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

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Fat Quarterly Retreat


Since I'm going to the FQ Retreat next weekend I thought I'd join in with the getting to know you linky party.  I watched in envy last year so I bought a ticket as soon as they went on sale this time round.

I'm Sarah, a 40yr old (well almost, my birthday is tomorrow) Scot living in the East of England.  I'm married to a wonderful bloke and we have a 6yr old son and a 3yr old daughter.  I work part time as a forensic scientist which I love.

I've always sewed or embroidered (my mum is a fantastic seamstress and taught me when I was young) but that tailed off after the kids were born.  Then when the little lady was about a year old I was looking for a new hobby and I stumbled across quilting and off I went.  and through quilting I've rediscovered my love of sewing in general.

I'm coming to the retreat with two friends Jill (The Nocturnal Stitcher) and Anna (who doesn't blog).

Below is one of my most recent and favourite quilts, Starburst.

I love bright, rich colours and have a soft spot for star blocks in general.

This is me

But as a result of some pesky health stuff by the time of the retreat I'm probably going to be looking more like this

So if you see me in one of my little hats please say hi.

I'm doing
Crochet with Laura Taylor
Free Motion with Trudi Wood
Portholes with Lu Summers
Blog Design with John Adams

See you soon!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Q2 Finish along results

she can quilt

Time to link up with all the other lovely finishes.  I laid out my hopes for the quarter here - one apron, three quilts and a cushion.

And amazingly, despite having done almost no sewing for the past month (because of pesky health stuff and a complete kitchen remodel) I completed four out of five!

I've previously blogged about the memory quilt I made my aunt, and the Starburst quilt I made for my friend's wedding.  Both were well received which was great.

I also finished the apron for the Crafty Cooks Apron & recipe swap which was great fun and good to do something different.

My final finish is a quilt for my Mother-in-law, Jill.  When she came to stay at Christmas she asked if I would make her a quilt so I said I'd do it as a birthday present.

We have totally different tastes in fabric so this quilt is much softer and more muted than others I've made but I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  I used a jelly roll of Athill Range by Cabbages & Roses and quilted it in a loopy design using a Gutermann variegated thread.

It was finished in time for her birthday at the beginning of June but it still hasn't made it to the post office (hangs head in shame)!

So all in all I'm very pleased.  I'm not joining in with Q3 because of the pesky health stuff but I may be back for Q4.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Definitely NOT a quilting post

I know those of you that stop by here occasionally do so for quilt & sewing related stuff so I just wanted to let you know that this post will not be about that.

I've thought long and hard about whether to post this here are it was never my intention for this space to be too personal but rather a record of my sewing exploits.  But sometimes things happen and life gets in the way of your plans and I just decided I'd rather be open.

In the middle of May I found a lump and after a battery of tests it was confirmed on 31st May that I have breast cancer - only a small tumour but it has spread to my lymph nodes.

Needless to say it was a bit of a shock - the whole 'why me?' stuff went through my head - I'll be 40 next week (not exactly the present I was after!) and I have two small kids.  But after a few days and a few tears we got over the initial bombshell and started to get on with things.

The initial plan was surgery followed by chemo but further scans revealed a number of additional tiny tumours, which doesn't change my prognosis but did change the treatment plan so now it is chemo first.  I started last Friday and although I wouldn't do it by choice it wasn't as awful as I feared.

I'm lucky that it has been caught early, that I have an excellent chance of survival and that I have a wonderfully supportive husband, family and group of friends.

And I live close to a centre of excellence for cancer treatment and have a fab oncologist who has arranged for me to have my second dose of chemo on Monday 22nd July rather than Friday 19th July as originally scheduled so that I can still go to the Fat Quarterly Retreat - woohoo.

So in all likelihood I'll be the one wearing a selection of little hats.  And guess what - you can even get Liberty print chemo beanies!  Every cloud.........

Right, there we go.  Now that is dealt with normal sewing service can resume!

Take care

Monday, 1 July 2013

Claiming my blog

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I'm late to the whole claiming my blog malarkey because of a whole lot that is going on just now.  But better later than never!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Highland Star, a quilt for Anne

The second quilt I'm entering in the Blogger's quilt festival is very different to any other quilt I've made for a couple of reasons.

The fabric would not be my normal choice and the process of making it stirred very different emotions than usual and I'd like to explain those differences.

We start with this man

This is my Uncle Eric.  He was a wonderful man, kind and gentle with never a bad word to say about anyone.  He loved his family, his friends and was always there for anyone who needed help.  Unfortunately a few years ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and despite the best efforts of his doctors he died in September 2012.

Understandably my aunt, Anne, was devastated and I felt at a bit of a loss to know how to help.  We are a close family and as a child I was at boarding school as my parents were expatriates and during half-term holidays I would stay with Anne & Eric but I now live in Cambridgeshire, some distance away from the Scottish Highlands where my aunt lives.

So I asked my Mum if she thought Anne would like a quilt and I suggested I could use some of Eric's shirts.  Anne said she would so I got going.  I wanted to use a traditional quilt block and I found a tutorial by the fabulous Bonnie Hunter called Smokey Mountain Stars which seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

It wasn't plain sailing as some of the shirts were polyester cotton blends and one was lyocell and as a result the fabric shifted much more than I was used to with quilting cottons but it all turned out well in the end.

I've made quilts for babies, for a wedding, for my kids, because I wanted to try something new or just because I loved the fabric and I've always enjoyed the process but the making of this quilt allowed me time and space to reflect on my uncle's life in a way that I don't think I would otherwise have done and for that I will always be grateful.

I called the quilt 'Highland Star' as everyone used to say that Eric was a true Highland gentleman.  I'll be delivering it this weekend when we are up in Scotland.  Hopefully my aunt will like it.

Quilt stats:
Name: Highland Star
Size: 56" by 64"
Quilting: Free motion loop by me
Fabric: Shirts and various Kona & Makower solids
Category: Throw quilt

Thanks for stopping by

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Starburst

Its that time of year again when quilting bloggers around the world show off their quilts and tell the stories behind them.

And as an added bonus this year Amy is letting us each enter two quilts which is great because I really wanted to show off my two most recent finishes, for different reasons.

My first quilt is Starburst

I follow Melissa of Happy Quilting and love her style so when she started the Starburst quilt along earlier this year I was very tempted to join in but held off as I had various other quilts I was trying to finish.

However halfway through I found out that one of my oldest friend was getting married (this coming Saturday) and that was all the excuse I needed.  I had several Juggling Summer prints that I had purchased and I felt they would suit my friend's style so I ordered some additional fabric and jumped in.  I chose the main backing print as a nod to the traditional double wedding ring pattern.

I love this quilt, so much so that it will be a big wrench to give it away.  I love the pattern and the fabric and I love how it represents how far I have come since I first started quilting.  It is definitely the best quilt I've made and while it is still far from perfect I am really happy with it.

I quilted it all over with a loopy free motion design.  I'm still a novice at FMQ so I stuck to the design I feel most confident with but I took my time and it was definitely an improvement on previous attempts, particularly as this is a big quilt at 82" by 82".

It is also the first quilt I've labelled.  I used a tutorial by KarrieLyne of Freckled Whimsy and I really like the subtlety of it.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Starburst
Size: 82" by 82"
Pieced and quilted by me
Fabrics: Juggling Summer by Zen Chic and Kona Iron
Category: Bed quilt 

Thanks so much for stopping by

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

My new favourite bag!


Thought I would do a little post featuring my latest finish (I finished it a couple of weeks ago but I am just not very good at finding the time to blog at the moment).

I was lucky enough to win a competition at Fabric Yard last month and choose a metre of Echino Buck in turquiose as my prize.

When it arrived it was so lovely I knew I wanted to use it to make a bag and as luck would have it I had recently purchased the Velocity Girl bag pattern from Sara at Sew Sweetness.

Velocity Girl Bag

I am so delighted with the end result - it makes me smile every time I pick it up and the wealth of pockets means that I don't spend 10 minutes rummaging around whenever I need something. 

The pattern was clear and easy to follow and when I was a bit uncertain about one step (due to me being a bit dim) a quick email to Sara got a response within hours - seriously good customer service!

In fact I love it so much I made another one for my Mum using a Zen Chic Juggling Summer print and she loved it too (unfortunately I forgot to take a photo).

I'd definitely recommend this pattern and I look forward to more Sew Sweetness bags in my future.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

2013 Finish-A-Long Q2 Goals - the one where I bite off more than I can chew!

she can quilt


Well after a rather disappointing first quarter I have high hopes for Q2 as well as some trepidation!  Three of my WIPs must be finished this quarter and I'll definitely need to be more organised if that is going to happen.

So without further ado here is my list:

1) Crafty Cooks Apron

I signed up for the Crafty Cooks Apron & Recipe swap and posting deadline is 30th April so this is my top priority.

My fabric is cut out and I made a trial apron to iron out any design kinks so I'm confident that a couple of evenings of sewing will sort this one out.

2) Starburst quilt

This quilt is going to be a wedding present for one of my oldest friends.  She gets married on 25th May so it has to be done before then!

The top is finished and fabric for the back has arrived so I need to piece the back, baste, quilt (no idea how to quilt it) and bind.

3) Mother-in-law's quilt

When my MIL was here for Christmas she asked if I would make her a quilt.  She offered to pay for it but my husband & I said it would be her birthday present.  Her birthday is at the beginning of June.

The blocks are now pieced but I still have to assemble the quilt top, and quilt it.

4) Memory quilt for my aunt

While this quilt doesn't have a deadline per se, because we are going up to Scotland for the wedding it would be great if I could take this one as well and deliver it to my Aunt.

Blocks are all pieced (including replacements for the dark red blocks shown above after I decided they were too dominant) but the top needs to be pieced, borders added, find backing fabric, quilt.

5) Simply Color cushion

This little stack of HSTs will become a cushion.  I've included it as knowing me I'll get weary of all my quilts and want a quick finish.  I've got fabric for the back and a zip so fingers crossed I'll get round to it.

So there we go. Quite ambitious but hopefully achievable - all I need is to knuckle down and sew like a mad woman!

Off to see what everyone else has planned.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Finish along Q1 results


she can quilt

Well leaving it to the last minute but here is my progress report!  I set myself a reasonable goal of four items (post here) at the beginning of the quarter but I've only managed to finish two.  Both kids have been sick and then I caught a flu bug at the end of February which left me totally wiped out for a couple of weeks afterwards.

On the plus side I managed to complete a new quilt top and make two bags - just a shame they weren't on my list!

So here we go

1) Siblings together quilt


Although only just as I finished the binding this morning!
Siblings Together quilt
Siblings Together back

I'm soooooo glad it is done and annoyed with myself for letting it sit so long.

2)  Memory quilt

Not finished.

I have made some progress - all the blocks are done and I have a layout (I've actually remade the dark red blocks in pale blue as the red was too dominant).  This one will roll over to Q2 as we are going up to Scotland at the end of May and I want to take it up with me.

Layout for my aunt's memory quilt

3) Alice Mixtape Quilt

Not finished.

In fact no progress (well I now have backing fabric) and this one won't make it into Q2 as I have other more pressing things to do.

4) Lynnebob Squarepants pillow


I had no excuse with this as it was the smallest item on my list.  It will shortly be posted off to its new home.
Lynnbob Squarepants pillow finished!

So all in all I'm okay with how things have turned out but I've got big plans for Q2 - lets hope that things go more smoothly the next few months!


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

I have been sewing...

...just not blogging.

Things have been ticking along in our house but a combination of more illness (I feel like a broken record) and half term meant that my time to do things other than work, kids, house etc has been limited and so I've spent in sewing!

So apologies if this is a long post but I thought I'd get down all the stuff I've been up to in case it is another 6 weeks before I get round to posting again!

First up I have made some progress on two of my finish along 1st quarter goals:

she can quilt

Lynnebob Squarepants pillow


Lynnbob Squarepants pillow finished! Lynnebob Squarepants pillow - back

It is made using Lynne's tutorial and part of a charm pack of Verna by Kate Spain.  The back is a cotton/linen mix from Backstitch and it is bound with a Lizzy House jewel print.

It is about 24" square and apologies for the flat picture but I don't have a pillow form that big!

Memory quilt

I have finished making the blocks for the memory quilt I'm making my aunt and I've decided on a layout.

Layout for my aunt's memory quilt

I changed the outer blocks slightly from the original design adding plain blocks as I felt it was a bit too busy for my taste.  I'm pleased with how it is shaping up - just need to press on with sewing it all together!

One of the reasons I'm not as far along with the memory quilt as I thought I might be is because I was seduced by the Starburst quilt along organised by Melissa of Happy Quilting.  I love Melissa's style and had bookmarked the Starburst tutorial when it first appeared but although I was sorely tempted with the quilt along started I held firm and stuck to trying to finish my WIPs.

That all changed at the start of February when I found out that one of my oldest friends is getting married in May - now I had the perfect excuse to jump on board!  I had some Juggling Summer by Zen Chic that I bought from Annie when the Village Haberdashery had its open weekend last year and so I bought some additional prints and dived right in.  I decided to go for a different layout using three blocks rather than four and Melissa's assembly line method meant they came together really fast - I finished the quilt top in a week, definitely a new record for me!

Starburst Quilt top finished

It is 80" square and I adore it.  I will definitely use the Starburst tutorial again - I think one big block would make a fab baby quilt.

I've also been keeping up to date with the Sister's Ten BOM.  Here are my February blocks:

Sisters Ten BOM - February block 1Sisters Ten BOM - February block 2

And I've signed up for a fun swap run by the lovely Fiona of Celtic Thistle stitches and Sam of A Cup of Tea and a Slice of Cake (who I'm sure is equally lovely!).

Who doesn't need a new apron!

Apron Mosaic

Right well that was a massive post - I definitely need to post more often!  I am off to the Duxford Quilt Fair on Saturday so maybe I'll have some fabric goodies to post about!

One last thing - my real life sewing pal Jill has just started a blog so if you have five minutes drop by and meet her at  The Nocturnal Stitcher.