Wednesday 29 February 2012

Paper, Snow and WIP's

After my enjoyment of the first instalment of Katy's Foundation Paper Piecing for the Terrified FPPFTT I was definitely looking forward to the second tutorial, especially as it would come one day before the long-dreaded foundation pieced block in the Sew Happy QAL! This time we were practising triangles so more capacity for disaster I would have thought! In the end, the block turned out better than I had anticipated, which is always nice.

I hadn't been overly keen on the fabric combination when I had pulled them from my stash, but was keen to get on so had gone with them. They definitely came together better than I had expected, so I was very pleased. Now I just need to decide what to do with the block and whether to do more of the same to give me more options. All suggestions gratefully received! My son and his girlfriend have decorated their bedroom in purple, so I could maybe do something for them.

It wasn't entirely plain sailing with this block as I did find that I was being a bit too generous at times with the seam allowances. I found it more difficult to judge with the triangles than I had with the strips for the first block, but, hopefully, that is something that will improve with practise. Let's hope so as Jenna's next block in the Sew Happy QAL is a star full of foundation pieced triangles, and I can't afford to mess it up as I haven't got much fabric left!

There has been a great incentive to be indoors sewing these last couple of days here. Just when the temperature rose above freezing for a couple of days and it seemed that the winter might be over, this is what we looked out on yesterday!

So as well as getting to grips with the paper-pieced triangles, I also got around to starting the teatime lap quilt that I have been planning for several weeks after the discovery of a forgotten, embroidered linen in my cupboard. The borders are on to square up the linen and I am busy working out the maths for the first row of blocks. This may take some time as I am always forgetting or miscalculating the seam allowances, if only someone had been able to tell me at school how important maths would be I might have paid more attention :)

 I really like the stripe fabric for this border, it picks up the embroidery colours really well. I am finding the linen centre very contrary to work with, trying to get the edges square has been difficult to say the least. Hopefully, now that the cotton border is on it will be a bit easier. I have a pattern for an Irish welcome quilt that I would really like to do, but it has a linen centre too so will no doubt have the same problems. I will see how this one turns out before tackling any more linen I think.

Here is how my WIP list is looking at the moment;


  • Reindeer Cushion
  • Shades of Green, Fleur Bleu, Checkered Heart and Orange cushions 
  • Orphan Block needle roll 
  • Pieced arc tea towel  
  • Yo-yo maker purse 
  • Padded hangers and tutorial
  • 10 blocks of Sew Happy QAL (this weeks to do)
  • 2 blocks of In Color Order HST BOM (up-to-date) 
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt now basted 
  • First and second blocks of FPPFTT completed
  • First border of teatime quilt completed, blocks to be calculated and cut
  • Indigo, yellow and violet rainbow cushions
  • Sunflower Quilt 
  • Last block of Sampler quilt - no progress but it is in the UK and I am in Latvia!
  • Amy Butler bag 
  • Bag Making Bible Fashionista Bag 
  • Dragon Bag
  • Patchwork Block bag
  • Christmas mini quilts
  • New York Beauty QAL signed up for (starts March)
  • Craftsy BOM which I have signed up for but still haven't looked at yet!
 Oh dear, nothing has moved on the Waiting list! I will definitely have to try and find the time to at least have a look at the Craftsy BOM as the March tutorials will be out tomorrow.

Linking up to Lee's WIP Wednesday and Esther's WOW

Monday 27 February 2012

A new passion?

Never having tried paper-piecing before I was very surprised to find that I loved tackling the first block in The Littlest Thistle's FPPFTT. I loved it so much that I didn't stop at one block, but got a bit carried away and made 4!

Joined together and bordered with a linen strip, the 4 blocks became the orange in my rainbow cushions. Four cushions down and three to go and two results in one!

I really loved this fabric, Terrain by Kate Spain, so livened up the back of the cushion with some self-covered buttons too.

The next block in the FPPFTT is due out today. Katy gave us a preview on her blog at the weekend, so I am really looking forward to getting to grips with triangles this time. In fact, I have enjoyed the paper piecing so much that I have signed up for the New York beauty QAL too! I am nothing if not enthusiastic :) Check out the giveaway at Freshly Pieced to celebrate the beginning of the QAL here

Talking of Quilt a Longs, the Sew Happy QAL is steadily coming towards the end. This week's block was number 10 of 12, the time seems to have flown by on this, which I really didn't expect when I signed up. This week's block was all HST's, and came together really quickly. The next block is a paper-pieced block, so I am glad that I will already have had some practice before attempting it. I am beginning to worry about running out of fabric for the last couple of blocks, so can't afford to make any mistakes now!

The finished quilt will be a (late) First Wedding Anniversary present for my son and daughter-in-law. It was their Anniversary yesterday, which they celebrated with a weekend in Florence. As we had snow again on Sunday I know who was in the right place. The quilt will be a few weeks late but I am sure they will forgive me!

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Firsts and progress!

This week already has been a week of firsts for me. Having signed up to The Littlest Thistle's FPPFTT course last week, I was anxiously waiting on Monday to find out just how I was going to be able to achieve my first-ever paper-pieced block. Well the proof is in the pudding as they say, and here it is!

I decided to kill two birds with one stone and use my new Terrain by Kate Spain fabrics with the intention that the block will eventually become part of the orange cushion for my set of rainbow cushions. To say I am delighted would be an understatement. Katy's instructions were really easy to follow. I only had one 'blip' at the beginning when my first line of stitches were so small that the paper ripped as soon as I took it out of the machine. I think my sewing machine has a mind of it's own when it comes to the setting of stitch length! However, with a slightly longer stitch length everything went just fine. I hope the rest of the blocks are as straightforward!

As you know I have been happily cutting up my husband's work shirts for my sewing and have, therefore, been left with various parts of shirts without any specific ideas of what to do with them. This week, however, I came up with a use for the sleeves!

Padded hangers! Now I can give him at least a part of his shirt back :)

I had read about the True Love contest at Sew Mama Sew and thought I would try my hand at writing a tutorial for the hangers, another first!

These padded hangers are a novel way to provide encouragement and support to family and friends, whilst helping to organise their wardrobe! They are thrifty too as they use up wadding/batting scraps that might otherwise be discarded. The hanger sleeve can be made from fabric scraps too, or do as I did and recycle the sleeve of a worn-out business shirt.

To make one hanger you will need the following supplies;

  • 1 Wooden hanger without a trouser bar (ideally with a removable hanging hook but it is not essential)
  • Double-sided sticky tape
  • Batting/Wadding scraps
  • Fabric scrap equivalent to the length of your hanger + 1/2"  and three times the diameter of the hanger (I used the sleeve of a business shirt which had more than enough fabric for 2 hangers)
  • Carbon-transfer paper
  • Embroidery thread/floss and needle
  • Blunt pencil and paper
The following are optional;
  • Felt scraps 
  • 2 small buttons (I used buttons from the shirt)

Step 1 - Padding the hanger

  Cut your scraps of batting into strips approx 1" wide. Stick strips of double-sided tape along the length of the front and back of the hanger. Starting at one end wrap the batting strips around the hanger, overlapping each strip slightly and beginning each new strip by overlapping the end of the previous strip. 

 When the hanger is fully covered by the batting place a second layer of strips of double-sided sticky tape over the batting and repeat the wrapping one more time.

Step 2 Cutting your fabric
 Measure the length and diameter of your wrapped hanger and cut your fabric to these measurements plus 1/2" on each measurement. My hanger measured 18" by 3 and 1/4" so my fabric was cut to 18 and 1/2" by 3 and 3/4" 

Step 3 Embroidering the hanger sleeve
Decide on the phrase that you want to embroider and either write freehand or print out on paper. I printed my phrases using the Monotype Corsiva Font in size 72. Mark the centre of the long edge of your fabric piece. Fold your printed paper lightly in half to mark the centre of the phrase. Place the carbon transfer paper carbon side down under your printed paper and place both on top of your fabric piece, matching up the centre mark and centre crease. 

 The top of your tallest letter should be approximately 1/2" from the top edge of your fabric. Taking care not to rest your hand heavily on the carbon paper (you will mark your fabric if you do!) trace the letters of your phrase with a blunt pencil pressing down firmly on the letter outline.

Remove the paper and carbon paper to leave behind a traced outline for your embroidery. You can now embroider your chosen sentiment using 2 strands of embroidery thread/floss. I used chain stitch and some backstitch for the lettering and french knots for the dots. For tutorials for these stitches check here and here

Optional - Cut two small hearts from your scraps of red felt and attach at each end of the embroidered phrase using small blanket stitches. A tutorial for this stitch is available here

Step 4 - Making the hanger sleeve

When the embroidery is complete measure 1/4" either side of your centre point of the long edge of the fabric and mark. Placing right sides together pin one short end together and sew with a 1/4" seam. If your hanger has a removable hanging hook pin the two long edges right sides together and using a 1/4" seam sew along the top edge to the first mark from the centre point and finish with a couple of backstitches. Start sewing the top edge again from your second mark (the mark after the centre point) and sew to the end of the long edge. 

If your hanger hook is not removable (as mine were) only sew one short end and then along the top edge to the first mark. 

Snip off the excess fabric triangle at the corner where both the short and long ends are sewn and turn your hanger sleeve right side out.  

Step 5 Final Stage

Gently ease the hanger sleeve onto your padded hanger to the centre. If you have a removable hook, remove it and continue easing the sleeve onto the hanger making sure that your gap in the top edge seam matches up with the hole for the hook. Replace the hook when you have eased the sleeve on fully. 
If your hanger hook is not removable, you will need to pin and hand stitch the sleeve past the hook, using a blindstitch.  A tutorial for this stitch is available here
For both types of hanger turn under and pin the 1/4" seam allowance on the short edges and stitch closed to complete the sleeve.

Optional - To stop delicate items slipping off the hangers you can stitch a small button about 1 and 1/2" from each end on the top seam. 

Your hanger is now finished and ready to pass on your sentiments to your family and friends!

It is also WIP Wednesday and time to have a look at my list, which just got longer with the addition of the FPPFTT! Some movement though, the (Almost) Irish Chain quilt is now, officially, a WIP! I still haven't even looked at the Craftsy BOM so must try to do that before we get into March and I end up even further behind.

  • Reindeer Cushion
  • Shades of Green, Fleur Bleu and Checkered Heart cushions 
  • Orphan Block needle roll 
  • Pieced arc tea towel  
  • Yo-yo maker purse
  • 9 blocks of Sew Happy QAL (this weeks to do)
  • 2 blocks of In Color Order HST BOM (up-to-date) 
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt now basted 
  • First block of FPPFTT completed
  • Centre of orange rainbow cushion completed
  • Indigo, yellow and violet rainbow cushions
  • Sunflower Quilt 
  • Last block of Sampler quilt - no progress but it is in the UK and I am in Latvia!
  • Amy Butler bag 
  • Bag Making Bible Fashionista Bag 
  • Dragon Bag
  • Patchwork Block bag
  • Christmas mini quilts
  • Craftsy BOM which I have signed up for but still haven't looked at yet! 

Linking up to Esther's WOW and Lee's WIP Wednesday and Linda's Nifty Thrifty Tuesday

    Monday 20 February 2012

    Guns and Tacks

    Well, I shall have to be more careful what I wish for, having said that more snow would be handy for sewing over the weekend, we had snow all day on Sunday! Unfortunately, the temperature rose this morning so walking along is a dangerous pastime both underfoot and overhead, where large folds of snow wait to fall from the roofs onto the unwary.

    Snow wasn't the only weather we experienced this weekend, there was definitely a strange alignment of stars and moons on Saturday. I finally got down to basting the (almost) Irish Chain quilt and what a job that was! My knees are still recovering from the hours spent crawling over a wooden floor.

    As you can see this has turned out to be a rather large quilt! So large, in fact, that there was nowhere big enough in the apartment to lay the whole quilt out flat, so the basting had to be done in two halves. Not ideal, I know, but nothing else for it. Never having basted such a large quilt before I was a bit worried about the whole process, with just cause as it turns out as it was hard work trying to keep everything flat.

    I also was using for the first time my new toy, a Microstitch basting gun!

    Isn't it neat, and look how tiny these tacks are! I bought this a while ago specifically to baste this quilt but had never used it before Saturday. I am now a fan, the tacks as you can see are tiny so equivalent to pinning but the process of stapling them is much faster than pinning, for me anyway. I was, initially, a bit worried that the stapling action might mark the wooden floor, but had no problems with that at all. As this quilt will have to be basted for a considerable time, and probably moved whilst still basted, I think that the tacks are probably also much less likely to be accidentally removed than pins might be. Well that is what I am hoping anyway.

    Now that this is basted I, in my head at least, feel that it has moved from being a UFO to a WIP!

    My question to you all though is how to quilt this? Is it possible, or practical even, to machine quilt something this size on a domestic sewing machine? If so, how do you manhandle the quilt through the machine? Is the only option really to hand quilt this and again how do you cope with the sheer volume of the quilt? So many questions, you can tell I am a bit daunted by this quilt, but now determined to get to grips with it.

    Today I am looking forward to my first paper piecing lesson from The Littlest Thistle , which after my efforts at the weekend will seem like working in miniature. New York Beauty here we come!!

    Friday 17 February 2012

    Packages and Paper Piecing

    More lovely packages in the post, this one was so lovely that it was excitedly ripped open before it got to me! Latvia post, however, saved the day and my treat to myself of a Sunny Happy Skies FQ bundle from Julie at TheIntrepidThread arrived a bit battered but still intact.

    These are destined for the teatime embroidery to make a lap quilt for my mother. I am thinking of surrounding the embroidered panel with friendship stars, now that I know how to do them thanks to Jenna at Sew Happy Geek. Although I think these will have to be smaller than the 12.5" blocks in the Sew Happy QAL. That's the plan anyway!

    Today there has been a rare concurrence of events, there must be a blue moon somewhere! The bedroom floor is hoovered and washed, the backing for my (almost) Irish Chain quilt has just been washed (again!) and is at the top of the ironing pile and I have even pulled the pieced quilt top out of the cupboard, where it has been lurking. These things have never happened together before it is scary :) Maybe, just maybe I will get this quilt basted over the weekend, then I really will be looking out for the blue moon!

    You can see from the photo why I am calling it an (almost) Irish Chain. I mucked up the measurements somewhere along the way and ended up with two different sized blocks, so it fitted together in one direction but unfortunately not the direction needed to make the chain!

    If you are like me and have always fancied having a go at paper piecing but thought it was way too difficult there is help at hand. Katy at The Littlest Thistle has launched today her course Foundation Paper Piecing for the Terrified, where

    "Each Monday for the next few weeks I will be taking you through the very basics of foundation paper piecing, building up each week to a slightly more difficult pattern." 

    That sounds exactly what I need, so I am in! One of the aims of the course is to provide us beginners with the confidence to tackle this QAL from Sew Sweetness

    I would really love to tackle the New York Beauty QAL so Katy's course will, hopefully, give me enough practice and confidence to have a go. Would love you to join me :)

    Have a great weekend. 

    Wednesday 15 February 2012

    Progress and WIP

    It is exactly one month since I started this blog not knowing quite what to expect, but determined to join the wonderful crafty blog community that I had been "lurking" in for some time. Much to my delight I have 'met' some wonderful bloggers since my first post who have inspired, encouraged, supported and humoured me in equal measure for the past month, long may it continue!

    Another benefit of blogging and one that came as a surprise to me, is the much-needed boost to my sewing. Projects that have been loitering in my cupboard (or sometimes in my head!) have risen to the top of the to-do pile because of commitments that I made publicly on my blog! Hopefully this will continue, although there are so many inspiring and beautiful projects around that it is so tempting to sign up to everything. Fortunately, or unfortunately, having to wait for fabrics to be delivered by post works as a reality check :)

    One of the projects that was loitering in my head was putting together a zipped purse for my yo-yo makers. I love using up scraps of fabric for yo-yo's often without any plan in mind of what to do with them. They always come in handy for decorating bags, purses, etc., and even at Christmas bottles of linen water! Until now though the various different makers were tossed together in a drawer, but no longer.

    With my thrifty hat on I used up scraps for the patches, the zip was on sale in the local fabric shop and the lining, with pocket, was yet another make from one of my husband's shirts. I am certainly getting great value out of these shirts! Of course, I had to decorate the purse with some yo-yo's too.

    I was pretty pleased with the purse, although must admit that I made the classic mistake of forgetting to open the zip when I stitched the exteriors and linings together! Cue some furious muttering and a broken nail before the zip was opened and I could turn out the purse.

    With one month gone and today being WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced here is my list of projects completed, ongoing and still waiting.

    • Reindeer Cushion
    • Shades of Green, Fleur Bleu and Checkered Heart cushions 
    • Orphan Block needle roll 
    • Pieced arc tea towel 
    • 9 blocks of Sew Happy QAL (up-to-date)
    • 2 blocks of In Color Order HST BOM (up-to-date)
    • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt 
    • Sunflower Quilt 
    • Last block of Sampler quilt - no progress but it is in the UK and I am in Latvia!
    • Amy Butler bag 
    • Bag Making Bible Fashionista Bag 
    • Dragon Bag
    • Patchwork Block bag
    • Christmas mini quilts
    • Craftsy BOM which I have signed up for but haven't looked at yet!

    Oh dear, that no progress list is longer than I thought, will have to hope that the sewing boost keeps going! More snow will probably help too, as will being a winner in the Fugly Fabric Party! Erin at Missy Mac Creation's fugly fabric is heading this way as I was the lucky winner of her fabric giveaway, a nice end to my first month of blogging, don't you agree?

    Linking to Coastal Charms Nifty Thrifty Tuesday

    Monday 13 February 2012

    Post and piecing

    With the next block in the Sew Happy QAL surfacing early and snow forecast, the weekend seemed an ideal opportunity to get ahead of myself. The Saturday post brought good news too, my Orange and Green Terrain bundle from Sew Fresh Fabrics, so a chance to get started on an orange cushion for my rainbow cushions. As ever I was impressed with the service from Sew Fresh Fabrics, the order was made on January 31st, sent out the same day and arrived 11 days later, that is amazing for post to here. The fresh, zingy colours were a welcome hint of spring on a grey winters day.

    I have been looking through my magazines for inspiration for the next cushion as I want to try out new (to me) techniques for each one. I really would like to try paper-piecing, but I am waiting to try my hand at the paper pieced block in the Sew Happy QAL first. Only two more weeks to wait I think, so these lovely fabrics will just have to sit there for a little longer.

    This weeks QAL block involves more of what is rapidly becoming my favourite block, flying geese. That is not to say that I am so proficient at them, but I just love how putting together squares and rectangles produces such a great block! This time they were much smaller, 2.5ins, so the capacity for a disaster was undoubtedly magnified. Given my problems in the previous post with mitred corners, any hint of potential disaster was enough to make me nervous. I shouldn't have worried, as always Jenna's instructions were spot-on and the block came together surprisingly quickly. Unfortunately quickly enough to give me time to witness another Scotland rugby defeat, but then I should be used to that by now!

    With 9 blocks completed this quilt is really beginning to take shape and as I will be back in the UK for a week next month, I am trying to work out if I can somehow complete it then so that I can give it to my son and daughter-in-law whilst I am at home. I think that probably means I need to start the sashing now, so another fabric order is on the cards. Isn't life tough :)

    Hope you had a good weekend too!

    Friday 10 February 2012

    Hearts and Accolades!

    With Valentine's Day just around the corner this seemed like the perfect time to get cracking with a red cushion for my set of rainbow cushions. I had the perfect fabric - a red/natural heart check linen blend that I have been saving/hoarding for several years and the perfect pattern a patchwork cushion with applique heart again saved for several years! I have tried explaining to my husband the difference between hoarding, which he thinks I do, and saving, which I think I do, as eventually fabric will be 'liberated' and used. My Valentine's cushion being a case in point!

    It all seemed so simple when I started this a couple of days ago, applique a red felt heart onto a square of natural linen, trim with ric-rac and then attach to four mitred strips of the heart check linen and back. Once I started, however, I discovered that the magazine instructions weren't much more detailed than that and the photograph of the finished cushion wasn't detailed either so no help there. I have discovered that I need a few visuals, preferably photos, to supplement text instructions or else I flounder, which is probably why making a bag from Amy Butler's Style Stitches book is still on my to-do list - no photos of the WIP!

    Once I had worked out whether the ric-rac went on top or below the heart and how to sew it down, I met my biggest challenge - mitring the corners of a fabric with a check without messing up the check! I am sure there is a foolproof way of doing this, so any advice would be much appreciated or else I will have to consign all my checks and tartans to the back of the cupboard. For a Scot too that would be a disaster!

    Despite all of the above I did eventually manage to finish the cushion although now with an envelope back not the nice button back I had planned, or else it wouldn't be ready till next Valentine's. I am pleased that it is finished and I now have 3 of my 7 rainbow cushions completed. I have ordered some orange fabric from Sew Fresh Fabrics, so will, hopefully, get cracking on an orange cushion soon.

    In the middle of my trials with mitred corners I was delighted to receive an email from Katy at The Littlest Thistle who had tagged me for a Liebster blog award. It definitely made my day. The award is given to blogs with less than 200 followers and as a recipient of the award I should thank the award blogger in a post, list the names of five blogs I follow who fall within that category who I feel deserve to be noticed, advise the five bloggers by leaving a comment on their blogs and copy and paste the blog award on my blog. So here goes, I have nominated the following bloggers who each in their own way have supported and encouraged me as I have ventured into the whole new world of blogging.

    Thanks ladies!

    P.S. Have you seen the fabulous giveaway at Lily's Quilts? A colourbox of Oakshott Cottons no less, that is 100 F8ths, and those fabrics are really gorgeous. Have a look here to see what I mean.

      Wednesday 8 February 2012

      Peek-a-boo blocks and painted houses

      At this time of year one of the sights we find amazing is the frozen shores of the Baltic Sea, so nothing would have it but that we venture down to the coast for a stroll along the icy shoreline. Quarter of an hour from the car park, however, with ice in my hair the frozen sea didn't appear to be as attractive an option as the nice, warm coffee shop twenty yards away! Photos of natural ice sculptures take a back seat when a hot Cafe Latte is on offer :)

      The houses at Jurmala, the nearest seaside town to Riga, are just as interesting as the frozen shore and in the quiet of a winter's day more accessible. Just like the Art Nouveau buildings in Riga the houses in Jurmala are, or were, bright and colourful and some of the decoration on the wooden buildings is like lacework.

      This one is for sale, isn't it a real chocolate box of a house?

      And how about this for a change of style?

      Our trip to Jurmala wasn't entirely a sightseeing one. There is a small fabric shop on the Main Street in the town, where I had purchased one of the background fabrics I am using in In Color Order's HST BOM. After cutting out the second block I worried that I might not have enough for the twelve blocks, so took the opportunity to stock up with more. Needless to say this wasn't mentioned to my husband until we were nearly there!

      I am amazed to find that this week is the eighth block in the Sew Happy QAL, the time has certainly flown by with this. Talking to my son and daughter-in-law on Skype at the weekend I was able to show them my progress so far. Fortunately, they seemed pleased with the blocks! I hope they like this one too.

      This week's block is a Peek-a-Boo block, another new one to me. I was a bit worried about dealing with 2.5in triangles, but got there in the end. I am still not confident when marking the diagonal lines on squares for the triangles, as I often seem to be a shade out at the corners, so any tips would be much appreciated!! Especially as I am going to be practising a lot with the HST BOM over this year.

      Monday 6 February 2012

      Orphan Blocks, HST's and Needle Rolls

      Last month the Pleasant Home Blog's theme for January was using up your scraps and there were some wonderful projects showcased. Although I have not been sewing long enough to have built up enough scraps to consider some of the marvellous quilts shown, like probably all quilters I do hang onto leftover fabrics from my projects, no matter how small, in the belief that they will come in useful for something!

      So, inspired by the many projects I have been looking at in the last month, I decided that it was time to "liberate" some fabrics from the scrap bag, and realise their potential :) I spent a pleasant hour going through the scraps, remembering the original projects and trying to image new ones. To my delight I came across an "orphan block" from the very first quilt I made, which was for my eldest son, who was living in Madrid at the time and complaining of the coldness of the winter nights. As I also had some fabric left over from the original quilt too, I realised that there was scope for a new project using the block and fabric scraps.

      Sitting next to the scrap bag in my craft cupboard, is the evidence of my infrequent forays into the world of knitting. My nice new knitting needles are jumbled together in a magazine file so it is not easy to find the right size or even a pair when I need them. Something needed to be done, and here is the something!

      A shiny, new knitting needle roll made from the "orphan block" and leftover fabric, and lined with fabric cut from yet another of my husband's discarded shirts! They are coming in very useful these shirts of his :) My knitting needles have never been this organised. The needle roll measures roughly 22" wide by 17" high, with an inner pocket approximately half the height. I quilted channels of various widths from the top to the bottom of the roll before binding and adding a ribbon tie. I even discovered that I have purchased two pairs of needles the exact same size, but now that I am so organised I won't be making that mistake again.

      By now I was on a roll (apologies for the pun!). Until now my knitting UFO's have resided in the brown paper bag that they were originally brought home in, but it is all too easy to ignore them in brown paper, so if they are ever going to be finished it was time to house them in something a bit more inspiring too. Last year I had made a couple of bags from jeans that were being discarded by my son (I seem to have become a bit of a magpie with my family's clothing!), from the bucket bag pattern by Lisa Lam available here. So I dug one of those out of the cupboard too and, voila, a new knitting bag and needle roll for no cost apart from time, and time spent sewing is never a bad thing.

      Although we did venture out this weekend, it was not for long as we have found that when you can't feel your chin, it is time to head back indoors. So I had plenty of opportunity to catch up with the February block of the month at In Color Order's HST BOM, which this month is a Flying Geese block. I have always thought that these were beyond me, but having just finished the Flying Geese block for the Sew Happy QAL, I was feeling much more positive towards them, so set to work and finished that too.

      We spent a glorious day last Autumn/Fall in the SW of France listening to the honking of flocks of geese and watching as they flew south overhead, and making this block conjured up those memories. Maybe one day I'll make a quilt from this block to keep that memory!

      Linking in to Little Quilt Monday at a pieceful life

      Friday 3 February 2012

      Flying Geese pinwheel block QAL

      Block 7 on the Sew Happy QAL is done and dusted. I am really enjoying this QAL, a bit to my surprise I have to say, as I worried when I started out that I would have fallen by the wayside by now. Each block has been interesting and achievable, even for my novice sewing skills, and I cannot recommend Jenna's tutorials highly enough.

      A side-effect of joining the QAL has been the boost it has given to the rest of my sewing. I am even contemplating basting the large quilt I started last year with my new-found confidence! Note though I am only contemplating, but at least that is a start :) I wasn't even doing that a few weeks ago, and this is exactly the right time of year here for the quilt to be getting used.

      As the temperatures keep dropping, there is no incentive to venture out unless it is absolutely necessary. Are sewing supplies absolutely necessary? The answer, of course, is yes and with the fabric supermarket next to the food supermarket fortunately easy to do without spending longer than necessary out of doors.

      I have deliberately not looked at the next block in In Color Order's HST BOM, as that will be my treat for the weekend.

      The next few weeks will be tense ones in our family, so I will need a retreat from the tension. Being a Scot married to an Irishman, and both of us supporting our national Rugby teams, the onset of the 6 Nations Rugby is a test of our relations at the very least. Add in to the mix though, 3 rugby-playing sons all born in England, who support variously Ireland (eldest son), England (middle son) and Scotland, hurrah!, (darling youngest son :0 ) and you can see there is plenty scope for tense inter-family relations! With the Scotland v England game due up on Saturday, it is perhaps fortunate that all of the supporters involved in the family are located in 3 different countries.

      May the best team win (as long as it is Scotland!)

      Via Flickr:
      7th block in the Sew Happy QAL

      Thursday 2 February 2012

      Inspiration and Lucky Finds

      Today is one of those bright blue sky winter days that look oh so cheerful from inside but are bitterly cold outside. The perfect day I thought to take some photographs of the colourful and inspiring buildings to be found in Riga, and share them with you. However, it was so cold that even with two pairs of gloves on my fingertips were freezing so the photography trip only covered the Art Nouveau District and even then included two coffee stops along the way! Still, hopefully these will give you a flavour of the city, which is definitely seen at its best against a bright blue sky!

      These photos are all from one street, although the modern looking building is on the opposite side to the rest. It is currently the World Trade Centre, but was formerly the Headquarters of the Communist Party, when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union.

      As you can see there are some beautiful and colourful buildings around, and I haven't even taken any photographs of the buildings in the most well-known street for its Art Nouveau architecture, as by the end of my walk I feared my fingertips were going to get frostbite if I didn't get out of the cold soon!

      As I have mentioned before quilting cotton is not easy to come by here, there are plenty of shops catering to sewers but mostly for curtains/home furnishings or clothes, so when I see some I immediately snap it up, and yesterday I was in the right place at the right time. Next to our local supermarket there is a fabric superstore, which as well as selling fabric from the roll also sells offcuts by weight. The store is a Baltic off-shoot of a Welsh company called Abakhan, quite why they have branches out here I have no idea, but I am certainly not complaining. Naturally a trip to the supermarket frequently (nearly always!) includes a quick tour of Abakhan too, and yesterday I was delighted to spy this in the Cottons bin.

      Needless to say I snapped it up! As I pay by weight I had to wait until I got home to find that I had purchased just under 2 metres of fabric for approx £5.50/$8.5 and no postage to pay! I am working on the basis that if I buy quilting cotton often enough it will encourage them to stock more, I am not too sure that my husband is too happy with this strategy :) Still, Christmas fabric will never go to waste (well that is what I tell myself anyway!)

      Being new to blogging, I was delighted to find Lily's Quilts Small Blog Meet here to help new bloggers meet other bloggers and get to know them so I am off to sign up there now, perhaps I'll meet you there!

      Wednesday 1 February 2012

      Progress and Pillows

      The temperature here has plummeted in the last 24 hours, which is a great incentive to stay indoors and sew! It is also the beginning of a new month so time to reflect on the deadlines and goals set for January, and I am pleased to find that things are progressing nicely.

      The Shades of Green patchwork cushion/pillow that was to be the first in my set of Rainbow Cushions has not only been completed but has been joined by the Fleur Blue cushion I started at the weekend. Shades of Green is also the second of my 12 WIP's  in 2012 to be finished, so I have a really early start on the next one as this is finished on the first of the month! If you are looking for more inspiration for cushions and pillows check out Pam's link party here

      Sewing supplies are here in Riga, but not always easy to find especially specific items, so imagine my delight yesterday at finding a supply of quilt basting spray in a small, tucked-away, sewing machine shop. Needless to say I snapped it up along with blue machine embroidery thread and used them both to finish off the blue cushion. Basting spray has been on my "wish list" for a long time as it is something I cannot have sent nor can I bring it back on the plane, as we usually only travel with hand luggage to avoid the long wait at the airports for baggage, so this was indeed a find.

      I have a question for those of you who use the spray, is there a limit to how big a quilt you can use this with? I suspect that there is given that it is described as temporary. I have a king-size quilt pieced and waiting to be basted and quilted, and it has been waiting over a year for that to happen, could I use the spray on that to hold it together whilst I use my brand-new microstitch gun, or does that defeat the object of the micro-stitch? Another question too, whilst I am thinking of this will using the microstitch on a wooden floor, mark the floor? All advice gratefully received!

      Whilst rummaging around my fabrics looking for blues for the cushion I came across an embroidery that I had completely forgotten about, probably because I didn't have an idea what to do with it once I had finished it. Now, however, I think I might turn it into a lap quilt for my mother, who has just undergone a hip replacement and is also a great tea-drinker!

      I have some fabrics with teacups, teapots and cakes and thought I might try using a couple of the blocks from the Sew Happy QAL around the embroidery, as I have really enjoyed making them so far. I have also seen in a French Quilting magazine a teacup block but it is paper-pieced and we haven't got to that yet in QAL!

      Starting this might have to wait until next week though as the next block in In Color Order's HST BOM is due this week and I have printed out but not started the 7th block in the Sew Happy QAL. More than halfway in the QAL, what a surprise:)

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