Thursday, 18 May 2017

Dashing Away With The Smoothing Iron

The phrase "dashing away with the smoothing iron" has no relevance for me this week. No, it does not. I have no ironing. Not a hanky, not a thing. 

I do have a basting pile though. That's a great thing to say - I have a basting pile. I have three small quilts ready to baste, my Jam Sandwiches and Red Lemonade quilts x 2 and my Freefall qal lap quilt, aka #dougiesshirts . 

The fun thing about a basting pile is it sits on the chair my ironing pile usually takes up.
I can stack my basting pile this way:

I can stack my basting pile that way:

I can even stack my basting pile any way:

The thing about ironing is it is always there, hiding around the corner.

My Freefall qal quilt is basted with more Ikea polar fleece, dark green this time. I talked it over with my sister. This is to be a caravan quilt, we thought, like the picnic quilts, that the polyester fleece maybe better than the cotton wadding which may soak up any damp. The sister thought the dark fleece which make an interesting backing, rather than just wadding. So, all pinned now and ready to go.

A little fabric may have popped through my letterbox yesterday. A quilty friend Sarah, from my blog hop days,  was kind enough to send me a gift certificate for Simply Solids. And I had a lovely time picking my fabrics. I find I am mostly drawn to solids these days, so I picked a range of kona cottons.

 First up was a bundle of cool colours. My stash of blues was fairly depleted by the Wedding Quilt of last year. Fair enough, that's what it was bought for. I missed looking at and admiring that stash of blues. Between these and the blues bought at Easter in Purl Soho, this gives me a good base again.

Next up were the pinks, the warm colours. I have very few pinks. I ordered a cross section of pink konas from Simply Solids, added in a red, an orange and a yellow. If I add these to the pink yardage from Purl Soho at Easter, and the lilacs from The Village Haberdashery a few weeks ago, well, I am all set to go. I have the fledgling of an idea. I have been hankering for a while after the Postcards From Sweden quilt and the lovely Sarah herself  made an ombre hst quilt. Very very far in the future, but I am thinking along these lines. Like the best financial advisers say, it always pays to invest in the future.

Leaving you with this photo just to prove I'm in the pink these days.

Helen x

Saturday, 13 May 2017

I Can Join A Link Up, An Honest Link Up

Woo Hoo! I have a finished flimsy. I have finished making and piecing all the blocks for my Freefallqal linkup.  I can link up with a clear conscience, as of 7.15 pm last night all 20 leaf blocks were completed, and all 25 blocks were sewn together. No ironing has been done but a target has been met.

My dougiesshirts quilt very nearly reached crisis point. I nearly ran out of green background shirt fabric. The blue leaf background shirt fabric lasted so well, the other shirts could nearly be wearable with a stretch of imagination. Think sleeveless, tie waisted for a small woman.

The green shirt, well, it looked there weren't that many green squares really. Leave the hard three corner blocks to the end I thought. Duh. As my mum used to say, do the hardest homework first and get it out of the way, then coast home. And our mums were always right.

 Of course the green shirt is short sleeved, hence less fabric.  We sailed very close to the wind here. This is the sum total of remaining green fabric, two button bands and a collar and assorted snips! What didn't help was I was busy the green days, and instead of constructive width of shirt strips, I just hacked bits off and trimmed accordingly.

But we made it. One of the bottom green blocks, you can see how close it came to having to piece a bit in, but we made it.

And rather ironically, I have one block left! A green one. This will go creatively into the back or maybe into a scrappy quilt for myself.

Helen x
linking up with mmm.quilts Freefall qal. and Sandra
 yesterday was Friday and linking up with finish it up Friday and crazy mom quilts

Thursday, 11 May 2017

It's Warm Enough to Cast a Clout

Never cast a clout until May is out, but it is still scorchio here, but the weather is due to break tomorrow. Hoping that's not our summer over, as today I basted my two Jam Sandwiches and Red Lemonade picnic quilts. I was able to baste them on our garden table, which is a largish granite type affair, great to have plenty of room to walk around and the right height.

I decided to make two picnic blankets,

 his and her if you like, previously blogged about here. I felt that my days of climbing back off the ground are over, I am more likely to picnic at a civilised picnic table. Hence, I made two small quilts to cover those sometimes questionable bench seats in country parks. No more "blanket on the ground" for me.

 I also decided to go with IKEA polar fleece instead of wadding. I bought two, but luckily for me each blanket used exactly half a fleece, so I only used one. Now, I know these polar fleece don't recommend tumble drying but that will be ok. The backing fabric is a red and white zig zag I bought in a cheap, pile it high fabric shop in Philadelphia a year ago.

I have got a lot further on with my Dad's Shirts quilt, my Freefall quilt a long with Sandra has got so far a long, I have got to crisis point. Why wasn't dad's favourite green shirt, one of the background fabrics, a long sleeved shirt? Why didn't I cut it up in a structured way instead of hacking bits off it? I cut some of the lesser shirts in a structured way.

I know my photo is very pale, I had to lay it indoors to take the photo I am afraid, I didn't want to be running down the street after my leaves like a leaf blower. And lets face it, my dad tended to pastel coloured shirts.

I have a small whack left , a technical term, and I have the three top right corner bits to faff about with. I might break the habit of a lifetime here and read Sandra's excellent instructions and sew a mock up first. To date I have generally followed her picture rather than her excellent instructions. I drew a plan, a very rough plan and have given it a nod as I work.  I tend to be a very visual person. I see things! But that's a whole other story.

I have two squares to finish that use both blue and green background. And, dammit, one of my carefully cut 8.5" squares seems to measure 8" x 8.5". I might do some creative stitching here, like make a stitched label and pretend   make that part of the design.

It will all be ok on the day. It always is. It is nearly time to think about wadding and backing. An opening for the other IKEA fleece?

Sandra has another linky party going on. I am going to live dangerously and try and get a bit more done before I link up. Hopeful of tomorrow or Saturday. In the meantime I will leave you with another gratuitous photo of Sandra's very own quilt. Photo courtesy of mmm!quilts

Helen x

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Hello, It's Scorchio Sunday

Scorchio, scorchio, scorchio. It is into our second week of hot, hot, hot sunshine. The big yellow circle in the sky that usually bypasses us in N Ireland. Generations here have told their children about the great sun that hides behind the clouds, it looks like the moon only bigger, brighter and burnier.

The upshot of this is that the garden is looking lovely, I have upped my intake of vitamin D and there has been only a very little sewing done here. I did continue on my trail for a spool of red and white variegated thread. Can it be that difficult? I have tried Purl Soho in New York City, the Village Haberdashery in West Hampstead, London, and last week I set out to search in Belfast's only dedicated quilt shop.

Well, life is all about compromise. We got a nearly but not quite. There was some YLI red variegated thread, but it was very red, white and blue. I was trying to keep this quite "two chrome" (as opposed to monochrome)... I want simple quilting in my red and white Jam Sandwiches and Red Lemonade Picnic Quilts. The sulky thread was more of pink variegated with orange and grey, but weirdly it looked more red and white than the red spool. I bought two spools of this.

It turns out I already have a spool of auriful red, white and blue thread at home. I think when my simple straight line quilting is done, it will all blend in. I laid my red and white ziggy zaggy backing out on my patio table to baste and discovered I had no wadding left. Grrr. Tomorrow I will go to ikea and buy two white think fleecy things to use as wadding. Where did all the wadding go? It's not as if I finish too many quilts!

Whilst I was there I bought a few fabrics to bulk out the pineapple block for my beeabee2017. You know, my local quilt shop does try hard .... it has quite a good range now  ..... but it would surely be simpler and more aesthetically pleasing to tie a little string or narrow fabric around the off cuts than to use half a ton of sellotape?

The pineapple block is for Katrina. I have one finished, 16". Actually a little bigger, but I will let Katrina trim it.

 and one about half way.

 It took me two months to start this. I couldn't concentrate to make this the last few weeks, but we are getting there.

That's all the stash out this weekend, too scorchio to sew.

It is however "hedgehog awareness week" in the UK this week. By coincidence my daughter made up these mother and baby hedgehogs on Saturday night. These were from a kit bought for her by my daughter in law. Isn't family togetherness great?

Helen x
linking up with Molli Sparkles and Sunday Stash.



Sunday, 30 April 2017

Temperance - It's Ok, If You Get Enough

Temperance, it's ok, if you get enough of it. That is what my husband said last night as when we settled down to sleep.

Rather appropriate as we had been chez us for the evening and had polished off  a sirloin steak and fried potatoes, a bottle of red wine, a rather nice ripe, runny swiss cheese and a bottle of Alsace pinot blanc and a bourbon and some craft made fudge to finish.

Temperance in all things.

 Rather appropriate when I thought of my little spending spree last week, it removed any last vestiges of guilt over more spending - not that I feel guilty over spending in the first place. I don't smoke, I don't gamble, I don't drink   I show temperance in all that I do. Ha!

Last week we were in London and I had nearly a whole day all to myself. In London!! So, of course I went on my own personal journey. A pilgrimage if you will. I went on the Jubilee line to West Hampstead to pay homage at The Village Haberdashery. And, having went all that way, it would have been in very poor form, rude, not to buy something. Buy local. It was local when I was there!

I succumbed to the longing, the new longing for some violet Kona, that longing that started in Purl Soho when I "forgot" to buy the sale yardage. The Village Haberdashery had a terrific range of lilacs, I picked three - pansy, thistle and wisteria. I bought a half yard of each.

In the window, they had a lovely quilt using the Alice In Wonderland range by Cotton and Steel. Until two seconds ago, I didn't realise it was Cotton and Steel, but I am not surprised. I knew I just had to have this. It was on the top shelf. Without lowering the tone, I remember newsagents having a top shelf of "men's magazines"! Guilty pleasures. Fabric porn.

I have half a yard of each of the design range. There were coordinating fabrics with a gold spot, and another with a  gold spade, a  little too bling for me, so I refrained. You see - Temperance at work.

And what am I going to do with these? I have loved the Postcards from Sweden quilts, pattern available for free on Craftsy. It goes the whole gamut of solids right from red to purple, with greens, oranges and yellows as well. I love it.
And the Alice In Wonderland? I don't need a project for that. I am happy just to stroke it and be in love. My sister did mention in passing, my niece loves Alice In Wonderland. I knew there was something in the back of my mind. I suppose this is another of these "squirrel moments" in the DrEAMi link up.

Now stash out this week? I have made a couple more squares from my dad's shirts #dougiesshirts. 11 or 12 altogether now. I blogged about it the other day though, so won't bore you again. I also made finished another couple of hexie flowers from my Liberty stash. I was asked today how many I was going to make, the answer, until I get fed up.

The real highlight last Saturday for me was bumping into Trudi, who I know through instagram, @trudiwood. It was lovely to meet her "in real life". Trudi really is such a lovely person, both online and in reality.

The one thing I didn't get was a spool of red variegated machine quilting thread. I have been on the hunt, Purl Soho, The Village Haberdashery but no luck. Gives me the excuse to keep hunting. And as for the rest of my day last Saturday, I had a lovely facial courtesy of Liz Earle, a great lunch in the artisan food market in Duke of York Square, Sloane Square, London. I wandered round the Saatchi Art Gallery, there's a great selfie exhibition, and lastly a great trawl round the second hand book shop at World's End, Kings Road. A day made in heaven.

One last thing, until today I actually thought Temperance was the same as Abstinence. Not the same thing at all, apparently.

linking up with Sunday Stash and Molli Sparkles
linking up with DrEAMi

Friday, 28 April 2017

Falling Leaves In Springtime

Back to my Freefall qal . Time for another linky party and I'm getting there.

I'm caught up in some leaves, behind in others, and unbelievably slightly ahead in others.

This is where I am to date, one whole row done and a couple of odd leaves.

And this is what the finished quilt should be like, photo courtesy of Sandra, musings of a menopausal melon.

At first I had only two shirts, the dark small check, the red and white stripe and the blue woven background. So, I was happily making away. I had made 4 red blocks,

 2 check blocks

and the sections were ready for 2 more checks.

Fast forward to my sister and I sorting dad's clothes, and I brought up some more shirts for variety. You see, when I told my sister to give me a couple of shirts plus a background, she took me at my word. I then made another block with a paler larger check.

When I laid them all out, I saw the OOOPS in this photo, now corrected.

At this stage, I thought I had better devise a plan, a working action. To this stage, the plan had been there was no plan. I know Sandra has a line plan for free on Craftsy, courtesy of Tish. That involved getting up from the sofa and turning on the computer to print. So here is my plan of Sandra's plan. Think of it as an underground revolutionary group plan if you like, a sketch on a cigarette packet, like a world war 2 espionage group. When I looked at this, I could see I had 3 checks with the blue background too many! Always a good idea to check the plan.

I decided the best way was to complete 1 entire row and work upwards and downwards from there.

And there you have it. My progress to date. Slightly out of kilter with the others who are making by rote, but it will end up the same in the end.

I am really enjoying the flow of making these blocks. Once I got into the rhythm of them they come together very easily. Some of the blocks intersect each other, like a puzzle of interconnecting squares and rectangles. My dad, Dougie, would enjoy that. Cryptic crosswords and geometry/maths puzzles were his thing. I particularly like the half floating leaf background and half real background leaf. It will all become clear in time. The real background was originally going to be white, then sister mentioned how much she loved this pale green shirt. Of course it is woven too! More stretchy stretchy.

It is a bank holiday weekend here this weekend. Now we have finished work, every weekend is a bank holiday weekend, but there is still something of a treat about them. A chance to do fun things, like work in the garden or sew, or read, or scrapbook, or simply lie and do nothing at all.

Have a happy weekend.
Helen x

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Catch Up Is My Pole Position

Catch up seems to be my default position. I see these qal and decide to join in and in the blink of an eye I am playing catch up. Is it because I take on too much? Have too many fingers in too many pies? Sometimes but this time it is because we were on holidays and when I came home the dust fairy seemed to have sprinkled her dust all over my house. Or maybe the house needed dusted and cleaned before I went away and strangely still needed done on our return.

So the state of play with the Freefall  qal with Sandra musings of a menopausal melon? Last Monday everybody linked up their 8 falling leaves on the leaf background. As of today, I have one fallen leaf. One leaf does not a compost heap make but I am happy enough. And here I present my one leaf: It even has its own hashtag #dougieshirts on instagram.

Sandra gave us very comprehensive cutting instructions from yardage. I am making my quilt from some of my dad's old shirts. Now my dad was a smart dresser, a suit and tie man or at least polo shirt and sweater man, never a t shirt or sweats man, or even jeans. He didn't however have a huge wardrobe, after all you can only wear one shirt at a time. One on, one off and one in the wash was his philosophy for most things, and it worked for him. Because of the unknown quantities of my fabric, I am unable to cut following Sandra's instructions. I am hacking at these shirts as required, see how far it goes. There will either be creative sewing towards to the end, or a load left.

I love the way Sandra has put this block together. With the two larger squares, basically you have to make all the separate components to complete the whole block, no putting it together as far as you can and leaving the rest to later. The top right hand leaf point is paper pieced. Lovely. This part of the block has three separate paper pieced sections around a small square. Now, I know Sandra's instructions will be perfect and the maths correct. BUT, paper piecing can be tricky in itself, it involves mirror images, flipping fabric (?) and for me a certain amount of luck. So ... with a possible fabric shortage I simplified mine into just the one paper pieced section. It took me two goes to get it right, the first time my maths was wrong. Once I work out the basic math, I just cut bigger pieces of fabric, stitch and flip. The theory is once I get the first one, the rest will follow. Shame I didn't keep a master copy then.

Overall I am rather pleased, hopefully pride doesn't come before a fall. On this occasion I have had to overcome my dislike of stripes and direction of fabric not matching up. This time it will add to the flow and movement of the fabric. Speaking of fabric, the red stripe is great, a really sturdy cotton, a shirt from the Howick range. The blue Baumwolle shirt for the background is also cotton but being woven is rather stretchy and inclined to fray. I probably should have used a stabiliser, but I hate that. It puts me in a bad mood before I even start. I am just going to wing it and quilt or over stitch any dubious bits. This is for my sister, for her caravan and she will be extremely tolerant of any foibles, as a non sewer, she probably won't even notice any. As my younger sister she no doubt worships the ground I walk on!

If you have any time over the next day or two, check out the New Bloggers' Blog Hop. You may remember this from the last few years, yours truly took part a few years ago. It is a great way to find you blogs to read, gives great encouragement to the bloggers, and who knows ... you might find a new friend.

Last week was week 1, and here are links to Yvonne, Beth and Leanne who were the hosts. There you can see their hives from last week.

And here is the link to the week2 hives Yvonne, Beth and Leanne are highlighting. Yvonne's hive is Blooming Quilters. Beth has Better Bloggers (love that name) and Leanne has Let's Bee Quiltin'
The prizes for week 1 are all done and dusted, but great prizes in week 2.

Just one more thing, for anybody of a football bent, come on Chelsea, the good team in this week's FA Cup semi final. ~(sorry G Mul if you are reading this!) Chelsea v Man Utd on Saturday night.

Helen x

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Home Again, Home Again

The last ten days or so I have been on a visit to the Land Of Opportunity. We grabbed the chance to have a break in Philadelphia and NYC for a break. I apologise to any of my fellow bloggers whose emails I have yet to reply to. My phone tended, rather expensively, to jump off the hotel wifi, and Mr Security in Hotmail and Gmail tried asking me all sorts of awkward security questions when I tried to email using my husband's  ipad. I know, I set up the security questions, but, like, who remembers their answers? Now I am home, it is time to link up with Molli Sparkles again, handily enough.

Anyhow, we had a great time, the stateside son  is hale and hearty, I have to see him in situ to be sure of this! We did a bit of this.

And this,

And some of this,

And a little bit of this.
And of course this.

I hear stories of suitcases coming home full of Levi jeans, but in my case, I like to buy wool.
In Philadelphia I made my annual visit to Loop Knits and treated myself. They always have great samples knit in the shop. This suits me, as I see wool, love it, but am never quite sure what to do with it or how much to buy. I spotted this stone point poncho in Luma Knits yarn and tried it on. It fitted my criteria, "do I look the size of a house in this?" The answer was no, the hard bit was deciding which colour. There was a beautiful hot pink but in the end I decided on grey. I seem to graduating to grey these days.

A ball of bright multi coloured sock wool snuck into the basket as well, it is called "happy accident" and it will be a happy accident if I actually knit two socks the same that actually fit! My daughter really liked this wool, so here's hoping.

I also bought some more carbon sock needles and a short circular needle for knitting hats. I have plenty of circular needles, but never have the right size or right length. That seemed to be me and my pencil case the whole way through the school - plenty of pencils but never the right colour pencil - do I need therapy? Or did everybody in school feel like this? Anyhow, my yearly visits to Loop Knits meant I had $5 in loyalty points to use, brilliant.

In NYC we had, of course to go to Purl Soho. How can we not?  I had a little scrap of my camel fabric with me to pair up, but in the end I bought yardage of  Robert Kaufman Kona on sale. Two shades of pink, and a deep blue,  Soooo cheap compared to the price at home. They had one other yardage in their sale basket, a lilac, could have, should have, would have bought that too. One of life's regrets, for years to come I will say, I should have bought that lilac. I was there the next day to buy wool and forgot to check it was still there.

They had some lovely Carolyn Friedlander fabric too. But ... it is very high up and difficult to check out when vertically challenged with a tendency to vertigo when looking straight up. I didn't ask for help, as I reckoned I have most of it anyway. See how sensible and frugal I can be?

The last thing I bought was some lovely wool for the daughter in law. I was torn between buying her two skeins of lovely wool, or one skein of really lovely wool. I decided to go for the really lovely wool, hand dyed Anzula yarn. It is a superwash merino, with cashmere and just a touch of nylon, 4ply wool. It is called Squishy and that marketing team deserves some buns.

My second regret, and yes, I have a few, is that I didn't buy some yarn for myself. The problem of having peaked too early in Loop Knits or just that I treated myself to some Tiffany Return To New York earrings and there is so much treating you can do. Before Tiffany come to hunt me down, I must say I find their staff spectacularly unhelpful. Maybe it is just me. Three visits, three purchases, three experiences. Ah well, I will hardly be buying anything else, I have the necklace, bracelet and earrings, times two.

Helen x
linking up with Molli Sparkles and Sunday Stash

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Beeabee 2017

I mentioned in my last post I may inadvertently have joined a bee. I know. My name

is Helen and I am a beeaholic. I am also a fabriholic and a scrapaholic. And maybe a ginaholic as well.

Sue who I got to know last year in instagram approached me and asked if I would join a bee. Well, flattery and a personal invitation will get you anywhere and the woman from Belfast, she say yes. I was chuffed to be asked, but maybe they had asked everybody else and I was the last. I already know Anneliese from previous Modern Quilters Ireland Bee and Gina from instagram and I share a love of aqualegias and radio 4 extra and the others I look forward to getting to know.

Anneliese was queen bee the first month and requested stars for a starry night quilt. I made her a selection.

 Firstly I made her this orange one,

Then I made a few simple friendship stars.

I snuck in a top from a beer bottle, weird I know. It had a bumble bee on it, and I knew Anneliese would appreciate it. I also included a couple of cocktail glass markers I thought she could use as stitch markers in her sock knitting.

Anneliese's anchor background fabric is to be kona charcoal. I didn't have any at the time,  I do now. It is my intention to make another improv block for Anneliese and send it on.

Katrina's block for March is the pineapple block. I have never sewn this. Although it doesn't look particularly difficult it does need precision sewing and cutting. As I am a bit all over the place still, I haven't started this. No point in setting myself up for disappointment! I will hopefully give it a go over the Easter break and send it on then.

Helen x