Thursday, January 31, 2013

Surely it must be .........

.................... almost time for bed now

It's about 11pm on a Thursday night here in Taunton, I returned home from my Choir practice about an hour ago.  Nigel is away overnight for work and the two youngest have been left to fend for themselves.  Unbeknown to me Louise's GCSE Art project needs to be handed in tomorrow

Most worrying is that as I walked in the door she is still sitting free machine embroidering at the sewing machine

These are samples she needs to complete and then I think embellish with beads and couching before they go into the project book to be handed in tomorrow morning

This is the final piece - a tree design based on a trunk drawn around her hand - I'm guessing this also needs to be handed in tomorrow morning - who knows if it is actually complete or needs further work

This is the 'Last Minute Lulu' with her 'practice Prom Hair Up-do' (just a mess about at home the other evening - we haven't ventured into the hairdressers to open discussions quite yet) ........

from the front........

and from the back.............

At this rate she may still be working to complete this art project by the time of her prom in July!!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

In the words of Monty Python ...............

......................... And now for something completely different

My brother is nine years younger than me and hence his two children are much younger than mine 

When they called in to see my parents over the Christmas period we had a little time to catch up with my nephew Spencer who is almost six and my niece Darcy who will be three soon

Although Spencer has been the recipient of a couple of my quilts - his Christening quilt 'Spencer's Stars' and his I-Spy quilt - I realised I'd never got round to making Darcy one of her own

She takes after me for her striking red hair but this doesn't stop her loving, and I mean LOVING, to almost exclusivity, the colour PINK.  When she started pre-school last autumn her mother's biggest worry was how to persuade her to wear the lovely smart uniform which is grey and bright blue - I'm just glad I didn't have the task, I thought my three were strong-willed but she beats them all combined hands down - Mum eventually managed but we do have to have PINK hair accessories each day just to make a point

So the obvious choice for a quilt for Darcy just had to be PINK!!!

I was in the mood for something quick and easy - always a girl who loves instant gratification

So big blocks were the order of the day 

I had picked up some 'Cath Kidstonesque' type fabric from IKEA when passing a little while ago - the roses are large enough to hold their own in an 8" centre square.  The toning fabric I bought with it in pink with red dots was just the ticket for the outer churn dash design against a white background and with 16" blocks you only need a few to make something quickly of a decent size.  I then fussy cut some roses for the cornerstones and white sashing, the same as I used in the blocks, gives them the floating impression

Now all I need to finish the top is an outer white border and we're away

Just the job for a little girl who LOVES PINK!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It's been a little bit...............

........................ wintry around here

Last Friday we had the snow the Met Office warned us about.

My boss rang me early to tell me he'd decided to close the school for the day as although the children, who virtually all live within easy walking distance of the school, could get there relatively easily, he was concerned for the staff who drive in from further away.

Nick's college lessons were cancelled so he went off sledging with his friends

But Louise's school was open - much to her disappointment and my dismay as it meant I had to get the car out onto the slithery roads to get her there

Our usual morning routine means I drive her part of the way across town to a certain point.  From there she can walk safely and comfortably to school in plenty of time for registration at 8.40 but I can also make my way back across town to my own school in time for an  8.30 start.  This means taking a journey through the rat runs and back streets.  Because the streets were pretty snow-ridden I took her along the main roads right to the school door as that gave me a safe area to turn and retrace my steps

I then enjoyed a quiet day at home stitching in the warm

Yesterday evening the Met Office had promised us sleet

By the time I was collecting Nick from college at 4.30 the sleet had had an identity crisis and was coming down as very wet snow which was settling rapidly

An evening of hand stitching on the sofa whilst occasionally glancing out of the window and we had a good 2 to 3 inches of wet snow which hadn't changed by the time the alarm went off this morning

Louise had a History GCSE exam this morning so had to go into school for that even if the rest of the school had been closed

My Headteacher then phoned me to tell me he had managed to get to school and he was going to try and open which meant I had to try and get there somehow

Although the snow was wetter than Friday's offering the roads were pretty treacherous and I also had great reservations about parking my car in the cul-de-sac which houses my school in case someone else slid into it while dropping their little darlings at school

So Nigel volunteered to drop Louise off at school in plenty of time for her exam and then offload me at the end of the little road that leads to our school before heading off to his office about 20 miles away

All in all it meant I got to school on time without having any scary driving moments

We gave all our parents the opportunity to decide whether to bring their children to school or not and we had about two thirds of them in - some parents made a huge effort bringing them in from a distance others who lived on the same street decided to keep them at home to play in the snow - interesting!

Our new Head is a lovely guy with a great understanding of kids and putting the fun into education - he gave the teachers carte blanche to take all their charges out into the snow as and when they saw fit.  As a result we had a wonderful crop of snowmen on the school field and lots of squealy happy little people.  Then to make the day extra special he nipped up to the local shop and bought enough hot chocolate powder for them to all have a warming cheery cup when they came back inside to dry out and warm up.  Inspired!  I think those kids who had been kept at home missed out somehow

Although everything feels much lighter here with the reflection of the snow I do think the monochrome surroundings give off a very strange light.  A little bit of cheer from my first daffodil purchase of the year goes a long way to brightening up the snowy view through the window

I haven't done much machine stitching this week so far but I did resurrect a handwork project - Liberty Tana Lawn Hexagons (scroll down a little on he link to find what these diamonds will join onto) - slow and steady gets you there eventually

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm afraid I have.........

.............. the attention span of a butterfly

Over the years I have made many quilts for so many different people but I have very few in my house

In my living room I have a section of bare wall in the corner

I also have a surplus curtain pole from when we lived in France which is way too short for any of the windows in this house

So I've decided to get my lovely husband to position the pole on the wall in this corner 

I will then make a wall quilt to hang there so I can enjoy one of my own quilts in the living room - something about 36 - 40 inches wide should do the trick

Who knows I might take a leaf from Jeanne's book and eventually have a succession of different quilts to swap around when I get bored

The space is limited so, if I want to make something with repeating blocks, whatever I make to put up there will have to be on a small block scale

Therefore as my attention was drifting from the brown and sand number inspired by Kate I pulled out some creams to go with the sand and started off making some 4 patches in sand and cream - these finish at 1.5" square so the little sections are three quarters of an inch across - quite tiny for me and definitely testing my precision piecing - I find it easier to make two strips and stitch them together first, then I cut them to size once pressed - told you my piecing isn't that accurate - once I'd built up the first quantity of them I use this as my leader/ender a la Bonnie in between stitching everything else together to build up the blocks

I have long been a fan of the Jewel Box pattern - I'm pretty sure it was Nancy who bewitched me with some of hers originally

So to join those dinky little 4 patches I've been making some turquoise and cream HSTs measuring 1.5" across

I've tried to make it scrappy but within a limited colour palette


Here are the first four blocks joined together - it never fails to delight me when the triangles come together to make the diamond, the four different fabrics always give it a three dimensional feel - this little ensemble measures 12.5" square so you can see the scale I'm working on - but as the finished article isn't that large then I hope to complete it before I get bored with it and it's just the project to keep me busy whilst ignoring this horrid wintry weather

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's okay................

................ I'm not that speedy

This isn't another finish for 2013

It's one of last year's baby quilts from the two I made for colleagues

You know how it is when you're in a hurry

Up against a deadline, you put in that final stitch late at night and heave a sigh of relief

Then whip some wrapping paper round it and the job's done......

........ but without taking a photo first

Thankfully my colleague Lucy agreed to take a photo and send it to me

So I have evidence of the finished article to show to you - the design is taken from another of Kate's quilts - she always comes up with lovely ideas - this one was fun and quick to sew

Still stitching the brown and sand blocks but have also started another project in colours to match the table runner - lots of little 4 patches and HSTs to show you next time

Monday, January 14, 2013

So here's the first.........

.................... finish of 2013

I've often admired other peoples work when they've combined patchwork cottons and linen

So when I found a pair of  charity shop beige linen trousers I thought I'd have a bit of a play

My 'new to me' ebay bought coffee table was crying out for a new table runner

I'd seen a lovely quilt somewhere on the net using rectangles along the border and I thought the design would look just great in turquoises against the beige linen


Once I'd pieced the top I thought I'd really like to do some of the modern trendy parallel line quilting I keep seeing on a lot of these linen/cotton pieces.

But then I chickened out and went for allover swirls instead with a turquoise border to finish the job 

A perfect opportunity to bring out the two pieces of 'Leeds Ware' pierced cream pottery I picked up in a charity shop in Leek, Staffordshire last summer on holiday

And here we are the finished object in situ

Mind you I can't say I really enjoyed stitching the linen - it might be a while before I bother with that again

So onto another new project for 2013 - a little brown and sand take on something Kate's been working on lately

Watch this space .............................

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oh dear...........

............. sob sob!!!

I was just merrily stitching away attaching a binding to a new table runner for the coffee table in my lounge when my machine seized.

Further investigations from me and my wonderfully mechanically minded husband came to a sorry conclusion....

..... my walking foot is dead

In the words of Monty Python in the Parrot sketch (pardon any inaccuracies):



No More


Pining for the Fjords

Gone to meet its Maker!

Fortunately I was just about at the end of the binding in question and managed to complete it with the standard foot

Unfortunately the aforementioned Walking Foot, which cost me £49 about 15 to 20 years ago will now cost me between £95 and £100 to replace

I thought the original cost a King's Ransom - but this is another level altogether

On further investigation on the wonderful world wide web it would appear that non-Bernina equivalents are available at a fraction of the cost

The one I would need is an Alphasew P60443 to fit my Bernina 1090 and 1005

Do any of you have any experience of one of these and could give me an honest appraisal of it before I jump in with both feet and commit serious money to a replacement

All help in this matter would be very gratefully received

Now I'm off back into my corner to have a quiet cry ..............................

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Farewell 2012 - here's to 2013...........

............ being a gentler, kinder year in the Bebbington household please.

I'm not going to bore you with details but the festive period and the lead up to it have been very tricky for the family with Nick's health taking a big hit and our capacity for coping with everything somewhat depleted.  But we have had wonderful support from the professionals and we are now looking forward and hoping for a positive, gentle 2013

On the sewing front I have recently completed three baby quilts for work colleagues and failed miserably to take a completed picture of any of them - never mind, two little girls have arrived safe and sound to make use of their pink themed quilts and a little boy is due to use his blue one in February 

Otherwise I also managed to complete the quilt I gave you a sneak peek of in my last long-ago posting

And here it is in use - the first big quilt I've completed for some time and I'd forgotten just what a challenge manoeuvring a 90" square for quilting on my Bernina is - but it was done in time for the recipient's 21st birthday on Boxing Day (26th December for non-Brits) and she loves it - so that means mission accomplished - all in plaids and neutrals with the centre machine pieced and the border hand appliqued

I now have a PINK!!! single bed quilt on the go for my 3yo niece who is yet to receive one of my creations -  a simple pattern using big blocks means it's going together quickly and should be ready to sandwich before I return to work for the Spring term next week - it is PINK!!! enough to satisfy her obsession with the colour but grown up enough to outlive her pre-school years and last to at least her teens

Just leaves me to wish all of you a very Happy New Year - may your days be filled with lots of stitching and your rotary cutter never go blunt