Friday 30 August 2013

Testing my stash

A few months ago I signed up for the Scrappy Trip Around the World Bee and duly sent off my blocks for the first round. As I enjoyed making the blocks so much, even with the planned and unplanned seam ripping, I carried on making blocks that ended up in a quilt for my son and his fiancee.

Round 2 of the STAW Bee kicked off at the beginning of this month so we were allocated a new set of swap partners, with a whole new set of fabric likes and dislikes! This round the brief for the blocks in my hive ranged from jewel tones to low volume with bright and fun thrown in for good measure :)

Scrappy Rd 2 Block 1

Scrappy Rd 2 Block 3
I hope these fit the bill!
Scrappy Rd 2 Block 5Scrappy Rd 2 Block 2

Scrappy Rd 2 Block 4

They were certainly a real test of my stash fabrics!

So with all of my blocks for this round done and dusted, another box can be ticked on my list! 

If you have joined a Bee for the first time this month or tried a new block then don't forget to link up to 

the Link Party is open until August 31st

Linking this finish to Crazy Mom Quilts

Confessions of a Fabric Addict

My Quilt Infatuation

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Introducing Blossom Heart Quilts

So, you have picked your holiday memory photo, generated your fabric palette now you need to select your fabric. Well, today I am delighted to introduce Alyce, of Blossom Heart Quilts who is one of the very generous prize sponsors for the

If you have never come across Alyce's fabulous Japanese fabrics you are in for a real treat!

Over to Alyce ...

When Fiona emailed me asking me if I would sponsor the Holiday Memories Mini Quilt Competition with some of my exotic Japanese fabric, how could I say no?! I love Japanese fabric - a term that covers so many different styles - and especially sharing it with others. This was the drive to open my little Etsy store, wanting to share my Japanese fabric finds with others. It's my "bit on the side" - as a full-time stay at home mum and a part-time English teacher, my fling with Japanese fabric is a great side interest! Because who doesn't love playing with fabric?!
Tanabata Japanese fabrics
For the competition, I've donated this beautiful bundle of Japanese fabrics featuring colourful and traditional prints. It's a bundle from my Japanese Bundle Club - a monthly bundle of fabrics selected around a theme. This bundle is from the Tanabata month - a Japanese festival held each summer. The bundle contains 6 prints symbolising Japanese festivals. Other months have included sewing prints, text, and the current bundle is a bundle of 6 warm-coloured fabrics in reds, oranges and yellows. Next month, available September 1st, is novelty prints! It's a month-by-month club, so you just purchase what bundles you want to by the end of the month, and by the second Friday of the next month, your bundle will be winging it's way to you from Japan! You can order a fat quarter bundle or a fat eighth bundle, and shipping is free! You can even combine shipping with any other item, and it will all ship together. If you've ever wanted to try some Japanese fabric, this is the best way to do it!
I can't wait to see what you create during the competition!!

Thanks Alyce, your Japanese fabrics are gorgeous.

All of the details of the competition, including the list of prize sponsors are available here

If trying out Japanese fabrics are New to You then there is still time to link up to

The link up is open until the end of the month.

Sunday 25 August 2013

New to Me in August

It's the 25th of the month, which means that it is time to share any new activities that you have tried out in August.

I had an idea that August had been a bit of a slow month but to my surprise, August has seen several firsts for me, the big one of course being hosting my first ever competition - the Holiday Memories Mini Quilt Competition

The Competition, which was launched on August 2nd with this post , is for a mini quilt based upon a Holiday Memory, and all of the details are available by clicking on the Holiday Memories tab at the top of the page.

Another first was my attempt at a Stained Glass Applique block inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Rennie Mackintosh Rose block

Fusible bias tape equipment

Even with the fiddly 0.25" bias binding to make, this was quick and enjoyable to do, so will, hopefully, not be my last try at the technique.

More fusible bias binding was involved in the last of my new techniques this month,

Tyne Bridges Star of Africa Bee block

with a lot of free-form machine embroidery thrown in for good measure :)

So that is what I have been up to, now it is your turn to link up and share your New to You activities in August.

Link them up below and share your triumphs and/or disasters.

As ever please help to spread the word by linking back to this post in your post and/or adding the blog button to your sidebar.

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 until August 31st so if you haven't already tried something new you still have time :)

Friday 23 August 2013

Handbag to Camera Bag

When we came back to the UK last winter after our stint in Latvia, I treated myself to a fancy new camera. Since then I have been on the hunt for a nice, feminine camera bag, but it has been a thankless task. All of the camera bags available seem to be either bulky and black or, even worse, bulky and camouflaged for an intrepid hunter. Neither of these options were particularly attractive.

I had thought about making my own bag, but was a bit concerned about the sturdiness of a handmade bag. Things came to a head when we were heading off on our cruise and I rushed out to buy the least male option I could find, which was a grey backpack, not very exciting or very me, either!

Browsing through Pinterest recently, as you do, I came across the perfect solution - handmade camera inserts for a shop-bought handbag! The tutorial I followed was from Vanilla and Lace and was very straightforward.

Camera Bag insert with camera

The inserts are lengths of foam, which I had left over from the deskmat I had made for my son, cut to size and placed inside a fabric cover. The only other supplies needed were some Velcro strips. This fabric is called Venice, which I thought was rather appropriate :)

There are foam pads on each side of the bag, the base of the bag and each end. Then a separate pad with Velcro at each side holds the spare lens snugly, whilst another, also with Velcro at each side, keeps my camera from moving around in the bag.

The combination of Velcro strips and foam was rather lethal for my sewing machine needle, but apart from that the sewing was very straightforward.

The bag itself was a bargain buy from a local discount store.

At the moment this bag is more than big enough for my camera and a spare lens, and with an external zipped pocket on the bag, can also hold keys, phone, etc., without causing any harm to the camera or lens.

If, however, in the future I expand my collection of lenses or add a flashgun or other larger pieces of equipment to my photography arsenal, then it is a cinch to revert this bag back to handbag status, and make new inserts to fit a bigger bag.

The camera bag has already been tested on a recent photography day I attended and passed with flying colours :)

If you have tried something new this month, whether it is a photography course or sewing with Velcro, don't forget to link up from Sunday, August 25th to this month's New to Me Link Party.

Linking this finish to Crazy Mom Quilts

Confessions of a Fabric Addict

My Quilt Infatuation

Wednesday 21 August 2013

September already?

Thankfully it is not yet September otherwise I would have missed my birthday entirely, but as far as the SMQ Bee is concerned August has been skipped over and we have dived straight into September.

Both of the Queen Bee's for August went AWOL so there was a deathly silence when the request for their block preference was made. So instead of August blocks I am now ahead of the game (in my mind anyway!) with the first of the Bee blocks for September done and dusted.

SMQ September block 1

Jennifer asked for 25 blue blocks for the Up,up and away quilt from the book. This was the same block that I asked my Bee mates for back in May, so it was fun to have a go at them again in a different colourway. The blocks went together in such quick time that I was encouraged to keep on making them to add to my own pile.

In May I asked the Bees to send two strips of 10 2.5" white squares with a triangle in the corner, and all but three of them have come through so far, so with an extra strip sent by a Bee member I had 270 blocks. The quilt needs 589 blocks! You can see why I asked for strips, I can only admire Jennifer's fortitude in asking for the blocks to be sent individually!

Bee blocks received

Here are my 270 blocks in all of their glory.

The strips for the quilt are set diagonally so I have made a start on the first diagonal rows, 279 blocks down only another 311 to go :)

The instructions in the book call for triangles cut from 2.5" binding strips for the corner triangles but I haven't bound enough quilts to have that many triangles on hand so have been saving triangles wherever I can.

Fabric triangles

I am hoping that this bag of triangles will get me most of the way there.

So with another Bee block down and a start on my own Bee quilt here is how my WIP list is looking now

  • In Color Order HST BOM - quilting started!
  • Sunday Morning Quilt Bee blocks received, 2 more to be added by me
  • Sunday Morning Quilt2 Bee 279 blocks made, 311 to go!
  • Sunday Morning Quilt2 Bee blocks sent (ahead of schedule)
  • Star of Africa Bee blocks completed and sent (only 1 month behind schedule!)
  • Scrappy Trip Around the World Bee Q2 - no progress yet
  •  And Sew On BOM - eight blocks completed (On Schedule!)
  • Paris Cushion - no progress
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt basted  
  • 5 blocks of NY Beauty QAL completed and fabric cut for remaining 5 blocks 
  • 20 blocks of Craftsy BOM completed
Linking up to

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced Quilter in the Closet Maybush Studio

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Creating a quilt from a photo - Selecting fabrics with the Palette Builder

The Holiday Memories Mini Quilt Competition is underway

For some prospective entrants (Benta I am thinking of you!) who had the holiday of a lifetime this year picking a memory to choose to represent in a mini quilt is fairly straightforward. For others the memory will choose itself when the photos are viewed.

Either way how do you translate the photo you have into fabrics for a mini quilt? Well, if you haven't come across it before, the help you need is freely available in the Palette Builder available at Play Crafts.

Anne from Play Crafts has this to say about the Palette Builder tool

"At Play Crafts, we're committed to making design tools that are easy,
intuitive, and most of all, fun to use. We feel that every person has
a creative vision, and we want to design tools that help that vision
come to life. Palette Builder is our first tool, and it is designed to
help people find color inspiration from their favorite photos. With
the recent addition of Kona matching, it's now even easier to
integrate your color inspiration into your quilt designs!"

With the Holiday Memories Mini Quilt Competition in mind Anne has written a tutorial for newcomers to the Palette Builder, which is available here

Looking through my Norwegian Cruise photos I came across this one that I had taken to remind me of the wonderful colours of the painted wooden houses.

Uploaded to the Palette Builder I have the palette of colours I need to look for in fabrics and if I am so inclined a shopping list of Kona cottons to boot :)

So what are you waiting for? Look through your photos, check out the tutorial, play about with the Palette Builder and then rummage in your stash or get shopping!

Check the link at the top of the page for all of the details of the Competition, including the great prizes up for grabs

I can't wait to see what you come up with.

Have fun :)

Linking to


Friday 16 August 2013

Mini Finishes

My birthday is coming up at the end of the month and I may just have a number of sewing and quilting books on my Amazon wish list :)

So, before the anticipated influx of new reading I thought that I ought to get some value out of the books I already have. Before I had even heard of Zakka-style or joined in any Zakka-style SAL's I had Rashida Coleman-Hale's book I (heart) Patchwork. Indeed, the Wedding Ring patchwork tea towel was one of the first projects I ever blogged about, so the book has been on my shelf for a while.

As well as the tea towel I have also made this pincushion

and this apron from this book.

So, when I was looking for something quick and straightforward to make as an antidote to all of the seemingly never-ending projects I have on the go at the moment, I knew which book to pull from the shelf. 

Travel Sewing Wallet yellow

This time I thought that I would have a go at the travel sewing wallets, they seemed just the right blend of quick and useful that I was looking for. In addition, I got to play with some of my linen scraps from my linen shopping days in the Baltics :) The wallet only needs a scrap of linen fabric 9.5" by 3.5" for the exterior and three squares 3.5" by 3.5" for the interior, as well as oddments of cotton fabric for the binding and inners so is an ideal scrap buster.

 The pincushion in the middle is two 2.5" squares of fabric stitched together, then turned right sides out and stuffed before being hand stitched to the centre of the linen square. Stitching the pincushion to the square was a bit fiddly, and it did make machine sewing the binding quite tricky later, but the pincushion is my favourite bit of the whole wallet. 

I enjoyed putting this one together so much that I immediately made another one!

This time with some 50/50 linen and cotton scraps, which will I think be a bit more robust. 

I am delighted with these little wallets and, once again, with I (heart) Patchwork. 

Do you have a book that you turn to again and again for projects? There is still time for me to add to my wish list, if  I need to :)

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

Confessions of a Fabric Addict
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