Sunday 27 March 2011

Seven songs...

Just a brief post tonight, (ha ha ha that'll be right...)  cos the clocks just went forward and suddenly its later than I thought...  Mind you that's been happening to me every time I look at the clock for the past 2 days...  I'm guessing I've been zoning out a fair bit.  No Single Girl progress to report, but I did get this done.

Quilt top went together like a dream, but then it is pretty simple.   For the maths/puzzle lovers out there, its a sudoku quilt!   A friend brought the pattern and fabric back from Canada for me -  I do have fantastic friends :-) 

Wish I could say the rest of the quilt came together as easily as the top, but no, I messed up at every opportunity.  Including a lovely stint of automatic behaviour when I was doing the binding - I might have managed to sew in my sleep, but it would've helped if I'd actually managed to sew the binding to the quilt top and not the leftover edges of batting.  And as for the quilting...  To say the air was blue would be understating it.  In fact I'm pretty sure at least one day was spent where the only words out my mouth were profanities.  At least I can say I was quite creative with it...  Oh yeah, why?  Well at some point between the basting and the manhandling through the sewing machine the back got awfully saggy.  Whole thing had to be unpicked and redone.
Oh and a whole day was wasted coming to the (blindingly obvious) conclusion that learning to Free Motion Quilt should be done on small things 'til you get the hang of it, BEFORE you attempt it on a whole quilt.  Must remember to make some mug rugs to practice on...

I did get a lovely surprise mid-week though, when Rhonda from Quilter in the Gap  very kindly picked li'l old  me as one of her six blogs to pass the Stylish Blogger Award on to!  Check out her blog if you want to see what an experienced talented quilter can do!  So, first of all a big thank you to her, second I should say that the "rules" that accompany this award are to list 7 things about yourself then pass the award on to your 6 recently discovered great bloggers.  So, painful for me to think up, and painfully boring for you to read, here are my 7 things about me. 

  1. When I was a kid I was scared of the dark..
  2. I may or may not have buried my pet hamster alive.  Apparently they go into a forced hibernation if put in a cold room, and can be roused by blowing with a hairdryer.  Who knew? I didn't
  3. I love Bruce Lee  movies and have them all on dvd.
  4. I was once a barmaid.  I sucked at it, but I got free beer at the end of the night.
  5. Ellie cat is my third tabby.  Clearly I am much better with bigger animals.
  6. I have turned every single white item of clothing belonging to myself and my man grey.
  7. I was born in in Edinburgh
And the blogs I'd like to pass this award on to are
A little bit of Plum Leaf
A quilt, maybe
Magpie Mimi
Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops
The Antipodean Artisan

I hope you'll have a wee nosey at them too, they're great!

Right, I'm signing off for a week, I'm going to visit mum and dad, and granny!

Monday 21 March 2011

I laughed till I cried...

I had a go at a wee bit of a re-style...

£1 from a charity shop, light purple suedette top
 I know I moan endlessly about all the crap that goes with Narcolepsy, but in doing this re-style it was actually handy for once!  Instead of just plowing on and struggling to get things to work, each time I had to stop for a nap I woke up with new ideas, remembered things I'd read, and was able to try things differently.  I guess what I'm saying is that for once having to stop for naps all the time didn't have its usual effect of making things take sooooo much longer - having a chance to rethink so often actually helped things along!

I think its kinda cute.  And I must point out that the hem isn't squint, the doll is propped up squint.  Honest! It's lined too...  As you can no doubt tell, I'm rather pleased with it!

I did have the WORST cataplexy episode so far, for me anyway, on Friday.  (Cataplexy - secondary condition that sometimes but not always accompanies Narcolepsy, means sudden loss of muscle control due to change in emotion.)  I lost control over my eyes so my sight went, my face went, arms, hands, absolutely everything.  I tried to fight it, but it just got worse and worse.  Thankfully I was sat down so no injury or anything, but my head dropped at such an angle that I couldn't breathe and I panicked.  I managed to control it for a second or two which was just enough to move my head enough to breathe again, but ultimately the cataplexy took over again and I was completely paralysed for 5 minutes.  Not long, but it felt like forever to me. 

So what on earth caused it?  Little Miss Ellie cat, that's what.  Or who.   You see, I'd brought a cereal box upstairs to use to make a template.  Buy cardboard?  Nah...  Recycle ;-)  Anyway.  I'm sat at one end of the bed quietly reading blogs, and cereal box is at the bottom of the bed.  After getting her fill of attention from me, Ellie cat decided to explore the cereal box.  Cats seem to like cardboard.  Cats seem to like boxes.  Score! 

So, she had a good sniff, then had a closer sniff, then attempted to sniff a bit further into the box.  Little Miss Ellie cat got stuck in the box.  Not entirely happy about being stuck in the box she skooshed backwards, and, thinking that oughta do it she sat down and lifted her head...  With the cereal box still on it.  Ellie cat now had a cereal box for a head.  She tried to shake it off.  I just saw a cat body with a cereal box for a head, and this cereal box was shaking its head at me...  I think the weight of it maybe caught her out cos next thing I see is her tipping over onto her ass with her back legs going up in the air...  Turns out the edge of the bed is not the place to do that Ellie cat...  Cue slow motion cat with cereal box for head and back legs in the air ever so slowly slip off the end of the bed, ass first.... 

We are not amused...
So.  I've also been busy trying to catch up with my Single Girl Quilt...  I got a back made...

And I got it basted tonight. 

This week I shall be attempting some hand quilting...  And doll needs shoes...  And I have a quilt top I started last week to get on with...  And hopefully I'll manage to settle on a selection of fabric for the Lilys Quilts QAL.   Lots of sewing to be getting on with eh?  YAY!   :-)

I do like to see a sea of safety pins...

Friday 18 March 2011

Owly Quilt

I'm a day late on my goal then...  Well, Monday was a write off.  I had to get my shopping done, and nothing wipes me out like a trip to the supermarket.  Actually anything involving leaving the house for more than 10 minutes seems to wipe me out these days!  So, one day late but Owly Quilt is done.  Here are a few pics..

I leave the room for one minute...

That's four wobbly lines along each strip of sashing, and ditch stitch round the "logs" (well it is 1/4 of a log cabin).

Lots and lots and lots of wobbly lines...

This time I tried doing the binding by machine.  I had intended to try the self bind method, but there were a couple of spots where my backing wasn't quite wide enough to fold over twice.  So, I made some binding with left over sashing solids and with a lot of pinning atttached it all, front and back, by machine.  So much faster, and I do love anything that makes things faster...  but to be honest I'm much much happier with the finished look of my usual hand stitched binding, this somehow felt, well, not quite the same.  However.  Owly Quilt is done!  (Well, its in the washing machine actually so it'll be wrinkling and crinkling as I write)  Poor Owly Quilt is going nowhere, other than into a plastic bag to keep dust off it.  First time in months I have a finished quilt with no home to go to. 

Today I made a plain white cotton blouse with loose long sleeves and elasticated cuffs, and a pretty pink knee length skirt with inverted pleat at the front.  At least its what I think is an inverted pleat, I was just making things up as I went along and I'm no dressmaker.  Its my homage to all the super talented ladies I've been following during their Me Made March.  I've been really enjoying all their posts and am thoroughly impressed with all they've been up to.

Oh, want to see some pics then?

Well jeez, you didn't think I was suddenly going to appear in person did you?!

Who's a little cutie pie... 

Sunday 13 March 2011

Oh dear, what can the matter be...

Deary me, I've hit double figures in the "followers" box...  Sorry, I mean, YAY ME!  but oh crap, the pressure... more than just a hand full of people are reading this...  Why?!  I write nonsense...  But then I enjoy writing nonsense so I'll just keep going and lets see what happens. 

I don't feel like I've had much of a productive week since the last post.  My hip's been sore, and pain + narcolepsy = utter uselessness...  It started off not too bad.  I had a couple of days of doing stuff, which was great.  Got my Single Girl ring sections done, and made a start on the scary business of Sewing Curves...

Single Girl Chain Piecing madness...
Sewing Curves seemed easy enough, 'til I found that my blocks wouldn't lie flat... 

Good old seam ripper came out to play rather a lot.  I got the first ring done though.

Then I had a really frustrating day of having energy and being awake, but seriously the attention span of a gnat, so I couldn't stick at anything for more than 5 minutes without starting something else and forgetting what I was doing.  Everywhere I turned I came across something I'd started doing and forgotten about!  Not much sewing done that day, but lots of little bits of housework got done so not all bad. 

After a day of not being able to stay put for long, my hip was killing me (probably should still have been resting it to be honest but I kept getting twitchy - another lovely narcolepsy side effect - so I couldn't stay still).  Anyway.  Cant do pain with out falling asleep, so there followed a few days of falling asleep all the bloody time.  Which is depressing.  Breakfast, fall asleep. Cup of tea, fall asleep.  Lunch, fall asleep.  Go to bathroom, fall asleep.  Cup of tea, fall asleep.  Dinner, fall asleep.  Put laptop on, fall asleep.  Cup of tea, fall asleep.  Go to bathroom, fall asleep.  Sit down and put telly on, fall asleep.  Go to bed, fall asleep.  Then in bed its sleep but waking up about 20 times...  Can you see how a few days of that can get a girl down?  3 days of never getting to drink my cup of tea whilst its still warm...  Fell asleep in the middle of my dinner twice.  That's the reason why, when on my own, I tend to like my dinner in a bowl, sitting on the sofa...  Total slob I know, but at least that way when I doze off in the middle of it nothing spills and my face doesn't land in it!

I did have a reasonably good weekend though, and I got my Single Girl quilt top done. 

Spot the spot... its just water from the not-very-good-steam-iron...
I'm happy enough with the rings, and I like my background colour, and its not joined up too bad... but... I'm just not too keen on it so far.  Its the size I think.  Its an awkward kinda size.  The rings are so big, the middle of the rings seems so huge.  I'm sure it will look a whole lot better with the quilting done.  If I don't mess that up that is!  Hand quilting...  I swear, every stage of this quilt makes me nervous!

Confession time.  This wasn't meant to be an entirely Single Girl related post.  I had a lovely wee project in mind to do today, and put in the blog.  Needless to say it didn't get done.  You see, I needed a specific piece of fabric.  I tried to find said piece of fabric.  I fell asleep.  When I woke up I found that I'd perhaps been a little over zealous in my searching...  basically I got stuck in the cupboard.  Sewing in a cupboard is kinda handy for me, I sit at the back of the cupboard on my wee swivel stool, and everything is more or less within reach.  I can get every stash box out to look through without leaving my seat.  Kind of have to put it all away again to be able to leave my seat actually, never mind get to the door...  Reminded me of when I was wee and I'd been in the bathroom too long,  my dad would stand outside the door singing "oh dear, what can the matter be, poor wee Sarah's stuck in the lavatory...."   Still, a few hours and a few naps later and I now have my fabric all wonderfully organised...although I do still have that annoying wee song going through my head.  As for the wee project, I'll have to try again tomorrow. 

Time for a wee bit of a goal to aim for.  I aim to post again Wednesday night, having done said wee project, and finished the quilt I started with mum.  Need to get it finished now, I've only gone and signed up for another Quilt-a-long.  (shouldn't that really be Quilt Along? I don't know, but its abbreviation is QAL which I'll be using from now on...)  Its with Lynne at Lilys Quilts and judging by the flikr feed its going to be a great laugh.  Its going to be another big one, (I'm so out of my comfort zone when its not 45x60!) but this one gets quilted as you go, so it'll provide me with the chance to get a bit more adventurous with my machine quilting!  And its more circles, which I clearly need practice on...

Friday 4 March 2011

Room for two in the cupboard

It was so much fun having mum up with me for the week!  Someone to "ooh" and "aah" at lovely fabric with, someone to trawl through patterns with, someone to get excited about scraps with!  Right away I gave mum my scrap box and she got stuck in to a lovely tutorial from Oh Fransson using mostly my off cuts from my Single Girl Quilt.  It was going to be a tea cosy, one for mum and one for me.

However once Auntie saw it she managed to snaffle it somehow...  Fair dues, she went right out and bought a picture frame for it, and I think you'll agree, it does look a bit more "work of art" than "tea cosy"!

Mum and I picked a bundle of fabric I got in the January Sales, and we went for, wait for it, my first all me not copied off t' internet or bought pattern...

Its pretty basic, just a quarter of a log cabin, and each one is rotated so they dont all face the same way.  Oh how I dream of having some quilting software for PC..  I do find the colour and overall visualisation very difficult.  You get some pretty amazing looking programs out there that not only let you design your own blocks and quilt but also have thousands of images of real fabrics as well as colour basics.  And, AND they eliminate the dreaded MATHS...  Its the one and only aspect of quilting I absolutely loathe.  Working out finished sizes, cut sizes, how much fabric needed...  Hate it.  And quilting software does it all for you...  I did consider saving up for it, but then I realised it would involve saving up for a new laptop too as this one barely lets me edit photos never mind anything else..  Oh well, another dream to add to the "if I won the lottery" list.

Ellie Cat "stop watching me, its new fabric, I've gotta sit on it"!

Eventually we got all the fabric cut.  Took so much longer than usual as this pattern involved "fussy cutting" for the large squares.  I've seen it and admired it on so many quilters blogs, and you can always see a bit of fabric and think "no! I cant chop randomly into that, its beautiful!"  so I was keen to try fussy cutting to take advantage of some of the gorgeous images in this bundle (Tina Givens Opal Owl Orange..).
Poo.  Not a fan of actually doing fussy cutting...  Note for self - Fabric pencils, great "brush off " markers.  But if you're stressed and press too hard you cant even get the marks out with Vanish and a toothbrush never mind a quick wash...

Got pieces all cut and had fun laying out.

Int it cosy!
It was a squeeze but we did it, we managed to get two machines and two projects on the go at the same time, little table hinges took a bit of a shaking but it survived!  I got my blocks sewn up, and mum had another go at getting a tea cosy done.

One finished tea cosy!

One finished quilt top!

I think in hindsight this fabric might have been a little wasted on this pattern.  The designs had too big a scale pattern and get so lost on this pattern with narrow sized pieces.  Still, there are the fussy cut squares so its not 100% hidden.  I'll do close up pics when I get the quilt finished.  Mum helped me get it basted before she left so its ready to quilt when I'm ready to sit at the machine!

Mum also gave me a hand getting another quilt top cut out and ready to go.  The cutting out can really knacker me, cant really cut sitting down and I get tired twice as quickly standing so it usually takes me a few goes at it. 

Oh it was so good to have company again.  This probably sounds daft but its just so nice having someone there when I wake up, someone to remove the plate / cup of tea from my lap when I doze off, someone to remind me its dinner time, someone to remind me I was actually doing something two minutes ago, someone to remind me the soups still on the hob...  We really did have a great time.  So much sewing, Andy Griffiths every night, Phantom of the Opera (Gerard Butler can sing, believe it or not), Blithe Spirit (Rex Harrison, Margaret Rutherford, ghosts and lots of one liners)  Scrabble, Oscars Night (I got mum in pyjamas slobbing out infront of the telly til dawn!) with someone to nudge me every time I dozed off (normally every year I doze off and miss all the best bits) We even got a teeny bit teary watching Colin Firth make his acceptance speech...  And we had lots of laughs, and yay! I only wobbled like a weeble (I didnt fall over!).

Anyway, as soon as my hip starts working again and my face stops attempting spontaneous combustion I've got loads to be getting on with.  Actually, I am so completely addicted to the feel good factor of joining little bits of fabric that I've taken my Single Girl pieces to bed with me so I can at least join them with a hand basting stitch when I'm awake.  I'm getting so behind with the Single Girl Quilt-along.  Was meant to be piecing the rings to the background solids this week, and I've still not got my rings done...  Doh, you'd think given that my brain is so keen on just switching off whenever it feels like it all the bloody time it would at least have the courtesy to slow down the ideas and planning and daydreaming a bit too, you know, even things out just a little...  but no.  When your brain and your body leave you no choice but to take everything slowly, should you accept it and SLOW DOWN?  God knows I'm sure that would help me a great deal, cut down on the frustraitions etc, but would I still be me or be twice as boring?!

Thursday 3 March 2011

Here's to Smiling

Mum left on Wednesday morning, its just me and Ellie cat again, and I spent the best part of Wednesday in Hospital getting another Hip injection.  Unfortunately the blissful haze of the elephantine dose of sedatives I needed has worn off - I'm very stiff, I'm sore and I'm getting hot flushes (a charming side effect) so this will be an entirely selfish post I'm afraid, designed specifically to make me smile.  I'll post all about what mum and I got up to in the cupboard very soon, when I'm less likely to blub like a toddler for its mummy... 

Why?  Reason 1 - its Ewen McGregor.  Singing.  And Dancing.  (Do I really need any more reasons?)  Reason 2 - Love Rene's fabulous dress.  Reason 3 - I love the song, especially the lyrics.   Reason 4 - I love this film and I get the impression I'm in a very, very small number of people in that...  Its basically a lovely litttle romp based on all the Doris Day / Rock Hudson / Tony Randell films of the early 60's, which I absolutely adore.  Its pharsical, its cheesy, its sweet and saucy, the costumes are awesome, stylistically is bright and retro and fun, and its just full of lots of little scenes that a Doris Day nerd like me will recognise from her pictures.  Yes, I'm not ashamed to admit it, I love Doris Day.  A remarkable woman. 

One for my dressmaking readers and fellow vintage fans - I love these books.  Clearly the 1949 Housewife was WAY more D.I.Y. savvy than the likes of me!  And the sew and save, I've gotta quote my favourite bit, from the Hats section..

 "A hat should give you a feeling of well-being.  You should feel prettier with your hat on than with it off, so when you go to choose one give yourself plenty of time, and make up your mind to enjoy it."
"Very high crowns on tall, thin women look ridiculous."
"Short, plump women should never wear large brims.  They look like mushrooms in them."

Why did people stop wearing hats?  I had to stop, I moved to the windiest place in the UK...  but I love Hats.  (both books are available at a reasonable price at Amazon, and I'd thoroughly recommend them for fascinating reading, brilliant ideas, and a bit of a giggle.)

The resurrection (of plantlife)

My Peace Lily flowered!  It didnt flower at all last year, but then the year before that I had pretty much near killed it!  Not good with plants to be honest.  Love 'em, but never remember to water them and often put them in the "wrong" places. 

This months issue of Sew Hip magazine has a picture of a cushion cover I made!  AND they were so lovely in the wee bit of text they printed, they said "It's hard to believe this was her first go at machine embroidery!"  !!!  Sooooo chuffed  :-) 

I won this lush bundle of Cloud 9 Nature Walk from the lovely Kate at M is for Make .  I won!  I cant believe it, I never win things!  I must have entered about 50 fabric / habedashery giveaways in just the last 6 weeks, and I actually won something!!  Woohoo!  Its lovely fabric, it has a gorgeous feel to it, and the designs are just wonderfully retro.  Kate has a lovely blog by the way, have a nosey. and for the dressmakers out there she also has some lovely sale bargins in her shop at the moment, including a massive 40% off some items.  Well worth a browse.

And finally, I made Miss P's list on her "its all about you" series!  I'm so pleased about that.  Miss P writes a fantastic blog which has a lot going on with dressmaking, pattern drafting, re-styling, sewing basics for beginners like me, thrifting, and a brand spanking new etsy shop to boot. And she's a lovely gal too.

So, I do have rather a lot to be smiling about.  I do hope I've not sounded too much like a smug git, but it was this or sounding like a right miserable bollocks and who on earth wants to read that?!  But for now if you'll excuse me I'm off to hobble up to bed with a glass of ice to drink and a frozen flannel for my scarlet face...  I'll be right as rain in a day or two, which is just as well as I've got so many plans to carry out as soon as I get back in the cupboard!