Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Simple Jelly Roll Cushions

One of my favourite blogs is the hugely popular Very Berry Handmade.

Ever since Ali posted her Liberty Wallflower Cushion Tutorial back in April I've been meaning to give it a go and over the summer I finally got round to it.

Two of the cushion covers on my sofa had been looking decidedly worse for wear. With this in mind, last year I bought a "Jelly Roll" from eBay consisting of a mishmash of fabric in gorgeous berry colours and I had been keeping a eye out for the right pattern.

The "Wallflower Cushion" uses rectangles that are 6" x 3.25" but in order to use my jelly roll I made mine 6" x 2.5".

Using his pattern you sew each row of blocks directly onto the wadding and backing fabric, plus there are no seams to match so it comes together really quickly.

A quick envelope back using neutral linen and a contrasting stripe.


Voila!  Two spruced up cushions.

Thank you Ali!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Shropshire through the eyes of a crafter

I've just returned from a soggy yet welcome break in the gorgeous county of Shropshire.

The draw of the Cotswolds or my enthusiasm to get to Wales has meant I'd previously overlooked this county, but that is now rectified and I can highly recommend the Church Stretton area.

A week away from my sewing machine but inspiration was aplenty.

Part of our trip included a visit to Blists Hill, a recreated Victorian Town. It is just one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

This vintage sign caught my eye on the side door to the General Drapers and Outfitters.

Shop window at the General Drapers and Outfitters

Another gem was the unexpected discovery of "yarn-bombed" Bishops Castle. Knitted creations decorate street furniture in Bishops Castle and were made by members of the local KnitWits group, as part of the 2012 Bishops Castle Arts Festival. Check out a local news report here.

A trip to Shrewsbury afforded the opportunity to visit the fabric and haberdashery gem that is Watson and Thornton.
The shop is huge, in particualar the haberdashery department and I could have happily browsed all afternoon. However, I had the family in tow so I had to settle for a new rotary blade and a few new Christmas ribbons from the multitude on offer.
But, I do plan to make use of their online shop, at minimum, for their competitively priced replacement rotary blades.

Some gusty walks blew away the Halloween cobwebs and the inclement weather meant we witnessed some incredbily vivid rainbows during our stay.

Walking up on The Long Mynd
Snapped from the car window

Shoprshire. I will return. x

Monday, 14 October 2013

To Bee or not to Bee?

One of the things I've noticed whilst journeying around the Sewing Blogosphere is how much fun everyone in Online Sewing Bees seem to have.

Me thinks: I have to get me some of that!

It seems the perfect way to develop your skills, try out new techniques and work with fabrics you might not usually select for yourself.

Add into the mix developing new friendships within the sewing community and it's difficult to find a reason not to jump right in.

I've been following the lovely and talented Di over at Willowbeck Designs for a while and I was fortunate to meet her face to face at the Fat Quarterly Retreat this summer.
Di is Mama Bee and one of the founding members of an Online Sewing Bee known as the hipBees.

The hipBees have recently completed their first year and I was very flattered, though somewhat nervous, to be invited to join them for their second year. How cool is that? And not just because I get a sparkly new button for my side bar!

Rules vary from Bee to Bee, but in the hipBees the general premise is the Queen Bee in charge of the month provides the fabric and instructions for each hive member to make two 12.5" blocks.
The blocks can range from straightforward to complex - so essentially anything goes.


Sarah who blogs at Sew Me (check out her blog she's amazing!) was kind to us Worker Bee's and kicked things off with this concentric block design.

I breathed a sigh of relief as the design was well within my "comfort zone".  Off I went, merrily cutting, stitching and pressing; enjoying the freedom to pick our own fabric combinations from the mini stash provided.


Skipping ahead.............  the moral of this story is don't get cocky. I made a novice error and underestimated the amount of fabric required for the final concentric round. My block would have ended up 12" not 12.5" hence the "two side" finish.


After consultation with the supremely kind and understanding Queen Bee, one of my blocks was returned partially finished, to be completed back at base - hangs head in shame.

Here's the block finished off by Queen Bee Sarah so there is a happy ending!

Note to self: Must slow down and focus or become the first hipBee to be thrown out - "Wink"

Next up: OCTOBER - should Queen Bee Renne be worried?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Festival of Quilts Part II: The purchases

Just a mini post to show you my purchases from the Festival of Quilts.

Restrained but considered - for once!

I didn't go too crazy but I did go with my heart rather than my pocket.

I've been lusting after some Oakshott for some time and just couldn't the resist this subtle toned Fat 8th bundle of Oakshott Air.
The quality is beautiful so a special project will be required for these beauties.

More 1/8th's caught my eye. This time bright and vibrant hand dyed Kona cotton from Alter Ego in hot pinks, reds and orange. Plus, a gorgous Fat quarter that ranges from lime green through to turquoise. These colours make me feel bright and happy.
I'm thinking of combining in a project with some natural coloured linen so that the colours really pop.
What shall I make? Suggestions please.

I picked up a fat quarter trio of Type by Windham Fabrics from the lovely ladies at The Bramble Patch. They kindly split up a bundle so I could have just the three I wanted. I liked the ipad cover they had on display using the typewritter print, and I may do something similiar for my Kindle.

Finally, I couldn't resist signing up for the new monthly glossy "Love Quilting and Patchwork".
The deal was too good to miss - The first three issues for £1, plus this additional Autumn issue to take away on the day.
There's no obligation to continue after the first three months if it doesn't appeal, so I felt I could stretch to a whole £1 to find out!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Festival of Quilts Part I: The Exhibition

Yesterday, I made the trek across country for the opening day of this years Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. It was my first visit to the FoQ and I was interested to see if it lived up to it's press.

Guess who I found myself walking and talking with from the car park? The lovely and unassuming Ann Rowley; winner of The Great British Sewing Bee. A very nice start to the day.

Ann couldn't have been more pleasant and she didn't even mind when I asked if I could take her picture. I snapped the shot in a hurry and the background of the NEC map is a bit unfortunate but it's  still a beautiful picture of an inspirational lady.

Ann Rowley

Essentially, a day isn't enough to fully appreciate the all the exhibitions and peruse every stand. So, with no particular purchases in mind I decided to wander at random and be led by my eye.

Here's a small selection of what caught my attention. I only had my iphone with me so the photo's don't really do justice to the art.

I'm sorry I don't have artist credits for all the pieces, so please jump in if you know.

Loving Alicia Merrett. Check out her website.

Alicia Merrett - loosely based on a Elizabethan map of London in 1572

More Alicia Merrett - this time an imaginary map called "The Night Road"

The work of the New Horizons Textile Group


Just Stunning!

Close up

Me want!

Very Steampunk

Kaffe Fassett - we must stop meeting like this!

All calm and empty just before doors close.

Part 2 tomorrow with the all important purchases!!!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Beach huts and boxed bottoms!!

Last week I whipped up a summer holiday tote with the beach hut canvas I picked up at
Duxford spring quilt festival.

I incorporated one of my charity shop finds, a stripy canvas that co-ordinated so well with the beach hut fabric that quite frankly it would have been rude not to!

I realised that our family holiday was only a couple of weeks away so I got a move on and made it over the course of a day.

The original plan was to make it with a waterproof lining to accommodate soggy towels and swimming costumes. But, I spotted this simple tutorial over at Made for a reversible tote and decided to give 'reversible' a go.

The Stripe and Beach hut canvas work so well together!

I highly recommend the tutorial, it was easy to follow, had relevant hyperlinks and clear photography. I will definitely be checking out more of the tutorials over at Made.

Here's the result.

I favour this side as I like having the two rows of beach huts. I neglected to take a decent pic of the reverse, but essentially it consists of the stripe fabric for the main body with one row of beach huts beneath.

I boxed off the bottom which was surprisingly easy to do and gives a much more professional finish.

I've used it a few times already. My non sewist friends couldn't believe it wasn't shop bought which was very flattering.

The remaining fabric is earmarked for a matching drawstring tote with the originally planned waterproof lining.  I just need to pick up some lining fabric - but I'm off to Festival of Quilts tomorrow so no excuse there!!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

All zipped up!

First up, I made a wee pin cushion after Katy's blog pointed me in the direction of her quick and easy make over at Nel Whatmore's blog.

Yes, I know it's aimed at kiddies, but I'm basically a big kid so I qualify! I have to say it also took me a bit longer than 10 minutes - that was taken up threading my needle!

I used some of the London fabric we got in our fab goodie bags at the Fat Quarterly Retreat (FQR) courtesy of Makower UK

Quick, satisfying and already in use.

Next up, the postman delivery my copy of Improv by Lucie Summers that I pre ordered at....yes you guessed it .....the FQR.

This book does not disappoint and the dedication makes its all the more treasured.

Spurred on by the book delivery I  turned my mini Improv sample, that debuted in my last post, into a cushion cover.
I have to keep explaining to my six year old that the circle is meant to be wonky.

I'm pretty chuffed because it was my first zip insertion. Previously I have used envelope backs on my cushion covers so I thought it was time to progress.

I roughly followed this handy tutorial over at Make It and Love It.

I'm ashamed to say it took me ages as I had to work out feet and functionality previously unused on my machine. But hey! It works! So I can put a small tick next to zips.

I was impatient to finish and used the only zip I had in the house, a navy one, which again was from the bottomless FQR goodie bag. However,  in hindsight, I should have waited and bought one in a neutral/blending colour. Live and learn hey?

I'm now off to see if I can find a kitchen sink or James McAvoy at the bottom of my goodie bag.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Fat quarterly retreat 2013: Are you a Lynne or a Lu?

Last weekend was the Fat Quarterly Retreat 2013.  I spent a fantastic couple of days in London sewing and socialising with over a hundred like minded souls; all were there to learn and share whilst generally having a good time. 

The blogoshpere, instagram (#fqrlondon #fqretreat #fqr2013), and flickr (www.flickr.com/groups/fqlondon2012/) are awash with great reviews and images of the whole event so I won't repeat here what has already been covered so well.
But, I am linking up over at Fat Quarterly for the post retreat party, so you can hop over and check out the weekend that was!

Kick off!

I'm focusing on two workshops; Precision Piecing and Improv. One selected by instinct and one for the desire to hone my skills.

Improv. with Lu Summers was right at the top of my workshop wishlist. Lu's "anything goes" style is right up my street and I adore her fabrics.

You all know this one! Summersville by Lu Summers for Moda

It was great to take part in a class where the rules really don't matter and look at my mismatched seams and random cutting as part of the charm of the piece rather than sloppy skills.

All hard at work

A bit of this, a bit of that, a chevron here, a strip there, and "voila", a classroom full of mini quilts with personality and flair.

Wonky wonky!

Next up, Precision piecing with Lynne Goldsworthy.

My patchwork piecing leaves alot to be desired. Sometimes it comes together quite nicely, but the consistency isn't there. In fact at it's worst you may mistake it for Improv!
So where am I going wrong? Is it my cutting? My seam allowance? My pinning? My pressing?

Lynne was a wealth of knowledge and as I suspected my skills in all of the above have room for improvement.
In particular, I'm guilty of ironing (read "pulling") rather than pressing the fabric, thus distorting the shape especially when using steam.
My cutting and seam allowance generally aren't too bad but I suffer from a lack of focus. I bore easily when doing fiddly piecing especially when there are alot of repeat blocks. But I was on my best behaviour for the lovely Lynne.


My favourite tip was not necessarily having to pin the seam join when sewing a couple of small pieces together (which is great because I don't anyway!), but rubbing the two pieces together until you feel a "click" as the seams line up. Love it!

Yes I could have done flying geese in the centre but I was practising HST's

Pleased with this one plus had my first play with a Big Shot

Now,  I'm going to ask you all a question.

"Are you a Lynne or a Lu?"

I'm not suggesting that this is the only style or work these ladies are skilled at and enjoy. I'm just interested in where your heart lies?


Do I mind the fact that my work is rarely constantly accurate?

Am I likely to change?
Ok, Ok, well maybe I will fine tune a little bit when the project deserves it and I do like those circles.

But, I do like knowing I'm not missing a magical piece of the process, and it's mainly lack of focus where I fall down. This way I can tell myself I could do it if I wanted to. Yeah right!

Do I enjoy Improv? Hell yes.

Am I buying Lu's new book
Already on pre-order............

Were both workshops worthwhile?
Absolutely! I was learning from the masters.

Conclusion: On most days I'm a "Lu". But which one are you?

Roll on FQR 2014

Friday, 26 July 2013

Step right up if you like a bargain......

Just a quick wee post (is that a post"ette"?) about today's purchases.

I have blogged before about our wonderful local fabric shop, Sew Much To Do, here in Ely, Cambridgeshire.

Since opening their doors in November last year they have continued expand the range of fabrics and goods offered, and the selection of workshops has grown too. All worth a nosey.

But, what I want to tell you about is a new shopping enticement launched today.

"Sew Deal" is a daily changing mega discount on a selected item. Today's offer was the Atlas PVC at 50% off, a bargain at £6.99 a metre.

I love this oil cloth and have been thinking for a while what a great non-ripping wall poster it would make in my daughters playhouse - it's even waterproof which is handy for when the roof leaks occasionally!!!! Alternatively a play mat for a hard floor. The list of uses goes on.......

To get the whole world in your hands you need roughly 75cm. An educational bargain!

You can check out the current daily deal on their facebook page here. Who knows what is might be tomorrow! You don't need to be local. Sew Much To Do can take telephone orders too.

Oh......and a little Moda Comma, charm pack that I've been resisting for months somehow found it's way into my shopping basket at the same time. How did that happen?? Just right to practise my Lu Summers inspired "Improv".

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/5349423/?claim=psgssdbavvr">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Opps! It seems I hadn't done all the steps required to claim my blog on bloglovin. I'd added the button but not published a "linking" post. So I apologise to the lovely people who had clicked the button to follow me on Bloglovin and then thought that I never post anything! Hopefully situation rectified.

A post on the fun and games at Fat Quarterly Retreat 2013 to follow in a few days once my bag is unpacked!

Monday, 15 July 2013

FQR 2013 It's almost here!

It's nearly time to head down to the Big Smoke for Fat Quarterly Retreat 2013.  I'm feeling a good balance of excitement with a pinch of nerves.

I've finally got round to writing a post to join in with the linky party right here.

I'm Jill and I'll be travelling and co-habiting with my partners in crime Sarah and Anna. You will find us swanning around at Millennium Baileys - courtesy of a really good offer a few months ago.

I've always enjoyed artistic pursuits but I didn't pick up a needle for anything more than a forced button repair until January 2011 when I was searching for a new addiction. I go through phases where I sew all the time, followed by weeks where I barely glance in the direction of my piles of fabric, baskets and books that are gradually taking over the so called dining room. My main problem is cutting into my favourtie fabrics and not just hanging on to them for the elusive perfect project. Use the good stuff everyone!!

This blog was born in February this year. I'd been thinking about it for a while and liked the idea of having a shared record of my "makes". The final push was realising how many people attending the retreat were already part of the blogging world.
After a very keen start, my posting frequency has slowed down to a more manageable rate. I quickly discovered the more I posted the less time I had to actually make things to post about!
But, I'm really enjoying being more integrated in the crafty community and I get super excited whenever someone comments on one of my posts, (hint, hint).

My workshops at the retreat are:

Crochet with Laura Taylor
Improv with Lu Summers
Trapunto with Ruth Singer
Precision Piecing with Lynne Goldsworthy (I need all the help I can get!)

Here are my workshop goodies ready to pack. I'd love to claim the lovely pouch at the back is one of mine but it's purchased from the very lovely and talented Ali over at Very Berry Handmade - I couldn't resist.

Here's a close up!

I'm also taking part in the name tag swap. This is my first swap and it seemed like a ideal way to "dip my toe in".  My creation was somewhat amateur but Katy @ The Littlest Thistle has been very kind.

My name tag isn't here yet but that just adds to the building anticipation..........

As well as learning new skills and improving existing, I'm looking forward to putting faces to names and generally having a good ole time!

Come and say hi and I'll give you one of these (to use for a coaster!!)