Thursday 31 October 2013

A sporty Queen and determined General

Apparently Mary, Queen of Scots was a wizard Billiards player, now that was never mentioned in History lessons at school!

Makes you wonder what other interesting facts they omitted to mention, although let's face it with three marriages and a murder during her lift it's not as if she had a boring life :)

I wonder if she managed to play a game or two whilst she was staying (imprisoned?) at this hotel that we came across in Buxton?

History doesn't relate whether Oliver Cromwell was a Billiards player or not, although given that he has a reputation for banning all forms of enjoyment whilst he was Lord Protector, I am guessing that it probably wasn't high on his list of favourite pastimes :)

On our recent visit to Ireland we visited the Hook Lighthouse, which is the "oldest intact operational lighthouse in the world" the original structure having been in place for 800 years. Now you might be wondering what that has got to do with Oliver Cromwell, whose name incidentally is still mud in Ireland?

Well according to the locals the phrase "by hook or by crook" relates to Cromwell's attempts to take the Irish county of Waterford by Hook, where the lighthouse stands on the Wexford side of the Estuary or by Crook, a village on the opposite side in Waterford. There is evidence that the phrase pre-dates Cromwell, but it is a good story and I have never known an Irish person allow the facts to get in the way of a good story :) Maybe that is just true of my husband's family, but I doubt it!

So that's the random history and geography lesson for this week!

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

there is still time, the linkup will close at 00.00GMT tonight October 31st, that is if the ghouls and ghosts don't interfere on their one night of freedom in the year :)

Linking up naturally to

 Really Random

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Kennedy Bag

Recently the lovely and very talented Sara at Sew Sweetness put out a call for pattern testers for her latest bag pattern, which she had named the Kennedy Bag. Even although I had plenty of other projects on my to-do list, I was so taken with the photo of the bag that came with the call that I couldn't resist volunteering to be a tester.

At the same time I received a shipment of great home dec fabric from the nice people at Terrys Fabrics so it seemed only natural to put the two together and come up with this!

Sew Sweetness Kennedy Bag test

My version of the Kennedy Bag.

Because of an impending visit to something called Quilt Market (???) the turnaround time for testing this pattern was relatively tight, to give Sara time to co-ordinate the feedback before she jetted off to tease us all with new fabric lines and quilting heroines and heroes on Instagram!

Unfortunately I didn't pay a lot of attention to the hardware requirements for this bag until I actually came to put it together. I then discovered that despite having more bag hardware than I will probably ever need, I didn't have the correct size buckles for this pattern. A trawl round every haberdasher within a 10 mile radius failed to find them either. They were available, however, on the MacCulloch and Wallis website, so a few clicks later and I was ready to start sewing. I have visited MacCulloch and Wallis' bricks and mortar shop in London and it is a real treasure trove, so I wasn't surprised that they had the buckles listed that I needed, when nowhere else seemed to stock them.

Whilst the bag was fairly straightforward to do, there are a lot of layers at times to wrestle through the sewing machine. I counted 10 layers at one point and I could tell that my sewing machine was not very happy with it :) Still we both gritted our teeth and hoped for the best and, fortunately, it all worked out.

Which is more than can be said for my buckles order, unfortunately, one of the items in the order was out of stock and although the lovely lady who rang to tell me this could not have been more helpful in finding an appropriate substitution it meant that I wouldn't get the order in time for the deadline date for feedback to Sara.

Clearly drastic action was required!

A frantic rummage through my store of handbags unearthed this bag, which has seen better days.

Those buckles were exactly the size I needed, so some quick cutting and I was back on track.

Kennedy Bag close up and lining

You would think they were meant for that bag strap wouldn't you??

The pattern of the main fabric was perfect for some outline quilting, which was an optional step in the process. I did debate about whether to do it or not, given the time constraints but I was glad in the end that I did. I think it makes for a more sturdy bag and given that this is fairly large bag, I think a bit of extra sturdiness will be useful. Sara recommends using Soft and Stable for the interfacing, which I think would make this bag even sturdier but I have not yet tried this.

As you can see from the photo above the buckle straps are decorative, the bag flap is actually closed with a magnetic snap. I like the look of buckle closures but find in practise that they are slow and cumbersome to open and close, so I think this is a great compromise.

I forgot to take a photo of them but the bag also has a zipped external pocket on the back and a divided pocket in the interior. Sara has thought of everything!

If you would like to make your own version of the Kennedy bag the pattern will be available as a free download at Sew Mama Sew later today. The pattern is now available for download here


Exterior fabric - Verve in Linen from Terrys Fabrics
Lining fabric    - Happy go Lucky by Bonnie and Camille for Moda
Accent fabric    - Quilters Basic Dusty Style by Stof

I am delighted with my new bag and look forward to getting lots of use out of it on our upcoming trip to France.

If you are looking for more bag inspiration check out the great bags being linked up at Sew Sweetness' Purse Palooza

Sew Sweetness 

The link up is open till November 11th, so you have plenty of time to get your own version of the Kennedy bag made and linked up to be in with a chance of winning a great prize.

Linking up to

ChrisW Designs

Fresh Poppy Design

 Show & Tell Thursday's

Monday 28 October 2013

Fab Falcon

A couple of weeks ago the very talented Tartankiwi asked for a pattern tester for her latest paper-piecing pattern. Juliet has designed the most amazing patterns of some of the fabulous birds to be found in her New Zealand neighbourhood. Her latest pattern was of a New Zealand Falcon and as our local rugby team are known as the Falcons, and the males in this family are mad-keen rugby fans, well it was obvious that I should volunteer to test the pattern!

So I did and here is the result.

Kiwi Falcon

I don't claim to have his plumage correctly coloured but I am thrilled to bits with him. I am hoping to turn him into a cushion for our newly-decorated living room, but that will have to wait for a while. My sewing room is being stripped and repainted as I type so all of my sewing supplies are stashed in random places all over the house, it will take me days to find anything again:)

If you want to have a look at the other New Zealand bird patterns that Juliet has designed you can check them out in her Craftsy shop here They really are amazing patterns.

The falcon pattern should be available there too in the next week or so is available now!

I wonder if I left this block in the trees where it was photographed would it scare away the big, fat pigeons who are eating all of the bird food?? Just a thought :)

Hope you have had a good weekend too.

Linking up to Dandelion Dreams



Sunday 27 October 2013

Making Christmas - Week 3

Although it doesn't seem like it, we are already in to the third week of Making Christmas, where did week 2 go??

If you haven't already come across the Making Christmas Blog Hop, it is the brainchild of Janine and Rebecca who came up with the wheeze of asking fellow bloggers to post a list of the crafty projects they would like to complete before Christmas and link them up.

Along the way there will be posts and tutorials on holiday-themed projects, this week's post is by the very talented, paper-piecing Queen, Kristy who has designed an adorable Christmas Robin Wreath paper-pieced pattern, where does she find the time?? The pattern will be available for free download from Kristy's Craftsy shop, but only for a limited time, so if you would like it you will need to be quick.

Having made zero progress on my Making Christmas list last week, I was hoping for better things this week, and I am pleased to report that I have managed to tick one thing off of the list. Yay!

Chutney for my son and brother. I had to wait until my son was away for the weekend before making this, so that I can squirrel it away for Christmas without his seeing it :)

The recipe for the Spicy Squash and Apple Chutney was from the October issue of Good Food magazine and is available here I used Butternut Squash in my chutney, but it would be a great way to use up the leftover pumpkin flesh if you are carving up pumpkins this week!

I enjoyed making this so much that I have decided to make some biscuits for cheese and put together a hamper for my brother. He is a very difficult person to shop for, but loves his cheese so I think that might just hit the spot.

So here's my updated list
  • A Christmas Table Runner for our new dining table
  • Two Pleated Pouches to fill with make-up/nail polishes for my daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law to be
  • Two Liberty and linen jewellery rolls for my sisters-in-law
  • A Knotwork Christmas cushion - for me!
  • A Fairytale Cushion for my grandniece using one of Quiet Play's Happily Ever After paper-pieced patterns
  • Homemade chutney for my brother and son MADE
  • More dishwasher vodka!
  • Biscuits for cheese for my brother

The room where I sew and craft is being decorated this week, so I think my opportunities for ticking off any of the sewing projects will be minimal. Maybe it is time to crack out the vodka :)

I hope you have been having a more productive couple of weeks than I have!

 Linking my updated list up to the Link party here 

Friday 25 October 2013

New to Me in October

It's the 25th of the month, which means you know what is coming in two months time!

Less worryingly it also means that it is time to link up to

There hasn't been a lot of new activity going on in my little part of blogland, although hosting a voting competition was very definitely a first for me :)

Responses from the prize winners suggest that winning a competition was a first for some of them too!

I can't wait to do it all again next year :)

My other first this month was much messier than sewing, as my daughter-in-law and I treated ourselves to a cupcake decorating class a couple of weeks ago. Instead of dressmakers pins it was rolling pins that dominated our afternoon.

We learned a number of different techniques and surprised ourselves at the standard of our finished cupcakes, not quite Great British Bake Off admittedly, but certainly much better than we had hoped for at the start of the day.


Needless to say they didn't last long on our return home :)

So, what have you been up to this month?

Link up your New to Me posts 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 October 31st so if you haven't already tried something new you still have time :)

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Paying it Forward

 The lovely and very talented Catherine at Knotted Cotton hosted a Pay it Forward gift on her blog some time ago, and I, with two other lucky bloggers Caroline and Kay, was lucky enough to be picked as a recipient.

Naturally with a timescale of one year attached to the gifting, I had forgotten all about it until I received this gorgeous pouch in the post!

Liberty and linen, what a great combination,but then the icing on the cake - all that beautiful hand stitching too! Apparently there was considerable chocolate consumption involved in the making of this pouch, which you can read about here. I have to say though, Catherine, it is definitely worth wrecking a diet for :) Those are 1 inch squares!!

So, now that I have received my gift from Catherine, it is my turn to Pay it Forward, which is where you come in.

If you would like to receive a handmade gift from this little corner of blogland sometime in the next year, then just leave a comment to say so. I will undertake to send a handmade gift to the first three commenters who wish to participate. The only stipulation is that, upon receipt of your gift, you must be willing to Pay it Forward to 3 more bloggers in turn within a year. That's not too onerous now is it!

Now I am off to play with my beads and decide what deserves to be stored inside all that Liberty and linen loveliness :)

Monday 21 October 2013

Halloween Bunting on a Budget

With half-term and Halloween coming up in the UK, here is a project, that I initially created a while ago as a guest post at Lily's Quilts, that might help keep the kids occupied for a while :)

My suggestion for the Halloween project was Halloween Bunting. It is a quick and easy project to do, and one that the family can get involved in too by drawing or tracing the Halloween shapes and letters and making the spider webs with fabric paint.

Hanging Bunting

For your Halloween Bunting you will need:

Bunting materials

1m black cotton fabric  (you will have enough to make more than the 11 flags if you wish to)
0.25m orange cotton sheeting 
6m Orange/ Black Spider Pattern ribbon (you will have enough to make longer bunting if you wish to)
2 squares black felt
2 squares white felt
Glow in the Dark fabric paint – lime green and orange
Black and Fluorescent Effects embroidery floss  
Double-sided fusible web
All of the above were purchased from Abakhan apart from the Fluorescent effect embroidery floss which I already had.


Cut 4 orange 3” hexagons and 18 black 3” hexagons.

Cut 3 inch hexagons

I used an Easy Hexagon ruler to measure and cut out the hexagons, but you can make your own template by drawing a 6” line and with a compass draw three 3” circles along the line centring them on each end of the line and the mid-point. Draw lines between the points where the circles intersect to make your hexagon. Don’t forget to add a 0.25” seam allowance when cutting out the fabric.

Making the flags

Pin wrong sides together the 4 orange hexagons to 4 black hexagons and repeat with the remaining 14 black hexagons in pairs leaving the one edge on every hexagon unpinned. Stitch the pinned sides with a 0.25” seam, starting and stopping 0.25” from the open edge. Clip the corners and turn each hexagon pair right side out through the open side. Use a pencil or similar to push out the points of the hexagons. Turn under 0.25” on the open top edges and topstitch to close the hexagon. Press. You will now have 7 black and 4 black/orange hexagon flags.

Hexagon flags plain

Adding the motifs

Draw/trace one B, two O’s, two ghosts, two bats and two witches hats onto the fusible web. Templates for the letters are available here .I drew the ghosts, bats and hats freehand but this site also has stencils available for these too. Roughly cut out the letters and ghosts and iron to the reverse of the white felt squares. Repeat for the bats and witches hats with the black felt. Cut out the shapes on the outlines.

Position the white felt B centrally on the front of a black hexagon pair. Remove the paper backing when you are happy with the position and iron to fuse. Outline the letter with a hand blanket stitch using the fluorescent embroidery thread. Repeat for the remaining letters and ghosts.

Blanket stitch ghosts

Fuse the black hats and bats to the orange hexagon flags and machine blanket stitch with black thread.

Appliqued bat

Using the green fabric paint mark two eyes on each bat and use the orange fabric paint to mark a band on the witches hats. With the black embroidery thread stitch French knots for the eyes of the ghosts.

Fabric paint

On the remaining two black hexagon flags mark out with chalk or an erasable marker spider’s webs and outline with the fabric paint or stitch with a running stitch with the fluorescent thread. If you are using fabric paint you will need to let the spiders webs dry before going on to the next step.

Attaching the ribbon

Turn under 0.25” twice at the end of the ribbon and then turn this under 1” Pin and stitch to hem the ribbon and make a loop for hanging. Measure 20” from the stitched end of the ribbon. Stitch the top edge of a bat hexagon flag with a 0.25” seam to the bottom edge of the ribbon. Measure 6” from the widest point of the bat hexagon flag and repeat the stitching with a spider’s web hexagon flag. Repeat with these measurements alternating the hexagon flags in the following order from the beginning bat, web, ghost, hat, B, O, O, bat, ghost, web, hat.

Hanging Bunting

Hang the bunting and wait for darkness to fall! 

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Holiday Memories Mini Quilt Competition - Winners!

First of all, I would like to thank all of the wonderful quilters who entered the competition, their quilts and the memories that inspired them were a joy to read about and see.

The standard of entries was incredibly high, so I was delighted that it wasn't my job to pick a winner.

The judges, Cindy, Kristy and Sheila who were also so generous with their time and expertise, have deliberated, the votes have been cast and the random numbers have been generated so it is time to announce the winners.

The judges pick for the categories were as follows;

In the category, Mini Quilts the judges prize goes to Evening in the Garden

2013-09-20 12.25.54 

Congratulations Valerie, the F8th bundle of Oakshott Cottons will be winging their way to you as soon as you send me your address.

In the Category, Cushions/Pillows the judges prize goes to Missy Mac Creations 

QUILTED PILLOW - Cutie Scootie Patootie

Love the scooter Erin, the box of Aurifil threads will be winging their way to you soon too.

The judges prize for the Bags/Accessories prize goes to Mud Pies and Pins


Congratulations Paula, you now have £25 to spend at the Village Haberdashery!

Thank you to everyone who voted or blogged about the vote for the Viewers Choice winners, the winners of these prizes are ;

In the Mini Quilts category, the overwhelming Viewers Choice winner was Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle


Congratulations Hadley,  the 6 FQ's of Japanese Fabrics from Blossom Heart Quilts will be heading your way soon!

In the Cushions/Pillows category and again an overwhelming winner, the Viewers Choice was Negligent Style


Congratulations Vera, time to pick your Jelly Roll from Fabric Patch!

As the only entry in the Bags and Accessories Category, Paula is also the Viewers Choice winner so wins a Fabric Bundle from Sew Me a Song to go with the Village Haberdashery gift voucher!

As well as these fabulous prizes, there were 6 randomly drawn prizes up for grabs too, and the winners of these are;

 So, Congratulations to all of the winners and a huge thank you to everyone who entered, judged or donated a prize, the competition would have been nothing without you :)

I had so much fun reading about the entries and seeing the final submissions that I think I might just do it all again next year, what do you think???

If you are a lucky winner, please get in touch to pass on your contact details. I am sure you will be itching to get your hands on your prize as soon as possible :)

Monday 14 October 2013

Making Christmas - another list!

When Janine asked me if I would like to join in with the Making Christmas Blog Hop that she was co-hosting with Rebecca, well I didn't need to be asked twice!


The aim of the Blog Hop is to provide encouragement and support to bloggers as they work through their list of craft makes for Christmas. Well, you know me, I love a good list, and what could be better than one good list? Two good lists of course :)

To join the party too, all you need to do is make a list things you want to get done before Christmas. How satisfying will that be! Then link up your list here

You can include things that are specifically Christmassy, such as gifts and Christmas decorations, but you can also add in your intended Halloween and Thanksgiving makes and any other handmade projects you want to get finished by December 25th at the very latest!

To encourage everyone in the often hectic run-up to Christmas, the MAKING CHRISTMAS BLOG HOP HOSTS will be posting each week with either a Brainstorming Holiday Themed Post or a Tute for GIFTS, HOME DEC or CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS and every week you can link up with your updated list and your makes from the past week.

October 19th - REBECCA Making Rebecca Lynne

October 26th - KRISTY Quiet Play

November 2nd - M-R Quilt Matters

November 9th - SOMA Whims and Fancies

November 16th - FIONA Celtic Thistle Stitches - that's me!

November 23rd - NAT Made in Home

November 30th - ERIN Missy Mac Creations

December 2nd - LUCY Charm About You

December 14th - SUSAN The Bored Zombie

December 21st - To be confirmed

So  not only will there be lots of cheerleading and support but great gift and decoration ideas too, what more could you want ? Well, how about a prize thrown in for good measure!

January 11th 2014 - A winner will be randomly selected from the link ups for a small prize.

Janine will be adding all the tutorials and makes to a Pinterest Board too, so you will have a one-stop shop for all of the great projects that will be coming your way. 

When we lived in Latvia, I fondly imagined that when I was back in the UK I would have so much time and access to all of the resources I needed, that I could have a nearly handmade Christmas. Well, last year was our first Christmas living back in the UK and it didn't quite work out like that :) So this year I am scaling down my ambitions in the hope that I can achieve everything that I set out to do. So here's the list of projects that I would like to complete for Christmas.

  • A Christmas Table Runner for our new dining table
  • Two Pleated Pouches to fill with make-up/nail polishes for my daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law to be
  • Two Liberty and linen jewellery rolls for my sisters-in-law
  • A Knotwork Christmas cushion - for me!
  • A Fairytale Cushion for my grandniece using one of Quiet Play's Happily Ever After paper-pieced patterns
  • Homemade chutney for my brother and son
  • More dishwasher vodka!
So that doesn't look too onerous does it :) ???

Now it's your turn, to join in the fun, write up your Christmas (or Halloween or Thanksgiving) makes list and link it up here 

Check out the other links and leave an encouraging comment along the way too.

I shall look forward to seeing what projects you have planned for the Holiday Season.

Speaking of holidays, don't forget to check back tomorrow for the announcement of the winners of the


Sunday 13 October 2013

Q4 FAL - a list of hopeful finishes!

Leanne is doing a wonderful job of marshalling all of the FAL followers, with timely reminders to the tardy to get their lists for Q4 submitted.

she can quilt

So, scraping in before the deadline here is my list of projects that I would love to have completed before the end of the year.

First up, naturally, is the HST BOM quilt that didn't quite get finished by the end of Q3.

HST BOM Quilt top

If nothing else is finished this quarter, I am determined that this will be!

Second, another carry forward from Q3, the Craftsy BOM quilt top.

Craftsy Catch up

I would like to give my son and daughter-in-law the completed quilt as a Christmas present, so that is an added incentive to get this one finally done and dusted.

The third project on the FAL list is more urgent than a Christmas gift, as it is a housewarming present for my son and his fiancee, and we are going down to visit them at the end of the month :)

A while ago, I took part in a text fabric swap and this wine bottle fabric was one of the fabrics suggested for the swap. The swap was for charm squares, so this fabric was deemed to be too large a scale to be included, but I knew that it would be ideal for a project for my son, who works in the wine trade. The lovely Swedish Scrapper who posted the fabric suggestion, unbeknowns to me, arranged for a fat quarter to be included with my swap package, which was a wonderful surprise. So, I really need to do something with it to recognise Lizzie's fabulous generosity. I have the perfect project from my Pillow Pop book too, so there really is no reason why this can't be done in time!

Fourth on the list is another long-standing project from last year's Zakka SAL, the house pouch.

I had decided to change the original pattern about a bit, and incorporate some embroidery but as you can see that didn't get very far :) So with the winter nights coming in, what better project to have on hand than some dainty embroidery!

The fifth project on the list is also a bag, but this time a proper handbag size bag. A while ago I entered a competition at uhandbag's blog to name a new bag pattern and win a kit for the bag. I suggested the name of the bag could be the Arc Angel Tote, and Lisa picked that as the winner. The kit, however, has been sitting in my sewing room gathering dust since then.

Having named the bag, it seems a shame not to actually have one, but hopefully that will be remedied this quarter!

My sixth and final finish for Q4 will, hopefully, be the wallhanging I have been paper-piecing monthly with Quiet Play's BOM

And Sew On BoM Button[3]
I have the last block of 9 left to paper piece (the photo below only shows 7 blocks as I haven't taken any photos of them altogether since I made the 8th block). Then I need to decide whether I am going to put them together as a quilt/wallhanging or perhaps make several smaller projects out of them instead. Decisions, decisions :)

So, there you have it, my roll call of projects for Q4. Some big, some little, some nearly finished, some a long way from being finished. If I manage a 50% finish rate as I did in Q3, then at least 3 of these will be off the WIP list and that will definitely make me happy :)

There is, of course, coming up the small matter of Christmas to contend with but that is another list entirely!

Voting has now closed and I will be posting the details of the winners on Tuesday, so be sure to check and see whether you are one of the lucky winners.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Signs, Swans and Fungi

The night before we left for our recent trip to France and Ireland the power went off, just as we were about to start cooking! Several phone calls and consultations with neighbours later, workmen arrived with diggers, powerful lights and drills. Just what you need when you are either a) driving hundreds of miles the next morning - my husband and I or b) heading off to the railway station at the crack of dawn for a three-hour train journey to an important meeting - our daughter-in-law!

Said workmen toiled all through the night (we could tell because it was like Blackpool illuminations at the end of our drive!) and managed to get the power back on for us and our neighbours about 15 minutes before our daughter-in-law needed to leave to catch her train! Not the best preparation for a long day at work you have to agree.

A couple of hours later when we were heading off on our long drive South, this is what we found.

Apparently we were deemed incapable of realising that there was a hole at the end of the drive surrounded by fencing, and that we might have to drive slightly to the left of the fencing to avoid the hole! We don't routinely drive across our neighbour's garden to get to the road, so it was highly unlikely that we would be anywhere near the hole in the first place.

We arrived in France at the beginning of the mushroom foraging season, and being surrounded by forest as we are there, coming across little, old French men and women scouring the forest floor is not an uncommon occurrence. This year these magnificent specimens were growing in our garden.

I have no idea whether they are edible or not, but if I wanted to find out all I needed to do was take them to the nearest Pharmacy, where they will identify your finds for you. At this time of year the Pharmacies have posters in their windows identifying edible and non-edible mushrooms, but even there the differences are not always obvious to me. So I will continue to admire them from behind my camera lens and stock up on safe mushrooms from the local market instead :)

Remember the elephant towels in the Buxton hotel? Well, we had fancy folded towels of a different form on the ferry from France to Ireland. A pair of swans this time.

I wonder what other bird or animal shapes towels can be folded into. Do let me know if you have seen any other towel creatures on your travels, won't you :)

Voting is open until 23.59GMT October 11th, so there is still time if you haven't already voted. You can cast your vote here

Linking up to 
 Really Random
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