Wow, my first blog post in 3 weeks! I have been a busy bunny recently! So, what’s been happening here to keep me from my laptop???
Well, we took a trip back to the UK to watch our team, Bath Rugby, beat local rivals Gloucester. It’s the one match we try and go back for every year, and as usual it didn’t disappoint! We had a great time, it was lovely to catch up with our rugby buddies, and we managed to fit in a good amount of shopping too. What’s not to like?!
We also had some friends come and visit us here in Lausanne for the UK half term break. Since we left the UK 5 1/2 years ago, we’ve only managed to see them sporadically when we’ve been back visiting family, so it was wonderful to spend some proper time with them, and get to know young Master I, their lovely little boy, who is nearly 5. Master I was the recipient of the first quilt I ever made – in fact, his impending arrival was the reason I decided to learn to quilt in the first place, so I guess he has a lot to answer for! He’s a total sweetheart, who likes making dens out of quilts and cushions (no problem with that chez nous!), playing with Lego (cue one very happy RR!) and making up wonderfully imaginative stories to entertain us all. He also thought that Mr. Boy and Mimi Bubba were wonderful – though I have to admit the feeling wasn’t entirely mutual…
Oh, and there was also the small matter of the long-awaited quilt show – but more of that in a future blog post…
In between all this frantic activity, however, I did somehow manage to fit in some sewing time.
I finished quilting and binding the tumbler quilt for baby Jacob – I used a wool batting for the first time, on the recommendation of Miss JJ, and I have to agree with her that it’s a dream to quilt! I love the puffy loft it gives, it’s all snuggly and just perfect for a baby. This was also the first time ever I didn’t bind straight edges on a quilt – I kept the sloping sides of the tumbler blocks on the outside edges and although I found it rather fiddly, I really like the way it turned out.
I’ve also been 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 of this one to give the bag more rigidity. Mum’s bag is dog-themed because she is the proud owner of two Guide Dog brood bitches, Barley and Anna, around whom her entire world revolves. Fondly referred to by my sister and myself as The Evils, these dogs keep her happy and active, up to her knees in puppies, and (in the main) out of mischief. So when I saw this fabric, it just cried out to be made into something for Mum! The bag’s almost finished, but I’ve screwed up the zip somehow, so I’m going to have to do some unpicking to try and put it right. Ho hum.
The Kitty Camouflage quilt is also coming along well. The fabrics aren’t my usual style or colours, but I really liked them, and I thought they’d be perfect to make a bed-sized quilt which could disguise the copious quantities of cat fur that always seems to accumulate everywhere (hide the cat fur? who am I kidding???) I love the pattern (the Chain Saw quilt from Kimberly Einmo’s Jelly Roll Quilts and More book), but of course I had to make a few modifications to it, adding a couple of additional borders so it will fit our bed and to balance out the colours. I’ve now sewn, pressed and trimmed 140 half square triangles ready to make a pretty sawtooth middle border; they’re currently sitting in a little Ziploc bag, waiting for me to sew them together. Hopefully I’ll get round to this tomorrow, then I can add the final border and the top will be finished! After which I can start thinking about quilting it, and decide what to do with all the leftover fabric, of which there is plenty…
Finally, I’ve been working on my summer polka-dot blouse. I started it back in August, but progress has been slow, really slow! I’ve now successfully added the sleeves, but I need to adjust the position of the button loops because one of them shifted as I was sewing it together so they aren’t evenly spaced. And then I need to take it in some because I’ve lost weight and it’s now too big. Given the current cold, wet weather in Switzerland, though, I doubt I’ll be wearing it for several months yet, and as my weight is bound to fluctuate between now and next summer, this project may well be put on hold for a while 🙂
So now that life has finally quietened down a bit round here, I’m looking forward to getting back to my machine and sewing up a storm. Next project – some special placemats to take to our friends at Thanksgiving, and another baby quilt for another new arival. Looks like I’m going to be kept busy over the next few weeks, so watch this space!
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…
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!
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…..
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.
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!!!
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.
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…
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!
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!
And here are some of our finished blocks up on the portable design wall….
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…
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!