An Alpine sewing weekend

Well, what a wonderful weekend I had at my quilt retreat! I caught up with old friends, made new friends, sewed like crazy, ate M&Ms like they were going out of fashion, chilled out in the hot tub in the rain, had two massages, sewed some more, talked the hind legs off a donkey and generally immersed myself in all things quilty. Fantastic!

We arrived on Thursday afternoon, car jam-packed full of all our quilting paraphenalia. Despite initial fears to the contary, it did all eventually fit. In fact, there must have been room to spare because my sewing machine extension table made a bid for freedom at one point, almost decapitating poor Libbi! Needless to say, it was firmly wedged in place on the way back…

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After squeals and hugs all round, we found ourselves a sewing spot and set up our machines. And before long the room was a hive of activity with sewing machines a-whirring, accompanied by much chattering and laughter. Despite the glorious view just a few metres from our sewing tables, we only had eyes for our fabric!

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As always, the Thursday was ‘free time’ for us to work on our own projects, so I got to work piecing my Chain Saw quilt. The plan was to finish the top this weekend, but unfortunately I hit a little snag when I realised I’d pieced together all my directional prints back to front… Grrrrrrr…..

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So in the end I sewed 32 out of my 36 blocks. They came together really quickly, and once I’d given them a little trim and a press, they looked lovely.

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Well, the more I sew, the more I learn, so hopefully I’ll be more careful next time and remember directional fabrics are called directional because they have a direction to them! Anyway, at least most of the blocks for the top are finished now…

Friday was designated Bag Day. Now I’ve made a few bags over the years, but my last foray into bag-making (the Weekender bag by Amy Butler) had traumatised me to such an extent that I vowed Never Again. Well, never say never, as they say. My resolve lasted until I saw the picture of this one! Billed as an optional workshop, the Aeroplane Bag pattern by Sara at Sew Sweetness ended up tempting every single one of us ladies 🙂 And with bag-making expert Katy Cameron on hand to help and encourage us, we all finished them too!

As I mentioned here, I chose Echino fabric for the outside of the bag, and a plain Bella royal purple for the lining. And it worked really well together. Here’s my completed bag – I’m so proud of it!!!

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I fussy-cut the fabric so that I had the zebra bang in the middle of one side and the giraffe in the middle of the other, then I stole Heather’s idea and added piping between the top and bottom sections of the bag, which I think adds a really nice touch. Finally, I embellished it with a beautiful folded fabric flower, taught by Quilt Fairy Gina as part of her Mystery Scrap Attack project.

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I was the last to finish, but thanks to the extremely lovely and patient Katy, we all got there in the end. And how beautiful they look, all lined up in a row, with Teacher behind them!

On the Saturday, it was time to tackle the Texas Teardrop pattern. I’d brought 2 possible choices of fabric with me, but when I saw Elita’s examples, and she talked about what worked well in terms of fabric, I realised that this wasn’t the right pattern for either of them. Never fear, they will go back into my stash for future use – in fact, I may well already have projects lined up for them! We were given free access to Elita’s extensive collection of scraps to make practice blocks, and I ended up making 2 – one using fusible interfacing, which I’ve tried before, and one using Lucie Summers’ Porthole technique, which was totally new to me.

I’ve not done any appliqué for a while, so I was pleased to refresh my memory on how to apply fusible interfacing and secure the raw edges. And it’s a good thing I was using scraps, because I totally stuffed up my first attempt. The fusible moved whilst I was ironing and didn’t meet up at one of the points, then half of it wouldn’t stick and it just ended up in an icky gooey yucky mess all over the fabric…

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Cue Elita to the rescue! She helped me rectify my boo-boo, and I got on with fusing the other pieces, more carefully this time! I then decided to use some of my machine’s decorative stitches to appliqué down the edges. Pretty pretty pretty!

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The porthole technique was interesting, but a bit too fiddly for me to be honest. I do have problems with my hands and fine motor skills, and I just don’t have the manual dexterity needed to do this well. But I persevered and made this second block – just don’t look at it too closely!

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And here are some of our finished blocks up on the portable design wall….

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In the meantime, Miss Speedy Quilter JJ (possibly the most prolific quilter I have ever met!) managed to get a whole top of these blocks done – take a look on her blog to see how pretty her pink and green batik version looks when it’s all done.

And now I’m back home, relaxed and happy. All my things are unpacked and put away and although I was sad that it was over for another 6 months, I left feeling totally inspired with loads of ideas for kickstarting old projects and designs for new ones too. I think I’ll be spending some time in my sewing room this week 🙂

I arrived home to a clean apartment, a rapturous welcome from Mr. Boy and Mimi Bubba, and yummy smells emanating from the kitchen. The ever-lovely RR (who, incidentally, is a fabulous cook) had prepared dinner for me. Two delicious curries – a vegetable jalfrezi and a muttar paneer – with naan bread. He had made the paneer from scratch, too…

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OMG it was so good! And all I had to do was roll out the defrosted naan dough and grill it. Oh, and eat it too!

All in all, a wonderful end to a wonderful weekend!

13 responses

  1. What a lovely post! What fun we did have, indeed! JJ

  2. I’m so proud of you and your bag too! It was lovely to meet you this weekend 🙂

    1. Likewise, and I couldn’t have done it without you! Thanks so much 🙂
      LPC

  3. Lovely projects! I always love a good quilt retreat, and it sounds like yours was fun. Popping in from Freshly Pieced.

  4. What a fun post! I love the story of your retreat..@ massages! good for you! The bag is FANTASTIC – it really looks so cute. And I like all those Texas teardrops…they look great all together!

  5. The bag is amazing! Sounds like a wonderful weekend; I’m a little jealous. And yum! Indian food!

  6. […] and bear-maker extraordinaire Ms K has posts here, here and here. Ms L has an insider view too here, with more lovely photos of most beautiful bag. Who knows, maybe Ms F will post something on her […]

  7. […] Katy has done a fabulous job of recounting Peaks in Parts 1, 2 and 3, along with Miss L and Miss JJ, making me miss all of the ladies again. I hope you’ll take a moment to go and […]

  8. […] Katy has done a fabulous job of recounting Peaks in Parts 1, 2 and 3, along with Miss L and Miss JJ, making me miss all of the ladies again. I hope you’ll take a moment to go and […]

  9. […] working on Mum’s Christmas present – a cute Aeroplane bag. I made my first one of these at the quilt retreat back in October, and loved the pattern so much that I made another, although I quilted the main body […]

  10. […] all started back in October, at the Patchwork in the Peaks quilt retreat, when the lovely Katy of The Littlest Thistle taught us to make the Aeroplane Bag. […]

  11. […] would come back to haunt me. And that word is ‘directional’… Given some of my previous experiences with directional fabric, you might think that warning bells would sound at this point, but no. All I […]

  12. […] Patchwork in the Peaks is a bi-annual quilt retreat, run by my wonderful friend, Ms E. In April and October each year, a group of lovely ladies gather in Morzine in the French Alps to quilt their hearts out for four days. I’ve gone to every retreat since the start, I’ve made some fantastic friends, and it’s a wonderful way to spend a long weekend. You can read all about October’s retreat here. […]

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