Tuesday 28 February 2012

Utility Quilting a review and giveaway!

When Carolyn Forster first asked me to be part of the blog tour promoting her book on Utility Stitching I was inwardly jumping for joy and so honoured.

So whether you are here for the first time or not you are most welcome!

I hope you have been following the bloghop tour and have been enjoying each bloggers sightly different take on this great book.  Here is the list of links if you have missed out....

21st February, Elizabeth at Broderie
22nd February, Lucy or Jen at Amitie Textiles or Amitie Girl
23rd February, Lori at Humble Quilts
24th February, Kathie at Inspired by Antique Quilts
27th February, Mary at Molly Flanders
28th February, Nicky at Mrs Sew and Sow
29th February, Jane at  Sew Create it 

You may also have listened to Carolyn managing to get a word in with Mark Lipinski - worth listening to.  I have never heard anyone talk so fast in my life - that's Mark ok!  You need the link to Creative MoJo 2/22/2012 ( US date)  You may need to lie down and rest after listening...hehe!

Now to the important bit Carolyn's book :  

Utility Quilting Simple Solutions for Quick Hand Quilting: An Uncomplicated, Stress Free Way to Quickly and Easily Hand Quilt Your Quilts

Carolyn teaches in my local quilt shop so I have been extremely fortunate in learning directly from her and being encouraged by her.  I have been on several of her workshops including the one she teaches on Utility Stitching.  

Yes there is a workshop to accompany the book ....or vice versa!

First of all this is a beautiful book - lots of photos with quilts in idyllic garden, park and household settings.  But it is so much more than that!   

This is a technical book - it shows you the what and the how, the basics which most books leave you to work out on your own.   

Carolyn's voice comes across in her writing loud and clear.  She explains everything so well in a quiet reassuring tone so it becomes easy...no need to panic here!   She did say stress free!

Want to know how to baste?  She shows you several different methods!  And the construction of a quilt is explained for beginners.

Want to fan quilt?  Well look no further  - the answer is in Carolyn's book with diagrams, instructions, photos and templates.  No guess work required!  And the same is true of thumb, elbow, wine glass, clamshell and cable quilting  - and several other quilting designs.

Most people assume that utility stitching is just what it says: enough to get the job done and move on; but Carolyn shows us that it has a beauty of it's own and is well worth getting acquainted with.  

She shows us the hand stitches to quickly hand quilt - and the diagrams are clear and simple.  There are several different knots to try, and variations on sewing on buttons  - I never knew there was more than one way!

And then there are several projects to try out your new found techniques ....

My own sample is the little lapquilt quilt I made during and after her workshop - it's in the book called Sampler Strippy Quilt....  [ Linking up with Rhonda!]

My favourite - fan quilting!

Buttons tied on with bows

Top down - clamshell, crows foot, tying, Mennonite tacks (not in the book) and big stitch quiting

Top left to bottom right - big stitch, Decatur Knot, running cross stitch,  clamshell and crows foot

You may think this is just for traditional quilters but think again - these techniques would look stunning with solids and bold patterns.

I loved the different ways she has shown us how to sew a button on to your quilt and having some lovely buttons I couldn't pass up the chance to try some out.  This little pouch was the result - featuring four different ways to sew on a  beautiful vintage button!

The project I need to make from this book is the stretched hexagon one!  I love Carolyn's simple colour palette in grey but with those flashes of colour in the print.  This quilt is tied - but what you may not see from the book is that Carolyn has used a couple of threads to make her ties - a bit of yellow or red thread and grey wool together!  It adds another design element to a fabulous quilt I was lucky enough to see at the Ardingly Spring Quilt Show!

Carolyn researches her subject, she gets the facts, she shows us the techniques and inspires us!  If you wander through my archive you will understand that I am a big fan - just search my blog on Carolyn's name and you will see...

Landauer the publisher have made a little slide show showing you lots of pages inside the book which will give you a good idea of what is inside just in case I haven't covered it all...just click here and on Look inside the book!!

The Giveaway is now closed!
Now before I forget, this is the giveaway partyou have the chance to win this gorgeous book,  some Valdani cotton perle, Bohin needles and Makower fabric - all you need to do is leave a comment on Carolyn's blog and cross those fingers.......... or you could just buy your own book here!

Monday 27 February 2012

Pure Happiness in a pouch!

Did I get a pleasant surprise in the post this morning!?  Nodding and grinning!

I got a brown paper package tied up with string parcel tape which contained one of my new favourite things.....have a look for yourself!

Helen (aka Archie) thinks my sense of humour is the reason for the sock monkey and I am wondering whether the lovely Tanya @ Secondchance really knows me too well!?   After all she has been stalking me in a good way and made this gorgeous, spacious pouch for me...

Love the cute bit of stitching and the fussy cutting!

You can just see Saffy trying to get in on the photo!

I love the tree and the flowers and grass surrounding it so where better to take a photo of my lovely pouch than in a tree!?  You can just see the zip pull adorned with some lovely beads - another passion of mine!

Thank you so much Tanya and I am sorry if I stressed you out on your first swap but please know that you have indeed given me pure happiness pure love - well like the advert it says so on the tin pouch!

Tanya likes to recycle fabric - something I am in favour of too especially as my youngest has grown out of some pretty cotton Boden clothes!   They have done  well to last through one, sometimes two daughters and may need a new life!  So Tanya's children's clothes are in this pouch - how special is that - certainly something to be treasured and I will!

Now don't let the mamas know but Tanya also sent a bit of contraband along with some lovely scraps (including a lovely piece of Liberty) but like the dork I am I forgot to take a photo outside so this one was taken with the lights on...my contraband is the cute pincushion ring!

Shhh! Now don't tell Cindy, Hadley and Susan!  But do let Tanya know what a great job she has done!  

Friday 24 February 2012

Mouthy Stitches Pouches!

What is better than one mouthy stitches pouch - two, or maybe even three....?

I am way too indecisive and it shows when it comes to making things for swaps. I do look at my partner's mosaic and their blog and I read their comments about other swap items.  I will decide what to make and then unless my partner says yes with enthusiasm I go into meltdown and think that she doesn't really like what I am making for her!

So then I end up making more than one item in the hope that I can hedge my bets...

So that is why I have not one, not two but three pouches to offer my partner.

Option number 1 is quite close to something in her mosaic.  It is a mini handbag really and because I couldn't work out how to recess the zip - it would have required facings and all sorts - I just put in a zippered pocket to meet our zip requirement! Hope that keeps the mamas happy!?  It is made in cord to give it a bit of body and help to keep it's shape.   My youngest quite likes it and would have taken it for sure if it was RED!

Option number two is my original one in linen though rather modified.  I took off the button, the ribbon trim and bow!  And then added some material that went with my linen - a dusky blue, and an aqua dotty fabric and put the bow back on.  The same fabrics are inside the bag and I used the dotty fabric to make some pockets!

Option three is a wildcard based on the comments of my partner on the other pouches being made and on my own personal taste.  I have gone back to my favourite bright colours and done something I have been meaning to do for some time.  I have tried out some Kantha quilting! 

This is a technique from India which uses close stitching in running stitch.   I had to choose a suitable motif - one that my partner seems to like - an elephant.  She seems to have found a name already - Nelly!  Both Helen and Judith have named her so - so Nelly she is then!  

The bright colours continue inside with two pockets - one to take a rotary cutter or scissors, the other for a pen!  I could easily fill it up with a hand piecing project.....

Unless my partner wants it.....?

Wednesday 22 February 2012

A pair of jugs!

Today I went out with my friend Eloise to celebrate her birthday as she is 21 tomorrow (again)!

We went to our favourite place for a browse round the antiques, lunch and carrot cake and this is what came home with me.....

I am so proud of my jugs I had to get them out to show you all!  So what do you think?  Do you like my jugs too?  Hehe!

Friday 17 February 2012

Tweet Tweet!

[This post is now linked to TGIFF hosted by the lovely Rhonda at Quilter in the Gap!]

Inspired by Susan's recent posts about her birdy quilt I thought it about time to finish my own....

I first thought about making this quilt in 2010 inspired by all the great birdy fabric I kept seeing on the internet.  I bought the fabric mainly off ebay and started making my Birds in the Attic Window blocks in May 2011.

I thought it was going to be hard to mitre those frames but it turned out easier than I thought and the top was soon finished....

Then I was thinking how the back should look and still had birdy fabric to spare...My answer was found on Cindy's blog @ Hyacinth Quilt Designs  with her birdbath blocks quilt!  

I thought how cute to use this block and put birds in the bath!?

I thought just one or two would be great on the back of this quilt but got carried away and ended up with another quilt top ful!  My layout is a bit different as I added those pink squares in there just to brighten it up a tad you understand and tie it in with the skinny border on the front!

At this point I asked my readers which top should be the front? 

They all seemed to say they should be two different quilts! 

I was still thinking about putting the two together - yes I am obstinate but that could well be down to my Capricorn tendencies - and was stumped as to how to quilt it as the patterns did not match up.  That's when I shelved it for a while!

Since then I have learnt about Free Motion Quilting and all over patterns and a light bulb went off in my head and I saw that was my way forward!  My idea was birdy free motion quilting of course!

Well here is the finished quilt - now called Tweet Tweet!

Not as sunny now is it??  Birds in the Beech tree!

 Have to say that the quilting is probably my least favourite part of the quilt and this is my second attempt - don't ask!  But for someone who does not unpick, I unpicked a whole lot of bird's nest quilting in too heavy a thread and replaced it with some not great quilting...can't unpick it all again so will need to learn to love it!

I do love the label though - fed up of sewing a label onto my quilts at the end of the process I made sure I pieced a block ready to be my label.  Thinking I would hand embroider it I left it until now and then I just FM quilted that thing and that is probably the best quilting because the thread matches the background and doesn't really show! 

Ok it is not awful but I am getting more picky and I have done better I feel.  Don't tell Lucy as she will call me a hypocrite and you know what she would be right.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Cupcakes anyone!?

I have been trying to make little practice pieces into finished items and this was one of my first bits of raw edge machine applique so it is about time it was finished off!  I made this way back in September and you can read about that here!

Originally I had a  little caption underneath which said " Cup of tea and cake?"

Now the colour just didn't go and I thought the legend was a bit tame for these three cheery, cherry cupcakes so girls I'm looking for inspiration to finish this off!

What caption can I add round the border to describe these cherry cupcakes?

Cupcake fabric on the back!

Thanks I am sure you will come up with better wittier phrases than I can...!

Come on Hadley!

Monday 13 February 2012


You may have noticed a bit of wonky behaviour on this blog of late culminating in my completion of 11 wonky houses!

Before that I was tempted into wonkiness first by the lovely Susan and her brilliant wonky star quilt which she exported to Finland I think! 

And then I was drawn into it by the innocent seeming Judith with the first block in the Bee Blessed bee.  This resulted in some Wonky Star Bee blocks
but continued into twinkle !  A baby quilt I made and have now handed over to baby Alia!

I wanted a little more wonkiness in my life and signed up for the Wonky Houses Swap.  Well it appears that even that amount of wonkiness has not sated my desire for one step short of madness so the next round of Wonkiness has been announced and we will be continuing in our wayward ways but focusing on trees next.

This round is open to you all to sign up but will be run differently.  We make either 4, 8 or 12 wonky tree blocks in green, or coloured fabrics or both !  We send them to Jane and she kindly redistributes them!   This round starts on 1 March and we must get our blocks to Jane by 1 May.  Fancy joining us? 

The information on Round two is here! 

There are more rounds planned...for more information on those click here! 

Join me if you will in the wonky world....

Thursday 9 February 2012

The Wonder Swap!

Well I knew Helen was really a wonder person after all she is mum to Archie the Wonder Dog and I guess that sort of rubs off on one!

What I didn't know was that she is also a wonder maker - well actually I  strongly suspected it so when we talked way back last year at the time of the Brit Bee Pillow Fight Swap about a one-on-one swap I quite frankly jumped at the chance and very nearly bit her hand off in the process.  Poor girl!

Anyway we eventually decided on making each other a cushion cover and a couple of extras - though she has cheated and snuck in a few more!

Without further ado this is what I have been truly blessed to receive....

First of all the cushion cover....

Isn't it absolutely fantastic!  I absolutely love it!   The colour, the shape, the precision in each of these 64 - yes 64 teeny weeny logcabins and did I mention there are 64 of them - all different!  

Is she mad ?  I do fear so!  But each one is perfect and for the clear sighted of you they are made with batik fabric!  Eeek!  I hear you exclaim but I do believe that Helen is on a one woman mission to convert us all into batik lovers -  she started with Trudy in the Brit Bee Swap and now this....


I do believe that there is no bad fabric - well apart from some of the stuff in Lucy's Fugly fabric party and I have to say I have seen some stinkers in the nicest possible way!  : )   But I think a lot depends on what you do with it.  And Helen has triumphed here!  I love these batiks!  I think even Hadley would??

Now don't forget the back of the cushion - am loving those buttons which co-ordinate beautifully with those fabrics on the front...

Next up the extras .....A little pincushion to match big mama cushion!  Cute or what?  I can strap it to my wrist - so no excuse for being without pins or someplace to put them!  It is so comfortable I shall be wearing it round the supermarket and on the school run - perhaps even to bed!  Ouch!!

And two beautiful wonky house blocks for my wonky quilt, with siggy block!   But not only did she make the blocks - she also had stories relating to them...and I quote...

...one family have built an eco friendly house with a sedum roof, ground source heating (so no chimney) and have just started a mushroom farm.  

The funny thing is we considered the first two when building an extension to our house!  Her stalking is really good as I haven't blogged about that!  Has she been hacking into the local planning department?  And we had mushroom compost to improve the soil when we first moved here so for a while we did grow mushrooms...  Don't know who the monkey is supposed to be??

The other family live on an island in the Thames Estuary and have declared it an outpost of Scotland but couldn't get planning permission for tartan patterned stones so they went for a royal/peacock inspired look...The locals aren't sure about it but regard the family with fondness and so put up with it!

Personally I think they decorated with a nod to Liberty - which I approve of wholeheartedly!  And Sheila and Katy do you see that Saltire fluttering from the battlements!

There was also some Green & Black chocolate ....though that seems to have gone somewhere else now....!  Oh yes I remember - my tummy  mmmmm!  We have similar tastes...it seems!

Now what did I send Helen?....I have posted a few sneeky peeks for you but she got the short end of the straw although she seems pretty pleased so maybe I got away with it...and she is easily satisfied!

The cushion cover was made to go with the cushion she got in the Brit Bee Swap - so I took the colours from there!  The design came out of my head sadly - haha - but was inspired by the spool blocks I was working on at the time!  I ended up paperpiecing this - not my favourite technique but I couldn't get the corners right otherwise.

The back was inspired by Helen's mosaic from the pillow fight - some string spools - yes there is a theme here  !  I love strings and scraps so I managed to weave that in. (Well if Helen can get away with batiks I think it is only fair that I dump some scraps on her don't you?)  I also like Free Motion stitching - so a bit of writing and some scissors, a needle and thread followed on the back!

The extras - one bone pincushion - not really for Archie!  Sorry boy!  But he did get some treats of his own though I don't have a photo of either of those!

And either a banner/wallhanging or tablerunner thing with Helen's blog name....and a paw and pic of Archie in his wonder cape and t-shirt!

It was great fun stitching him (not the real one) by machine - wasn't sure I could but I sketched it from a photo on Helen's blog - you may be able to work out which one Archie fans!  Strangely enough I cannot find a photo of the final thing - this is one taken before the finish.  You will have to visit Helen to see what it looks like - oops!

Anyway I think she likes it, but poor girl I got the better deal by far!  Not just because of the bigger bar of chocolate.... 

Still singing, squealing and dancing round the house!   And will be for some time to come!  Cloud nine - here I come!


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