Sunday, 30 December 2012

Looking Back

My second year blogging and sewing comes to a close. I can't help feeling some disappointment at my rate of finishes but I accept that it's not a race, I enjoy the whole process (well most of it - basting and quilting will never be my favourites) and living where I do will always make things more challenging and slower.

There were a handful of finishes - well every one has to be a favourite doesn't it? My mum's quilt (which she loves by the way - I got in to trouble for not mentioning that in yesterday's post), an orange and pink quilt for Siblings Together, Baby George's Peeps Plus quilt and a quilt for me - my Lark quilt.

A couple of blue unfinished quilts for my Godson and my husband.

I discovered EPP (English Paper Piecing), loved it and even joined an EPP bee.  I started my quilting journey with hand sewing and have loved returning to it.

It was huge fun joining in with Mouthy Stitches 1 and 2 and the For the Love of Solids swaps.

Being in 5 bees means a lot of bee blocks. Here are some of the blocks I made.

I also made my first zippered pouches and totes.

All in all, not a bad effort.  I shall keep my resolutions for the beginning of the new year.  It just leaves me to thank all my followers for dropping in and reading during this year - your comments make my day, inspire me and keep me motivated.  Thank you.
Happy New Year!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The One that Sneaked Under the Wire

We're in England!  Well we've been here almost 2 weeks actually and it's rained here almost every second. It was raining when we arrived, Christmas came and went and it's still raining. I understand now how difficult it is to take pictures in natural light as ... uhmmm, there is very little!

Converging Corners quilt
A belated but very Merry Christmas to everyone.

The first thing I did after arriving was to take my machine back to the shop I bought it from.  It's under warranty and they have promised they will fix it before we leave.

After sporadic periods of quilting, interspersed with shopping for presents and a trip to the local panto, I finished sewing down the binding on my mum's quilt on Christmas Eve.

I waited to share it with you as I wanted to wash it and show it to you in all its crinkly loveliness on some glamourous country location but the incessant rain have put a stop to that one.

You may remember this was secret sewing for my mum. With some Kaffe Fasset fabrics, I used Film in the Fridge's tutorial for her Converging Corner's block - when I showed a teaser here - most of you guessed right. These blocks are super easy to make but more time consuming than you might think.  With no sashing, you also have to make quite a few of them to get a decent sized quilt.  After 20 blocks, I called it a day and added a 6 " border.

For the backing, I used Amy Butler's Harriet's Kitchen from her beautiful Cameo line.

The binding is also from the Cameo line - Folly in zinc. I would love to make a shirt from this fabric.

I'm really happy with how the Cameo fabrics work with the Kaffe Fasset fabrics.

For the quilting, I did organic straight lines - while I like the effect, it took a long time to quilt!

So this is a very late birthday early Christmas present for my mum, and a satisfying late finish for 2012.

Quilt Statistics

Quilt Top Assorted Kaffe Fasset and Kona White
Backing Amy Butler's Harriet's Kitchen from the Cameo Line
Binding Folly in Zinc also Cameo
Batting Quilter's Dream 100% cotton
Measures 72" x 60"

Like a lot of people, I have tried to stay away from the computer over Christmas so that I can enjoy my time with family. After New Year, I am looking forward to getting my machine back and resuming some kind of normal service...

Monday, 17 December 2012

Some Secret (Santa) Sewing Revealed!

I've been a bad blogger, a bad follower these last few days...but it's all in an attempt to be a good daughter. I've been working on my mum's quilt (which she has been waiting a loooong time for) and because of the block I close, I had to make a few of them.  After stealing the batting from the quilting fail that was my Stained Man with a Curious Nature quilt, it's basted and ready for quilting on my mum's machine after we get back tomorrow. So there should be a finish before the New Year...and I shall re-quilt the man quilt in January!

So you may remember I'm a member of the Stitch Tease bee.  This is a great group of women and the brain child of lovely Di. A few weeks back, when I had a happy machine, I suggested a low stress Secret Santa swap and the mama and fellow bee mates agreed. We gave some helpful suggestions to our partner and one of mine was a stocking for Zaki.

My partner was the funny and very talented Katy and look what she sent...

Photo courtesy of my mum
...the most gorgeous stocking with dinosaurs appliqued on to it and his name of course. Zaki is completely dinosaur obsessed and a dinosaur quilt is on the bucket list.  I haven't shown him the stocking as I want it to be a surprise but I just know he is going to LOVE it. Because of the unpredictability of the postal systems at this time of year, Katy sent it to my mum's - I can't wait to see it and to give it to Zaki!  Thank you Katy - you did an amazing job!

My partner was lovely Danny, who hangs out in Arizona and has a totally edible 1 year old called Clara-Mae.  One of Danny's requests was for a Christmas toy for Clara Mae.  I decided to make her a Christmas soft book.

I used some Essex linen for the outer cover and  Kona Regal for the inside lining.

I appliqued some Christmas themed pictures...

..and as I am in Morocco, there had to be one of the wise men's camels and a Christmas star.  I think this one is my favourite.

As I was making this on my old machine and without a walking foot, I wasn't able to top stitch the pages or bind the book with a central seam - there was no way I could stitch 3 layers of pages together!  So I had no choice to to tie the book together with some embroidery yarn.

While I like the look, this isn't ideal for a one year old and I hope Danny will cut the ties and whizz the book through her machine. I hope this book will be chewed and loved!

We leave for England tomorrow so more once we're back!

Friday, 7 December 2012


That's how I've been feeling the last few days, struck down by some hideous virus incorporating chills, nausea and a migraine. Seriously, it was nasty but the worst appears to be over.  So just popping in to say 'hi'.

I managed to completely miss Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day...well apart from a couple of entries on friends' blogs.  Gutted.

It's not all bad news. In the Black Friday sales, I ordered some charcoal Sketch background fabric for my aqua, orange and grey hexies from the Fat Quarter Shop. *edited to add: I now realize that it was the black and white Sketch I wanted...not the grey!* It arrived yesterday but I could only really look at it today and well, it's grey!

Too grey?

I have 74 hexy flowers made and quite a few more to make so much of the background fabric will be covered.  It has the desired effect of making the flowers As I have several yards of it, it looks like this will be it regardless!

I had other happy mail to cheer me up in the form of half yard bundles from Pink Castle's pop up sale a couple of weeks ago.

This is the red bundle.

And this is the blue and yellow bundle.

Considering I chose these bundles in a nano second from a small thumb nail on my phone, I am pretty happy and they will help me on my way to building up a much depleted stash.

Just waiting on a little happy mail from Julie's Black Friday sale, included in which will be my mum's side order of Cameo voiles...I wonder whether she'll notice if they're missing. Hmmm....

Voting has opened in the Travellin' PicStitch blog hop - take a look here and see lots of EPP inspiration.  I'm No.13 in the European section (lucky I'm not superstitious!) I would love your vote but as I'm in such amazing company with many bloggy friends, go with your heart!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

December Fresh Sewing Day

1. Katherine's Wheel Spring Carnival EPP, 2. Front of Salma's Tote, 3. Blocks for Hurricane Sandy Help!, 4. We Bee Modern Too Block - November, 5. Monochromatic Union Jack Quilt Top, 6. Front of Christmas Tote, 7. Strip for Danny in the Stitch Tease Bee, 8. Liberty Spring Carnival Blocks for Celine, 9. Bathroom Tile Block

November was the month that my year old Janome moaned and groaned and decided enough was least for the time being until it is repaired all being well later this month.

Last month, there was...

...a lot of EPP
the usual bee blocks
a quilting disaster with my Curious Nature Stained man quilt
a favourite make of the Union Jack quilt top (although unlikely to be made up in time for Christmas)
progress with my orange, aqua and grey hexies
little progress on my mum's quilt
participation in Katy and Laura's Travellin' Picstitch blog hop (still time to link up your entry here)
splurges on bundles during the Black Friday sales
and secret makes for...shhhhhhh

It's ridiculous to think this is the last Fresh Sewing Day link up for 2012! There is so much to do and so little time.  I'm admitting defeat for the rest of 2012 and only doing what I have to do until my machine is repaired.

Zaki is better but his fever was a symptom of a vomiting virus which reared its ugly head on Wednesday.  I'm hopelessly behind on my blog reading and emails so I'm sorry if I have been a little quiet! I'm disappointed with my progress this year.  I made and finished very little in reality and am already working on my sewing resolutions for January.   I am definitely planning to be in less bees and sew more for me and my nearest and dearest! What are you promising to be better at next year?
Lily's Quilts

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

News from the House of Ill

We are officially the House of Ill.  There hasn't been a lot of sewing going on recently for one reason or another.  Zaki and I had to go up to Rabat (the capital) for a couple of days as we had a visa application to make and have both come home ill.  Zaki got sick in the early hours of Monday morning while we were at my sister in law's in Casablanca.

Not quite the romantic image most people have of Casablanca...

It's funny how things turn out but Zaki and I were sharing a double bed and I found him at 3AM burning up.  Had we been at home, I might not have known he was sick until perhaps the morning.  Despite feeling lousy, he was absolutely amazing and a great companion and we were able to do the paperwork on Monday and get a train back to Marrakech...he slept most of the way home (a four hour journey) and we went straight to the doctors. It looks like he picked up a virus. He didn't go to school today but he looks like he is on the mend!

Anyway, there has been a little progress on the orange, aqua and grey hexies.  I love working with these 1" hexagons - they baste really easily and all those precise corners satisfy the usually very latent neat geek in me.

...and I am making some progress with my EPP Fireworks ferris wheel.

and here's a sneaky peek of a block in Danny's strip. I'm on the naughty step in this bee.  Danny gave us pretty much free reign to make her strip in the Strip Tease bee *edited to add that in fact I'm in a bee called Stitch Tease lol - thanks Di!* and I have been paralysed with such a choice and I'm very late.   However, I am going slowly with my old machine (no quarter inch foot, no light but great tension!) and I'm 4 blocks down with 2 to go.

This bee finishes up next spring and I know there are going to be eight very happy chappies as their quilt tops arrive. We really have no idea what our tops will look like...I'm starting to get excited!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Winner Winner, Turkey Dinner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the Zilch Nada Zip Liberty Stile giveway.

We have a winner!

It's lovely and talented Kirsten who said, "Hope your mojo returns soon!Thanks for the chance to win these gorgeous fabrics."

I've just emailed you Kirsten - the fabrics will be winging their way to Australia as soon as I have your details.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends - have a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The One with Lots of Colour

I haven't been blogging much recently but I'm feeling a lot better and the pity party is officially over.

These are the 12 blocks I have received so far from the Care Circle of do.Good Stitches and all from Australia I think.  It was my second  month as quilter in October and I chose Elizabeth's Patchwork Wheel block.  I can't believe six different people made these blocks as they are so incredibly in tune with each other.  I asked for scrappy and I got the most beautiful rainbow blocks.

Thank you lovely ladies of the Care Circle - this is going to be a gorgeous quilt! 

Being machineless has meant that I can get on with an EPP bee block due by the end of the month.  Celine wanted a Row A and a Row B of Katy's Spring Carnival templates using some Liberty lawn fabrics of her own and supplemented with fabric of our own.  This is Row A.

I am really enjoying being in this EPP bee - there is a two month turnaround for each block, and it is great always having a little EPP project on the go.

Had I not been in the bee, I might not have made any Spring Carnival blocks. However, I have and Katy's free templates are perfect and come together pretty easily.

I'm now thinking of a cushion using this gorgeous charm pack of Katherine Wheel, which my lovely Aunt Jan gave me when we were in England back in August.  She picked it up at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham and having met Nel Whatmore declared her absolutely lovely! I'm thinking of using this pretty purple or perhaps navy for the solid background. That will be tomorrow's EPP project.

Lastly, here's a view over the scruffy Marrakech medina south toward the Atlas mountains, which are back! They disappear every year as soon as it gets really hot and then return in the autumn.  If you look really closely (forgive the 'phone quality), you'll notice they are snow capped.  The recent rain has turned to snow and that's why it's now so cold at night! Brrr.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Good Intentions

It seems I'm not the only one feeling less than creatively inclined at the moment.

If I couldn't sew then perhaps I could get my camera out.  It's a holiday here today and so Zaki and I headed in to the old town for a wander round the souqs.  Armed with a new SD card, I had grand intentions of taking lots of photos but it was quieter than usual and my people watching was being watched by other people.

Taking bread to be baked at the community oven 'faran'

Then I spied a sign on the wall stating how rude it was to take photos of people without their permission (which I guess it is).  And that was it. My photographic mojo would have needed one of those little blue pills to do anything else...

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Zilch Nada Zip Liberty Stile Giveaway

I've been feeling a little bit in the doldrums the last few days.  I have completely and utterly lost my mojo. Zilch. Nada. Zip.  It may be to do with the fact that my machine has broken down (it judders in quite a scary way and Error appears on the screen) and will have to come back with me to the UK in December.  Luckily, it is still under guarantee (it turns out that it is 2 years rather than 1 year as I originally thought) but whether they will be able to repair it in the 3 weeks we are back is another thing.  My old machine is not behaving either and I have uhmm... lots on my to-do list.

So in an effort to revive my spirits, what better than a giveway? If I can't sew, at least others can! My followers are approaching 400 and that makes me super happy as does this whole quilting and sewing caboodle, the support, the generosity, the humour and the wonderful comments that my readers leave me. This is a thank you from me to you.

So when this morning I was basting some templates for some EPP using some Liberty tana lawn and saw  Annie's newsletter announcing that the 2nd Liberty Lifestyle collection, Stile had arrived, I thought I would give one of you lucky ducks 4 fat quarters.  Using Annie's Build a Bundle, I chose one each in:


(Photo - Village Haberdashery)

(Photo - Village Haberdashery)

and Rennie

(Photo - Village Haberdashery)
The collection is of course based on Art Nouveau designs and the Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

So to be in with a chance of winning 4 fat quarters of these fabrics, simply leave a comment. Followers get a bonus entry.  The giveaway is open internationally.  I shall draw a winner on Thursday November 22.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Cool Brittania

It has been pouring with rain here the last couple of days and thoughts inevitably turned to home.

You may recall that I recently received a lovely order of cool blues and neutrals from Pink Castle for a quilt I had in mind for my 11 year old Godson.  I was thinking of an improv. quilt but decided in the end that he might prefer a Union Jack.

So yesterday, as the rain pelted down I made this monochromatic top. I wanted it to have a fairly retro feel to it. I used various shades of blues and neutrals. If you make a Union Jack quilt, you definitely have to concentrate so that you get the quadrants in the right order.  I won't lie.  The seam ripper came out more than once.  But it's done.

Now before you accuse me of being a serial topper, the batting has arrived for my Man with a Stained Nature quilt and I'm all set to go.  Except for the bad back that is! Oh and the mountain of other things on the to do list.

If you are missing all that election fever on the other side of the pond,  Perri Lewis author of Material World  and craft writer for The Guardian, shared the US best election craft which you can see here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop

It's my turn today on the Travellin' Pic Stitch blog hop - the brain child of Katy and Laura who have just returned from their own hop through national parks in the US.  If it's your first time here then welcome - I hope you'll take a look around!

I am a Brit but for the last ten years, I have lived in the Moroccan city of Marrakech in N.Africa. If I'm not sewing then I love to get snapping. Living here is incredibly inspiring and a bit of a sensory overload. You either love it or hate it. Some days I love it...some days I...miss the old country.

Take a look at some of the tile designs I see them everywhere here...see what I mean about the inspiration?

I love those clamshells! That's my son there...when he was aged one and half.

So when Laura and Katy invited me to join them on their blog hop, it was a no brainer. Especially given that I had discovered English Paper Piecing (EPP) in the summer with this project. My 1" aqua, orange and grey hexies.
Aqua, orange and grey hexies
In Marrakech, all the buildings are painted a pinky red colour and it's known as the Red City or Rose City. So I chose this photo I took in a vegetarian restaurant to show you the type of  interior you might find here and the red/pink coloured walls I mentioned. The lantern, ornate railings and low seating are typical.

The Earth Cafe, Marrakech
Using a palette builder at play crafts, I created a palette for an EPP block. Play Crafts is incredibly easy to use.  You simply upload a photo and within seconds you have a palette which can then download it.
After pulling some suitable fabrics, I used some of Lynne's lozenge templates to create the bathroom tile block from the Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters book.

The original block pattern was on point but I think I prefer it this way round.  After appliqueing the block to a square of Kona Regal, I trimmed the corners so that it became an octagon - the shape of many of the tiles you see here in Morocco.  I'm not so sure this looks like a Moroccan tile as the prints are too large - perhaps a 1970s Moroccan tile? I would like to try this block again using smaller geometric patterns.  I think they would look great.

This post is part of the Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop.  

From 1st October - 30th November we are hopping all over the world EPP-ing in some fantastic locations.  Check out the full list here and be sure to check out the other participants.

On 30th November it's over to you to link up for a chance to win these fabulous prizes! You'll need to take a photo, create a palette and do some EPP using it.

Full details of the competition can be found here.

Tomorrow, be sure to hop over to my lovely bloggy friend Sarah at Narcoleptic in a Cupboard. She is a fabulous quilter and lives in the most beautiful part of the world!