Sunday, 11 July 2010

Planes, Trains and Wagon-mobiles

Life kind of speeds up at the end of term don't you think? So much packed into the last two weeks, but the delicious promise of holiday and lazy time at the end of it all makes it bearable. This end of term is marked by lots of comings and goings all around me, hubbie on endless business trips, a much anticipated visit from an old overseas friend...and the excitement this weekend of new shiny wheels to take on our family holiday.

We took delivery of a shiny red wagon to transport the kids and the many bags of stuff that they always have in tow from our holiday caravan up over the dunes to the beach. We have coveted a wagon like this for 4 years, watching others wheel easily over the sand, kids smiling and laughing as we trudged through the shimmering heat with bags over the shoulders and a kid tucked under each armpit yelling!!( them and us!)

The shiny, red 1950's ness of our wagon inspired me to dig out a WIP that never really got off of the ground. It started as a boyish homage to Lucienne Day's style, but something just never clicked when it was made up on the linen background. I took it to bits, reassembled it on a fabulous blue Kona Chambray that just calls out to be bedlinen. I also have acquired a rustier red solid in the intervening weeks and months so mixed that in with the bright red I began with.

Now it's really working, It's funny how just a few tweaks can make it all OK. I have another sunny afternoon of applique planned today!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Life in Soft Focus

There's something about a prolonged period of heat and haze that can start to blur the edges of life a little. If I had to live a film-life it would be a Merchant Ivory kind of Edwardian life, all crisp white cotton summer dresses and gin and tonic on the veranda of a Thames side villa whilst bees lazily drift by amongst the roses ....................ummmmmmmmmmm.

But the last few weeks of lovely warm lazy days, and the promise of the summer stretching ahead is giving me something of the merchant ivories. In the vase on my kitchen table is a flower that sums up this feeling exactly, the peony. I love them, unashamedly pretty, only just the right side of vulgar pretty, lazy hazy unashamedly pink.

This weekend I have been working on an unashamedly pretty pink baby quilt for a much anticipated baby due this summer. It's been the perfect project for the weather.

The fabric stripes are Kona Snow, Kona Ash, a selection of Sevenberry florals and spots ( such lovely cottons) and the elephant and mouse print is from pygletwhispers on etsy.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

New New New!!!

This week the postman has been knocking at least once a day with my favourite USPS envelopes in hand!

I have had a bit of a re stash in readiness for a summer of full-on creative fun. So far my summer sewing plans include; Laurie Wisbrun's Tufted Tweets

Heather Ross' Far Far Away II (where is the rest of my fabric from this line Mr Postman? Am starting to worry!)

Cosmo Crickets Early Bird ( you really did have to be an early bird for this on the Hawthorne Threads site, it was sold out in a flash!)

A fantastic Wine Gums inspired collection of colour

I have lots of swirling ideas for each of these little bundles of promise. I find that the 15mins-each-way, twice-a-day walk to school is the perfect time for cogitation, quiet baby in the buggy watching the world go by, sun shining and mind whirling, anyway off I go to school again, just 3 more weeks of idea generation before the summer holidays begin!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Do you Have Plans for the Summer?

It's that time of the year, the 'do you have plans for the summer?' conversation crops up a lot. The sun is shining, we're all counting down to the end of term, sports days and village fetes and holidays to pack for.

I have a lot of non-plans for the summer, I don't want 'playdates' and organised clubs, I don't want the kids to have to do anything at all. I love non-plans, I love the promise of the day stretching ahead where there's really nothing much that needs to be done, perhaps a little baking, a potter in the garden, maybe we'll scooter down to the park, feed the ducks, take a walk in the woods. But mostly we will potter, pootle, muddle about, make dens, play games, do projects like last years epic 'make a working cable car from the top of the slide to the football net for the playmobile people'.

....and whilst the kids have their fun, mummy has some quilty pleasures planned of her own. Three quilts all based and ready to hand stitch lazily whilst dallying in a deckchair

The handsewn-hexagon project rumbles on.....

And a lot of very exciting new fabric to turn into quilts over the summer, which I will show you tomorrow.......yummy!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

I'm a Little Folks Winner! Yipeee!

Look what the postman bought me today, unexpected mail is the most fantastic isn't it?! A delicious parcel of ready cut Little Folks squares that I won in a giveaway on the Izzy Inspired Blog last week. I was SO happy to win this. I don't know why, but it took me ages to fold and buy my first stash of Little Folks. I think I was a bit intimidated by the Voile and the gloriously clashy colours (and the price). But when I did buy some I ADORED it. I made this quilt, and some scarves, and then it was gone! I decided I need to re stash ( I have learnt to lay down like good wine my favourite fabrics, I am a Flea Market Fancy veteran with sadly empty shelves of the coveted prints!). I entered this giveaway and I won! It's like Izzy knew just how much I loved it and how I still had other Little Folks quilts inside that needed to come out. I think I will do a Film in the Fridge inspired one with these..........but if I use them I'll be without again.......Thank you Izzy Inspired!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

In Praise of Hex's and Handsewing

I have been away from home and my sewing machine a lot over the last few weeks as I have been travelling backwards and forwards across the country visiting my Dad in hospital and my Mum alone at home without him. It's been a pretty upsetting and unsettling few weeks. In the past when people ask me where I find the time to make quilts, I laughingly tell them it keeps me sane. When life is a bit uphill, sewing really does do that for me, it's critical. On another long journey in the car I got to wondering why.

My project of choice has been hand sewing these gorgeous curved hexagon blocks ( they're missing the final bits that makes them hexagonal at the moment!), carrying the pieces pre cut with me, in my little sewing pouch, stitching, stitching whenever I get 5 mins, whenever it all feels a bit overwhelming, when the anxiety starts to creep in, when my mind starts to worry and whirl. The comfort of hand stitching, the rhythmic, unthinking repetition is so soothing. The small thrill in seeing a block come to life through your stitches, just a small happy moment in a lot of dark worry and stress. The joy of making something by hand is elemental. Before I made things I didn't feel a lack of it, now I make, I can't live without it.

There is also something so timeless about stitching, generations of women have found this same solace in quiet, unobtrusive stitching, slowly making objects full of love and thought and contemplation. My Dad is finally on the mend and normal life can start to take over again. Thank you Quilting for sustaning me.

p.s These stars will eventually be hexagonal. I made them using a cutting template from here, cut with a 28mm rotary blade and sewn by hand, it's a great traveling project if you're planning a holiday (more fun than a hospital visit!)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Come On England!

My boys are big,huge, football fans, huge. My Little Man said he wanted England bunting. Being a bit picky on the nylon front I couldn't bring myself to buy the flimsy nasty stuff at the petrol station for a tenner. I figured I'd make some. Little Man loved it, but Big Man said it was a bit 'Cath Kidston Football Bunting'. I don't think thats a good thing if you like your football, but heh, I took it as a compliment and I can just about bear it up in my sitting room for the next few weeks! Come on England!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Little Town Quilt Top - Construction Complete!

I have had such fun making this quilt. It's often the way that the projects that have had the least analysis ( and so are invested of the least expectation) are the most fun to work on. You may remember that I started this quilt top when I had an earache in the half term holidays. I started piecing houses just using my rotary cutter, a pile of solids and a needle and thread. As I have added to my little town each little house has become a character in it's own right. My kids like to 'work out' which house in our village its based on as we walk to school and the local shop! I have included our much loved but sadly outgrown old house, a tall thin Victorian villa, and our new house, an initially unloved but now transformed 1950's self confident sturdy kind of a place, I also included my sons dream house, a wigwam; and my daughters, a thatched cottage or a toadstool fairy ring;I'm totally in love with this quilt. But I now have to decide how to back and bind, but most importantly how to quilt it. I am completely at a loss as the original had the most exquisite teeny tiny detailed but machine quilted stitches in little shapes to match the houses as if as a shadow in the white areas. I am a dedicated hand quilter, but the density of stitching needed to recreate that kind of an effect would take me a year or more! I am considering branching out for the first time and paying someone to machine quilt it for me...what do you think?

Monday, 14 June 2010


My little town is gradually growing, but more slowly than I would like. Construction has been rather an unwelcome theme in my family this month. My poor dad has suffered cement burns whilst doing some construction and so life is a bit upside down at the moment and blogging is down the list, even if some therapeutic hospital bedside sewing is getting done. Cement burns are poorly publicised, but so dangerous. Anyone coming into contact with wet cement can have an alkali necrosis of the skin ( it basically eats away, taking the moisture from within the tissue). What is so hideous is that you don't always realise it is happening until its too late. So concrete, unnoticed, splashing down a boot, or seeping through the knees of work trousers is so easily done, do warn anyone who might be planning a bit of DIY that this can happen. Hopefully dad is on the mend, I'm finding sewing houses better for the physical and mental health than building them, I may suggest it to him too!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The House(s) That Deb Built

I have a bit of a blogjam of things to show you after last weeks blogless state. I need to catch you up on my Broken Circles quilt progress (or non progress! more on that one to come!). I want to show you the gorgeous Little Folks Scarf I made for myself last week, and the Mini version Little Miss MakeDo made for herself too. But today I thought I would show you how I spent the three long days last week with earache.

You know the state : too-ill-to-do-anything-but-not-so-ill-it-doesn't-seem-wrong-to-sit-on-the-sofa-without-a-project-kind of poorly. So I needed something not too taxing. I saw this quilt last year at the Festival of Quilts at the Birmingham NEC and I have had a little blurry picture of it on my pinboard for a year. I just loved this quilt when I saw it, isn't it wonderful? It was only when I looked back at this picture properly last week I realised I had done the same binding on my ColourWheel Quilt, isn't subconscious influence fascinating? Ingrid Press who made it is elusive in the online world so I can't tell you much more about her work I'm afraid, but her quilts were sublime. Really elegant and so controlled.

I have a pile of solids that I have been amassing for ages with the half formed plan to do something modern but Amish (yes I know that plan obviously needs more work and less contradictions!), but it occurred to me that the colours would look great for my houses.

I loved making these blocks. I free pieced each little house with a rough guide to making the centre house bit approx 4inches by 4inches to sit within a final 12inch square block ( I'm still not sure about the too much white/not enough white balance on my version of this quilt. I'm not sure I have Ingrids minimalist discipline when it comes to colour). Anyone planning a holiday over the summer, this would be the perfect portable project, all you need are a few scraps of fabric, needle, thread and cutter and the hours just slide by in childlike concentration. It really is the sewing-mummy equivalent to drawing towns and colouring them in.........something the kids enjoyed whilst I sewed, hot water bottle tied to my ear by my LittleFolks scarf (picture the scene!)

Monday, 7 June 2010

The American Museum in Bath

Well I have been rather absent due to an unfortunately combination of earaches and other family health dramas. But as an attempt to claw back some rest and recreation in our half term week we set off to the ancient spa town of Bath to take the waters.

If you've visited Bath before you will agree that it is just the most wonderful town. It's just elegance incarnate. Every perfectly designed regency house built in soft warm yellow sandstone with its elaborate but restrained wrought iron balconies and window boxes, is a joy to behold. Bath makes you feel like the rest of us really need to make a bit more effort, but in a nice polite way. And that's before you factor in the Roman Baths, the wonderful River Avon winding through the countryside to be crossed by the beautiful and very un-English Poultney Bridge. It fair makes one want to be holding a fashionable parasol and wearing kid leather gloves as one wanders about!

Our health was much restored, and Bath was wonderful, but the highlight of our trip was a day at the American Museum. This gem of a museum is housed in a former stately home Claverton Manor, set high up in the hills looking down over the most breathtakingly unspoilt valley. The museum is a great day out for kids and adults alike. We knew we were on to a winner as my daughters face lit up at the wagon parked outside (she is a HUGE house on the Prairie fan). Inside the museum we enjoyed visiting an authentic Saloon bar, a Quaker house, a southern belles bedroom, each room set furnished with antiques of the period down to the tiniest details. My kids were enthralled and they are not always that big into museums(!). There were cowboy hats and belts to try on, Pilgrim father hats, and an amazing installation where you could design a quilt by touch screen whereby it was projected across the room (cue two of my children trying to cover themselves (virtually) in the quilt designed by the third!).

The highlight for me is up in the large light filled studio on the top floor where some of the museums collection of antique quilts are displayed, and rotated. I visited the V&A Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition earlier in the spring, which i loved. But I absolutely adored the American Museum collection. Sitting in a sunlit bay window seat, in a beautiful room, looking at amazing quilts, it was an afternoon of bliss! The quilts are displayed in large frames, you can get so close and really study how they are made which is so nice to be able to do. You aren't allowed to take photographs so I have no pics to show you, but I bought the guide book i would really recommend it even if you can't visit the museum as it is such a great read. It takes each quilt and talks extensively about the methods of its construction etc, but more than that it tells you how it came to be in the museum. I just love hearing the stories of how these quilts came to be found.
So home we came, back to school and work, much restored and full of ideas! I hope you had a nice holiday week or weekend too.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

One Womans Trash is another Womans Treasure

This week one of my favourite things happened. A friend knocked on my door with a plastic carrier bag saying an elderly friend of her mums was having a clear out and she had heard I was an avid quilter, and would I like her old scrap bag? My friend apologised, said it's probably not what you want/need, feel free to throw it/recycle it if it's no good, etc etc. Yippeeee! My heart jumped a beat, because there is nothing I enjoy the expectation of more (except perhaps a rummage in a charity shop in a well heeled market town) than the donated scrap bag. I always have to wrestle it off of the usually awkward donor ( people feel like they are offering you literal scraps I think).

Within minutes I had the bag upturned on the floor in My Front Room, and after a hasty edit of the inevitable polyester bits and bobs, it yielded this impressive stash! Isn't it yum?

I can't decide which fabric I love the most, but it's between the bright blue with red and yellow flowers in the blue pile and the gorgeous primary group in the first piccie, so 1950's that colour combo? Which do you like best?

Friday, 28 May 2010

WIP Broken Circles Quilt

Top of my things to do list are to piece the backs for my Little Folks Dot in the Middle and English Skies/Irish Chain quilt. But I'm afraid, try as I might, I can't muster the self discipline to make my quilts in the linear start-finish manner that so many other quilt bloggers seem to manage! In the system that is 'idea-experiment-piece-baste-quilt-bind' I always have a log-jam at one point, usually the baste/quilt bit. I just cleared a hand quilting log jam, but seem to be building up another, the problem is that a new idea is just so compelling I have to give in to its demands!
I have wanted to make a broken circles quilt for ages, but yesterday I just started drawing around plates on a cardboard cereal packet as a template to see where it ended up. I have a pile of Freshcut fabrics that I had been planning to make a Quilt Kit from but after a change of plan I decided they would make a lovely Broken Circle quilt.
At the moment my kitchen table is covered in the pile of fabrics you can see above. The beauty of this pattern is that it creates interesting secondary patterns so I am having lots of fun playing with Kona Solids, I wish I had a design wall.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

p.s Pixelated Fabric Squares

P.s ...........Thankyou all so much for your lovely comments about my Pixelated Quilt. I love Bloggers Quilt Festival, everyone is so nice!

When I cut the fabric for this quilt I cut a batch more extra squares, some went to good homes in the giveaway last week, but I have 5 piles left. They are 4"x4" squares of at least 24 fabrics that make up a colourwheel. They include Denyse Schmidt, Liberty for Quilts 1700-2010, Amy Butler, Jessica Levitt and many more.
It's not all of the fabrics in my quilt as some were proper little scraps out of the bucket so there was no extra to cut, but they do still make up a wheel as no colour areas are missed out.
So many people have commented that its hard to make a spectrum colour wheel, and hard to make a whole wheel from your stash. If anyone is interested I've listed the 5 colourwheel bundles on my etsy site so you could make your own version and add from your stash too, I'd love to see what becomes of them! I have had a couple of questions about the background for my pixelated quilt. It is Kona Ash and I do also have a bolt of that in stock so if you wanted the fabric for teh quilt back too just drop me a message and I can add it to the listing as I currently sell Kona Cottons on Folksy

Monday, 24 May 2010

Bloggers Quilt Festival - Pixelated Quilt

Here is my Bloggers Quilt Festival entry. I'm calling it Pixelated.

It's my latest quilt so of course it's my favourite, I have that goldfish approach to what I like.
My inspiration was the PurlSoho colour wheel which I have had pinned to my ideas board forever, but it just looked a bit overwhelming to try and make. I had a breakthrough when one of my kids came into the sewing room and started making a puzzle, its a wooden colour wheel puzzle from potterybarn originally I think. I started throwing down matching fabric from the stash that matched the puzzle and it really was that simple once I started.

I'm kind of obsessed with circles on quilts, so it was a simple decision to make the pixels of colour circular( I use freezer paper shapes drawn around a kids ikea beaker) and appliqued them on by hand. All of that colour just made me happy working on the quilt - you get some quilts like that don't you? Well when I had finished the front I hadn't had enough of that colour therapy so I decided to use the scraps to make little circles for the back. The front was so ordered and controlled I decided to let the pixels have some fun on the back so I just threw the whole lot up into the air and pinned them where they landed (my kids just loved this stage!). I hand quilted the circles, then added randomised little circles all over to fill any big gaps.When it came to the binding, I auditioned pale grey, and white, but the old favourite Kona Coal worked really nicely as a frame, and served to mute down the splashes of colour in my final scraps incorporated into the binding. By this stage I had even less scraps from the spectrum, but I like how its served to make it all nice and random. This has really been a happy quilt to make, I hope you like it x

Mad Dogs and English (Wo)Men

.........go out in the midday sun.
The sun is shining here, not just shining but 27degreeing, proper paddling pool hot! Yippee. It's true that a bit of guaranteed sunshine and a BBQ that won't be rained off is enough to turn most englishpeeps a bit skippyyippeemad.

As a consequence I have been doing a lot of this............

And not much sewing. But last week, inspired by this picture at stashmanicure, I decided to hit the stash and make an Irish chain quilt from its and bits. I cheated a little bit and strip pieced the squares then rotary cut them, but i think there is enough variation even though usually i like it to be truly random. I used this really soft palate of old fashioned pinks and blues and yellows that I had made into a pile last week for my colour confidence post . I started making it, planning it would be againist a white centre, but i suddenly decided to go grey ( Kona Ash as usual), which I am so regretting now. I usually love the grey combo but it's all looking a bit too muted? I added the white spots to give it a bit of zing. I'm hoping that it's just because the sun is so bright and when the usual grey English light comes back it will look all sophisticated and calming? It seems when the sun shines I'm wanting to make an in yer face flamingo pink and azure blue Rio inspired tropical quilt, maybe that's this weeks challenge?!