Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Postcards and other goodies

Three postcards in the morning's post - an Under the Sea card from Susan, International Turtle Day from Pat, and Triangles (a bit early!) from Ginger. Some time ago I wondered if any of my local posties even noticed the cards, as none of them had ever said anything, and a lot of people mention how their posties make comments. Today I was standing in my local PO waiting to weigh and post the heart card I made yesterday and the chap came in to collect the parcels and whatnot waiting on the side. I made some comment about it taking him all day (there were tons of them) and smiled - we recognise each other, as he's one of the regular guys - and he said to me - "you're 71 Marina, aren't you, the lady with all the um" "fabric postcards?" sez I. "Yeah, those - that one today was a really good one, wasn't it - the turtles". I agreed and made a comment about never being sure if they were noticed or remarked on, and he told me they all notice them as they come through and admire quite a few of them. So there you go. And Pat, yours in particular was popular! We had a little chat about them, I explained the fact that I was in groups who swapped internationally and so on. So the consensus at least at my local substation seems to be that fabric postcards are cool and they like having them come through. Whew!

As you can see, I also acquired some goodies while out today. The kids wanted to hit WHSmith as they have giftcards leftover from their birthdays from there, and while I normally don't buy anything there, despite their having quite a large craft section, today was an exception, due to all these things on sale. I find them very pricey, normally. Anyway, with the bits and bobs half price, I couldn't resist, and picked up some metallic star brads, flower brads in 6 colours, flower sequins, and some fabric flowers. I actually also went into a fabric store and browsed through some lovely trims, but didn't buy anything in the end as the shop was quite crowded and I had 4 kids with me (my own three and DD1's best friend, who came with us for the McDonald's/99p shop treat). Must remember, 4 kids under 10 is a good way to avoid spending money in a fabric shop...

Bloglines / My Feeds (0)

Yep, zero. I am completely caught up on the blogs I read, which is great, as I will be away from tomorrow through Sunday at my MIL's house, with no computer access. So all you people whose blogs I read, please don't blog until next week, LOL. Seriously, though, at least I will only be 5 days behind when I get back! It may not seem like much, but there are about 100 blogs on my bloglines, so even if everyone only posts 2 or 3 times a week, it gets a bit insane when I'm away for very long. More later, no sewing probably, as I have kids at home and we are about to go out and spend some pocket money and hit the dreaded M for lunch (we only do this about 3 or 4 times a year, so I can live with it) - but I have some postcards received to show, and who knows, might just buy a few bits and bobs for myself - it's been known to happen!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Fibre and Stitch

In case you haven't seen the news anywhere else, do be sure to check out the new e-zine Fibre and Stitch - it looks fabulous, and has a great staff, Sue Bleiweiss and Terri Stegmiller (StegArt) as publishers, Lynda Monk (Purple Missus) as editor and Carol McFee (TextileTales) and Margaret Roberts as Staff Artists. I realised after looking at the list that I already read all their blogs except Margaret's (soon to be remedied - a new blog to read, hurrah!) Anyway. I have subscribed to what looks like a great publication and hope lots of others will lend their support, too.

A day full of quilting

Remember this? This is the nesting row robin which I've been working on which will be for Olivia for Christmas or therabouts. Each month I get an instruction, and I'm doing each row in a single colour (and black). The blue baskets waited a long time before being sewn in to a row because I was going to stitch the flowers down first (they are just fused, though the baskets themselves are pieced). I did one today, then decided that it would make more sense to stitch them down during the quilting process anyway, so went ahead and attached them.

The next instruction for was for Grandmother's Fan blocks - the purple row - so I am doing quite simple blades, just four per fan. Here they are shown laid out on the black background, not stitched down. I decided to get them ready, though, as I have a few days coming up at my MIL's house with no sewing machine (and no computer, so prepare for a few days' quiet from me!) - as the fan edges can easily be hand sewn, whether I do curved piecing or applique (haven't decided yet) I thought I'd take them with me.

I didn't do much sewing yesterday as we spent the day with friends, but I did do a little bit of quilting in the postcard holder - here's what I decided on in the end - I'm using a pale variegated thread within the postcard spaces. It won't actually show when they are cards in them, but I think it will look better than the quilting in the sashing, which I have almost finished removing. It just looked too busy, as the sashing is so narrow. I also did this little heart postcard, a one-off for someone on one of my lists who needs a little cheering up.

I did some other postcards, too - worked on the green and brown series - three of them are mostly done, as I've added a variety of hand stitches and a button each, the others I got ready to be worked on by hand, as that is another thing I will take up to my MIL's house, along with the green threads and some buttons. I will also take some beads & the flying geese - hopefully, that will keep me busy in the evening if I am watching telly.

And one more thing I did today:
worked on the London series of cards. I used a Big Ben fabric background (scraps, believe it or not - not even from my stash, but from a friend's), a piece of fabric printed with an aerial view of my house (ok, it's technically Greater London, but I think I can get away with it), some London icon stickers - taxis, beefeaters, Tower Bridge, postbox, telephone box - a stamp of an old London posting mark and a charm of a teabag. Only one has the charm sewn on so far, but I think they look pretty cute. Couldn't resist the chance to use my own house in something, though. These were fairly simple, and not as fibre-oriented as many of my cards (a lot of paper in these) but still pretty fun.
It probably sounds like I spent the whole day sewing - more or less, I did. It was a foul day today, cold and rainy and we were out all day yesterday, so we didn't really do anything. Geoff pretty much read and check on work stuff on the computer and the kids watched telly, played bizarre role-play games and did some sewing themselves. They all three worked on their quilts as well - Olivia finished the cross-hatching in her nine-patches and quilted around the first border, Alex pushed the pedal while I worked on his panda quilt, and Sarah did two more SITD rows on the log cabin - only a few more to go, and then the borders. Perhaps these quilts will be ready in time after all! Photos of the kids' quilts soon, I promise.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Card for Trade...

Finished my trees cards today - some simple quilting and edging, and they are all off in the post now. I also went ahead and finished the mud hills card which I decided wasn't the right design for the swap. But as so many people said they liked it anyway, I decided to finish it off and offer it up on my blog - so, if you'd like it, I will swap you for a fabric postcard of your choosing (any theme, I'm a bit of a postcard slut, as you have no doubt realised by now) or some sort of similar small piece of work if you don't do postcards. I don't technically collect ATCs or inchies, but I am willing to receive them - or whatever. First come first serve, I'm afraid - but I'm sure there will be more in future. In fact, I'm thinking of doing a page of "cards I have available for swapping" at some point in the not-to-distant future.

Below are the finished tree cards together - and one random one shown closer up. I'm really pleased with them - it's nice when things come out how you imagine they will, isn't it!

I also did some work on the Flying Geese cards for "G is for..." - quilted them a bit. I think I'm going to add a few beads as well (beading the geese - like gilding the lily?). Just a few. No picture of that today, though. And I worked on quilting the postcard display wallhanging, decided I didn't like the quilting, and am now unquilting it. Luckily, I hadn't got too far. I'm going back to my very first idea, which was to quilt around the inside edges of the white spaces and leave the sashing empty. Maybe some buttons or something in the hand-dyed squares rows. And I spent some time supervising Olivia quilting her quilt - she's nearly done with the cross-hatching, so we'll get a photo up the next time she works on it.

And some post today - two cards - another one from the Under the Sea swap (thanks Mandy) and the first from the Trees swap (thanks Anne). Be sure to go check out Anne's other trees - it's a great set of cards.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Not much sewing due to "forts day"

Nope, not some obscure British Empire related Holiday - my DS (age 4+) can't quite manage a lot of sounds that start with s & another consonant. In this case, the other consonant being a "p", making the day (those of you who are clever will have worked this out already) "sports day". At school. All three kids doing running, jumping, carrying eggs on spoons, and what have you. The littles did theirs in the morning, then I went to lunch with Alex and a friend who also had kids in both am & pm and came back to watch the girls. Great weather, which was good. It was fun, but of course resulted in little work being done. Though I did manage to get to the bank to pay in the cheque for the blue and white Irish Chain, which did make me happy. I like money :)

I did actually do a little quilting on the postcard hanging this morning as Alex didn't have to be at school until 9.30 (rather than 9) so once the girls left at the usual time (8.30) with Lana (who didn't have to go to the morning sports day) he watched telly for half an hour while I tackled the postcard holder. I am just quilting straight lines in the sashing - not in the ditch, just where I feel like it, mostly following the sashing but not in every bit and not necessarily evenly. It looks just slightly funky, which is what I was aiming for. And then anything which isn't quite right I can just pretend I meant to do that way. No photo, though, but will take one later in the process. I promise it's not that interesting.

So, on to what came in the post. Two cards - both shown above - one from Anneleise for the International Turtle Day Swap (thanks to Sophie for coming up with great swap themes) and one from Kim for the Under the Sea swap on Fiber PC. And two more things in the post below - some charms in the shape of teabags and a taxi sticker - both for use with the London postcard swap, though the taxi is really too big, so I'm not sure quite what I'm going to do with it. It might end up being used elsewhere or in some other fashion. Like being scanned and reproduced smaller or something. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Postcards & postcard holder

Above is yesterday's post - a spring card from Kathleen and an Under the Sea card from Beth. I spent most of the day yesterday working on the postcard holder, and it's coming along really well - I just have to quilt it now - not sure quite what I am going to do - something simple, probably just stitch in the ditch or straight lines or something - don't need to detract from the cards. It also had the advantage of using up some small scraps of hand-dyes I have knocking about. Nowhere near the amount I have around, of course, but at least there's a small dent. Very small.

When I dug out the black and grey hand-dyes to use with the postcard holder, I was reminded of the original project I was going to use them in - a shoe quilt (wallhanging, probably) with windows, and shoes in the centre. So I decided that as long as the fabric was out, I'd cut some grey and black and do a little work on the windows - it's not the sort of thing I want to do a lot of at once, as half the corners have Y-seams. I have collected shoe fabrics for this project for quite a while, and have lots of them. Mostly FQs, but in some cases, more. Not sure what I'll do with all the leftovers, as this project needs less volume and more variety. I do have an idea for a postcard to use some of them, but it won't use much, frankly...

Today, I didn't do any sewing, though I did do some sewing related things - I went to see my friend Brenda, who runs a mini-quilt shop from her house. I often go up and check out the new books, and today, she had another quilting friend there working on a group quilt. I came home with a few books - the Art Quilt workbook will be fun to look at, and might give some ideas for smaller pieces if I get stuck. The book cover art book I bought less for the ideas for what to put on book covers (i have lots of those) than for the methods - just easier to have a reference than to always try to work out what the best way of making flaps or end pockets is or how to deal with the book' spine, etc. And the Soduko quilts book is actually for Sarah, who I thought might enjoy doing a Soduko quilt for her next project, once she finishes this one.
The postcard is part of the EuroSwap swap, and is from Smaranda in France - she's used painted Lutradur and machine quilting & it's one of those cards that looks much better in person - the colours, for one thing, are much better.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Postcard display issues...

Feels like back to normal today - three postcards in the mail (when I don't get any these days, I feel bereft!). I got these two, which are one for the Green & Brown swap, from Evelyn in Germany, who has used all kinds of cool techniques. The one on the right is from Lee, for the EuroSwap Open Theme swap, and is entitled "Spring in Our Garden" - I love the dragonflies, and the way she's used half a flower - not only evocative, but thrifty!

I started working on this today, as there are no pressing postcard deadlines - I have several upcoming swaps, but nothing due this week and the trees and the green and brown are both well in hand. For once I was quite careful about not signing up for too many things due right around a half term holiday - and I'm glad, as we will be up at my MIL's house for at least half the week, with not only no sewing machine, but no computer, too (or is it either)! Anyway, back to "this". This is going to be a wallhanging to hold fabric postcards. I copied the idea from my advent calendar, which is a Meadow Lily Bridge pattern.
This is only about a third of the top, which will hold 48 cards. There are three main sections - two like this one, top and bottom - and then the middle will have a row of three horizontal slots at each edge and 5 columns of 2 vertical slots. For the "photo corners" I am using small swatches of hand-dyed fabrics - the black and grey are also hand-dyes. I debated between using the black or grey where the cream is, but the cream is a little heavier, and I thought would be stronger & hang better. Once the top is assembled, the quilting will be very basic - just a single line in the sashing, probably, just to hold it together. It doesn't need anything fancy, as the cards will be the showoff factor. It will be great to be able to display more than a dozen or so cards at once. I will probably carry on using the kitchen space for the latest selection of cards, and keep some of my favourites in this hanging.
The second picture is just showing three cards stuck into the corners, to show how it works - the beauty of it will be you can so easily change the cards on display - every day if you want to!

I didn't blog this yesterday, as I did them after I'd blogged, but I actually started working on these green & brown postcards, too. The background is a simple weaving of fabric strips in greens and browns, then couched fibres, and some green sequin punch. I want to do lots of French Knots on them, so that will be the next step, in front of the telly. I think I'll do about 8 of them, but only 3 have got to the Knot stage - a few more are woven, but not couched. They aren't due in the post until the 13th of June, so there's time - I might even take them up to my MIL's house with me to do the French Knots - that will give me something to do in the evenings.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Well, it's been several days since I posted, but I didn't get any sewing done on Friday or Saturday, and also didn't get much of any post, so it hardly seemed worth it. I did receive on piece of quilt related post on Friday - the FQ on the left, with the tiny hearts on. This was a hostess gift for a swap I am hostessing (but not even doing blocks for!) on scrapquilting forum - wasn't that sweet? Thanks Brenda! The fabric to the left are some scraps from my friend Lana for me to use when I get to my London themed postcards - it has Big Bens on it, as you can probably tell. I knew she had it from a signature block swap, and she was happy to pass it along.

Today I did finally get some sewing done, including finishing the commissioned top - there it is, on my bed. Looks fine, but not really my style. Still, it's what it was supposed to be, so I guess that works. I do still have to trim threads, etc, but essentially, it's done.

Finishing that meant that I could get on with something else that I wanted to do more, so I decided to tackle the trees cards. My idea was to do something with folded fabric, so I played around with some triangles, and came up with the idea on the above left. But I decided that looked too much like hills and not enough like trees, so I modified it to the idea on the right. The triangles of the trees are loose at the top, but sewn into the grass - I think before posting them, I will probably attach the tops of the trees with a single stitch, or maybe just catch them in a quilting line or something, otherwise I have doubts they will travel well. But that will be one of the last things I do, as I want to quilt behind them first...
For these cards, I used my fail-safe method for testing ideas - I asked my kids what they thought. In this instance, DD2 (age 7) was the initial tester - she saw the second card first, and said - "hey, that looks like trees with trunks, and the green bit is grass" (right answer!). Then she saw the first one and pronounced that it looked like "hills with mud on the ground". Later, my DS (age 4) came up to see what I was doing, so I showed him the card (the second one) and asked what it looked like "I dunno, Mummy". When asked again, his response was "Christmas Trees" - so I figured I was good to go.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bits and pieces

Here's today's post - didn't think there was anything there at first -a glance through the post wasn't very exciting (though I did finally get my Quilter's Guild Membership card renewal) - then I noticed this little blue chap lying on the mat. Surprisingly, it's not for the Under the Sea swap, it's part of the open swap on EuroQuilt, and is from Nora in Switzerland.

On the right is a quilt I finished a while back, except for the binding, which has been sitting around waiting for me to do for yonks. Finally started it at quilt group Tuesday night and finished it up tonight watching telly. The top is made entirely of hand-dyes, mostly mine, but a few from others in my dyeing group. The back is hand-dyed, too - a single colour, nothing too exciting. And I quilted it myself. So there you go - about as thoroughly my own work as you can get, I guess.

Today I also nearly finished the single Irish chain I'm doing for Lana's customer - two more long rows to stitch on, then just some basting around the outside for stability before longarming (all those bias edges) and trimming the threads. I just keep reminding myself I'm getting paid for this! And I finished edging the turtle postcards, so they can go out tomorrow. Hoorah.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday Dye-in: CCRR

The other thing I did today (other than the turtle cards - see post below this one) was to work on Kelly's CCRR (complex cloth round robin), step three. Here's what the piece looked like when I got it (left) - more or less, as the colour is slightly off in this photo, it being more orange, while the piece was a little more salmon coloured. It was highly textured, Alice having messed with it a lot. :) And what it looked like when I finished (right) though it's not dry yet at the point of this photo, so might be a bit lighter in the end.

After some time, and a lot of red herrings, the piece finally decided it just wanted to be brightly coloured. It thought it would make a good paint rag, so I decided to do a couple of parfait style pieces, using the CCRR piece to actually apply the paint (or in this case, dye) to the other fabric.

Here's my fabric in the tray, and here's a not very good photo of me using the CCRR to apply paint to the fabric. If you ever want a challenge, attempt to use your left hand to photograph something you are doing with your right hand. There was another piece of cloth also being painted, which was spread out on an old plastic bag at the side. I had a number of aging dyes which I decided to use up, so applied in turn a yellow, magenta, turquoise, and I think charcoal grey, but could be wrong.

When I finished painting the piece that was on the bag, there were a number of droplets of dye left on the bag, so I used the CCRR to wipe them up. And then I balled up all three pieces and left them to batch for a while.

The end result for the CCRR is at the top, here are the other two pieces. Nothing too exciting, just some nice parfait style pieces, and a funky CCRR, which poor Marijke now has to do something with! I'm sure she'll manage just fine - she's very talented...