More stuff

Monday, 16 September 2013

Here's one I made earlier

Just as well as there is not much sewing going on here at the moment - back to another weary episode of "When Toddlers get Ear Infections".  Poor little lamb has been walking about with her head sideways all weekend saying "Ear hurts, Mummy".  Got some antibiotics from the doctor this afternoon so fingers crossed that it will clear up soon.

Happily I did do some sewing in August and so this post doesn't have to exclusively relate to ENT problems for the under-3s.

This is the needlecase I have made for LMQG's December needlecase swap with the Vancouver MQG.  Having had a good gander at the VMQG website, I am only sorry I don't get to deliver it by hand myself, as it looks like the good quilters of Vancouver have a lot of stitchy fun in their beautiful city.
My favourite part is the metallic stitching I added to the tiara outline - it doesn't really come out on the photo but in real life it is nice and sparkly :)

I tried to make it as UK themed as I could with this linen stamp fabric on the front, with some Echino London on the back:

And found some nice bright felt colours to go in the middle:
Good topstitch practice!

The needlecases will be picked by lucky dip so I hope this one goes to a happy new home in Vancouver x

Friday, 30 August 2013

Where do you come from?

Where do you come from?

Don't worry, I'm not searching for my roots or getting esoteric. I am just curious how my fellow quilters found quilting - or how it found them.  I am a bit of an accidental quilter, even though I have always loved needlecrafts.  A chance 'pop into a shop' on a chance 'I need lunch' stop off in a random small town whilst on honeymoon is the culprit for starting my quilting adventure.

(PS thank you, Sugar Pine Company in Canmore, Alberta - although you sure have cost me a lot of money over the past 10 years)

However, in terms of where I "came from" - my needlework beginnings almost did not get off the ground at all, as although I loved this subject at school, we had a rather touchy-feely matronly teacher who liked to fondle us in the way that most of us prefer to fondle fabric.

Happily, despite having dropped Needlework in favour of Art, when I was 17 one of my Christmas presents was a Forever Friends cross-stitch like this one:

Smitten as I was with my new boyfriend at the time, I duly stitched it up in proclamation of our puppy love.  Stupidly I then gave it to him so I no longer have it.  And although our puppy love never grew into a full grown Alsatian, I had definitely been bitten by the stitching bug.

Over the next decade I cross-stitched away merrily, occasionally doing a bit of embroidery but always returning to cross stitch.  It was my first love and I am still very fond of it (unlike my first boyfriend).  But it doesn't quite push my buttons any more.  Maybe because it confines the stitcher to the grid - but then there is something very comforting about knowing what it will look like at the end.

Just as I have a huge pile of quilting fabrics waiting patiently for their turn to be stitched, so I have a considerable pile (but not enormous - I didn't have much money in my twenties) of cross stitch kits waiting to be made up.  And this week I finally finished one that I had started whilst I was expecting Baby #2 and thought I could finish it before she was born:
Obviously I estimated incorrectly as she is now 2.  But I hope she will like it when she is old enough not to cover it in sticky fingerprints.

The pattern is "ABC Lessons" by Lizzie*Kate and uses some hand dyed variegated thread to give it a bit more depth.

And fittingly it includes our family motto (or what I say to my kids 300 times a day...)

So where do you come from?  What is the primordial soup of your needlework?  I would love to know!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Siblings Together improv quilt

Going to the Fat Quarterly Retreat really reignited my sewing mojo (Sewjo?) and so the week following it I spent every spare minute rattling up a new quilt top for Siblings Together with the leftovers from my Bee quilt.

I had based my Bee blocks on this wonky rectangles tutorial by Tallgrass Prairie Studio:

I wanted my fellow Bee members to have the freedom to do whichever sized rounds in whatever order so sent out the same amount of each fabric, which would mean they had plenty left over.  I also said they could keep the fabric or if they chose to make strips or improv blocks which I would then incorporate into a quilt for Siblings Together.

I had received most of my Bee blocks back (more of which when I've sewn them together) along with a number of strips / improv blocks from my fellow Bee-ers.  I had also taken the same fabric to FQR to use it up and so had some blocks from my classes.  Thus armed, I rallied my newly revitalised Sewjo and we embarked without a compass on our improv quilt top.

I had some Portholes from my class with Lucie Summers:

 And some leftover hexies from Tacha's paper piecing class at last year's FQR:

 Plus one lonely orphan block from my Apple Crisp quilt - I had made 64 blocks but only needed 63:

Put them together and what do you get?

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo!

I found putting this quilt together quite liberating because I really had no idea what it was going to turn into.  Having seen the wonderful array of Siblings Together quilts at the Retreat, I needed no further motivation to get this pieced so that I have time to quilt it (eeek!) in plenty of time for next year's call for quilts.

And also this plus my Bee quilt should use up the last of my blasted Rouenneries fabric that I bought too much of when I was terrified of running out of it for my Apple Crisp quilt.  Being a pedantic self-disciplinarian (not that you'd know from my messy house and numerous bars of Dairy Milk), I have it in my head that I am duty-bound to use my fabric on a FIFO basis.  I have already agonised over this in this post and even though I know my Curly Watts approach is not logical, I can't help myself.

So hurrah for breaking out some new fabric and maybe even breaking my own rule and going straight for those lovely Oakshotts ......

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Mothers and quilters

Having seen this mosaic many times ... and how true it is:

I was very happy to see another one on Miss Rosie's blog for quilters ... also true:

Monday, 12 August 2013

Paper piecing is not my strong suit

I have my computer back, hurrah!  It is like regaining feeling in a lost limb.  I have felt rather cut off from the world without it, not least because we then all decamped to the West Country for a week, where the 21st Century has still yet to arrive in some places.  What the South West needs is a nice big MOTORWAY.

Although given that any road in the South West is liable to be roped off with orange string at any given moment to allow a herd of 200 cows to pass by, perhaps this wouldn't be such a good idea.

Not much sewing going down last week as we were too busy driving along wiggly roads and trying in vain to wear out the children with a variety of exciting activities.  In fact all we succeeded in doing was exhausting ourselves whilst the children went into overdrive, although we did manage to watch most of the first series of Breaking Bad once they finally went to bed.

So a bit of a catch up first - here's what I was working on just before the Retreat - my final block for the FQR Bee:
This was actually February's block but I was so scared of paper piecing that I put it off until June.  Bad girl! 

The fabric we got was Sew Stitchy by Aneela Hoey, and we got free rein on the block except that it had to be sewing related.  I was blown away by some of the blocks the other girls did, such as this one by KettleBoiler:
... and this one by Dandelion Liz:

Er, pressure!  It took me a long time to draft the pattern from a fuzzy picture I found on Google Images, and then a great big panic when I realised there wasn't a lovely straight line to sew down at the end.  Thankfully it didn't end up with a big crease in the middle - just as well, as I don't do unpicking if I can get away with it.

I have also just finished my Siblings Together quilt top so hopefully will have a blog post about that very soon too x

Monday, 29 July 2013

Warning: blogging with prehistoric computer

I will be interested to see whether this blog post comes out more or less badly laid out on the page than the previous iPad post.  On the plus side, it is a 'proper' computer ; on the downside, it is so old that it might possibly have been found in a cave in France along with troglodyte art and perhaps a fossilised mammoth.  Typing leaves huge pauses while the computer has a little think and then suddenly posts three-quarters of a sentence with some bits missing.  So if any of this post makes less sense than usual, it might (for once) not be my fault.

Something that is squarely my fault is that I didn't take my camera to FQR.  Another thing that is my fault is that I was so late sewing on the binding to my last Sample Swap mug rug that I didn't take a photo of any of them before I swapped them.  Happily, my swappees have more brainpower than I and so I have a photo of one kindly sent to me by MammaFairy Rachel:
Once I have charged my camera up (oops) I will post photos of the lovely sample swap goodies that I received too - 3 lovely things that I have been using every single day and that make me smile every time I pick them up!

I may have done more chatting than sewing at FQR but it has definitely re-ignited my sewing mojo.  The morning after I got back, I sprang into action (possibly the knowledge that it was my last child-free day for the next 6 weeks may have spurred me on too).  By school pickup I had pieced the majority of an Improv quilt for Siblings Together.  I now have one last seam to sew before I have a quilt top.  Definitely a record for me.

(PS - see this post on Lily's Quilts to see some of the fab Siblings Together quilts that were handed over to the phenomenal lady who runs the charity, Delma.)

If this post works then I shall go back and re-edit my disastrous iPad post.  There still won't be pictures, but there may be paragraphs! 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Pictureless FQR

Just a very quick post to confirm that I am still alive (apologies for recent blogging hiatus) and to say thank you to the many lovely folks I chatted with at FQR (more chatting than sewing if I'm honest) and who made a good weekend into a great weekend.

Unfortunately my desktop exploded (literally) when I got back from FQR which means I am tapping this out one-fingered on the iPad. I don't know how to get photos onto the iPad so this will be a pictureless post.

Anyway, back to FQR! So glad to catch up with Helen & Moira again and to meet Di & Liz for the first time - thanks to you all for some lovely lovely chats. It was also so nice to catch up with many of my Bee members - some for the the first time (Kate, Mary, Carol) - and see the 2 Siblings Together bee quilts in the flesh.

Inspired, on Monday as soon as the kids were dropped off I knuckled down with my offcut Bee blocks (more of which later) and Portholes from FQR, and whipped together the majority of an Improv quilt destined for next year's Siblings Together. Hoping to finish this next week although we are now in school holidays so my sewing time reduces from 'not much' to 'almost nil'.

Also a big thank you to Rachel Pinheiro who kindly refitted my Amelia dress bodice onto me so that I can move onto the next stage. Without her help I think this might have been consigned to the scrap pile so I am extremely grateful. When my computer is up & running I will do a whole blog post on this.

Another thing that will get its own blog post is the sample swap - I got some gorgeous goodies from Nicky, Rachel and Anna and I hope they weren't too underwhelmed by my mug rugs. I am such a donkey that I didn't even take a photo of the mug rugs I made before I swapped them. Rachel has sent me a photo of one so once my computer is back to life I will have a picture to post.

Anyway, I shall sign off here - too many words and not enough pictures! And why won't my iPad do paragraphs? Trying again....

Edited to add some links and some much-needed paragraph breaks!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Needle vs finger

Take heed of my sorry tale:

bent needle sewing machine

In the battle of needle vs finger, there are no winners.  Ow.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Name tag finish

At last - a finish to speak of!  And happily even though this is a name tag for the Fat Quarterly Retreat, it is not a secret because it is doubling up as a belated LMQG name tag swap too.  I received this jazzy name tag from Amanda aka MetroQuilter who is a lovely and increasingly prolific member of LMQG:

Amanda made my name tag very punctually in February because she is a good girl.  My tag-making has been delayed, partly by my own inability to carve out some sewing time to do it, and partly as a result of my notorious tendency for indecision.  I changed the concept at least 3 times before deciding that I would use the famous Paris Metropolitan lettering for the "Metro" from MetroQuilter:
paris metropolitain abbesses art nouveau metro entrance

So here is my version:
metroquilter paris metro name tag

And the back, taken from a Petite Ecole panel:
 petite ecole french general name tag

The lanyard is a bit too long - this is what comes from blindly following an online tutorial - so I think I will rectify that before I give it to Amanda:
 french general name tag lanyard

I used this beasty machine - the Crop-o-Dile II - to punch the hole fix the eyelet.  The eyelets I bought initially were too thin and flimsy for my liking so I ordered some heavier duty ones with washers which arrived today and which definitely give a better finish than the rubbishy ones.
crop-o-dile II eyelet punch name tag

Now I have to get started on my Sample Swap items for the Fat Quarterly Retreat - luckily for me, Amanda was kind enough to wait patiently for her tag, but the Sample Swap has a  time and a place so they will just have to be ready on time!  I will be making Mug Rugs, so I need to decide on a design sharpish and get sewing.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Bee blocks & more FMQ practice

I enjoy being in a Bee but I do feel the pressure of getting my blocks done and dusted asap.  These are April's blocks for Kate, and are called Converging Corners - here is the link to the online tutorial.

Kate wanted to use up scraps from a green quilt she had been making so here are my 2 blocks:
converging corners quilt bee blockconverging corners quilt bee block
 Apologies for the big creases running down the middle - I had packaged them up for sending before remembering that I hadn't taken a photo!

I have also been having another go at FMQ - this time a paisley / clam shell type design:
FMQ beginner practise
One of the things that I am finding hard is keeping the shapes big - I thought it would be harder to do smaller shapes but actually it's the other way around.

Still lots of things on the back burner - Pervalong, Amelia dress, my PP'd February block that I need to knuckle down and do.  I have half the binding machined down on my daughter's Dolce quilt so hopefully that will be a nice thing to hand sew in the evening once I get the other half machined on.

I have also been doing a lot more reading recently.  Earlier this year I read Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, which is just a superb book.  I think Bring up the Bodies has just come out in paperback so I am going to get that one to carry on the story.

Another good book I read this month was The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh - little spoilt girl gets sent to South Africa - another good read.
fever tree jennifer mcveigh book group
Any book recommendations gratefully received!  I am getting to the point where I am too old to waste my time with rubbish books.  I only have time for good ones!

Monday, 29 April 2013

FMQ 101

FINALLY!  Nobody is ill, I don't have any accounts to do or dull meetings to go to, and everyone is in school or nursery or wherever they are supposed to be.  In celebration, I have found my balls, attached my free motion foot (not to my imaginary balls) and finally had a real life go at FMQ.  Huzzah!

Disclaimer:  Please excuse the lurid green cloth that I have been using to practise on, and perhaps go and get some sunglasses before you scroll down, so that you don't damage your eyes.

Here is FMQ attempt #1, during which I fought with the cloth, forgot to breathe and declared "This is ridiculous.  I am NEVER doing this again".
FMQ beginner practise

Happily, I rarely listen to myself, so I had another go on a fresh piece of green straight away - here is FMQ attempt #2:
FMQ beginner practise

Much better!  I can see why people say that the key is to practise, practise, practise.  I found Leah Day's Craftsy course very useful for helping out with things like how to stop big long stitches on starting and stopping (still getting used to that).

My mantra of the day - SLOW DOWN.  My instinct is to push the cloth away like an unexploded bomb.  I think I spend so much of my day rushing about that I forget how to do things slowly.

Also, how much bobbin thread does FMQ use????  I think I might just go and wind 10 bobbins in advance and be done with it.

G x

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The best laid plans etc

Apologies for the lack of action on this blog.  The plague of ill children has struck the Pye household again, this time knocking out any kind of fun for 3 out of the past 4 weeks.  Hopefully a course of antibiotics will see off the current dastardly ear infection so that normal life can resume soon.

I didn't even have time to post about my Q1 Finish-a-Long, which is probably just as well, as despite a roaring start, it stalled in February and never really got going again.  On a happier note, I now have 2 quilts at the binding stage, and without the FAL they may have still been in boxes, so progress made.  Here is my elder daughter's Dolce quilt ready to bind:
tanya whelan dolce quilt jelly filled thimble blossoms pattern
I genuinely enjoy doing the binding which gives me an additional incentive to reclaim my evenings and sit on the sofa hand sewing, while my husband watches one of the many tedious series currently clogging up our Sky+ Planner.

I have missed the Q2 FAL deadline but I am still going to set some personal goals.  Although given this last month, just "any sewing whatsoever" would have been something to achieve.  I must also factor in my Bee blocks - I always forget to put them on my list, but they do take time.

I am also delighted to see BBC2 running the Great British Sewing Bee, on one hand just to get sewing on the map and also to see the poor contestants trying to whip up a piece of quality clothing in far too little time.  I haven't seen last night's episode yet so don't tell me who goes home!

It has also given me the nudge I needed to get my dressform (Christmas present from 2008) out of its box for the first time (*hangs head in shame*), adjusted to my expanding waistline, and set up in my sewing room:
setting up dressform sewing great british sewing bee
... which, by the by, is another new development  - clearing out the cot & assorted paraphernalia from the old nursery and claiming it as Mummy's Dedicated Sewing Space.  Next step is to put a lock on the door.  Muhahahaaa!

I have traced the pattern pieces for this Green Bee Amelia dress which I am going to make up in a muslin first:
green bee amelia bias cut dress
... with a view to then making it properly in Tula Pink's Saltwater - hoping that the bias cutting does some interesting things with the stripes:
tula pink saltwater stripe fabric
But who knows!  I am not very experienced at dressmaking (except for children's clothes, which are much easier).  And it is possible that if a dapper beardy man from Savile Row doesn't appear to check my handiwork and let me examine his trouser waistband, I may well lose interest.  If I get this finished before the proper summer weather arrives, I will be very happy indeed.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Zephyr sundress

Hello peeps

Head on over to The Village Haberdashery blog to see my daughter's Zephyr sundress featured in this week's newsletter!

village haberdashery figgy's zephyr dress nani iro little letter nina double gauze kona sundress straps

(Pictures by Annie -  much better with a camera than me!)

Monday, 11 March 2013

Slowly but surely

For once I have some sewing output to show - not much (blame half term) but a little:

First up, a Bee block for Tracey at QuiltMeHappy:
HST quilt bee block
This is the same Tracey who so expertly long-armed my Apple Crisp quilt.  Tracey sent ready-made HST blocks and asked us to arrange them however we liked - one big block, a couple of small blocks, even all in a big long row!  No matter how wacky I tried to make my block, symmetry kept winning out so I went with this layout in the end.

The other thing I have been chipping away at is my Pervalong:
pervalong PP paper pieced quilt kona pink green
I have made all of the central blocks now but just need to sew them together into 4 quarters and then join the quarters to make the centre of the quilt.  The thing with paper piecing being backwards (well it is in my head anyway) is that I don't really have a feel of how the quilt is looking as I am going along.  I can't wait to get these blocks all together so I have something to show for it instead of 4 envelopes stuffed with numbered blocks.

Right - off to carry on binding my Apple Crisp before the 31 March comes around and it is still on my WIP list.  Not this time!

Monday, 4 March 2013

All the gear, no idea

Back when I was young and hip (all right, just young) we used to go on a group skiing holiday every year.  It was a real motley crew - various friends of friends - and one of our group always had all the latest stuff - titanium skis, heated boots, de-misting goggles.  However, whilst the rest of our group went merrily sailing down black runs, he usually skied with me on the nice gentle blue runs in what we termed "Remedial Ski School".  One of his mates dubbed him "All the gear, no idea".

I am the equivalent of "All the gear, no idea" in the world of machine quilting.  Take a look:

Supreme slider - check
supreme slider quilt FMQ

Bobbin washers - check
magic genie bobbin washers FMQ quilt

Craftsy online class with Leah Day - check
craftsy online course FMQ beginner leah day

Multitude of FMQ books - check
FMQ beginner book quilt

300 pages of quilt doodles - check
FMQ beginner quilt doodles paper

Hideous fabric from remnant shop to be sacrificed in inaugural FMQ attempt - check.
FMQ practise fabric

Have I tried it out?  No.

Too scared.