Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Tiny Dancers, Textiles and Travels

Last weekend we visited a Coin and Collectors Fair in Riga.

The Fair is held monthly in a school and is a sometimes strange mix of items. The majority of the stalls sell coins and stamps, but then you get two stalls together selling such odd bedfellows as military equipment and china figurines. The Fair takes over the whole school building so there are people setting up their stalls on the stairs as well as lots of trading going on in the entrance to the building.

Plenty of inspiration here for jewellery, but I was particularly taken with these tiny dancers

Aren't they cute? A couple of them might just have found their way into my hands in exchange for some Lats!

Walking around Riga Old Town at the weekend I discovered a poster for an exhibition by the Latvian Textile Artists Association that was taking place in a beautiful old church. Needless to say I hotfooted it straight there, as it was already the last day of the exhibition. As I had gone out without my camera I press-ganged my husband's camera, but it was a poor substitute. On leaving, however, I discovered that the exhibition had another day to run so I was straight back there the next day and this time my camera came too.

I have entered Rikka's Ring your Neck scarf challenge so was looking for inspiration. This took my eye

and in close-up

I just wanted to stroke it but managed to refrain!

These were also inspiring

The artist entitled this piece Drops of Emotion.

This, however, was my favourite

It is entitled My favourite scarecrow

and when I looked at the title label I discovered that it is by a textile artist called Edite Pauls-Vignere, whose work I have seen exhibited several times before. Every single time I have visited an exhibition where this artist is exhibited, without realising I have always picked one of her pieces as my favourite. If only I had the bank balance to match my taste!

When you read this the packers will have arrived and I shall be watching my sewing equipment disappear into the back of a large van, to be seen again who knows when. To keep my mind off of this state of affairs I have been busy cutting out fabric for more Saaremaa Star blocks for the journey home.

There hasn't been much progress on the WIP list this week but I guess that is not unexpected :)


  • 7 blocks of In Color Order HST BOM ( 3 blocks behind schedule)
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt basted
  • 9/24 Zakka-style SAL projects completed
  • Teatime quilt pieced, backed and basted 
  • 5 blocks of NY Beauty QAL completed and fabric cut for remaining 5 blocks
  • 14 blocks of Craftsy BOM completed (2 months behind schedule) 
  • 12 Sunday Morning Quilt Bee blocks completed (on schedule)
  • 4 Star of Africa Bee blocks completed and sent (on schedule just!)

  • Indigo and violet rainbow cushions
  • Last block of Sampler quilt
  • Holiday Cushion Blog Hop
  • Hoop-la-la swap  
  • Ring your Neck scarf challenge

Hope you have been having a productive week.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Songs, Stars and Bees

I just had time before the sewing machine was packed away for the move to catch up on my (late) block for the Star of Africa Bee. Benta, whose month it was, is planning to put the blocks together for a quilt for her upcoming Silver Anniversary in March. She asked for a wonky star block made up of four 8.5" blocks with a central 8.5" block to represent each member's country or culture. The thought of making 5 blocks had put me off tackling this in the run-up to the move, so although I knew what I planned to do, I just didn't think I had the time to do it.

As it turns out it wasn't such a difficult block after all! Although it probably helps that the centre block, representing the Latvian national flag was pretty straightforward.

The fabric surrounding the flag and the star points is of musical notes on a black background. You can see it more closely below.

Music is very much part of the national identity here in Latvia. Indeed the events leading to the independence of the Baltic Nations, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia between 1987 and 1991 are known here as "The Singing Revolution". So it seemed fitting to incorporate the national Flag and music symbols in one block to represent Latvia.

Each month in the Star of Africa Bee, I think I am never going to come up with something appropriate for the Queen Bee, but so far so good! This month Nicky has asked for blocks based on local fairytales or legends and thanks to my lovely blogging friend Kristy, I already have something up my sleeve for that! That will definitely have to wait until my fabrics are unpacked again though.

These fabrics won't be among those being unpacked but you can see why I just had to make one last trip to the linen shop in Lithuania :)

Actually when I look at those photos more closely I think some of them might have made their way into a box.

If you are a vintage fabric fan or love the DS quilt fabrics by Denyse Schmidt, check out the giveaway and money off coupon that Karen is currently running to promote her new Etsy shop.

Finally, here are this week's stops on the Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop

22 Lucy @ Charm About You
23 Claire @ Sewing Over Pins
25 Celine @ Esprit Patch
26 Shawn @ Creative Inspiraciones

Linking up to BOM's Away and Building Blocks Tuesday.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Halloween Pumpkin Lantern tablemat

I am on a roll with Halloween projects. Since I tackled the modern Dresden block in the Craftsy BOM I have been thinking of using the block as a tablemat, so what better excuse to have than a Pumpkin Lantern tablemat!

The pumpkin lantern in the photo was an impulse buy in Germany on our recent road trip. We passed through a village near the Polish border, where a whole car park was taken over with a gorgeous display of pumpkins and squashes for sale. I regretted not stopping at the time to take a photo, so was not going to pass up the chance later to buy the lantern as a reminder.

Enough of the reminiscing here's how to make the tablemat.

You will need:


1 FQ of 4 Different Halloween Fabrics, (I used 2 prints and 2 solids)
1 FQ black cotton for backing and centre circle
12.5" square of Insul-Bright Wadding
1.5m jumbo ric-rac
Easy Dresden ruler (optional)


5 x 4" Dresden Plate blades from each fabric
2 x 4.25" circle from the black cotton
1 x 12.5" square from the black cotton
1 x 12"    circle from the Insul-Bright wadding

Step 1

Join the Dresden blades together alternating the fabrics to make a 20 blade Dresden Plate. Join them in pairs, then 4's until you have a complete circle

Step 2

Pin the jumbo ric-rac to the outer edge of the Dresden plate right sides facing. Matching the curve of the ric-rac turn under at each end to hide the raw edges. Machine baste.

With the black backing square right side up pin the Dresden plate right side down to the backing square. The right sides will be facing each other with the ric-rac trim between them.

Stitch with a 0.25" seam around the edge of the Dresden Plate.

Trim the backing square to match the Dresden plate. Pull the backing through the centre circle to turn right sides out.

Step 3

Place the wadding circle between the backing and Dresden Plate by inserting through the centre circle and adjusting with your fingers to flatten.

Step 4

Pin the 2 x 4.25" circles right sides together. Stitch all around with a 0.25" seam. Gently pull the circles away from each other to separate them so that you can cut a slit across the centre of one.

Clip the curves, then pull the other circle through the slit. Press.

Step 5

Pin the centre circle to the centre of the Dresden Plate evenly covering the blade ends. Machine blanket stitch with black thread around the circle to attach.

Step 6

I used the scallop embroidery stitch on my machine to embroider black bats randomly on the mat to finish.

Set up your pumpkin lantern and wait for the ghosts and ghouls to come out!

Check out the great giveaway too at Plum and June , a bundle of Cloud 9 organic fabrics could be heading your way!

Linking up to Fabric Tuesday, Manic Monday , Sew Modern Monday and Sunday Showcase .

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Bunting on a Budget

Another first! I have just completed my first ever guest post over on Lily's Quilts

Every month Lynne runs a competition to win £20 worth of supplies from Abakhan Fabrics for their Projects on a Budget series. Readers of Lynne's blog pitch their idea for a craft item made with Abakhan supplies and Lynne then selects her favourite to be made and written up as a guest blog post on Lily's Quilts.

Last month the theme was Halloween and my idea for Halloween Bunting was Lynne's pick.

Now as it happens I have a great Abakhan store at the end of our road, so with a bit of help from Will at Abakhan in Wales and Kristin in their Baltic Head Office in Estonia I was able to source my £20 worth of supplies in my local shop.

Here is a sneak peek of my Halloween Bunting

Appliqued bat

To see the completed bunting and get the tutorial head on over to Lily's Quilts

The theme for this month's competition is "Winter Warmers" so if you want to get your hands on £20 worth of supplies and get the chance to guest post on Lily's Quilts make sure you leave Lynne a comment telling her what you would make.

Linking up to Manic Monday   and  Sunday Showcase

Monday, 15 October 2012

Cheesy blocks

Although we are about to move and I should not be taking on any new commitments, I couldn't resist the lure of Quiet Play's Say Cheese! Polaroid Block Swap especially when I was allowed to be an 'honorary Aussie' as well!

The blocks have 2.5" fussy-cut centres and are bordered on all four sides with plain white, hence the Polaroid in the title. Sign-ups were in multiples of 5 with a top limit of 50 blocks.

Well I really only meant to make a few blocks but they were going together so quickly :)

I had never used Kona cotton before and it was such a joy to use that it seemed a shame to stop. So this is what I ended up with.

I can now understand why Kristy set a top limit of 50 blocks!

I actually made 51 blocks by accident, but as it happened it was a happy accident. When I was giving the blocks a final press I noticed a small flaw in one of the white strips.

Can you see the pink mark? I have no idea how I didn't notice it when I was putting the block together, but I am really pleased that I noticed it before parcelling up the blocks and putting them in the post this morning. I am hoping that the mark was picked up whilst I was working on the blocks and wasn't a flaw in the fabric.

We visited a collectors' fair over the weekend and I will post some of the photos later, but I thought you might like this one.

I thought these were an interesting combination and not a pair you often see so closely together!

We are off to Lithuania tomorrow for my last linen spree before the move, should be fun. Hope you all had a great weekend.

Linking up to BOM's Away , Manic Monday and Building Blocks Tuesday.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop- Saaremaa Star

Welcome to my stop on the Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop.

Katy and Laura are, hopefully, in full Sewing Summit mode now and I am looking forward to reading all about the Summit and their trip over the next couple of weeks. To keep them busy on their road trip they came up with the idea of creating English Paper Pieced blocks using fabrics inspired by their travel photos.

I was especially delighted when Katy asked if I would like to take part in the Blog Hop as I had two long road trips planned and was casting around looking for projects to take with me. English Paper Piecing fitted the bill perfectly. The Blog Hop carries on until the end of November, you can check out the full schedule here  On November 30th everyone will have an opportunity to link up their projects to be in the running for these fabulous prizes, so don't miss it!

Sponsored by Paperpieces.comFabricwormPink Castle Fabrics  Marmalade Fabrics, the Fat Quarter ShopWantItNeedItQuilt, and Aurifil.
Full details for competition entry can be found here.

I have been living in Riga, Latvia for four years and in that time we have done our best to explore as much of the Baltic States as possible. Our favourite trip to date was to the island of Saaremaa, off the coast of Estonia. We visited in September last year when the weather was glorious and the island really looked its best. Being an island, fishing naturally plays a big part in community life, but I don't think many of the fisherfolk look like the statue we found a few yards from our hotel in the island capital Kuressaare :)
They do look very happy though, don't they? This photo always makes me smile, it seems to me that the poor man at the back of the boat is really taking the strain, whilst his lady companion is having a great, high-stepping time:)

I used Play Crafts palette builder to generate a colour palette for my EPP block and then ordered these fabrics from Backstitch, well it was a perfect excuse to indulge in a little bit of retail therapy! I had never used a palette builder before but it was so easy I shall definitely be tempted to use it again.

Flying Geese Marine in Quilt Blocks by Ellen Luckett Baker, Redig - Grey Plank in Bella by Lotta Jansdotter and Pearl Bracelet - Green in Hello Pilgrim by Lizzy House.

The block I came up with for these fabrics was inspired by a pattern in a book of Islamic Geometric Designs by Eric Broug. These designs, which are frequently based upon hexagons or pentagons really lend themselves to this type of piecing, so I will be hunting through the book to create more blocks I am sure. I have no idea if this block has a name already, so I have christened it the Saaremaa Star!

If you would like to recreate this block you will need these templates.

They are a 2" hexagon, 3 x 1" hexagons and 6 x 1" tumbling diamond blocks. I downloaded all of the templates from here

Once you have cut out the 1" hexagons you will need to cut them in half from point-to-point.

I cut from the three fabrics 1 x 2.5" hexagon for the centre of the block, 3x 2" hexagons for the 6 half hexagon shapes and 6 x 1.5" diamond shapes. Again you will need to cut the 2" hexagon fabric pieces in half point-to-point. Baste the fabric pieces around the shapes. Then the block goes together like this

Of course once you have started EPP you may find, like I did, that one block is not enough and basting pieces is just so easy to do on the move, so you might end up with something like this!

And this!

Then once you have joined all these together you might end up with something like this!

I haven't decided exactly what to do with these yet, but with another road trip from Riga to Amsterdam in the offing, I suspect there will be a few more of them before too long :)

If you end up having a go at these blocks or any of the blocks from the Blog Hop, don't forget to link them up on November 30th!

If you haven't already, check out yesterday's post from Jessica at Life under quilts, her palette is the essence of New York and if you are new to EPP, definitely have a look at her video. Tomorrow's stop on the Blog Hop is with Catherine at Knotted Cotton

Market temptations

As you know by now there is nothing I like more than wandering around a market. If that market happens to be in France on a sunny day, well that is even better!

So you can guess where I headed to on our recent trip to France on Monday Market Day. Whilst the fruit and veg are always bountiful and the seafood stall is guaranteed to leave my wallet a bit lighter, there are other equally tempting stalls to be found there.

Oh to have green fingers!

So lovely!

I am sure you can work out why this is my favourite stall of them all! As well as all the ribbons you can see, this stall has boxes and boxes of button cards for sale. Naturally I succumbed :)

Just perfect for more button necklaces, don't you think?

Tomorrow it is my stop on the Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop, so I hope you will get a chance to stop off and check out my English Paper Piecing project. See you then!

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