More stuff

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Kokka past

As you may have read from my post last week, I totally love Melody Miller's super duper fabric, especially this retro beauty from Ruby Star Rising which I hope to make into a funky bag:

Now when I looked at the selvedge, I noticed that Melody's fabric is manufactured by the Japanese firm Kokka.  This rang a bell.  Where had I heard of Kokka before?  Being a terminally curious soul, I started rummaging through my fabric cupboard.

(Aside 1: it is never a good sign if you have to physically check the contents of a cupboard to know what is in your stash.  Either it means you have too much fabric, or you are very forgetful.  Neither is good.)

Then I found this:

...which I vaguely remember buying at the Festival of Quilts 2009.  I can't remember which stall had it but I saw it and thought it would make a lovely little girl's dress.  However, being at FOQ, I could only point at the fabric (whilst being jostled and squashed by the thousands of other excited fabric addicts) and when I got it home I found that it was a heavier weight of fabric and wouldn't work for a dress.

Conversely, I bought the Viewfinders fabric specifically because I wanted a heavier weight fabric so that I could make a bag, so I am thinking that maybe this bonkers cat fabric could make a bag too.  But I'm not too sure.  I am so surprised at finding it that I am at a bit of a loss as to what to do with it.  Although take a closer look at the selvedge - has there ever been a groovier selvedge?

(Aside 2:  being a bit of an admin fascist, I do have an official log of my stash at the back of my project book which I use partly to keep me on track with projects and partly to curb my fabric habit.  The fact that this fabric is missing from my log might indicate that I am more in denial than I previously suspected.)

I have about 2 metres of this stuff.  Ideas for projects (or therapy) welcome!

Gertie xxx

Monday, 25 June 2012

Another June finish ... don't get used to it

Well this certainly doesn't happen often - 2 quilt finishes in the same month?  Goodness me.  This is a simple pinwheels quilt made from 2 charm packs from Fig Tree's lovely line Breakfast At Tiffany's:

I made it for my eldest daughter's teacher who is possibly the most lovely teacher in the land.  We will miss her when we move to the next class up *sniff*.  Here's a close up so you can see the quilting - it is an all-over pattern by my trusty long-armer:

I actually finished it a couple of days before the Lily & Will quilt but I thought I would wait for a nice sunny day before photographing it - the Lily & Will photo was dismal because of the poor light, but as it was going off in the post the following day, it had to suffice.

It does seem that I am blogging about my quilts backwards - my most recent finishes first and slowly going backwards in the vein of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  I'm sure this alone is sufficient justification for a (gratuitous) picture of Mr Pitt:

I am quietly relieved that I have a (small) backlog of quilts to blog about to cover when my sewing output is too embarrassing to mention.  However I have just joined an online Bee and so I will have a stitchy deadline to meet every month which should keep me on my toes.  Kelly is our first Bee-er (Bee-ette?  Bee lady?  I am not sure of the terminology) and so I am looking forward to receiving some of these colourful goodies in the post to make into blocks with circles:

Watch this space!

Gertie xxx

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

These are a few of my favourite things...

How ironic that, having just read about Helen's problem of her ever-expanding stash, the very next morning what should arrive in the post but 4 metres of lovely fabric from M is for Make:

How my heart sings when a big fat fabric parcel arrives in the post!  Somehow even though I already know what's in it (unless I'm having a VERY forgetful day), I am still terribly excited to get it open to look at the fabric.

My favourite fabric is this retro-style Viewfinders fabric from Ruby Star Rising by Melody Miller, printed by Kokka fabrics:

Be still my beating heart!  This might just be the coolest fabric of all time.

I saw Kelly with a bag made of this at the Fat Quarterly Retreat and immediately wanted to steal it before concluding that making my own might be a better idea.  Given that nobody within a 50 mile radius of me actually sews, they won't know that my bag is Viewfinders bag #2.  Out of deference to Kelly, as trendsetter, I promise not to bring my bag to FQR 2013 (if indeed I get around to making it by then).

I also got a pleasant surprise at the weekend after going through my daughter's party bag, auditing it to remove small items that the baby might attempt to eat or stick up her nose.  Instead of the usual tut such as frogs that stick to windows or mini harmonicas, look what loveliness was inside:

... a Liberty print Hello Kitty!  Yay!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Blog hop shout out

Just a quick post to remind everyone to hop over to the most recent Blog Hop participants from the Plum & June Blog Hop:

June 12
    Kelly from Jeliquilts 
    Yzo from Chez Roo

June 14
    Debbie from A Quilter's Table
    Sarah from Silly Banana Sewing

June 19
    Jennifer from Sewlandia
    Nicole from Mama Love Quilts

June 21
    Suzanne from SuzClaas
    Mina from Kindaquilty

I have been checking out the blogs a couple a night and have been pleasantly surprised at all the different crafty things that everyone is making in blogland.  For example, check out Nicole's tutorial for this super cute applique house mini quilt and how to hang it by adding pockets to the corners:

Be sure to open the photo to see the fab quilting of little bricks on the yellow house - great work Nicole!

Gertie xxx

Monday, 18 June 2012

Crafty output slowdown

I have had one of those weeks where we have had lots of nonsense like children's parties and messed-up naptimes leading to late bedtimes, so my sewing output has dropped off a cliff.  The little bit of sewing I have done - hand sewing hexagons in front of the telly - whilst enjoyable and relaxing for me, would be quite dull to photograph.  One stack of hexagons is very much like another, so maybe look at this photo from the other week:

and imagine a few more stacks, very similar.  Yawn.

The reason I have been continuing with hexagons instead of starting to join them together is that I have been trying to think of something innovative to do with them.  Each time I laid them out I kept ending up back at a classic Grandmother's Garden.  However then I chanced upon this lovely piece of work:

from Quiltville - I am going to get my crayons out to see if mine could look as good as this in the Rouenneries colourway.  I think at this point it was just a WIP by Bonnie so I would love to see how it is finished.

As an aside, I sat hand sewing my hexagons in front of Series 2 of Episodes on Sky+ - it does make us chuckle.  The fight between the characters Matt and Sean at the end of Series 1 was the funniest TV fight I think I have seen.

Photo courtesy of SHO

Gertie xxx

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Crazy birds

A little OT I know but we have had this happen 2 years in a row now - crazy garden birds.

Last year we had a blue tit who would come and fly up to the French window and try any which way to get in.  Fluttering around the handle and pecking at it occasionally.  He did this for a couple of weeks before he either got bored or died of malnutrition for spending too long on our door handle and not enough time foraging.

Then this week, we have had a crazy chaffinch.  He looks quite young, and pecked at 3 of our windows at the back off and on, but then settled on the side window.  I'm not sure if the photo will show it properly because I took it with my phone, but this is the mess he has made with his infernal pecking (see especially at the bottom - all of those vertical marks are peck marks):

Any ideas?  Will he just get bored and go away?  I wondered if it was that he could see his reflection, so I put the blind down, but he still carried on because I could hear him tapping.  I hope he stops soon as I daren't open the window in case he comes in!

Apologies for the random nature of this post - hopefully normal service will resume shortly.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

FQ Retreat Day 2 - afternoon

At last it is time for the FQ Retreat Sunday afternoon to show & tell.  My final class was with the extraordinarily charismatic Katy - Channel 4 if you are listening, this lady needs her own show.  You need to tin Kirstie Allsopp, entertaining poppet though she may be, and launch Katy's TV career.  Your ratings will go through the roof!

Katy kindly did my name badge, which I haven't photographed yet, but I will.  Imagine, if you will, a needlework version of this:

... although not quite as big and my glasses are a bit less Timmy Mallett than that.  She also gave me a groovy little bag stuffed with goodies - including a petit fours (like a charm pack but teeny 2 1/2" squares) of Juggling Summer by Zen Chic fresh from Quilt Market in Kansas City (soooooo jealous!):

Katy's class was Frame Purses, a class that I was scared of, because I couldn't for the life of me see how on earth I would be attaching a fabric pouch to a metal frame.  Then I found out about this:

Thank you U-Handbag for this image of Gutermann HT2 seriously strong & whiffy fabric glue.  This is yet another technique that I am so glad that I did in a class.  If I had been following instructions on a page I am not sure whether I would have come out with a completed project, but when you have Ms Katy reassuring you "really ram the fabric up with your scissors, you can be more aggressive than that" - then this is what you can end up with:

I am so pleased with my purse!  It is a nice chunky one - the frame is 6" x 3" so it is much bigger than it might look here.  Check out this post on Katy's blog for a nice picture of all the purses in our class:

...mine conspicuous in its absence because I was too slow - I was still covered in glue at this point.

I then raced back down to the main room to see if I could catch the end of Lucie Summers' Portholes class but it was all but over.  Gutted.  Everyone raved about the "ah-ha!" moment in the technique and I can't guess what it is.  However I am hoping to go to the London Modern Quilt Guild's next meeting and Amy has kindly offered to give me a quick tutorial.

For those who haven't seen Lucie's award-winning Portholes quilt, here it is:

which I believe won best quilt at the Festival of Quilts 2010 (correct me if I'm wrong!).  It certainly deserved to!

Gertie xxx

Sunday, 10 June 2012

New bloggers

I had wondered whether the time it takes to write a regular blog would reduce my sewing time.  Naturally it must be taking some of my time, but somehow the pressure of having to show some kind of progress has increased my normal sewing output!  So today I managed to finish the borders on my Union Jack quilt:

This is going to be one serious pillow.  It currently measures 32" x 24", which is bigger than it is supposed to be as per Lynne's pattern .  Once I had pieced the flag, I decided that I would quite like a fussy cut outer border so I abandoned the directions and started flying solo (not always advisable).  Hence it is a bit big.  I have been thinking how to machine quilt it and I have some ideas that are beyond my normal machine quilting abilities, so it may take a bit of time.

Lynne has been something of a superstar this week, not only in being very supportive of my fledgling blog posts, but also offering advice about things that I had no idea about, such as the fact that I was a "no reply blogger".  After numerous attempts I have now fixed this.  Without Lynne pointing it out, I would never have known as I thought the people would automatically be able to reply to my posts.

Lynne's blog post today gives a lovely list of hints and advice for new bloggers which is incredibly helpful to folks like me who are new to this whole game.  I am also going to try to post this dinky button:

Plum and June

...which is from the blog hop at Plum and June which I am going to sign up for.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the level of support out there for new bloggers - clearly this sort of thing takes time to set up, and I for one am very grateful to those seasoned bloggers who are willing to help out us newbies.

Plum and June are also hosting this super duper giveaway so make sure you enter!

One piece of Lynne's advice that I must must must implement is to improve the clarity of my photos.  My house is an old 1920s offering - nice and solid but evidently lacking in natural light.  Or at least there always seem to be shadows in my pictures.  The recent weather has not been helping in terms of lighting but I do need to find somewhere in the house that is bright and breezy and where there are no stray toys or baby wipes cluttering up the view.  That can be my random mission for the week!

Gertie xxx

Saturday, 9 June 2012

FQR Day 2 Part 1b

Fat Quarterly
Apologies if you are waiting for the Frame Purses.  I will get there, really I will.  But I have been working away at my Union Jack from Lynne's class so I thought I would show you where I am up to:

Fabric is Flurry by Kate Spain.

It is far from perfect but I got a bit carried away and really wanted to get it to the stage where it looked like a flag.  My top / bottom alignment is out by 1/8th of an inch - I did follow Lynne's advice to do long stitches and make sure it was lined up first but foolishly I was trying to make sure the diamonds in the print lined up so I didn't accurately check the overall seams (doh) - again, one of those things where if I did it again, I would measure with a ruler instead of relying on my "oh it looks fine" technique that allows me to rush on.

I am halfway through putting some white sashing on the sides and then I will put another border on and make it into a cushion.  Hadley has already done her funky floral version if you want to check out her post here.

This project has demonstrated to me that I do enjoy paper piecing, and that it does not just have to be hand piecing (I don't know why I always assumed that paper piecing meant hand work - probably because of hexagons), so I will look out for more paper pieced projects in future I think.  I had a nosey around the Paper Pieces website for a bit of inspiration.

Today in the Telegraph was a list of "50 signs you are a grown-up".  I scanned down it hoping to find something that I don't do to prove that I am still carefree and young at heart.  Sadly, I could only come to the conclusion that I am indeed quite old:

1.Having a mortgage
2.Mum and dad no longer make your financial decisions
3.Paying into a pension
4.Conducting a weekly food shop
5.Written a will
6.Having children
7.Budgeting every month
8.Being able to cook an evening meal from scratch
9.Getting married
10.Having life insurance
12.Having a savings account
13.Knowing what terms like 'ISA' and 'tracker' mean
14.Watching the news
15.Owning a lawn mower
16.Doing your own washing
17.Taking trips to the local tip
18.Planting flowers
19.Being able to bleed a radiator
20.Having a joint bank account
21.Having a view on politics
22.Keeping track of interest rates
23.Finding a messy house annoying
24.Being able to change a light bulb
25.Owning a vacuum cleaner
26.Holding dinner parties
27.Listening to Radio 2
28.Enjoying gardening
29.Spending weekend just 'pottering'
30.Mum starts asking you for advice
31.Carrying spare shopping bags just in case
32.Like going round garden centres
33.Wearing coats on a night out
34.Going to bed before 11pm
35.Making sure mum and dad are phoned at least once a week
36.Classing work as a career rather than a job
37.Repairing torn clothing rather than throwing it away
38.You iron
39.You wash up immediately after eating
40.Enjoy cooking
41.Buying a Sunday paper
42.Always going out with a sensible pair of shoes
43.You like receiving gift vouchers
44.Work keeps you awake at night
45.Filing post
46.Having a 'best' crockery set
47.Being able to change a car tyre
48.Being sensible enough to remove make up off before bedtime
49.Being able to follow a receipt
50.Owning 'best towels' as well as 'everyday towels'

I assume that number 19 - "Being able to bleed a radiator" - includes "Being able to tell your husband that he has to bleed a radiator".  I have, however, changed a car tyre by myself by the side of the motorway, so I am not entirely useless.

Also I very,very rarely iron (unless it is to press seams).  Unfortunately I think that just means I am a lazy grown-up rather than implying that I am young and exciting.   To be honest I think this list was meant for the 20-somethings ; perhaps I should be consulting a whole other list to ascertain my speed of descent into middle age.

Gertie xxx

Thursday, 7 June 2012

We interrupt this broadcast...

Yes, yes.  I said I would post FQR Day 2 Part 2 next.  However, it is not often that I finish a quilt, and today is one of those very rare days, so I thought I would share.

This quilt is for my new little niece - it is approx 45" x 45" so I think perfect playmat size:

Sorry about the poor light - I had hoped it would be nice & sunny today but it has been rainy & dismal.  It is off to its new owner tomorrow so this will have to do.

You might notice the 3 small dark squares in a row in Row 4 - I didn't notice this until after I joined the blocks up.  I was so busy trying to make sure there were no prints the same in the surrounding squares that I forgot to check the middles of the blocks.  I so wish I could rotate that middle one.  Never mind.

For the pattern, I used Melissa Corry's very useful & clear tutorial on Moda Bake Shop - I didn't do the pieced border as I worked out that I could use half a Layer Cake for this quilt and then save the other half for another quilt the same size. 

Gertie xxx

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Fat Quarterly Retreat Day 2

I am missing the Fat Quarterly folks already.  Apologies to the Queen if I remember the Jubilee weekend for the FQ Retreat rather than the boats or Stevie Wonder.  I haven't even seen whatever crazy stuff Grace Jones was supposed to have done, but I should Google it because there have been lots of internet comments about her shenanigans.

My computer is a bit temperamental at the minute so I thought I should get some pictures up before it wheezes to a stop again.  So here are some snaps from FQR Day 2:

My first lesson was Paper Pieced Pillows with the very charming Lynne Goldsworthy of Lily's Quilts.  Lynne had possibly the coolest of all the name tags, made for her by a lady called Jo:

Soooo funky - and topical for the Jubilee!

Lynne graciously did not mind when I stumbled into her class an hour late, having completely slept through my 07.00 wake up call in the hotel (sorry, people next door) and woken up at 09.30.  I had been feeling smug that I had woken up before my alarm, but I heard voices in the corridor that sounded far too awake for it to be 06:anything.  My plan to get showered, dressed and breakfasted in a leisurely fashion evaporated in an instant, so I resorted to a "shower in a can" and legged it as fast as I could to Baden Powell House.  Apologies again, Lynne.

We had 3 choices of pillows to make: Postcards from Paris (square in a square), Circle of Flying Geese, or Union Jack.  What with it being Jubilee weekend, it was no contest for me - Union Jack all the way.

The way that Paper Piecing works is the opposite way round to how my brain works, so my first seam was a total mess and had to be unpicked unceremoniously while Lynne explained to me what I did wrong.  As soon as she explained it, it clicked.  Alakazam!  It was a real lightbulb moment.  I soon put the rest of the first quarter block together and no doubt would have managed 2 if I hadn't been asleep in my hotel room for the first half of the lesson.

So, here is the quarter block I did in class:
I enjoyed this technique so much that I have now made 3 out of the 4 quarters and I can't wait to put it all together.

One rather zippy quilter in our midst managed just that, within the single lesson (impressive!) - hats off to Tracey (I think) who did this London-themed Union Jack:

Hmmm tried to post this photo twice now and it keeps coming out on its side! 

I am so glad that I tried paper piecing in a lesson, because I think if I had tried this alone at home I might well have got frustrated and given up.  But with the right guidance it is very easy and gives very good results for odd shapes and angles.

This post was longer than I intended - I will do the final class (Frame Purses) on my next post.

Gertie xxx

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Fat Quarterly Retreat London 2012 - Day 1

Well that worked!  Onwards and upwards.

The reason I have started a blog is that I am just back from the fantastic Fat Quarterly Retreat in London and it seems that I am the only person in the known universe not to have a blog.  Conversely, I read a lot of blogs, and so I felt like I 'knew' lots of people in the room but clearly none of them had any clue as to who I was.  Not that that is necessarily a bad thing!  But it is a nice thing to share what we do, and the proof of this pudding, I felt, was this magnificent quilt:

which was made by a group for a very nice lady within that group (stood far left) who was unlucky enough to be diagnosed with cancer but who was lucky enough to have this fabulous group of talented ladies to make her this wonderful quilt to help her through the tough times.

Now for a couple of shots of the classes I took - first up, Paper Piecing with Tasha Bruecher:

 ... and here are my little stacks of hexagons in Rouenneries Deux to prove it:

... followed by Embroidery with the fabulous Aneela Hoey:

... and here is my cute little robin embroidery which you might recognise from Aneela's upcoming Cherry Christmas range:

And that was just the first day!  More to follow...

Gertie xxx

Testing, testing

Just trying to work out how to blog. I have been reading blogs for years but in all that time I never bothered to find out how to actually create a post on one of these things. So here I go. This must be how my mother felt when I tried to teach her how to send an email. The under-25s must be rolling their eyes in disbelief. Okay - let's post!