Tuesday 30 July 2013

Random Little Happenings

I haven't felt up to much blogging since returning from London. I have been sewing, but actully photographing my work and providing tangible evidence of activity defeats me at the moment. Really, I just want to sew and enjoy the summer. But I'll be updating when I can :)

I have four new Farmer's Wife blocks to share so far. Maybe more by the end of the week. I have ordered Sketch in black and white as my FW sashing, which I hope will look fantastic. Just need to settle on a cornerstone fabric now.

My Swoon hand quilting is going really well. I picked up much better quilting needles in London (Milward no.5 embroidery needles) as well as a new thimble and needle grabber, and I am now able to quilt entirely pain free. The limiting factor is now my eyesight and not my fingers! I don't feel like working on the Swoon everyday though, so I have a couple of smaller quilting projects on the go to. This 'Chubby Star' mini quilt has been made using the Strawberry Fields pattern by Sarah Fielke in Material Obsession. My copy of this book had a few errors in this particular pattern, but I have tested the corrections found here and I am pleased to find the block works perfectly. I'm planning to use this pattern to make a quilt from my Briar Rose stash (which arrived last week!)

Dan and I made pizza from (almost) scratch a few days ago. We used a gluten free bread mix that I don't like as bread. It made a delicious pizza base, with tomatoes from my parents garden, mozzarella and goat's cheese.

I figured the best way to fight holiday withdrawal is to plan another holiday, so Dan and I are going to London (TOGETHER!) in September :) Really looking forward to it.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Farmer's Wife Week Two

Frantically preparing for my trip to London right now, so this will probably be the last you will hear of me until I get back. Let's go look at the farm!

I have only had my Farmer's Wife book since last Monday, so technically week two is only just beginning, but I'm not supposed to be making any more blocks until I'm all packed and organised, so this will probably be it for the week. There is actually one more, but I'll save him for later. Totally addicted to making these :)

 Block 5 Bat Wing

 Block 6 Big Dipper

 Block 15 Buzzard's Roost

 Block 57 Morning

Week Two Blocks together.

Monday 15 July 2013

Fat Quarterly Retreat Sample Swap

Only a few days left until my trip to London for the Fat Quarterly Retreat. I'll be leaving home on Wednesday and spending Wednesday night at my sister's in Dublin, to catch my Thursday morning flight to London. I'm frantically working on last minute preparations for my classes at the moment, and finally have a few photos to share of my finished sample swap goodies :)

I made sewing cases for my group using this tutorial with a few adaptions. I also made one for myself which has been in regular use ever since, so I hope their recipients will find them useful too.

Exterior fabrics are Sarah Watson's Indian Summer prints. Linings and ties are Carolina Chambray and bindings are either an Architextures crosshatch or Mama Said Sew dictionary print.

Sewing case interior features a tiny pincushion, hexy needle-keeper and four pockets (vertical pocket has been divided into two), perfect for stashing hand-stitching supplies or embroidery tools.

My Swoon quilting epic is continuing, slowly but surely. Just two more blocks and the cornerstones to go! Feeling a wee bit overwhelmed by retreat prep, but looking forward to it very much.

Friday 12 July 2013

Farmer's Wife Friday

I started my Farmer's Wife project this week. I'm planning to do as many of the blocks as possible without using templates. I was planning to do them in the order listed in the book (alphabetically), but I changed my mind and am now working on whichever block appeals to me on the day. I struggled a bit with my fabric choices as I want this quilt to look scrappy and contain as many special fabrics as possible, but I need some limitations (rules) to guide my choices. I'm now fairly sure I'm going with the colours from Denyse Schmidt's Chicopee line, and so far I have included a piece of Chicopee in each block. The barn block drawing in the above photo is from Lori Holt's Quilty Barn Tutorial. I love her patchwork barns so much and will definitely be making one soon. Not sure yet whether it will have anything to do with the Farmer's Wife quilt though.

Block 1 Attic Windows. "The Wallpaper Out of Space".

Block 2 Autumn Tints. "September in Los Angeles".

Block 14 Butterfly at the Crossroads.

Block 31 Evening Star.

My first weeks blocks all together. 

I'm planning to make 100 blocks and set them all straight with some sort of small print/textured sashing. Need to make sure I buy enough of it once I figure out what it is. I attempted Block 5 Bat Wing this morning. It did not go well. Going to redraft and have another go soon. It is still very very hot here. Which would be absolutely fantastic if we were equipped with air conditioning or a fan, but we are not, and my sewing room is a very well insulated oven.

Thursday 11 July 2013

WIP (Thursday)

Hello there :) These last few days it has been rather hot here. Too hot for sewing in fact. I'm mostly wandering around outside and eating ice-cream. I did manage to make a few quilt blocks and finish my FQR sample swap items though. I'll hopefully remember to photograph my swap items shortly. Still need to prepare my supplies for two workshops, and do all my checking-in-online business. Leaving in one week!

Three more spool blocks got finished this week. I have the 'threads' cut out for lot more, it's the end caps that require a bit of catching up. I'm aiming for 100 spools in all.

I received this gorgeous bundle of fabrics on Monday from Annie at The Village Haberdashery , a prize I was lucky enough to win in Katy's recent giveaway. It arrived in a lovely dotty printed parcel and cheered up my day immensely. The fabrics are from Jenean Morrison's Beechwood Park line with coordinating solids. I love them! They feel like sunny days in the park, paddling in the river and strawberry ice-cream. I'm planning to use them for a summery quilt, quite possibly the St. Louis 16 patch.

My Farmer's Wife book also arrived on Monday, and I have finished two blocks already. I'll write about those tomorrow.

I was planning on writing a list of all my wips with their various status reports, but I'm not quite up to the task right now. It's far too hot for quilting so not a lot of finishing going on, but I may just manage a bit of EPP or some small block sewing.

Monday 8 July 2013

Swoon Sunday

On Monday.

I'm on the final stage of my Swoon quilt. I started back in January 2012 using Kona Coal and a FQ bundle of Tula Pink's Prince Charming. Sewing the blocks was fun, and the quilt top went together perfectly. Then for some reason I decided to hand quilt it. Which would have been fine, but I'm using sew simple cotton wadding, which has a scrim and is really tough to sew through. And my needle are mostly blunt as it's impossible to get suitable needles here. Gah. But I am making myself finish it, and am actually enjoying it now!

I have three blocks to complete the quilting on (two of these are in progress already, only one totally un-quilted block left.) I'm also quilting two lines of stitching to echo each cornerstone star. Some of these are done.

I'm using a combination of pearl cotton in size 8, and Aurifil 12 weight, with clover chenille needles in size 24. I think slightly finer needles would be better, but I haven't found the perfect ones yet. This past week I have decided that I do like hand-quilting, I'm just not using quite the right tools. I'd like to try more traditional style hand-quilting soon using finer thread and smaller stitches.

The biggest piece of progress for the Swoon quilt has been my decision to bind it before finishing the quilting. The edges were fraying badly and the whole quilt plus excess backing and batting was ridiculously bulky to work with. So I stitched just enough of the perimeter quilting to stabilize it, then edge-stitched the whole quilt, squared it up and bound as normal. I feels so much nicer to work with now :)

Sunday 7 July 2013

Goodbye Granny C

Not many words today. My Granny passed away yesterday. She is the one without a hat in this photo. It was taken back in 2006, but is the only one I have on  my computer. This is the last time both my grannies were together. My other gran still lives in Manchester. Granny C was 98 and died peacefully at the nursing home where she has been living for the last few years.  She will be missed.

I went for a riverside walk after breakfast and saw wild baby ducks for the first time. Dan and I watched a colleague of his compete in the Tri-Athlone triathlon. And I finished this spool pillow front. I'll be hand-quilting it at the Fat Quarterly Retreat.

I'm mostly working on hand-quilting my Swoon quilt this week. I'll catch up with writing about that shortly. 

Friday 5 July 2013


I had grand plans for today. I'm trying to be a more active blogger, and have designated 3 days a week to blog about specific topics. We have...

~ Swoon Sunday...

~ WIP Wednesdays... and...

~ Farmer's Wife Friday (name subject to change, not sure how farmer-committed I am yet.)

Unfortunately my book hasn't arrived yet, so no farming going on just yet. I have been practicing my precision piecing with these spool blocks though, so I'm feeling ready for the Farmer's Wife project. My main plan for the Farmer's Wife (FW) is to use as many pieces of precious fabric as possible, and to keep myself sewing regularly, in small achievable pieces. I have a new squared notebook just for the FW where I'll be drawing my construction plans and recording dates, fabric choices and any other thoughts. My farm journal, if you will. I might be taking the farm theme rather seriously.

No deadline for any of my current projects, I'm happy with organic stitching. Sixteen spool blocks finished so far. Not sure if I like this planned arrangement, or if they need more room to breath (sashing). I really hate sewing sashing though so if I do it would need to be added block by block with cornerstones.

Wednesday 3 July 2013


I have been a bit miserable lately. I struggle to stay positive a lot of the time, as most readers probably know, but sometimes I do lose patience with myself. I feel so acutely that I am wasting precious time with all the sadness and that I need to be doing something (almost anything) to shake off the flumpiness.

I am still fighting my dermatillomania (skin picking disorder). I do desperately want to be a whole lot better as soon as possible. Currently I am able to be pick free about one day out of three, which is definite progress, but I wish I was doing better. I want to post a photo for the Fat Quarterly Retreat intro link-up thingy but I'm too shy about my skin. At the moment my main focus is on getting my skin to look as good as it can for my trip. (Last time I went away I didn't pick at all for an entire weekend, so I am feeling fairly confident I'll be able to take good care of myself in London.) Also, I have new sandals (the kind I can't wear socks with) and I'd really like to wear them.

I sewed some happy blocks! Inspired by the Liberty Love 100 Spools Quilt, as well as the fantastic spool projects I'm seeing other talented quilter's come up with. I started sewing yesterday afternoon after exposure to this loveliness. Also here and here. Lots more spool block goodness out there but it is these three that made me start cutting. Fabric I have been hoarding for years is finally seeing the light of day!

My colour palette is not limited to the blocks shown here. I just happen to love magenta and citrine, so I tend to reach for those first. I'm actually using most of the rainbow and making a stash archive project, with each spool 'thread' a unique fabric. Lots of precious scraps might appear for the last time (those pink seahorses are the very last piece I was saving). All the spool caps will be black-ish. Background fabric is kona snow. They measure 6" finished and I'm thinking of setting them in alternating directions without sashing. And possibly setting the whole thing on point. An ongoing project, but it's making me so so happy!

I find myself drawn to small intricate blocks which I can gradually sew, something to work on on a moments inspiration which can gradually build in to an epic fabric-showcasing project. For that reason I have decided to start a Farmer's Wife quilt. My book has been shipped, so as soon as it arrives I'll be working on that too. My plan is one block per week, and I'm hoping to sew the majority without templates, using either conventional machine piecing or paper piecing depending on the block.

Also on the Janey schedule... Swoon Sundays! Last weekend I was being rather melodramatic about my unfinished Swoon Quilt. So Dan decreed I should work on it for a while every Sunday morning until it's done. I am really close at this point. I decided to bind it even though the quilting isn't finished, as the edges were fraying badly. It's much nicer to handle now. I do hope to finish by the end of July. Expect Swoon related post soon!