Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Wrap up

I was going through all my posts and realised that 2013 has been a very quiet year for me.

I have had a lot going on in my home life and this has meant I have been a bit distracted for a good portion (read most) of the year.  It's really only these last two or three months that I finally got my sewjo going.

So the year that started with me getting my own sewing room has not really included a whole lot of sewing.

Small projects, I achieved two things -

In January I whipped up a needlebook as part of Rachel's Handstitched Class.

and after that I did nothing at all until September when a finished up my owl crosstitch 

I finished two quilt tops.  Not "quilts" but I'm counting this as a win.

In October I whipped together the Carpenters Wheel

And, of course, in November I finally finished my fabulous Swoon.

I also made one pieced quilt back and a couple of Santa Sacks...

But that's it.  That's a year of my life.  I had such plans, but it clearly didn't work out as planned.

But you should see my list for 2014 :-)

E xx

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas traditions

I love traditions.  And when I moved out of home I felt like I was losing a little bit of my childhood because I could no longer have the Christmas traditions from when I was little.

Of course, Christmas is also complicated by the need to accommodate two families.  Ashley and I have to spend time with his family over Christmas too, so from the beginning we faced the challenge of some many families - how to celebrate Christmas twice without getting completely over it.

My solution was to create a new tradition. And to extend Christmas out, which frankly just makes me love it more.  And I love it because I feel like I am recapturing some of that child-like Christmas magic. We have officially added Christmas Eve to become part of Christmas proper.

For the last decade (or more), every year, on Christmas Eve we go to my parents house. Some years we get there in the morning and spend the day sorting out the cooking and the table decorations and finalising things for the lunch my Mum hosts the next day. Some years we get there at 6 o'clock just in time to eat.  Often I am there frantically baking the desert I need to have ready for Ashley's family the next day.  My sister, and I, and our partners and my Mum and Dad.  

We have a meal, drink lots of wine, usually play some kind of board game. And then we put on our pajamas and tuck ourselves into bed.  And while we are sleeping, Santa and his reindeer land on our roof and he sneaks into our living room to leave us kids some lovely surprises.

My mother always said that Santa would stop coming when... When we no longer believe (but I insist that I still definitely believe!). When we are teenagers. When we turn 18.  When we move out of home.  When we get married. When... 

One year she tried to tell me Santa wasn't coming.  I pretended not to hear her.  She repeated herself.  I simply replied that he would be. "No, Erin. No more Santa" "Yes, Mum. Santa's still coming". And I decided that if Mum wasn't going to be Santa's helper anymore, then I would be.

Helping Santa has become one of my favourite parts of Christmas.  Better, even, than opening the proper presents. It doesn't hurt that since I started helping, Santa always knows what I like, so I get good swag :-)
This year has been a difficult year for Ashley and I, and we seriously thought about not doing Christmas, or of doing it in a very limited way. But when it got right down to it, we need these traditions. We need the love and joy they represent. And so this Christmas, as we sit here with my family and play Uno and Trivial Pursuit and drink wine and watch Shrek The Halls and White Christmas, my wish is that wherever you are, that love and joy surround all of us.


Have a very Merry Christmas. Thank you all for spending this year with me. Blogging about my sewing, while it might not sound like much, has been a huge blessing in my life this past year. Your comments and stories and sewing days... You all have made this year a better year, than it would have been without you.
Much love,


I have to confess this is not my puppy. This is one of his friends from our local beagle group. But I couldn't resist sharing these beautiful photos. E xx

Monday, 23 December 2013

Santa Sacks - round 3

Don't ask me how I did it, but I made another set of Santa Sacks. And yet, I have still not made one for me!!!
I thought that seeing as Mum and Dad are hosting Christmas and Santa will be visiting their house anyway, they should have somewhere to store them. In previous years, Santa has just left their presents on their armchairs. Well not this year!!

For my Dad I wanted a little bit of Santa and some whimsy. My dad's a bit of a joker and generally very jolly, so I wanted something with a bit of fun. I had some panels left over from my attempt at designing a Christmas quilt so I grabbed one of those and hit the machine.

I basically just QAYG and really, it's more like foundation piecing, because I didn't do any extra top stitching. I cut strips as the mood struck, so there is no real design, just colour and theme. It's a little bit darker than I intended, but their apartment is black, white and red, so I think it'll suit. And it is for a grown up, after all.

For my Mum, I wanted something a bit more structured. A bit more planned. So I made this star block and then laid out the fabric on the wadding and worked out how to sew it together as easily as possible. I really like this finish.

What I don't like about my Mums bag is the back. For all the others I used a home dec weight Christmas text print. Nice and sturdy, neutral colour - worked for all the others! But I didn't have enough left for Mums. I pieced the leftover red and black together to get the size I needed, and just used that, but I don't like it. It feels a bit court jester-y. I'm probably over thinking it, but it's bugging me. I might appliqué some Christmas trees on it, and that may make me like it better.

But there we go!! Two more Santa Sack completed today! I have two days to get one done. For me or I'll be the only person in the family (including the dogs) not to have one.

E xx

1) My camera is still being stupid, so I apologise for the quality of the photos.
2) seeing as I made these over the weekend, I'm linking them in to Kelly too!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Christmas is coming!!

And I'm excited.

Pinterest is overflowing with DIY ideas and the twinkle lights have started to make an appearance in my street.  I seriously love this time of year. I love carols, and Christmas trees, and tinsel, and bad Christmas movies, and fairy lights, and wrapping presents, and Santa hats, and candy canes.... *sigh* I am looking forward to November being over so I can get out my decorations. 

So why am I posting about Christmas, if I'm not even decorating yet??  Because I have started on my Christmas joy. in the sewing room at least.

As you would see from my crazy WIP post, way down the end there was a plan for a Christmas quilt and Santa Sack.

I know this, being at the bottom of the list, was quite literally my lowest priority, but I wanted to get a little bit of Christmas going. So out came the pile of Santas and I got cutting.

I literally cut. And cut. And cut.

I also ironed.  A lot.

I don't have a whole lot to show for it. That photo on the right is the product of a whole days labour.

I really wanted to get started on my quilt.  I love Christmas and the idea of having a special Christmas quilt, makes my heart happy. I had a panel that I though would be the starting point, but I couldn't make anything go. Particularly as there were lots of panels and I had kind of imagined a messy blocktastic spree - a bit of a magic number scenario. But then reality came knocking and all these crazy different panels were actually significantly different in size, and the coordinating fabric I had was not working for me, and nothing was actually square (despite the ironing AND starching I did).  After several hours I abandoned all the fabric and tried graph paper.

I tried at least 8 different layouts, until I finally gave up the idea of incorporating all the different panels and came up with this as a plan.

I think I want to go low volume in the star sections and black/dark for the words.  I've got a panel to go in the middle and I've cut some strips of the patterned fabric to run off the sides.

I just want to make it clear that the little picture in the middle is a panel and I will be sewing around it.  This is not my actual  applique/paper piecing template for the centre :-)

I think it's pretty cute though. I mean, look! I even did a reindeer!!!!

I'm happy with the design.

I have no idea yet how I'm going to put it together, but I'm definitely happy with it.

Of course now my problem is, I have a whole bunch of panels that now I don't technically need. Maybe I could do two Christmas quilts??

E xx

Friday, 15 November 2013

What to do with an unloved quilt top

Mia's Quilt

So I've told you about Mia's quilt before.  And everytime I have you have all been super suppportive and lied to me about how pretty it is.  But I was not enamoured anymore.  And nothing anybody could say was bringing me out of the funk this piece of patchwork was throwing me into. Just having it sit in the room was making me grumpy.

Originally, I had combined a couple of charm packs of bright sparkly spring fabrics - perfect for a little girl - and thrown them all together. 

I had started by making hsts, thinking I'd try pinwheels, but then felt I was losing some of the pop from the prints, so went back to straight squares. This created some interesting points when I started sewing rows together...

As you can see, I also put in some larger squares/rectangles and appliqued (my first ever attempt) some hexagon flowers on top. I love these big bright totally girly moments in the midde :-). I also threw on some iron on flowers and butterflys, hidden in the prints. LOVE!!

But I was left with a very odd size quilt top.  I thought I'd add some borders and bring it up to size. I bought a nice gingham-y pink and added it all the way around. At this point, it went horribly wrong.

I just didn't like it anymore :-/ And so it sat and stared at me from the corner of my sewing room.  I could have basted it, quilted it and given it away, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I put more pictures up and everyone said it was great! But I still didn't feel it. And then the epiphany.  It was those borders I didn't like.  They felt insipid.  I had put some piecing in there and a big applique of Mia's name, so it should have felt busy and bustling like the centre, but it just didn't.  So out came the seam ripper.  Or, more accurately, a pair of scissors.  Yes, I cut off some of my seams, just to get them gone.

It was hard to do.  I felt so anxious and silly and slightly crazy to be un-making a finished quilt top.  It wasn't like there was a mistake. Or a stain. Or something was upside down.  This was a quilt that was doing exactly as I had wanted it to... It felt like I was second guessing myself.  I couldn't believe I was really about to take apart something I had worked really hard to make, and for no real reason. I dithered about it for at least 20 minutes before I took the plunge.

I only took off the top and bottom, and it immediately felt better.  I think I even fell a little in love with it again. Turns out, the extras I'd added had really distracted from the top.

It looks less... balanced... Symmetrical... Square... But that's only really in the photos. It's better. It is an odd size and shape, but it feels like it has it's personality back.

Don't despair that I have done all the fancy applique for nothing!!  I haven't destroyed it.  I've just swapped it's home.  I've decided it's going to live on the back of the quilt.

And I like the name applique better now too!!  It feels brighter!  Less clunky than it did with all the patchwork.  I don't know how I'm going to make the back yet.  It could still be a month (or two or three) away, but I feel much happier with this plan. I like this quilt again.

And what I have learned is: If you fall out of love there is probably a reason.  If you ignore that and try to push through, it's not going to make you happy.  Sometimes we need to go back a step and while this can be hard, and it can make us feel all squoogally and anxious, it means we resolve the issue and can then move forwards again and love again! Instead of standing in one spot and being grumbly and unhappy.

True in life and in quilts. 
I'm so wise!

But seriously.  There is no law against unpicking. There is no rule to say that we can't change our minds.  And what we are doing is suppossed to be creative, so sometimes things won't look just like we thought they would in our head, and sometimes that's a win - it turns out even better, and sometimes it's not, and that's OK.

I know I just had my pompous grown up momnet, but I really am going to try to remember, that I do this for fun and for love, so if it's not fun, and I don't love it, there's no harm in pulling it apart.

E xx



Penny Patch - Part 1

So I may have slipped in a mention the other day, that I have signed up to do another quilt a long. 

Seeing as how I finally finished my last one, I think I'm totally sweet to join another, right!!  Please note that I am still supposed to be making my Skill Builder blocks, and said I was going to do Swoon 2013 (that's standard size swoon blocks - yeah I haven't started that one yet...).

So yeah, a Penny Patch.  I have to say, one of the reasons I signed up is because it's a pretty simple pattern.  In fact, the pattern is downright basic. But the colours!!!!  I am in love with the colours.  And it is a proper patchwork - no fancy schamncy "design". Just beauty in the simplicity.  Ok, so clearly I like the plan for this quilt.

And because part of what I loved was the citrusy, vibrant colours, I, of course, went with the exact same colour scheme as Rachel. Just count me out as unoriginal.
Orange, blue and love volume fabric
But seriously... Yum!!!
Since these arrived on my doorstep, I have become addicted to buying these colours. And I mean that literally.  I just put in another fabric order and it is all bright, light blue and crisp perfect orange.
One of the things I like about this big pile of fabric is - I actually want to cut into it. Normally I sit and stroke the pretty, but can't bear to start slicing, for fear of ruining it.  Or I second guess myself, over and over for the fabric choices and whether they actually go together.  Not this pile.  I love it!! I love the thousand different textures.  The multitude of shades of colours.  The unexpectedness of some of the choices.

I am usually so scared of that, but for this, I'm so happy with it!!!  And I think the reason I'm less scared, is it's all going to go together in such the simple style . I have faith that this will meld into a harmonious whole. It also doesn't hurt that there are a couple of different text fabrics in there. I do love me some texty goodness :-)

Low Volume Fabric
Low Volume love <3
I think I need to add some more "neutral" to my low volume.  I love all the fabrics in there, but they all have a little too much personality.  I think I want to add some more white on white and cream on white to bring the business down. Yeas, this is yet another excuse for me to buy fabric. :-)

And to prove that I'm really not scared at all, I have started cutting.


I have to admit that I did stress a little about some of these fabrics as I was cutting them.  I the pile they looked perfect but one by one my anxiety went up.  I added an extra bluey blue (those hexagons on top) to try to blend that blue Flea Market Fancy in a bit more.  I admit that if I hadn't already cut it up, I probably would have pulled it. I'm not sure it's the right shade of blue... No!! I am not second guessing myself until I can see it all laid out and then I'll reassess.

Now to convince Ashley to put up a design wall so I can see everything at once and shuffle the pieces around as the spirit moves me, and I'll be the happiest little quilter in the world :-)

E xx

Oh! And I changed the blade on my rotary cutter, and I am in love. I didn't realise how unnecessary it was to be using so much pressure to do my cutting. This new blade glides through fabric like a hot knife through butter. I think I might have to start stock piling new blades and change them every week! That may be a slight exaggeration. But I will remember this and not let my blade get that blunt ever again. Cross my heart!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Swoon over my Swoon

I have another finished top to share with you. I finished a few weeks ago, but haven't had a chance to take photos until yesterday. But I love this quilt. And by that I mean I love, love, love this quilt. Not that it's a quilt yet - it's still just patchwork, but it will be a quit and the piecing took forever so I'm celebrating :-)


I have slaved over this thing for months. Admittedly, I did slack off for a while in the middle, but I'm still counting that as time spent making. :-)


There were so many darn seams to line up, it just about did my head in. Some of them line up perfectly... Others... not so much.

The quilt a long for this project was finished months ago, but I have been A LOT slower than anybody else.  I honestly don't know how some of these quilters do it!! I'm a little lot jealous.  But I kept plugging away and got there in the end :-).

My biggest battle was a tiny rust spot (from the iron) on one white square... I tried to convince myself that it was barley noticeable, but in the end, I had to go in and unpick it. This was a bit of a mission, but I'm glad I did. Now all the creamy-ness is unmarred, and I'm so happy. I know if I had left it, it would be all I'd have seen when I looked at it. And as its for my bed, I wanted to only have the good. And now I do! :-)

 I have been working on this since about January.  I fell in and out of love. There were times when I cursed the idea of 3 inch squares.  Some days I would look at the colours and think I had made a terrible mistake. Other days, I knew this quilt was going to be my pride and joy and would live on my bed forever.

And now, months after everybody else has finished, I too have finished the Giant Swoon.


I'm pretty proud. This is the first proper quilt pattern I've ever followed. This is one of the biggest quilts I've ever made.  Even though it's just squares and hst's, it's definitely the most intricate quilt I've ever made. 

I absolutely love her.

E xx
PS. I can never resist posting photos of my helpers.  They were so un-co trying to manouever this around. Look at the intense concentration.... :-) Love these boys. xxx

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

I've been shopping again...

I've been a very bad girl. But I can't help it!!! There's so much fabric that I want!!! I feel bad, but it's impossible to resist. Especially when it's on sale - I can't be held responsible when it's on sale.
So.  Do you want to see what I got??? :-D I'll give you an update since my last stash post...

I had to buy some more Comma because I'm making a quilt and NEEDED the extra. I promise! I couldn't make the quilt without it.

I grabbed some Sew Mama Sew, because it was right there as I was filling up my basket.  And I'll use it for my Handstitched quilt and I got colour with white/cream so it's totally usable in lots of projects...
I needed stuff from Spotlight and I couldn't resist these little owls.

So I got some coordinating solids...

I have a plan for them though!! That makes it fine, right?? Besides, check out the hot pink!! You love it, right, Audrey!!
I also got, well, all the fabric I used for my sewing machine cover - but it's been used (mostly) so it's not stash building.  And I got the fabric I needed for my Carpenters Wheel. But again! I used most of that.

I also had a little binge on the Fat Quarter Shop website and ended up with a few jelly rolls ...

... and a fat quarter pack of greens...

... and some Glimma - WHICH I love. And have wanted for ages. And it's selling out everywhere, so I really needed to get it now, while I still could. So I grabbed yardage of my favourites, and then grabbed a layer cake, so I could have all the colours!!! And then I threw in a jelly roll. I can't help it! I have an addiction!!!

This is my favourite fabirc. It's so delicate yet strong. LOVE.
And I have more jubilee sitting in my cart...
I signed up to do the Penny Patch over at Stitched in Colour, so I had to buy fabric for that, right??? It's basically using Rachel's version as inspiration, which I wouldn't describe as my normal colour scheme, but I think it's going to be so yummy when it's all together.
And I may have also picked up some cute random fabrics...


And I got my monthly stash packs (that's four sets- July, August, September and October)
(November's just got delivered... I'm not adding that to the tally, as it's not November yet, so it doesn't count!)

I also got my monthly Fat Quarter stashes (this is two sets, which equals four months worth, I just had them all shipped at once). They're only fat quarters, so it's not as much fabric as it looks like...

I haven't even listed the material I haven't bought yet. I need to get a big stash of solids for Phil's quilt. And I want to do a Swoon quilt (a normal sized one), but I don't know my colours (I'm tending towards blue and grey). And I need to get some white, or white adjacent to go with the Arkansas Traveller.

So I got lots of pretties and I have more coming.  And, ok, I can't eat this month, but who really needs food????????????
E xx