Wednesday 31 October 2012

Bloggers' Quilt Festival

Well, I can't believe it's 6 months since the last Festival. Was looking out for this one, then nearly missed it, now I realise I misread the entry dates and am hoping to squeeze this in by the skin of my teeth.
I have spent many hours over the last 6 months making small stuff, inspired by the Zakka sew a long. But, I did also manage a quilt, as a sample for my Autumn classes starting. Meet Topsy, so called as it's the kind of quilt that just keeps growing.
It was in fact a re-incarnation of a quilt I made years ago with a different block in the centre but this time I wanted curves, and I wanted New York Beauty.
 The big NYB in the centre was foundation pieced in four sections and I popped a quarter NYB in each of the four corners.

Most of the fabric was Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow that I got at a good price in the January sales, so much so I had enough for the back too.
I quilted Topsy myself by machine. The quilt measures 60" square and probably fits into the Favourite Throw category, or Favourite Home Machine Quilted Quilt.
If you have popped in from the Festival, thanks for taking a look. And if you have yet to look at the amazing work on show, do go on over, you won't even have to leave your chair for this Show!!

Amy's Creative Side

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Friday 26 October 2012

Tute - A Tiny Tote for a Tiny Tot

Go on, say it fast!!
So, I was "commissioned" recently, by my daughter (best customer), to make some cookies a la Zakka, for the daughter of her friend. The little one is going to be two soon and is having a play kitchen for her birthday, hence the food related gift.
Instead of placing the cookies into a box, I thought a wee shopping bag would fit the bill and it took no time at all - I thought those of you with Tiny Tots on your Christmas Lists might like to see how I usually make my totes. This one finishes up about 7" x 7.5". Once you grasp the technique, you can use it to make big totes, sleeves for gadgets, pouches for rotary cutters, camera cases, spectacle cases - endless possibilities.
Without further ado - here goes with the tutorial.

Ingredients -

8 charms - or you can cut from scraps. Two should be your "focus" squares, perhaps a novelty print.
Lining fabric - 16.5" x 8.5" (about half a fat quarter)
Flat wadding/batting - 18" x 10"
Grosgrain ribbon - I used half inch wide - about 0.5m or 20"

Cut the two focus charms to 4.5" square
Cut one further charm to 4.5" square.
Cut four charms into 8, 2.5" x 4.5" pieces.
Cut one charm into 4, 2.5" squares.

Lay the pieces out as in the diagram below. One focus charm will end up in the centre of the front of the bag, one on the centre of the back. If the charms have a one way design, position the top one facing upwards, and the bottom facing downwards - very thin arrows on the diagram, sorry.
Stitch the patches in each row together, using a 1/4" seam. Press seams in opposite directions from one row to the next. Stitch the rows together, matching the seams as carefully as you can. 
Drat - got a twisted seam - don't look!
Now lay the bag onto your wadding/batting. You can use a temporary adhesive spray, or tack/baste the two layers together or do as I did and just put in a few pins. Quilt as desired (sorry, couldn't resist) I quilted on either side of every seam using a nice, variegated pink thread.

The quilting will have pulled things in a little - trim away excess wadding. Mine ended up measuring 16.25" x 8.25". Trim your lining to the same size.
Cut two pieces of ribbon for the handles, each measuring 10". You could of course, make fabric handles, if you prefer.
I positioned each handle so that the outside edge of the ribbon was level with the seam line. Take care not to twist the handles. Pin and stitch down.
Take your lining and place it over the bag, right sides together with edges nice and even. Pin, and stitch along the short edges. I kept my walking foot on for this and aimed for a 1/4" seam but it's not vital.

Now grab the bag by the lining - carefully press the seams towards the lining just to get everything flat and tidy.

Turn it back so that it's right sides together again, but with the two lining halves face to face, and the two tote pieces, face to face.
Stitch the sides together, leaving a gap of 3" to 4" for turning. In the next pic I have placed a slip of paper on the right to show the approximate gap.
This is a Tiny Tote so I decided not to "box" the corners. I did snip them though to reduce a little bulk.
And now - the birthing moment! Carefully turn the bag through the gap.Close the gap by hand stitching or by machine stitching (that's what I do, as close to the edge as I can.)
And voila! One side..........

and the other,.......

and the cookies? I followed the pattern in the Zakka book, but bonded "icing" shapes onto the felt instead of using beads for sprinkles - safer for a Tiny Tot.

All ready for a teddy bears' picnic

The star of this little picnic is Heather, I think this might be her first time on t'internet...........she is very old, some might say even as old as me! However I don't as yet, spend all day sitting about in a dressing gown!
For those who are interested in such beary things, I believe she might be a Chiltern Ting a Ling bear, circa 1953!
I hope you enjoyed the tute - if you decide to make a Tiny Tote for a Tiny Tot I would love it if you added a photo to my flickr group - bluepatchquilters. 

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Two by Two

Second post of the week - shocker!
Good reason though - yesterday I was really surprised to receive my Mouthy Stitches tote - I am usually stalking the postman but this time he surprised me by arriving in a van & ringing the doorbell!
 This came all the way from, I think, Pennsylvania, (proper quilting country) from Kathy who flickrs under the name TimeCapsules
I love this bag - the colour combination is probably my favourite, I find myself drawn to bundles in these colours when I trawl through online shops. What you can't see in the picture is that behind the pieced section, is a large pocket, as well as there being a wee pocket inside too. The grey fabric is heavyweight so makes a nice, robust bag. And as for the key fob, have you seen anything more delightful? Love it, thanks again Kathy.
Then today, parcel number 2 arrived. This time it was a pincushion for me from Collette, our introductory project in the Brit Bee Stingy.
The picture doesn't really show just how chunky this pinnie is, it will be a really practical one and I just love all the handstitching. She also enclosed a wee embroidered Russian dollie, I know Collette enjoys hand embroidery, I don't tend to do much at all so it was a real treat to receive it. Thanks Collette.
Meanwhile, in the sewing room, progress is being made. I have the second of my ABC workshops on Sunday where the ladies are making a Strippy quilt and will learn how to put their strips together using QAYG techniques. I got my final two strips quilted and in case you think I keep posting the same two strips, here are all six.
While quilting away like a madwoman, this happened.........can you believe it, an empty Aurifil spool!!
                                                       Just as well I had another one waiting!
I am just going to say, by the way, that I buy my Aurifil from Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting. Her Aurifil prices are great and her postage rates fairer than fair.
A lot of quilting has gone into this quilt but it has been a pleasure working with this Velocity fabric, teamed with my favourite Hobbs 80/20 wadding, I had no problems at all, other than achy shoulders!
Today, I treated myself to an hour of ModPop and got another block done - only 22 to go then.

I have two more things to sort of share with you. Well, share might be taking it too far - my friend Delia and I attend our local Quilters' Guild coffee mornings every couple of months. We meet other local quilters and keep up with the gossip. Those of us who went to the Loch Lomond Quilt Show this year remembered an exhibition called Chinese Whispers, comprising 8 or 10 quilts. The first quilt had been made by the quilter after being sent a photograph. Her quilt, but no photo, was sent to the second quilter who made her own quilt, inspired by the first.......and so on. By the time it got to the end, it was so amusing to see how the theme had gone off course. So, at the last coffee morning, our Rep, Tricia, announced that there was going to be another Chinese Whispers exhibition, open to teams of at least will be on display in May 2014, yes the year after next! So D & I threw our hands up enthusiastically, we can do that, great time frame.
However............yep, however, I am number two in our chain and the quilt landed on my doorstep on Saturday!! I have eight weeks to plan and execute my piece of work - yikes!! Of course, it should have been obvious, 8 people x 8 weeks is over a year. Number three is in fact D, and we are sworn to secrecy, I can't discuss my plans with her. In fact I can't discuss my plans at all - but I do have a plan, and I am quite excited about it, and I might just have bought some fabric already. So bear with me - until 2014, lol, and I will show you what I am planning to make.
Meanwhile I have been making another little something, destined for a Christmas pressie. I made it in no time at all and took pics along the way so will be posting a wee tute for you soon. I will try maybe for Friday, but Friday is earmarked for Skyfall, so we'll see.

Monday 22 October 2012

The Interlude

Hands up if you can remember the Interlude - back when TV was in its infancy, as was I..(cough) - the BBC would show short film clips in between programmes - The Interlude.
So, there has been quite an interlude on my blog this month - maybe I should have had a punchy video at the ready?
My lack of posting got to be a bit of a habit, it's not that my laptop was closed for business - I have indeed been keeping up with life on Flickr.
Our fledgling Bee, Brit Bee Stingy has just completed our first little challenge, to make each other a pincushion. I was making for Nicky, Mrs Sew and Sow, and had fun making her one of my mega block pinnies.
Then today, I posted off my tote bag that I made for the Mouthy Stitches 2 swap - can't reveal my partner yet, hope she likes it.
As well as the tote, we were to include a key fob, and I made a couple to start with, I have hardware for several more in the pipeline.
I love entering swaps - it is often quite a challenge coming up with something that will suit your partner, perhaps trying a technique you are not used to doing. Keeping up with the commenting however can become a little time consuming, but it is an important part of it all. I know this as I had a totally silent partner in my first ever swap and it wan't much fun at all!
I also signed up for the ModPop sew a long with Leanne - I am not performing well at all, there always seems to be something else I have to do in the sewing room, but I will get to it, I promise.
As one, two, swaps finished I found myself jumping in to Scrappy Swap 2 - well I was in the first one so it was hard to say no. This one is run by Kat who lives in Perth, Australia - sign ups were to be last Friday, around 11am our time here in the UK, and numbers limited to 40. At  11am I was babysitting a rather fractious baby........I didn't remember the swap until a couple of hours later as I was en route for Glasgow - so my rather abrupt sign up was done for me by my daughter on her IPhone as we motored along, me dictating things like - "modern & bright".."not dull"........etc.

Looking back through my October folder (yes, sad, I know) I won a giveaway on Katy's blog, just before she rushed off to Seattle. It was generously given by Backstitch, so go on and have a look if you fancy a similar, yummy bundle.
Lovely, aren't they? This win inspired me to have a really good sort out of my fabric, oh that did make me feel better.
Now I am back in the saddle, I have a few more things to show you, but I think that is enough for one post.
I have been a bit behind with my blog reading and commenting, my apologies, I am not ignoring anyone, someone seems to have pinched a couple of hours from each day!

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Fresh Week

First of all, thanks to everyone who took the trouble to comment on my last post - it was just the encouragement I needed to start the week!
I finished up my Mouthy Stitches tote without further adjustments and made a couple of key fobs in double quick time. Will keep those pics to myself until I send off the package.
My unpicked baby quilt class sample was re-jigged and pieced, and today I added the applique - it looks so much better, didn't stop to photograph it today but I will soon, I promise. I also got the backing prepped.
Did I mention the sun was splitting the skies all day yesterday, and today! It fairly helps the mood and the motivation.
I got going on the second part of my Velocity Strippy and quilted it thoroughly - thank goodness those Aurifil spools hold 1300m. Today, I quilted 36 x 2m down the strips, and 63 x 44" across......that is a lot of thread!
That is two out of three and the third should be done next week in time for the next workshop at the end of the month.I can't wait to see this one finished, I LOVE this fabric.

While we are on the subject of sunshine, I thought you might like to see another class sample that I have been working on - I have quite a few ladies tackling curved piecing for the first time, on a NY Beauty block. As well as making a finished quilt I like to demo as I go so I made this along with the classes.
Last week I had a think about the quilting and came up with a variation on Sheila's Star. Instead of plotting it out in a square, I fixed some points on the solid circle. When you use Sheila's Star as a quilting pattern you always finish back where you started and for the NYB this meant I could then keep going with the quilting of the pieced arc. So the whole quilting design can be done in one continuous operation, although you are allowed to stop and breathe.

If you would like a copy of this quilting pattern you can download it HERE.

Sunday 7 October 2012


All I want for Christmas is a bottle of confidence. Now many ladies who attend my classes might be surprised to read this!
My week has been full of uncertainty regarding my sewing and I have ended it on a cooking low.......I wonder how many of you have been watching Nigellissima?
Although I find her much changed from years ago, I still watch her programme. I thought I might try to cook along and try her take on Italian dishes. So today it was to be her Italian roast chicken with peppers, served with Orzotto.
I started off by running a bit late, but the chicken was to be cooked at quite a high temperature - my oven is fairly fiery at the best of times so why I thought it would be any different today, defeats me. I should have taken a photo of the charred, nay, cremated peppers.......the chicken was edible.
The Orzotto was Nigella's twist on risotto, made with pearl barley ( have only ever had this in Scotch Broth, which I am not fond of) - however, it was ok.
Not sure I will buy the book.
What surprises me is how flustered I got cooking this - there was a time, not all that long ago when I could cook up a storm for guests in double figures - so what happened??

But back to my sewing.
I have a small waiting list of folks who for one reason or another, were unable to attend my beginners course that started in August. I planned to run a couple of day workshops to accommodate them - booked the dates this week - set about making the sample. I decided it was to be a small quilt, suitable for a baby. It is pieced with 6" squares, a couple of HST patches and will have some applique. This covers most of the bases  
to get going. I had bought the fabric, trying to be reasonably economical and made the top on Thursday.
I hate it, it's far too busy....looked at it for a couple of days and then yesterday spent quite some time unpicking the whole thing.....I plan to ditch the alphabet patches and replace with a solid cream. The pinwheel blocks look a bit silly at the moment but make more sense when the applique is set. I'll show you later.
Meanwhile, Mouthy Stitches - for this swap we have to make a Tote Bag.- we are all following the same pattern, easy peasy. I stalked my partner and decided on my design. I was quite happy, until I scrolled through all the others and felt my confidence seep away...............
 The main part of the bag is made from Essex Linen in quite a bright olive green - the apple theme was inspired by some apple fabric I had and the tree is a bit of texty fabric.
My real doubts are about the lining - this bag is reversible and I would love to have used all apple fabric but didn't have enough - nor did my LQS - so I teamed it with some natural calico................but now I feel like I didn't try hard enough...............................
So I am now offering my partner a choice. I haven't top stitched around the top edge yet, so happy to remake the inner bag - would you prefer it as is, with a combo of the apple and the solid orange, or the orange print??
Now just in case you think I am in a miserable low place, fear not!
I awoke this morning to find I had won a giveaway, hosted by the inimitable Katy - a 6 fat 1/4 bundle from Backstitch, how good is that?
And then , how could anybody be miserable when they have this little 'un for company?
I can't see you.

These last two pics are for Archie - say hello to Wilson, my friend Janet's "Grand-puppy"

Did somebody say grub's up?
Obviously not!!


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