Finished Quilts

Monday, 30 December 2013


health warning: it's a bit of a long one, this one.  I'd recommend an accompanying glass of  something soothing

I hope you all had a fab Christmas.  I am full of cheese (in a good way) but am feeling the need for dark green vegetables at some point soon - I should have asked for a juicer!  To ease me off the couch, I've been fannying around working hard with Picasa to make some year mosaics...

2013 quilts

all babies
Only four completed this year - it felt like more.  I have started some more and there are plenty in my head.  I feel a little unproductive, quiltwise, now I've seen this mosaic.  On the up side, one of them actually stayed with us! #firsttime

bee blocks

This was the year of the bee block for me.  Again, it felt like more.  I forgot to photo a couple I think.  I enjoyed the challenge of each of them but resented the sewing time they took up so 2014 will see a more reduced bee commitment.

other stuff

So I dabbled in dressmaking, cushion covers (for swaps), iron cosies (all swapped now!), scarves (all pressies) and bag making (all pressies).  Again, I have made a little more.  I need to get better at recoding my makes. 

It's that time of year where we all contemplate on our achievements or otherwise - a current blogland trend is the Top 5 Hits and Misses.  Never one to avoid a bandwagon, here goes....

Top 5 hits (in no particular order)

Learning how to paper piece #hooked

my lovelies
I love love love it - love the precision, the versatility, the options.  I need to get better at cutting fabric to size as I waste a lot.  But I am so glad I dived in and it was down to needing to make a bee block.

meeting up with my blogging friends IRL
It has been a real pleasure making friends through my hobby - being able to meet up in real life and become closer friends has been a real blessing this year.  This also includes being at the (re)birth of the East Midlands Modern Quilt Guild - a growing group of lovely people who are supportive, love cake, creative and inspirational. And the stitching together ladies too.

finding my own creative path
like many of us, I started out being overawed by the amazing creativity of some of the big bloggers (Elizabeth oh fransson, Ashley film in the fridge, Katy I'm a ginger monkey and so on) and wanting to recreate their designs.  This is the first year where I've started to figure out what my own design aesthetic might be.  Still in the early stages but I'm chuffed to feel like I've started on the journey.

finishing the wee man's quilt
It was started in September 2012 as part of one of my first bees and finished in November 2013. I pieced the back and did concentric circle quilting. It is one of my favourite makes - I love everything about it, especially that it is now being used on the wee man's big boy bed (2 nights in and no problems so far!).  That most of the blocks were made by friends of mine just adds to its awesomeness.

honing new skills
in addition to paper piecing (did I mention that I love that by the way?!), I taught myself how to sew an invisible zip, how to set a sleeve, how to do portholes, how not to do trapunto, to be more restrained in my fabric purchases, to be more confident in my bag making skills, not to breenge in too much, to piece with more accuracy, to cut out on a table!  Onwards!

Ok now to the Top 5 Misses...

this was the year I was going to jump in and go for it.  But I sat on the side lines and ogled other people's gorgeous creations instead.  I made a couple of things for the wee man and a couple of tops for me but not what I really wanted to do.  I was gripped by the fear of cutting into lovely fabric lest it all go a bit tits up, a bit like I used to be when I first started quilting.  I told myself it was because I didn't have any pinking shears.  Santa duly obliged and so I have no excuse for 2014. 

free motion quilting
I was prepared, had all the shizzizzle and everything (fmq foot, gloves, topstitching needles, a bolt of wadding).  I even took Trudi's top class at the FQR in July.  The big girl pants were almost on but didn't quite make it past the knees.  Not really sure why.  I have a plan for 2014.  I'm not as frightened as I was at the start of the year so that's something right?  #ridiculous

getting giddy with the bees and swaps
don't get me wrong, I have really enjoyed all the bees and swaps I've been part of this year but they have taken up so much of my time that I had little time for my own sewing and I began to resent my over commitment.  It takes me a while to get my head around what each one requires and then there's choosing the correct fabric and pattern and worrying about not being as good as everyone else.  It's easily solved, of course.  I won't withdraw completely, just be a little more realistic about my time #lifelessons

keeping up with blogs
it is probably just co-incidental but since the demise of Google Reader, I've struggled to keep up with all the blogs I follow.  I follow too many because of competition sign ups rather than because I am inspired by them and they crowd out the ones I really want to follow.  I use Bloglovin' and am frustrated by it on a daily basis. I feel disappointed in myself for not being able to comment on all the posts that I'd like to, for getting so far behind on my reading that sometimes a global "read all" is required.  Again, it's a relatively easy problem to solve...a little pruning is required and it's on my to do list.  This includes updating my own blog - it needs some loving (with a "g") and it's also on the list! 

unfinished business
I am realistic enough to know that WIPs are an integral part of a crafty girl's existence but there are a couple of key WIPs that I wanted to and should have finished by now.  Momentum is important and I need to harness it better.

So there you go, a mixed bag?  More hits than misses I'd say really, so on balance, not a bad crafty year.  Here's to 2014 and a great year for everyone xxx

Sunday, 15 December 2013


It appears that my sewjo has decided to go off on its holibags for December. That's after getting sucked in to Masterchef the Professionals (and being bitterly disappointed that Adam fluffed the final).  December so far has meant a Bumbling Honeys Christmas FQ swap organising by lovely Liz.  I forgot to take a photo of the fabric I sent to Teresa (some lovely Laura Gunn) but I made a drawstring pouch to go with it...

made from some gorgeous Joel Dewberry
that I got from a way too generous Amy
I say drawstring bag but I forgot the holes for the drawstring and couldn't find the seam ripper so had to improvise with some ribbon and a button.  Not very useful but it looks pretty.  Of course, as soon as I finished it I worked out a better way to do it #heyho

My FQ came courtesy of the gorgeous JoJo...

I had a much better photo but deleted it by mistake.  I hope you can pick out the fabulous origami stars, tucked into an equally fabulous piece of liberty #swoon.

Then it was my birthday and cake was made....

waiting for its chocolate fudge icing....
I can't recommend Nigella's old fashioned chocolate cake recipe highly enough. [I previously would have hash tagged Team Nigella here but someone has ruined that for me.]  I made salted caramel butter icing for the middle and chocolate fudge icing to cover it.  Flipping delicious, if I say so myself. And I ate enough to ensure consistent flipping deliciousness too!

And on the same weekend, I taught myself how to do portholes ....

you ain't seen me, roight?
Part of some secret sewing but I had to share cos I love it!  This was the sole product of my sewing weekend sans kiddo.  I ended up doing housework for most of it #weird.  Of course, there was the lovely red wine.......

Oh and this week, I got myself a new job too. #nobiggie #relief

And that's it!  I haven't even begun to finish the one and only handmade Christmas present on the list.  The wee man and I are off to Scotland in half an hour for the week and I should be packing.

Have a great Christmas.  See you on the other side xx

Thursday, 5 December 2013

blitzkreig bop

How did it end up being December already?  Proper December too, not just the start of the month.  I know I'm not very original with this cry but jeez louise where did November go?!

After coming down from the high of finally finishing the wee man's quilt, I walked back into my back bedroom/laundry room/home office/sewing space and was aghast at what looked like a bomb site.  I know that lots of you work neatly but I am a super messy crafter and sometimes it just gets too much.  Here's a snapshot of the really neat and tidy end of the room....

I do know what each pile is about though!
No wonder Laughing boy despairs of me.  Anyway after a swift stuffing of things in the stash cupboard and stuff drawer methodical blitz, I found the floor again!  And I managed to identify piles of cut fabric that were destined to be bee blocks but hadn't got very far in their quest.  So another bee block blitzkrieg....

First up, Krista's Modern Maverick blocks ... two ribbon stars...

the middle stars are dark grey
I thought I'd done well in terms of accurate cutting but that wasn't the case so they took longer than they should have to get done #sigh

Next up, Teresa's Bumbling Honeys blocks

I've never done string blocks before and they were fun and pretty quick.  I was too chicken to cut them down to the actual size that Teresa wants, given my cutting accuracy issues - better too big, right?

Finally, and very late, Tanya's QATWII block.  She wanted rainbow stars and my printer was on the blink so I needed to make something that wasn't paper pieced.  Tanya lives in New Zealand so I went with a very tenuous version of the stars on the NZ flag....

it's upside down, obviously!
And here are her blocks so far...

football softie is an optional extra

I've still got a ways to go before I conquer the BB mountain and the air is getting rare up here but the wee man is off to his Nana's this weekend and I think I've got a full day sewing on the cards so fingers crossed for one last push.

Here's one thing keeping me company (in my head)....

Linking with Liz and Claire's Brit Sewing Thursday Linky thingy

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Check out this giveaway

I first saw Tilly on the Great British Sewing Bee but only recently starting following her blog.  She's got a great giveaway at the moment:

Go here to check it out

Monday, 25 November 2013


I'm cutting to the chase with this post.  I have finally finished the wee man's quilt (now that nearly every one of his friends has one made by me it was only fair!) - WOOP WOOP!  I had planned to venture outside and attempt some arty photo shoot but the light is rubbish today and I'm no Kelly, so with no further ado...

I am so chuffed with this quilt I could burst!  As mentioned previously, the blocks were made for me by my lovely Bumblie Bee friends last year and once I'd got my head around it, the top came together really quickly.  I've only ever done straight line quilting before so the circles were a wee bit of a challenge but only really making sure they were actual circles and not diamond or rhomboids (love that word!).  There are four different thread colours used for the circles so the bobbin and thread was changed for each circle (I only got the order wrong once and didn't rip it out #naughty). A few of the circles were unpicked to correct over wonkiness or filthy little puckers.  I felt it important that it was the best I could do.  I am so glad cos I just LOVE how the quilting looks...front and back....

I've never pieced a back before and I am loving this too.  It shifted a bit during the quilting process and required some remedial attention but I'm probably the only one who will notice that.  I f*cked up royally with was a little parsimonious with the backing so it was only fair that I learned my lesson!

The binding is the left over green and orange fabric from the front and it works really well.  I took my time putting it on and the corners are pretty chuffing brilliant.  Hand sewn down too. #justright

The wee man is suitably bored with it although he does have a favourite owl.  It will be doing on his big boy bed when I can persuade Laughing Boy that he's ready for one. And the wee man will know that it was made with love by lots of people.

Thanks to the Bumblie Bees for your fabulous work
Thanks to Tanya for helping me with the block placement
Thanks to Sue for telling me to just get on with it
Thanks to Catherine for the circles tute
Thanks to Carly for the advice about the stitch length #genius
Thanks for all the IG love through the process
Thanks to the quilt goddesses for the invention of the seam ripper and for being good to me...

managed to finish the circle...just!

Edited to link up with Celtic Thistle Stitches New to Me in November for my circle quilting

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

to the left, to the left....

I'm on a roll with the wee man's quilt #finally.  I pieced the back and made the sandwich over the weekend.  The binding was made yesterday lunchtime and the quilting expedition started in earnest last night....and then stopped in a proper strop!

I'm doing concentric circles and used a 12" bowl as my starting circle template.  I also decided to use four different thread colours, grey, blue, lime and orange - alternating them every circle. Look, I've proper thought about the quilting and everything.  It's not FMQ but it's not straight lines either. 

All went well with the first circle, it was slightly wavy but I could live with it.  I just need to slow down a bit.  Thread change, onto next circle and fitting my quilting bar to the walking foot - cue filthy sweary words and fists railing at the sky.  The quilting bar only fits/works to the right and not to the left, which is where I needed in order to follow the starter circle.  I mean, what a stupid design flaw.  I tried putting it to the left but it kept jumping up and was useless.

I decided to wing it a little but soon stopped when I remembered that circles shouldn't have corners!  To be fair, the kinks happened when I got a little carried away with my needle speed.  Some of the circles were actually quite smooth and evenly spaced.  But I grumped out last night and grabbed the seam ripper. (oh, and ordered an adjustable quilting bar!)

So today I am mostly doing this....

I found some nests so perhaps ripping is the way forward

Friday, 8 November 2013

what took me so long?!

The head down charge through bee blocks continued this week. First up: JoJo's QATWII block.  She asked for blue, that's all so I pp'd myself out with this.....

thank you Kerry for the fabric!
I am pretty chuffed with how it turned out and it goes well with her other blocks:

pretty cool huh?
Just as I was about to post these off to Rachel, I decided to finish Rachel's block and send them on to her at the same time...

got to love a +x block!
And what a riot of richness her final quilt will be...

I still have a fair pile of bee blocks to get through but I decided I needed a little sewing that may stay in our house for a while and dug out the FQR Kinky Bee blocks that I received during my stint as Bee Mama wa-a-a-y back in September of last year.  The request was for bento box blocks that would be used to make a quilt for the wee man.  I have fretted about these blocks since getting them back - how to get them all the right size before starting mainly. And they have been taken out, played with and put back so many times.

Anyhoo, this week, I dug them out and sewed them up, sorting out the sizing as I went.  In total it too an hour and a half to go from blocks to this...

#love - thank you my bee buddies
What the heck took me so long?!?!  I've made quilts for 5 of the wee man's friends but nothing so far for him.  It was so straightforward in the end.  The seams pretty much match up and everything!  It's around 48" by "58" and will be sandwiched this weekend. I'm going to back it with this (bought from fabricworm a long while ago:

photo courtesy of
And I'm thinking concentric circles for the quilting - fmq or walking foot?  advice please! I want to get this done and done before Christmas.

Finally, to top off a pretty productive week so far, I made cakes for that toddler group - a banana and chocolate bread for the littlies and an iced gingerbread for the grownups...

 The gingerbread is absolutely delish.  I have no idea about the banana bread (plah!).  Both recipes were taken from my new favourite book...
It's ace!  I have many bread making books but this one has gotten me making really, really nice bread.  I can't recommend it enough!  The wee man adores the scotch pancakes recipe too.  #goodtimes

Saturday, 2 November 2013

running to keep up

I'm not a natural runner - my chebs are too big for a start... there's a health and safety issue right there.  Anyway, I feel that I am having to run and run to keep up with my bee obligations.  Just as I clear one lot, a whole other bunch thud onto my to do list (or rather start shouting that they're late!). It's one reason why I opted out of the current round of Pillow Talk. 

But I have been tempted by another bee after an invite from the lovely Joan.  She was one of the first quilters I had contact with when, a few years back, we participated in a fabric swap organised by Sew Mama Sew.  He work is impeccable. I was stoked when I found out that she was part of the QATWII bee and even more pleased when she invited me to join the Friends with Additions bee she is mama of.  It's a kind of travelling quilts bee, which I think will be real fun as well as a challenge.

I chose Yoshiko Jinzenji as my inspiration and pulled together this inspiration mosaic
Friends with additions inspiration mosaic
cool huh?
Then came the design and making of the starter block.  I used her cipher quilts as a kick off point and designed my own paper piece templates in EQ7, chose some bright fabric and came up with this...
pigpen cipher knew?!
It says "enjoy the journey" - which is appropriate in many ways.  I'm stepping into new territory with this kind of design but what better way to start a new journey than with quilty friends.  It's also a call to arms for my bee buddies, who have already expressed a little trepidation with my inspiration mosaic.  Don't stress, just enjoy :). And, my quilt block is about to head off to Switzerland for the first stop of its global journey.  I am really looking forward to seeing it come home as a completed quilt top.
Another little make this week that kind of snuck its way in after I couldn't find anything nicer in the shops was this little peasant dress made as a 4th birthday gift for my niece, Grace May...
got to love the foxes
Thank goodness the wee man decided on a 3 hour nap that day!  I'm hoping she (and her lovely mum) will think that the upside down foxes on the back and one sleeve is an innovative design feature #oops.
Back to the bee block grind! 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


I'm in a whirlwind of paper piecing at the moment.  It's something I started for the first time this year and, in spite of how wasteful it is with fabric (well, how I do it anyway), I just LOVE it.  It helps me be more precise, well sometimes... 

As seems to be the way of things at the moment, I'm working on bee blocks.  First up, Sara's Modern Mavericks blocks...

two blocks become one!
Sara wanted blocks that she could use to construct a bookcase quilt.  I found a cool PP pattern for Harry Potter glasses here.  It was a little fiddly but pretty straightforward.
Next up, a QATWII block for Ursi - not paper pieced this one, I gave myself a wee break!
the brief: low volume with a pop of colour
It was a 12.5" square block but then I reread the requirements and she wanted 13" square so I had to add a small border but it still looked ok. 
Next up, the block that I really enjoyed making but is a bit of a fail.... Lovely Carol's red panda....
I'm not entirely sure what went wrong.  Sewing the pieces whilst watching the Great British Bake Off final was probably not my smartest move.  I also think I may have had a scale thingy on my printer set up when I printed it.  The pattern is a Bad Skirt one - I love her work although she never adds seam allowances to her PP templates so that was another thing I kept having to remember.  When I finished it, I was severely p*ssed off with myself.  But I got a haircut (always helps put me in a good mood) and checked out some of the other pandas on the Forest QAL Flickr site and there are a few with similar abstract cubist tendencies so Fred (for that is his name) will live on!  Especially because @cottonandsteel liked him on Instagram.  #squeeeee!
I have two more PP projects to get through this week then I'm having a break for a while I think.  My evil iron can't take the pace!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

when a pillow cover is a mini quilt...


I had great plans for this year, especially on my entries into Amy's Bloggers Quilt Festival.  But as seems to be the way at the moment, the dreams have not quite reached reality. However, I have decided to enter one of my most favourite finishes as it means a lot to me and I still can't believe that I made it!  I think it counts as a mini quilt!

a mini quilt disguised as a pillow!
I'm entering this into the mini quilts section of the Festival.  The full story can be found here and here.  I made this pillow/cushion cover for the lovely Jessica as part of the Pillow Talk 10 swap. I took my inspiration from a photo I saw on Pinterest and drafted up the paper piece templates then sewed and sewed with no real plan other than I wanted the colours to look gradated from dark to light, with a limited palette.  It was straight line quilted every 1/4" in white, then green, then grey.
different angle
It was really really hard to give this one up I can tell you.
the arty shot!
But it went to a good (and grateful) home so I can't complain.
backed with some Heather Bailey Pop
Name: Gordon Burns

Size: 20" x 20"
Fabrics: from memory it includes Denise Schmidt Hope Valley,  Parson Grey, Essex Linen Black, Kona White, Caroline Friedlander Architexure, Heather Bailey Pop, Momo, scraps from a low volume swap
Pattern: my own design, paper pieced
Quilted: by me on my Janome J-18
Check out all the entries if you can. It's so inspirational.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

basket case

Something has happened... planets may have realigned or the wind is blowing in a different direction.. whatever it is, it means that I've got my sewing pants back on.  Huzzah!  I have bee blocks to do and lots of half finished WIPs to complete (obviously I will do my best to ignore those and start new stuff #quilter) but at last I've got the urge to crack on.

First up, and 6 months after everyone else in our Guild had finished theirs, I pulled out my weekender bag pile of fabric and made one side:

MM love!
I've nearly finished side 2 and have a plan for the rest so that's a major step forward!  I'm trying to get it done and dusted by 26th October - 50/50 chance I'd say.

On Saturday we had an EMMQG sewing day and I'd managed to find a location that was about 5 minutes drive from my house.  This meant that I was a little lackadaisical in my packing and I had to pop home three times for various bits and bobs (including all my precut fabric and my bobbin case! #doh). I was banned from returning after trip #2 by Laughing Boy because it was confusing the wee man so I had to wait until their afternoon trip out to make my final and most important trip.  I was such a basket case on Saturday. We had a lovely day though and a couple of very welcome interlopers, including young Shevvy all the way from Saaf Laaandan.

Bridget couldn't make it but sent the finished charity baby quilt tops she made using the blocks we made at the previous meeting.

Lovely aren't they?

Four of us decided to make noodlehead's divided basket.  Thankfully the lovely Jennie let me borrow her machine in the morning whilst she basted an absolutely lovely (and massive) Amy Butler swoon quilt.  Once you suss out the middle divider, it's a really quick pattern to pull together...

three complete and one well on its way!
I see more of these in my future.  I managed to finish mine (far right) on my own machine which became usable around half 2 (after trip #3!).

I made a big vat of three bean chilli for lunch and there were several yummy cakes for pudding (and morning coffee and afternoon tea!).  As promised to those there, here's the recipe for the chilli:

1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 large dried red chillies (the recipe suggested ancho but I used chipotle)
1 can pinto beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 can kidney beans (I used ones in chilli sauce from Sainsburys)
2 green jalapeno chillies (I used ones from a jar as that was all I had)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon sweet paprika (I used smoked sweet paprika cos I am obsessed)
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon of black treacle (honestly - you can also add a couple of squares of dark chocolate)
1/2 pint of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
some fresh coriander, sour cream and cheese

Take the smoked dried chillies and dry roast them for two minutes in a hot, dry frying pan, then put them in water (freshly boiled) for 20-30 minutes

Drain the chillies and put them in a food processor wit he roughly chopped garlic and onion and process to a coarse paste.  Heat some oil in a large pan and add the onion and chilli paste, cook for 5 minutes.  Stirring obviously.  Add the jalapeno chillies, cumin and paprika and fry for a couple more mins.

Add the drained beans (don't drain the kidney beans if they are in chilli sauce though), tomatoes, oregano, treacle and vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for as long as you can be bothered (30 mins or so), until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Just before serving stir in some chopped coriander.

Serve in cups (guild style) with cheese, sour cream and lovely homemade bread (thanks Kerry).

I'm hungry now.....

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Blue moon

I did check last night to see if there was one...because I actually finished a quilt!  It's been months and months since I did any quilting or binding but I was determined to finish Rory's 1st birthday quilt in time to hand it over to him at his 2nd birthday do this morning! The quilt top was finished in January, the sandwich was basted in March so I could fiddle with the "how late is it really?" question but I'll be front up and say a year.  Anyway without further ado....

it's been a wee while since Laughing Boy's legs
were in a quilt shot!

and the wee man wanted to help too!
machine bound #first time
I fell out of love with this quilt pretty early on  - I think it was because it seemed a little limited colour wise but the spot binding really helps to bring it alive a bit.  The orange spots especially have saved the day. I wish I'd put the black blocks where the green blocks are though.

It's made with some Japanese hippo fabric I got ages ago...

I was cursing having cut up the yellow hippos in a vain attempt to make some quick change pants for the wee man before he was born because that would have been a good addition I think.  I added some blue fabric from Ikea (quite a loose weave but £3 a metre), some kona chatreuse and kona white.  The backing is also from Ikea and again I've had this for an age.  It was just the perfect size so no need to piece the back (otherwise it might have been even later!).  The binding (I think it's Laurie Wisbrun) made me fall back in love with the quilt as it provided the pop of contrast colour I was missing. 

Given that I only finished quilting this on Thursday evening (close straight-line quilting on the white, stitch in the ditch round the colour blocks), I needed to attach the binding fast so attempted machine binding for the first time.  I have to say that it doesn't do it for me.  I'm a hand binding kind of girl.  I like the process of sitting with the quilt and taking some time.  I know things are always easier with practice but I felt that I made too many mistakes and that it was not so much fun.  Anyway, needs must and all that.  It's also good to know that it's not really for me.

Now that the wee man's little mates have quilts, I really should start to put his together!  I've gotten this far....
block placement nailed (thanks to Tanya!)
Today's job should be to start sewing it together but for some reason (the need to think about regulating the block sizes #ouch),  I'm being drawn towards my still in pieces Weekender bag so that's what's about to be dragged out of it's box (probably to be put right back in!)