Well, I have been a busy bunny while RR’s been away! And what a lot of sewing I’ve got done 🙂 I’ve done some hand sewing (my hexie project), some dressmaking (a couple of skirts for our upcoming holiday, amongst other things), some bag-making (the Whole Lotta Bag pattern), and even – shock horror! – some quilt block making.
After the Quilt from Hell debacle (of which more will be revealed once said quilt has reached its intended recipient…), I had no real desire to start a new project (even though I have several I need to get to grips with), or even to work on something I already had in progress. What I really wanted was to play with some fabric – and my new sewing machine, too, of course – and what better to play with than my strippy-scrappy quilt in progress?
Personally, I love scrap quilts. I love how every piece of fabric holds a memory, of what quilt it was bought for, maybe, or who gave it to me, or where and when I got it. It’s a visual reminder, too, of how my tastes have changed since I started quilting. And even if a piece of fabric is just plain ugly (yes, I admit it, I do possess some ‘ugly’ fabrics!), it never seems to looks out of place in the quilt as a whole.
Anyway, being in a reflective kind of mood yesterday afternoon, this was just the ticket. I spent a very happy couple of hours cocooned in my sewing room, Mr. Boy and Mimi Bubba keeping me company, sewing up random wonky strippy blocks.
I just picked pieces randomly out of my strips scrap bin, and sewed them together one after another, before pressing gently and trimming to 6 1/2″ square. No points to match. No precision needed in cutting. Just wonderfully mindless, repetitive, even meditative piecing, for a change. Extremely unlike me, but exceedingly relaxing none the less. Oh, and may I just say, I absolutely LOVE my new sewing machine 🙂
Then I decided to get up to date with my blocks for the two Block of The Month quilts I’m working on, and which had, sadly, fallen by the wayside over the past few months. First up, Amy Gibson’s Sugar Block Club over at Stitchery Dickory Dock.
I fell in love at first sight with this fabric line – Taxi by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures – and towards the end of last year, I ended up investing in a half yard of each of the prints, plus a couple of yards of the yellow solid. I’ve been itching to use it for something, and when I saw that Amy had used 2 different background fabrics in her blocks, I just knew it would be ideal for this project. And so far, I’m loving how it’s turning out!
Secondly, I got up to date with my Fat Quarter Shop Designer Mystery Block of the Month.
I’m not so keen on the house blocks as I am on the twirly star ones, but I think the fabric is just beautiful, so I’m pretty sure they’ll grow on me…
So all in all, a very productive few days, even if I have scarcely left the apartment! It’s been wonderful, but I’m starting to miss RR now, so I’m very pleased that I’m off to join him in England tomorrow, even if this does entail a week or so’s break from sewing 🙂
Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced. Why not pop over and see what other people have been up to this week?
… Lynne Pusscat will play!!!
It’s Sunday morning, and I’ve just waved a fond farewell to RR, who is off back to the UK for work. I’m joining him at the end of the week, and we will visit family and friends, watch 2 rugby games, eat a lot of curry (and Fish and Chips and Chinese takeaway and Jam Doughnuts…), go and see the Lego Movie, and drink copious quantities of tea, before returning to Switzerland happy and exhausted and several pounds heavier.
Incidentally, not 5 minutes after RR had left the apartment, Mr Boy had claimed his side of the bed and is currently revelling in his new status of “Man of the House” 🙂 I don’t think he’s too distraught at the departure, do you?
RR’s driving back, as he’ll be in the UK for 2 weeks. So I sent him off with my sewing machine, which is in need of a good service. There are no Janome dealers here in Switzerland, and the local sewing machine store wanted 300 CHF ( around $340, or £200) and 3 weeks to service my machine. 300 CHF??? Three weeks???! Dear Lordy me! So, she’s off on holiday to Bath where, for around a quarter of the price and a turnaround time of 1 day, she’s going to get a jolly good service and tune-up by a proper Janome dealer. Hooray!
In the meantime, I shall be playing with my lovely new machine.
Oh yes, a new sewing machine!
I took advantage of the January sales to invest in a lightweight sewing machine that I can take away on quilt retreats and to classes. My MC11000SE is a wonderful machine that does everything I have ever asked of her, and more, but lightweight she’s not! She weighs in at around 50lbs (23kg) – and is way too heavy for me to lift. Not a great feature when I want to take her places…
So meet my new machine – the Janome MC5200.
What a little beauty!
At a weight of 18lb (8.5kg) she’s infinitely more portable than her big sister, but has plenty of features to keep me happy. I’ve not had a chance yet to have a proper play and explore exactly what she can do, as I’ve been busy finishing The Quilt from Hell, but now I have five blissful days free to sew, sew, sew, before I join RR in England!
So RR’s en route, the kitties are settled in their accustomed spots in my sewing room, the apartment is clean and tidy, the freezer is full of food, and I have a stack of projects in my head and a lovely cup of tea at my side. What more could I ask for?
Let playtime commence 🙂
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!
Picture this. Twice a year, in April and October, a group of quilters gather in a chalet near Morzine in the beautiful French Alps for a long weekend. From Thursday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, our every need is taken care of. We are cooked for, cleaned up after and plied liberally with tea, coffee, wine and cake at regular intervals. There is a hot tub on the terrace with glorious views to chill out in, and a massage therapist comes to help soothe away any sewing-related aches and pains. For the 12 ladies lucky enough to be there, all we have to do all weekend is sew, chat, eat the delicious food provided, and then sew some more! No husbands, kids or pets to worry about. No housework. No cooking or washing up. Just sewing, and a chance to meet up with old friends and make new ones. And two self-appointed Quilt Fairies (Elita and Gina) to help you out with whatever you’re working on, from basting a quilt to ironing blocks, giving loads of encouragement along the way.
This is Patchwork in the Peaks, and it is quilting nirvana! For the past two years, my wonderful and talented quilty friend Elita has arranged this fantastic biannual quilt retreat. I’ve been to all of them so far, and I’m so excited because Peaks 4 is happening this weekend!
I’ve already started packing. Not clothes, mind you (comfy old jogging pants and hoodies all round for me!) but FABRIC!!!
Each retreat, we have a project that we all work on. Of course, everyone has different tastes in fabric and so all the quilts end up totally different, but also utterly gorgeous and inspiring. Here are some of the things I’ve made at past Peaks:
Fab Five Quilt – Peaks 1, April 2012
This is my all-time favourite quilt, I think. I use it in the winter to snuggle up under in front of the tv. It’s just the right size, and such lovely cheerful colours. It’s also a big hit with Mr. Boy and Mimi Bubba…
As a consequence, it’s rather furry, but I’m sure they think that just adds to its charm 🙂
Double Hourglass Quilt – Peaks 2, October 2012
I really enjoyed learning the technique for this one, made with jelly roll strips. In fact, it was probably this quilt that got me started on my jelly roll obsession. I also love the fabrics, even though they’re not what I’d usually choose. But I just can’t decide how to quilt it, so until inspiration strikes, it’s staying in the quilting pile in the cupboard…
Ricky Tims Convergence Quilt – Peaks 3, April 2013
Well, what can I say, I love this quilt! It’s now all packed up and ready for the quilt show, so sadly I can’t take it along this weekend for Show and Tell, but I will be taking photos with me 🙂
As for Peaks 4, we’ll be working on the Texas Teardrop pattern. Now, I’ve recently been loving the black, white and yellow look, so I started off with the idea of using this fabric…
…, possibly with some of this thrown in too (you might recognise this from my Kaleidoscope quilt I made a few weeks back…)
But then this fabric arrived in the post today (naughty Pusscat! Bad! You said you weren’t going to buy any more fabric!)
and now I’m not sure anymore… I think it would look lovely for the Texas Teardrop pattern, but also I could quite easily see myself making another Broken Herringbone quilt with it, or possibly using it for some Purse Strings blocks. Oh dear. Well, I’m packing it anyway, I’m sure it’ll get cut into at some point this weekend 🙂
We’re also learning to make the Aeroplane Bag from Sew Sweetness Patterns as an optional extra. Of course I’m in for this one too! I decided that this was the ideal use for my Echino zebra fabric, which I’m pairing with some Echino dots and a plain Moda Bella royal purple colour I had kicking around in my stash. Of course, any short cuts that make sewing easier are welcome, so I treated myself to some pre-made Echino canvas strap fabric too. Aeroplane bag here we come!
We’ll also have a Scrap Attack Mystery project to work on, a Peaks regular activity. The fabric is supplied by Elita (and boy does that lady have fabric!!!), and the pattern and lesson by Quilt Fairy Gina. This is always quick and easy, and lots of fun too. At past Peaks, we’ve made rug mugs, scrap bins, and little purses. I’m really excited to find out what she has in store for us this time 🙂
Charm Square thread catchers – Peaks 1, April 2012
Ticker Tape Mug Rug – aka Executive Drinks Mat – aka Kitty Perching Post – Peaks 2, October 2012
Dumpling Bag . Peaks 3, April 2013
Of course, that’s not all, there’s plenty of time to work on other projects, and I’ve gone and packed a stack as I’m feeling indecisive at the moment and don’t know yet what I’ll fancy doing. Hopefully some free motion quilting, when my new foot pedal turns up! And of course I have popped in the ubiquitous hexies, just in case we have glorious weather and I feel like sitting outdoors basking in the sun and doing some hand sewing!
So the packing is almost finished, and although I’m sure a few bits will be added before Thursday, in the meantime, I’ll be sitting in the comfy armchair in the corner of my sewing room with a nice cup of tea, beaming like a lunatic and thinking about the wonderful, relaxing weekend that’s almost here.