Tuesday 26 June 2012

The Kindness of Quilters

Thanks to the kindness of everyone for all the comments about my sewing machine, I am sorry I haven't had time to reply to each of you but your comments really did cheer me up. I spent most of Friday at a lovely friends house tuning these blocks into a quilted runner for my Mother In Laws birthday present. My friend Liz let me loose on her amazing Husqvarna, brought me several cups of tea, sweeties and made lunch to keep me going.  She even managed to dig out the right shade of thread from her stash when I ran out! She really is so wonderful! Thank you Liz.

My mother in law has travelled to Lancaster County in the USA before and fell in love with the Amish quilts but was unable to bring one home. I tried to re-create a sense of traditional American/Amish quilt style in my runner.

Arizona Star Block

Mariners Compass Block (thanks to Katy for helping me find the pattern!)

Bearpaw Block

After almost 6, yes 6, solid hours of sewing and quilting I had a runner that just required the binding sewing down. This took me an hour! It is a large runner, although I didn't measure it but it is about 54" x 18".

Jumping right in at the deep end I decided it needed fmq with feathers and stippling. I watched several youtube videos and I think that really helped me with the feathers as this is the first time I have tried them. I will admit to drawing them out first with my frixion pen, I don't think I would have been able to do them otherwise. I also used an easy curve ruler of my friends, very useful and going on my wish list.

I also added triangle pockets and a piece of dowelling in case my MIL wanted to hang it on the wall. I must admit to being secretly very very proud of my quilting, the stitch length is awful in places but I don't care. I was exhausted after the race to finish it on Friday, then Saturday was spent cooking and packing ready for her surprise 70th Birthday Picnic. What with all that, the travelling and hours worrying about the weather and whether anyone would come I was shattered by the time we got home on Sunday evening.

Of course that is the last item on my finish along list done, good job too because my machine is still out of order, the foot pedal appears to be the problem and it is at my lqs waiting for the repair man to see if it can be repaired or needs replacing. I hope it can be repaired as I know I cannot afford a new foot, I should find out on Thursday.

In the meantime I am going to stick with my epp from the retreat and hopefully get my tax return completed!

Thursday 21 June 2012

Das ist kaput!

Ok, so I didn't pay attention in GCSE German, but I don't care because that title describes how I am feeling and I cannot be bothered to correct it!

This is why
Sewing Machine Autopsy a la kitchen table!

My Pfaff machine is dead, again! Only 3 months after the last time. This time it is out of warranty and I have no money, no hope and no backup. My mother-in-laws super duper present WONT be getting quilted in time for her birthday this weekend and I feel awful. 

My husband came home to find me in tears at the kitchen table last night. Quilting those bloody birds was the end! Yes I know it is only a machine and there are far more important things in life but right now, for me, this sucks!

Expect a bit of radio silence whilst I try and pull myself together and figure out a way I can keep my sanity without the solace of quilting :-(

(for any that are worried by the above scene, my husband is a trained electric and mechanical engineer!)

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Whoops missed my blogversairy!

Oh dear, whoops! Little bit of an anti-climax was my blogversairy, so busy working on VIP's (very important projects) was I that I completely missed it! Still, sewing had to be the best way to celebrate it!

Hmm, a little disappointed nobody sent cake ;-)

For anyone who is interested it all started a year ago on the 17th June with this post. I am amazed daily by the kindness and support of the online quilting community and so honoured to call some of these wonderful people my friends *grin*. Had you told me a year ago that I would be going to London for a weekend of sewing with these talented bloggers I would never have believed you!

Thanks to each and every single one of you for reading my ramblings, giving kind and encouraging words and telling me off and giving me a kick when I need it, ahem Nicky ;-) I actually love you all, you make me a better, stronger more adventurous person and I wouldn't be where I am now without you (although my husband may have something to say to you about the amount of time I spend in my studio now!!)

Anyway, what have I been so busy on? Well killing two birds with one stone (there is a pun there, honest, you'll get it in a while!) I have been working on the last two outstanding items on my FAL list. My mother in laws birthday is this weekend and I wanted to make her something VERY special because she is special. Without her help I wouldn't have been able to come to London and I love her so much. BUT I can't show you for fear she will see it, you will have to wait until next week!

So the other item on the list was to do  my Birdie Stitches block for July. You may have read before now that I have a love/hate relationship with these birdies (read as hate!) So I decided I was going to do something about these annoying little blighter's, see the pun now??!!

Yep that's right I decided to get rid of these winged creatures of torture by finishing the quilt top! I still hate it AND with over a years build up to the quilting I.AM.DREADING.IT! Not least because I managed to make the quilt grow in size a good several inches by adding what is becoming my signature scrappy and white boarders. I also have a very sneaking suspicion that in my haste to get it done and over the top is now less than flat and is going to be a b***er to baste and quilt without getting puckers. Oh listen to me, what a whiner! 

I think deep down I do love it really, this was the first big project/qal I joined in with when I started blogging, I was also the third ever quilt I started making (it is all Cindy's fault btw, I saw her sewing along and had to join in!)

In other news, seeing as the big day is passed I can show you what I made my Dad for fathers day. I used up a remnant from Juliette's old blackout blind, an odd shoelace and a toggle (hehe for presents from rubbish!) to make him a shoe bag for his running shoes. 

I printed off a line drawing of some running shoes, transferred it onto the material and free machine embroidered it. I am still having trouble with the heat transfer pencil, it did work a little here, but I couldn't hold the iron on any longer or the fabric would have melted! And due to the waterproof/blackout coating I couldn't put it upto a light source and trace it. Still, I think they do look like running shoes. Dad was pleased with it at least, he sent me a comment on facebook hahaha ;-)

As for my husband, I didn't make him anything, not because I am mean but because we have enough handmade stuff around the house and I didn't think he'd like a zippy pouch or cushion lol! So I made him a very special lunch instead. A day out on Dartmoor with banger sandwiches cooked al fresco, we had a wonderful day indeed :-)

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Zakka Tweed Pouch How I Love Thee!

Swoon! This is by a mile my most favourite project from the Zakka book so far. I don't really tend to read ahead in the book (which is silly because then I rush to get the supplies but I love the surprise!) but I did flick through and saw this one some weeks ago and have been waiting for it to come around ever since!

I have had a very lovely but very long M&S tweed skirt in my altering cupboard for months now, it was a bargain 50pence at my local charity shop and it just needed shortening, so I am not sure why it spent so long in the cupboard?! Anyway, I am glad it did because I used the extra length to make up the pouch!

I love this little project, it is so 'me' I used up some tiny scraps of my favourite prints that I have been saving to make the hexi's. That was the last little hedgehog, if anyone knows what line it is I'd be really grateful of the information.

I also used my new Metro Circles that Cindy from Fluffy Sheep Quilting delivered to me at the FQR. I have been wanting some of this for ages now, usually when I really want something and finally get my hands on some it sits in the fabric cupboard becoming more and more precious! Not this one, it barely had time to get fold creases before I whipped it back out!

My 9" zipper (as advised in the book) was too short (perhaps my local habby lady cannot read the box labels?! I love it in there, they still have old wooden drawers with all the habby in and you have to ask for it. Anyway I took her word and didn't measure it, so decided I would add some zipper tabs in Metro Circles again to lengthen it.

I used my new Aurifil Wool Thread in orange to top stitch the zip and corner details, thank you Kelly!

Not having any fusible fleece I simply used cotton quilt batting, I do wish I had interfaced it too as I prefer a firm pouch (Oooerr!) but never mind, I still LOVE it! 

Since the retreat I have been feeling a little low, I think a lot of us have, inevitable really after all the excitement. But I also felt that really I was a bit of a slap dash amateur compared to all the amazing people at the retreat. This wasn't helped by quite a few projects going awry since I got home. I am so glad I found time to make this little pouch despite a very busy week, it has really made me happy again and a little more confident in my ability! 

I think I can safely say I now have zippered pouches down to a T, time to move onto something else that I struggle with......where to start?!"

Monday 11 June 2012

Sharing the Love

Whilst I was away having a Ball in London last weekend my postman brought me some lovely surprises! Apologies for not blogging these sooner, half term and such took over!

First the very lovely Jenelle of Echinops and Aster sent me this lovely package

I signed up for Jenelle's PIF back in January and look at that cute pouch, pincushion and the lovely selvedges which she sent for my dress project, thanks so much Jenelle!

I love the cute little thank you card too. I am using it all already! And the selvedges have been added to the collection.

I also received my SMS giveaway prize from Angies Art Studio. She sent me the super cute 'Cupcake' the Bunny. My little girls have been fighting over her giving her love already! Thank you Angie, this lovely plushie pillow is so well make with lovely details and it is really well stuffed, the little carrot is super cute too! Angie has some great items in her etsy shop, well worth a look.

So to share my good fortune with everyone I am going to PAY IT FORWARD to the first three people that comment to say they want to join in. The only condition is that they in turn must PIF to three more people each. I will complete and send you a mystery parcel sometime within the next 12 months, so by June 11th 2013.

Saturday 9 June 2012

The one where I bodge it!

So far I have been loving taking part in the Zakka Style Sew Along. All the projects in the book are lovely and it is great to have the extra motivation to get it done in a week. I also like that I have been pushing myself to try projects that are a little more involved, that perhaps I would normally take a miss on because I like getting things done quickly.

This week has tested me! I can honestly say this weeks project was the hardest thing I have ever made! It was frustrating because all the techniques are ones I am familiar with. I think it was my choice of zippers that made it a chore! Putting the metal zip in the back was no bother and I LOVE the effect, lovely shiny brass zips are my FAVE at the moment. But I didn't have the required 20" zipper so decided I would use a chunky double ended coat type zip that I had lying around. I actually liked the chunky-ness of it, I soon ate my words thoughts! Trying the tease the zip into the binding wasn't going to work with those big teeth, then I cut the zip to length too early and too short and it all came apart! After a lot of cursing, sweating and pulling I got the zip back together and I ended up having to make a little tab to go on the opposite end of the big tab to stop the whole zip falling to pieces.

I thought I was on the home straight, just the binding to do, but then alas I trimmed it too short and couldn't join me ends together ...AAAARRRGHHHH!! In the end I just overlapped them and sewed it down. I have got a raw edge showing on the binding and I HATE it, it will bug me but I am hoping the perseverance and work that I put into the organiser will MAKE me use it and not notice the faults!

Thank goodness next week is the tweed purse - chunky metal zip and tweed - SWOON! Can.not.wait!

Friday 8 June 2012

This post is NOT about the FQ Retreat!

OK, I lied!

My head is still in the clouds, I can't believe how wonderful the weekend was, how lovely and kind all the people I met were and how much fun I had!

I know you all already know about the retreat, you were either there or you have read about it a gazillion times now! So because I cannot find any words to describe it any better than anyone before me (because my brain is fried and I would rather be playing with my little girls who I missed SO much) I will let the photos do it for me.

I took no photos whilst there, I was TOO busy having a great time!

Um, this is the mess I made when I dumped out the contents of my Suitcase!

My wonderful Sample Swap goodies, thank you SO much ladies, I think I may lose some of these to my beady eyed girls who are trying to nab them!

Fantastic goodie bag loot, huge thanks to the sponsors!

My fantastic SMS prize from the lovely Kelly, awesome!

More looty booty!

The sum total of my weekends work!

Um, yes that is Aneela Hoey's autograph on fabric and yes I may well have embroidered it already....and no  I am not weird in a stalker like way....you're just jealous you didn't think of it! Watch this space for a Homage to Mrs Hoey quilt!!!

Lovely shopping hand delivered by Cindy of Fluffy Sheep Quilting

Ahem, more shopping from Lu!

Finally a little more shopping - Liberty Necklace from Diane and Lizze and a bag of selvedges from Cindy for THAT dress.

Apologies for the lack of links, I seriously heart you all but my head is still in the clouds and this is as much as I can manage. My week has been full of swimming, train ride, museums, aquariums and the like whilst my guilty conscience tries to make up for 4 days away from the girls.  
I cannot wait for next year though, I may just have calmed down by then! That is until I see my new BFF, Lucy, I am so glad I met you, you made my weekend sweet and it was awesome, fact!