Thursday, August 30, 2007


Lots of stitching today........................
Some utilitarian and some quilty (much more enjoyable)
In our kitchen we have three aprons that we use when cooking - they are made from thick drill cotton and were originally made to be draymen's aprons for use by the beer delivery drivers so as you can imagine they're designed to be pretty indestructible - their best feature is, because the fabric is thick and hardwearing, they never let anything wet through them onto your clothes underneath.
We've probably had these aprons well over 10 years as Nigel brought them home from out of a hire vehicle he'd had returned to his job at the time.
The only drawback has been the straps - they were black cotton webbing but only tied on and as you can imagine over the years they've become loose, lost and otherwise compromised.
I've kept meaning to stitch on new straps - I mean one neck and two waist ties each on three aprons, how big a job is that?
Of course as with all good intentions the only time I remember is when I put one of them on and curse because I can't fasten it properly.
Well today - enough was enough - out came the green webbing and there they were done in two shakes of a lambs tail!
Looking at them at close quarters I realised that they were long overdue an appointment with the washing machine so that's where they spent a good part of the afternoon followed by a good blow on the clothes line.
So when I came to sort out the evening meal I wasn't wearing an apron as I liberally splashed my pale blue vest top with the sauce from the bolognaise part of the lasagne I'd just defrosted from the freezer.
The only apron available was one of the children's plasticized painting/cooking aprons .......
Here's a classic example of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted :o) Don't I look cross? I should at least have smiled for the picture for DD2
As for quilty stitching I've finished my Four Seasons Autumn quilt - all bound, labelled and ready to post before the end of September. It's a good job I've got it out of the way really as its back to work for me next Wednesday and I may not feel quite so productive in the evenings for a while
Louise pointed out that the criss cross patterns on the plaid binding echo the hourglass QST's in the outer border - I hadn't even realised - she's picking up fast, I'll make a quilter of her yet

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Just the binding to do now

My stitchery swap piece (scroll right down on the link) was despatched safely at the Post Office yesterday - it has a long journey, I hope it arrives at its destination safely - it's very much a trust thing with the postal service isn't it?

Then I worked like a slave, finished the hand applique, stitched the trapunto wadding on the back of the leaves, worked the ridges down their centres and then really got into the swing of the machine quilting yesterday evening.

Here we go - my Autumn Four Seasons Quilt is all done apart from a label and the binding.

I'm really pleased with how the machine trapunto worked out on the 'paint blobs' - merrily transforming them into oak leaves :o) Not tried this technique before but it came out pretty well I think - I will use it again on my sister's quilt which has ivy leaves appliqued around the medallion centre (you have to go back to Thursday September 21st's posting for a picture of this one - can't believe it's that long since I blogged about it - it's been stuck in the cupboard with no attention since mind you).

Sarah said to me last night 'Why are you giving this little Autumn quilt away Mum - it's lovely!'

That's the nicest part of blogging - the sharing and passing on - which reminds me I still have three PIF gifts to crack on with - the applique centre part of each of them is done - now to get on with the piecing :o) Not forgetting my Secret Santa Swap gift too - always something to be getting on with.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A little request

This is totally non quilty so I'll apologise in advance......

I mentioned in a post a few days ago, when showing you some african pots fabric, that my eldest Sarah is working on her final assignment for her Food Technology GCSE

Tanya very kindly offered to send some Japanese bits of fabric and Kate offered more African and Indian bits - my answer to you two ladies is YES PLEASE! sorry I haven't got round to emailing you back on this yet

However I do have a big favour to ask of anyone who thinks they may be able to help.

Sarah also needs packaging - labels from jars, paper and plastic labels from packets etc etc etc - anything that can be easily posted and she can use to stick onto paper as a collage so obviously not 3D items. Also takeaway menus would be good.

The theme for her project is Multicultural Cookery so we'd welcome items from anywhere in the world - Australia, NZ, Japan, European countries, US, Canada and other more unusual places - if people would care to help her out. Even if lots of you just put a few items into an envelope she'd have so much authentic raw material to work with she could probably share it round with some of her classmates

Pop a comment on this post if you can help or email us on to set this up if you'd like to help her with this project

Thank you so much in advance for your help

Monday, August 27, 2007

A little more progress

We're in the middle of our final Bank Holiday weekend before Christmas - boy does this make it seem like a really long haul up to the festive season. I do envy you American ladies your Thanksgiving holiday break.
Down here in the South West the weather is absolutely steaming (well for England anyway) and to be honest I've been feeling not altogether 100%, probably because I'm so tired after the past week taxi driving and hosting various sleepover visitors - I actually went back to bed twice yesterday and slept both times. So we've plumped for a home based lazy weekend. The traffic gets so bad as all the lemmings head for the coast that it's best to stay off the roads.
Just the opportunity to get a bit of stitching in.
These brown things on my Autumn quilt do bear a striking resemblance to paint blots but in the fullness of time they will be oak leaves - I plan to machine trapunto them. They would look a whole lot better even at this stage if I introduced them to an iron actually. :o)
I had a little play the other day with the lovely fabrics that Juliann sent me
and Hey Presto! a wonder wallet
and the view with it open.
Having spent the last week using it with no fastener and having to retrieve the contents from the bottom of my handbag every now and then, I was relieved when Nigel found some velcro out in the garage so I could finish it off and enjoy it to its full potential.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Every so often I'm compelled to....................

Just remind myself how inept I am at piecing........
And just how much I really detest it!

I love to see pieced quilts, I admire the precision, the workmanship, the interaction of the different shapes and colours, the secondary patterns.

I take my hat off to people like Bonnie, Jeanne, Fiona and the rest of you who make such lovely pieced quilts.

But to me it's a real chore, a challenge, an effort. Nothing about it comes naturally.

No matter how much I follow advice about pinning, butting seams up together etc etc I seldom get the sharp crisp joins I'd like to.

So it was no surprise at all that having spent several hours the other afternoon on my Four Seasons Autumn Quilt, cutting out and stitching almost 200 1.5" HSTs that I decided 'Stuff It!!!' and moved onto something more manageable.

I know my 1/4" seams were accurate - I was sooooo careful. But could I get this sawtooth border to measure the same as the centre I wanted to stitch it to - er NO! This lot goes into the 'Stuff It In A Cupboard, Never To See The Light Of Day Again' category - unless somebody else can give them a good home!

Anyway I abandoned the sawtooth border design in exchange for a 3" wide QST border instead. I really didn't want to put a plain border on even though I was going to applique onto it - I was aiming for a mottled background in muted shades but not a solid piece of fabric.

However even with the QSTs this was not to be that simple.

I was obviously getting tired when I added the second side - note the darks together in the top LH corner

So I left it until the next morning - and merrily frogstitched and restitched away.

Only to blob on the bottom row - 'Concentrate Anne, For Goodness Sake!!!'

My stitch unpicker certainly had a bit of usage on this one. Mind you, to give me some credit, usually I would've just given up and gone to play a different game so my persistence and focus on task in the face of adversity and frustration is improving!

Anyway eventually I got it to the stage I wanted - so now onto the applique - Yeah!!! Back in my comfort zone. Hurray!!!!!
Sarah's had a terrific week this week though. As she's in the top stream at school she has taken her Maths GCSE a year early. The results were out on Thursday and both she and we were delighted that her result was a B. In addition to this one half of her Double Science was also on the results sheet and she got an A. One very happy girl! Two in the bag before the real push next year.
But to top this for her birthday this year we'd paid for her to participate in a three day Rugby course at the local club, but run by one of the big clubs - Northampton Saints. She and her team mate Abbey were the only girls amongst over 20 boys.
She's had a ball and learned lots of new things too, but the icing on the cake was to be awarded the 'Saintsman award' for the person on the course who showed most chance of making it big in the sport, becoming a Northampton Saints player in the future (although technically her gender prevents this) and who was the most focused, dedicated, helpful, cheerful and committed player in the coaches' opinion.
As you can imagine, for her, this made the exam results pale into relative insignificance.
On Friday morning she said to me 'Mum, you know I don't think that yesterday could have been any better in any way'
Happy Kids make Happy Mums!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Goodies from Yorkshire and a finish

I said I would show you the lovely fabric that Karol-Ann sent me in exchange for her needle-case
The fabric feels to be a poly-cotton mix but I don't have a problem with that as I have a little wall hanging in mind for those gorgeous pots and I'm happy to mix fabrics on it as it won't be compromised in laundering

Sarah has a project to work on for her Food Technology GCSE this next school year and she has chosen multi-cultural food as the topic. Part of the marks for this assignment go on presentation and I suggested that lots of different textures and obviously ethnic designs to use in a collage wouldn't go amiss - she's rather fallen for these fabrics too so they may well crop up in several different places there.

The card and butterfly key-ring were also included in the parcel - I love butterflies, they are my absolute favourite thing - Karol-Ann has been working on a beautiful 'pineapple' design in butterfly fabrics, pop over to have a look

Another busy week here. Nick has his best friend down last night and tonight staying from Gloucester, they haven't seen each other since January, although they chat on the MSN all the time. To counter this and save arguments one of Louise's class mates stayed last night too so as you can imagine it was a bit of a late night. Why anyone calls them sleepovers I can't guess - they should be wakeovers really.

Sarah started this morning on a three day Rugby camp at the local club but run by Northampton Saints - she's signed up with one of her team mates which is just as well as they are the only girls on the course and of course wouldn't have been allowed to do any physical manoeuvres against the boys. If nothing else it will be three solid days pre-season fitness training ready for County trials at the end of September and who knows they may well pick up some useful tips too

I've managed to fit in a bit of stitching

Here is my completed 'Stitchery Swap' piece just waiting a hanging rod and I can pop it in the post to wend its way to its new owner who I can't reveal until it has arrived.

I also got round to making one of those wallets - well almost as I need to mine the depths of the garage boxes to find some velcro to do the last little piece of the jigsaw. The pattern turned out really well but I haven't photographed it yet - something for my next post. I've also been working on my four seasons Autumn swap quilt and I may just steal a few minutes cutting and piecing as the weary sleepover participants have gone out to the park behind our house into the sunshine to play for a while.

Peace perfect peace!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lots of goodies

I did promise to show you all the goodies that were waiting for me when we returned from our camping trip
As you can imagine from yesterday's 'Epistle to the Corinthians' I got so caught up with talking about my past week that my goodies were temporarily forgotten - however I shall now rectify the situation
Juliann was over here on holiday before we headed off to Devon - we managed to have a short chat on the phone but sadly were unable to fit in a meeting face to face. However, bless her, she carried some beautiful fabric for me all the way over from the States and all the way back again only to end up posting it to me once she'd got home
Here we are - some lovely Amy Butler fat quarters - very unusual and I love 'em - and some sweet little quilt labels to complete the parcel - thank you so much Juliann, they are very well travelled but much appreciated :o)
Before I went away I finally admitted that my purse (wallet not handbag) is starting to bite the dust. It's a little black leather number not that much bigger than a credit card but with front and back zipped pockets for cards and notes respectively and a central zipped pocket between them for coins. Sadly the zips are only nylon ones and spring open without assistance at the least convenient times usually meaning I end up with a handbag full of loose coinage. The thing I love about it the most is its modest size and I've been searching fruitlessly for a similar replacement for some time.
However on browsing the net I came across this pattern for a sweet little wallet which might just fit the bill. The pattern came while we were away. Who knows I might just use the lovely fabrics from Juliann to run one up. I'm not a lover of making up patterns, too much of a maverick, but I'll maybe make an exception on this one.
Speaking of patterns I admired a 'Twisted Sister' quilt that Andrea made and she very kindly passed on the pattern along with an issue of an Australian quilting magazine that she'd finished with - I love the Aussie mags - they just seem to have slightly different things from the usual fare in the UK and US publications
And finally Donna from Chooky Blue sent me another different Aussie magazine - what an unexpected treat
This morning I had a parcel from Karol-Ann up in God's County (Yorkshire!) with some lovely South African fabric and a beautiful butterfly key ring sent in exchange for a little bit of handmade nonsense I sent to her. I haven't got round to taking a photo today - I'll treat you to that tomorrow.
On a sadder note I've been listening into the England rugby match on BBC Radio 5Live just being played over in Marseille whilst I've been writing this. Oh dear me, not a pretty sound. I'm a passionately loyal England fan but looking at the situation realistically I can't imagine those All Blacks will have too much to fear from us in the world cup even supposing we make it through the knock-out rounds. Our boys will have to really step up several gears if they hope to match the Ladies' performance as Runners Up to New Zealand in the Ladies World Cup earlier this year in Canada.
Come On Lads - get a wiggle on!!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Now wherever did that week go?

I really can't believe it's a week since I posted
Mind you it's been a very full week - cart loads of laundry, busy weekend, some stitching, a little bit of house cleaning (not my sewing area I'm sorry to say) and loads of reading
At work, like lots of offices in the UK, every few weeks a bloke turns up with a selection of books to leave in case anyone wants to buy them. Often there's not much there to interest me but now and again I find something useful for presents or that someone in the family will enjoy
It's not always books - I picked up a wonderful set of CD's of Roald Dahl's books - the whole family enjoyed listening to some of these while we were away on holiday.
Another time I picked up a set of Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus books - I think 10 in all. I've no idea why I never got straight into them but they appeared just before we went away and I devoured two on the camping trip (along with three other books). Precious little stitching got done on holiday - I went well prepared........... and managed one solitary flower:
Since we returned I've gobbled up another 6 books from the Rebus set (almost one per day) so you can see why I've had precious little time for both blogging and stitching
Once we'd sorted out everything on our return we decided on the Friday morning to take a trip to Heathcoats in Tiverton which is only just over half an hour from here. I hear you asking whatever persuaded DH to make such a potentially expensive trip!
Well of course he had an ulterior motive - his big double canoe has a central locker which can actually seat a person (I have been known to sit in it myself, a bit like pretending to be the Queen of Sheba being paddled round the lake) For some time he's been hinting at getting me to make him a cover for this in similar fabric to the waterproof spray decks. Heathcoats came up trumps and to add to the delight they had a sale on with 20% off all fabric
Here's the afore mentioned waterproof fabric in blue (more than I anticipated buying as he announced once it was on the cutting table that he'd also like a spraydeck to fit the hole too - gulp! not stitched one of those before and don't have a pattern - looks like I'll have to wing that one then)
The fluorescent yellow is a strong solid polyester jersey for making bags to keep the canoe gear in (wetsuits, helmets, life jackets and the like) to replace the tatty old heavy duty carrier bags that have held them for the past 15 years - no chance of losing those in the dark depths of the loft then!
Not sure when all this will get made though - after all we can't have it interfering with the quilting now can we?
Mind you I did pick up some other goodies once Nigel had got bored and gone outside to sit in the sunshine and wait
The picture here is a little blurry - sorry - but I couldn't resist 3 metres of the black spotty, very useful for kids quilt sashings and borders and a couple of metres of the beautiful multicoloured batik - won't this make fabulous bias for celtic knotwork on a black background

Oh and what a surprise some bits and bats of haberdashery hopped into the basket too - the green tape for bag handles and apron ties, variegated threads for machine quilting, pom-pom braid for tote bag decoration and the lovely butterfly ribbon just because I liked it!
Saturday saw Sarah and Nigel off to Twickenham for the England v France world cup warm up rugby game. Nigel was lucky enough to go as a guest of one of his suppliers - a very boozy day was had by all :o)
Sarah went with friends of ours who we met through Sarah and Cat playing at regional level together. They've become firm friends and she stayed with the family over the weekend. They all had a real ball (pardon the pun) at the game and afterwards Sarah met her absolute hero Jonny Wilkinson in the flesh and he touched her hand as he handed her the pen back after signing an autograph for her - not sure if she's washed the hand yet. They met lots of players past and present and it took her until at least Wednesday to come back down off the ceiling.
As they were all getting a day out at the rugby I decided that Nick and Lou and I should do something special - we went to Glastonbury to a children's festival - we had an absolute ball - the weather was glorious and there was plenty to keep them occupied from 11am when we arrived until after 5pm when we left to come home. Boy was I shattered though!
When we all went to Clevedon to collect Sarah on Sunday we took some canoes up and went out on the Marine Lake on the sea front with our friends' daughters after a barbecue at their house - here you can see the afore mentioned central locker that needs a cover stitching

On the Sunday morning Cat had a session straightening Sarah's hair for her - quite a difference from her usual corkscrew curls - we just didn't realise how long it is - please excuse the photographer's delightful feet bottom left!

In the middle of the week I had a lovely surprise - a totally unexpected postcard from a lady I know from BQL - Kandy. The kids all reckon this looks suspiciously like me! Such a clever lady!

As for the stitching - I'd already joined the stitchery swap some weeks ago and have all but finished the piece now except for the binding - can't you just tell I must have been so desperate to sew without tidying the sewing table that I resorted to hand quilting - unheard of for me. There's also a hint of a little something for Karol-Ann in the picture here by way of a swap for some of her lovely African fabric

And finally as I've also joined the four seasons swap I thought I should really make a start on my autumn item - a little bit of stitchery, some piecing and some hand applique should do the trick

Friday, August 10, 2007

We're back!

Well my back survived 11 nights in a trailer tent and sitting on fold up chairs and lived to tell the tale.
The weather was immensely kind to us. The campsite wardens told us that prior to our arrival they'd had eight weeks of solid rain!

We fitted in loads of beach time,

some higher altitude time on Dartmoor

and a wonderful zoo visit.

Dad even managed to slot in some trains one day.

The kids did their fair share of cooking and washing up. Cholesterol laden breakfast madam?
Sadly I didn't get any fabric shopping in - I was incredibly good. However I came home to some lovely treats that I'll share with you in greater detail in another post and I've been out on a little foray today bringing more treasure home with me .
But as always all good things come to an end and if I'm to play with any of my goodies then this sewing area is desperate for a jolly good tidy up.
Still never mind at least I don't have to go to work for another three weeks or so which should give me the time to get on with it when Nigel returns to work on Monday.