Barbara’s Cushion

Barbara joined our group as a complete rookie.  She cheerfully admitted she’d never done any serious sewing but was fascinated by some of the projects the rest of us were working on and wanted to have a go herself. Her first ever piece was a hand sewn snowman she completed from scratch, learning to do blanket stitch along the way and getting a feel for working with fabric. (She’ll hate me for showing a picture of it, but by the time she sees it it’ll be too late.)

When Barbara purchased her sewing machine from DC Nutt in Bloxwich it was a leap of faith for her, as she’d only had a little practice on some of ours.  We all pitched in and taught her the basics of how to operate it, and it wasn’t long before she was sewing a passable quarter inch seam. I taught her how to sew a small change purse, and the result turned out pretty good, although I do wish I’d planned it better. (I’m not really much of a teacher.) Luckily, Angie was on hand to keep the train on the tracks.

On our day out at Malvern, Barbara picked out some lovely Rose & Hubble fabric and Angie helped her choose some more in different designs and shade of blue to complement her purchase. It was Liz who steered Barbara in the direction of a disappearing nine patch project and taught her how to properly rotary cut.  By the time I went on holiday she’d sewn her nine  patches together.  While I was away she cut, rearranged and sewed her blocks then Tracy helped her make the ‘envelope’ closure for the back of her project.

I received an email from Barbara telling me she’d finished her cushion, and she attached a picture.  Unfortunately, due to some international gremlin in the works, I was only able to see a tantalising top inch of it because the picture wouldn’t open properly.

What makes me proud is how our little sewing group pulled together to help Barbara develop her skills, and I’m very pleased to reveal her first proper sewing project.  A  delightful blue cushion that I’m told now resides on the back seat of her car for all the world to admire.  I can’t wait to see what she makes next.

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Florida Holiday III

I’ve returned from my holiday now, and settled back in at home. I did visit one other quilt shop while I was over in Florida –  Flash Sew and Quilt in Fort Myers on the west coast. It’s a great place, full of lovely fabrics, patterns and notions, and an active workshop was in full swing on the day I went there. I heartily recommend it as a place to visit, but unfortunately I only have a picture of the store front as my phone battery died after that.

What I did notice in Florida is the pattens and fabrics on offer mostly seemed to be bright, breezy and colourful. I didn’t see many patterns for projects based on Civil War colours. Maybe it’s something to do with the quality of the light there, i dunno really.

On the home front, I needed a bit of a breather to recover from jet lag. But a couple of days later I was itching to meet up with my quilting pals and see what they’d been up to. I was amazed at their sheer productivity. Tracy had made a lovely hourglass blocks quilt from start to finish, and Angie, my word, had been busy sewing loads of Christmas goodies for friends and family plus a gorgeous appliqué Christmas quilt.  I can see I’d better put my skates on.

… link to previous Florida Holiday post

… link to Florida Holiday II

Florida Holiday II

Since I’m on holiday with two men in tow,  I know I can’t expect to visit every quilt shop in Florida.  (Even though I might like to!)  But when we reached Dunedin on the west coast I put my foot down with a firm hand.

While chatting, I heard about an aladdin’s cave of a store, right there in town, from a newbie quilter who worked on reception at the motel we stayed at. She told me she had been taking lessons there and just loved it, so of course, I simply had to check it out.

Rainbows End Quilt Shoppe in Dunedin really is a knockout place. Room after room piled high with fabrics all gathered together by colour. By the time I walked through to the second large room I had already picked up too many fat quarters to carry but I just couldn’t help myself. A kindly assistant came to my aid with a carry basket so then I had space to pick up even more.

In the furthest room I came across two lovely ladies working away on their quilts, so naturally I stopped to chat and to see what they were doing. One had appliquéd a succession of lovely pink teapot motifs onto hers and was busy hand quilting it. The other was in the midst of hand appliquéing every type of flower you could imagine in a succession of beautiful colours onto her quilt top. I was so in awe at the quality of their work.

I could have spent all day at Rainbows End, but instead I spent too much!!


… link to previous Florida Holiday post

… link to Florida Holiday III

Florida Holiday

So here we are on holiday in the USA. A day late because our flight was delayed courtesy of Hurricane Matthew, but safe and sound nevertheless.

We’ve been travelling up the east coast of Florida from Miami, and the further north we travel the more apparent is the storm damage – it’s not complete devastation, but lots of destruction to trees and quite a few roofs have taken flight – so we decide to stay the night at Stuart, a small town on the SE Federal Highway, and then head inland to Lakeland.

Naturally, I’ve been on the lookout for quilt shops along the way, although i did promise myself I would only be looking for pattern books rather than fabrics (like that’s ever gonna happen!)

On Highway 1, at Sebastian, I discovered Marilou’s Quilting and Sewing Center. Marilou herself wasn’t there at the time, but we met a really helpful guy, a US Forces veteran, whose name sadly escapes me. (It’s my age, what can I say?)

He showed us around a well stocked store filled with beautiful fabrics and a long arm quilting machine in the centre loaded with a lovely quilt top in the process of being quilted. A large seminar room in back housed some state of the art Husqvarna machines, and was already occupied by ladies hard at work on their sewing and embroidery.

I bought a Stars Across America pattern book by Eleanor Burns, and of course, several gorgeous fat quarters. (You can just see them in the foreground of one of the images below.)

…link to Florida Holiday II

… link to Florida Holiday III

A Memory Quilt for Len

Irene and Len are longtime friends of Angie’s mom, and Angie herself knows them well. Sadly, Irene passed away at the beginning of this year.

It’s a special time in the grieving process when a surviving partner can bring themselves to part with their spouse’s much loved possessions, but now Len has begun to quietly rehome some of her chattels where he thinks they may do most good. Irene was a seamstress of the old school and, knowing she is also a sewist, Len has given a bewildering collection of fabrics and notions to Angie along with an impressive old sewing machine.

Angie told us all about this at one of our regular sewing group get togethers. She then showed us a lap quilt she has made from the plaids and tweeds she unearthed in the donated fabric stash. She plans to give it to Len soon to keep him cosy this coming winter. I cannot think of a more wonderful way to commemorate Irene than the thought that has gone into the making of this beautiful memory quilt.

Summer Progress

While Angie’s been relaxing at her Welsh hideaway she’s been catching up on her hand sewing. She really is a wiz with English paper piecing and uses up all her offcuts making hexagons and such, so it’s economical too. I think it’s a great way to make the most out of every scrap of leftover fabric and the results are just beautiful.

Not to be outdone, Tracy has completed a pretty quilt top. It’s just two colour ways in shades of white and turquoise and looks really effective. I can’t wait to see her finished quilt.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been busy making lots of small work, like bookmarks, pouches and little baskets, which we hope to sell at upcoming fundraising events in aid of Cancer Care and MacMillan Nurses. This little project is ongoing so I’ll post more about it as we progress

I’ve finally finished the binding around my vanity sewing case. I’m not all that happy with the result as the top and bottom tend to bow inwards. Again, I think it’s all to do with the foam batting which seems to have a life of it’s own.

I’m in the process of making some fabric bins so I can conceal the piles of batting and interfacing I’ve amassed. I decided to use a different technique with the remainder of my foam stuff. I cut the batting half an inch smaller all round than the size of the fabric, so that when I brought the sides of the bin together I just had to stitch through only the fabric to secure them. To add strength and definition I rolled the seam allowance in on itself at each side and covered it with a binding. The bin still bows out a bit, but I think it kinda works.

Currently my waddings are jammed in plastic carrier bags and stuffed under the sideboard. It’s not a pretty sight. I intend to make some floppy lids to top off the bins later, but for now I’ve just covered my first one with a piece of fabric. I have to say it already looks much better, so I best crack on with a couple more.


…link to All is Vanity

My Travel Bag

Chastened by the fact that Tracy had completed her brilliant bag in record time, I decided I’d better hunker down and get on with making my own travel bag. The pattern I had was the Overnight Bag, an original design by Julie-Anne from White Cottage Country Crafts.

I love the overall size and shape of the bag but there were a couple of things I wanted to add. The first was some internal pockets, and the second was to give addional strength to where the handles fasten to the body of the bag as I’ve a tendency to stuff my travelling bags to the gunnels. To achieve this I decided to sew the handle strapping all the way down the outsides of the bag to the base seams so as to spread the load.  As an afterthought, I got hold of some plastic D rings and sewed them on with fabric tabs just below the zip on each side so I can attach a shoulder strap if I want to.

Overall, I’m pleased with the way it turned out. All I have to do now is apply some spray-on fabric protector and I’m good to go.