Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Monday, 30 December 2013

December in review

December is nearly over, time to look back on what I finally achieve during this busy, crazy month with the run-up to the magical time of Christmas and Winter Holidays. Lots of baking at home, lots and lots of work eating into my free time and also some sewing (even a few hand-made Christmas gifts).
One UFO finished (!), a few Christmas swaps, an Advent Calendar, blocks for the [4x5] bee, hexie blocks, 3 blocks for the lotto, 2 tote bags and one scarf.
Linking to Fresh Sewing Day.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Hand piecing

Commuting is a waste of time and I do that for about 2 hours everyday. Thankfully my commute is on the train, which means that I can use the time as I want. So when I get a seat (not always in the evening), I usually play with some English Paper Piecing, hexies or others. This month, I had the added pleasure of serious train problems which doubled the commuting time and meant that I finished my cute flower of 1/2' hexies for Isabel for Get Your Hex On.
I made these 2 flowers for the Inchy Hexie Swap
I also started on my Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Cross blocks, but just! I am hoping to make some progress on those lovely blocks soon as I am already behind!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Another finished UFO!

A very very long-standing UFO since this one has been 8 years in the making. I started the quilt top at my LQS Mystery Night one cold evening of November 2005. I made 16 of the 24 blocks and stashed the whole bag away until last summer.... when I decided that I would ask my fellow Bee for Bee Europa 2013-2014 to help me finish the last 8 blocks I needed for the quilt top.

 I got all my blocks and finish the top in September 2013

and left it there for a while knowing that I had been challenged by Nikki in the Lazy Bums to finish it by year-end. So it was time to get it out again earlier this month. I wanted to add a piano-key border but after I had framed it with the Hoffman Sapphire. Here it is tested by the girls!
I quilted it on my frame 2 weeks ago in a sea wave pattern. Wave at the top and in the middle,

pebbles in the bottom border

and after I wrapped up all the Christmas gifts, baking etc, added the binding to finally finish it. I managed to hand sew half of the binding in the car while we were driving to Mum's for Christmas where the quilt will stay on Mr Cars' bed. It was great as it kept me very warm!
All done

and already in use.

Quilt Statistics:
Started November 2005, Finished Dec 2013
Size: 60 x 76'
Fabric: Hoffan Batiks
Wadding: Sew Simple Cotton and Polyester
Quilted with Aurifil Sea Mist

One last OPAM for this year and one less UFO for me. I am so glad.
Linking to Needle and Thread Thursday, Whoop Whoop Friday.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas time is here

Merry Christmas to you all. Hope your day is filled with peace, joy and love.


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas swaps

I really like handmade Christmas ornament so I couldn't resist a few swaps in the last few weeks.

First there was the Modernista Homemade Swap where I made these little ornaments
and received this lovely mushroom and mini quilt from Mary
Then there was the FLIRTS Winter Swap where I made coasters for Sam
who sent me a lovely Christmas Tree and a gorgeous brooch that I wear proudly to jazz up my boring winter coat.

And of course, I also received a gorgeous Christmas mini-basket from May filled with the most yummy chocolates for the Lazy Bums swap
How cute is this gingerbread button?

Lots of Christmas gorgeous goodies.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Bee Blocks again

This month, I finished (at the last minute) nothing new here, my blocks for the [4x5] Modern Quilt Bee
I picked the Dutchman's puzzle block to make for my fellow bee:

And I also sent out 2 Granny Square blocks to Suzy last week, catching up from November. I love the colour combo she has chosen, her blocks look so different but I only took a picture of one of them!


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Last minute Christmas gifts

Work has been really made and I have spent more evenings that I wanted working rather than relaxing/sewing. So my hand-made gifts were really really last minute this year.
First I made my annual Lebkuchen for the kids' teachers (the night before school finished!) and then I made another big batch on Friday to distribute to the family, so I think I made about 250 and about 96 mini mince pie in about 24 hours! We shouldn't go hungry!

I had planned to give hand-made gifts to my Mum and mother-in-law that I hadn't started until last Wednesday. About 2 years ago I had bought all I needed to make some tote bags but the whole bag of supplies and pattern had been stashed away ever since. I got it out last week to make a start, and I must say I am never better than when I have a tight deadline! I managed this gorgeous cat tote bag for my mother-in-law, I hope she likes it and find it useful.

with a lovely black and white polka dots inside

Using the same pattern again, I made this cute Scottie bag for my Mum with a pocket on each side this time.

with a brown and white polka dot lining.
And I also squeezed in an infinity scarf for a friend with some Anna-Maria Horner voile and a seamist batik fabric that I had left over from a UFO I am finishing this month. I used 1 and 1/2 length of voile for the scarf that I cut 9' wide. It is quite long, maybe too long. I might cut my next one slightly shorter.

3 hand-made Christmas gifts in 24 hours and 3 more OPAMs! Not bad going.
Linking to Whoop Whoop Friday

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Block lotto

Back in the game! I haven't played the Block Lotto for months or even years I guess I think mainly by lack of time and too many other commitments, but this month blocks are so fun and easy I couldn't pass. So I made (only) 3 but I love these little blocks!

I really love these and even more Sophie's Christmas quilt. If you want to play too, it is not too late, you have until 31 December to make the blocks, check out theBlock Lotto/ page.
Wish me luck, I might win the lottery to start the New Year!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

A new challenge?

Have you seen this (new to me) challenge that Barbara at Cat Patches is organising? The NewFO Challenge 2014.

What is it? The joy of starting new projects with no requirement that you finish them - ever! Sounds fun deosn't it, even if it goes again all the UFO challenges and Lazy Bums effort! But why not really? I have a whole list of projects on my to-do list that I never get around to fo because... they are for me! So let's start with the first one for January, I will try to make a start on my Midnight in the Oasis quilt.
I have already selected my fabric, so why not start it?

Are you playing too?
Linking back to Cat Patches

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

November in review - at last

This month has been crazy at work and at home a bit too. I have worked very long hours with little time to play! Anyway, tonight I decided it was time to finally post my November makes (before December is over!)

6 Granny Bee Blocks, 2 Japanese  + and x blocks, 2 EPP blocks, 5 Broken Herringbone blocks, 3 Dancing Stars Blocks and one little Christmas basket, one set of Christmas coasters, 1 Henna Bed Runner and one Diamond Wall Hanging. Not so bad after all!
Let's see what's happening in December next.
Linking to Fresh Sewing Day.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Getting in the Christmas mood!

I had a busy and productive week and set myself some ambitious targets that I didn't quite meet but at least I finished 2 out of the 3 quilts I had planned by Saturday night. The only one I didn't get done on time was Miss Baby Advent's Calendar. It was pieced, quilted

but I still needed to finish the binding, which I did this afternoon.

It was so nice and peaceful to just sit there and hand sew while the kids were decorating the tree. I had just gone to give my blood so this was all I needed for the afternoon. I filled it with chocolates as soon as I finished it and Miss Baby had her first chocolate on time. I am not sure whether she has understood the concept of one a day so let's see how many days are eaten before their dates!
A good week indeed with 3 finishes and also my first OPAM for December. I am hoping for a few more this month, so stay tuned!
Linking to Sew Darn Crafty.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Stairway to Henna

A little while ago, Beth Studley from Love from Beth showed us at the London Modern Quilt Guild samples of the beautiful line of fabric she had designed for Makower called Henna. She also later asked who wanted to take part in a challenge to design "something" with her fabric. Of course I jumped at the chance and towards the end of last month, I received a lovely parcel with 6 FQs of the line and a brief to get my something done by 30 November. If you know me, you'll know that I am usually a last minute person, I probably work better with a deadline! So this week, on top of the Advent calendar and the Diamond Quilt I *had* to finish my Henna Quilt, that I thankfully started piecing last week-end!
When I received the fabric I had originally envisaged an applique wall-hanging with one (or more) of these Indian elephants that are heavily decorated, I thought it would work well with such vibrant colours but I was a bit intimidated by the idea and worried about not getting the elephants the way I pictured them in my head so I abandoned that idea. I then had a flash of inspiration when I was making my Broken Herringbone blocks. I thought about the white strip and how I could apply this to a different block that I really like: the Bento Box so I decided to try and make some Broken Bento Box. A few scribbles on a sheet of paper later, I had a recipe for a beginner-friendly quilt that could be easily made with pre-cuts too!
As I said before I had 6 FQ  that I paired into 3 groups. I'll show you how to make blocks from one group (I made 3 blocks from each group of 2 FQs as I wanted to have fabric leftover for the binding)
Each block will take:
Fabric  1: 1 square 5.5' (you could use a charm pack and your final block would be slightly smaller)
Fabric 2: 2 strips 2.5' x 20'
Solid (white): 2 strips 1.5' x width of fabric
Now take the square and the white strip and sew the white strip to the square
Add a strip to the left and right first. Press towards the centre. Add to the top and bottom. Press towards the centre and trim.
Now add the 2.5'strip.
You can get one small and one large rectangle from your strip but you won't get the 2 large ones. So use the first trip and sew to the square on the top. Take the second strip and sew to the bottom. Press towards the 2.5' strip. Trim. Add the 2.5' strip to each remaining side. Press and trim.
Now add the remaining white strip as before: to opposite sides, press towards the printed fabric and trim, then to the 2 remaining sides, press towards the printed fabric and trim. This is ideal for chain piecing (and makes it of course even faster!)
Your block should now be 13.5' (13' if you used a charm square to start)

Now it is time to slice the square into 4 smaller building blocks. Measure the central square (it should be 5' if you started with a 5.5' square and 4.5' if you used a charm square)
Cut your block in half (6.5'). I lined my ruler with my central square and cut at 2.5
You now have 2 half blocks 6.5' x 13' that will be cut in half again
Repeat the same to have 2 x 6.5' squares
Trim your building blocks to 6.5' square if needs be

And now you are ready to play! Broken Bento Boxes?

Plus Blocks?

Or just a random arrangements?

Well I settle on this one which reminds me of a staircase hence the name of the quilt Stairway to Henna.
 For the quilting, I decided to break the squares and straight line a little bit and free-motioned some "string of pearls" following the stairs on the white strips. I really like the effect, if I can say so myself!
And for the binding I used the remaining fabric to make a scrappy binding.

I will probably use it as a bed runner, but of course it would work as a table runner or wall hanging. And it you use more that 6FQs, well you could end up with a much bigger quilt!

I hope you enjoyed reading my tutorial. If you make the blocks/quilts and you have any question or anything which doesn't make sense, please let me know! Thank you Beth for allowing me to play along.

Quilt statistic: 24' x 54'
Machine pieced and free motion quilted
Fabric: Henna and Klona white

And that's one more OPAM for November and a completed challenge!

As for the Advent Calendar, it is quilted and the binding is on but it still needs to be hand sewn at the back. That will be for tomorrow but of course Miss Baby will get her first chocolate tomorrow regardless!


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