Monday, 27 April 2015

The last star to fade in the night sky

Have you ever noticed that, whilst you can often see the moon during the day, you can't see many stars (other than our Sun of course)? 

The final star in my Starlight, Starbright quilt has been pieced and is now ready to go into the final design.

I still have the setting squares to cut and piece and then the top to put together. But I think the bulk of the work is done.

Although there are only a few stars in Carol Doak's foundation paper pieced design, each one takes a fair while. Particularly when you mis-sew a piece like I did. Oops. 

I particularly like the black in this block; I think it frames the star well and gives the eye a place to rest in the otherwise busy block. Which sort of reminds me of New York Beauty.

No way can I class this quilt as "done" but perhaps as progress made?

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sunday Stash #8

Another feast week of fabric has come and gone.

First a layer cake of Wee Ones flannels by Tim and Beck for Moda.

bought the layer cake from Carogojo who included a skinny coordinating fat quarter for free! If you are making a quilt which needs binding, having a free skinny quarter would be a life saver. I confess my project (already cut out) doesn't require binding so this little beauty will be going in my stash.

The backing and binding of my new secret project arrived from Sew Hot

How ridiculously cute is this Wildflower Meadow print by Melly and Me for Riley Blake?! I also bought some mint green stripe from Daysail by Bonnie and Camille for Moda. I've never done stripy binding before so this could be interesting...

Next up, my fat quarter bundle of Sun Print Alison Glass arrived from Mass Drop arrived. 

Gotta love Mass Drop - any customs charges were already paid so it zoomed over to me! No idea what I'm going to do with it but it's in my stash so no "non-buyers regret" for me!

Speaking of non-buyers regret, my FQ bundle of Shimmer by Jennifer Sampou for Robert Kaufman also arrived. 

It's not quite a complete bundle as the lovely people at The Quilter's Studio had sold out of some fabrics but I understand Jennifer is to add to the collection this year. So I might be able to supplement my stash with some coordinating fabric.

Happy Sunday sewing!

Friday, 24 April 2015

The doctor is in: sewing machine servicing

As I'm having a bit of a lull in my sewing at the moment (did you notice the two missing blogs?!), it seemed a good opportunity to send Naomi the Janome off for a service.

So, telephone directory in hand, I started ringing around places.

It seems that a standard service (no nothing is broken, she just needs to clean and oil) is around £60 from a reputable Janome dealership. There are non-approved dealers out there but, considering the cost of Naomi, I'm not entrusting her to anyone other than an expert.

Saying that, the first Janome dealer I contacted was convinced that Naomi was an overlocker. No amount of insistence on my part would convince him otherwise. I must have been mis-threading her all this time...

The main stumbling block now seems to be that the service will take about a week. 7 days without her?! I'm going to have to plan for that. I'm getting cold sweats already at the thought!

Do you have your machine serviced? How regularly is "regularly serviced"?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

And they called it...the April bloooock

It's (just passed) the 15th of the month so it must be time for another Fat Quarter Shop snapshots block of the month!

This month it's the block I know lots of people have been waiting for - puppy love.

This block is fairly straightforward and has less pieces then some of the earlier ones. I made things go even more quickly by pre marking all of those pieces which needed to be sewn on the line. Then it was just sew, press, repeat.

I confess I'm more of a cat person but I even I am charmed by the sheer unadulterated cuteness of this little one.

No eyes yet - apparently they get added after quilting. Which makes sense as I'd only accidentally quilt over them, break my needle and ruin the buttons. See I'm accurately predicting my own ineptitude now!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Idiot:1 Common Sense:0

You know the phrase "idiot-proof"? Have you ever wondered which idiot tested the item/theory and was defeated by it?

Foundation paper piecing is meant to be idiot-proof. And then it met me. 

This is the fourth eighth of an eight piece block - four As and four Bs. 

This is the final A piece. See that pink piece in the middle? Its piece 1, around which all other pieces then fit. 

See that black line about 1/4" away from the right hand edge of the pink piece? Yep, the pink piece is meant to cover that. oops.

I can understand misaligning the pink piece to start with - maybe I lined it up wrong, maybe I trimmed it wrong.

What I can't figure out is how I then pieced 11 more pieces around it and didn't notice the error! 

It's an easy fix, I just need to reprint the foundation and recut some scraps. But still, this is meant to be easy. Focus woman!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sunday Stash #7

I seem to have feast or famine weeks when it comes to purchasing fabric and this week was definitely a feast week. As my storage waistline shows - it's bursting at the seams!

First up a FQ bundle of Safari Moon by Frances Newcombe for Art Gallery Fabrics.

I love the quizzical zebras on the indigo fabric but must confess my favourite print is the swallow/peacock flying. Gotta love Art Gallery Fabrics.

Along with the Safari Moon bundle, I also bought some Aurifloss in black and brown and some batting (not pictured as it's far too boring!) all from Sew Hot

I also bought some FQs of Kona solids from Quiltessential. They're not too far away from me so I just visit some time soon!

The solids and Aurifloss are for a secret future project! Can't say more as the intended recipient reads this blog!

Then I had a delivery from Missouri Star Quilt Co which included a design roll and yardage of Denyse Schmidt's Chicopee line for FreeSpirit Fabrics. No prizes for guessing this quilt!

Also in the bundle was a pack of 5" squares and design roll of Alison Glass's Sunprint for Andover Fabric.

I also then ended up getting a FQ bundle from Massdrop as well but you can never have too much fabric right?! If you haven't checked out Massdrop yet, it's definitely worth a look. Although the Sunprint drop has now finished, they currently have a FQ bundle Handcrafted on there, with an option for 1/2 yard bundle.

Finally I also got my sticky mitts on the Moccasin BOM project put together by GenX Quilters. I love the western colour palate and modern design. I'm not sure whether I'm Generation X or not - I think I might just sneak in there - but I'm hoping GenX quilters will forgive me if I'm accidentally misrepresenting myself!

Linking up with Molli Sparkles's link up.

Happy Sunday sewing!

Friday, 17 April 2015


If I had to name things which were built to resist the advance of 21st century technology, I'd put quilting fairly high up the list. Despite the fancy electronic machines, laser cut rulers and pdf patterns, ultimately quilting is still about putting a needle and thread through fabric. That much hasn't changed in hundred of years and I hope it never will.

However over the past few years I have marveled at the wizardry which has danced around the perimeter of sewing - the apps, the computer programmes and the Internet forums. 

One of my favourite apps is from Robert Kaufman and it calculates the size of backing and binding you'll need for a particular project. I could probably do the same calculation with a pencil and paper but now I don't have to! 

I own a copy of Electric Quilt 7 and, whilst I'll freely admit to still learning how to use it, I am already impressed with its ability to convert my rough and ready ideas into beautiful patterns.

Most important to me though are the forums, blogs, Twitter feeds, Instagram accounts and more that link me with other quilters and designers around the world. Being a young(ish) quilter in Europe can sometimes seem very lonely and being able to chat with fellow sewers and seeing their incredible work in North America, Australisa and  beyond is amazing. And all through the wonder of technology.

So until someone designs a robot to do my cutting and piecing for me, I'll stick to Naomi the Janome. But I may well be streaming an Internet country music station to sing along to whilst I sew.  

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Roll up, roll up: see the amazing unironed block!

I've been a bit hampered in my piecing by a lack of an iron in my sewing room (see previous posts for the debacle!). Yes, I had my laundry iron but I confess I'm not brave enough to dice with death or at least second degree burns.

Instead I've managed to piece the red constellation block using alternative pressing means. 

Firstly here's the block. 

 Look at those beautiful points. 

They're almost perfect. Almost. And not an iron in sight.

Instead I used my old faithful wallpaper seam roller to press the seams open. 

Admittedly it's got a curved edge so it's difficult to get a perfectly flat seam but as, Angela Walters says "close enough is good enough". Too right Angela. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Farm Girl Vintage BOM

Yay, my copy of Lori Holt's Farm Girl Vintage book has arrived.

It goes along with the fat quarter bundle that I got from Fat Quarter Shop a short while ago.

Lori and FQS are planning on going a quilt along with the pattern from 1st May so I'll be adding that on to my ever-growing list of block of the month projects.

As a freebie with the pattern, there's a pattern for a mini quilt of Canning Season. Sooo cute!

With all these block of the month projects going on, perhaps I'll do a Dear Jane too! One day...

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Girl with the Iron-Shaped Burn

I'm clumsy. And no, I'm not one of those people who occasionally bumps into things and laughs it off as being "uncoordinated". I've fallen over on completely level, dry surfaces. On one occasion I fell, bit through my lips, twisted my ankle, grazed my knee and fractured my skull resulting in severe concussion. It was a dry, bright autumn day.

And nothing says "danger" so much as a clumsy person wielding a lot iron. So, whilst I'll dice with death (or at least severe burns) whilst doing my weekly laundry with fingers well away from the hot plate, I want more control if I'm trying to press hundreds of tiny half-square triangles flat. I value my digits too much.

My sewing room iron had for some months been a Morphy Richards travel iron but, a few days ago, it simply decided not to heat up. Amazon very kindly offered to replace it and sent me out an identical item. On Friday I finally unpacked the new iron, heated it up and did some piecing. Not a minute after I finished pressing the last block, there was a loud electrical crackling and grey smoke started pouring out of the iron. It smelt oddly of birthday candles.

I quickly switched off and unplugged the iron and contacted Amazon. They again offered to send me a replacement but, after two failures, I'm thinking this iron and I are not destined to be.

Has anyone got a recommendation for an iron suitable for a clumsy sewer? I've heard good things about the little Prym one...

Monday, 13 April 2015

Moving along, Building Blocks

A few days I had a brilliant idea - I would get ahead in the Simply Solids version of the Moda Building Blocks block of the month.

I have a large stash of Kona solids built up and, rather wait for more yardage to be sent out to me, I could simply start making the next blocks straight away. "Brilliant" I thought!

Until I hit a small snag - the next block, block 19, called for Caribbean.  Of which I had only tiny scraps left over. Not enough to make the be block. Oops.

Note to self: stop trying to be clever and stick to the plan!

With this month's new stash of Caribbean in hand, I got on with making blocks 19 and 20

Blocks 39, 41 and 42 quickly followed

And then I sewed together five larger blocks which we made in the first months to make section D of the quilt. Which I'll admit needs a good press!

Actually, apart from the Caribbean, I didn't cut into any of this month's fabrics and instead used scraps from my previous months. So most of this month's lovely cuts go into my Patchwork City bundle. Yay!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sunday Stash #6

#6?! Gosh, where have the weeks gone?!

Last week I showed you the charm pack drawer, this week it's the turn of the jelly roll drawer. Can you tell I'm working up to the layer cake drawers? Yes, plural - there are at least two drawers. I really must de-stash...

Here's the drawer

A bit full as you can tell!

I've unearthed these little treasures 

Firstly a rainbow Fairy Frost roll from

Such a glorious spectrum of colour with the shiny overprint pulling it all together. 

Next up is a 5" roll I bought from Juberry Fabrics ( the Festival of Quilts last year. 

I have no idea of the name but I'm thinking Kate Spain from the print design and colour palate. 
I also bought a second roll from Juberry which turned out to be Little Black Dress so they've obviously got awesome taste!

And finally a Moda jelly roll of Sweetwater's Elementary. 

Yet another precut I'm keeping for some unspecified "him" project in the future. Well, you never know, right?!

Linking up with Molli Sparkles's Link up

Happy Sunday sewing! 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Seams: open or closed

I'm a seams closed sort of a girl. Particularly when matching points. I like nesting seams - they're neat and accurate. 

I don't like the pin matching issue with trying to match seams that have been pressed open - I worry that my pin isn't straight and the seams are going to be misaligned.

But when you have very small blocks with lots of intersecting seams, pressing seams closed can make for very bulky blocks.

This month's blocks in the Moda Building Blocks quilt are 6" square and, with a mixture of flying geese and HST units, have lots of intersecting seams. 

The block on the right has its seams pressed closed; the one on the left, it's seams pressed open.

Even though I tried nesting seams in the right block, because they were so bulky, it made accuracy very difficult, as you can see, I missed a few points. 

Annoying though it may be, the pin point matching in the left block ended up being more accurate. 

I do hate it when "they" are right! 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Plug plug plug!

I don't often blog about offers by companies- I'm not sponsored and am therefore under no obligation to favour anyone!

But I thought I'd just write a few lines about the flash sale that Craftsy have currently got on. If you don't already know (how could you have missed it?!) im a big fan of online courses.

They're easy to attend (preferable in pajamas), you can watch them anytime, you can rewind and repeat as much as you like and they're lifelong (no expiry dates).

I usually have a few classes in my Craftsy wish list and, as they're having a half price sale at the moment, I think I'll stock up.

Ok, plug over. We now return you to your scheduled programme.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Gravity: intergalactic

Next up in the Gravity quilt is block 4: intergalactic.

Happily this block is much easier to put together than the nightmarish Orbit. 

It comes in two colourways - green and purple. I only had time to make the green block so purple will have to wait.

Like most strip set pattern, the main challenge is keeping your centre seam in the strip set straight. Because the lower feed dogs pull the fabric through very slightly more than the top fabric, long strip sets have a tendency to bow (or as I like to think of it, "smile"). Luckily these sets are only 10" long so there's minimal chance of getting a significant in a strip set that short. 

Nip the ends of your diamond block and it neatly fits with the triangle corner. 

The only problem I have now is that I've got the Babylon Zoo song "Spaceman" going round in my head. Argh, earworm!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Windmill Star - I keep getting turned around

I I'm moving along nicely with the Carol Doak's Starlight, Starbright quilt. Next up was Windmill Star which, despite its complicated appearance was  fairly straight forward.

I think I've accidentally ended up using the same fabrics as Carol in some areas - a complete accident for once! 

And see the colour difference in the bottom left corner? The fabrics aren't actually any different, it's a trick of the light caused by....sun! Yes, we actually had some sun shine over the Easter weekend. Dare I hope spring is on its way? 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The little things in life

It's amazing how the little things in life can make a difference. I like to pride myself on being a fairly developed industrious being but, as last weekend proved, it only takes moving to daylight savings time to throw me out of sync all week. The whole week I felt like I was an hour late to everything. And jet lag? Don't even get me started...

On Friday afternoon I plugged my little travel iron in to heat up. After a busy few minutes of piecing I went to iron a seam flat and...nothing. The plate of the iron was barely lukewarm. I checked I'd switched it on, wiggled the cable, switched plug sockets (you can tell I'm not that mechanically minded can't you?!). Nothing. After barely 8 months of light use the little machine had given up the ghost.

Whilst Amazon sorted out a replacement I had to battle on with my big laundry iron. And it didn't take me long to notice the difference - I almost burnt my fingers twice on the first seam! My fingers were constantly in all the wrong places, I couldn't hold a seam open for ironing without risking life and digits. It was a bit of a farce. For the sake of avoiding injury, I gave up. 

Hopefully my new travel iron should be arriving on Tuesday but it's a stark reminder of how unaware we are of our comfort zone and how quickly we can be turfed out of it. 

I hope the postie isn't late on Tuesday. I've got miles of seams to press before I sleep.

Monday, 6 April 2015

So *that's* the issue with inset seams!

I'm not a great one of following the crowd. Books, films, politics, whatever - I'll definitely listen to people's thoughts and opinions but my decision will be my own. I like what I like, irrespective of whether it's trendy or popular.

So when popular opinion said "inset seams are very difficult" I took it with a pinch of salt and went ahead anyway. Good grief, my first quilt was a Lemoyne Star complete with inset seams and satin fabric!

I've never really had a problem with inset seams until this month's Craftsy BOM. I'm not sure what it was about that seam - I think my seam allowance might have been off - but try as I might I couldn't get it to fit perfectly.

Here's the block.

See the slight buckling at the bottom corner? That's the little monkey.

But I still stand by my stance that inset seams aren't difficult, it's just my skill that let me down this time. Onwards and upwards! Now where's that Lemoyne Star gone?

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Sunday Stash #5

I am by nature quite a disorganized person - everything seems to descend into chaos given half a chance. As a result I work extra hard to overcome my nature and be tidy and organised, sometimes with success and sometimes not!

My stash of fabric is fairly neat and tidy but so big that, hand on heart, I don't think I could tell you everything I have. I keep discovering little gems, a bit like finding another Easter Egg in June. What an unexpected delight!

My storage mainly consists of a chest of drawers and some IKEA units. Ongoing projects are stored in the IKEA units; precuts and raw fabric in the chest of drawers.

The charm pack drawer looks like this

 Every so often I have a rummage through and see what I can find.

This week's rootle unearthed these little gems...

 Cuzco by Kate Spain. I'm sure I actually have three of these so heavens knows where the third is! I'm hoarding these for the perfect project, maybe a charm stars quilt?

An unknown (Lynnette Anderson?) charm pack I bought at the Festival of Quilts a few years ago. Love the delicate mauves and greys in this palate.

Vin de Jour by Three Sisters.  This one almost makes me cry - I had planned on making something for my best friend who passed away very suddenly last year. I confess I've shoved it to the bottom of a drawer but it doesn't deserve that, poor fabric! Maybe one day...

Linking up with Molli Sparkles link up.

Happy Easter! 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Scrappy Saturday?

Yesterday I wrote about the sheer volume of scraps I keep (basically everything!) and how completely unsorted they are (bad girl, bad!).

But there's one project I have ongoing where the scraps beat all others. They are numerous and large. The behemoth of scraps if you like - Moda's Building blocks BOM from Simply Solids.

At the beginning of this project I *think* we were told to save our scraps as we would be reusing FQs from one  month's block in future months. As a result I've been diligently saving every little scrap (well ok, bigger than 1") and using those scraps in future months.

As you can see they're all carefully labelled by colour, except for the whites which are just thrown all together.

It seems however that the Simply Solids team have been awesome and are actually sending us fresh cuts each month. Which means that my scraps pile for this project alone has grown and grown.

Yes, those are FQs of Kona Snow, 14 in all.

Once this project is completed I'm going to decide what to do with my scraps. I could throw them into my general stash but I feel that there's so many, I could tackle another project. Maybe Elizabeth Hartman's Patchwork City?

Two quilts out of one stash? Score.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Bag O' Scraps

Despite the rise of Indian and Chinese takeaway, fish and chips is still a very popular dish in the UK. And, when I was a kid, you used to be able to ask for a free "bag of scraps" when buying dinner. "Scraps" were bits of batter that had fallen off the fish and were almost as good as the main course itself, particularly as they were free!

As a quilter, one of the added benefits of finishing off projects is scraps. Big scraps, little ones. It doesn't matter, they're oh so tasty!

I confess to being a scrap addict - I keep any squares that are 1" or larger. 

This is my current bag and it isn't even my first bag (I gave that one to a colleague to use with her children). I confess it's not sorted, oops. 

I even keep little scrap bags of ongoing projects - it saves fabric and saves on a whole lot of cutting. 
Here's my bag from the FQS snapshots BOM

And from the Craftsy BOM

Don't even get me started on my scraps for the Moda building blocks project. On second thoughts...

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Going into Orbit

Having trundled my way through the first four blocks in Gravity, I thought I'd tackle the next block - Orbit. It comes in pink and blue options.

For those of you not making the quilt, Orbit is basically four hexagons joined together with triangles on opposite corners. I like a bit like this.

Sewing the triangles onto the hexagons is fairly straight forwards, but forming the rows and then joining the  rows together? Oh. Good. Grief.

The seams are pressed open so you can't nest them but, in any event, the opposing edges are at 60 degree angles so you couldn't nest them anyway. The edges overlap so you can't match points. Madness.

I must have seen that first seam 10 times. And unpicked it 9 times. Eventually my mantra became "baste, check, unpick, repeat".

Eventually I got there and without throwing it out of the window. But I don't have the energy to do the blue block right now.

At least I  know why it's called Orbit - I almost sent me into one.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

And straight on till morning

One of the joys of not being able to watch much television is that I can take my time to enjoy a programme or film. A 24 episode series can last me a good few months. No quick and dirty binge watching for me! So imagine my joy to hear that Netflix in the UK was picking up one of my favourite TV series - Once Upon A Time.

The series will keep me going for some time, as will Carol Doak's stars quilt from Craftsy. I'm steadily working through the blocks. Its a great project for picking up and putting down.

This week's achievement was the Twisted Tulip block.

Easter weekend might bring more of Captain Hook, Snow White and the Starburst block. But probably not at the same time.