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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Things I learned from Nicole

Yesterday I got a lovely parcel in the post.  It was 2 layer cakes of Curio, one of those curious collections that I liked when I first saw it but didn't feel I really "needed".  Then I started seeing quilts made out of it.  Like this one over at the Fat Quarterly flickr gallery.  Oh!  Now I needed Curio.

Happily, every so often, Nicole over at Sister's Choice has a stash sale.  And happily, she agreed to go through the trauma of international posting to get these 2 Curio babies over the pond to me.  Yay!

Now, Nicole is the first blogger I ever started to follow.  I chanced upon her blog in 2008 having typed "What the heck is a Jelly Roll?" into Google.  I then had to add the word "quilt" as it quickly became clear to me that a jelly roll, outside of the fabric world, is what we in the UK are more inclined to call a jam roly poly:

Photo courtesy of Robert's Recipes

I started following Nicole's blog because she always seemed to be doing something interesting, sometimes quilty, sometimes not, and because I genuinely learned a great deal of new things from her.  My background is from hand embroidery and so a lot of quilty stuff that now seems really obvious to me - from Fat Quarters to FMQ to Flying Geese - were then very new to me.

So, here are a few random things I have learned over the years from Nicole's blog along with her many photos:

(1) Finish what you start - goodness me if I were as good at finishing projects as I am at starting them, I would have a thousand quilts by now.  Nicole has shown me numerous times that an hour here and there soon gets a quilt finished:

(2) Let's do it together - it is a lot more fun seeing quilts progress alongside other people's work, and it certainly keeps the pressure on.  This Snowball quilt-a-long was the first quilt-a-long that really caught my eye:
By coincidence, this quilt-a-long also brought my attention to another great blogging quilter, Thelma of Cupcakes 'n' Daisies.  She probably deserves her own post on this blog too! 

(3) Don't be afraid to try new things.  For example, Nicole did a very helpful post on curved piecing which looks fabulous.  This might help me in my Groove quilt if I can finally choose my colours!

(4) Keep your stash under control ... perhaps an ironic tip for me to share given that this entire post kicked off with me buying 2 Layer Cakes on a whim:

I am pleased that Nicole is a "backing matching the front" stickler like me - if I've spent hours on the front of a quilt I am not backing it with a bedsheet!  This doesn't help my fabric levels unfortunately.

(5) The importance of trimming - this was a step I was happy to skip on my first quilt, which is probably why it came out a bit wonky.

(6) Always use a colour catcher when washing a quilt for the first time.  I have been known to throw 5 or 6 in when there are reds involved.  The colour of my post-wash colour catchers terrifies me.  I am so pleased Nicole posted this before I managed to wreck any quilts.

(7) Contrast is key.  Showing the lovely block v the ugly block demonstrated this very well in this post:

(8) Tools aplenty - it is from Nicole that I discovered Spray Starch, the Angler 2, Basting SprayU-shaped pins, Easy Angle ruler,  and various ways to make Flying Geese and HSTs - some easier than others.  I am happy that I won't be trying Triangle Papers any time soon.

(9) Ask others - like Nicole, I have Long Arm Machine envy and sometimes wonder if one day I might get one.  The many comments Nicole got back on her Long Arm query were very helpful to me too and made me realise that, at least now, there is no way I can do piecing and learn Long Arm quilting at the same time.  Happily this means I don't need to have the conversation with my husband as to why I want to spend more than I spent on my car on a sewing machine.

and lastly, and slightly OT, make sure you check out Nicole's blog around Hallowe'en, because:

(10) Americans do Hallowe'en SO much better than we do:

G x

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Is this some kind of joke? Baby lurghy #3

Okay ... having gotten over grumpy teething baby, then grumpy snotty baby, we now have grumpy "hand, foot & mouth" baby.  Er what?

Happily this is not the same foot & mouth that crops up on farms, but rather a mild but annoying illness circulating the nursery at the moment (coincidentally, at the same time as chickenpox - and at this rate I expect we will get that too in due course). 
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

It causes a mild temperature, a rash (as the name suggests) on the hands & feet and around the mouth, and sores inside the mouth which can make feeding a bit uncomfortable.  Grumpy toddler ahoy (although happily not overly ill so far - just a bit spotty).

Somehow I have got some sewing done since my last post - I have finished the next ring on my EPP so now I just have to square off the corners before making it into a cushion:

In other news, Superdesigner Tula Pink is coming to town!  How exciting is that?!  I can't make it to the Festival of Quilts this year but happily Tula is coming along to London for a meet & greet with the LMQG.  Hooray!

G xxx

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Belated July makes

I know it's not WIP Wednesday ... it's Tardy Thursday for me.  Last night I fell asleep putting the baby to bed and woke up this morning fully clothed on the floor next to her.  I guess I'm tired!

I am as surprised as anyone that I did manage to do a little sewing in July - mainly hand sewing in the evening on the sofa.  First up, I finished the binding on my Union Jack pillow:

Quite why I didn't put a nice fat pillow inside this before taking the photo, I'm not sure.  Maybe I was just excited to get something finished for once.

I have also been plugging away at my hexagons.  Here's where they were up to yesterday morning:

Hopefully I will be able to post an updated picture quite soon as I have done half of the next ring (in red) so if I keep doing a few hexies a night I should get that next ring done soon.  Then it will be jumbo cushion-sized so I will square it off and get it made up.

I was wishing that I had bought the half-hexagon paper pieces to square it off before I realised that I can just cut some whole hexagon templates in half - duh.  I have enough hexagons left to make another cushion to match although I think I might make that one with a random layout rather than in rings.

I keep seeing lovely colourful new collections like Chicopee, Lilybelle and Indie and it is taking all of my willpower not to buy oodles of it.  Every year there are so many collections that I love but I can't justify buying because my sewing speed is just not as fast as my (alarming) purchasing speed.

How do you decide which lines to buy and how much?  And do you buy FQ bundles, pre-cuts, random yardage?  One of my problems as a fabric collection fascist is my preference to have the backing & binding to match from the same collection, which means I need to decide in advance roughly what I am going to make.  But again, my project planning speed does not run as fast as my purchasing speed.

Cup of tea & biscuit time I think.

Gertie xxx

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The dreaded fever returns

Just when you think it's safe to put away the Calpol ... out comes a toddler temperature again.  Last night at 3am we woke to a right clanger of 40 degrees, but with the help of Iggle Piggle and Calpol she has been quietly cheerful.  Just very, very hot.

This has meant no sewing, no blogging, no LMQG meeting, and even no Olympics as the telly has been commandeered to placate the grumpy toddler.  However, I have just managed to get her to bed so I am going to watch the Men's 100m final before she has chance to wake up again.  Usain Bolt was ridiculously fast in his heat so unless he falls over, I assume he is going to walk it again.

Keep your fingers crossed for both my sanity and the survival of this blog (I'm fairly sure nobody is tuning in regularly to hear about ill toddlers) and with any luck I might get something sewn in August.  To be fair, we did have a very good run of nobody being ill all the way from Easter to the beginning of the Summer Holidays, so I am not complaining.  These things are all very good for the growing immune system!  Just not good for blogs.

Gertie xxx

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Belated thank you

Now that toddler teething, temperatures and general snot are more or less under control, hopefully I can start sewing again.  And also doing things that I have been meaning to do for some time, like saying thank you for lovely things.

A couple of weeks ago I received an unscheduled, slightly lumpy package.  I love packages!  Who doesn't?  In fact I love them so much that usually I have to order fabric to get them (well that's my excuse anyway).

Upon opening said package, look what loveliness was inside:

A lovely selection of goodies from Fiona at Poppy Makes!  Thank you so much Fiona!

Fiona had previously sent out a shout out for American Jane fabric for her burgeoning hexagons quilt:

And as luck would have it, Snippets was the first ever line of designer fabric that I had bought.  I made a little 4-patch cot quilt for my friend's baby....

...then got waylaid and started making other things.  I had always meant to go back and make a larger quilt (maybe "Jitterbug" which is the quilt on the front cover of this Pam & Nicky Lintott Layer Cake & Jelly Roll book), but it kept getting moved further down and down my list.  Deep down I suspected that I would never get around to making this quilt and that the poor Snippets would just sit in my cupboard forever.  I liked the thought that Fiona might get around to making something out of it that had a chance of being finished this century.

Fiona was very happy with her Snippets and decided to send some things back - she is either psychic or has excellent taste as I love all of the things she kindly chose to send to me.  I was especially surprised to see a little someone who, not a few days earlier, I had seen trumpeting on the Village Haberdashery website:
Yes, the lovely Nellie in the middle with the big star on its bottom is now my pincushion!  Hee hee!

I am also v excited to have Single Girl pattern as I have been coveting it since the beginning of time. I'm sure someone brought a very lovely one to the Fat Quarterly Retreat.  It looks great for using up colourful scraps.  And maybe that lovely Half Moon Modern charm pack, yum yum.

So, thank you so, so much Fiona, and sorry it has taken so long to get around to blogging this!