Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Operation Christmas Child 2014

Just wrapped my Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoebox in Christmas paper. 
Quite a fiddly job but it looks alright - I think!

Always amazed how many small gifts I can squeeze into a shoebox. 
Totals 21 this year:

Little teddy and his quilt
Patchwork tote bag
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Pencil case & pack of pencil crayons, sharpener, set of erasers shaped like animals, mini gel pens
Box of chubby wax crayons
Pad of coloured drawing paper
Pretty tin with soap inside
Knitted scarf & beanie set
2 packets of sweets
Soft Mini Mouse ball
Pack of 3 fancy  hair  bobbles

So, all ready to be packed back into the shoebox. I know they will all fit inside as I did a trial pack before I covered the box.
I have aimed my box at a little 2-4 year old girl so I hope it brings some Christmas joy to whoever gets my gift.  It is sent with love. 

Friday, 17 October 2014


I am very into recycling. I have never been comfortable with throwing anything away, probably because I was born a couple of years after the end of WWII. No one threw anything away, food scraps, veggie peelings etc were fed to the chickens, anything extra was exchanged with neighbours
(we had chickens and Dad swapped eggs with honey from bee keeping neighbours and sugar ration coupons with another neighbour who didn't have a sweet tooth). Sheets were sewn sides to middle when they were worn, worn out towels etc were used as floor cloths, our white summer shoes were used as sandals the following year when our feet had grown as Dad cut the toes out of the shoes and we had peep toe shoes instead!

I recycle as much as ever I can, using the various recycling containers our council supplies us with: for glass bottles and jars, tins and foil, most plastics ( not black), newspapers and magazines, envelopes, scrap paper, plastic containers, margarine, cream and yogurt pots, and cardboard.  Plastic carrier bags, plastic wrappings from bread or magazines are taken to the local supermarket bin. I re-use plastic carrier bags whenever I can or use cloth bags, some I have sewn myself from old fabric.

I try to take it a little further. If I can't re-use glass jars I pass them on to neighbours who can use them; I keep some margarine cartons to use for left overs in the fridge and freezer; shred any personal papers and add to the newspaper recycling; use torn up scraps of paper for grocery lists/ phone messages. I re-use wrapping paper and gift bags and cut up old greetings cards into postcard style notelets and gift tags.

I try never to throw food away. So I plan what we are going to eat a few days at a time and only buy food for those few days. If I suddenly find I have some veggies hanging around in the fridge I make a veggie based meal - soup, stir fry etc. Peelings and food scraps go into our garden recycling bin(allowed in our area). If I am making a rice or pasta dish I always cook more than we need for that meal and the remainder makes lunch for the next day or I add extra ingredients and turn it into another meal the next evening.

I use old T shirts, towels etc for cleaning rags and try to use paper towels and one-off products as little as possible.

And of course I follow the same principle in my Quilting Life, using scraps all the time and never throwing a tiny scrap away if it can be used in my projects.

I would love to hear how you approach recycling, both in everyday living and in your crafting hobbies.

Rainbow Single quilt, finished

I have been having a very busy and productive time sewing and have managed to finish several projects in the last few days.

My latest finish is a large quilt based on Emily Cier's  pattern in her Scrap Republic book.

The quilt design is called Beeline and the pattern is for a baby quilt.  I made a baby sized one last year but decided I had more than enough fabrics to enlarge it to a generous single bed size. 
The finished quilt measures 88" x 54".

I started the quilt back in February when we were in New Zealand and I managed to complete the top by the time we came home at the end of March.  I used lots of rainbow coloured scraps from my NZ stash but took out a few more and many of the neutral fabric scraps I needed for the borders.
Whilst I was there I managed to find a suitable fabric for the backing and, even better, it was on sale at a good price.

So, on and off over the past months I have hand quilted it with Perle cottons. I used cream for the borders and coloured Perles to match the colour of the rainbow stripe.

I love rainbows and this year we have seen lots, both here and in NZ so I have decided to call the quilt Remembering Rainbows.

Showing the backing:

I am giving it to a friend's 5 year old daughter, just in time for the winter.  It is a surprise and I shall be handing it over on Monday. Hope she likes it!

All rolled up, ready to gift.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Two little totes - all finished

I wanted to make one more gift to pop into my Operation Christmas Child shoebox - a little patchwork tote.  At the same time I made another similar tote for my little granddaughter to give as a birthday party gift for her school friend Niamh.

For both bags I used 2.5" squares from my stash and laid them out in 5 rows of 4 squares.

I lined both with the same pale pastels striped fabric and used a bright pink with turquoise dots for the handles.  Both bags had squares of both fabrics in them so it did match up.
The bags finish at 7.5" x 9.5".  I appliqued Niamh's name on the front of her bag.

Here they are:

I hope both little girls will enjoy carrying their treasures around in them.
It is so useful having a stash of squares on hand - an idea I got from Bonnie Hunter's blog. 
Whenever I finish a project or I am just left with a small piece of fabric after I have been cutting out I cut it into useful sizes for my scraps stash:
These are the sizes I always cut scraps into:

2", 2.5", 3", 4.5"
1.25", 1.5", 2", 2.5"
Small scraps are put into my Crumb blocks tin.
Uneven shaped strips are kept in a bag ready to be used in Strip quilts.
So you see, nothing is wasted!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A finished baby quilt

I know of three babies due to be born from November to January next year so I am trying to build my stash of baby quilts.  I have a few baby girl ones but no boy quilts.

When I was in New Zealand earlier in the year I was given a patchwork magazine from 2007 which included a pattern for a baby quilt.  It was by Ruth Buchanan and the quilt was called Fairy Lights.

I loved the pattern as it showcased a pretty fabric and was surrounded by HSTs which I always enjoy making.

The Pattern:
About two years ago my Patchwork Group went on an outing to a favourite Quilt Shop, The Bramble Patch in Weedon, Northamptonshire.  I bought a lovely selection of fabrics and some yellow Fat Quarters which I thought went with the fabrics I had chosen.  The quilt I had in mind didn't materialise so the bag of fabrics languished in my sewing cupboard.
Fast forward to a month or so ago when I was thinking of ideas for Boy Quilts and I suddenly remembered my stash of yellow, grey and blue fabrics. Perfect for a boy and perfect for the Fairy Lights pattern as I wanted to showcase the gorgeous elephants (I love elephants!), trains, cars and rows of fairy mushrooms.
I set to, made all the blocks without difficulty and then laid them out in a pleasing order.  That was when I discovered my mistake.  The fabric Ruth Buchanan had used was a non-directional design.  All my blocks had directional patterns!  Oh dear!  I put my thinking cap on and realised I would have to add extra strips of HSTs to the fourth side of each block.  more sewing but I am happy with the result.  I didn't have to buy any more fabric as I had enough in my stash for the extra HSTs and the border and backing fabrics were ones I had bought at the Festival Of Quilts back in August.
As I had added extra strips my quilt came out at 42" square, a bit larger than the pattern.  I think this is a useful size - big enough to wrap baby in, use on the Moses basket or later on the cot and is a great size for a playmat.
As the pattern was so busy I decided to machine quilt in the ditch.  Although I have been quilting since 1997 this is only the third quilt I have machine quilted.  It's not perfect but it's not too bad either. I'm happy with it anyway!
And here it is - my Boy Version of the Fairy Lights quilt:
And a glimpse of the backing:

Now I have to think of a name for the quilt.  I don't think Fairy Lights is quite right for this quilt!

Any suggestions will be very welcome.  No idea springs to mind at present.

I have already used the scraps of elephants, cars and mushrooms fabrics in another boy quilt top - strips this time.  It is now ready for sandwiching and I am going to hand quilt this one.   It will be my handwork project to take to my Patchwork Group.

Off to sandwich the quilt top.  Not my favourite part of making a quilt as it involves me crawling around on the floor in my Sewing Room!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Little quilt for teddy

Just finished a dear little quilt to cover the little teddy which will be going into my
Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

It measures 10" square, just the right size to cover this sweet little bear.

I think teddy likes his little quilt.  Can you see him smiling?
I have one more little patchwork item to make for the shoebox ( a little tote bag) and then I'm done. 
The shoebox has to be covered with Christmas paper  - a job I always find to be quite fiddly.

Monday, 6 October 2014

3 Beanies

Around this time of year people in my Church are busy putting together Christmas paper-covered shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child.  This is such a wonderful project - the shoeboxes are filled with all manner of small gifts ( knitted hats, scarves, small soft toy, hair slides, balls, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, sweets, stationery items etc) and then sent overseas to many countries in Eastern Europe, Africa  and so on which are then handed out to children to enjoy at Christmas.  A simple idea, it's amazing how many different gifts you can squeeze into one shoebox. You decide whether the gift is for a boy or girl and the age range it suits best.

There is a table at Church where you can put extra gifts ( other folk take one to add to their box, leaving a small donation which goes towards shipping costs) . Sometimes people don't feel able to fill a whole box so contribute a few items that others can use. Every little helps.  Last year my Church was able to send 250 filled shoeboxes, so we hope for even more this year.  They will be collected at a Dedication Service at the beginning of November so time is rushing by to finish making gifts.

I have been busy making and buying little gifts for my box which is aimed at a 2-4 year old girl.  The Beanie hats are so quick and easy to make I made 4, one to put in my own shoebox and 3 for others to use.

The Beanies
I didn't do a shoebox last year but did two years ago.  I will post a photo of the finished box - not quite yet as I am making two items to add to it, then it will be done.

I'm also busy with my quilting so lots in production here!