Wednesday 30 January 2013

A steep learning curve!

Thanks to all your encouragement I have now managed to complete my project for the Curved Seams Challenge. You were all of course right, stepping away from it was just what I needed. So, one not-so quick, trip to the cinema to see Les Miserables was exactly the right tonic to inspire me to knuckle down and get this off my WIP list.

I appliqued the Orange Peel blocks to a plain background and then had a think about what I was actually going to do with this. My initial thought was to make it a tablecloth, then I decided to make it reversible, just to make that deadline tomorrow even more unlikely!

When cutting out the centre blocks I had several melon shapes of the blue floral left, so they became a flower centre for the back of the tablecloth.

The centre of the flower itself is a yo-yo from a scrap of the brown used on the front. As you can see there is no wadding added as I didn't want the thickness of wadding for the tablecloth, so the front and back were simply stitched together right sides facing and then turned right side out and topstitched.

My husband was pressed into service to hold the top up as it is far too windy today for a photograph. Upon hearing that it was destined to become a tablecloth for the garden table, he has claimed this for himself as the perfect cover-up when he is sleeping (sorry reading!) in the garden on a sunny day. So it looks like I have lost my tablecloth already!

Now that I have this WIP off the list I can make a start on another one. The Triple Zip A Long kicked off on Monday, but I have been putting off starting until this Curved Seams challenge was finished. I ordered several zips from ZipIt thinking they would take a couple of weeks to get here, but they were really speedy delivering them so they actually arrived on the first day of the ZAL. How is that for service?

My fabrics are now cut and I am ready to join in with the ZAL.

Three zips in one pouch should definitely knock on the head any lingering difficulties with inserting zips, well that is the plan anyway!

So here is how my WIP list is looking now.

So my WIP list currently looks like this

  • In Color Order HST BOM - Top Completed
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt basted
  • Tsatime quilt pieced, backed and basted COMPLETED
  • 5 blocks of NY Beauty QAL completed and fabric cut for remaining 5 blocks
  • 14 blocks of Craftsy BOM completed (way behind schedule) 
  • Sunday Morning Quilt Bee blocks completed and sent (ahead of schedule!)
  • Star of Africa Bee blocks completed and sent (on schedule just!)
  • Friendship Bag Swap signed up and partner details received
  • Modern Scrappy Bits Swap 3rd Round signed up
  • Curved Seams Challenge signed up COMPLETED
  • And Sew On BOM - first block completed
  • Everything but the Kitchen Sink SAL - no progress
Hope you have had a productive week too.

If you have tried something New to You this month and haven't already linked up to

there is still time, the link party does not close until tomorrow. You can link up here and if you haven't tried anything new but would like to try something New to You then check out the great links already posted, craft bloggers are a really inspiring bunch!

Linking up to WOW and  WIP Wednesday

Monday 28 January 2013

Curved Concerns

If you haven't already there is still time to link up to

If you have tried something new to you this month you can link up here or if you are looking for inspiration check out the great variety of new skills such as chicken raising and crochet that your fellow bloggers are having a go at.

Although not entirely new to me as I have attempted a Drunkard's Path block many moons ago, the closing date for Rikka's Curved Seams Challenge is this Thursday, so I set aside some time this weekend to try and get cracking on my entry for the challenge.

I don't know why but I have chopped and changed my mind so often on what to do for this challenge that I managed to leave myself hardly any time to do it. In the end I decided to dust off the Double Wedding Ring template purchased in a burst of enthusiasm a couple of months before my son's wedding nearly 2 years ago, and have a go at something with them. Obviously not a Double Wedding Ring anything as they are years ahead of my skills, but the pack contained templates for a simpler Orange Peel block that I thought might fit the bill.

The templates were by Marti Mitchell and were very sturdy and straightforward to use. The instruction booklet that came with them was also straightforward.

Curved Seams Challenge
I like the fabrics, the turquoise floral was originally purchased for a bag pattern that I never got around to, but this whole project is just doing nothing for me. I really don't know why I am so underwhelmed by this, I can't even blame the amount of reverse sewing involved, although there was plenty of that, as I haven't enjoyed it since the first cut! Do you ever have projects like that?

Even today I was thinking about scrapping it all together and starting something new, but I really would like to get this done and dusted ahead of the deadline for a change. Maybe I just need to leave it for a day and come back to it tomorrow. What do you think? Scrap it or Finish it?

Linking up to Fabric Tuesday

Friday 25 January 2013

New to Me in 2013 Link-up!

Happy Burns Night and welcome to the first monthly link-up for

This has been a month of several firsts for me already. The blog button above was one of my first New to Me experiences this month, and thanks Pam for helping me figure out how to make it work properly!

Next up as New to Me was hosting my very first linky party last Friday, when I hosted

Apart from being rather quick in closing the link down, sorry Amy (!) it all went surprisingly well. Next time I will work out the time zones better I promise :)

My main New to Me in 2013 for January though is something that I signed up to do many months ago, but it has taken the extra nudge of the link party to actually make me go ahead and start.

As many of you will know once you are signed up to the Craftsy website you will receive many notifications of sales and reductions on the classes they offer. It was in one of those too good to miss sales last summer that I signed up for the Wire-wrapped Stones, Crystals and Clusters class. The class outline introduced a number of tools that I did not already have so I set about building up an appropriate toolkit to start the first class.

Necklace for upcycling

I bought the necklace above at a bric-a-brac stall as I was sure the stones and charms would come in handy one day! That is as far as I got - until now.

Yesterday I printed out the class materials, gathered together my supplies and sat back to watch the class. Then I hit the first problem, wire for jewellery is graded differently in the US and Europe and as all of my supplies had been purchased in Latvia, they bore absolutely no relation to the grades mentioned in the class or in the materials list. A quick search of the internet and a print out of a wire gauge conversion chart and I was again ready to go.

Wrapped wires

So here is my first attempt at wire-wrapping. Even although I can see that the wrapping maybe isn't as neat as it could be, I have to say I am pretty pleased with that. I don't own a mandrel to wrap the wire around so used a pen instead, worked just as well and was a lot cheaper :)

Now I am not saying that it was all entirely straightforward, the lengths of wire now sitting in my rubbish bin will testify to that. but I do now have a pair of wire-wrapped circle and bead earrings handmade by me!

Wire-wrapped earrings

In fact I have two pairs!

Linking these up to The Sunday Showcase 

So that is my New to Me for 2013 now it is time to catch up with all things New to You!

As ever please link back to this post in your post and/or add the blog button to your sidebar and check out the other links and leave a comment along the way. The emphasis of this link party is to celebrate the trying of something new, whether it works out exactly as planned or not, so a little encouragement here and there would not go amiss! 

The link will remain open for a week so if you haven't already tried something new you still have time :)

Thursday 24 January 2013

The longevity of quilts and shoes

Last week whilst taking our youngest son back to University, we had a day free to wander around London. We headed for the Victoria and Albert Museum, as the current exhibition, Hollywood Costumes, had had great reviews. We didn't realise though that entrance to the exhibition was by timed ticket and, although we arrived at the museum mid-morning, as we had already arranged to meet our eldest son for lunch, the tickets available on the day would have given us about 15 minutes to spend in the exhibition.

So we skipped the exhibition and just wandered around the museum flitting in and out of the permanent exhibitions instead.

First up was the fashion gallery where I was looking for inspiration for this months Star of Africa Bee block as the theme is shoes!

These took my eye, maybe because I suspect I wore something similar (but not as expensive!) many moons ago! I have decided though that recreating the zig-zag pattern is beyond me.

Maybe these would be easier to recreate but not really my style.  

Now these were lovely and would be straightforward to recreate (I think!) but alas not really local as they were made for Dior, and we are supposed to represent our local culture in our blocks. So back to the drawing board :(

We finished our visit in the Renaissance Gallery, where we came across this quilt.

The quilt was made in the 1300's as a wedding gift and as you can see the quilting was amazing. It is also pretty amazing that the quilt has lasted so long intact and in such incredible condition. It did make me think that perhaps I should pay more attention to getting seams and joins right if any quilt of mine is going to last for even one quarter of that time! I would hate to think that quilters might be tutting over the mismatched corners in my quilts for decades :)

The V & A is definitely worth a visit, and next time I will check out the conditions of any exhibitions and book up beforehand as I would have loved to have seen the Hollywood Costumes. Apparently Daniel Craig is not as tall as you might think!

In complete contrast and perhaps going from the sublime to the ridiculous I shall leave you with a view of London's newest building, the Shard. If you want to see what the view from the top is like click here

Now that would be straightforward to recreate in a quilt block!

Linking up to Really Random Thursday at Live a Colorful Life and

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Of Mice and (Wo)man

We are still battling the elements here in NE England, which means that I have been snugly tucked up in my sewing room (otherwise known as the Middle Son's bedroom!) for the last couple of days. There is definitely an upside to the bad weather!

Top of my list of projects to work on this month has been the HST quilt from In Color Order's BOM. Last time I posted the blocks were all completed and some shopping was required before I could add the sashing and borders. Having decided that I wanted a cream/ natural fabric for the sashing I found myself leaving my LQS with 2 metres of brown fabric under my arm.

HST BOM Quilt top
This is what I did with it. The blocks in the sashing are the maroon/gold dot in the blocks, and the inner border is the same gold that is in the blocks. I had plenty of the gold fabric and initially intended to use that for a large outer border, but in the end decided that it would be a bit much. I am really pleased with how this has turned out.

Why is it though that as soon as I looked at the photo I realised that I had missed trimming one of the corners? I must have looked at that top half-a-dozen times without noticing, anyhow at least it was something easy to rectify!

There hasn't been much progress on any of my other WIP's, but that is fine by me.

So my WIP list currently looks like this

  • In Color Order HST BOM - Top Completed
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt basted
  • Tsatime quilt pieced, backed and basted COMPLETED
  • 5 blocks of NY Beauty QAL completed and fabric cut for remaining 5 blocks
  • 14 blocks of Craftsy BOM completed (way behind schedule) 
  • Sunday Morning Quilt Bee blocks completed and sent (on schedule)
  • Star of Africa Bee blocks completed and sent (on schedule just!)
  • Friendship Bag Swap signed up and partner details received
  • Modern Scrappy Bits Swap 3rd Round signed up
  • Curved Seams Challenge signed up
  • And Sew On BOM - first block completed
  • Everything but the Kitchen Sink SAL - no progress
And the mice in the title?

I like to include small items in the package when I send out Bee blocks, so when I saw instructions for some mice pincushions in the winter issue of Making magazine, I couldn't resist having a go.

Mice pincushions
And these were the result! They are made with scraps of recycled denim and cotton. The original instructions didn't give the mice any tails but I thought that was a bit cruel so added some thin cord to give them back their tails.

If one of your resolutions this year was to get organised check out Taryn's brilliant project sheets. They are available to download here

And finally

The first linky party for New to Me in 2013 opens on Friday, so get ready to link up and inspire us all with whatever you have tried for the first time this month.

Monday 21 January 2013

Snow Progress

Now if this isn't the perfect weather to stay indoors and snow I don't know what is!

So that is what I did :)

I have added the sashing to my In Color Order HST BOM quilt, but for reasons which are obvious from the photo I haven't ventured outside with it for a photo.

I did though venture outside (very briefly!) to take a photo of the strip I pieced for one of the February blocks in the SMQ2 Bee. That's right, February, I am going to be so ahead of myself next month I won't know what to do.

Jessica asked for strips of 40 2.5" squares, alternate white and print, to go towards the Checkerboard quilt that she plans to make from the book. So, I set too and cut out 20 white and 20 print squares.

Then I convinced myself that I had mis-read the instructions and that what she wanted was 40 white and 40 print squares, so I kept on cutting and sewing.

SMQ2 Feb block complete
And sewing! To end up with this. Needless to say I had been right the first time, so instead of 1 strip, Jessica will get 2. I am just glad that it was such an easy block to do and next time I will read the instructions several times.

The other block for February is for Kimmie, who asked for slabs of green in various sizes plus two charm squares in red, magenta or purple to make the Leaves and Vines quilt from the book. Thankfully, even I couldn't get the instructions wrong this time.

SMQ2 Bee Blocks Feb

As I am now so ahead of myself, I have joined two swaps - The Friendship Bag Swap and the next round of the Modern Scrappy Bits Swap and I may just have signed up for the Triple Zip-Along too!

I would hate to be bored if this weather is going to be around for a while :)

Linking up to BOM's away and the Let's Get Acquainted Link Up

Thursday 17 January 2013

TGIFF! - Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday

Welcome to TGIFF! I am delighted to be hosting this week's round-up of finishes.

If you are new to my corner of blogland, welcome and feel free to have a nose around. If you are a regular reader pick yourself up off the floor I actually have a finished quilt to share with you!

This quilt was originally intended to be a present for my mum's birthday - last June! So it is a bit overdue to say the least. There is nothing like a new deadline though for concentrating the mind :)

The quilt came about when I was looking for something to do with an embroidered linen panel that I had made using embroidery motifs from Sublime Stitching by Jenny Hart. A lucky win in a Fat Quarter Shop giveaway and one FQ bundle of Riley Blake's Sunny Happy Skies fabric line later and the plan for a lap quilt was hatched.

The embroidered panel was given an inner border of the multicoloured stripe from the line and then an outer border of 6" friendship stars was added. I managed to use nearly all of the fabrics in the line, the only exceptions being three FQ's of cute pandas,  which weren't really appropriate for a senior citizen!

I decided to bite the bullet and have another go at FMQ'ing with this quilt, so the centre panel and the striped border were quilted with a loopy meander.

I am not saying it is perfect but I did discover that playing Cd's that I can sing along to are a vital part of my quilting experience. it means I remember to breathe! An ABBA Gold CD was particularly successful, just the right tempo for consistent stitching :)

This is also the first of my finishes for Q1 in the Finish a Long (see here for my original post).

she can quilt

Don't forget that next Friday, January 25th is the first linky party for

your chance to let us know what you have tried that is New to You this month! I am really looking forward to finding some new activities to try. Check out this post if you want to know more!

Now it is your turn to link up your recent finishes. Be sure to include a link back to here in your post, you can grab the button from above or the sidebar.  As ever, take some time to look at other links and maybe leave a comment or two. It will brighten up someones day!

Monday 14 January 2013

Wirework flowers and repurposed earrings

If you are of a certain age you will, no doubt, remember when flower looms were all the rage. If you are far too young to remember them here is a reminder!

Flower Loom

This flower loom came free with a magazine and I had forgotten all about it until I found it when unpacking yet another box of my craft supplies. Fortunately they are labelled with various names so that my husband hasn't actually realised how many of them there are :) Anyhow, in the accompanying magazine there were instructions for making a wire flower brooch with the loom so I decided to have a go at it.

The first wire I tried was too thick as it was difficult to get it to bend and stay bent round the pins, so I next tried a coloured copper wire 0.3mm thick.

Flower Loom beaded

As you can see I had no problems wrapping the second wire round the pins. I think next time though I will try a slightly thicker wire as I think it might hold the shape better.

Although I have found the flower loom and most of the rest of my supplies from the move my beading needle still eludes me, so I had to manage without for the last part of the brooch sewing beads to the centre of the flower.

The beads were cannibalised from an earring that has been resting unused at the bottom of my jewellery box for a long time. I am fairly sure I have never had a neck long enough to wear these earrings without getting them tangled up all the time so I have no idea what ever possessed me to buy them!


With a brooch back wired on with the wire left after sewing on the beads the finished brooch looks like this.

Beaded wirework brooch

Not only different but inexpensive too the wire cost less than £2 and there is enough left for at least one more brooch, the beads were free and the brooch back was less than £1! I think I will be making more of these.

I will definitely be making more paper-pieced blocks as I have joined Quiet Play's And Sew On paper-pieced BOM. The first block is called Measure Twice, which is definitely advice I could have done with heeding in the past!

Measure Twice block

I had been waiting for the measuring tape fabric to arrive but as it arrived last weekend I really had no excuses left. The block was really straightforward to put together, although as well as measuring twice I really ought to pay more attention to the orientation of the fabric!

MT close-up

I finished the block off with a stamped measuring tape from another free gift from a magazine!

It is not even half way through the month and I have already completed my Bee blocks and a BOM and the Everything but the Kitchen Sink SAL yet to come! I think that means I can join something else, don't you?

On Friday I will be hosting TGIFF! which means (for a change) I will actually have a finish to blog about. Don't all faint I know it is not a common occurrence around here! So don't forget to check back then and be prepared to link up any finish you have, I can't wait to see them. 

Friday 11 January 2013

Being a busy Bee

Although I am only in 2 Bees, there has been a bit of a backlog in the block making thanks to all the festive sewing. So, this week the mission has been to crack the outstanding Bee blocks. That is easier said than done for the Star of Africa Bee blocks, as they require a big input of imagination, which has been in short supply around here recently.

For November Janine asked for a butterfly block and was even good enough to provide us with templates for the block. So, in theory, it should have been fairly simple to put together. The imagination part came in though with the "local" flavour needed for the butterfly wings. Flag stripes were suggested, but as I am not the only Scot in the Bee that was a non-starter, and as I am no longer living in Latvia I couldn't cheat and use their colours instead. I am, though the only Bee member living in the North of England so that is where I started my search for local flavour.

For December, Sana asked Bee members to make a block that says "home" to them. Well, although I have not lived in Scotland for many years I would still talk about going home when I am going there. On our many trips North of the Border taking our youngest son back to University in Edinburgh the "Welcome to Scotland" sign at the border always makes me feel a little bit emotional, so that was a thought for the block. The sound of bagpipes has the same effect but I dismissed a bagpipe block fairly quickly! In the end I decided that home was where our sons grew up and where they would definitely call home - the North East of England.

So the blocks I ended up with represent North and South of the River Tyne.

Star of Africa Bee block for Janine
Magpie Butterfly block for Rainbow Hare
In Newcastle upon Tyne (North of the River) the only colour to be is Black and White! The local football team are known as the Magpies and the support is fervent. The stadium is next to the Town Centre and on match days the town is a sea of black and white before and after the game. Recently the team's performance has been less than stellar, but the support is still as fanatical.

Janine asked us to include our name, date and other details on the body of the butterfly so to reflect all of the different aspects I brought to this Bee the block has a phrase in Scottish Gaelic, Latvian and Geordie!

Several years ago the very imaginative Gateshead Council (South of the Tyne) commissioned an art installation by the renowned sculptor Anthony Gormley which was to become the Angel of the North.

Public opinion was very definitely divided when the sculpture was first erected, but I have to admit that I have loved it from the outset. It is positioned right next to the A1, the main road South, so is easily visible. Our most recent trips home from Latvia generally involved a flight from Riga to Stansted Airport then a car trip up the A1 to home. When the Angel came into view I knew I was nearly home :)

Angel of the North block
Angel of the North block for Sana

So this is my version of the Angel of the North for Sana. The metalwork is made by sandwiching a pleat of dark brown between strips of rust cotton. I thought I had worked out all the angles but patently not! Still, I think it is recognisable as the Angel so I hope it adds a bit of North East flavour to Sana's quilt.

I have also been stitching up some little pouches as an antidote to all the brain power required for the Bee blocks.

Linen and scrap pouches

Sometimes quick and simple is just what I need :) How about you?

Before ending this post I must thank everyone who voted for my Celtic Applique scarf in Rikka's Ring your Neck challenge, I was awarded bragging rights for joint 2nd with Linda from Desert Designs. A well deserved first place went to Marisa's amazing water-soluble fabric scarf. Rikka's next challenge is Curved Seams if you are looking for something new to try this month! Check out the details here

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Hopeful Finishes

In line with my resolution to finish projects before starting new ones I am linking up to Leanne's 2103 Finish-a-Long at She Can Quilt.

she can quilt

When I listed out the projects that I would like to get finished this year I had over 20 of them, but in an effort to be realistic I have decided to list only 3 finishes for this quarter, in the hope that getting these done will spur me on to even greater efforts next quarter!

The Time for Tea Quilt that was originally meant to be for my mum's birthday last June! 

In Color Order HST BOM

In Color Order's HST BOM quilt which needs sashing and borders added

SMQ1 blocks

The SMQ Bee Block quilt from Round 1. December's blocks arrived yesterday (thanks Wendy!) but I am still waiting on a couple of the earlier blocks to arrive, and I want to add a couple of my own blocks to it to make it slightly bigger.

So there you have it my list of finishes for this quarter. There are a couple of big WIP's lurking in my cupboard, but they need working up to so will be put off (again!) for another few months :)

The next round of the SMQ Bee has started so in keeping with my new finish before starting attitude I have been knuckling down to get them out of the way before tackling the first block of Quiet Play's And Sew On BOM.

SMQ2 January Bee Block
Tangled Threads wanted a block of low-value strips with one bright red strip, so I hope this fits the bill.

SMQ 2 Bee block for Seaside sewing
Whilst Seaside Sewing asked for a slab in blues, aquas or teals to make the Splash quilt from the book. Hopefully, this will fit the bill too.

I don't think I have ever had my Bee blocks for this Bee in the post so early in the month before. Let's hope I can maintain this level of organisation for the rest of the year.

Linkng up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday 6 January 2013

New to Me in 2013

Apparently most New Year resolutions fall by the wayside after 6 days. So, if you are about to falter (or have already, those biscuits needed to be eaten honestly!) here is an opportunity to redeem yourself!

Let me introduce you to a resolution that will be easy to keep - try something
New to Me in 2013.

The emphasis is definitely upon the trying, success or otherwise is not the point. Several years ago I adopted a resolution that I would try something new every month for the year. One of the things I tried was signing up for an evening class in Patchwork and Quilting at the local school, and you can see where that got me :)

My resolutions were not all craft-related though and not all of them were successful. Having a reflexology session was a particular low, after 5 minutes I couldn't wait for it to be over!

So, I have decided to do the same again this year and I am hoping you will join me in my quest to try something New to Me each month in 2013.

Here's the plan:

Every month you will try something that you haven't attempted before, be it para-gliding or paper-piecing and write a post about the attempt.

On the 25th of each month I will open a Linky party for that month so that everyone can share their stories. We will, hopefully, provide each other with lots of inspiring activities that will keep us motivated for the year.

I have created a Blog Button for the Challenge (now that was definitely new to me!) so grab it and add it to your post and/or sidebar and get thinking about what you would like to try that is New to Me in 2013.

Grab button for Celtic Thistle Stitches

If you are looking for some inspiration for new activities here are some that might fit the bill;

Try paper-piecing with Quiet Play's And Sew On BOM

Try designing your own paper-piecing blocks with The Littlest Thistle's Everything and the Kitchen Sink SAL

If you have always fancied having a go at embroidery check out  Feeling Stitchy for the current New Embroidery with Vintage patterns competition

Or if knitting and crochet are on your list to try this year, check out the Purl Bee

Then, of course, there is always Craftsy where you can try your hand at gardening, bread-making or maybe a bit of cake decorating.

Of course, the more adventurous you are the more inspired we will be, so join me in making New the watchword for 2013 and get ready to link up on the 25th!

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