Sunday, May 31, 2009

Blame it on the sun

Not much work has happened around here lately. Friday was full of errands - orthodontist appointment for Sarah (impressions made for her braces - the removable type rather than train tracks) followed by lunch, spending pocket money, and loads of bits and pieces, both in Wimbledon and Kingston. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and a bit of shame to spend it running errands, but you do what you gotta do. And it was lovely walking around between the errands.

And luckily, that was followed by two more gorgeous days, where the time was spent doing things other than being inside - i.e. very little sewing, lots of sitting in the sunshine reading, along with paddling pools and general mucking about for the kids. And yes, I confess, a bit of housework.

Today there was a large amount of time spent in the sun, but I also did this (at top) this morning before we went swimming at the local pool. It was supposed to be for the May Challenge on Textile Challenges, which was to creat a postcard inspired by the images from the Google Alphabet and I admit, I was really uninspired for a long time (hence it being the very last day of May before I got to this challenge!). I liked the images, just couldn't think how to get started. Well, I finally did - I started with some complex cloth which looked kind of like an underwater scene, but I knew only bits of the texture would show. I then added bits of painted lutradur, which I attached with free-motion quilting, and some blue mesh shapes and some sheers and some painted bondaweb. Surprisingly enough, all these things gave me the sort of texture I was looking for - a kind of vague, could be aerial landscape feeling. And as it was supposed to be based on an alphabet, I added some letters to finish and cut it into 8 lovely ATCs.

Now, if you've been paying attention, you'll notice I said the challenge was to create a postcard based on the google alphabet. Too bad I didn't notice that myself until after I cut it up! I am waiting to hear from my partner if she minds the difference - otherwise, it's back to the drawing board...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quilting Day

I did lots of sewing today - had an early start as Sarah had to be somewhere by around 9am, so we dropped her off, swung by the supermarket for a few things (and a coffee in Starbucks) and then headed home to do...very little. Well, 3 loads of wash, some tidying up around the house and lots of sewing, while Olivia and Alex watched a film and played on the computer. Ah, bliss.

First thing I did was do some more quilting on the corn an beans. It's now about 1/3 done - quite time-intensive, and I have ordered more thread, just to be on the safe side - fairly sure I will run out before it's done. I also worked on a block for the Around the World Quilt Swap (see above), and then started working on a border for the Spring Fling Round Robin 3, which I can't show. In all, a productive day. Tomorrow we are off to do errands for most of the day, but I might get an hour in the morning to do some more bits and pieces, if I'm lucky.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back to the UFO

Although most of today was spent out and about, I did spend some time yesterday evening and this evening (while watching telly) adding some beads to the UFO quilt. I didn't want too much, so the main emphasis is on the lines down the centre of the piece, with a scattering of beads to either side. At the moment, I think that's it, but you never know - it might want more later. Cobi left a comment the other day suggesting some foil and I'm going to mess around with that idea a bit - maybe test a bit on the back - as I think there are real possibilities there. Might also pull out a few other embellishments and see if anything speaks to me, but honestly, I'm not sure it wants too much more.

Then, the only thing I have to work out is how I want to bind it, and which way is up! I've been working on it with the long strip of solid salmon colour at the bottom, but I'm not sure, that might actually be the top - what do you think? I suppose I could always ask Deborah which way she intended the piece to be. Not that it really matters, but I thought I'd put a sleeve on it, so it would be good to know which side to put the sleeve on...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Clam shell quilting

Although I spent a large portion of today doing very little, I did do a bit of quilting this morning - as the right foot was already on the machine, I decided to pull this out and quilt it - or start, anyway. The quilt is the corn and beans quilt from some time ago, and I thought I'd try this sort of clamshell pattern on it. I like it. I only quilted a small portion of the quilt, as I only worked on it for about an hour, but I should get some more done later in the week. I had intended it as a possible baby quilt, but actually, I thinnk I might keep it. For one thing, I really like it, but for another thing, it's a little large for a baby quilt. We'll see.

Monday, May 25, 2009

more UFOs

Well, although the weather was not as bad as predicted today - indeed, it was quite nice this afternoon - I still managed to get some time this morning to work on quilty things, and chose to do some more quilting on this piece for the UFO challenge. After spending some time browsing various sources and doodling, I decided to fill with wavy lined columns, then connected spirals, and finally finish with bricks, to echo the previous hand quilting and grids.

So here's the finished piece - or rather, not finished, but I've done all the quilting on this piece that I will do. It now tells me that it wants beads, so that's next. Not sure what I will do for binding - probably something fairly traditional, but I guess it will depend on what I find in the way of fabric. Anyway, beads first and then we shall see.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Summery things

A couple of things today - first, a block to accompany the ATWQB block from yesterday - I decided the best way to tackle the odd size (12" unfinished) was to make a 9" block and put a border on which could be cut to any size. The other thing I worked on today isn't actually the flipflops, which is the block I receved from Toni for the Blogger's Round Robin, but I am not allowed to show the 5x4" piece (the flipflops are 4" square) which I added. We are all showing our centres, though, so I can show that.

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain (at least, that was the forecast before the start of the weekend); if that turns out to be true, I hope to have quite a lot of sewing to show!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Quilt Bee - or Butterfly?

This is the first block I have received for the Around the World Quilt Bee. I have a week to make another block to go with it and send it on - the block is 12" (unfinished, not finished - d'oh - made a typo when I originally wrote this, which means it diddn't make much sense!) which is a slightly odd size, but I'm sure I can manage something - as long as it doesn't have points near the edge, a 12" finished block might work, even. Not sure what I want to do - need to have a check of my summery fabrics I think. Will probably do the block tomorrow - watch this space, as they say.

Otherwise, nothing quilty today, though I did, finally replace my storage unit in my sewing room which kept falling apart every time I pulled out a drawer. Which of course necessitated a bit of a clear-out and some re-arranging. Not the whole room, but it did take an hour or two. So that, combined with some tennis with the kids in the park and two trips to B&Q (one for the new storage in the first place, one later to get one more storage unit and a new clothes line prop, as ours fell and finally broke beyond repair and the laundry was practically dragging on the ground) and some reading in the hot sun (!!) meant no sewing. But there's tomorrow. And Monday. And half-term week. As I said, watch this space!

Friday, May 22, 2009

UFO challenge

Although yesterday was full of other bits and pieces, I did manage to snatch an hour or so to work in the UFO challenge I am doing with Textile Challenges. You may remember that I received this piece to work on - I have started out by filling the background with very dense quilting. On the left you can see the quilting that was there to start with - in the very left-hand section, the hand-quilted grid. I have added the dense swirls below the red object and the circles above. In the right hand photo, you can see a mostly machine quilted grid of varying density - Deborah had already started quilting a grid in this section and I felt the best way to handle the quilting here was to echo that. I'm very happy so far with how this is working, but haven't decided yet how to proceed in the next section. At some point I may go back to circles, but not yet, I think.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pincushion art

Not a day for working on projects, but I do have something to show, which is this pincushion, which I bought from Jo in New Zealand recently. I know, it's break-takingly gorgeous, isn't it. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to stick pins in it, but that's ok, it can sit there and make my Cath Kidston mushroom look a bit sheepish... She has more for sale in her etsy shop, so if you are looking for a good gift or a treat for yourself, I highly recommend them!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Romeo and Juliet lived here

That's the title of this house shaped swap piece, which I made today for the house front swap with Textile Challenges. This piece is for Alis, whose theme is Shakespeare Lived Here. While others have gone down the Tudor Cottage route, I opted for something different, instead choosing to interpret one of the plays a little. So here are "Juliet & her Romeo" embracing on the balcony, with sun, moon, stars and so forth. The background is free-motion quilted with circles, then the image (printed onto fabric) added on top, with some bits of various sheer fabrics over the edges to soften the lines. The words, also printed from Word onto fabric, read "It is the East and Juliet is the Sun" (the lines following "Hark, what light through yonder window breaks"), and I have stitched a sun over top of the words.
After I posted this originally, I thought I'd show the back as well, as I like the way it came out - I used an old block which couldn't be used for various reasons, positioned the house on it and cut away the excess - makes a great backing and now that block won't be sitting around unused in my sewing room!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Batik day

Today's sewing largely involved working with batiks - this is not a big problem for me, of course. I fixed the edge of the NYB block (which only needed a bit of straightening in the end - not a new piece of fabric) and made this Goshen Star (10"), which will serve as the starting block for another round robin type thing I am taking part in - the Around the World Quilting Bee, hosted by Sadie. It's not quite like a round robin in that you don't have to do a round, just add a block each time you receive a round. And amazingly enough, the person I mail to is actually in the UK (the lovely Indigo Blue), which means that I won't have much at all in the way of postage costs and that it should get to her very quickly. I think this will be a lot of fun - the blocks we are making can be whatever we like, as long as they are the same size as the starter block - and of course, they should go with the block!

I also worked with some other batiks on another project which I'm going to keep under wraps for the moment - something small and I hope fun - there are a couple of possible places this project might be going, and probably in both cases, it's better not to show. Don't you hate those projects you can't show?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Stuff to show

Here's the New York Beauty block finished - yes, the dark green background in the geese row is a tiny bit wonky at the bottom - I will probably unpick it and put in a slightly larger piece before sending it. Otherwise, I think it's come out well. And it's the last birthday block - woo hoo. This swap has felt very long and somewhat tiring - not so much making the blocks as the admin stuff this time around, so I am quite glad to see it winding up. It's also produced some great blocks, which keeps me from getting too frustrated!

And here's the second Easter Sampler finished - this one's to keep. I will dig a few buttons or charms out to add to the larger empty spaces (the original had buttons included of course) - and then, complete. I hope that by next Easter I'll be able to remember where I put it if I put it in a "safe place" when finished... I won't be stitching this again, so if anyone wants the pattern, let me know.

Got some nice post today as well as doing a bit of work - this set of loot is some items I bought from Julie's etsy shop - isn't the packaging great? She showed the little notebooks on her blog, and I really liked them and thought one would make a nice gift (though I am tempted to keep it myself, lol) and when I went to her shop, I found this great bracelet. Wow. When the parcel arrived I also found inside this lovely hat/scarf pin included just because she's a generous and kind person. How nice is that! I have a few of Julie's other creations - a pair of earrings with little blue birds and silver nests on which I bought from her shop and a wonderful notebook which I received when I took part in her pay-it-forward offer, a while back. I love her work; something about it really appeals to me.

I also received these things in the post recently - the pieces from the resist swap I did a piece for recently (mine is the rubber-band shibori in the top middle) and a couple of ATCs - one from Wil - we swapped a while back and she waited to send hers until she posted the resist swap pieces to me; the other is from Kathy as part of the recycle spring swap on Fibre Art Traders, for which I made these ATCs. She also included a little book as a small hostess gift as she is taking part in my birthday ATC swap this year. As I said, a great day or two for post!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Still here!

Yes, I am still here and I've even done a little (but only a little) sewing this week - yesterday I made a start on another New York Beauty block for the birthday swap. This is the last block for that swap as June is my own month and hopefully I will be able to sit back and watch the lovely blocks roll in! This block is a 12" block in batiks, and is nearly done. I need to sew the flying geese arc to the corner (it's together up to the teal arc) then another small plain arc and then the other corner.

The little house isn't something I made, but rather something I received - my May house for the house swap on Textile Challenges. This one was made by Marie and I particularly like the red light by the door and the sun coming up over the edge of the roof. The three I have received so far are all very different, and all lovely. I have to say, this is a great swap - I thought I might miss the montly arch swap when it ended, but this is definitely a good replacement for it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May blossom

In my postcard trading group (Arts in the Mail) we are going to do a series for months of the year - this month being what it is, the theme for this month is May. I decided to start off with one of my favourite spring blossoms - Hawthorn blossom, also called May blossom. The issue was how I was going to represent it as it's a blossom made up of a cluster of small flowers - I knew I wanted to use a cluster of small flowers but wasn't sure I wanted to use fabric because of the fraying. I thought about paper, but was worried it might not hold up in the post. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I could use tyvek - it cuts as well as paper and doesn't fray like fabric might - and also, I could blast it a little with the heat gun to add a little texture to the edges of the petals. I did a prototype card and thought it came out very well - I held the blossoms down with a dab of glue stick while free-motion quilting the centres - I did about 5 to start with and then added a few more on top. I finished the card off with a metal label made from a tomato puree tube (the colour is gorgeous, isn't it!). Lately I've not been making a copy of my cards to keep for myself (I used to when I first started making pcs) but I decided I liked these enough to want to keep a copy - I have flowers and other spring like things in my postcard holder in the spring as the display.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Interesting challenge

My group Textile Challenges is doing a UFO swap/challenge (due at the end of June) where you swap small UFOs with someone else in the group, finish each other's piece off and send them back (they are also doing one where you keep the UFO rather than sending it back, but as most of my UFOs are larger rather than smaller, I decided to only take part in one of the challenges). This is the piece which I received from Deborah to work on - it may actually be upside down in this photo - I'm nbot sure yet which way is up. Or maybe it wants to go sideways. What you may not be able to see is that she's done some hand-quilting on it, very small stitches close together - in sort of bands across the piece (with other, unquilted bands). I have several ideas brewing on how I want to tackle this (it won't involve hand quilting!) and I think it's going to be fun to work with. I won't do anything with it right away as I need to get a few other things finished first.

I also received the next round of the Exquisite Corpse to work on - this one has a black background, which is different from any of the others I've had so far - and I will be working on the hips & upper leg region. Not sure what I'll do for that yet, but I'm sure something will come to me - it has for the other three parts, eventually! I won't be able to show it until the very end, of course, but someday it will sure be fun to show all these things...

I've not done any actual work today, I confess. I did empty all my bookcases, repair the backs (most of them are the cheap type with heavy card backs, which after a while, come loose), get rid of lots of books (not so as you'd know it from looking), help the kids organise their books, and so on, but no sewing. I woke up with a very stiff shoulder, which put me off - tomorrow I do hope to get some work done, though as it looks to be another busy week coming up.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Some I made earlier...

As I didn't get any sewing done today, it's a good opportunity to show the May Lotto blocks which I've made so far this month - I may make some more, if I have time later in the month, but these were actually made at the end of April (via the sneak peek) but couldn't be shown until now. It's a fun pattern and should produce a really good set of blocks for the winner(s) - always nice to win enough blocks for a small quilt - or a larger one, depending on how you choose to set it - these would look great in a variety of settings, I think... It's open to all if you are interested in playing.

(I meant this to post automatically on Friday, but somehow, I'd put the wrong date on it so it didn't show. D'oh. Oh well, it's there now!)

Thursday, May 07, 2009


This morning, I did have a little time to work, so I was able to work on the Vintage postcards for Arts in the Mail. I started with a really old vintage piece of fabric I've had knocking about for some time which I think might have once been a curtain in my early childhood been treasuring for many years and fussy cut it to showcase these lovely scenes - not sure how well you can see them, but the fabric is full of them - lords and ladies in their finery frolicing in the garden or in boats. I have always liked this fabric - the piece I have had been made into a pillow at one point, but when it developed a hole, I retired it into the general stash; I'm glad to find a use for it. I also made some ATCs as there were smaller cuts which showed scenes well.

After fussy-cutting, I added some bits of old lace (various sources) and buttons. A few of the buttons might not be vintage (on the ATCs, I didn't worry about that) but as all my buttons are in together, it's hard to tell sometimes.

These are very simple, but I like the way they've come out - I intend to keep one of the ATCs for myself just in case I ever use up all the vintage fabric - this way I'll always have a scrap of it.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Kiki's Grandmother

Here I was thinking I'd have nothing to show today as I didn't get a chance to do any work, when along came this lovely, lovely thing in the post. This is the quilt I got from Lenna's 12x12" swap, for which I made this piece. The one I was lucky enough to get was made by Kiki Finlayson in Oregon (no blog as far as I know) and features the most beautiful ribbon worked roses and well as using grungeboard swirls (I just bought some grungeboard shapes myself - not swirls - so it's nice to see some in action - perhaps it will inspire me to use the ones I have!) The photograph on the front is of her grandmother, who taughter her to knit and crochet - the quilt is in honour of her.

I was also thinking that I haven't showed any cross-stitch in a long time, so here's some of that. This is the second Easter Sampler I worked on this year - the first, I sent to Cathi; this one is for myself and is on a pale blue canvas and will be to keep. I know it's past Easter now, but I can show it next year. It's really early for next-year's Easter, lol. The colours in this one are brighter and stronger than the pastels I did the first one in - also, the rabbit is white rather than brown. I think both of them work, though.
I've not done so much cross-stitch lately - I had a couple of other hand-work things to work on - a binding, then sewing the labels on the back of the pineapple quilt (done now, hoorah). And marking some of the Sawtooth cat pieces onto foundation for piecing - so consequently, the cross-stitch has been put aside. I'll finish this one now and then, back to the birds. Might even manage to finish it on this go around.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Last of the scrappy...for a while

Worked some more on the backing for the black and white scrappy baby quilt - whatever time I get to work this week will have to be for a couple of other things, though, so this is going to move to one side for a little while. Which is fine, really, as sewing together long strips of fabric is fairly boring. I do intend to give it to one of my friends who is having a baby in June, though, so it won't be TOO long before I return to it.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

More scrappy stuff

So, here's what I accomplished today - finished off the rest of the black and white blocks, so now I have 36 - they are about 7.5" blocks - I will trim them to be more precise so may be a little smaller. Decided I wanted to piece some scrap strips together, and have decided that I'll do these for the back of the quilt & make it double sided - never done a double sided piece, but it should be easy enough - will just have to use interesting bobbin thread. Unfortunately, I don't think this backing - which will have several sizes of strips - will really make a huge dent in my stash of scrap strips. Nothing seems to do so. Sigh. I will probably work on this tomorrow, and then back to other mixed media type stuff, as I will then have a number of deadlines.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Things I can show...

...and things I can't show. What I can't show is what I worked on today, which is the torso and arms section of the Exquisite Corpse. It took me a long time to be inspired to work on this section - I think it was a hard brief in some ways - but I'm happy with how it's come out and hope it will work with the piece in the end.

What I can show are these things, which have come in the post. On the left, some things from Plum - interesting papers, some scrim, some bits, an ATC and three inchie magnets, which are now on my fridge. She sent these because she was inspired to make inchies with her group from seeing some on my blog - isn't that lovely? And because she's a nice person, of course.

The other set of goodies is some stuff I ordered from Joggles. I order once in a while from various places in the US which have stuff we can't get easily here, but only once in a while. I think I will order from them again before my mother comes to visit the next time, so she can bring the stuff with her - it's all little and will slip easily into her suitcase, after all.