Sunday, August 30, 2009

Staying indoors

Somehow my balcony doesn't seem too tempting today... It's been raining non stop since last night I think (at least all my dreams have been accompanied by the sound of rain) and even the big trees are swaying in the wind. You probably can't see it in my photo, but the sea that you glimpse beyond the trees has choppy white topped waves that would make me really reluctant to go out in a boat (not that there would be any reason to anyway...)

It's much better to stay indoors and do a bit of this. I spent most of the morning layering my zigzag quilt, which has been languishing in the To Do pile for ever it seems. I have been distracted by other projects and once you go down that slippery slope, it can be difficult to haul yourself back to finishing off those ongoing projects... Or maybe that's only me? No, didn't think so! ;-) There are just too many lovely distractions out there!

Oh well, I'm doing it now, though - once I'm finished pinning this I intend to settle by the sewing machine and do some quilting. I will do this one in parallel zigzagging lines, following the pieced zigzags. I was contemplating doing it by hand, but I think I'd rather have a finished quilt before I get distracted by something else...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spotty panthers?

After getting my Material Obsessions Two book home earlier this summer, I went straight online an searched for this Echino fabric. It's surprisingly called Panther. A big cat with spots, I would have thouht the designer was aiming to depict a leopard myself, but who am I to judge? - I love it anyway. It is a bit coarser and more heavyweight than standard quilting fabric, but has a nice feel to it, so I am looking forward to working with it. If you have seen the book (highly recommended) you will know which quilt I'm planning to make. Maybe this will be my next one? Or maybe I'll open my Bali Pops. I also have a red and aqua x-block quilt in mind. I'd better get started on one of them, soon though. I haven't spent too much time with my sewing machine lately...
I really shouldn't have gone in search of the link for the Echino fabric - I just found another one with circles and ladybugs... No! Put that credit card away!
No shopping today!! I think...

Monday, August 24, 2009


I've had an Olfa mat cutter for a while, and finally managed to source some mat board in order to do my own framing. Being a procrastinator extraordinare (yes, I admit it!) I kept putting off a tryout. When I finally decided to start, the cards I wanted to frame had disappeared. I spent ages searching everywhere, but finally had to call it a day. As what so often happens in these cases, my brain solved the mystery while I was sleeping, and the next morning I got up and went straight to the folder where I'd put those cards - love it when that happens!
Then I had some stuff to stitch, so it took a while, but finally I decided to give it a try. And you know: it was much easier than I thought! I had some difficulties with the first mat, because it turns out that you have to cut a little bit past the corners because the board is cut at a slanting line, but once I had worked that out, I did a much better job.

That made the corners of my first mat slightly ragged, but this is my second attempt, and I must say I'm rather pleased with it!
The cards I've framed are by Michael Powell, from his Venetian Window range. Have a look at his site - love those quirky houses of his!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Strawberry bag

I've been fiddling around, not seeming to get much done the last couple of weeks. I have lots of plans, but a few stitches here and there, and I was fed up and drifted on to someting else. Pulling myself by the scruff of the neck back to the sewing machine I'd add a few more stitches, meet another obstacle and take a break. A long break. The reason for all this was this bag. I have been working on the two panels for the bag on and off for some time, and I could have added a lot more, but decided that enough was enough: it was time to finish this and move on. Not having planned anything before I started, gave quite a few challenges. The woven panel was smaller than the one with the tucks and pleats, so I added some side panels to that bit - a braid and some mure tucks and pleats, before I stitched the two pieces together. This made the bag a bit wider than I had envisaged, and I decided to make it taller by adding a piece around the top. I still felt that it was too wide, which led to adding lots of little stitced pleats going half way down the top band. Once I had finished the outside, I realized that the piece of fabric I had planned to use for the lining was too small. I went through several different options and a variety of colours, but eventually managed to narrow it down to one - red to go with the handles.

A search through my stash (which led to anouther great session of tyding, sorting and refolding, but that's a different story) and I came up with this old red and white favourite. I bought this years ago and I loved it so much that I couldn't bear to cut into it, so it has been languishing amongst it's red friends for ever. There was more than enough of it, and I'm really glad I chose this - I get a happy jolt every time I look into the bag - which is a good reminder. If you really love a fabric, use it for someting you see often! I added a hanging pocket with zipper and room for a cell phone inside, and an inset gusset with zipper at the top. I did that on my pink and green bag last summer, and I really like this solution. It was a bit fiddly to stitch to the bag though, because of all the pleats and tucks on the outside, which makes the sides ripple, so after several attempts and lots of ripped seams, I ended up doing it by hand, and it looks OK that way. The long zipper with its white ring pull was actually on my sister's cardigan when we were kids - I have a bag full of old zippers that have been ripped out of old garments to worn out for wear. How thrifty is that?

I used my strawberry handles (and a tiny strawberry pull for the pocket zip) for this as I had planned, but I'm not entirely convinced that this was a good idea. I'll try them out for a bit, but they might actually be a bit too small for this bag. No harm done - I could easily remove them and use them for another bag. Anyway, I have a new bag finished, and can stopp fiddling about. Time to start another project, I think. Now what will it be? The possibilities are endless - I think I have to sleep on it. More pictures on Flickr.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Swappy goodness

My dear cyber friend Calamity Kim posted about her new Johnny Depp bag a while ago. I left a "swoon" comment and before you knew it, Kim generously offered to get me one too. After a bit of mailing back and forth we decided to do a swap, and just in time for the weekend I got to pick up an exciting box from the post office... I couldn't wait to get home, and see what was inside. And what a lot there was! First of all there was the bag, of course. Isn't he gorgeous? Can't wait to take him to town ;-)

And as if the bag wasn't enough - look at all this! Books, magazines, cards, fabric, labels and a marvellous envelope full of all sorts of little treasures. Everything was so prettily wrapped too, that I'm definitely keeping the paper to use in future craft projects.
It's almost inspiration overload, and I've spent the weekend gazing at all my treasures and dreaming about all that I can make with this. Kim is so generous and the swap was a real delight! Thank you, my friend!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Slowly, slowly back to reality...

I'm back at work after three weeks off and life is slowly falling back into the normal pattern after weeks of lazing, gazing, reading and a little bit of stitching. There was none of that hectic Olympic Quilting effort from last summer, and all plans of spending the time efficiently flew out of the window as the temperature soared and the holiday mood took over. But it was lovely. I can hardly remember a time when I was this lazy since I was in my teens. Just something so heavenly as sitting down in the shade in the middle of the day and read a book! And I managed to ignore that persistent little voice in the back of my head telling me about all those useful things I should be doing, and after a while it seemed to give up... There was plenty of time to hang out with friends and family too.

I think this was just what I needed at this point in time, after a really hectic spring and pre-summer at work. I dabbled a bit on a few projects, but I haven't really got all that much to show for it. And all my well laid plans of things I would do when I was off from work was forgotten. And the funny thing is that I'm fine with it!
One of the things I have been working on, is this old thing, and it is slowly evolving into a handbag of sorts. I added some braided and folded sidepanels to make both pieces wide enough, and then decided it was too short and wide for a bag. So I added a top strip to make it deeper, but still thought it was too wide, so I added pleats, and the work continues... I might add some more stitching here and there, or I could just stop here and put it all together. It might need to marinate a bit before I decide. Maybe I'll just read another book.
I'm enjoying a bit of nostalgia today - just found the Cats-CD on special offer (I have the LP, but no record player), and find to my surprise that I still remember all the words of all the songs and that Rum Tum Tugger still wants to leap on your lap in the middle of your sewing, and the old Gumbie cat is forever tying the curtain cord into sailors' knots - such crafty cats ;-) So I sit here typing away and singing my head off. Later I might go and make a lining for my bag. Or maybe not. I could just impersonate that gumbie cat ("she sits and sits and sits and sits, and that's what makes a gubie cat"...)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Zagging along

This is what I'm working on at the moment. It has been left in the UFO pile for far too long, but you don't know how hard it was to find a black fabric for the borders with brown or tan in it - it seems that all black fabrics now have some grey in them, and that just wouldn't work with these colours, I thought. Well, that's the power of fabric trends, I suppose. I eventually found my black in the clearance bin!
I'm working on the backing now - trying to incorporate the cut-offs and leftovers. I think I will quilt it in zigzagging stripes following the pattern in the top, but I haven't quite decided if it should be hand- or machine-quilted yet. There is a zigzag quilt in one of Kaffe Fassett's books which is hand quilted in quite big stitches with floss or something, I think. Maybe that would be a good approach. I'll have to look it up.
Oh well, back to my piecing - I'm invited out for dinner and I really must make some blocks before I leave...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Lazy days

Another quiet holiday moment - but it is wonderful to be able to take time to smell the flowers, read, and sew. The weather the last couple of days was awful - rainstorms in July is not excactly what you expect... but at least it was perfect weather for sewing. I finished quilting my Café de Paris quilt - pictures when I've finished stitching the binding to the back. So that gives me something to work on while watching the box in the evening - I just don't seem able to just sit there and watch a film or whatever, I need to have something to do with my hands as well.
I got a bit stuck on that zigzag quilt, because it ended up narrower and longer than I'd thought. I pulled a few fabrics out of the mix and couldn't find any that blended in the way I wanted. I finally found a black with some brown in it to use as borders, though, so it will get borders along the two long sides. I also trimmed it a bit more, so it ends up at about 88" long. That's quite enough, I think. I'm using the offcuts to make some blocks for the backing. I have decided to be more creative with my quilt backings and not just go for one single fabric. With a bit of piecing I'll be able to use more of my stash. There are lots of fabrics that I'll probably never use in a quilt top, but will work just fine on the back. And then I'll get more room for new fabric...

And reading. What a luxury it is to be able to sit down in the middle of the day and read a book! I've worked my way through a whole pile of Jill Mansell's novels these last couple of weeks (a 3 for 2 offer at my local bookshop), the Barbara Erskine one too - although it was almost too exciting at times... and I still have Weldon and Trollope to go plus one by Mary Wesley along with her biography. We're having a sunny day today, but really, come rain or shine, I have plenty to fill my time!