Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 finishes & plans for 2018

New Year's Eve! Goodness how has 2017 disappeared so fast?

I have managed to finish another quilt ( a UFO from moons ago) so I am delighted with that.

It measures 30" x 40" so ideal as a baby's Play Quilt. Going into my stash for gifting in the future.
I ditch stitched the quilt using my new ditch-stitcher foot and it worked quite well, better than doing it with the normal foot anyway.  I hand quilted around 4 patches in the square in a square border blocks and they stand out nicely.

This brings my 2017 total of finished quilts to 8, very small total compared to last year's 20.
5 of those 8 have already been gifted. I haven't finished many quilts but I have also made 2 flimsies, one using a pile of UFO blocks, the other using a lot of my stash of Crumb blocks.

I made lots of little gifts this year: little drawstring bags, baby knitting, crochet baby blanket etc.

I have also made a lot of blocks using ideas gleaned from the RSC 2017 posts.  As a result I have enough 5" String blocks to make a quilt and several packets of other blocks which I intend to add to during the RSC2018 campaign.

Although I live in the UK I have been reading about the shocking fires in California. We have friends of friends in that area, fortunately, although the fires came close to their home, it was safe. Other connections were an Exhibition created by our NZ friends which was being held in the same area.  Again, thankfully it was OK.  So with this in mind when I spotted Carole from My Caroline Home blog requesting blocks to make quilts for victims of the fires I set to this afternoon and have made 4 to post after New Year.

This is the block suggested by the Ventura Quilt Guild.
So, plans for 2018:
* Finally finish a bright Spider Web quilt that is 95% finished- on my 2017 list too!
* Make quilts from my 2 flimsies
* Make the RSC String blocks into a quilt
*Continue with Roman Stripe blocks, 4 patches from 1.5" fabric squares,49 patch blocks, Twinkler
  blocks, bow tie blocks, Cake Stand blocks
* Make the small 4 patches into square in a square blocks (like the Mr Scarecrow borders)
* Continue making Happy blocks to use up my Cute cats fabric patches.
* Make a baby quilt for one of my daughter's friends

First job is to turn a baby flimsy into a quilt.  I am waiting for baby to be born so I can applique the name, baste and hand quilt it.

So, plenty to do.

Wishing everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year.
See you next year!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Finished ! A Rainbow of Twinkling Stars

Just before the end of the year I have finished the scrap quilt made using Cathy's Twinkler Star blocks idea and that I made over around nine months as part of the RSC on Angela's So Scrappy Blog.

I have renamed it A Rainbow of Twinkling Stars
The quilt is machine quilted with a double row of Perle hand quilting around each star.
It measure 53" squares and is completely made from scraps and pieces of fabric from my stash.
I had thought this would be  a Donation Quilt but I'm afraid I can't part with it, I love it!
I have two other flimsies that will be donated and they will be finished in the New Year.
I am joining up with RSC 2017, this is the first Rainbow Scraps Challenge quilt I have ever done.
Happy Christmas and all good wishes for 2018.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Patchwork Christmas break up

On Thursday we had a lovely Christmas Patchwork, our last until 2018!  Doesn't that sound weird?

We presented our friend John with the quilt our group made him.  He was thrilled, very touched that we had made it especially for him.

His dear little dog Kimmy who has just been diagnosed with diabetes so she is having to be injected twice a day.  Apparently she is a very good girl and takes it all in her stride.

4 lavender bags I made this afternoon for our daughter.  She loves hanging them in her cupboards and had said a couple had lost their smell.  Now wrapped up ready to go under their Christmas tree!


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Making little gifts

Whilst I watched a film last night I crocheted 6 Jolly Santas. I had bought a pack of Googly eyes and a bag of small bells from Amazon and still had lots of the red wooden beads left to use for the noses, so everything was to hand.

Here they are, 6 Jolly Santas:

Really quick to make now I know what I am doing.  I managed to find a length of thin black ribbon to thread through one Santa hat but need to go to my local Sewing Shop for some red ribbon for the remainder and also future ones which I'm sure I'll make - they are rather addictive!

Off to visit my sister and brother-in-law this morning for a quick coffee and catch up before Christmas.  This year I have put together a hamper of Christmas goodies and am including a Jolly Santa for their tree. When my sister Pat's children were small she bought a new Christmas tree decoration for each of them every year and when our children came along she did the same.  I hadn't seen Pat's Christmas tree for a few years but when I did a couple of years ago I was amazed at how many ornaments we have that are exactly the same.  Of course she had bought the same ones for our children as she had for her own.  It is so lovely each year when we put the decorations on the tree to remember where they came from.  Now I include our GD in this tradition when she helps me decorate our tree.  However I have started the same tradition for her Family Tree as each year I buy 3 or 4 pretty ornaments to give her with her Advent calendar but I have also wrapped one of my Jolly Santas for her to open on Christmas Day. I am seeing most of my sister's children and families over Christmas so I am going to give each family a Jolly Santa for their trees. Such fun!  Thanks again, Jo, for the pattern.

Hope you are all getting organised for Christmas and not feeling too rushed.  This afternoon I want to trim my Twinkler Star quilt and then make the binding (and sew it on) ready for our last Thursday Patchwork before Christmas. We are going to Ruth's and have all been asked to wear a decorated Christmas hat which we will wear the whole morning. Ruth's idea following a joke birthday card another of our group sent herlast year.  Three 'ladies of a certain age' , clothes from the 1950s era, all sitting on a beach in deckchairs wearing hats, knitting or sewing ....... and talking!!!  As a joke Ruth suggested that is what we should do on 21st December.  We have two guests coming: John and Kimmy. John's lovely wife Mary was a valued and much loved member of our group but sadly died almost three years ago. Kimmy the dog was the love of Mary and John's life and John occasionally pops in when we are at Ruth's to see us all.  Kimmy is great friends with Ruth's little dog so a happy time is had by all.  John is a prolific gardener and makes lots of jams, jellies and chutneys from some of his produce and every time he visits he gifts us all a jar of jam.  Last time is was the most delicious Damson Jelly.  John will be 90 next year so we have made him a special Christmas gift, the Ship Quilt I showed blocks from a few weeks ago.  All finished now and will be handed over to John on Thursday. I'm really looking forward to the occasion, especially as we have a surprise for Ruth too!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Feeling good about finishing off UFOs

I had a productive couple of hours yesterday afternoon.
I had added borders to the 4 leftover Square Dance blocks on Friday so yesterday I cut backings and sandwiched them together using odd scraps of batting.  I machine quilted diagonally across the block, eyeballing a fairly regular distance between the rows.  Trimmed them and sewed around the edges ready to send to Alison of Little Island Quilting for her on-going Soy Amado project.

I won't post these until after Christmas and New Year but they are finished! 4 more UFO blocks sorted.

I also sandwiched Mr Scarecrow so he's all ready for quilting.

I used a piece of brown Laura Ashley fabric for the backing, which has been lurking in my stash for a very long time - originally gifted to me and was a much larger piece which I have snipped away at over the years.  Still got some left.

I bought a Ditch stitch foot for my Janome so will try this out, ditch-stitching the borders.
Lovely to see these UFOs on the way to being finished.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Square Dance moves forward

I have had very little time to sew but I have managed to put together the blocks, sashings and cornerstones of my UFO Square Dance quilt. I now have a flimsy, just have to add a white border all round.

I also made these 4 Patch blocks using 1.5" scrap squares as a Leader and Ended project.
Adding them to a slowly growing stash of these small blocks.

Adding Square Dance to Angela's So Scrappy blog.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Snow, more snow, still snowing!

What a weekend we're having. Yesterday we visited my brother-in-law, an hour and a half's drive south.  Weather very cold, just managed to creep up to 1C as the day wore on.  Snow had been forecast for various parts of the country including our county of Warwickshire which was due to happen on Sunday.

When we got home mid afternoon I realised the house was cold and all the radiators for the central heating were cold.  Rang the Gas Board who said they would try to send out an engineer before 10pm.  If not it would be the next day, Sunday.  We were classed as an emergency because we are both seniors and I have health issues. Before we got too cold we layered up: I wore warm trousers, a jumper, thick zipped cardigan, my thick winter dressing gown, woolly hat, big pashmina-style scarf, 2 pairs of socks, sitting on my recliner armchair covered with two lap quilts. I have to say I was as warm as toast. My husband was similarly attired, although he drew the line at the winter dressing gown!!!Two hot water bottles put in our bed, added an extra duvet and two quilts.  No engineer appeared so we decided to go to bed.  Just switched off the light when the guy arrived, just after 10.30pm.  Great chap, sorted out the problem, some electronic failure so he had to replace a large electronic board.  All done in 40 minutes and our radiators started to warm through our very cold house. Marvellous. The engineer said he still had two more call outs before he finished his shift.

Then we woke up this morning, very snug, but when we looked outside it was snowing and we already had a couple of inches. It has continued to snow all morning, now almost lunchtime and around 4" now I would think.

Photos taken at 8am from our lounge window of our back garden:

Apologies for the big white light - some weird reflection from a street light in the alley that runs along the length of our property.

And lastly, Teddy (who doesn't like snow either), snuggling under his quilt!


Friday, 8 December 2017

Jolly Santa decoration

A couple of years ago I received a Jolly Santa Christmas tree decoration from my bloggy friend Jo in Australia.

The other day she posted about some more Jolly Santas she had shown her Quilting Group how to make.  I had just decorated our tree with our GD so the crochet Santa was fresh in mind.
I left a comment on her post saying I would have to try to figure out how to make some myself.
Next day Jo kindly emailed me the pattern! What a lovely friend.

So yesterday I made one.  And here he is:

I'm really pleased with my first attempt. Jo and her group used Googly eyes and a little pompom nose but I just used what I had to hand - including a little bell which I had kept from a Lindt chocolate Easter Rabbit.  I'm going to give this to GD for their tree and make a few more for friends and family.

A few days ago, when I was hand quilting my current project, my Twinkler quilt, the end of the needle went straight through the top of my thimble!  I have had it for many, many years so I can't complain.  Yesterday  a few of my Patchwork Group visited a Quilt shop so I was able to buy a new thimble.  They didn't have the same design but did have one with the ridge around the top that I like, but the part that fits on my finger is rubber.  I tried it out last night and it's great.  The rubber really holds it well on my finger and it fits beautifully.

Old and new, side by side, ready for action this evening.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Learning to Square Dance with an old UFO

1st December today, so firstly, welcome to the season of Advent.
Our granddaughter stayed overnight with us last night and was very excited to open the first window in her Advent Calendar after breakfast this morning.  She also enjoyed eating the chocolate she found behind the window.  I was pleased to find a traditional calendar which tells the Nativity Story day by day as the windows are opened.  We are lucky to have a shop/café in town which is run by the churches in the town.  It sells Fair Trade gifts and greetings cards and at this time of year Christmas cards, calendars and Advent Calendars.

We had a very Christmassy start to the day, opening the curtains to a light dusting of snow, a little like icing sugar on top of mince tarts. After I had done the school run when the temperature was 1C
I decided I wasn't up for housework so did some sewing instead. Ages ago I re-found a very old UFO, so old I cannot remember how many years ago it was begun.  This was obviously the second time it had been found because I had pinned a couple of notes to it saying it needed 3 more blocks and it helpfully had a sticky label telling me the name of the quilt-to-be was Square Dance. There were also 2" x 9.5" strips which I needed to make the extra blocks.  Then I laid them out in a 4 x 5 arrangement, finding four blocks were "the wrong way round". The block is made from putting 2 strip blocks (one from lighter fabrics, the other from darker) RST, sewing like an HST to form 2 blocks like these:

These are the blocks I rejected because all the others have the light and dark the other way about.  So I will turn these into 12.5" QAYG blocks for Alison's Soy Amardo Project.  They only need a colourful border to make them large enough as these blocks finish at 9".

When I found the UFO for the second time I had obviously miscounted the blocks as there were 24 and I only needed 20 for this arrangement.

I am partway through sewing the pieces together but needed a break so I thought I could write a blogpost to show my progress so far:

It's getting dark now, so this photo was taken in the electric light and the colours look washed out.
I'll try to take a better picture in daylight tomorrow.

Back to the sewing machine for another hour's sewing before I prepare our evening meal.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Hurrah! A Flower basket block!

I have been admiring Cathy's Flower basket blocks for quite a while (Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting blog).  She turns out these beautifully bright and various blocks as easy as cutting out circles of pastry to make jam tarts!  I have been wanting to try to make one, studied the blog and had a go.  Really difficult because although I got something similar I only achieved it with a lot of trimming and fiddling around - and I knew it wasn't right.

So, an email to dear Cathy and she directed me to a couple of tutorials.  I used this one:

Had a go this afternoon:

As I mentioned in my previous post about the scrap triangles I turned into rectangular blocks to make a Premature baby quilt, I have real problems with spatial awareness and this block has really tested me.  I had already done a bit of seam ripping when I thought I had cracked it. Took a photo, started this block post and then when I added the photo I realised it was wrong again! At this point our son-in-law arrived to watch a football match on TV with my husband. He immediately spotted the mistake and said "your daughter has the same problem". Well she doesn't quilt and I didn't know but she also obviously struggles seeing how things fit.  So I ripped it out again, rejiggled the pieces, sewed it up, pressed it ....................and I had put it in wrongly again ( a different kind of wrongly!).  More ripping out, another press, another photo and I think it's OK now.
Just taken me all afternoon.
Here's the first block I did, made up by yours truly:
I'm adding this post to Angela's So Scrappy RSC blog post.  It is made from scraps and I wouldn't have made it if I hadn't spotted Cathy's blocks on the RSC site so I think it qualifies.
Just going to lie down in a darkened room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Two flimsies: UFO Mr Scarecrow and wedges

I started a medallion-style quilt based on a Scarecrow printed figure back on 1st August 2013.
I worked on it and then set it aside - for a LONG time!  It's recently appeared at the top of the pile and today I finished my flimsy.

The last pieced border was very recently added, consisting of RSC 2017 4 patches made into square in a square blocks. All made from scraps. I had to make extra 4 patches from green and yellow 1.5' squares as I didn't have enough brown ones. The outer border is a plain cream Egyptian cotton cut at 3.5".

Some close-ups:

I really like the 4 Patch border.

Yesterday I showed the wedge shaped scraps I had been given.  Today I combined an idea I had with a comment from Cathy (Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting blog) and came up with this Premature baby sized flimsy:

I paired solid and patterned wedges, made a template 2.5' x 5.5" and cut them all to the same size.
Played around for a while: a couple of ideas didn't look right but I finally came up with this placement.
I found this a challenge due to my difficulty with special awareness. I wanted the "mountain peaks look" which I finally achieved but it was hard!  I have several finished pieces which are the wrong way round. Now in the orphan blocks pile.

However I happy with both flimsies.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

RSC 2017 Handquilting Twinkler Stars

Linking up with Angela's So Scrappy RSC 2017 to show the progress of my Twinkler Stars Quilt.


I am hand quilting a double row of fairly small Perle stitches around each star shape.
Pleased with the effect. I had already machine quilted either side of all the block joins so the quilt top is well anchored.  No rush to finish this quilt so I am enjoying stitching whilst watching television or at my Quilt Group meetings.

I have now been gifted 2 lots of wedge shaped scraps. The wedges come in pairs, a solid and a tone on tone pattern for each colour.  My friend Candy made yards and yards of pennant shaped bunting to decorate the reception area for her granddaughter's wedding last year.  She and her daughter are now turning the bunting into a quilt for Olivia.  So I have been given the scraps which are around 6" long, the wedge is approx. 3" (they differ slightly!) at the widest point of the wedge.  I don't want to leave them like this in a bag because I know they will just stay there forever.  I had wondered if I could arrange them into Dresden-style circles, but haven't tried playing yet. I would normally cut scraps into usable sized squares (1.5", 2", 2.5" ) but I would waste more than I would be using.
Any ideas on how best to use them? Suggestions would be very welcome!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Kaffe Fassett exhibition

I had a delightful day on Saturday, visiting a Kaffe Fassett exhibition held in a National Trust property called Mottisfont in Hampshire. My best friend Barbara lives fairly near Mottisfont and she had heard about the exhibition.  We have visited a KF exhibition together before and we both love his work, the super bright colours, the way he puts vivid pieces of fabric next to each other and so on.

So, my photos:

Loved this HST quilt, the blues were just beautiful!

Another lovely blue one. A simple design but the use of such lovely fabrics makes it special. Barbara's favourite, I think. I loved it too!
Another snowball-style design, this time in richer colours. Both colourways worked for both of us.
Loved this sign , the words printed directly onto the wall.  Kaffe was born in California but moved to the UK as a young man and our country has been his home ever since. I think this shows his love for his adopted country, why it appeals to him.

The centre of a very floral quilt, showcasing a particularly beautiful flower fabric - like a still life painting.
As he said in the previous sign, Kaffe is fascinated by fruits and vegetables.  They appear in a lot of his work, including this chair upholstered in his tapestry work.  Look at those lush fruits!

Probably my favourite quilt as it uses colours I love. Again, a simple design which shows off his gorgeous fabrics.

A close up of the centre:

Another of our favourites. There was such an amazing range of fabrics in this quilt, including some that almost appeared to jar with the rest of the colours ( look at the 8 pointy stars made from black & lime green stripes and mustard yellow) and the hot pink and turquoise ones ( the addition of the hot pink jumps out and somehow draws your eye to both the centre and the outer edges of the quilt).
The clever placement of stars and hexagons made your eye dart about, sometimes making you notice the stars more, sometimes the hexagons. We looked in detail at this quilt for a very long time!
As you can see one of Kaffe's roll necked cardigan designs was exhibited alongside the quilt.  There was a lot of his knitwear on show - again all using his signature bright colours.
And lastly, two photos of his Folk lore quilt, naïve style pictures and shapes appliqued onto a cream coloured background.

Lots and lots more of course but I couldn't photograph everything.

The exhibition was so well organised, displaying his work beautifully.
Groups of quilts, interspersed with knitwear, tapestry etc were displayed in a series of rooms.  One of the room guides told us that Kaffe had insisted each room was painted a colour he specified: so there was a sky blue room, a hot raspberry pink, a sunshine yellow and  a Spring green one. Wooden chairs in each room had also been painted to match the colour scheme of the room, although in a different shade to the wall colour. The original wall colour in each room was Britain's favourite - magnolia - and Kaffe said if the rooms weren't painted to his specification he wouldn't allow the exhibition to be staged.  How right he was, these marvellous pieces wouldn't have been able to shine to their best advantage. Clever man!
Barbara and I have struggled this year to see each other - it took until 11th November to make this happen. I had a special birthday at the end of May and Barbara brought my birthday present with her which I had to open before we went into the exhibition. She had gifted me Kaffe's lovely Autobiography "Dreaming in Colour".  A perfect start to a wonderful day.
I was then told the "back story" to the present. Barbara had been struggling to think of the right present to mark my birthday but when we decided some weeks ago to visit the exhibition at Mottisfort she researched Kaffe Fassett books. Because she knew I was such a fan she guessed I would probably already have at least one of his books so she phoned my husband to ask him to search my bookshelves.  Apparently this wasn't achieved easily because time after time she rang and I answered!  Eventually she managed to speak to John and he was able to search my bookshelves whilst I was out. Great story, makes the book even more special. I haven't started the book yet but have already enjoyed the super picture on the dust jacket: Kaffe sitting cross legged on one of his bright pink quilts, surrounded by colourful pots of plants, another bright pink quilt as a background and holding a bright pink flowered wreath.  Marvellous!


Sunday, 12 November 2017

Turning RSC 4 patches into blocks

I have turned last week's small brown 4 patches into Square in a square blocks.  I have been working on an old UFO and these will make a great border.

I used 2.5" stash squares for the outside triangles.

Linking with Angela's So Scrappy blog for RSC 2017

Sunday, 5 November 2017

RSC 2017 Using browns

This month's colour chosen by Angela on her So Scrappy blog is dark fabrics, brown and black.
I have very little of either colour but did make 4 x 5" strippy blocks and some 4 patches made from 1.5" squares.

I have also made a few 4 patches using pink, purple and orange:

Joining up with The RSC on So Scrappy blog.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Using new fabrics

The majority of quilts I make are Scrap Quilts so it is a fairly rare event for me to make a quilt almost entirely from new fabric.  But that is what I have been doing for the past few days.
I have been asked to make a quilt for a friend to gift to her sister's expected baby.  They know it will be a girl but didn't want anything too "pink and girly" so I have come up with this:

I haven't used tumblers in any of my designs before and I enjoyed making them.
The wide grey panel in the middle is where I will add the baby's name in large appliqued capital letters.

The colours haven't photographed very well, it's a dull grey November afternoon here.  In reality all the colours are more vibrant and contrast more.