Wednesday 30 March 2016

Finish Number 3 and progress update

Yes!  It’s finished, my group quilt for which I made two blocks, trimmed, fudged, and stitched the blocks together, sashed, layered, quilted and bound.  As I did so much of the work I am claiming at as a finish.  What do you think?

Circle of Friends made for Paula, 50 x 40 inches, quilted with concentric circles, half inch quilting in the borders.  The backing was chosen by the group as it is one of Paula’s favourite colours and it was also used in the borders.  It is 567 Hearts, The Henley Studio Makower UK.  Jan from the group made a lovely matching label, which reads: 
For Paula
Made with Love
By the “Special Smarties”

We were originally two groups, the ‘Smarties’ and the ‘Special Needs’ but as numbers dwindled we joined together as the ‘Special Smarties”

And this is where I spent the morning hand stitching the binding, and some of the, what seemed like hundreds, of threads to be buried. If I'd finished it yesterday I would have taken the pics earlier when it was bright but now it's cloudy.

I thought it might be fun to make a list of my WIP and UFO, too.  In my book a WIP is something you are working on now and a UFO is something which has been temporarily abandoned, temporarily as in not worked on for up to X many years but something you mean to finish one day.

Work in Progress
Sticks and Stones - needs quilting
Little House in the Woods (log cabin) — needs layered and quilting
City Lights - needs layered and quilting
Ugly Christmas Sweaters - needs almost everything done barely started
Elephant and I - Cut out, needs the background strips stitched together and paper piecing finished
Several mug rugs and coasters in various stages of completion

Wedding ring quilt, some of the rings are made but needs a LOT of work.  I don’t like the background fabric and as I’m making it by hand it takes forever.
Lanterns Quilt - the blocks are in various stages of completion.  I was seduced by a layer cake, I am now luke warm about it and dislike the other fabrics included.
Baltimore - I think it was a case of too much hand appliqué and going through an iffy stage in my quilting journey.  
I am sure there are more, as I am changing and reorganising my sewing room they will be unearthed named and shamed, or discarded.

To everyone who asked after Indi she is down to five tablets a day from tomorrow and is improving, much more like her old self.  She is due to see the neurologist in a few days for blood tests.  I’ll let you know how she gets on.
Ella has been cut, I forgot how small she is without all the hair.  I think she likes it as she thinks she’s a puppy again.

Until next time
Smiles from

Edit  Just to let you know Blogger changed my settings turning me into a no reply blogger.  Sorry if you have tried to contact me in the past, it has now been changed.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Progress has been made…….

Yes, a definite improvement on last week.  Although I desperately wanted to start quilting my sticks and stones quilt which is already layered what I HAD to do is finish the quilt top for the group quilt.   As it was my suggestion to make it, it was taken as read I would be the one to put the blocks together, do the borders, layer, quilt, and bind it.

The lovely Jan has made the label, stitched by hand and decorated with two appliqué hearts.  Jan does wonderful hand appliqué, I must try and show you a pic sometime.

This is my progress so far.  The process reminded me how difficult it is to make a quilt from the blocks of several different people.  It seems we all have different ideas of a 1/4 inch seam and the blocks ranged from 12 inches, to 13 1/4 inches.  I admit I took out a  ‘couple’ or so seams and redid them and I had to fudge it a bit, but the end product is fine and the most important thing is we all contributed.  I had a bit of trouble with the circular quilting and so am taking some out but it should be finished next week for our group meeting when I will hand it over for a couple of the other girls to deliver.

On a good note my little Indi is recovering from her recent illness.  She does love my rocking chair.  This was taken before she took ill, you can tell how stressed she gets.

Indi is down from 13 tablets a day to 7, and in another week it will be 5.  The treatment for meningitis in dogs is antibiotics for two weeks and steroids for about 6 months so it will be quite a while yet but at least she is doing well and more like her normal self.

My other dog Ella is being cut today and we just found out the lady who we booked is the owner of the dog who won Cruffts this year (the most prestigious dog show in the UK), most impressive, hope she has a magic wand.  This shows Ella quite nicely but in reality she has and extremely thick long coat which tats up, and does she moult!

Until next time
Smiles from


Wednesday 16 March 2016

It’s been one of those weeks.

Do you ever have weeks when you want to sew, you even need to sew, but somehow your head and your body seem disconnected, and somehow very little gets done (if anything at all)?

Well, thats the kind of week I’ve had.  I thought about it a lot, I knew what I wanted to do, but very little has actually been done.

The blocks from the group quilt I have been organising as a gift to one of our members who is unwell are waiting to be stitched together, layered, quilted, and bound ( I need it finished in just over two weeks).

Just one Ugly Christmas Sweater made, but I changed the bottom and it hasn’t worked so I have to redo it……….sigh……

The Sticks and Stones quilt is layered, but as yet unquilted.

All I can show you is my Antique Flower Garden quilt.  This was a block a month quilt I made a few years ago, and I must say it was great fun.  The anticipation of waiting for the envelope to come through the door, the excitement of seeing what blocks I was making that month, all the different fabrics, lots that I wouldn’t normally buy.

As you can see there is roughly a 50/50 split of appliqué and pieced blocks, and a small number of appliqué flowers in the borders which takes the plainness away without being overpowering. 

Although the pieced blocks are mainly simple enough for a beginner the challenge was often accuracy with seam allowances with so many seams to be out a couple of threads could mean being out up to a 1/4 inch in the finished block.

There were some very small pieces for needle turn appliqué although it could have been done with heat and bond.

Although I enjoyed it very much I am unlikely to do another block a month, (unless it was Jen Kingwell).  Why?  Well, I found the company to be very mean with the fabric they sent, I had very few scraps left, which of course meant if I made a mistake I would have had to request more fabric.  Twice the appliqué background hadn’t been cut square, it was only about an inch bigger than the block size so I wouldn’t have been able to square it up myself.  Both times I had to send back the complete kit at my expense so they could change the piece of fabric concerned, they didn’t seem very happy about it either.  
However the main reason is my quilting style has changed so much over the years.  I've done traditional, I’ve done Baltimore, I used to LOVE japenese taupes, but now I love COLOUR, I love BRIGHTS and I am still searching in my quest to find my own quilting style, be it modern or traditional or a mix of both, it just needs to be a reflection of me, and where I am in my life in this moment.

How has your style changed over the years?  Have you found your own style, and is there any advice you can give me on finding mine?

Until next time,
Smiles from

Tuesday 8 March 2016

City Lights from Oakshott

Quilting is like waiting for a bus, you wait for ages and then THREE finished quilt tops all at once.  Yes, I kid you not they are as follows:

1  Little House in the Woods 

Thank you so much to everyone who gave me advice on the quilting, I really appreciate it.  I think I replied to everyone but if I missed you please accept my apologies.  I have decided to hold off on the quilting until I have done…….

2 Sticks and stones

I made two extra blocks and added another row.  As you can see there are lots and lots of blocks of all shapes and sizes, great for practicing on before I tackle the Christmas quilt above, which I love.  The only thing is I haven’t quilted with sunglasses on before………

3 City Lights

This is the most lovely quilt, and I know the pics don’t do it justice.  The fabric is Oakshott 100% mercerised shot cottons, Lipari fat eighths  with a colourshott charm pack for the centres.  

It is the most beautiful fabric.  The lipari appears a little heavier than normal quilting fabric, and it seems to shine and shimmer, changing colour with the light and the warp  and weft are different colours.   It is expensive fabric although Oakshott fabrics are widder than normal at 54 inches. To give some perspective in the UK I pay about £12 per metre for Moda, for Oakshott fabrics the price varies but Lipari is £21. 95 per metre, although this appears to be their most expensive range.  I purchased a kit about four years ago, to buy it now would be £75, a lot for a quilt only 47 inches square.  Is it worth it? 

Oh yes, but only for something, or someone special.  This quilt is to be a gift to a special person in my life.

Yes, I’m on a roll.  I have also cut out the first five blocks for the Ugly Christmas Sweaters quilt along at Sew Fresh Quilts.  

As some of my sweaters will be plain Christmas fabric I am making these first.  I do need more fabric but haven’t found the right ones yet but this will make a good start for the 16 block version.  

Do you ever have those weeks when everything conspires against you?  Well I’m not just having a bad week, I’m having a bad year.  Do you ever loose things?  I do, now and again, but here is my list since Christmas:

1 Dovo scissors
2 6 inch ruler
3 My favourite thimble, silver and a gift from a friend.
4 Not one, not two, but today makes three unpickers
5 The battery from my camera, this has turned up today, where? In the charger, even though it was obviously the first place I checked as I’d just charged it.
6 The memory card reader

I am hoping the thimble turns up, that’s the one that makes me sad, but, I’m sure I heard something fall behind the bookcase a few weeks ago, I just need several hours and a bit more energy to remove all the books and move it.  Other than that I’m seriously going senile.

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts  Freemotion by the River, Quilter in the Closet, My Quilt Infatuation,  Crazy Mom Quilts,  Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? and TGIFF

Smiling and laughing to myself (yes, it’s another sign I know)

Friday 4 March 2016

Challenge update

It's time for the second check in for the 100 Day Challenge set by Jen at Quilter in the Closet.  We were asked to pick 3 specific quilt/craft goals to complete in the timescale so to recap, my items were:
  1. Stop procrastinating and start a blog.  
  2. Quilt and finish my Sugar and Spice quilt.
  3. Finish the piecing, quilt and bind my Sticks and Stones quilt.
So, how did I get on?

Well, as to the first you are reading me today.  The blog went live on the 25th of January and this is post number 8.  I’m posting once a week or so just now and will post more often if I have something to say, like today.  It's good fun, and I have a few followers already, on Google and Bloglovin Whoopee !!!

The second is done, the FMQ was challenging to say the least and just now the only real pattern in my repertoire  is my loopy swirls.  I make no apologies, remember where FMQ is concerned I work on the “blind man and galloping horse’ principle and so it looks great.  I posted a pic last week but just in case you missed it………..

If you would like to see more detail check out last weeks post.

Number three, well I sorted it out and here comes the but, I  have somehow lost a couple of blocks, however the good news is I have enough scraps to make more.  It was going to have borders but I think the fabrics are too busy so it will end up 40 x 50.  This is what I have so far.  Bright, yes, colourful, I would agree with that, but I just went off it while making it, probably because it's not the kind of patterned fabrics I would normally use.  However, it makes a great quilt for practicing FMQ, Yes?

It's  Mother's Day this Sunday in the UK but my daughter Caryne lives about five hours away and my son who normally lives and works in London (so I wouldn't see him anyway) as a fraud manager is at a big conference in Vegas so I doubt I will even get a phone call.  If anyone is there and sees a tall handsome man called Chris with sapphire blue eyes please give him a hug from me.
However, this is what came in the post this week.

Haven’t I got lovely children?  And doesn’t Amazons wish list come in handy?  Works better for me than flowers by post.

Until next time
Smiles from

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Advice needed please

Advice needed  please

Another week, another UFO, I finished the top of my new Christmas laptop last summer but alas, it sat there, unquilted and unused and Christmas passed with no Christmas quilt in evidence. 

As you can see it’s a log cabin with pieced centres which is kind of limiting.  I fell in love with the quilt as soon as I saw the pattern and I love how it has turned out.  The centres were awkward as the pieces are quite small, if I make it again I will draw it out and paper piece it rather than using the templates.  Some of my points are not as good as I’d prefer so the ‘blind man and galloping horse’ rule comes into play.   Yes, I am early for this Christmas but I would like to get a jump this year so the question is, how do I quilt it?

The houses are so cute.

The tree points were tricky.

Friendship stars in the corners.

So, how would you quilt it?

Moving on, I sort of called in to the local quilt shop this week, for a look, just passing the time, as you do and not intending to BUY anything but as I plan on making the Ugly Sweaters quilt and as the Christmas fabrics were on 25% off it seemed silly not to ‘invest’ in some fabrics now, as a starting point.  So, what do you think?

My plan is to make some plain sweaters in Christmas fabrics and some in solids with Christmas  blocks, pieced and appliqué.  Any thoughts? 

Lots to fussy cut here.

I thought about fussy cutting the reindeer facing the tree but now I'm not so sure, what do you think?

I love hearing other peoples views, and it often saves me from making stupid mistakes, I would so love your input.

I did happen to notice some lovely solids too and I really don’t have many, in fact it’s what I really lack, so, I invested in a few, ready for the quilt which is as yet a very vague idea in my head, just in case they don’t have the right colours when I need them.

Don’t you just love looking at them and when you touch them…………well, they don’t disappoint.

Until next time
Smiles from