Friday 29 October 2010

Bloggers' Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival
 I feel a bit quilty about posting about this quilt so soon after I have already posted but I'd like to include it in the Blogger's quilt Festival and that requires a post so, in the words of Stevie Wonder, "I don't want to bore you with this..." (Knocks Me off My Feet)  if you've seen this before you can always skip to the pics or take a look at the other great quilts on display at Amys creative side.  Thank you to her for hosting such as lovely online global gathering.
The design developed organically with each stage of the quilt.  A quilt pattern in a magazine (Alphadots Make do and Mend Quilts) was the starting point, then I changed the circle and quilt size, started layering the fabrics and developed a pieced circle machine method tutorial that worked a treat and sped up the construction.  As I worked on the quilt, the circles went from hand sewn to machine and then to words (Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Elliot) and finished as seaweed and coral shapes to link them all.  I started with mermaids and circles and everything else followed.  My new little niece being a girl and a water born baby topped it all off for me (both not not known when I started this) and this poem  about self expression, confidence, aging and so much more is an essential for life.   I haven't made many quilts- I find them rather daunting- but I love experimenting, I love letters and typography and making it part of the quilting is an experiment that paid off.  So apologies if you've seen these before- I have included some new pics and the editing on them has been improved thanks to my photographer brother sharing some secrets-cheers Jamie!

...I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. 

  I do not think they will sing to me. 

  I have seen them riding seaward on the waves 
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back 
When the wind blows the water white and black. 

  We have lingered in the chambers of the sea 
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown               
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

sib blog

Monday 25 October 2010

Little Red

In some areas of life I am a little predictable, I have the same breakfast every morning and I love it, I cook the same evening meal almost every Monday but we all like it- I can live with that even if it may seem more than a little dull to others.  However in sewing I like to try something new.  I recently joined another Flickr swap, Scrappy {Hoops} organized by Heather and Kerri.  They both run so may Flickr swaps and groups it nothing short of amazing how they fit it all in and their experience results in well run groups.  I was attracted by the clear criteria of acceptable and non acceptable, plus I haven't done a hoop before, I fancied the challenge.  My secret partner is a fan of Little Red Riding Hood so after flirting with a few ideas I settled on a pose inspired by this illustration...

It is from a battered children's 1940s book called 'Happy Days'.
That lead to a scribbled sketch on a scrap of used paper which became the design.

I love apples in fabric prints and I think that is what lead the design process, they had to be in their somewhere. That and my recent focus on red fabrics.   Alexander Henry's Farmdale line is my current favourite- Orchard and Delicious.  You can buy the latter at a bargain price at a new UK online fabric shop which looks very promising- Prints to Polka Dot Fabrics (See £1.50) section).  I digress, I ended up creating the pic to see it bigger

All raw edge applique, 8 inch hoop and sewn on to linen/cotton mix.  Scraps courtesy of Amy Badskirt and my stash.  It was a fiddly little project but so cute to watch it start unfold.  I sewed the facial features by hand and the little gold hair ribbons and her cheek blush is from a red pencil crayon.

The back is a bit of Anna Maria Horner Good Folks- Small Gathering.  This has the added bonus of when the hoop is held against the light, there is a backdrop of leaf shadows just coming through, unplanned but I like it!  I used double sided tape to hold the fabric on the first hoop.  The two fabric layers are spray basted with 505 and the edges zig-zagged and stuck to the inner hoop with copydex.

A fun project.  Now back to Lula's quilt, the aim is to finish it this week.  I will leave you with the latest Ringo Pie block from Lucinda, it made me take a a little gasp when I first saw it, exquisite!  I beg you to click here and take a look x

sib blog

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Red is Best

There is a group on Flickr devoted to fabric stacks and a recent innovation has been to have theme weeks- so far Season with a Side of Smiles,  Lemon drops and Gumdrops, The Elements and this week my choice Red is Best.  If you want to add a stack of your favourite Reds come and share.

I was inspired by a this great book, typical line "But my red barrettes make my hair laugh."
I went a bit red crazy round the house looking for lovely reds.  Divine vintage hankie
Love that bakelite plastic red darning mushroom
And my latest find at the boot sale on Sunday, vintage lipstick buttons on a great card.
Red is definitely best x
sib blog

Saturday 16 October 2010


Lula is away this weekend on a school trip, last time that happened I ended up buying a whole load of sewing books to compensate.  This time more self control.  I'm having a big sort out and tidy up in preparation for opening a little Etsy shop!  I find so many vintage textile bits and pieces and I can't keep them all so this seems like a happy solution.  More news soon...
Meanwhile I am working on her quilt, started months ago (see here), when I pulled it out of the box this week I had not got as far as I had thought- a lot of sewing seems to go on in my head but not actually in real life.  I have almost finished the piecing on my trusty Featherweight.

 I do all my piecing on this machine-as the needle can't swing (no zig zag) it sews very straight and accurate small stitches.  The feedogs must grab the fabric as it never falters or eats the fabric at the beginning or end of seams.  Consequently I can do a bit of forwards/backwards at each end of the seam and everything stays tight.  I know this goes against machine patchwork convention but I prefer it.
I have another block from Ringo Pie, this time it is Corey of Little Miss Shabby see it here.  It is the most beautiful collection of baskets, so neatly pieced together and the fabric choices are to die for.

  It is always a bit strange when one of us goes away, we are a tight knit little family of  three and all very homey but she has to go into the world and have exciting independent experiences.  So I'll post a load of homey domestic vintage loveliness for you. 

 These were not thrifty purchases- which is most unlike me- but I cannot resist home and especially kitchen fabric and these were worth the spend. First two are from Donna Flower, warning, you may end up considerably poorer after visiting her website!

And these are ebay, only tiny pieces but all have great potential...

This was thrifted, in fact the man at the shop said I could have it.  It is a bit tatty but the pictures are so darn good.  1964 Woman Improve Your Home Book magazine insert with TV's Barry Bucknell.

I have many quilt wall-hanging type ideas from these pics.

Unsurprisingly, I just love this page- who wouldn't?  Brushes have never looked so good.

Enjoy your weekend x

sib blog

Thursday 14 October 2010


An enormously large thank you to all who took part in my birthday giveaway, you helped me over the hurdle of 40!  There were also more of you than I ever dreamed and you know there can only be one winner- the random number machine picked 12
Congratulations to Isisjem- Jan who has been a follower for a while and left a funny story about a weird birthday present she received- I have emailed you Jan x

The news has been dominated by the amazing rescue of all 33 of the Chilean miners.  It was so moving to see the reunions, the families just bursting with relief. 

 Another news story I heard this week had a sewing theme, seamstresses in Russia machining inflatable life size rocket launchers and radar stations to act as miltary decoys.  

They look incredible, for more pics and the story- see here.  
They are cheap, light (no storage problems here!) and the fabric fools enemy radar systems.

And to end a random  and jumbled post, a chair of recent vintage lovelies.

There are 98 of you following,  I still remember the very recent past when I checked my counter several times a day only to find it had increased from my own visits and no one elses!  Thank you to you all for taking the time to read bits of my sewing life, send me messages and comments and be there as inspiration too.   I love blogs and blogging and can't imagine sewing without it x
sib blog

Sunday 10 October 2010

Wooden Blocks

Looking for the giveaway? click here

Sewing life has been busy with blocks, making and receiving.  I had four blocks through the post- it is like my birthday everytime, plus two more blocks which I haven't posted here yet.  Amber's beautiful selvedge books all stacked up (see more of her work at One Shabby Chick)

Patchwork Book Collection

and fresh today, Anna's (noodleheads) zingy cute fruity bowls

for kerry

Each bee member is so talented, it is such a pleasure and delight to see what we come up with.  Anna has next month and her theme is 'desserts'- lots of ideas for that.  

Meanwhile, I am block building for Bee a little bit Japanese.  Natalies month and she had a forrest theme.  Block size is 11" tall and up to 36" wide.  I wanted to try some different techinques out.  My first wide block was inspired by Charley Harper's wonderful Birds and Words book  I could make a 100 blocks from this book alone.  I had the image in my head and I did freezer paper piecing as a construction method using Ruth B McDowell's book fresh from the library.

This method seem to suit me.  You draw the block out on freezer paper, dull side, mark the outer edge and then put lots of tic marks on and notes to help accurate joining.  Cut the pieces out with the seam allowances added and join away.  It helps to have a copy of the design to match the piecing too but that never seems to happen for me, I jigsaw all the bits together until it works!

I love this methid, it works well for me.  Prep takes a while but once I'm sewing I'm on a roll.  The leaves are backed with heat n bond lite and free machine stitched.   I'm really happy with this one.

For the second block I wanted to trial Terrie Sandelin's vellum paper method as I know I couldn't pice a block of 1" squares accurately enough without some assistance.

You can see the squares drawn out.  The method involves some water based glue to hold edges and seams in place whilst you flip the paper and sew through paper and fabric.  

The good points are the accuracy is great but I wasn't keen on the glue and the paper was a bit too strong when it came to tearing it away.  It is good for tiny pieces of fabric and I will use it again but with stronger piecing thread- I had to double stitch a few times.

The block turned out OK, I was rather overly inspired by some tree blocks on Flickr (see their loveliness here and here) and perhaps I am better following my own design ideas rather than borrowing too heavily from someone elses, it doesn't look as free as the other one but it was an interesting exercise and it is good for a forest!  I like all the animals peeking out.

Have a good start to the week x
sib blog

Thursday 7 October 2010

I have heard the mermaids...

Looking for the giveaway?  Click here  A big thank you to all whom have entered so far and a welcome to so many followers- wasn't expecting so many, wow!  Hi to y'all

I finally finished the baby quilt I was working on for my new niece.  Baby Sophia was born 16th September and though this gift has been a little later than planned it should be with her today.  She was a water baby, delivered in a birthing pool which makes mermaids bubbles and fishes even more appropriate!  For a first time mummy that is quite a feat, well done to Gemma her lovely mummy.  When I started this project I didn't even know if she was going to be a boy or a girl so I was taking a bit of a gamble with this quilt.  Once she arrived, she inspired the quilting that followed.  This quilt started with a pattern by Deb of Make do and Mend Quilts (she sells v. nice quilt kits too) in Sewhip magazine and evolved.  I like to do things that way, a bit of structure with the freedom to go off at a tangent.  I used my pieced circles tutorial  but the tiniest circles within circles had to go in by hand not machine.

Initially I was going to hand quilt this with lots of circles and I did do some in blue, rust and cream.  I loved their soft running stitches look but it was too much of a strain and I opted for some machine circles as well.  Then a line T S Elliot's poem ,The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock came to me- "I have heard the mermaid's singing, each to each..".  You can read it here it has to be one of my favourite poems.   British actor and comedian Robert Webb reads a bit here and expresses many people's connection with it.  It is a legacy poem, one to pass on and share.

 Free motions coral and seaweed shapes link the words and I also wrote Sophia's name and birthdate in the central circles too

Free motion letters do require a little care spelling wise, nearly wrote memaids then suddenly realised!

Sorry for so many pics but I won't get to see it very often and I want to remember what I've done!

 Binding was pieced using scraps I won a while ago in a Handmade by Alissa giveaway.  I have a love hate relationship with quilt making.  I love piecing, designing, tweaking but I hate the quilting process itself, yet it is worth it.  Nothing beats the satisfaction of a quilt finished.

I do love a folded quilt, it looks inviting and ready to snuggle.  For Sophia x
sib blog