Wednesday 30 March 2011

Blogging days are not always happy days.  We have all been full of colds, I think the whole of the UK must have this virus and in our family it is my turn.  It'll pass, but one of our cats has been diagnosed with diabetes and that is not passing at all.  This is Bob...

He is 14, we had him and his sister Daisy from kittens.  Daisy died almost 2 years ago and we all still miss her like crazy.  Bob has been middle aged all his life and has had numerous health problems- normally before a bank holiday when the vet is shut or we are about to go away.  He is a happy, creaky old cat with arthritic legs, urinary tract problems and now diabetes  We have to inject him twice a day at the same time each day,12 hours apart.  I couldn't bring myself to photograph injection needles so pin cushions instead (Clockwise from top left- from Ingrid, Tiffany, Ayumi and me).

We are due to visit relatives- I am hoping to see my sister in laws baby- I still haven't met her yet!  I think we have worked out someone to come and deliver injections, it is a very hard thing to ask of others.  
I don't know how it is going to progress, Bob has stopped drinking the huge amounts of water he was doing before we started the treatment but a few other things aren't right yet so we'll have to see.  Injecting him isn't the nicest thing to do for us, although he doesn't seem to mind.  The vets are pretty hopeful and give a lot of support- the sort that you pay for.  We can cope with the cost- we are not living extravagant lives and are lucky we bought our house years ago before prices were silly.  As long as he is happy we'll keep him going.
Despite his many difficulties he is a loving cat, loves to sit with his paws on my knees along with Lottie, out dog.  
The other cat, Mindy treats us all with contempt and will probably live forever.
Sorry it has been very pet based- not everyone's cup of tea but he is rather dominating my thoughts at the moment.  
sib blog

Monday 28 March 2011

Pillow Party

Blogger's Pillow Party
I am hoping I am just in time for March Pillow Party over at Stitched in Color!  I finished this over the weekend for my nephew's 6th birthday next weekend.  I started with the print in the middle, 'Tasty Retreat' by Michael Miller.  I wanted to show his love of the outdoors; camping, exploring, messing around.  A log cabin style seemed to fit in with this nicely!
Possession is important when you are 6 years old, hence the property stamp- Versacraft ink again.  The other prints relect his interests- Lush dots for paint, a bit of Kumiko Fujita for the essential foods in life- biscuits, milk and cereal, and the other prints are for the outdoor life- wood, water, frogspawn- was my train of thought.

For the straight line quilting I used this rod thing that came with my walking foot to see how it worked.  I have not tried it before.  Great results, very straight lines but you can only quilt one way, maybe I have missed something here, I like to stitch in alternate directions for straight line quilting. 
  I also used the stitch in the ditch foot for my label following a tip I saw on one at Melissa's post as part of March of the Tools participants- it sews right to the edge of the label with ease.I loved this technique!  So easy and so useful.  I will be using this for top stitching on clothes and for stitching pockets down.
More tools, I found a great new chalk pen, the Signet marker, with loads of different colour refils at a quilt show on Friday.  The vendor got it out of the packet and showed me how good it was, less than £10, I was impressed! I used this for the first quilting line and to put in a lapped zip.  I used the sewing machine maintenance brush to remove it, worked a treat.  You can buy it in the UK with the same seller, Pauline's Patchwork, they have an excellent pen and marker selection!
I have been looking for something like this for ages, a good purchase with all the colour options and refillable too so no waste.  Nice and pointy too, the chalk sharpens with a pencil sharpener for a precise line.

I am sure Ted doesn't read my blog so I haven't spoilt his surprise!  He does love cuddly stuff so it should be well received, and a portable box of watercolour paints too so he can paint on the go.
Have a great start to the week x
sib blog

Wednesday 23 March 2011


I thought I would share more handy tools  as part of Heather Bailey's blog feature.
These are sewing related again.  I get asked a lot about the ink I use for printing on fabric and here it is.  Versacraft is designed for fabric and other surfaces, is easily available ( I buy from Ebay) and heat sets with a hot iron.  It washes well and what more can I say- great stuff!
As I have mentioned before, I get arm and hand strain so anything which makes life easier is good- sprung scissors help a lot- these are Soft Touch Spring Action by Fiskars, nice and sharp and reasonably priced.  Without these I am really stuck, I can only use other scissors for a short time.  They are widely available.  The thread snips are invaluable for quilting and patchwork, anything with a multitude of threads.  Mine are Janome,Soft 'n Sharp Professional range, don't go mid or low range with these, I have found that option to be money down the drain.  They need to be super sharp quality blades to cut first time and so are a little more expensive be still reasonable.
I am sorry that there are no great revelations here and you may have seen all this stuff before, but just incase you haven't, my next choice is Fray Check.  Great around raw edge applique, helps you when your seam is too narrow and you worry it will fray, saves the raw edges of linen which is starting to fall apart- a sewing lifesaver
Rotary schmotary, yeah I know we've all seen rotary cutters before.  But, I have found that using a 28mm is a whole lot less strain on arms and hands than a 45mm.  The bigger size is good for cutting long, whole selvedge widths but this smaller one is great for everything else and gives better control.  Mine is an Olfa with an ergonomic retractable handle.
YLI Soft Touch thread is the best I have found for piecing (check out the PDF in that link for thread usage).  This is thinner than the YLI Machine or Sulky that I would use for quilting and strong and smooth for piecing.  It makes my points more accurate, it is finer so it doesn't swallow up the seam like quilting thread.  When a seam is just a quarter inch every bit counts and this has made my piecing a whole lot more accurate.
Any secret gadgets that make your life, sewing or otherwise easier? Do share...
sib blog

Monday 21 March 2011

Swap Goodies

My pincushion arrived today from the Scrappy Pincushion Swap Flickr group.  It was made by Tiffany of Tigglegiggles,what a cute little pinnie- the back is a Heather Ross Spoonflower mushroom print- so pretty and she put a tape measure into the package too- thankyou Tiffany!
And this arrived last week from Megan of Megs Monkey Beans.  This was a little swap we organised for just the two of us, it was fun to give and receive for such a nice bloggy friend
Isn't this wonderful- lots of turquoise, aqua, kitchen prints, Farmdale- yum
Practical too- you can put your hand in, and nice and thick, although I can't bring myself to use it and get it all covered in food- I am looking at it in the kitchen instead!
She also send a great little pile of fabrics- none of which I had, and the recipe for Cinnamon buns (the ones I made yesterday) along with some extra strong cinnamon.  It was the cinnamon that started the swap idea off.  Cinnamon is such a popular flavour in the US and in the UK this is not really the case.    I can only get the usual stuff here and this is hardcore cinnamon, delicious! 
I made her this
And send a little pile of fabrics and some fancy little chocolate bars.  Pop over to Megs and look at this wonderful purse she made for her Mother in law, I love it.
And now you can have a little visit to the lovely Lynne's Lily's Quilt Blog where I am guest posting for her quilt-a-long.  Can I tempt you with these fabrics?
Or these?  
If anyone in the UK or Europe is interested in buying a FQ of the Michael Miller Sentence Structure print(at the bottom of the pic below)- 'Look, Dick.  Look, look' I just bought a few yards from USA so I am happy to sell a few FQs, I couldn't find it in UK or Europe ( I think it is out of print now) so send me an email if you are interested!
You can do a mini quilt if you don't want to commit to a bigger project, the Flickr group is here.  Lynne is a great host, and there is lots of help available and other quilters to compare ideas with.
Lily's Quilts QAL
sib blog

Sunday 20 March 2011


Up early for the carboot sale as usual.  Made a sweet dough for Cinnamon buns before I left the house, recipe courtesy of Megan.  We did a swap recently and she sent me this recipe, amongst other very lovely things.  I'll share more when my parcel to her arrives, but for the moment, just the baking.
I have never made so much dough and so many buns.  Cinnamon and brown sugar...  
and cinnamon, raisin and brown sugar.  I took these to share with Kathy and James, friends round the corner, we had coffee and buns, wow it was a great recipe.  Kathy is from USA and these reminded her of home.
Our dogs played, Lula organised playmobil and we chatted and ate and drank.  They had great finds at the carboot this morning, we squeezed three adults a G plan coffee table, G plan cupboard, a 2 shelf bookcase, a box of plates, bowls and cups, and  there was still room for my finds as well in the car.
Great aprons, I will keep one and the rest will go on sale in my Etsy shop, eventually.  I need to have them just a little while.  I loved the print on this tea towel,
and this apron.
and now even my scraps, threads and tissues have a pretty bin.
And these, although the pieces are small, were the best find.
Tomorrow work, worries, rushing around, but there is still some Sunday left x Enjoy.
sib blog

Saturday 19 March 2011

Doll Quilt Complete

Finished at last. Doll Quilt Swap 10.  My secret partner likes intricate tiny piecing, traditional and modern fabrics and is generally easy going.  I knew what I wanted to do but this one took a while to make.  I listened to a podcast from Radio Lab, this one was called Help!, take a listen, like all Radio Lab podcasts it's an interesting journey.  Elizabeth Gilbert quotes Tom Waits describing the creative process.  Every song has a distinctive identity that it comes into the world with.
There are songs you have to sneak up on like hunting for a rare bird.  Then there are songs that come to you  fully intact like a dream taken through a straw.  There are songs that you find little bits of, like pieces of gum underneath the desk, and you scrape them off and you put them together.  And there are songs that need to be bullied into shape to give itself over.
This quilt was one of those.  I had to kick it into shape, give it a talking too, and ask it to sit by itself until it was ready to  co-operate.  
There is a song theme to it too- can you find it amongst all the words?  Look for the stamped text...

I used a lot of different processes to make it including hand stitching and hand quilting.  On Heather Bailey's blog,  she and others are sharing tools of any kind that make life a little easier.  Check Florence's for great ideas on fabric markers
These sticky dotties make hand sewing just that little bit easier and reduce strain.  I had RSI for a long time and it still gives me problems, especially hand sewing, so anything I can find to make life easier is worth buying.
These are invaluable.  They give grip and stop the needle leaving long indentations in my fingers too- I've got skinny fingers, not much cushioning!  I have bought them at Hobby Craft and you can find them elsewhere online.
For piecing fabric and machine quilting, I use Clover Non Slip Finger grip.  I don't know what this stuff is made of but it doesn't stain the fabric and it doesn't irritate my skin.  It gives you an extra bit of grip or purchase (almost archaic word usage there, but I like it) and again reduces strain.  Easily available in sewing shops and online.

You just rub it on the tips.  When you have a big pile of piecing it speeds it up and allows you to put those edges together quickly and easily. It is not hot and itchy like quilting gloves- which have their uses, and their drawbacks-this is easy, I love it.

And I'll end today with a bit of Tom, a snippet and the whole song is here