Too Far" my interpretation of the two Forth Bridges for a Loch Lomond Quilt Show challenge. Measuring 24" x 25" it too is made of 100% cotton back & front with Hobbs 80/20 batting. It has penny weights attached to the bottom corners for beautiful hanging quality.
I am asking £40 + P&P (to be decided) with £40 pledged to Memories are better than Dreams if sold.


3. Another wallhanging - this one I called Colours of Oz as it was made following a workshop with the wonderful Gloria Loughman. It measures 20" x 24" is 100% cotton and again I used Hobbs 80/20 batting.
I am asking £30 + P&P (to be confirmed) with £30 pledged to Memories are Better than Dreams  if sold.

4. And lastly, my Rozelle Remembrance piece that features one of the fabulous images of the WW1 wooden carved statues that stand in Rozelle park as a tribute to the WW1 soldiers. Made in 100% cotton in little log cabin blocks, it is mainly machine quilted but also features and area of hand quilting. Batting is Hobbs 80/20. Measures 20"
I am asking £30 + P&P (to be confirmed), with £30 pledged to Memories are Better than Dreams, if sold.

All wall hangings come complete with hanging sleeve or corners for you to pop a dowel into.

Thank you for looking and if none of this is for you maybe you might like to visit the Memories donate page and make your own donation?

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Meals for Animals

I haven't decided yet on a title for my current project - so far, Dog's Dinner and Pig's Breakfast come to mind. I wonder why we think of animal meals when we are a little unhappy with our work.

So, what am I moaning about? Well it's a long and boring tale - I'll try and be brief. I started a BOM back in late 2014 with the launch of Today's Quilter. It was a project designed by Jen Kingwell whose work I greatly admire and I was still heady from finishing (well, finishing the top) of "My Small World".
Jen's designs are perfect for scrap quilts and as with MSW, I found I could lose myself in the choosing and throwing together of scraps, some so old they brought back memories of where they were purchased, which other quilts they had been part of, you know how it goes..........

As the months rolled on, it became obvious that it wasn't an ordinary BOM - indeed some months demanded several blocks and it was at times quite demanding upon time.

Not all blocks were the same size which only added to the intrigue. Month 9 was a struggle - 8 x 12" blocks but I managed these and mentioned it HERE. I did start to struggle a bit and made a start to month 10 but then when month 11 was published there was a bit of a bolt  out of the blue. We had to return to 4 of the 12 blocks we had made in month 2 and add strips to them..............only thing was, I had only made one. So had my friend. I checked the magazine and let's face it, an omission is understandable in such a young magazine. It was enough to scunner me though and I put the whole project on the back burner. I reckoned nobody was holding a gun to my head and I could take my time.
Month 12 came with another 4 blocks to be made and then last month we had the big reveal which was as suspected, a large medallion quilt with 4 month 1 blocks in dead centre Pity I had only made one..........
So I set to, now about 36 blocks short of a quilt, and made the missing three blocks. I think my heart might not have been truly in it although I did go through all the motions. The blocks were made using templates (my most unfavourite technique)) and the finished results with multiple Y seams I think highlight my poor, poor attention to detail when (a) cutting the templates and (b) cutting the fabric. My resulting bowl shaped blocks just will not pass muster and have to go! 

So - should I abandon ship completely? No! I had a look at the instructions for assembly and the centre of the quilt measures 24" finished. Well, I have a few Big Blocks stored from previous workshops - I dug them out and found one that wasn't quite to size.......indeed it wasn't strictly mine but had come to me as a pile of HSTs from a former student, along with a piece of co ordinating fabric. Hmmm. I had, a few months ago, trimmed and squared the HSTs and assembled them into a Big Block and today I added narrow borders to bring it up to 24 1/2".

I looked at the final quilt layout plan to see how many blocks still needed to be done, and was there some way of maybe using up some orphans instead - I dug out my "orphan drawer" and came across a small log cabin quilt top that I must have made, oh, about 15 years ago. I was so eager to unpick it that I didn't take a picture but I have just found the plan for it in my old EQ5 files.

The blocks were 7 1/2" so I unpicked them and resized to 6 1/2". And would you believe it, I need 8, and I had 8. Just goes to show things do come in handy sometimes.
So here is a progress shot of my "Kitchen Sink Drama" -  Despite one or three other irritating issues, I am quite enjoying it again.

Changing the subject, briefly - as those of you who follow my blog know, I have a small online shop. Actually, I have two. One, administered by Eckwid to sell my Aurifil threads and the other is my Etsy shop, which pre-dates the first but I retain it as they deal with the difficulties of VAT and digital selling.
If I was a snazzy, on the ball saleswoman, I might have anticipated that Christmas was around the corner and tried some advance marketing but no, I admit it was a chance sale in my Etsy shop recently, of my Tree Skirt pattern that made me think, "oh yes, that'd be a good thing to offer for Christmas". So I am and it is.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Special Offer

Just nipping in quickly to let those of you who don't follow on IG or FB, all about my special offer.

While stocks last, all my large spools of AURIFL 40wt thread will be reduced to £7 each.
 This is an extremely competitive price and if you combine with my FREE P&P on sales over £25 then it makes it almost irresistible!

You will find all my threads in my shop HERE

Have a good week.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Indian Summer

I have been meaning to share this really simple tip for ages - in my role as Aurifil sales person I have been asked many times this seemingly simple question - how to find the start of the thread!

Ladies who cope with vast computerized sewing machines become stumped, and feel a wee bit silly because they can't find the start of the thread on the spools. So if this might be you, and no need to admit to it - here is the answer.

All you need to do is gently twist the base of the spool off - the thread end will be obvious to you now. Replace base carefully and proceed. Simples.

In the last month since I posted, I have done a little sewing but the surprise Indian Summer has kept productivity fairly low.
I decided it was about time my Kindle got a cover - I don't take it out of the house much but recently scratched the protective film when it was in my handbag, so heeded the warning! I had just enough of this interesting linen in my stash and teamed it with an acidic Kona cotton. it's a real no frills cover, just a sleeve with a flap to close but all I need.

I also did a little catch up on the BOM from Today's Quilter that has been more of a slog than I anticipated. The current issue reveals the final layout and has given me a necessary jolt to get back with the programme. I am currently making three more blocks to join month one's block - these will form the centre of a medallion quilt. In this photo I am playing with a loose layout and think I'll have to take out the very dark green star segments, they are not doing it for me at all.

And my other major project is the wedding quilt for my son & his fiancee. No rush as the wedding isn't until next July - I have kept my piecing very, very simple and am planning to QAYG in three large sections - this will be a super king. I have made a start on the quilting after prevaricating as always. Once I actually start quilting it isn't so bad but i do loathe scrambling about on all fours to do the pinning stage! Photos will feature later. (not of me on scrambling on the floor!)

For those of you who live within travelling distance of Ayr you might be interested in this exhibition of work by Ayrshire Quilters. I am just in from the preview and it's a super exhibition. Rozelle has a lovely tea room, parklands to stroll in (don't miss the WW1 Trail) and is a 5 minute walk from Alloway Village and Burns Cottage - you could make a day of it!!

I am going to end today's post as I started, on the subject of Aurifil. I have added a few more colours to the shop and these are just a few of the lovely greens and blues.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Power of Blogging

I had to check first, but I started this blog in September 2009, if I'm honest I wasn't even sure what a blog was and thought it might become a useful platform for the ladies in my classes to interact and keep in touch.

As it evolved I became friendly with other bloggers and discovered the world of swaps and bees and became enthralled and re-energised by the whole modern quilting movement.

That said, I also learned to do English Paper Piecing, a technique I had previously ignored and had no plans to dabble in - but Lynn's Hex a Long drew me in and through the friendly Flickr group I became friendly with Helen, her well loved blog is archiethewonderdog. I eventually finished my Hexie quilt having loved the infinite variations on piecing the hexagon.. I was also able to pass this new obsession on to my classes.

Fast forward to 2012 and me and Mr Bluepatch were embarking upon a trip Down Under - enter Helen, who suggested I look up Salley, not a blogger but she is on IG as appliqueensal. We exchanged a few emails and were all set for meeting up at the Sydney Quilt Show that year. Alas, it was not to be. I take full responsibility for my poor grasp of technology - and so we missed each did not deter us however, and a firm online friendship followed.
So last year, great news - Salley and applikingdave were heading for the UK - she and I were booked in for the Stitch Gathering in Edinburgh and then disaster - Salley had a fall and broke her ankle really badly. Their whole trip was cancelled.............and re-scheduled for August this year.

And that leads us nicely to Glasgow Central railway station last Monday as we nervously awaited our Aussie visitors. They arrived, having spent almost a week in Orkney so it was now up to us to give them a warm, Ayrshire welcome, sprinkled with a little overview of Glasgow,courtesy of the rather chilly open topped bus. I reckon over the next four days that Salley and I rarely drew breath. Fortunately our menfolk got on famously and a good time was had by all....despite the low temperatures.

Of course, I had planned a present for Salley , really a belated birthday gift. I had a stash of Lewis and Irene's "The Glen" and made her this cushion - I was aiming for a little touch of Scotland.

 & the back,

Salley and I have often remarked upon how much we have in common and we obviously had similar thoughts because she wowed me with this cushion....and yes, she did indeed bring it all the way from Sydney, complete with inner pad. Isn't it fabulous? Such attention to detail, beautiful fussy cutting and the pom poms are adorable.

From Ayr, the four of us set off in our red car, to Redcar, where we finally got to meet Helen and of course, Archie, I was so pleased to finally shake his paw (or at least scratch his ear) and it was just brilliant, the three of us together at last.
More present swapping took place - I had used more of "The Glen" in a slightly different colourway and made Helen this cushion -

& the back,

Helen had made me not one, but two Lola pouches in different sizes - they are just beautiful and she remembered I had a red & blue thing going on in my sewing room. Perfect.

 Our time together was limited and on Friday lunchtime we bade farewell as Salley and David headed for Birmingham and me & Mr B headed home via Durham.

So although blogging has been overshadowed somewhat by the instant gratification of Instagram, I shall always be glad that I took the plunge and started this one.

To quote Salley - who I feel might have pinched the quote from elsewhere (wink)- "when shall we three meet again?"

Thursday, 4 August 2016

By Popular Demand

Back in February I had my 15 minutes when my Mega Pinnie was featured in Today's Quilter.

It has always been a popular project and I have lost count of the emails I have received asking for the pattern - I am now delighted to say I am able to offer the updated and improved pattern with you.

You will now find the pattern available to purchase in my Etsy shop. It is a PDF purchase and consists of 8 pages of easy to follow instructions and diagrams.

Hope you like it.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Normal Service.............

....................has been resumed.

My shop is now open again after a brief closure whilst I attended a local quilt show with my pop up shop.

The exhibition was held in the little village of Barr which nestles in the hills of South Ayrshire and is a total delight on a sunny, summer's day.

Held by the Stinchar Valley Quilters, it was a great exhibition of quilts, cushions, wall hangings, all the usual culprits, all made by members of this close and tight knit group of ladies.

So this is my little pop up shop............

And here is a flavour of all the work on show. There were also two major traders on site, one, R&M Hobbies from Dunbar and the other, I'm afraid I can't recall their name, but loads of quilty goodness, from Doncaster - so if any of you local ladies haven't been there is still time to attend tomorrow.

So, a lovely day was had by all - well done ladies, you put on a very professional show and your hospitality was second to none - yum.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Shop Stuff

My shop will be closed on Saturday 30th July as I will be away at a Quilt Exhibition - I will however be back for business on Sunday 31st and any orders will be posted out on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 22 July 2016


So I had good reason to be cheerful as Andy Murray went on to lift the Wimbledon trophy for the second time - I particularly enjoyed the film montage showing his progress from a young player to the fine sportsman that he is today.
The first time I recall hearing about him was when he won the US Open - Juniors, and probably the mention that he was Scottish made my ears prick up - it's great to have a national sporting hero and following Andy's progress has elevated our interest in tennis from just watching Wimbledon for two weeks a year to becoming interested in many different competitions.

Our weather certainly cheered up when we enjoyed summer for a day with high temperatures not often enjoyed in these parts.Unfortunately, the high daytime temperatures also gave us high overnight ones making it almost impossible to sleep well. Since our one day summer we have experienced much rain, and what we would describe here as - clammy weather.

In sewing I have continued with the Rozelle project from my last post, it's a whisker from finished and I'll be sure to share a finished photo with you when it is.

A bigger project which was started and finished was the recovering of our dining chairs. We picked up a super quality G Plan dining table & six chairs locally, via Gumtree. I think the chairs had previously been recovered but I was keen to get rid of the dull fabric and the old foam padding - I really couldn't have done it without the help of Mr Bluepatch - he laboured long with his pliers and gained one or two blisters removing the hundreds of staples...........

I ordered some foam and wadding from a very helpful eBay site and used fabric purchased at our Open Day back in April. I had to buy extra to allow for pattern matching and the carvers being a bit bigger. Once again, Mr B helped, weilding the electric staple gun this time.

And here is how they turned out - I also made a little cushion for Ava's Ikea chair and I plan to use some leftover fabric to make a seat pad for another old chair that I have that had to be used last weekend when numbers required it.

        So, quite hard work, but so worth it - I love them and I reckon they look a lot cheerier.

I have also been working on a couple of projects that I won't be able to share for a few weeks, and then today I found myself with some unexpected time so I got all my Today's Quilter BOM blocks and magazines out and made a start on catching up. The latest edition landed on my doormat this week and I am hoping we have now received all the instructions so that I can finish off this project.

And finally, as usual, an Aurifil plug - this week I added a few more colours to my shop...........

Next Saturday (30th) I shall be attending The Stinchar Valley Quilters' Exhibition with my wee Aurifil Pop Up shop so for all you local ladies who like to see what they are buying why not have a day out in the lovely village of Barr, Nr Girvan. The exhibition is on both Saturday and Sunday and will be held in Barr Village Hall from 10 - 4. Admission is £3 which includes tea, and I believe - cake!!

For those of you who are unable to attend, enjoy free P&P on orders over £25 (EU & UK)

Have a lovely weekend.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful

1. Charlotte won the Great British Sewing Bee and watching her progress and her eventual win was feel good tv. Congratulations to Charlotte.

2. Andy Murray is in the Wimbledon final - the mens' quarter finals possibly shaved moments off our lives but it was magic to watch - just wish there was a slightly longer gap between the high profile matches so we could at least get the tatties on!

3. Sewing - yes, for everything else, there is always sewing.

I have completely ignored my BOM and will return to it later.

Ayrshire Quilters are having an exhibiton in Rozelle House, Ayr, in September/October. We have been asked to make a piece of work, no bigger than 20" square, inspired by Rozelle.
The house itself stands in large parkland, fringed by woods, only a stone's throw from where I live - We are very lucky to have a second large park / golf course almost adjacent to Rozelle so  we often take a walk through both parks in our efforts to make our 10,000 steps!

In the last year, some of the wooded areas have been cleared and the most wonderful tree sculptures have appeared, to commemmorate WW1, the work of someone very skilled with a chainsaw!

That is my Rozelle - and I came up with a wee plan to represent my "Walk in the Woods"

The basic plan was 20 little log cabin blocks, each finishing at 4" square - Lots of greens with a brown "path" of 5, four patch blocks running through diagonally.

In the top right section, the logs were made up of slightly bigger, and therefore fewer, strips and had centres of pale blue - the sky!

All the other log cabin blocks were made up of skinnier strips and had centres of fuchsia or purple - these colours remind me of the beautiful rhododendrons that are so prolific in the park in early summer.

The bottom left corner consisted of four log cabin blocks, pieced in a more considered fashion, marrying brighter greens with creams/whites and arranged to produce a central area to accommodate a bit of applique.

The applique is a simple silhouette of the Scottish soldier - I printed off the picture of the soldier, fiddled about with the size, then traced his outline on to Bondaweb, then used some plain black fabric for the actual applique. My daughter thinks it is a woman, my grand daughter thinks it is a dolly........

And here is the top, all stitched together. At this point, like many of you I am guessing, I instantly feel I am going to spoil it by moving on to the next stage - the quilting! But I plodded on. I quilted all the green/brown log cabins in my twisted log cabin quilting pattern, and the four patches with my usual, unimaginative "Sheila's Star". For the applique area I did some straight line quilting and then decided to fill in with seed stitching by hand - I haven't finished this yet but decided to go on to straighten and bind yesterday while I had the time. I used a magenta batik from my stash to bind and also popped a hanging sleeve on.

I have really enjoyed the process of taking this challenge from an idea to a quilt. For those of you interested in such matters, all of the fabric came from my scrap stash - I might have finally wiped out my green scraps.........I used the following threads to piece, and quilt -

L to R - Aurifil 2325 (so useful, blends with lots of colours), Gutermann 9938, Aurifil 1240, 
Aurifil 5023

Which leads nicely on to a question for you - what is your favourite Aurifil shade, considering the huge variety available, that is a tricky question. But, is there one that you consider a staple for you, one that you return to again and again? For example, I wouldn't be without col 2600 - Dove - such a pale grey I use it sometimes instead of white if I can't be bothered changing bobbins or top thread.......
Another one that I have grown to love is Col 2847 - Bright Grey Blue. I have long considered grey thread to be so clever, blending with many colour themes. It often is the answer to your quilting thread dilemmas. 2847 takes it to another level, blending with so many colour schemes. I only have it in stock at the moment in 40wt. 
And just a reminder that there is free shipping on orders of £25 and over (UK/EU) in my shop.

Have a great weekend and...........C'mon Andy!!


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