Sunday 26 April 2015

Blue shoos - do.Good Stitches Comfort Circle May 2015


It is my turn to be quilter again and I have decided to go for a classic block - the Shoo Fly.
I've seen some lovely quilts recently using a single block in different sizes so that is what we are going to make.

This is a straightforward 9 patch variation using squares and half square triangles (HSTs).  The following is a brief tutorial - not because I think any of you lovely ladies need it but sometimes it is helpful to have all the info in once place.

The cutting directions are based on my preferred method of making HSTs but of course you should use whatever method you prefer.

Colours and sizes

I'd like you to use a blue print fabric and a pale solid neutral (white, off-white, cream, beige) and I'm asking that everyone make one 12.5 inch block and one other block, either 9.5 inch or 6.5 inch.

Cut fabric as follows:

Block size
Blue fabric
Background fabric
Trim HSTs
12.5 inch
2 – 5”x 5”
1 – 4.5” x 4.5”
2 – 5”x 5”
4 – 4.5” x 4.5”
4.5” x4.5”
9.5 inch
2 – 4” x 4”
1 – 3.5” x 3.5”
2 – 4” x 4”
4 – 3.5” x 3.5”
3.5” x 3.5”
6.5 inch
2 – 3” x 3”
1 – 2.5” x 2.5”
2 – 3” x 3”
4 – 2.5” x 2.5”
2.5” x 2.5”

1) Take your two larger blue squares and two larger background squares and mark a line diagonally from corner to corner on the background squares

2) Place one blue square and one background square with right sides together and sew a seam 1/4 inch either side of the mark.  Repeat with the other two squares.

3) Cut along the marked line and press.

4) Trim the HST's to the appropriate size (I was making a 9.5 inch block so I trimmed to 3.5" square).

5) Take your four HSTs and the remaining pieces and place in the following layout

6) Sew the blocks into rows and then sew the rows together.  You are done!

 Looking forward to seeing what you make and hope you enjoy this block.


Saturday 21 March 2015

A bundle of baby quilts

I love making baby quilts - they are nice quick projects because of their size and I don't let them become UFOs (which I have a bad habit of recently!)

So when I found out my cousin was expecting twins I knew I'd have the chance to make at least two baby quilts this year.  At the end of January she gave birth to two adorable boys and so I immediately started trying to decide on a pattern - I wanted something that was fun, not babyish and relatively simple (as I'd be making it twice).

I have been eager to make something from Beyond Neutrals by John Q Adams (Quilt Dad) ever since I bought it last year and this seemed a good opportunity.  I decided to use the top left 4 x 4 block section of Pacific Crest (the quilt featured on the cover of the book).

I shopped my stash and following a colour consultation with my Mum by Skype, settled on a colour scheme of navy, jade/turquoise and orange with a sort of royal blue for background.

I decided that I would do one quilt as per the pattern and then for the second I'd make a mirror image, so that they would be similar but individual, just like Aidan & Charlie.

I backed them with a blue minky/plush fabric as my kids love minky and think that all quilts should have it.  Luckily Plush Addict stock a great range and offer a colour matching service so my backing and blue solid were a great match, which I like when I back with minky as I bind by folding over the backing.

They ended up being quilted very simply with diagonal lines in the direction of the Vs - not my original plan but I was struggling with horrendous tension problems with my machine (thankfully now fixed) so it was the best compromise.

Then last month we discovered that one of my husband's university friends had just had a little girl.  Whilst we haven't seen her or her husband that much recently, they are good friends and so a quilt was in order.

I had bought Hazel Hedgehog II by Elizabeth Hartman (Oh Fransson) planning to make a large cushion cover but I was so inspired by all the fabulous Hazels made during the Hazel Hedgehog QAL run by Angie of Gnome Angel that I decided to made a rainbow Hazel.

I love it and will definitely be making more Hazel's in the future.  It was backed with a lovely Riley Blake flannel and quilted with a cross hatch.

All the quilts have arrived at their destinations and will hopefully be used and snuggled for years to come.

I'm feeling pretty chuffed to have finished 4 quilts already this year (still haven't photographed my son's new quilt as he is sleeping with it every night).

And I am now in the exciting position of having no sewing commitments/bee blocks etc for the next couple of months.  Shall I - a) use the time wisely to finish up some of the UFOs that are taking over one cupboard or b) start something new - guess which one I'm leaning towards!!

Happy sewing

Friday 13 February 2015

Testing, testing... can anyone hear me?

Well, I know I'm an infrequent blogger but I never intended to be away so long!

So, where were we, oh yes sewing!  2014 did turn out to be a better year than 2013 but it got off to a slow start.  Radiotherapy knocked me for six and then I went straight back to work so I basically had no energy for the next few months.  But slowly, slowly  life got back to some form of normality and I started sewing again, kicked into action by a request from my nephews - the Mammoth Minecraft project, but that is for another post.

Fast forward to more recent stuff.  My daughter started school in September and she found the transition hard (thankfully things are much improved now).  Although she had been going to nursery for three days since the time she was tiny she suffered terrible separation anxiety.  Her teacher, two classroom assistants and the lady who runs the school breakfast club were so fantastic with her that when Christmas was approaching I wanted to make them something nice.

A photo on Instagram led me to the fabulous Lilipopo and it didn't take long for me to buy some of her gorgeous patterns and get stitching.  Once the embroidery was finished I used Elizabeth Hartman's Perfect Zip Bags pattern

We filled them with chocolate and they went down a treat.

I enjoyed making them so much that I made a couple more for my sewing buddies

And then I remembered that I had still not got round to making anything for my Craft it Forward bods, which gave me the perfect excuse to make some more!  Yes I did get a little obsessed (I actually made another one for my hairdresser but I forgot to take a photo of that one) but they are so cute and so much fun to stitch.  And over the Christmas holidays I always try to be more sociable so it was lovely to have some handwork to do in the evenings.

They were well received which is the important thing and I definitely see more Lilipopo in my future!

Bye for now

Friday 3 January 2014

2013: That was the year that was

Happy New Year!

As regular readers will know 2013 wasn't exactly the best year for me (massive understatement alert) but whilst I look forward to 2014 being rather less stressful it hasn't been all bad.

A breast cancer diagnosis in May was a big shock but as I come to the end of the year I'm in a pretty good place.  I made it through chemotherapy and surgery and although neither is the most pleasant thing in the world my body coped with both better than I expected.  And thankfully it has all been worth it.  Chemo shrank my tumour by 80% and only two of my lymph nodes were involved rather than three as originally suspected.  I still have radiotherapy later this month but less than originally planned.

I am incredibly grateful to my wonderful husband and Mum who coped so well and did all the stuff I couldn't do.  My kids coped amazingly well and cheered me up even on my worse days.  So many great friends helped out of let us know they were thinking off up - and that includes those of you who I've got to know via this silly little blog, thank you so much for the messages of support.

Sewing wise it was definitely a year of two parts with January to May being much more productive (funny that).  Overall I finished 6 quilts and a further quilt top and made some other bits and pieces.

 Finished quilts (clockwise from top left): Starburst; Siblings together zigzag; Highland Star; Bluebird park stars: MIL quilt; Beach huts

Other stuff: Handle with care quilt top; Sisters Ten BOM (so want to get on with this as I love the design and the fabric); Crafty Cooks apron and pot holder; cross stitch Christmas decorations.

Also this year, one of my all time favourite makes:

Velocity Girl bag by Sew Sweetness in Echino Buck in Turquiose - I've had so many compliments on this and it is such a great design.

As for 2014, well if the last year has taught me anything it is that you can make all the plans you like but life can happen instead!  But I want to keep sewing and hopefully be a bit braver about fabric choices and keep improving.

I hope that 2014 brings you all health and happiness

Saturday 16 November 2013

Craft it Forward

Last December I spotted that Hadley of Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle posted a Craft it Forward.  I'm usually too slow off the mark but this time I got a slot and I was seriously chuffed as Hadley make lush things.

So fast forward to Thursday, I was having a bit of a rubbish morning when I heard the postman and what should there be but a fabulous parcel.

Inside was the most gorgeous needle book (there was also chocolate but that lasted about 3 minutes and certainly not long enough to make it into a photo!).  Look at those tiny liberty hexies!!

 And inside the loveliness continues - I will have to keep an eye on that badge as the little lady wants it.

And it arrived at an excellent moment - I'll be in hospital for a week of so this month and I was putting together a sewing bag to take with me.  I'll mostly be working on this:

Christmas on Gingerbread Lane by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - how cute is that!

So if anyone fancies continuing the fun of Craft it Forward and you can fulfil the criteria below then please let me know (make sure I can contact you - if you are a No-Reply Blogger I'm afraid you'll miss out and that would be sad).

Here's how you do it:

If you have a blog and fancy a little something handmade by me leave me a comment on this post.  Sometime in the next 365 days I'll send it to you.  When it arrives you need to blog about it and repeat the offer.  Go on spread a little happiness!


Friday 15 November 2013

This and that

I can never think of good post titles but that pretty much sums up what I've been up to - at bit of this and some of that.

I have been sewing as I'm feeling much better (apart from tiredness), chemo is now done (hooray!) and my ultrasound at the end of last month showed that it has been worth it as my tumour has shrunk be two thirds (hooray again!).  I'm having surgery (mastectomy & reconstruction) next Thursday and then radiotherapy after Christmas.  Still some way to go but I feel like I'm past the worst of it now.

Anyway back to the sewing.  I've been doing quite a lot of cross stitch - before the kids arrived that was my main craft hobby and so I have loads of stuff and it was an easy option when I felt like doing something but didn't have the energy to haul out my machine.

Looking ahead to Christmas I've been doing some ornament kits I'd never got round to.

They are Mill Hill bead kits and are a nice quick project.

I've also made a quilt - unfortunately the 3 year old daughter of one of my work colleagues has recently been diagnosed with liver cancer.  As hard as my own diagnosis and treatment has been I think it must be so much harder to watch your child go through it all.

Obviously we aren't in a position to offer much practical support at the moment so I went for a quilt - I really felt the cold during my treatment.  I ordered a layer cake of Bluebird Park by Katie & Birdie and put together some wonky stars.  It is a lovely collection, sweet without being saccharine and a lovely mix of colours.  I quilted it in a loop pattern using Aurifil 50wt - Aurifil is the only cotton thread my machine will happily FMQ with.

The squirrels are my favourite
My mum had to pop back to Dubai (where she usually lives) and purely by chance brought back some flannel that happened to coordinate well (Riley Blake Peak Hour) - it turns out that a lot of fabric is shipped via Dubai and any split or damaged rolls are sold off there at bargain prices (£2-£3 per yard).

I have also started making blocks for the wee chap's Cat in the Hat quilt (no pictures, sorry) and I'm setting myself a goal of Christmas to finish it, which may be a bit optimistic given the surgery but I'll never hear the end of it if I don't get it done soon!

I'm linking up with the lovely Liz at Dandelion Daydreams

Liz of Dandelion Daydreams

Bye for now but check back tomorrow when I'll have a Craft it Forward post :-)

Saturday 14 September 2013

What I did on my summer holidays... not as much sewing as I would have liked.

After initially feeling pretty good, the pesky health stuff (update at the end for those that are interested) has been taking its toll a bit and hence I've not done much sewing for the last couple of months.  Blogging has also suffered although I am over on Instagram slightly more often - I'm sillybananasewing

However before I started to feel really rough I got a few things done.  I decided I would make myself a quilt so I rummaged through my stash and found a Hometown layer cake and some Kona Cream I bought for a project that I never got round to (like about half the fabric I own!).

I had purchased some patterns from Alison of Cluck Cluck Sew when she had a sale and so decided I'd use her Suburbs pattern.

It came together really easily and I love it - I can definitely see myself making it again.

The soft, slightly faded colours and the cream background remind me of the seaside so I'm calling this one 'Beach huts'.  Inspired by Trudi's Free Motion Quilting workshop at the Fat Quarterly Retreat I decided to try quilting it with swirls - the fact that the quilt was for me meant that I could relax and not fret if it wasn't great.

Not perfect but I was really pleased with how it turned out - I need to work on my consistency and spacing but I'm glad I bit the bullet and tried something new.

I backed it with Ikea 'Britten' number fabric as I felt like I wasn't a proper modern quilter without having a quilt backed with it!

Quilt stats:
Beach huts 
Size: about 60" by 70"
Pattern: Suburbs by Cluck Cluck Sew
Fabric: Hometown by Sweetwater for Moda; Kona Cream; Bella Solids (random blue)

I also finished a quilt top for the little lady (much to the disgust of the wee chap who informed me in no uncertain terms that he has been waiting long enough for his Cat in the Hat quilt and made me promise I would not make any other quilts until it is done!)

I bought a half yard bundle of Handle with Care with coordinating solids from Pink Castle Fabric last year and wanted some nice easy sewing that would showcase the fabric.

It badly needs pressed but at the moment I am seriously lacking in energy and it was a case of press the top or blog about it!

And whilst we were doing the photos my two little monkeys decided to join in!

Thanks for stopping by

Pesky health update

Well I have now had 4 of my 6 cycles of chemotherapy - all three cycles of Taxotere and one of FEC (which I can't say without wanting to add "Drink! Arse!").  

My oncologist is pleased with my progress and says I'm tolerating the chemo well, which I suppose I am but I will be glad when it is over as it is starting to take its toll.  I just have no energy (hence the lack of sewing) - I made tea last night and microwaving some spuds, defrosting some bolognese sauce and grating some cheese left me knackered and needing a sit down!  In addition the FEC is making me feel really queasy - like really bad morning sickness.

And unfortunately I've ended up in hospital after the last two cycles because I keep spiking really high temperatures.  I have felt fine on both occasions but got admitted for IV antibiotics because of the risk of having an infection which can be dangerous if your immune system weakened by chemo.  Both times my blood counts have shown my immune system has been fine and other tests have shown no sign of infection so they think it is just how my body is dealing with the chemo. It is frustrating and disruptive but I keep reminding myself that there are plenty of people who have much worse side effects and a much poorer outlook than I do, so while I have had some down days, by and large I'm staying positive.

And talking of the positive, I had a mid point ultrasound and that showed that my tumour has shrunk substantially and broken up and the three abnormal lymph nodes have all shrunk too.  This shows that the chemo is working (thank goodness - I'd hate to be going through it if it wasn't!!).  

But at least it is only another two cycles so by the end of October it will be over and done with and I'll be on to the next phase - surgery!

Take care