Preparing for our Weekend Away

Our quilting retreat weekend at The Mount Hotel in Wolverhampton is at the end of this week, and we’ve been preparing the projects we want to work on.  Tracy has cut out all of her pieces ready for sewing (so organised) while I’ve been pulling together a collection of fabrics to make a start on a sampler quilt.  I have Barbara Brackman’s ‘Civil War Sampler’ on Kindle, but I decided there’s nothing like a hard copy for ease of use, so I bought the book as well.

Angie has taken a laid back approach to it all and had decided to wait until the weekend arrives to be inspired.  At our last sewing group she did narrow her choices down to just a few, but In the meantime she’s been having a big push to finish all her UFO’s.  She bought a fabulous ladder display unit to hang her quilts from, and I think that’s been part of her motivation to get going.

IMG_0623

I’ve taken out the Medallion quilt, President’s Pride, which I began while on our last retreat in November, to try to get that up and running again.  All it needs is the last border of 4½” shoo fly blocks sewn on all the way around and then it’s ready for batting and backing. I seem to have the attention span of a firefly at the moment with so many UFO’s at all stages of development it’s time I set my shoulder to the wheel too.

We’ve been having a bit of fun making some bags to hold our equipment.  One of them is from a pattern I found on Craftsy called the Bionic Gear Bag.  It’s as eccentric as it sounds, but it really is a clever thing with loads of zip pockets, a fold down ‘tray’ at the front and some nifty little accessories to go with it.  One of them is called a Dumpling Dish but it reminds me more of a Cornish pasty when it’s zipped up.

Not long to go now….  I can’t wait.  (Tracy’s had her suitcase packed and ready for days!)

Advertisements

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.

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

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.

Westering Women BoM 2016 II

I think it’s fair to say that Barbara Brackman’s Westering Women BoM Block 3 has been the cause of major headaches for our little sewing group! The block is called Sweet Gum Leaf and, oh joy, it calls for a whole lot of inset, or ‘Y’ seams.

I tried and tried to get good matching points, but I guess this is where my inexperience shows as I couldn’t come up with a block that really satisfied me. Practice is supposed to make perfect I know, but my best effort remained my first try, the others were all downhill from there.

IMG_0651

Sandra – WW Block 3

At our Friday night get-together I was relieved to find it wasn’t just me that was having problems. So, we put our heads together and came up with an alternate design using only HSTs. It’s not quite as elegant as the original but it’s manageable, achievable and it gets the job done.

Button was being her adorable self and insisted on getting in on the act too – she’s a stern supervisor. (You might notice that Angie and Tracy haven’t quite got round to appliquéing the stems onto their blocks yet, so I had to use a piece of stand-in fabric for the photos!)

A few days later I felt in a more relaxed frame of mind to tackle those dreaded inset seams, so I chose a whole new colour scheme and spent an afternoon carefully cutting, marking and sewing pieces to make the original Sweet Gum Leaf block. I was so pleased with the outcome, until…..

IMG_1149

Sandra – WW Block 3 Version 3

…..I compared it with my previous blocks and discovered that I’d cut my six leaf pieces without the addition of the quarter inch seam allowance. So although the block worked, it was a miniature version of what it should be. Talk about frustration!

It was another week before I could bring myself to have yet another crack at it. Thankfully, this time everything went well and I have a passable block, but it’s going to be a long time before I approach inset seams without thinking about sweet gum leaves.

IMG_1135

Sandra – WW Block 3 Version 4

In the meantime, Blocks 4 and 5 in the Westering Women series have been published so there’s quite a bit of catching up to do.

…link to previous Westering Women BoM 2016 post.

 

Almost and Nearly There!

With the summer months upon us, Angie is wont to spend more of her free time at her hideaway home in beautiful Wales, so there are less opportunities for our Friday night sewing group to get together.

Of course, that doesn’t mean our patchwork activities are at a standstill. At the moment though, some of us seem to be just a stones throw away from finishing our projects.

I’m currently hand sewing the binding strip to finish off my Stars and Stripes quilt. I love the way this has turned out – It’s just simple HSTs but it seems to work fine.  And, I found some darling fabric in just the right shade of blue with white stars to represent the top left corner.

Meanwhile, Angie is close to completing the blocks she needs for her Starry Checkerboard quilt. Plus, she’s in the closing stages of making the Album quilt. A pattern taken from Kathleen Tracy’s excellent book, Civil War Sewing Circle.

Tracy, our Tracy that is, has a few sections of quilting yet to complete on her lovely summery bed quilt. The colours really pop and it just goes to show that the most simple of blocks can be put together to make a very effective design.

Give us a few more days, and we’ll be showing off our finished work at our next Friday night sewing session.

Uttoxeter 2016

Our little sewing group took a trip out on Friday to the British Quilt and Stitch Village 2016 Show at Uttoxeter Racecourse.  We thoroughly enjoyed the day and got to see a host of lovely quilts on display.  If I could achieve half the level of skills shown by some of those quilt makers I’d be a happy bunny.

We did try to be discriminating, but there were too many tempting stalls there, so as usual we spent far too much money on lots of lovely fabric and notions.  I nabbed a 9 degree wedge ruler too, as I want to have a go at a bargello in the round pattern I’ve seen on the internet.

Then it was back for our usual Friday night sew-in where we got to cast envious eyes over Angie’s brand new Janome Atelier 5 sewing machine.  A thing of beauty with more brilliant features than you can shake a stick at.  David Nutt, owner of our local store,
DC Nutt Sewing Machines
in Bloxwich, was once again on hand to offer Angie expert advice and help in choosing just the right machine.

And just to put the icing on the cake our rookie sewist, Barbara, has recently purchased her first ever sewing machine from DC Nutt’s too!