Friday 29 August 2014

More Japanese gifts

A Japanese bag kit somehow found its way into my basket when I was browsing the gorgeous fabrics on offer from Katie at Japan Crafts at the Japanese textiles workshop recently.  I wonder how that happened??

So, when I was looking for a gift bag recently for a birthday present for my niece I thought that it might be the answer to my search.

And it was!

The kit is the Hana Japanese Bag Kit and it couldn't have been more straightforward to put together. Hana apparently means flower in Japanese and the bag is named for the petal like appearance of the top flaps when the drawstring is closed. It was so quick to make and took only two FQ's of fabric plus the cord and two beads that I am sure that I will be making this again. So much more useful than a paper wrapping too :)

With the completed Sashiko cushion for my son, I am surprised to find that I have used everything that I bought or tried at the workshop. I usually have an unfinished piece of something hanging about for ages after classes or workshops, so it definitely makes a pleasant change to actually have some finished objects to show for my time.

Sadly the same cannot be said yet for the recent class on couching, where this is all I have to show for my time so far!

Not even any couching in sight either, however, my order of fancy new threads has now arrived so, hopefully, that will change soon :)

Well, once I work out what to do with them that is!

Linking up to  Crazy Mom Quilts

Thursday 28 August 2014

An early birthday feast

When our boys were younger and we still had to pay attention to things like school holidays, having a birthday in August usually meant that it was spent on holiday (good) or, sometimes, on a ferry travelling back from holiday (not so good!). Now that we no longer have to worry about sorting out and buying new sports kit before the start of September, or more recently furnishing a student flat with enough food to keep an army on the move, it is a joy to be at home in August. A particular joy is getting to visit one of my favourite cities when it is in Festival mode.

Edinburgh Castle

Although it can seem that the world and his wife have also descended upon Edinburgh in August! Still there is plenty of room for everyone.

Our visit to Edinburgh this time though, wasn't to soak up the sights but instead to indulge ourselves in a 7 and a half hour theatre marathon, an early birthday treat from my husband, who it seems does sometimes listen :)

James Plays programme

The James Plays are a trilogy about the first three King James' of Scotland, and for four days in August all three would be performed on the same day. The plays by Rona Munro, were being premiered in Edinburgh during the Festival, so it was too good an opportunity to miss. Sadly my knowledge of 15th Century Scotland is sketchy to say the least, despite being born and bred in Scotland and being an avid reader of historical novels for many years, so I was definitely looking forward to filling in some gaps in my knowledge.

I certainly didn't know that James I met a particularly unsavoury end being killed in the sewers of a monastery whilst trying to escape from his attackers. His son, also James, was the recipient of this large piece of artillery, known as Mons Meg, which graces the walls of Edinburgh Castle.

Mons Meg, Edinburgh Castle

Sadly another cannon was to be the cause of his untimely demise when it exploded during a siege at Roxburgh Castle.

One of the events during James II's reign known as the "Black Dinner" when nobles invited to dine with the young King were accused of treason and executed was apparently the inspiration for the Red Wedding in George Martin's Game of Thrones series.

Just goes to show that life definitely is stranger than fiction!

The plays were all wonderful, if you ever get a chance to see them I can definitely recommend them, although you might prefer to do it over several nights as 7 and a half hours on a theatre seat can be a bit numbing :)

Linking up to

Really Random

Monday 25 August 2014

New to Me in August

Welcome to this month's link party where we celebrate the successes and failures of trying something new.

This month, I had the excitement of my first-ever project published in a magazine, and not just any magazine but the fabulous Fat Quarterly magazine no less!

Now that was definitely a successful New to Me :)

I have also discovered a great new tool for tracing patterns

and finished my first ever traditional Sashiko embroidery piece and even managed to turn it into something useful at the same time. Now that is a new experience :)

So, now it is your turn to share all the fascinating things that you have been up to this month. 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.

Grab button for Celtic Thistle Stitches

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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 23.59GMT on August 31st, so you have plenty of time to try something new and link up and join the party :)

If you have been working on a Christmas project this month don't forget to link up to the

Link Party too, which is hosted by the super creative Erin at Missy Mac Creations, you are going to love her Santa's Belt paper-pieced pattern, it's adorable! There is also this great felt ornaments pattern up for grabs for one lucky linker, so what are you waiting for, get linking!!!

Monday 18 August 2014

Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew in August

Well we definitely are on the downhill slope to Christmas now, in a couple of weeks time the schools will go back here in England so that usually means that the Christmas cards will be appearing in the shops very soon after! In Scotland they are further ahead of the game, on a visit to a local garden centre with my mum last week we were tempted by the recently laid out boxes of Christmas cards but managed to resist and head for the ice-cream instead :)

For crafters though it is never too early to start thinking of Christmas, so in an effort to have you all organised for Christmas it is time to head on over to this month's Christmas Angel, Erin, who blogs at Missy Mac Creations for August's Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party. Erin has a beautiful baby girl to make for this Christmas, so it will be extra special this year over at Missy Mac towers :)

If you are new to the party, let me fill you in on the details. Paula and I decided at the end of last year that Christmas 2014 was going to be different, this time round there would be no late-night sewing sessions or frantic last-minute dashes to the Post Office. This time we were going to work on Christmas and Holiday projects throughout the year so come December we would be so organised we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves :)

We decided to share our plans with our blogging friends and invite them to be organised too, with a monthly Link Party to provide a gentle nudge. As ever we have a lovely incentive for you to get crafting and linking and this time it is a great Christmas Ornament Pattern Set courtesy of the lovely Alicia at Posie: Patterns and Kits to stitch, isn't that cottage adorable?

To win the pattern set all you have to do is head on over to Missy Mac Creations and link up a Christmas or Holiday-themed finish that you have completed this month. The link up will remain open until the end of the month, when a random winner will be drawn. Couldn't be any easier, could it?

My own Christmas crafting this month is one jewellery roll for my soon-to-be daughter-in-law,

 and I have started making some Christmas coasters to go with the wine charms from May's link party.

They will hopefully be finished before the end of the month! 

So now it is your turn to show and tell, head on over to Missy Mac Creations and share your Christmas makes. 

As ever we are grateful to our lovely and generous sponsors who have provided us with such great prizes for the Link Party.
Fluffy Sheep QuiltingRay Stitch HaberdasheryBackstitch

Quiet PlayQuilting Fabric at the Fat Quarter ShopPlush Addict Logo  Posie: Patterns and Kits to Stitch by Alicia Paulson

Friday 15 August 2014

Simply Sashiko

Recently, I was lucky enough to attend a Japanese Textiles talk and workshop conducted by the very charming Katie Chaplin of Japan Crafts. Katie gave us a fascinating talk on the origins of some Japanese textiles and introduced us all to a whole new world. Who knew that weavers of Japanese cloth had their own special saw tip fingernail manicures?

To illustrate her talk, Katie passed around examples of the different textile techniques mentioned, including the glorious kimono you can see above. Surprisingly, vintage textiles are not particularly sought after in modern-day Japan apparently, so can still be found at reasonable prices. The same cannot be said for modern kimonos, which can command eye-wateringly high prices. When you hear that a kimono made using the Shibori technique similar to tie-dying can take up to one year to make, the prices are not, perhaps, quite so surprising after all!

Katie brought along some kimono type jackets for sale as well as a whole range of bag kits, which proved to be very popular with her audience. I may just have succumbed to a bag kit :)

In the morning we had a chance to have a go at Sashiko embroidery and were given a range of patterns to pick from. I chose a wave pattern for my first attempt at traditional Sashiko embroidery. We used a tool that I hadn't come across before to transfer the pattern on to the plain blue fabric.

I have no idea what the tool is called, but with its blunt tip it was brilliant for transferring the pattern using Dressmaker's Carbon Paper. Naturally, I had to add one to my basket! I am guessing that it will be great for turning out corners too from the shape of it.

Katie had some gorgeous printed FQ's for sale too, so I treated myself to a couple as I had had an idea of what I might do with the Sashiko panel when I had finished it.

My youngest son is just about to move into his very first flat, so I thought that this was manly enough for a bachelor pad :) The central Sashiko panel is surrounded by 2.5" square borders of three Oriental-themed fabrics, and the borders are machine quilted with a half-circle pattern to echo the Sashiko embroidery.

I came across this manly-looking fabric in my stash and thought that it was ideal for the envelope back.

If you were at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham last weekend you might have come across Katie's stall. Apparently it was strategically placed on the route between the cafe and the toilets, so bound to be passed by everyone at some stage in the day!

Our next session is on couching, another technique that I have never tried so I am wondering what I can do with the results from that.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Liberty and linen - a match made in heaven!

A long while ago, right at the beginning of the year, I shared a sneak peek of a project that I was working on with some vintage linen and Liberty fabric. I am delighted to finally be able to show you the completed project.

As regular readers will know I am often to be found rifling through the linen baskets at vintage and antique fairs, and frequently come across something that needs to come home with me. A recent purchase of a vintage linen traycloth and a FQ of Liberty Lawn fabric, when combined with a FQ of Pearl Bracelets, was the inspiration behind this jewellery roll for my soon-to-be new daughter-in-law.

Why, did it take so long to share it though? Well, that is because there was the small matter of a publishing deadline to meet!

This is my first ever project to be published, and not just anywhere either, but in the fabulous ezine, Fat Quarterly. Issue 18 is all about Zakka, creating items that are cute, practical and fun and I am in some illustrious company I can tell you :) With a beautiful fabric basket, charming clock and a tasteful tablecloth being just some of the great projects to pick from there is something in the issue for everyone.

So, if you are looking to add a little Zakka style to your stitching you should definitely check out the current issue of  Fat Quarterly

With several other vintage traycloths lurking in my cupboard and a jewellery roll of my own that has definitely seen better days, I think I might just have to make another one for myself now too. 

Linking to Show and Tell Monday, Fabric Tuesday,
Sew Cute Tuesday

Thursday 7 August 2014

Confessions of a (bad) Bee

One of the joys of blogging for me is to connect with like-minded individuals around the world and having the opportunity to take part in online Bees is an added bonus. The first Bee that I signed up for, in my early days of blogging, was the Star of Africa Bee set up by May. The Bee was inspired by a board game and included quilters from all the corners of the globe. At the time the Bee was set up I was living in Latvia so was very glad of the chance to spend time with other quilters even if it was only virtual.

The blocks requested by my fellow Bee members were always challenging as I strived to represent themes such as home for Sana or a postcard for Leanne so as the Bee went on the timescales definitely slipped. Eventually though I had only one block left to make to complete my Bee commitment. Irene in Guatemala asked for a block on the theme of music, and this is what I finally came up with for her.

SoA Bee block for Irene

When I was very young (a very long time ago!) one of my great-uncles played the accordion and no family gathering was complete without at least one or two tunes from the old squeezebox. so that is what I ultimately decided to depict in my block.

As for the confession of the title, well I am thoroughly ashamed to admit that this block is one year, that's right one year late! My guilt is assuaged a little by the fact that I am still waiting for several blocks from the Bee and it was my turn to receive them nearly 18 months ago! Most of that time I have to say was taken up with actually trying to decide what to make for the theme, the actual making itself once I had decided upon the accordion didn't take that long.

So, I am wondering what is the longest time period that you have waited to receive or send a Bee block? I am hoping that I am not the only one who is this tardy, but perhaps I am. When do you decide to cut your losses and give up on receiving a block or swap? In my first ever swap I never received the swap despite being promised not once but twice that a swap angel would be stepping in to replace my negligent swap partner. It certainly made me more wary of swaps ever since.

I cannot claim to be entirely innocent of negligence though. I totally misread the instructions for the Siblings Together Quilt Bee ,that I joined this summer, and discovered too late that I was supposed to be making 4 blocks for Jo in June to kick off the new Bee year. As Jo wanted to take the finished quilt top to the Fat Quarterly Retreat in July and I was in France without access to the block instructions (or any suitable fabric!) the quilt top was completed thanks to extra blocks from Jo without any input from me.

Thankfully, not all of my Bee activity has been so shameful this last month.  I have completed my first ever granny square block for Hannah in the Fat Stash Brit Bee,

Fat Stash Brit Bee block July

As well as this Liberty Cat block to add to her quilt for her cat-loving friend.

Liberty Cats

Then in a burst of Bee activity I finished Ashleigh's blocks for August in the same Bee.

Fat Stash Brit Bee block August

Ashleigh sent us the panel in the centre of the block and some matching fabric and asked us to make up blocks from them. So I added a border of 2.5" squares around the panel, mixing in fabrics from my stash.

FSB August block 2

Then as I had managed to get a bit carried away with cutting the 2.5" squares I was able to make a second block to pop in the post with the first.

Although I mucked up entirely the first month of the Siblings Together Quilt Bee in June, I have managed to redeem myself a bit by completing the Snowball blocks for July in time for Jane

Siblings Together Bee block July

STQB block August

And the log cabin block for Sue for August, so fingers crossed that I will manage to keep to the timetable from here on in!

Now I feel a lot better for getting those confessions off of my chest :)

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