Sunday, 31 July 2011

no dead bees, just a black and blue one...

Oooh there's a few things I can tell you now that I've been holding back on... It's my bee month!  I've been excited about this for so long, I guess I might be a bit over excited...  but hey, when you have the balance of a toddler, the napping needs of a toddler, the attention span of a toddler..well, lets just say I think I should be allowed to indulge myself in childish excitement every once in a while too eh?  I made up the bee packages as wee goodie bags...  I managed to reign myself in a bit and stopped myself adding a balloon and a  Well, I just wanted my bee ladies to get a good laugh.

On to the fabrics...  Way way back in April I decided I wanted a black and blue colour scheme.  Lord knows why... but I did, and I'd been gathering the odd bit for a bundle since then.  Not easy when you only get fabric online!  I've ended up with a spare bundle of "blues" that are actually green... but that's another quilt..  I'm happy to say that only 2 fabrics were full price purchases, the rest were bargains!  Anyway...  I also wanted to have a go at dying fabric too, so I picked 3 black and white prints and 2 shades of dylon hand dye (one fabric was to go thru both!).  Numpty that I am I forgot to take before pics to show, but here are the results anyway

I have to say, some of it was decidedly patchy...  and I wasn't convinced that they looked like the colour on the packet either... but overall, I'm happy with them.  I got a couple of blue fingers, but nothing up the nose this time ;-)  I'm glad I tried something that was on my list of things to try this year!

So, this week I spent 3 days cutting up fabric... Yup, three days...  I was knackered by the end of it!  This time I do have a before pic.

I really struggled with what to send, and how much to send.  I've never done this before, and not having a particular block in mind I couldn't plan it that way!  I just couldn't make my mind up at all (can you tell?)  I spent days planning what cuts to make... in the end I went with all of them!

So, Monday-Wednesday cutting fabric, Thursday making and sending parcels.  Friday I washed down the walls in the kitchen and dining cupboard.  What?!  Yup.  Well, lets just say I kinda had to... fell asleep after I put the tatties on to boil and woke up to a veritable steam room(s) with rivers of grubby water running down the walls.  Hooray for washable paint...  
Good day on Saturday tho, got this top finished!

It's all sashed now, and has a black border round it too.  So far I've not spotted any remaining tea stains either, yay!  I'm much happier with it now.  Thank you so much for all the encouragement you gave me to stick with it!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Sweet F.A.

Hello.  My name is Sarah, and I am a Fabric Addict.
Seriously, I'm afraid I'm starting to see this could become a bit of a problem...

I don't really know when it started.  Some of my earliest memories are watching mum sewing, making me things.  I think my stash started when I was about 18.  Remnants and Grassmarket / Morningside charity shop bits 'n' pieces.  Just to make my room look pretty, you know.  Then a year or two later there was Prazers...  A beautiful district in Lisbon, where I had to go to pick up one of the kids I looked after, which just happened to contain a street with four or five large and fascinating fabric shops.  Which were pretty, and air conditioned.  There was so much fabric....

(havent quite figured the scanner out yet so this'll have to do for now)
(Yes, these are photos of fabric in a fabric shop... Yes that's a bit sad...  but it was the day before I was leaving and I already knew I'd miss sights like this dearly)

It was inevitable I was going to start buying some, I was in yet another room that needed brightening up ;-)  I was asked just what I planned on doing with it all...  I made a few cushion covers.  I was doing a distance learning Interior Design course, and visiting lots of fancy "home" shops at the time.  I think that's where the idea of a quilt came in...  Quilts were pricey.  Fabric was cheap.  I left Lisbon with my first two quilts (the second one never really got finished) and a whopping big suitcase of random bits fabric!

Of course I never did anything with it.  That suitcase sat under my bed gathering dust for years.  But the stash building and the idea of a quilt never left me.  Over the years I built up this.

Even now that I'm learning to quilt, it has sat untouched.  It was bought with a hexie quilt in mind.  It has also remained untouched because I've never stopped gathering bits of fabric...  And to be honest, as much as I still want this bundle to be a big cosy washed out comfy hexie quilt, the fabric just doesn't, well, it doesn't excite me.  I think I am addicted to fabric because fabric itself excites me.  I know, I sound like a right weirdo when I put like that...  but when I see a new print that really catches my eye, I do find it exciting.

I'm not much of an artist, I don't sketch or paint.  Fabric to me is little works of art, little chunks of a colour palette that even I can put together and make something pretty.  And that I think is the key.  Paints and pencils aren't necessarily pretty.  The colours might be nice, but it depends entirely on what you do with them.  Pretty fabric, luscious colours, are going to be pretty no matter how much I mess up what I'm doing.  Touch wood!  lol

So that is my confession - the history and the reasoning behind my fabric addiction, and why I love it.

So what's the deal with saying it might be a problem?  What's wrong is that I'm actually, and you've no idea how much this really pains me to admit, I'm actually running out of places to put it.  I'm quilting as fast as I can, but as it stands I've got one ready to quilt, two tops almost done, 4 patterns designed and fabric for them set aside.  I have at least 5 "bundles" I'm still messing about trying to make designs for.  I think it is fairly safe to say that I have enough to be getting on with.  I have a healthy stash.  And my little sewing cupboard is full...  
But I want more.
No, seriously, I really really want more.

I am trying to go a month not buying any fabric, unless it is genuinely for completing a specific project that really needs it.  The treat at the end will be spending the gift voucher I have.  I have to admit, I am struggling.  I am counting the days.
So, in an effort to stay away from online fabric shops I've cut up my first ever stash...

Its my first go at English Paper Piecing too.   I know I've still got half a dozen other things on the go, but really, when Lynne from Lilys Quilts said she was starting a Hexalong and I'm sat there with an 8yr old bundle for a hexie quilt...  I kind of had to didnt I?!  Starting to wonder if Lynne is actually a mind reader...

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Should probably have stayed in bed...

I've been having one of those days...  It started with sleeping in.  Fairly normal there then..  Then there was passing out asleep during breakfast.  Usually I manage to get food down first, but no, not this morning.  Woke up choking on my toast. 

Then I had a go a dying some towels, trying out machine dye this time.  Managed to sneeze whilst emptying the packet of dye into the washing machine...  Wonder just how harmful dye is?  I snorted a nose full...  Well, it didn't kill me. Black snot isn't too attractive though!

I was hoping to have that unpicked quilt top sashed and done, but it hasn't quite gone like that...  In fact it's gone bad to worse!  First was the fact that even when I thought I felt perfectly awake I'd sit down and start it and be half asleep in a matter of minutes.  Every single time.  Yet when I picked up something else to play with I was fine.  It was kinda weird.  Then mum hit on the reason..  I cant get it done cos my brain keeps thinking that its done it already.  Might sound a bit odd to you, but makes sense to me.  I get like that when I have to repeat doing something, half my brain sort of switches off.  

So, day after day of trying to get it done, finally a breakthrough today!  I was doing so well, on the last stretch...  then I managed to knock a full, large mug of extra strong tea flying.  It is a small cupboard.  It was a large mug.  

Thank god 90% of my fabric is in plastic boxes with lids.  The remaining 10% including the quilt top and the backing fabric (my favourite print in the quilt top) all got covered in tea. 

So I've spent the last couple of hours wiping up and drying off tea, and soaking and "vanish"-ing fabric.  Oh and that wasn't the last of the fun tonight...  Sitting in my cupboard sponging tea off every visible (and not so visible) area in storms a very angry bee.  Followed, naturally, by a very excited Elliecat.  
Dumb bee just refused to be rescued so I'm afraid yet another one bit the dust.  I say "yet another one" as I've woken up to a dead bee at the foot of my bed every morning this week.  Elliecat apparently loves me...  What gets me is why in the name of the wee man are bees fighting their way thru the small open crack of window, thru the closed curtains, to die in my house?  I don't make it easy for them to get in, the house isn't full of enticing flowers....  I love bees!  I hate seeing bees die.  
Anyway, I came out of it with a few bruises, and Elliecat may or may not have been stung - she's certainly twitching her lips and pawing her mouth an awful lot.  So now I'm keeping a worried eye on her  in case she starts swelling up or something...

Speaking of bees, I can show you the two blocks I got done for July...  I did get something right this week!

I got the ideas from Susan Briscoes Japanese Taupe Quilt Blocks.  My lovely friend Mimi sent me that book and it's absolutely fantastic.  Hardly any triangles!  lol  I had to adapt them a bit as the book size is a fair bit smaller than what I needed, but I managed to come up with sizes to make a 12.5" block without losing the block design.  Quite pleased with how they turned out!
Oh, that reminds me.  Mimi has set up a shop!  The button is on my blog; over there, to the right, spot it?  Hope you'll stop by and visit :-)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

just a block or two

Oh I feel like I've done nothing and have nothing to tell you about!  My shopping day on Thursday (groceries.. boring..) really did wipe me out.  I could hardly stay awake at all  on Friday, and today's been a little dopey too :-)  However, thank you so much to everyone who commented on my "this quilt top just doesn't look right" dilemma.  I went with the general consensus, majority rules and all.  I've unpicked the whole top...  And I didn't rip the fabric!  Its all re-pressed and waiting for me to do the sashing, hopefully I might do that tomorrow as I really did want to do it today...  I don't know, the will and desire where there, but every time I walked into the sewing cupboard I just knew I was too tired, and sometimes its best to accept it and go vegetate...

I played about a bit on the ol' laptop and did me a new blog header, you like?  The awesome "narcoleptic in a cupboard" picture was done especially for me by one of my bestest mates, isn't it great?!

I did have good sewing days on Monday and Tuesday mind you, I got my blocks done for Project 51!  You know, the secret project, I'll never te-ell....

d'oh! only just noticed they're a bit blurry, sorry!

I can tell you that these blocks are from a lovely pattern by the very talented Angela @ Fussy Cut which featured on Moda Bakeshop

Oh, I told you a few posts ago I'd made a bag for my sister-in-law; well, it went down well - she likes!  I can show you now!

Its got one of my favourite prints on the inside, Michael Millers Dysfunctional Family.  Love it :-)

So, fingers crossed I'll be back in the sewing cupboard tomorrow, I've got a lot to get done!  First thing will be the message block for Project 51 (I did one already but numpty twattypants went and made exactly the same mistake I've told you about before, with the "vanishing" fabric pen , so it needs redone...)  Then next up will be getting my July blocks done for Brit Bee.   I've done one block, so I really need to get a move on and do the second.  Miss July provided us with some Oakshott cotton to play with.  I have to say, it is the most gorgeous red I've seen.

It will soon be my turn to be Queen Bee, so I've got a hell of a lot of planning and sorting to do!
 Carnt wait :-)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

to sash or not to sash, that is my question..

I love that festival season is now given decent TV coverage.  My festival days have been and gone, I fell asleep during the last concert I went to and that was a couple of years ago so god knows I'd be even worse now!  But I must say I've thoroughly enjoyed indulging myself in my little Chris Martin crush ;-)  Anyway, concentrate Sarah.  I was going to tell you, as promised last post, about the quilt top I've been working on all week.  I did the design a few weeks ago and here it is...

I was aiming for a random look to it, so I was quite sure I preferred the above version to the version below with all the blocks sashed.  Sashing the blocks just seemed to highlight the fact that they are blocks, and I felt that kind of killed off my random look.

The cutting took f-o-r-e-v-e-r...  Making the blocks up was pleasingly easy and I really enjoyed it.  I did however, learn another little lesson the hard way...  I thought I was being proper and clever and pressing my seams as I went along, but I soon found that no matter the temperature of the iron the different fabrics were reacting in different ways - one particular fabric seemed to shrink a bit, another seemed to expand...  I swear I was "pressing" not "ironing", honest!  However.  I switched to using the Hera marker to press the seams and that worked a treat.  I got all the blocks done by Thursday, then found that my 12.5" blocks were, well, not all 12.5".  Not by a long shot.  I had some at every size between 12.75 - 12.25".  Just very few at 12.5"!
Friday was spent trimming every single sodding block down to 12".  Today I got them all sewn up.  Apologies for the crappiest photy yet but the bedroom is the only room in the house big enough, that isn't full of bits of bathroom!  And for some reason I just couldn't seem to hold the camera steady either so out of about 20 pics this is the least blurry...

Here's where I'd appreciate some help.  Flick back up to the designs, then back down to the quilt.  Is it just me, or does the real thing actually NEED the sashing between the blocks?  I cant make my mind up!  I look at the two designs and I much prefer the one without the block sashing.  I look at the photo of the actual quilt top and I'm thinking it looks wrong without the blocks being sashed...   Yes, it'll be a major pain in the ass to take it apart and sash it.  But I'm really loving this top, and I'd rather slog it out if it means I get it right.  I just love these fabrics!

So, please, if you will, some advice!

In other news...  My finished Single Girl has survived its first wash thanks to the trusty old colour catchers.  To be honest it's survived 3 washes as the first two times I forgot to put any detergent in the washing machine.  How I managed to forget the second time I've no idea, all I had to do was fill the soap trays and switch it on again...

A newly tiled bathroom floor covered in wet black grouting should not be left unattended.  Or rather if there is a floor covered with wet black grout Miss Elliecat should not be left unattended....

"What? Trouble?  Moi?"
The marks only took a few minutes to clean, however I the same could not be said for cleaning between a complaining Kitty's toes... Never mind.  It did give me a good laugh, and more importantly, look what lovely builder did whilst the floor was drying ...

(not the blocks..what they're on...)  I got a design wall!  Woohoo!  Admittedly its not actually big enough for a quilt top, but its the biggest bit of wall I had to use, and I love it already :-)

Next bit of sewing on the list will be my two blocks for Project 51, and my July Bee Blocks, so before I forget again (like I have done the last 3 posts) here are the disappearing nine patch blocks I did for Miss June using the lovely Dream On charms she provided.

I await your advice!  Ta ;-)  

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Charms away!

Its been quite an exciting weekend for those of us in the Brit Quilt Swap, parcels have been flying off all over the UK and there's been many reports of "happy dances" and jiggles and I told you all about my bouncing and squeaking episode when I got mine

another pic for you cos it is so awesome...  lol.
The quilt I made was sent off on Friday morning, along with this

and I had a really lovely couple of thank you messages from Terri (I can say who it was for now!) which brought a wee tear to my eye...  I'm such a sap!  She liked it!  Woohoo!  Happiness all around.  This swap was my first ever swap, and I cant get over just how much fun it was.  Big thanks to the mamas in charge, and the organiser Uber Mama, for everything!

It was a pricey trip to the post office on Friday as I was posting a sackful..  The Brit Quilt Swap parcel.  A special order bag for sister-in-law, pics to follow, once she's received it of course!  Another bag went to granny...  and, I got these little cuties posted.

My 1 yard of 100% cotton Japanese Import fabric, painstakingly cut into 56 x 5" charm squares...  Never been so careful with the rotary cutter before!  Seriously, there was NO room for error.  It would be nice to say that I'll continue to put that much effort into precision cutting in the future...... but I sincerely doubt it, it was hell!  However...  Charms sent off to Cindy for Japanese fabric charm swap - done.  

Its been a chaotic week what with a deadline to meet (and we know how utterly pants I am with deadlines) and the bathroom still out of action...  Progress is being made...  There are boxes of bits of bathroom everywhere!  
Elliecat, its not even a box its 4 sides of cardboard!! lol

I was hoping I'd have a bit more progress on my next project to show you, my third attempt at a design,  with a bundle I put together, but no...  been too sleepy...  I have made a start though, cutting in to this pile of loveliness....

I've just noticed there's a print missing in this photo... you'll see more next time!

Its great, it feels like ages since I last made a quilt top!  (lets just forget for now that there's still a finished top waiting to be basted and quilted....and two lame ass attempts at projects started that I'm not in the mood for...)  

Actually, wee bit of news there.  Whilst I was out at the post office I couldn't stop myself having a wee wander along to the Local Quilt Shop. The lady there was very nice and friendly, she always is, and they've offered me the use of their massive table for basting if I want it!   Now if I can just get over the thought that people will see me, see what I'm doing, and might even talk to me (the horror!) and steel myself to try and stay wake for more than an hour....    Oh I know, I sound terrible.  Antisocial little hermit.  Cant help it!  Being out of the house, being in front of strangers, being polite and chatty, trying not to be shy, trying not to fall asleep, trying to concentrate on just one thing for a long time... these are all things that I know will make me very, very tired.  Now that I don't HAVE to do all that for work, I guess I put off having to do it at all!   But yes, I should probably get out a bit more...  We'll see...  

Friday, 1 July 2011

I want that one!

I tried to wait a couple of days before I posted this, I knew there would be a serious risk of over-excited rambling and hyper gushing, far too many exclamation marks and probably bragging too...  But I cant wait any longer as it doesnt appear that I am going to calm down enough to avoid all that...  so, sorry, but that's probably what you're gonna get!
I received my quilt from the Brit Quilt Swap...

"Resurrection Tea Party"
When I got the packet in the mail I recognised the sender name, and still I thought "nah, it cant be"...  I actually got a bit of a cataplexy wobble I was so excited and I had to open it sitting down!   I've been admiring this quilt since I first saw the design idea sketches, I just never thought I'd be lucky enough to be the recipient!  Like many others in Brit Quilt Swap I thought it would be destined for a cool quilting chick, but no, I GOT IT!  WOOHOO!
The very talented lady who made this rockin masterpiece is none other than my fellow Brit Bee blogger, Hadley at Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle (click on the linky for much better photos of it, including the perfect backing choice!)  Not only is she a fantastic quilter (check out her scrumptious Happy Scrappy Quilt ) but she's also someone who always makes me laugh, and a generally all round awesome gal.  Check out the goodies she sent with the quilt (as if I wasnt already bouncing up and down with joy just from getting the quilt!).

Every last bit of it is perfect!  Some trees, a monkey, gorgeous fabric, chocolate, good coffee, Mr Bump (very appropriate!) sweeties....  And this deserves a close up

Her wee man made me a book mark, isnt it just lovely?  Thank you and a huge hug to the clever wee chap :-)
So thank you Hadley!  I simply could not be happier :-)  Huge hugs xxx   Oh, and well done mum!  Mum phoned me the first time she saw the sketches and fabric bundle of Skully to say "oooh Sarah, I've seen your quilt!"  lol

I've got more bits to share so I'll save it and do another post tomorrow.  Resurrection Tea Party deserves a whole post to itself ;-)  It rocks!