Wednesday, 15 November 2017


 This one seemed to take forever!  I've been a slow hand stitcher for the last couple of weeks, so the binding on this has had a long elapse time from start to finish.  Of course, if finishes come slowly it makes them all the more sweet!

Approximately 43" x 60" - just about my favourite size to work on!

 I followed Avril's advice and quilted wavey lines and swirls in my best attempt at steam rising from a cup of coffee.  I found out how difficult it was to keep a linear pattern looking good whilst using a hopping foot - I needed to shift my hand position several times on each line which didn't always go well!  Still, a few minor bumps on a line will just give more character to it!
 A cheerful 'Provencal' print for the back and a brown with gold dot lines for the binding finish the quilt off.
More hand stitching!

This owl was made at my quilt group meeting.  If I was to make another one I think that I'd leave off the scarve and add some tummy detail..... but I think that the scarf is to tie him to conventional Christmas colours.

Always fun to stitch and chat to others!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

And now for something completely different.....and something not!

 Last week I tried my hand at something COMPLETELY different to anything that I've ever tried before - making glass beads using a very hot flame and glass rods.

It was very exciting!

In a three hour workshop session with Kim of BethyBooBeads my sister and I each managed to make 6 beads, as well as having a demonstration of 'how to' and time to make jewellery at the end whilst our beads finished cooling.  A great morning!

 I'm extremely proud of what I made.  I realise that to more accomplished bead makers they might not be impressive, but for me they are sufficiently round, sufficiently decorated and sufficiently close to what I'd hoped to achieve!

Fancy learning a new crafting skill?  If you are in the UK then '' is great for showing what might be near you - or for giving you ideas of other crafts that you might want to investigate - knife making? black smithing? flower crocheting?  Something for everyone, I'm sure!
 Although I started off making a key ring with half my beads, I've decided that I'd prefer to have them displayed on the wall above my work table, so I've rehung them near my rulers!  This has two advantages: I can see them every day and they don't run the risk of being caught on something in my bag and being damaged or lost.
 Back in the more familiar world of sewing, I'm proud to say that my DDs have each made three blocks for the 70,273 project.

These were sewn by machine by my DD1.

I love the way that she extended the machine lines right to the edge of the blocks when her ribbon or felt strips weren't as long as she wanted.
 These were handsewn by DD2.  I particularly like the beaded one in the middle.

I'm so proud of both my girls for embracing this project.
 DD1 shown here, busily sewing whilst still in her pyjamas!  Clearly the business of making blocks took precedence over getting dressed!
Including Benta's blocks, the girls have been able to take a total of 20 blocks in to school.  It's been a great project to be part of, and I hope to see some of the completed wall hangings or quilts in Westminster Abbey next year.  Lots of time for reflection over the course of this block making.

Have you come across Sarah Corbett and her 'Craftivism' movement?  Worth investigating if you want to develop the gentle art of protest or encourage others to think about things a little more.

As I'm writing this blog I'm listening to Woman's Hour on Radio 4 - today a celebration of craft, discussing how important craft skills are and showcasing the finalists in the Craft Prize.  Crafter's unite!  I'm passionate about sharing my skills (such as they are) whenever possible, as I believe that a crafting person will always be happier than they otherwise might be.  Hope that you are enjoying some crafting time this week!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

More and More

 More work on my scrap quilt - in fact, I'd already got to this stage of sashing the 'coins' with this coffee coloured print before Avril suggested quilting to represent the steam rising from a hot coffee...... she must have known!  You can see how well this size of quilt fits on my living room floor for basting!

I'm now part way through the quilting - using Avril's idea but my (slightly wonky!) take on it.

Quilting photos next week!
 More XX blocks for the 70,273 project too!

These delights are from Benta - can you see the detail on them?  Three in dark red, three in bright red, and with different fill patterns used.

Thanks, Benta!
These will join the blocks that I and the girls have made and be sent into school later this week.

Small steps, as befits a week when I've been away on an exciting holiday.  More of that when I've sorted out some of the images, as I have a feeling that they might be informing some design ideas soon!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

More scrap quilting

I was going to use these 4" x 8" blocks to make another 2-4-7 variation quilt like the last one.

Then I decided not to!

I decided that I'd make something a bit more like a stacked coins quilt.  Now that I have these three strips made I need to shop my stash to find something that will make the alternate stripes to complete the top.

I'm already wondering whether I'll make some 'statement quilting' like feathers or a leaf and vine design down the joining stripes, or whether I'll just go for an all over pattern.

Surely I'm not the only person who enjoys this sort of contemplation, even before I have the fabric joined into a quilt top?!?

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Feeling Thoughtful

 Have you heard of the 70,273 project?

My DD's school has embraced it and is encouraging the girls and their parents to take part in producing blocks for it - they are hoping to make at least 1000 to contribute to the project.

In short, there was a little acknowledged atrocity committed during WWII.  Between January 1940 and August 1941 70,273 people with physical or mental disabilities were killed by the Nazis.

A report on the person was compiled and it was read by three doctors.  If at least two doctors decided that the person was 'unfit' by marking the page with a red X then that person would be killed, usually with hours.
 Jeanne Hewell-Chambers is organising a project to make 70,273 white blocks with a red double X on them, representing the people who lost their lives in this terrible action.

I love the idea that these people will be acknowledged and this atrocity brought to the attention of more people.  I know that I hadn't heard of it before now.  I think it is wonderful that we can, all these years later, subvert the X and turn it from a dismissal into a symbol of love.

These blocks will be joined to become wall hangings and quilts and the plan is to display them in several cathedrals, I think by Holocaust Memorial Day.

I'm showing you my first four blocks.  I'm expecting to make more.  Perhaps you'd like to join in too?

Thank goodness that the people that I know and love who have challenges, whether physical or mental, could not be put into such a program.  The times we live in are far from perfect, but at some points we do have to stand and contemplate that there have been improvements in attitude and expectation, even if there is still more change to push towards.

Kew Gardens is running an interesting project at the moment called 'Artful Autumn'.  They are giving garden visitors the chance to try several different 20 minute workshops.  We enjoyed the willow weaving one - finding out how relaxing it was to help fill in these forms created by Julia Clarke (who also has several large willow sculptures on display down the Cedar Vista) - as well as how strong your hands and fingers needed to be.
 We could also have tried creative writing or yoga.  A lovely tented area in a woodland setting.  It was a great addition to our visit - and is on for another two weekends at least.

It was a very peaceful atmosphere in the tent.  People were enjoying the creative challenge and quietly getting on with the task whilst chatting to others. 

I'm still a very strong advocate of crafting for wellbeing, in all sorts of ways!

We also loved the benches created by Nigel Ross and also displayed along the Cedar Vista. 

Beautiful forms and beautifully finished, I'd love to own one of these!  Lots of family debate about our favourite ones!

Whatever form your creativity takes I hope that you are finding time to make and contemplate this week.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Completed Quilt

 I finished it!  At 45" x 60" it's my favourite size to make and quilt, I think.  Big enough that it can be well used, small enough to handle easily through the sewing machine when I'm quilting it!

This is another one destined for Project Linus - and the latest in my 'scrap busting' series!

The 8" x 4" coloured strips were cut many years ago when I wanted to make a scrappy looking quilt for a good friend who was getting married, and which were added to a little over the years.
 I was aiming for 'boy' colours, so no pink or purple or flowers in this one.  The next one to made to this pattern will contain any of those in my scrap pack!

A meander quilting pattern - restful for me to quilt.
More lovely birthday presents to share - thank you to the lovely Avril!

The picture on the notebook is made of pressed flowers and foliage by Helen Ahpornsiri.  Incredibly detailed!

Aren't the buttons fun too?  I now feel that I would like to make special projects to use both the ceramic bluebirds and the wooden Australian ones!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Quilt Progress

 I enjoyed my birthday last week and received these lovely sewing related goodies:  quilting books(from my lovely sister), a block keeper (from the lovely Benta) and some beautiful ceramic buttons (from my lovely DD1).

Lucky me!
 I also received a couple of fabric postcards.

This one came from Inge.....
 ....and this one from Rosemary.

Thank you, everyone!
 Here is the block keeper in use already - although not for completed blocks, this time around, but for the cut up components to make enough blocks to make a small quilt.
 The same sort of pattern as this one - seen here with a trial layout which I tweaked a bit before sewing the blocks together.

I adapted the pattern from the Project Linus free pattern called 2-4-7.  I had some scrap fabrics cut to 4" x 8", so I added 2 1/2" strips to either side and made 8" square blocks with them.  I made this one in 'boy' colours as I know that Project Linus have said that they get more in 'girl' colours.
I got as far as basting it - now I need to get quilting it!

It's at the top of my list of things to do this week!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Mostly Owls!

 I made some owl bunting last week  for my good friend Benta, following her idea of bunting making.  Mine was made using Jennie Rayment's pattern.  Good fun!
 I was thinking about owl jokes - and entertained myself by thinking of making this into a cushion for 'Owl-ivia'.  DD2 objected, though, and as we were making it for one of her friends I reverted to the conventional spelling - although I suspect that there might be a 'Happy Birdy Owl-ivia' card made to accompany this!
 These photos aren't showing the right chronology today.  This was my final owl - reduced in size so that it started with two 2 1/2" squares.  You can see from the cutting mat behind that it ends up at about 2 1/2" x 1 1/2" - a perfect size for a fun brooch!
 This was my bunting trial - a great pattern that uses two 5" charm squares and a few oddments of felt / buttons etc.  This particular owl is likely to decorate a card or a book cover.
Finally, I moved on from owls!  Inspired by Jennie Rayment's penguin bunting (doesn't that sound fun?) I made a penguin card for DH.  Funnily enough, he bought me a penguin card too.
Made my DDs laugh, that he bought something that he knew that I'd like, whereas I made something that I liked rather than necessarily choosing his favourite things.  I explained that clearly it was my DH's good nature that had helped our marriage last so long!

Off to sew some rectangles into square blocks now!  Scrap quilting is calling......

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Bountiful Bunting!

 Inspired by Benta (thank you!!) I've run up some quick 'off to uni' or 'back to uni' bunting.

Isn't that a nice idea that she had? 

I cut some 5" squares, sewed them together and turned them through (cutting an 'x' in the middle of the front square which was then covered up), added wadding squares (2 1/4" square) and fusible letters / buttons.  Easy to make and fun to root through the button box to find appropriate buttons.

 I don't know if it will be appreciated or not, but this mad old aunty likes the idea, which makes it worthwhile!  It could decorate a door or a pinboard - or the inside of a cupboard if the recipients don't like it!
Other sewing projects are in my head at the moment, and I'm hoping that they will get to the cutting and making stage in the very near future.  I feel a scrap quilt coming on - in time, perhaps two or three!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Glass Creations

No quilting or sewing in this post, I'm afraid - a change to my usual output!

The almost obligatory 'back to school' photo of DD2 and DD1.

Only taken and displayed to cause them maximum embarrassment to them, of course!

The rest of this post is devoted to the results of the family glass day that we had in the summer.

If you live close enough to Richmond Upon Thames to try out the family course at RACC I can really recommend it!
 The first four pieces are made of float glass which was cut, tacked together with PVA and then kiln fired.

This first one is stood in my homemade stand and is DD2's apple and leaf.  Isn't it terrific?
Our 'group' piece - we are still deciding whether it's a beach hut or a temple!
 My penguin - I'm pleased with it!
 DD1's abstract piece.  Really interesting to see how the additional layers of glass worked in the kiln.
 These pieces are made from bulls eye glass and frit (tiny pieces of coloured glass).

DD1's zentangle and mixed colours.  Love how this turned out!
 My attempt at a bird - it looks better in the photo than in real life (!).

Another time I'd use less  frit.
 Copper tape cityscape by DD2 - it looks great!
DD2's landscape with tree.

I think that these are terrific for our first ever go at anything related to glass.  I'm proud of my girls for embracing the day and getting the most out of it!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Taking Stock.

 We've just reached the end of the school holidays for my DDs.

We've had a brilliant time!

Part of DD1's holiday 'tasks' (not quite homework!) was to compile a diary of what she got up to and to make some a collage to show some of it.  In fact, she decided to make an A4 sheet for each full week - and a great job she made of them too.

It made me reflect on what we've managed creatively over the holidays, conscious that I'd not done nearly as much stitching as usual.
 We went on a creative glass course as a family.

Above is the start point of a fused piece using bulls eye glass, enamel and frit.  We haven't got our pieces back as they are still being fired (or are cooling down - still in the kiln, anyway).  We're looking forward to seeing how they turned out!

 We also got to mask beakers - this by DD2 was masked with PVA glue.

The other skill was glass cutting - and then arranging the shapes to a pleasing form before they were fused.  Again, results not yet available!
 This beaker by DD1 was masked using masking tape.
 Mine was also masked using masking tape.

All three were sandblasted by me - something that I'd never tried before.
 Of course, nothing like the input we discovered that my step sister had had to this large (huge!) stained glass panel at Symphony Hall in Birmingham.

It was only by chance that we happened to go through it whilst on a day out and that she mentioned it.  I've been looking at it every year when we visit my brother in Birmingham, and we didn't have any idea that she'd been involved in it!
 Back to my and my DDs.

We made our own mosaic panels, inspired by some mosaics that we'd seen whilst on a treasure trail around Kingston upon Thames.
 We enjoyed making them so much that we made an initial panel for two of my nieces.
 Then there was the jewellery making,
 A little selection shown here, using lovely glass beads that I bought some time ago.
 Of course, I was taking some time to work on my scrapbooks too.  I've made dozens of pages!

We also made over a dozen handmade birthday cards using various papercrafting techniques, and my DDs have also spent time colouring and made Hama bead items.
Finally, on the LAST DAY of the holidays, my DDs decided that they wanted to sew!

Zippy pouches, of course.  The first DD to sew wanted a pocket on hers.  No problem.

Of course, then the second DD to sew wanted a pocket AND an embellishment.
They both proved themselves (once again - at some point I'll stop being surprised that even after a long gap between sewing sessions they don't lose their skills!) to be really quite good at wielding a sewing machine with competence!

I was still needed for technical instruction - simple zippy pouches are something that I make without written instructions to share - but they didn't need nearly as much help as I thought that they might.

Anyway, taking stock,  I sometimes want to berate my DDs for not doing much creative stuff and spending more time on screens and tech than perhaps I'd really like to see.  However, looking back at what they've actually done, I'm really rather proud of them.  They may or may not take on a crafting hobby when they are older, but at least I'll know that they've had the chance to try out a few things to see what they think of them!