Saturday, May 31, 2008


Quilting is usually all about working with soft and pliable elements, "software" if you will. But my current project (you must be sick of hearing about this handbag by now, but we're nearly at the finishing line now - I promise!) includes a lot of hardware. Not the computer kind, but from the hardware store, or ironmonger's if you like. That's what I fell for in the first place with this pattern - the combination of soft fabric and somewhat rough bits and pieces like these carabin hooks and whadyamacallits. I don't know what they are for excactly, but something to do with boats I think, because that's the department I found them in. They just happen to be the right size. The colour of the metal is slightly different from the hooks, but never mind. They will do.

I have spent most of today struggling with this bag, but a movie and some hand stitching now should do it. Just so you won't think I'm terribly slow I must hasten to add that the day has been rather short because I slept in after a big party last night. We had this big shindig at work that I helped arrange (read: took over the arrangement of - I had forgotten how much fun that bit can be!) with a treasure hunt and fashion show involving a garbage bag and found objects. It was really fun to see how creative normally serious office workers can be in the right setting! Well, enough said, but getting to bed in the small hours and sleeping really late accounts for less sewing time today, and let's face it: my coordination might be "somewhat hampered" ;-)
This is my last post in May, and although I didn't post every day - some time away and some late nights prevented that - I think I did rather well. 19 posts in May, compared to 2 in April is definitely progress, right? I think this has helped me get back in the groove and I actually find myself thinking about what to blog during the day again, so I hope I will be able to keep it up, just don't expect a post every day!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bag lady?

I seem to have so many plans for new bags of various sizes and shapes that I'd better be careful or I'll get a new nickname...

The new bag is taking shape, though. The quilting took a while, but was fun. Once I started working from the pattern, though, that changed. I seem uncapable of sticking to a pattern - I always start thinking of other ways to do things, and before you know it I have stitched myself into a corner. There just might be a reason for the designer's suggested method of making it, I guess, but somehow I always end up trying my way first, or thinking that there must be something wrong with the pattern... The main problem with this one though, is the thickness of the interfacing/batting - broken needles, bent pins and quite a few scratches to my poor fingers are included in the making of this bag.
I just managed to get the bag itself ready before I left on my weekend trip, and today I have stitched the lining together and I just ad to pin it inside, to see what it will look like. I will have to take it out and press the seams, of course, and I'm also adding something the pattern does not include: an inside pocket with a zipper and an extra pocket for my cell phone.
I don't see why the pattern calls for stitching the binding to the top edge first and then handstitching the lining in after. To my mind it seems a much better idea to sew the lining, bag and binding strip in one go and just hand-stitching the binding to the inside? But I will read the pattern once more - there might be a good reason for this approach...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's lilac time...

Lilac ...
Originally uploaded by The Renaissance
Can you smell it? There seems to be lilac everywhere. That heady fragrance seems to fill your senses and you want to inhale it all - until you get to the point where it's almost too much..
I've been away for a couple of days - there was a lot of lilac, and I stupidly forgot to bring my camera!
I'll be back tomorrow, in the meantime enjoy some beautiful pictures from The Renaissance by clicking on his beautiful photo.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I think I'm in love...

Have you ever seen anything as gorgeous as this?
I have been reading reports about Quilt Market on several blogs this week and seen pictures from the beautiful booths of all the "in" designers. Oh, to have been there..., sigh.
Thanks to Kathy at Pink Chalk Studio I learned about rising star Sandi Henderson and her new line of fabric "Farmer's Market". Click on the picture to see more of her photos.

See lots of pictures and read more here, here and here too! I feel a shopping spree coming on...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Strawberry bag handles

strawberry bag handles!
Originally uploaded by buzzville
I mentioned these yesterday, but I just realized I could "borrow" a picture from Kelly at Superbuzzy instead of getting my camera out (just plain lazy, yes I know!) Aren't they sweet? The ones I bought are red, not pink, and will be perfect for a little summery handbag. Now I just have to find the right fabric to go with them...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fabric, lovely fabric

I just realized that I never mentioned any of the new fabric I've bought recently. I fell head over heels in love with some new bag-handles at Superbuzzy (which I didn't remember to photograph - food for another post there...) and I also ordered some fabric. Both of these are quite heavy linens and I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to use them for. They would work well for handbags I suppose, but how many does a girl need..? Don't worry - I know the answer to that one: a lot! The one above was a pleasant surprise - the colour was a lot brighter than I thought it would be, and with buttons galore it's just wonderful. The next one was a must - with my love for London a map of the city was too good to miss. Something travel-related to be made from this, I think...
Then I came across this sweet fabric at Aunty Cookie's Etsy shop - I just adore these girls! This is one of those fabrics I'll probably just take out to pat and sigh yearningly over for quite a while before I'll be able to cut into it, I guess...
Finally, inspired by this, I bought a duvet cover from IKEA, thinking I'll copy the idea, if not the actual quilting - I just loved the look of those numbers when the white background had been quilted flat. And if nothing else it will be a good piece for practising my quilting on. I ought to have given it a bit of a seeing to with a hot iron before it had it's photograph taken, but I didn't - so there you are - IKEA-numbers in all their wrinkled glory! And just so you know that I'm still working - here's the back of one of the pieces for my handbag. As you can see I decided to quilt in all the squares, so it will take a little while. Especially since I didn't do much today. I didn't feel up to much when I came home today and ended up snuggling under a quilt watching four episodes of Friends back to back instead, while the rain poured down outside. Sometimes one just needs to indulge in doing nothing ;-)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's up?

It's not always easy to find something to blog about, is it? Trying to do so every day is quite a challenge and let's face it, when I usually only blog about the things I make, and making them takes a while, the pictures won't be all that exciting. So instead of boring you with yet another photo of the quilting on my bag, let's see what everybody else is up to, shall we?
Jan at Be*mused has made a Flickr album of the quilts she's working on - I love how she calls them "marinating" quilts, don't you?
When not working on her own hexagons Margaret Cooter has visited the London Quilters exhibition - have a look at all the lovely quilts!
Downunder, the girls at Material Obession have a new book out, and there is a constant "show-and-tell" going on at their blog, sharing what they and their customers make.
I have spent some hours quilting the pieces for my bag today, and tomorrow I might get to start on the actual construction, which makes for more interesting pictures...

Friday, May 16, 2008


Oh, sorry - that's the back ;-)

Here we are, that's better! Although in my hurry to take some pictures of the finished quilt the ones I thought were good became blurred, and on the only sharpish one I've managed to leave out the border at one end. Oh, well, I'll just have to add some extra photos to my Flickr album tomorrow, I suppose. Well, as you see, the quilt is finished at last. I have quilted it with loose wavy lines criss-crossing the blocks and large stipple quilting around the border - just enough to hold the layers together, so that it will remainsoft and cuddly. The last quilt I made for myself was heavily machine quilted, and though I like the look of it, it's really too "stiff" to snuggle under.
I'll just add a label to this and then it is ready to be shipped to M who's had to wait for it since the end of April. Let's hope she finds it worth waiting for :-)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A glimpse

OK, so I can't fob you off with posts about shopping sprees and cross-stitch magazines, can I? I had better show you that I am working on the quilt! Just a little bit more of the binding left to stitch and I'll be done! Dare I promise pictures tomorrow? Well, maybe....
With the end in sight, I just had to start on that handbag, right? I have quilted the main fabric with some thick batting, just criss crossing between the large dots, and I have started adding pattern to some of the dots. I have just done the pink ones so far, and I'll also do the green ones, but I think I might leave the rest unquilted. Once the quilting is done I'll start on the really fun part: the actual construction of the bag, but not until tomorrow - I have binding to stitch and films to watch...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stitching time?

I have had a subscription to Cross Stitcher Magazine (UK) for years, and my shelves are groaning with magazines. If I am to keep up that subscription, some of them will have to go. So during the last few months I have been going through them, little by little, to sort out which ones to keep. The problem is there are so many patterns I might like to stitch, but I know that I will probably never get around to even a tenth of them.
So far I have put stickers on the pages where I find tempting patterns, and then ruthlessly thrown out the ones that end up without stickers. Still the pile of magazines is high, so I know I'll need to have another go and be more realistic about it. There are some that I keep coming back to, like these three, so they will stay, but I think I'll have to be even more ruthless to really make a dent in that pile. And then there are the quilting magazines, the interior decorating ones... It seems that I have my work cut out for me this summer, but little by little even I might become more organized... I think... But not today - I got a sudden craving to go look through my embroidery floss...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

As if...

...I didn't have enough of these! I went to a Tupperware-party hosted by a friend this evening, and would you believe it - I found something new I had never realized I needed! Amazing, isn't it how a gathering with friends can get you all geared up to buy a lot of colourful plastic you swore you didn't need - well I suppose that's how Mr. Tupper made so much money in the first place! I didn't get too carried away, but you know how it is: "I'll just have that." "But, that would be quite nice too.." and "Oh, are you getting one of those? I think I must have one too..." and before you know it you have a long list of "musthaves". Well, never mind, I did some sensible shopping on my way home from work today - some of this:
And a packet of these:
I have just a little more hand stitching left on that binding and I'm ready to begin cutting the fabric for my handbag. Tomorrow, tomorrow...

Monday, May 12, 2008

For those su-hummer ni-hights...

So it isn't quite summer yet, although the blue sky and shining sun could fool you when looking out of the window. The chilly spring air doesn't urge me to venture out on the balcony to while away those su-hummer ni-hights (think "Grease"-soundtrack here!) But when they do arrive I'm prepared with a new tablecloth and lantern - pretty, aren't they?

So I have spent some quality time with my sewing machine this weekend and I'm happy to report that all the quilting is done and I'm about to settle in front of the TV with the hand stitching on the binding - nearly there....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rosy Sunday

I treated myself to a bunch of roses yesterday. I thought they were beautiful then, but this morning I was just stunned when I entered the room and caught sight of them. Such beautiful flowers! I usually buy fresh flowers for the weekend if I'm going to be at home - it's one of my "little luxuries". Even during my student days or first years in the workforce I'd rather treat myself to a bunch of flowers than have dinner at the end of the month when money was running out.
Luckily I can have both, these days. And luckily their beauty can still stop me dead in my tracks on an ordinary Sunday and bring a happy jolt to the heart.

On to something more mundane. I really must go and tidy my sewing area, there is quilting to be done!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Straight and narrow

So much for posting everyday - I didn't get a chance yesterday, but I'm happy to report that I'm still keeping to the straight and narrow - working on the quilt, not a new handbag....

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A new handbag?

fun fabric
Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
It always happens.
I'm geting close to finishing a quilt and then it attacks! The Urge. The urge to start something new, that is. I'm being Very Good, though, and beating it down for now. I have promised myself to finish the quilt before I start something else. But then I'll reward myself with a new handbag, I think...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

An Italian challenge

I received a parcel in the mail yesterday which took me by surprise, since I'd almost had forgotten about this thing. I spent a lot of time last summer dreaming up ideas for this project, and had lots of fun putting it together before I sent it off to Quilting Arts Magazine and their postcard challenge. I didn't enter with high hopes about it being featured in the magazine, and indeed it wasn't, but I saw it more as a challenge to myself - working with an idea and producing something within a set timeframe. As I said, it was a lot of fun. I couldn't believe how many ideas just bubbled to the surface, even during sleep, and it was so much fun to see how I could put it all to use.
Yesterday I got my little book of postcards back, which means I can safely share it with you now.

The challenge was to make a book consisting of four postcards (6 x 4") from a certain holiday destination, or depicting a holiday mood. The ones that were featured in the magazine were fantastic, but thanks to the internet I get to share mine with you here.

I spun a tale about two female friends who were set to go on holiday in Italy. One of them falls ill and is unable to go, so her friend has to go alone, and sends postcards back home to her friend telling her all about it. Or does she tell all?
In the beginning she is a bit sad and wary of being there on her own, but from one card to the next you get the sense that the magic of Italy is winning her over, and she is being seduced by the landscape, travelling in Italy, the art, the food,...or is it by the men? Or maybe one man in particular...? In the last card she hints about not coming home at all, so who knows?

I printed the text on Extravorganza which I stitched to the back of each card. I used a busy handwriting fabric as a backing, drybrushing it with white paint, because I wantedthe writing to be very subtle, but it would probably have been better if I had chosen a less busy fabric underneath.
I used a lot of cliches about Italy - the Tuscan landscape with sunflowers and cypress trees and that lovely apricot sky you see in the early evening.

Photos and ephemera from my own holidays were transferred to fabric, and the travellers exclamations about the wonders of the place were written with Pigma pens (The Art! The Landscape! ...)
Travelling in Italy was depicted with a threadpainted image of a train compartment on a background of pages from an Italian - English dictionary (which happens to be open on the page of "amore"...)
A copy of the receipt for a fine I had to pay on an Italian train once, for failing to understand about "il supplemento", which you are supposed to pay when you travel on the fastest trains, was included.

One page just had to be devoted to Italian food: pasta (the spaghetti is actually some string painted yellow with black "olive" beads), pizza, mozzarella, tomatoes, fruit and of course:

the love of gelato!

No fairytale of Italy would be complete without a visit in Venice. The canals, the glass from Murano (more beads) and of course the men - this is the final card with the not so subtle hints about reasons for staying... Here I have used a faded map of Venice for the background.
All in all I had a great time putting this together, and reliving memories of travels in Italy, different episodes and hints that only I and my travelling companions would recognize, for instance the heavy chenille yarn I have zigzaged around each card, in memory of a hideously dusty chenille curtain in a hallway of a seedy Genovese hotel, where we stayed one memorable night and where most rooms were probably rented by the hour... And lots more, that I'm not going to tell you about ;-)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Spring is in the air. I just had to use my cell phone to snap a picture of the evidence - our town park has been a muddy mess all winter, due to an ongoing upgrade, but on my way home today I realized that it is green again and flowers are being planted. After a foggy morning the sun was out, the temperature quite pleasant and all was right in the world :-)

The elation carried me all the way home and into my sewing room for an energetic quilting session - only the borders left to quilt now!

I have something else to show you, but it will have to wait until tomorrow, because the camera's battery is flat!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Learning socks

So here they are, my two learning socks. Luckily there is no cold-toed toddler waiting in the wings - he would be getting a rather odd pair of socks to wear...
The one on the left is The Little Sky Sock with a sky arch expansion and a star toe and the one on the right is The Little Coriolis Sock which starts with a whirlpool toe and a band of stitches crossing the arch. If I were to make a pair, the other one would have the band going the other way. But, making a pair? No, sorry that's not going to happen! I think that's why this sock thing keeps eluding me - once I've knitted one, it's a question of "been there, done that" and searching eagerly for something else to do... I do see the point of knitting both socks at once, so that's the way I'll go, I think... When I look at that Little Sky sock now, I suspect that I might have got my counting muddled up - it looks a bit short in the foot, but never mind, this was just to learn, right? I think I might be ready for the real stuff now! But first: quilting-time!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

New pathways

I might become a knitter yet! It's not that I don't like to knit, and I have done my fair share in the past, but after I discovered quilting, knitting just had to wait in the wings. When I first caught on to this blogging thing, I saw that there were a lot of knitting blogs out there, but I never thought that would have any influence on my life...
After discovering Knitty, and some really nice and unusual yarns out there, I felt the itch though, and some scarves later, my stash had started growing almost of it's own accord.
Socks though? Nah, I wouldn't knit any socks... But then there was this lovely sock yarn, and the added interest of online patterns, socks starting at the toe, short row heels, hm, maybe I should have a go... So I did, but a couple of half-finished socks later I realized I needed some directions.
A plain old boring sock like the ones we made at school just wouldn't do, I needed something a bit more interesting... (Always on the lookout for something unusual, a challenge of some sort, I am...)
So now I'm exploring new pathways using the scientific approach. I have knitted my first little learning sock from this book (I'm actually following directions and doing what I'm told!), and I'm well on the way with the other one, and I'm happy to say that it does make a difference! - With clear instructions, humour and explanations about the Mother and the Grandmother of your stitches, stitches wearing scarves etc. Cat Bordhi is making everything so much clearer. Great book, this one, but I just can't decide whether I want to make Tibetans or Robin Hood's Fireside Boots first. Or maybe I'll finish the ones I've started...

Meanwhile there's always quilting. I finally managed to make a decision about the borders on this one, and after waiting impatiently for Mr. Postman, it finally arrived, too late to get it ready for the actual occasion, but my dear M got some pictures of the quilt in progress and a silly verse about the trials of making a quilt, and she's happy to wait until I have finished it. Not that she has much choice in the matter, though!
I think the white with black paisley and black with white dots go well with all the colours in this one. I have basted it today, and I'm really looking forward to quilting it. That won't be until tomorrow though, so I still have some time to ponder different quilting options. I found some yardage of two different Jan Mullen prints in my stash. Four lengthwise strips, pieced together, will do nicely for the backing. I have had a couple of very busy months and this blog has been sadly neglected. Although I might still have some busy days ahead at work, there seems to be more spare time to do some crafting, and one hopes, more to blog about. I'm a bit late for the party as usual, but I have decided to join Allsorts' A Post A Day in May thing and see where that takes me...