Sunday, 4 October 2015

Today's Quilter

A few days before Stitch Gathering I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the brand new magazine, Today's Quilter, to review.

This new magazine comes from the same stable as Love Patchwork & Quilting and is described as "offering something NEW to traditional quilters".

Here in the UK we don't have dozens of different P & Q magazines like in the US, for example. When the two youngsters, LP&Q and Quilt Now  came onto our market, it was so refreshing, both sporting such a young, modern vibe.

In trying to think about the appeal of these different magazines I am playing around with the terms modern, traditional, young and older and I think all four can be interchangeable and I think maybe we shouldn't be putting people in boxes.
Maybe it's more about experience?

I would say in this first issue that the quilt projects might appeal to those who wish to stretch themselves a little.
The magazine has some fantastic contributers, none more so than Lynne Edward MBE. Over the years students have often asked me to recommend a book and I often found myself suggesting Lynne's Sampler Books - well written, informative  and totally non scary. It was in her book that I clearly remember learning that it's not the end of the world if a block comes up short - just add a narrow border & Bob's your uncle. It's not a question of encouraging sloppiness, I find this sort of attitude is likely to encourage more than put off.

There are several quilt projects to try and each one has a "Behind the Quilt" feature so the reader can learn a bit more about the history of the design.

There is going to be a regular Essential Guide series giving in depth tutorials on a specific technique and this month it is all about templates - these are being compiled by Linda Clements and will be a really useful go to tool.

In between all of this there is lots of info about fabrics, books, gadgets etc as well as info on events in your area.

Every issue there is to be a FREE collectible supplement or a gift, and in this first one we have a rather nice booklet celebrating 50years of Kaffe Fasset in Textiles - having heard Kaffe speak this year at Festival of Quilts, I am paying a bit more attention to his designs & fabric and so I was delighted with this booklet which includes 3 new previously unpublished projects, like this one.....

But for me, my heart skipped a beat just as I got to the end of the magazine where I found a new Block of the Month, by Jen Kingwell. As one of the participants in Jen's "My Small World" QAL, I have become converted to working with small pieces and lots of scraps so I just know making her blocks will be fun and it might just be enough to lure me into a subscription.

There is a subscription offer on at the moment - 3 issues for £5 (for UK direct debit customers)

So I'll leave you to make up your own mind, with this colourful image of Kaffe.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Stuffing, Stitchin', Scarves..........& Snot!

Sorry, my title was purely in the interests of alliteration and too good to pass up.

Since I last posted, my classes are now well underway - we have completed the first 2 projects of our Sew A Long.
Project 1 was an EPP Baby Ball, made using pentagons and one of the first EPP objects that I ever tackled. It really wasn't about the ball, more an intro for some to the technique. One or two came kicking and screaming but ended up enjoying the process. I resisted EPP myself for so long I wanted to show that it can be a fun technique that can be portable & enjoyable. Here are just a few of the finished balls.
Project 2 was an infinity scarf, nothing to do with patchwork and quilting - this took a few out of their comfort zone as we tackled slippy, stretchy and very fine fabrics. Good to have a challenge though, isn't it, and I think everyone was surprised how quick and easy they are to put together. Here are some of my lovely ladies, having completed their scarves within class time, always a bonus.
Well done ladies, so far, so good. (laughing with menace!!)
Over the next two weeks we are having Mini Jelly Roll Races in class, look forward to reporting back.
So that covers the stuffin' and scarves, what about the stitchin'? Well what else could it be other than the fabulous Stitch Gathering in Edinburgh last Sunday. I take my hat off to Jo & Jonathan for pulling off this great event, it has grown from strength to strength and has become a wonderfully sociable, sewing get together. This was year three and I have been lucky enough to teach each year - this year I reprised my Mega Pinnie to a very full class and then in the afternoon did the very opposite to the Mega Pinnie by demonstrating the Mini Teacup Pinnie, a lovely quick project to round off the day.
I have only a few photos to show but am sure if you visit the SG website you will find lots more, or try Instagram #stitchgathering2015. I had such a good day, made all the more special by meeting up with online Bee Buddies, Nicky for the first time ever.

The final picture, above right, shows the amazing Goody Bag received at the Stitch Gathering - I'd like to take a minute just to list all the sponsors who made these possible, it was a super selection of goodies made possible by the generosity of the following -

Aurifil - threads
Nairns - biscuits, yummy & low cal!
Pilot - Frixion pen
Coats - patterns, needles & thread
Dear Stella - fabric FQ
Love Patchwork & Quilting - Magazine
DMC - embroidery thread
Duck Egg Threads - Liberty hexie pack
Michael Miller fabrics - fabric FQ
Cloud 9 fabrics - fabric FQ
Blend fabrics - 8 FQ bundle
Anbo - 4 FQ bundle
Lewis and Irene - fabric FQ
Soak - sample sachet

and finally.......woke up Monday morning, wheezing and coughing, the penalties of having nursery age grandchild!! No further explanation required, nuff said.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Back to School

So my regular classes started back this week. I have four classes this year, all following the same programme.
For the first six sessions - they run fortnightly - we will be having a sew-a-long, making a different small project each class.
Once all four classes are up and running I can share with you all, what the projects will be - because yes, my wonderful students are extremely loyal and trusting - they have all signed up without really knowing what we will be doing this term, they just know it's not going to be a big quilt this year.

I started off the month with a flurry of sewing activity - played the class swot card and got my Sept/Oct Bee a Brit Stingy Row done in jig time, for Nicky. My row is the centre one (at the moment) and I think Nicky's quilt is coming together so well. Remember, each row has been made by a different person!
Then last Friday I attended a workshop in Glasgow with the wonderful Gloria Loughman from Australia. I have long admired her beautiful work. So the workshop was called Colour Fusion and I thoroughly enjoyed my day. The venue, Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre was brilliant too. The workshop was arranged by the Quilters' Guild in conjunction with their Regional Day weekend - so well done to them.
I enjoyed using different techniques to achieve my abstract colour fusion and have made further progress on it this week. And yes - I bought and used - batiks!!
Just a bit more to applique and then layering up..........

I found time yesterday to get back to My Small World - much of the last sections involve hand sewn elements so that has slowed down my progress - however, having stitched all those curved sections in my Colour Fusion using invisible machine applique, I decided to use the same technique for a few pieces in MSW.
To give you an idea of size the background squares are finishing at 1".

and finally, as one new term begins I have decided to make some room and offer last year's class sample, for sale.

My Modern Sampler measures 54" x 73" is constructed using 100% cotton with Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 batting. I am asking £95 plus shipping. Email me or leave me a comment if you are interested.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Thank You

Wow, what a reaction I got to my last post ! I did hesitate about sharing my weight loss story, felt a bit self conscious but I received more comments than usual,  much bigger viewer stats and if I have given hope to just one person out there then I am so glad I did the post.

But now, back to quilty stuff - since I last wrote I have been to the Festival of Quilts with my pal Janet - we have been loads of times over the years and usually fly and stay awhile. We hadn't planned on going this year at all but then became aware that there were some seats left on a coach trip going from our neck of the woods so we decided to try it.
The organisation of the trip was faultless, it was excellent value for money; we were first on the coach, there were quite a few pick ups before we really felt we were motoring.............after a nice lunch stop in Penrith we were really on the way, just very slowly. Suffice to say we got to our hotel 10 hours after climbing aboard the coach.

We thoroughly enjoyed the excellent show - quilts of all sorts to gaze upon and be amazed at, traders of all sorts to gaze upon and be amazed at, oh and to buy stuff from............

We also enjoyed lectures by Kaffe Fasset and Gloria Loughman.

Our return journey was straightforward, took a little less time, and the driver was an absolute star, dropping the two of us within yards of our homes.

Would be do it this way again? Jury is out for the moment.

Since getting back my nose has been to the grindstone and I have a few finishes under my belt.
First up was my Bee a Brit Stingy Row for Di. She asked for a garden theme, with creamy background and bright colours. Helpfully, there was a wee bag of scraps that travelled with the rows which was helpful when choosing our fabrics. I used Di's tiny checkerboards in my two "thistle" blocks.

My next job was to complete a larger quilt that was planned as an anniversary gift for my young sister in law and her husband. Ten years ago I made this for them as their wedding quilt.

And a couple of years later, made their firstborn's baby quilt from the scraps...........

The really nice thing is that I know these quilts have been used and hopefully, loved. After 10 years though, I thought I would make them another and this new one couldn't be more different. I mentioned a little about it here. I have now completed the quilt, bound it, washed it and had it tumble dried. I haven't really used so much solid in a quilt before and quilting really has nowhere to hide does it? However, I was really pleased with the crinkleness after drying and look forward to handing it over tomorrow.

As classes approach I have been busy on samples - I can show this small quilt finish which will be a workshop project later in the year.

I managed a wee gift for a friend who has a new iPad and amazingly it fits and she likes it.

I wanted quite a simple pouch with a full flap and combined techniques from both of these bloggers - 

Yesterday saw my 2nd workshop of the new season - my Porthole Tote, This one came about from the project set last year for the Stitch Gathering by the ever inventive Jo. She sent everyone a simple calico bag to be altered, embellished in whichever way we fancied, and we also were given a swap partner. I decided to convert the SG logo into a porthole
 and then the workshop light bulb went off in my head and I filed the idea away until yesterday. Here is what my clever ladies came up with - check out their brilliant quilting.

and even some finishes on the day................

Well done ladies, you all did a great job.

And finally, phew, I received the next Bee a Brit Stingy row in the post on Saturday - these will all eventually go back to Nicky, two more rows to go. So I have Sept / Oct to come up with something......

Sadly, no time for My Small World, but I live in hope.
That's all folks!!

Monday, 3 August 2015

What a Difference a Year Makes

I rarely do blog posts about things not related to quilting or sewing so please forgive me today and indulge me as I bask in a little selfish glory.

One year ago today I began a journey, one I have set out on many times in my lifetime but this time I kept on going. I started counting probably know that in this modern day there is an app for that sort of thing, my son put me on to it.

So I downloaded My Fitness Pal onto my phone. I wasn't keen to do the boring calculation bit but the app is so helpful and even has a barcode reader to zap many, many products.
A few weeks in and a friend put me onto the Hairy Dieters books and their style of cooking really suited me, I bought all three of their books.
I started walking, just neighbourhood stuff but helped by another app, Accupedo, which syncs with My Fitness Pal.
As the weather deteriorated so did my walking zeal.

But the pounds began to drop off, I set little mini targets, I reached them, I set more, I survived Christmas without gaining an ounce.

When I had lost a whole stone (14lbs) I had dropped a clothes size.

For Christmas, my family bought me a fancy Garmin fitness band that I have worn every day since - it recently recorded that I had walked 1.5 million (yes, million!!) steps, since Christmas Day including my poor weather weeks at the beginning of the year.

When my daughter and family moved in for 5 months, she joined in and dropped over 20 lbs helpfully releasing some of her old clothes to me as I continued to move down the sizes.

Husband has now joined in (encouraged by a little advice from the doc) and he too is losing well.

I have learned a good bit about food and come to the conclusion that pastry is possibly the biggest evil, we don't eat so much pasta as we did, I now weigh up (excuse the pun) whether some "naughty" food is worth the cals.

As I approached the one year point my progress had slowed, so to achieve my goal in time I had a wee extra push this last couple of weeks and I am very happy to reveal that I have lost 51.5 pounds which is just over 3 1/2 stones, or 23.3 kilos (my goal was 50) I have dropped 3 dress sizes.

As well as learning about food I have been surprised by the psychological reactions/behaviour (?) I have experienced when shopping for clothes, not really believing that my new size will in fact fit. I slowly realised that I could shop pretty much anywhere I want.

So to conclude, I decided to write this personal post for two reasons. Firstly, to blow my own trumpet and secondly, I realised that I might just inspire one person out there who might have given up trying. I almost had, I had convinced myself that at 62 it would be almost impossible to lose weight.
It's not, and you can!!
The journey will continue but this time, there is no going back.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Another Month Bites the Dust

And we stoic Brits are still hopeful that summer will visit our shores. We have been teased now and then by the odd warm..ish day but sadly these rare moments are short lived and before long we are reaching again for cardis and fleeces.
I might as well take this opportunity to admit that I actually TURNED ON the heating one day last week, bet I wasn't the only one!

Taking the positives from this, at least we can sew without guilt.

Since my last post  have been working on My Small World - in fact I have completed Part 3 and made a good start on Part 4. I have even made a couple of bits for Part 5. Have I said how much I am enjoying this project? Who knew playing with tiny scraps could be so..........consuming. I have continued to try and use up tiny orphan patches and have made quite a dent in the pile left from last year's class quilt project.This next pic shows parts 1 - 3.

and MSW wips............

Talking of WIPs I finally managed to almost finish a quilt this week. I think it has been on the go now for over a year - several years ago I won a charm pack, and then many moons later was gifted an identical charm pack. So I set myself a challenge to design a double bed sized quilt using just two charm packs and a lot of plain fabric. I had a recipient (s) in mind and a deadline that I will hit next month. I just need to bind it.

I made this in three sections, quilting each one separately (using Aurifil 50wt #2000 - a lovely creamy cream) and joining them with narrow strips.

Last Sunday I held the first workshop of my new session - Christmas in July. I re-visited a couple of previous table runner designs and added in a new one for maximum choice, I do like to make things difficult for myself.

However, it all went very smoothly with everyone making great progress on the day. One or two ladies had never tried foundation piecing before but picked up the technique very quickly. Here is a little glimpse of their work.

The only drawback to the day was that it was a bit chilly indoors, for July, and we could have done with some warm mulled wine and maybe a hot mince pie.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Midsummer Progress

Since my last post we have endured what might have been the coldest midsummer everr, but now fortunately we are basking in sunshine, totally appropriate for Wimbledon fortnight.

I promised a mention of my efforts at needleturn applique - it's not pretty but it will have to do - those of you who know me well, know that my hand sewing skills are not up there, but I am growing to enjoy a little gentle hand work so maybe I will improve.

So in Part 2 of My Small World there was a bit of applique, my first bits were the four little arched doorways....mine were obviously old and well worn doors with lots of dings in. I forgot the part in needleturn where it helps to clip curves - doh!!

Then there were a couple of circles and I remembered doing this quilt last year in a QAL with Sarah Fielke and remembered her cunning technique for prepping circles for applique.

It involves card and tin foil and it helps if you cut your card circle neatly & smoothly.

And here are the circles applied to MSW.

And here are parts 1 & 2 all done. Still using little orphans here and there so some of my sections look a little different from the pattern.

Unfortunately I haven't started Part 3 yet as other tasks have taken precedence.

I resumed a project started several months ago for a friend's Ruby wedding........

Then my rows for July and August in Bee a Brit Stingy arrived. They are for Di and she has requested a garden theme in bright colours. The first three rows have been completed by Di, Catherine and Lucy and I have planned my contribution and made a start.

This block is one of two but I am not sure about the amount of plain background I have showing comparing it to the three existing rows but my other plans are quite busy so it may be ok, I'll look at it again when all the blocks are done.

and finally, me and a couple of real life sewing bee buddies are combining our efforts to make a small quilt as a gift to another Bee member who is moving away from Ayr. She was actually responsible for introducing us to quilting and most of her quilts until recently have been very traditional. But she is undergoing a bit of a renaissance and has moved firmly into modern. We hope she will love our choices. The HSTs in our blocks are the same for the three of us and all un-pieced squares are from our own stashes. These are my blocks and in my next post I hope to show off the finished quilt.

Now Andy Murray and Roger Federer are just about to step out onto Centre Court, so must dash...........


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