Monday, 25 February 2013

Hip to be Square

This quilt top is in making terms what Heinz baked beans on toast is to a snack.  Instant gratification.

I held out for 2 months but resistance was futile.  I started something new. Ever since I saw Katy's giant Indie star, I knew I wanted to make one.  I happened to have 8 fat quarters of Amy Butler's Cameo but I needed some background fabric.

Despite carrying only hand luggage for her trip from the States to Morocco, I asked (cheeky? moi?) my friend Elizabeth to play fabric mule and bring over the requisite amount of Kona Navy and she agreed!

It's a lovely size of 68" square and I love it! I've always loved square quilts.  I see more in my future.

As a very small thank you to my friend, I made her a travelling tea bag wallet using Charlotte's tutorial, which is excellent! Well what else do you make an Englishwoman in New York? Again, a super quick and easy make. The only thing I fell down on was the ribbon as I only had a white one and a pale blue, cream or yellow one would have been infinitely nicer but we'll ignore the ribbon and concentrate on the fabric, which matches my triple zippie.

Then I filled it with some Earl Grey, Chai and lemon verbena tea bags.

Instant makes?  You gotta love 'em!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Our Saturday

Someone asked me recently whether she was going to have to wait until it was really hot here in Marrakech before she saw some more photos of Marrakech on my blog. I took that as a hint; not a very subtle one.

It has indeed been a while since I put the fabric down and picked up my camera. To be honest, I have had a bit of a downer on Morocco for a few months.   However, today I was meeting real life friend Elizabeth and her husband Robert who were visiting from New York. Elizabeth used to live here and is an incredible photographer and can capture the beauty of everyday life. She blogs here, here and this is her dog Buster's blog.  Shhhh. Don't tell Archie. Oh yeah, she's a prolific blogger.

Perhaps a couple of hours walking in the souqs with Elizabeth could inspire me to take more photos. After a coffee, we went for a walk through the souqs and I tried to capture some of the beauty, colour and interest of Morocco which once held me captivated.

I think Zaki and the chameleon fall in to the interesting category... does this huge tub of  fresh snails. Mmmm.  Not.

These baskets are definitely colourful!

As are these pink painted wooden tables.

...and these big balls of yarn (Zaki was placed for scale)

These tiles are beautiful, colourful and interesting and look like perfect inspiration for quilt blocks.

I love these bowls too.

Some of these fossils are really colourful and Zaki would definitely put them in the interesting category!

Pretty sparkly sequined baskets...

...and pretty sparkly lighting glimpsed through a pink archway while standing next to a pink bicycle.

Every day street scenes still capture my interest even after 11 years, like this woman cycling through an  archway...

...or this fruit seller and his cart...

...and I love this hand of Fatima painted on to the side of a building to ward off the evil eye.

...and even when we have reached the silly face time of day, I still find this little guy beautiful and interesting.


Thanks Susan for the kick up the photographic backside and to Elizabeth and Robert for a lovely walk through the souqs. I hope you enjoyed it too. Here's a very short video I shot as Zaki and I were leaving the restaurant where we had lunch.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Little Sign of Snow

Despite me being a day ahead of myself and thinking it's Friday today, I have had a good couple of days of sewing.

Yesterday, I re-did the granny squares I had made using Kona White with Kona Snow.  Here's a group photo of the grannies placed on an old sheet.

I was quite surprised to see how much orange and green were in the blocks but I'm very happy with that.  There's also quite a lot of purple - another surprise. I have loads of 2.5" pieces of fabric cut so I guess I shall keep going until my meagre supplies of snow run out.

Today I added a border to James' quilt -  a monochromatic Union Jack in shades of blues and varied neutrals. This is the first time I have shown a full view of this quilt. Don't ask me why as I have absolutely no idea - like days of the week, clearly.

After gathering all the solid scraps I could find and the improv. blocks I made the other day I pieced a backing.

I'm hoping this will be another finish for February using resources I already have. It really depends on the thread situation. This was not on my FAL list but with granny progress slowing, this may be a substitute finish.  Are they allowed?

Thanks for all your comments on quilting style - some more polite than others *cough*. It seems many of us are unsure as to what our style is, are still trying to find one or are simply embracing the fact that quilting gives us the opportunity to do the same thing but differently.  I like that.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

In Three Words

Do you ever wonder about your style...I mean whether you have one? I don't mean a sense of style but a quilting style.  After 3 years of quilting I don't think I have found mine yet.  When I look back at the quilts I have made, yes the fabric may be a similar style but other than that it seems fairly random. When I look at some of my blogging friends' quilts I do believe I could pick them out of an identity lineup. I don't mean their quilts are the same but that they have a definite style.

I was pondering this today as I made some improv. blocks for the back of this quilt...

and as I was doing some secret sewing over the weekend...

...and as I planned some secret sewing with these new fabrics, which I bought from here.

Chicopee, Denyse Schmidt

How I would use these lovely low volume charms from Laura Jane's swap...

...or this Fat Eighth bundle of neutrals...

..and this Fat Eighth bundle both from here.

I didn't really come up with any answer other than perhaps decribing my quilting style as eclectic, colourful and big. I definitely don't do any part of my life.  How would you describe your quilting style in three words?

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Well Love It or Hate It..'s finished.

So I left you a couple of days ago with the completed quilt top. On Thursday, I knocked up a pieced back using bright and colourful pieces of fabric which continued the nature theme.  Cabbages and roses on the front and  flowers, squirrels, bees, swallows and butterflies on the back.

This quilt definitely has a split personality. Looks like this baby will be getting a little bit of her mad English aunt (the one with threads permanently hanging off her clothes) in the quilt after all.

After Frankenstitching some Quilters Dream cotton batting (thanks Hadley and Trudi for introducing me to this concept of joining leftover batting together with a wide zigzag stitch), I started quilting. I followed the diagonal lines first, crisscrossing the quilt an inch either side of the seams.  Then I did the same thing either side of the horizontal and vertical seams.

I love the pattern it creates when the lines meet.

When it came to the binding, I encountered a few problems finding a fabric that worked on the front and the back and that I had enough of.  In the end I went with this Riley Blake fabric and I'm super pleased with it.

So it all turned out fine in the end. This quilt was made without buying anything new for it.  It measures 40" x 44". Perfect for some kicking...

So that's it.  All we need now is a baby to lie in the centre and look cute. For now, you'll just have to make do with this oversized cutie who is still thankfully a baby at heart.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I Will Not be Defeated

Thank you so much again for all your comments about that baby know, the one for my sister in law whose baby girl is due next month? Whether it was to change it up a little, abandon ship or persevere, they were all appreciated.

In the end I decided to persevere.  I can't explain it but I didn't want this baby quilt to beat me which is weird as I'm the least competetive person you will find...or so I like to think.

So I went more scrappy, added in more of the green (not grey as I previously thought) fabrics and made it much more random. I passed it by Susan and she suggested I have the red HSTs meeting up as pinwheels so that the eye had somewhere to 'rest'.  I liked that idea and that got me playing and thinking and using more of the solids to meet up but not as pinwheels but as squares - kind of stepping stones through the cabbages and roses if you like.

So that's where I'm at.  It's a beautiful warm and bright sunny day here. I'm so much happier with the quilt top, which is good considering my husband was on the 'phone to his sister last night and told her I was making something for the baby.  No pressure there then.

Linking up for the first time in ages with Lee at WIP Wednesday.

Monday, 11 February 2013


Thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday's post about my baby quilt quandary. I am ridiculously behind on my emails but will respond very soon. Your thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated.

I have put that little project away for a few days.  Today, I did some selfish 'me' sewing and joined in Debbie's Triple-Zip Challenge, which finishes this Friday.

I pulled some Heirloom, Hope Valley and Cameo and managed to find 3 vaguely coordinating zippers.

Now these pouches have been popping up all over the place and I have been taking on board everyone's tips as they took on Debbie's challenge.  I thought about making a boxy bottomed one like Hadley's but thought I would keep to the original format for the first attempt, following Debbie's tutorial with the exception of the last step when I went over to Marci's very clear alternative ending tutorial here.

Now let's keep it real.  Mr.Ripper came to visit a couple of times but that's because I didn't read Debbie's excellent instructions properly.  I used Leanne's tip of using a walking foot all the time rather than a zip foot, which has the advantage of not having to change feet.  My zips are by no means perfect but I don't think they would have been any better with the zip foot.

I used some Cameo fabric for the lining.

So my advice? Definitely give it a go - once you have done the first bottom zip you repeat the steps and by the top zip it all seems to start making sense!

Linking up with Plum and June's Let's Get Aquainted.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Sewing Out of My Comfort Zone

No no, not this! Anyone who is a regular reader will know this is very much in my comfort zone.  Yesterday, determined to ressurect the abandoned grannies before Helen reported me to Age Concern, I began chopping up 2.5" squares of scraps and today I began making blocks.  After a couple, I got out the old dears grannies and noticed that the new ones were looking much shinier - the white that is.  I thought at first that it was because the old grannies had been lying on the spare bed and perhaps the white had faded or they were just a bit grubby.

I decided to compare the white with some Kona Snow and yep, it was a perfect match. The block in the foreground is Kona Snow.

So why the sewing out of my comfort zone I hear you asking. Well disheartened by the fact that I only had a little Kona Snow and after reading Di's post about her Siblings Together quilt and a quick way to make HSTs from a layer cake, I dug out my Cabbages and Roses layer cake I purchased just over a year ago. I bought this fabric to try and use something different and of course it sat unused...well until today that is.

My sister in law who got married this time last year is expecting a baby girl next month. I wondered whether the Cabbages and Roses might make a nice baby quilt?

I chopped up some of the layer cake majoring on the blues and pinks and not so much the grey and assembled the pinwheels. This is so not me and I can't really tell whether I'm on the right tracks I'm unconvinced about the cabbage print and think that perhaps it ages the what do you think?  Keep going, take out the red, dark blue, add more grey, take out the cabbages or go back to the drawing board? All suggestions welcome.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Great Big Kisses and other Things

Last year I had a severe case of beeitis and found myself in 5, yes 5 bees. It became too much and I found myself having little time to make anything other than bee blocks. I stepped down from do.Good Stitches at the end of last year and We Bee Modern Too, a bee based on the blocks in the boook 99 Modern Blocks came to an end at the end of January.  Stitch Tease is winding up; I have posted off the last strip and now have to make just one more before assembling all the blocks (which are amazing!!) and post it to the lucky receipient.

So while Stitch Tease will emerge in a different guise later in the year, I am now in a much more manageable two bees - Sew Euro Bee An and an English Paper Piecing bee, EEEEP EPP Bee.

So what have I learned about bees?  Well,that some blocks are...

...challenging but make you try something new like this paper-pieced block for Colby in the We Bee Modern Too bee.  Colby asked for the Just Jack block designed by Lynne.

This was my first attempt at paper piecing and I was a little afraid.  Luckily, Katy reminded me of her Foundation Paper Piecing For the Terrified QAL which was still up on her blog from this time last year.  I had a look at the first couple of posts and dived in posting photos of my progress on Instagram and getting encouragement from Lynne herself and others spurring me on.  Now it wasn't trouble free as I forgot to add the seam allowance on the bottom strip but the main section went together well. If you want to learn about paper piecing then look no further than Katy - she explains everything so clearly. Expect to see more paper piecing - I may just have got the bug!

Some bee blocks are as easy as pie like these Great Big Kiss blocks made from this excellent tutorial by Sarah, for Pippa in the Sew Euro Bee An bee. These blocks were ridiculously straightforward and super quick - they even travelled to France tres vite as they were posted on Monday and have arrived!

Some blocks  look straightforward but still bring Mr. Seam Ripper to visit like this Miss Your Kiss Block for Amelie in the We Bee Modern Too bee. On more than one occasion I inserted the patterned fabric between the HSTs on the bias and not on the straight edge.  Doh.

That for some blocks you begin to lose the will to live wish you had smaller fingers as it is really super fiddly like this English paper pieced block for Marguerite.

 Marguerite has designed a beautiful block but some of the pieces are teensy and challenge my basting skills - the smallest triangle is the length of a quilting between needle. However, looking on the bright side I'm two eighths down and am assured by Jo that things get easier from here.

Some blocks turn out prettier than you hoped like this Stitch Tease pinwheel block for Di measuring
16"x32". I can't show you now but not long to wait - all will be revealed in April.

...and of course you also get bee blocks coming back to you like these Megan Star blocks made by the We Bee Modern Too bee, which I collected from my mum at Christmas.

Conclusion?  Bees are fun but hmm perhaps not 5 of them.

Linking up with TGIFF hosted here this week.