28 July 2011

Material Girl

If you read my last post, you'll remember me talking about ordering some fabric.  Well, it's arrived!

That picture does funny things to me.  Really heart skipping, heart swelling, 'overcome with the yumminess and fabricy desirability of it all' type things.  ...Sigh...

I had a real treat last Sunday morning.  Daddy got up with our Little Miss and I had a nice lay-in (luxury) and then, while I was eating my breakfast I had myself a jolly 'add to cart' session at this fantastic place (even more, divine, luxury), mostly from this area, but a few others too.

You see, extremely new to the quilting world I may be. With only one completed block under my belt, it's true.  But.  Already.  I 'have plans'!

I've been doing a lot of browsing on Flickr lately and mostly especially, I have been loitering around this group, oohing and aahhing quite a bit.  So yes, with quilt number one in complete and utter infancy, I am making plans for quilt number two!

Lets have a better look at my 'Farmer's Wife appropriate' fabric selections shall we?

Ummm, delightful!  Go ahead, click on it and make it bigger if you like.  :)

So, to these I shall add the somewhat meagre, but no less delightful, collection of suitable fabrics that I already own...

And now I've got a rather respectable and utterly wonderful to look at pile to sit on my shelf:

I'm not sure when I'll be able to get time to start this little fantasy project of mine.  Maybe after Little Miss is back at school?  Hopefully, once I've managed to get a bit further forward with the first quilt?

Still, I'm not unhappy to have to wait a little while before I have to start chopping these treasures up.  Every day I wait is another day I get to look at what's waiting for me.

I can live with that for a while!

S x

26 July 2011

School's Out and I Can't Commit

Like many of you, we have now finished school for the summer.  Sports Day has been won (Red Team came second), gifts have been given, drawers have been cleared out and PE kits have been sent home.  School holidays have begun in earnest this week and my life changes pace for a month and a half.

It's taken us a little while to settle into a summer routine in previous years, my little one and me.  I still have a job to do, albeit a fantastically flexible one that allows me to take my 'assistant' along with me (with a bag of toys in tow).  After that there's still the housework to be done and 'little helpers' do get bored of dusting and waiting for their turn with the hoover.  Not to mention all the cooking and washing and ironing and a million and one other tedious 'grown-up' jobs.   However, this year it seems a lot easier.  Another year older and much more self sufficiency are making a difference and we're both adapting well this time.

We have lots of plans for this summer too.  Today it was Hama beading, great fun for children (and adults) we made lots of colourful creations that we're very proud of.  Conquering bike riding is on the list, the stabilizers are off and the practise sessions have started.  Plus we'll be swimming, baking, climbing, swinging, picnicking and playing.

The only thing I'm not sure when I'll fit in is the crafting!  It's a shame I can't get stuck into my newly found and burgeoning love, quilting.  Unfortunately I don't think sitting down at the sewing machine for a few hours will meet with approval when I'm supposed to be 'Entertainments Officer' for the Summer!  (That didn't stop me ordering some new fabric though.  It'll be coming to a post near you soon.)  My best bet is probably crochet.  I can easily fit that into any spare moment, should I ever happen to get one.  The trouble is, I'm having terrible commitment issues at the moment.

Normally I'm a very monogamous knitter, or crocheter, whichever the case may happen to be on that occasion but just now I have lots of 'almost finished' things hanging around.

I've almost finished this...

.... but I'll need to do some sewing to get that completed so we'll have to pray for a 'playing at my friend's' or 'Daddy's home early' type day for that one.

I've very nearly finished this...

...very close with this one.  Just needs unpinning and photos.  Maybe I can teach my 'helper' the art of the non-shaky shot?

I've almost finished making something with this...

... it only needs a last finishing touch but I just keep forgetting about it!

I've got these hanging around which I have plans for...

... but it maybe slightly fiddly so I haven't got around to it yet.

You see what I mean?  Lots of almost nearly-ing and not a lot of ta-dah-ing.  So what does everybody with unfinished projects sitting around do?

That's right, start on something else!  This is going to be a nice little something to go with my lovely new Cath Kidston quilt cover which I put on for the first time today.

Pretty isn't it?

The thing is, it's so much easier to sit along side my little one and catch a few moments hooky time on the sofa.  Much easier than it is to scrabble around finding out a half finished project and start thinking about what on earth I should be doing to get it done or take my lazy self up the stairs to sew something I need to sew.

It is the holidays after all! 

S x

21 July 2011

Adventures in Quilting

I have wanted to try my hand at quilting ever since I saw this...

Credit: Country Living Magazine

...picture in Country Living Magazine in December 2009.  I think you can see exactly where I was looking?

That quilt right there spoke to me!  For a number of reasons I think.  Firstly, it's linked to Christmas being in a December issue and with all those beautiful baubles and other trinkets that surround it.  I'm a bit besotted with Christmas time, the oh so pretty sparkly things, the excitement, the opportunity for wonderful craftiness, the films, Bing Crosby, dressing the tree... sigh... I just adore it!  Secondly it's very homespun, shaker and traditional looking, which I also love.  And last but certainly not least, it's so gorgeously snuggly, warm, cozy and downright beautiful looking, the idea of sitting under that, it the glow of the fairy lights, drinking a hot choccy... how could I not want and desire it?

Well, here we are, a good year and a half later and I think I might just be on the brink of finally making it.  I know, I took my time didn't I?  You see the thing is, I'd never quilted before.  I didn't know much about it and although I was fairly certainly I would be able to have a good old stab at it, I didn't really know how to begin.  I don't know anyone who quilts, so I couldn't just ask.  Instead, I did some research, read some blogs, brought a couple of books.  I also had to track down that pattern too.  I found a lot of blocks with star patterns, but not the exact pattern on 'that' blanket.  None of the books I had contained it, but after some time spend searching, the internet did provide!

It's a quilt block called Fifty-four Forty or Fight and is named after the  Oregon boundary dispute between America and the British in Canada.  I love that there are so many stories and such history tied up with these beautiful blocks.  It's very interesting to find out about the origins of them all.

It became clear that I hadn't picked the easiest block in the world as a starting point for my adventures in quilting, so I took the advice in my book and started practising 1/4 inch seams and simple 9 block patches with old pillow cases.  I don't have any pictures of these somewhat lame first attempts as they were well over a year ago but suffice to say, things didn't go that well.  I began to doubt that I would become proficient enough at quilting or even cutting fabric pieces to ever attempt the more adventurous block which was what had interested me to begin with.  Reading instructions about making the triangle pieces I would need made sense but seemed complicated and working out how  much fabric I would need seemed too daunting for words.  That, together with a increasingly temperamental sewing machine all combined to make it seem a hopeless case and my probably naive beginners enthusiasm waned and my little sample seams edged further and further back in the cupboard.

All was not forgotten though, I still thought about it occasionally and 'yearned to give it another go' every time I saw a beautiful quilt that someone had made.  'It they can do it, surely I can too' I kept thinking but sewing doesn't come as naturally to me as knitting and crochet, which I find comes easy. Maybe it just wasn't for me?    That magazine, with that wonderful picture never strayed that far from my crafty side though.

I'm pretty sure in life that if something is meant to be, time and circumstance will come together one day and it will happen.  Occasionally circumstance needs a nudge in the right direction of course, but it's amazing how often things just work out on their own I find.  Which brings me to two rather fabulous and inspirational blogs....

First is  Nana Company a blog full of stunningly beautiful sewn creations by Amy.  I found this one a month or so ago and it's really got me thinking very seriously that I must give quilting and sewing projects generally another go.

Secondly we have Bee in my Bonnet by Lori Holt which is packed with wonderful quilting inspiration and information.  I only stumbled across this fabulous blog this week and found Lori had posted this tutorial about drafting quilt blocks.  Then followed  this one about making 'easy triangles' and I was utterly hooked!

No messing about with simple squares and scrap fabrics this time!  I went straight in at the deep end and jumped up and set about drawing, or sorry 'drafting' I should say, my 54-40 or Fight block and as soon as I had time I was cutting squares from my 'homespun' fabric and trying out 1/4 inch seams on my new (and far superior) sewing machine.  I was off and this time, things were largely working out.

It wasn't all plain sailing though.  Taken with the 'easy triangles' I had learnt about on Lori's blog I planned out my triangle blocks in the same way.  Unfortunately it wasn't until I'd sewn them together that I realised what should have been obvious to me.

'Easy triangles' are 90 degree triangles made from squares, not from rectangles.  It wouldn't work the same with a 60 degree triangle which was want I needed.  Silly me!

Still, some unpicking and rearranging solved the problem and soon I had some much more respectable looking blocks.

It took me a few attempts to get some of the seams lining up nicely, so I enjoyed my fair share of unpicking and re-sewing but I'm pretty pleased with my first ever quilt block...

It's not perfect...

But, it's not at all bad...

All in all I'd say, I'm pretty pleased with it and myself right now.  It took me quite a bit of effort and work to get this 12 inch square of checky stripy, starry fabulousness all done but it's definitely been worth it.

One block down, nineteen to go!  I'll need more material, I'll need wadding and backing, I'll need to find out how to do the edging and quilt it and goodness knows what else besides but I'm feeling hopeful.

Anyway, I've got until the Christmas Snuggle Season to figure it all out!

S x

13 July 2011


I don't know if you recall, or were even here when I wrote a post which included a couple of thrifty and free furniture finds that I had plans to re-vamp?  Here's the pictures of what they looked like when I got hold of them.

Those are my 'before' shots then, and fairly bleak they both looked to start with, to my mind.  But, fear not, for I had ideas for the prettification and beautifying of these two little gems.

First the slow, dull and arduous necessitiy of sanding all the woodwork down.

Luckily I had a nice dry day to get this job done outside, because it does make a bit of a mess.  It's amazing how much sanding is required and dust produced from just two small nestling tables!

Then, the much nicer task of painting began.

Sometimes, I had help.  Well, I say help... company at least

You know, there is a lot more surface to be painted on two tiny little nestling tables than one might at first think too.  Especially if you give them three coats!  Still, at last it was done and the really fun stuff could begin...

Pretty oilcloth and a deathly stapler gun, that's what fun is made of.  There's nothing like belting bits of metal into wood at high speed to cheer a girl up I can tell you!

Originally, I was going to crochet a cover for my footstool, but somewhere along the way, I got the idea of a sewn cover.  (Let's face it, I just wanted to use the staple gun some more!)  So I found an excellent use for some more of my thrifty goodies.

 Ooh, that's one of my favourite pictures, that doily shot.  Such, dainty, granny, vintage, crochet, chic, goodness.  Warm heart, happy sigh.  Wonderful!

So, let's have some 'after' shots then...

It was when I got to the corners that I began to be a little worried that with their oilcloth jackets the tables might not continue to nestle together quite so sweetly.  I'm glad to say though, that I managed to tuck those corners in quite nice and neatly, so my concerns were unfounded and they nestle as well as they ever did.

Cozy, cute and most importantly, much more pretty!

Now, I certainly can't recommend this kind of project enough to you.  Not only was it easy and quick to do, gave dramatic and, I think, very pleasing results and was very satisfying all round.  I also had the added advantage of having all the things I needed to transform these two lovelies already in my possession, so you could say that the cost to me was practically nothing.  The only thing I brought new (to me) was the table set, from a charity shop for the princely sum of £3.

Now you and I both know that I had to buy all the other things originally, so I've paid for it all along the way at some point.  But still, it makes me feel very good to know that keeping things like table cloth off-cuts (the oilcloth), left over emulsion and bits of curtain material (the footstool cover) can one-day result in a brand new bit of prettiness for my home for next to nothing.

That's all for now, I have a couple more thrifty finds to share but that shall wait till next time now.

In the meantime, a quick but hearty welcome to all my new followers and readers, it's lovely to see you here and a 'very glad you came back' to my other followers and readers.  Love to one and all!

S x

03 July 2011

Sunday's Child - Elmer the Cushion

Straight from the hook to the camera for this baby, as I put the finishing touches on it just today.  I'm feeling a little pleased with myself over this one.  I a-d-ore it!

That picture above is the part I love best.  The part where I have lovely piles of hooky lying around in a splendid assortment of colours, be it circles, hexagons, or as in this case, lots of tiny baby squares.  It's almost better than the finished article sometimes, seeing those piles.

This time though I'm very happy to see what those piles have come together to become, although I wasn't at all certain when I first started sewing.  Even now I do love to see those squares sitting together with their edges all turned up, looking pretty and full of texture.

Their sewn up counterparts are naturally flatter, which took me a while to adjust to, but lookie at the oh-so beautiful patchwork effect.  That's a very compelling argument for the flatter version to me!

You will maybe remember my over excitement at the colour scheme for the Niffy 50's Ripple Blanket that I made not long ago.  Well, I just haven't been able to get those colours out of my obsessive little head and decided that I needed more of the same.  I had 'The Vision' of the cushion I wanted soon after I'd finished the blanket.  So, having used up a lot of the yarns for the blankie, I made some more selections from stash and turned up a very similar but slightly more muted version using my mounting collection of  Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, with a few others thrown in:

Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, unless stated otherwise:
1.  Maroon - 037
2.  Baby Blue - 02
3.  Dusty Rose - 054
4.  Rico Essentials Merino,  Mint - 45
5.  Spring Green - 002
6.  Primrose - 001
7.  Duck Egg - 031
8.  Rico Baby Classic DK, Petrol - 9725
9.  Rowan Wool Cotton, Goldilocks - 971
10.  Rowan Pure Wool, Enamel - 013
11.  Bubblegum Pink - 006
12.  Cantaloupe - 052

It took me a little while to get a square shape that I was happy with.  I didn't want the holes in the corner that you usually get with these squares but a few merry hours tinkering around got me want I wanted and I was off.

For the first time, I also crocheted the back of the cushion.  Normally I don't bother as I am lazy soul and don't want to waste my time doing a load of hooky or knitterly stuff that won't really be seen.  Usually I cut up a jumper, or sew myself a cushion backing and finish it off this way, but to be honest it takes me so long procrastinating over digging out suitable material, cutting it to size and then, eventually, sewing it together that I found making this hooky backing a breath of fresh and quick air!  Crocheted cushion backs - this may be the way forward!

Time we had a good look at the end result I think...

The button collection came into good use here!

You know, I had thought that this cushion was another product of the 50's colour inspiration, but now that I see it photographed I think Elmer the Elephant must have had something to do with it too?

I've just been handed a cup of tea and the biscuit tin isn't far away, time for me to go and snuggle with Elmer the Cushion!

S x
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