Monthly Archives: July, 2013

A challenge too far???

Last summer, in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm and optimism, I rashly signed up for my quilt club’s biennial Challenge. Why not? I figured. I like a challenge. It’s good to stretch myself, to try something new. And with well over a year to create my challenge entry (in time for the club’s Exhibition at the end of October 2013), I could surely manage to find the requisite inspiration and produce a veritable masterpiece in fabric form. Couldn’t I?

How wrong can one girl be??? I was soon to find out…

Back in September, all the challenge participants were given a beautiful piece of silk Hazara embroidery, about 1 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ in size. According to the challenge rules, we’re free to use it in any way we choose, to create a final work of 12 1/2″ x 18 1/2″ (which is quite large, really, when you think about it. The exact same size of my portable cutting mat, in fact…) Anyway, we can piece, appliqué, embroider and embellish as much as we like, but the Hazara embroidery has to be prominently and harmoniously incorporated into the quilt top as a whole. So far, so good.

I duly received my little piece of embroidery, admired it, and put it away safely in my drawer. Here it is…


… and here it is in the middle of the aforementioned cutting mat to give an idea of scale…


Pretty, huh?

Well, it’s now almost a year on, and, sadly, inspiration has yet to strike. I get my little piece of Hazara out from time to time, look at it, think “What the heck am I going to do with this??!”, get disheartened by my extreme lack of inspiration and motivation, and put it away again.

Then, at the beginning of July, I received some paperwork from the club about the upcoming exhibition. Which I put in my “To Do” pile on my desk and promptly forgot about until today. I finally got round to reading it this afternoon, and immediately wished I hadn’t! It included a reminder that the challenge entries will be collected on 2nd October, a mere 2 months away. Well, suffice to say I’m now starting to panic a little, and to curse my tendency to procrastinate!

… Cue more procrastination, as I choose to blog about my creative block rather than actually trying to do something about it…

So what shall I do? Is it indeed a challenge too far? It looks like my plan to make an Eiffel Tower skirt will be put on the back burner while I try and decide how to tackle this project. From now on it will be Priority Number 1! But maybe I’ll just finish sewing the rows together for my Flumpagon quilt first, then there’s my sundress that needs finishing before Barcelona, and of course I’ll have to tidy up my sewing room. Perhaps I’ll make a start on the challenge quilt next week…

(In the meantime, any suggestions most gratefully received!)

Feeling hot, hot, hot…

It’s been hot this week. Really hot. And humid. Bleurgh! 25°C (77°F) is about my limit, but it’s been way up in the 30s recently, and there is pretty much no air conditioning here in Switzerland. So whilst all my sun-worshipping friends are basking away and topping up their tans, I’ve been wilting, like the delicate English flower that I am 😉

I had hoped to do some more free motion quilting this week, but who wants to be manoeuvring a big quilt under a small sewing machine in all this heat? Not me! So, a change of plan… I’ve moved all the fans we own into one room, put the shutters down and whiled away several hot and sticky afternoons stitching together hexie flowers for my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. So far, I’ve sewn all 14 yellow flowers (7 with little polka dots and flowers, 7 with big flowers and no polka dots…), and I’m about to move on to another colour. Get me!


Despite the heat, I did manage to get some machine sewing done this week, mainly in the evenings when it’s cooled down a little.

Last Thursday, the second block of my Fat Quarter Shop Mystery Block of the Month arrived, which reminded me that I hadn’t made a start on Block one yet… So this week, both blocks got made. I’ve never been a huge fan of basket quilts, but having made these two blocks, I’m starting to change my mind. I think they’re lovely!

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I also thought it would be fun to make a new skirt to take to Barcelona next week, so I dug out my Emaline skirt pattern from Sew Serendipity, which I’ve been wanting to make for a while. I decided to use this beautiful brightly coloured Kaffe Fassett print. I’d initially bought it to use as a quilt backing for what I’d planned to be a bed-sized quilt, but as the quilt came together, I changed my mind and decided to make it lap-sized instead. Happily this meant there was plenty of backing fabric left over to be re-purposed as a beautiful summer skirt!

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The skirt itself went together reasonably quickly. I had to do a bit of adjusting – the pattern is designed for someone 5’4″ tall, whereas I’m a smidge over 5’10” –  and I ended up lining it to help prevent creasing, but I’m very pleased with the outcome. In fact I’ve already worn it! It’s so light and cool to wear, and really comfortable too, that it looks like I’ll be making this pattern over and over again. And maybe wearing this skirt will motivate me to get out the original quilt top and backing, and finally make a start on quilting it! Well, you never know…

Linking on up to WIP Wednesday, despite limited progress!

Day trip to Paris

On Tuesday, I went to Paris for the day.

I know, it sounds awfully decadent, doesn’t it?!! But Lausanne to Paris is just 3 hours 40 on the TGV, so it’s actually quite do-able if you’re willing to get up early… And it’s been so hot and humid here recently that I actually found a 5.15 am wake-up quite refreshing. For a change!

The main reason of my visit was to meet up with some American friends who are over on holiday, but a catalogue of problems with my iPhone meant I was rendered incommunicado for most of the day. Sadly I didn’t manage to meet my friends. I did, however, take full advantage of my time in Paris – after all, how often does a girl get let loose all alone in such a magical place with a fistful of Euros ?

Before I left, I’d promised myself I wouldn’t buy any quilting fabric or bits and pieces, and I’m proud to say I kept my promise. Nothing quilting-related was purchased (unless you count a pack of hand sewing needles so I could continue my hexie-thon on the train home, my intention to sew my way to Paris and back being somewhat scuppered by the fact that I left my needles behind – oops!) I did, however, visit some splendid fabric shops, where I could have easily spent hundreds, nay thousands, of euros. In the end, I feel I was very restrained…

Enamoured by the success of my nearly-completed sundress, and motivated by the fact that I’m almost at my goal weight again, I’ve decided to branch out and make myself a couple of simple summer tops and skirts. So I shamelessly ogled my way through a succession of couture-quality fabric shops, before hopping on the metro to Montmartre to check out the more reasonably priced ones. And I don’t think I did too badly.

I bought these fabrics to make a cool summer blouse with contrast shoulders…
Blouse fabric

… and these to make skirts with…

Skirt fabric

I particularly love the turquoise one with the red Eiffel Towers on it! How cool will that skirt be???

Eiffel Tower fabric

And when it got too hot to shop, I wandered along the banks of the Seine people-watching, with an ice cream in hand to cool off. Unfortunately this was consumed too quickly for any photos to be taken, but take my word for it, it was goooooood! (Lemon curd raspberry ripple, if you’re interested…)

By 6pm I was back on the (lovely air-conditioned!) TGV and on my way home, absolutely shattered but feeling deeply contented and knowing that I’ll certainly be back again soon.

Paris, je t’aime!

A busy week all round

It’s been a busy week here in Lausanne, and weather wise very hot and sticky. Yuk! It’s been so muggy that the kitties haven’t even had the energy to be naughty… Mimi Bubba has spent the week lying on her back showing off her kitty bits to all and sundry, while Mr. Boy has been lying in the remnants of his favourite cardboard box, looking like a scarecrow.

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So it would seem unlikely that I would spend my time sewing. Mais non! I have actually been very busy this week…

First of all, I’ve been working on my sundress, which is now nearly finished. The hem is done and the zip’s inserted. It’s made out of a beautiful Valori Wells cotton voile, underlined with plain white cotton batiste, and about to be lined in a gorgeous peach-coloured viscose. I’m desperate to get in finished in time for our trip to Barcelona at the end of the month.


As for quilting, well, I was starting to feel guilty about the pile of tops in my cupboard that need finishing. I always think they look so pretty when I’ve finished piecing them, and I’m convinced that I’ll ruin them with my inexpert machine quilting. But, as has been pointed out to me on numerous occasions, I’ll never get better if I don’t practice. So I decided to stipple the baby quilt I made with some of the fabric leftover from Baby Chase’s star quilt, firstly because it’s reasonably small to start with, and also because it has no intended recipient as yet, so it could always be used as a picnic blanket if it went horribly wrong. And here are the results…

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It’s actually not too bad, and although I still have some problems with thread tension and stitch length in places, practice makes perfect, as they say, and it certainly got better the nearer I got to the end of it. All I have to do now is finish the binding and it’s done. Yippee!

I’ve also made good progress on the Flumpagon quilt – so called because it’s made of hexagons, and some of the fabric has elephants on it…


So far, I’ve pieced the hexagons in halves, and now I’m trying to work out a pleasing layout so I can sew them into rows and then put the rows together. As always, Mimi Bubba has been lending a helping hand…

Mimi and flumpagon quilt

And talking of hexagons, I’ve also been working on my English paper piecing. It was so hot on Sunday that RR and I took a boat trip from Neuchatel to Yverdon-les-Bains. It was baking hot on land, but there was a glorious breeze to cool you down when the boat got moving. I managed to while away the afternoon admiring the beautiful scenery and basting more hexies – bliss!

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Well, yet another week has literally zoomed by, so I’m linking up again with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

And by the way, the second installment of my Grand Reportage is up on the France Patchwork blog – hop on over and check out some of RR’s cool quilt photography 🙂