Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Shall we start with this one?

Earlier this year we heard there was to be a new niece or nephew, and so I immediately started planning a gift. The new parents-to-be requested a playmat, and, never one to take the easy way out, I liked the idea of an animal alphabet. I did some Googling, and bought this fabulous pattern from Don't Look Now in Australia.

New Niece who caused a bit of a stir arriving 5 weeks early!

And then I panicked..... And procrastinated...... And pondered...... And went back to panicking! I really don't know what possessed me. Not only was I an appliqué novice, I was also a total FMQ virgin, and let me tell you, this pattern will tolerate no vestiges of FMQ innocence!

I borrowed my lovely friend Nathalie's humongous Husqvarna machine, as there was no way my little Janome was going to cope with it. That was terrifying enough in itself - the Husqvarna sat at the end of the table for 3 weeks, breathing fire, and just daring me to think I had what it took to press its hallowed pedal.

My favourite part of the process was picking the fabrics for the appliqué. 26 letters and animals, many of which were made up of component parts that needed to be cut from different fabrics and layered up. All in all, including background and backing I used 90 prints and solids, all of which came from my stash - 53 hours spent on a quilt and I didn't even have to buy anything!

Once the hours of painstakingly tracing all the pieces was over, and the layout was done, it was time to start the business of free motion stitching round all the appliqué. The first few animals did not go well, but soon the Husqvarna and I were a well bonded team, and powered through them.

The stroke of genius was the fake giraffe for the back, lying forgotten in a cupboard for years (I don't know why I have fake giraffe, before you ask) and serendipitously discovered when looking for something else the night before the playmat was to be delivered.

I loved making this playmat. It taught me a lot of new skills and severely tested my patience at times, when I was tired. But it's great fun, a fantastic finished product, and the recipients loved it. Would I make another one? Ermmmm.............

 

Monday, 3 November 2014

It's been a while....

So what have I been up to in the past five months? Well, I would have said not much, but having put some thought into this post, actually there's quite a bit. I won't cram it all in here, but it includes 3 baby quilts; 1 wedding quilt; a lot of dressmaking; some lovely days spent working in The Village Haberdashery; a class with the awe-inspiring Luke Haynes; some quality time with friends and family; and a very special quilt made with some lovely friends for someone who's had a much worse summer than I have. There's been some pattern testing, and, I can't deny it, a LOT of fabric buying!

There's also been a job resignation; a lot of job applications; some hyperventilating about whether I'll ever find a job again; but mainly a lot of happiness and relief that I've taken myself out of such a toxic environment. In the words of Yazz, "the only way is up!"

I look forward to bringing you up to speed in more detail over the next few days!

 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Is it a stork? No, it's a flamingo.

My neighbours have just had their first baby, a beautiful girl called Evie. After the excitement of the hexagon elephant for my friend's yet to be born baby boy, I decided the imminent new arrival (as Evie was when I hatched the plan) was the perfect reason to create a pink version, and what better pink animal than a flamingo.

After the saga of the patchwork borders with the elephant I actually sat and drew this one out and did calculations and everything. And it paid off, so it was worth the headache!

I love the bright pink sketch skinny border round the centre, it really frames the appliqué. The quilting of the centre piece caused more head scratching. I'd originally wanted to do FMQ pebbles, but my skills are just not up to it, so I went with overlapping circles, which ended up looking like bubbles.

I joined the ranks of the IKEA number fabric fans for the backing, which gives a good contrast to the colours on the front.

And this evening, I rolled it up, tied it with a pink ribbon and delivered it to it's new owner. She didn't cry, so I'm taking that as that she liked it - at 16 days old, you can't really hope for a better verdict than that!

 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Shame, shame, shame

Back in the days when I was a PA and when we went on to have our own business, I was an organised person. Slightly less so these days (ok, stop spluttering, I CAN hear you!) but one area where I have always been hopeless is post. Where post is concerned, I am the worst friend / sister / daughter / auntie going.

Things are never on time, if they arrive at all. But it is my resolution for 2014 to get better at it...... It's not going entirely well so far....

Which is why I am hanging my head in shame while showing you this gorgeous beauty which arrived on my doorstep last week. The lovely, kind, generous, organised Emily, of Love Strawberry Patch fame, sent me this scrummy peg bag as a joint birthday / sorry-we-didn't-get-to-meet-up-while-you-were-in-Cornwall gift.

We won't talk about what I owe Emily in the post, or for how long I've been leaving it on the side as I trot out of the house, or bringing it back home in my handbag from work, or schlepping it all the way to Cornwall, only to be foiled by the weather.

And in spite of being the worst friend in the universe, Emily even made me my very own pair of Melody Miller pants!!

I got up early this morning so I could wash the bed sheets and hang them out before I went to work, just so i could nestle my pegs into this spotty lining. Who wouldn't want to dangle this on their rotary line?


Anyway, I have now packaged up what I need to send Emily, along with a certain something that I know she is coveting, and which I hope will restore my level of friend status to 'not so bad'!

 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

New beginnings....

It might only be February 22 but today is a beautiful spring day....


There is a beautiful clear blue sky, warm air, spring flowers and new growth on the shrubs.

Things have been a bit rough here for the last few months, but today feels like a great day for new beginnings and a fresh start.

So today I'm beginning a big clear out in the house, and tomorrow I'm starting up my sewing machine for the first time in a month.

It's time to come out of hibernation.....

 

Monday, 10 February 2014

Where the heck did it go...?

So, I don't know if it's the endless grey weather, teeming rain and general wetness about the place.....Or tiredness at returning to work after 6 weeks off.......

Or the effects of the anti-anxiety meds I am on....

But I've lost it..... no, not my sanity (although it could just be 'not my sanity THIS time') but my desire to sew.

It's gone.....

Left the building....

Have searched everywhere including the fridge and the medicine cabinet which is where I usually find things I lost.

It needs to come back soon though, because I'm missing it.