Thursday, 19 December 2013

Something for the New Year

Back in April, I posted the first few blocks of my scrappy trip around the world quilt. For one reason or another, they were then put away in the WiP cupboard and that was that...

...until a couple of weeks ago when I found them and wondered why I had left them languishing?

I cut up a bunch of strips and started making blocks; Instagrammers encouraged me and soon I had 42 blocks. Ignoring housework, visiting guests and internet shopping, I sewed them together.


And now?  Well now I have a flimsy measuring 72" x 84" ready for the New Year when we get back from England.

Without sounding like a creative lovey, I feel like I have gone back to my quilting roots with this one. Little or no negative space, bright and bold.  That's me.

Monday, 2 December 2013

I Shall Tease You No More

As some of you will have gathered, I have been struggling to find a balance between family life, work and blogging these last few months. My new teaching job has taken up much more of my time than I thought it would with lesson planning replacing any sewing and blogging time. I've missed sharing everyone's makes  - the highs and the lows.  Still, I'm hoping that as this semester winds up, things should improve and I resolve to be a better blogger!

Still, I have a finish to share!

Almost 2 years ago, my sweet blogging friend Di invited me and a few other friends to form a new round robin bee.  We picked a theme and over the course of the next year, we secretly made for each other.

I asked for scrappy curves, and my bee mates didn't disappoint.

Di assembled my blocks perfectly and in spring this year I received my gorgeous flimsy - an eclectic, one of a kind quilt top!

I quilted it with alternate 1 1/2" and 2 1/2" diagonal crosshatch straight lines and bound it using a couple (on the basis I never have enough of anything) of different Anna Maria Horner Drawing Room prints.

I wanted a darker binding to frame the blocks, and I think the colours work perfectly. I used a bamboo and cotton batting from my mum's local quilt shop and the backing is Pagoda Hill by Tina Givens. The quilt measures 72" square.

It's such a pretty quilt, and I can't thank my bee mates enough.  It really is one of a kind!

Top Row (left to right):  Di's wonderful Drunkard's path block, Katy's beautiful abstract appliqued blocks and my clamshells.
Middle Row: Susan's gorgeous portholes in her signature bright colours, Helen's amazing Dresden block that reminds me of millefiori every time I look at it, and Di's beautiful lemon and limes block.
Bottom Row: My lozenges using my quick curve ruler, Danny's beautiful appliqued pebbles and Hadley's exquisite New York Beauty!

Thank you my friends - if I'm not checking your blogs....know that I'm thinking of you every time I look at this quilt.

Linking up with Lynne's Fresh Sewing Day.

Lily's Quilts

Sunday, 10 November 2013

(Big) City Girl QAL

It's my turn on the (Big) City Girl blog hop - welcome to Marrakech!

Situated in Morocco, N.Africa, Marrakech has been my home for the last 11 years.  Love it or hate it, it's a crazy, colourful and vibrant city known for its beautiful winter sun and searingly hot summers.

I won't lie - it took me a while to come up with a design for my block.  I can only just paper piece let along come up with a pattern (have you seen some of the amazing blocks in this QAL?!) and when I thought about this city, it is really known for its souqs, Djem El Fna square and its iconic colour.  You see, all the buildings are a dusky pink.  Marrakech is known as The Red City.

To ward against the evil eye, Moroccans believe in the powers of a palm shaped amulet called the Fatima's hand.  They can wear it as a piece of jewelery or you often see it as a door knocker (see the centre image in the mosaic below) - believing that you never really knowing the true intentions of some visitors!

Here is my block - an improv. pieced Fatima's hand in the colours of Marrakech, using Oakshott cottons.

So here's a quick and super easy tutorial!

various scraps for the improv.pieced hand (solids or patterns in any colorway)
Paper template, which you can download here (enlarge to desired size)
Template plastic (not essential)
10 1/2" x 10 1/2"backing fabric
Double sided fusible interfacing

Step 1
Improv. piece scraps of fabric together until you have a rectangle approximately 9" x 9". There are lots of good tutorials online. I didn't use a ruler - I just used random scraps - sewed them together - trimmed and kept piecing! Go with your heart!

Step 2
Using the template, trace it on to some template plastic and lay it across the block diagonally.  This isn't necessary but does help you position the hand on the pieced square so that you can decide where to position it.  Try not to position the edge of the template near to where seams meet, like you can see half way along the top long edge in the picture below.

Step 3
Use the plastic template to trace round on to the non sticky side of the double sided fusible interfacing and trim around it leaving a half inch or so.

Position the interfacing on the wrong side of the pieced block with the sticky side down.  Fuse the two together following the manufacturer's instructions (usually applying a dry heat for a few seconds).

Step 4
Cut around the template and peel away the interfacing paper - don't leave it on too long and be careful so that you don't pull the seams.

Fold your backing fabric in half and press with an iron so that you have a central line.  Position your Fatima's hand on the backing fabric using the central line as a guide.

Step 5
Applique the hand to the backing fabric using your preferred method - either by hand or machine. I machine appliqued using the applique stitch.

Et voila!

Thank you so much to Aylin and Amy for organizing this QAL.  It's not too late to join in - it's low key and low pressure! Why not design a block of your own for your city? You can read about the QAL here.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

WiP Wednesday

I rarely do WiP Wednesday but have decided to start on the basis that it might focus my mind now that I'm going to have other commitments.

So keeping it real, I shall list only a couple of things.

First up are my blocks for the City Sampler. Since starting these last Friday I have made the first 15 blocks, which are all crosses. These blocks come together so easily and I am loving the combination of different Tula Pink lines and Oakshott. I have a way to catch up with the sewalong, which are at the mid fifties but who knows, I might do!

Second up is my gorgeous Stitch Tease quilt top, the theme for which was curves.

I have the batting and I'm going to do a pieced back...just need to decide on the fabrics. The only thing is that I left a lot of my basting pins at my mum's and so energy is required to face basting it with thread...and if I do that then I'm quite tempted to hand quilt it on my big hoop! Am I mad?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Bee Frazzled

It's October and round here that means one thing...cooler temperatures! Not that they are here yet...

September was a bit of a frustrating month for me sewingwise as I was behind from the start, lacked momentum for most of the month and really only found my rhythm in the last few days.

There were bee blocks to be made of course.

I had Jennifer's Stitch Tease bee blocks for August *blush* to make.  She asked for Arkansas Traveler blocks (far right) in hummingbird colours against a dark grey background. We used this super straightforward tutorial by Lee and the block came together with no difficulty.  The only problem was that the background was paper pieced and there was a lot of wastage so using the cutting instructions I got through a whole FQ for one block! The diamonds for the second block are made, so once new fabric supplies arrive, they will be off to Jennifer.

Hadley was Queen Bee in September's Stitch Tease and asked for 49 patch blocks using low volume in one block and aqua, deep pink, dark grey and low volume in the second block.  Now these was easy to put together but only once I had found the fabrics, which was challenging to say the least! She is going to have the most beautiful quilt.

A few months ago, Rhonda asked if I would join her Modern Stitching Bee and seeing who was in it I jumped at the chance. Leanne was first up for the new round and asked for square within a square blocks and QST blocks. She asked for fussy cuts in pinks, acid greens, aquas, zesty oranges and lemons and juicy purples. For the QST blocks, Leanne wanted prints which would read as horizontal lines - this challenged not only my fabric choices but my brain in correctly positioning the components of the block and let's just say there was seam ripping and then some!

Determined to do better this month, I decided to get on with Emily's blocks for the Modern Stitching Bee. Emily asked for log cabins using a little red, yellow and green surrounded by navy and low volume fabrics. While I didn't repeat within each block, there are some repeats within the second block but I'm hoping that with some careful positioning they will fit in nicely. Another beautiful quilt me thinks.

A couple of bees wind up this month and I won't be joining in any Round 2s. I need to lessen my bee commitments and concentrate on just a couple.  If you hear me joining another you have permission to shout at me!


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Time & Tide Wait for No Man...

...well except in Morocco that is.

There have been Alice Through the Looking Glass moments round here lately, like when last night we found out that the government had earlier in the day decided not to put the clocks back this morning but extend summertime to October 27 giving everyone less than 24 hours notice. I can only begin to imagine the chaos this must have caused airlines and passengers, people with meetings, appointments etc., Only in Morocco!

I don't know if I shared my news that I am shortly to return to gainful employment as a p/t English language teacher at the American language center here. It's only a few hours a week but it will get me out the house and stop me turning in to a desperate housewife. The last few days have consisted of meetings, observations and orientation and well a little bit of sewing too.

Anyway, I started something new...fashionably late to the Tula Pink City Sampler!

On Friday I made my first Tula Pink City Sampler block using my charms from the recent swap...this is my favourite block. I love it so much.

These blocks are the perfect size and can be made easily from charms as the blocks only come out at 6.5" unfinished.  They have proved addictive as today I made another 8 of the cross blocks. I used the charms as well as some old Parisville scraps and some solids (Kona and Oakshott). I deliberately tried to use different colours from those in the book as I want this to be my quilt and there was poetic licence with fabric placement as occasionally I didn't always have enough of one fabric.

Here's Block 2

Block 3

Block 4

Block 5 *edited to add* Oops, just noticed a problem with this one. I thought it didn't look very crosslike!

Block 6

Block 7

Block 8

and Block 9

Here's a clearer group shot.

I've no idea how long my charms and scraps will last out so I may have to see what I can find online but I can't wait to make more progress with this one!

Hope you have had a great Sunday!


Friday, 20 September 2013

Show & Tell Summer Edition

Well thank you for the lovely welcome back and for patiently sitting through the somewhat long slide show of holiday photos.

So while we were in England, it wasn't all beaches, playgrounds and museums.  There were some stitchy related things too.

August was my turn as queen bee in the Sew Euro Bee An bee. Despite the fact I had had over a year to decide on my block I prevaricated and then some.  In the end I went old school and asked for churn dash blocks; I sent my bee mates some of Jenean Morrison's Beechwood Park and bits of my low volume layer cake from Rebecca's amazing swap. 

This is where I'm at at the moment. The colours remind me of Opal Fruits or Starbursts if you like, and while I'm sure I will love it in the end - the colours are just a bit different for me. Here are my blocks together with those received from Pippa, Celine and Di - thank you!

Beechwood Park Churn Dash blocks
On the hand sewing front, I finally finished the main panel of my Hexy MF EPP top, almost exactly a year after starting it.  Here it is lazing on my mum's garden bench. Now I just need to build up the courage to applique it to the background fabric.

I also finished a very overdue EPP block for Marguerite. While it was ridiculously fiddly it was actually quite enjoyable in the end.

What about fabric? There were some modest(ish) additions to the stash.

I picked up some forgotten half yards I had ordered from Cindy when she was having a sale many moons ago.  I did of course pay for them but as it was in another season it doesn't count right?

I also collected these gorgeous Oakshott FQs which I bought from Fiona when she was having an IG de-stash (again a while back so they don't count *ahem*) 

and these beautiful charms...

which I'm thinking could work very nicely with my amazing Tula Pink charms below from a recent swap.  I have to give a very belated and huge shout out to lovely Jennifer who took up another place on the swap so that I could join in. It was a U.S based only swap - Jenn cut my fabric for me and then posted the charms on to me in England. Thank you my friend!

The bargain find of our visit was this beautiful Liberty fabric, which I picked up in Greenwich market. I paid a tenner for 6 yards which was just silly really. The colours will work so well here...once I decide what to do with it.

If you are based in the UK and are not a member of Annie's CAB then you should be. In return for giving your view on beautiful upcoming fabric ranges, Annie enters you in to a monthly draw. My name was drawn in July and I spent my winnings on the texty fabrics I used in these paper pieced bee blocks for Katy.

At the end of July I received a token from Annie for my August birthday and I bought some of AMH's amazing Hand Drawn Garden as well as a couple of other bits and pieces.

Lastly, there was the obligatory purchase of some new quilting books. I was eventually seduced in to buying the 100 Modern Quilt Blocks after seeing all these amazing blocks popping up everywhere, and the book at the back has been on my amazon wishlist forever...I bought it secondhand from Amazon for about a fiver including shipping from the States - for that I can forgive a few bent corners. It's a great book on improv. and very inspiring!

Lastly, separated from my stash and a bad case of itchy fingers, I decided to knit! Now knitting and I do not get on. In fact the brand of knitting needles I'm using would best describe my knitting efforts to date. Still, undeterred I bought some gorgeous Rowan Lima yarn and have nearly finished knitting a cowl. This photo doesn't do the colour justice but it's really pretty. it measures from the floor to my chest and so it's quite long.

...and there endeth this long and really quite colourful post.  Now to just shake off a horrible head cold and make a start on my ever-growing to-do list!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

...and we're back!

Oh my goodness, that was a long break.  When I last blogged regularly it was early summer and now it's autumn.

I've hardly sewed, hardly blogged and haven't commented for nearly 3 months.  We spent August at my mum's in England and had an amazing time - the weather was kind for once (the warmest summer for 7 years). While I normally try not to do too much on the computer when we visit, my laptop died anyway and I only got a new one today.  Hopefully, normal service can now resume.

So what did we get up to while we were away? Well here's a whistlestop tour.

There were days at the beach - sunny and rainy.

We had a couple of days in Cornwall visiting Port Isaac, Polzeath, Padstow and Boscastle

We spent the bank holiday weekend in London during which time we queued...and queued and...well queued!

There were visits to the natural history museum, the maritime museum where Zaki indulged his inner pirate and the rare breeds country park.

...and well England was just really pretty...and green.

We're now back...and it's signifcantly cooler than when we left so here's hoping I can get some sewing done soon. I admit to feeling a little overwhelmed and not knowing really where to begin, let alone where everything is!

Still it feels good to be back...let's hope it's for keeps this time!