Monthly Archives: December 2015

Christmas Cheers!



Because of mild weather and the kids breaking up late for the holidays, nobody here seemed to be feeling particularly festive. I completed my wrapping marathon and braved the supermarket. One of the things I enjoy the most about Christmas is meeting Mo and Tania for coffee, sherry and mince pies. We always choose each other little gifts that usually include novelty socks, nag champa incense sticks, mugs, chocolate and something home-made. They were pleased with their printed chiffon scarves and tie-dyed pillowcases so I will count those experiments as a success.


I felt that I did a good job of choosing an interesting selection of gifts for my children from Ebay, Etsy and other more obscure internet sites. They already seem have all of the gadgets anyone could ever need so it was a little challenging coming up with something that was a surprise. I tracked down some vintage guitar effects pedals for Fergus, Freya liked her vintage typewriter and Jane Austen temporary tattoos, and Fenella was impressed with her silver spandex leggings and waffle maker.


I may have ruined or enhanced the black wool shawl for the top layer of the Purdah piece. I picked off as much of the grey interfacing as I could but there was a lot of powdery glue residue left so I decided to give it a soak in some washing soda before dyeing it with black Dylon, hoping that the interfacing would take up the dye. Despite setting the washing machine at 40 degrees, the shawl got well and truly felted and the grey interfacing remained its original colour but with a crinkly texture. I decided to work with the theme of Abuse and pegged it out to weather a storm in which it blew away and got caught up in some brambles. I have not quite decided whether to paint over the remaining grey bits with black fabric paint or even try some machine needle felting with some black sheep fleece. There will definitely be a need to come up with some sort of artistic flannel about this process.

There is only so much cooking, eating, drinking gin and watching action movies that I can cope with in 48 hours before I start to think what I could be doing instead. I bought myself an Appleton dress-making kit from so I might pluck up the courage to have a go at that. Something that keeps niggling away at the back of my mind is the desire to write a novel of sorts. If I used all of the time that I waste searching online for things I don’t need on Ebay and Gumtree I could probably get it done in a letter of weeks! My best ideas come to the fore on dog walks but Welly always knows when I am not paying attention and uses the opportunity to go off on one of his detours. It would be great if someone would invent an app that turned thoughts into text – then my drivel would soon evolve into pages and pages of stream of consciousness.

In the meantime, I will keep jotting down things I should be doing and think of creative ways to use up all of the leftover festive cheese…

A Bit Festive



It has been one of those weeks when I have to rack my brains to remember what I was so busy doing. There were lots of little things to do from assembling the horse cushion, making more triangular pouches to give away, quilting the curved Christmas trees (presents – so no photos) and tie-dyeing something that I will keep quiet about until next week (if it rinses out OK.)


I spent two whole days triple stitching around the hexagonal grid on the black shawl for Purdah but you can’t see it! I was worried when it all buckled up but it looks as though it will steam flat with a hot iron. I am having great difficulty removing the fusible interfacing from the reverse which I put there to mark the grid with purple sharpie. Let’s just say that black dye MAY be used and if it works the reverse might become the front in a strangely distressed kind of way – it is meant to be an Art Quilt, after all…


I eventually purchased Christmas cards and wrapping paper before the shops ran out completely but I did not write a report of my family’s year. I decided that if the folk who I send cards to are my friend on Facebook they know everything anyway.

Freya looked lovely for her Senior Prom in a lilac dress that I am glad to say came from a shop. All of the girls were very glamorous and far more fancily attired than I have ever been in my life.


I did put a frock on for a day trip to Edinburgh to meet Ellen. Since neither of us really enjoys shopping, other than in a quilt shop, I am pleased to say that we dropped into 3 different bars in the city for cocktails throughout the afternoon. It was very busy with pop-up markets all over the place, a skating rink and a maze of lit Christmas trees. I treated myself to a first class train ticket which was very civilised, starting with a smoked salmon breakfast and supper on the way home.


Mo, Tania and I met up for mulled wine and cake which is something we rarely do these days. I miss the times when we had coffee and sherry every other day during December.

Fenella and I went to an outdoor Nativity play. Despite the rain it was terrifically entertaining with live sheep and a donkey, wise men on quad bikes and a timely message about the plight of Middle-Eastern refugees.


I am relieved that the kids have two more days at school so I can get  my wrapping done in peace before getting stuck into Christmas food and drink;) I wish all of my Blog readers a relaxing and Merry Christmas – it won’t be long before I feel the need to tidy up my workshop after it has been a seasonal larder and wrapping zone and crack on with Quilting!

Just Say Neighhh!!!



I find it baffling that an item ordered on Ebay with free postage can arrive here in less than 24 hours yet items where I have paid extra can take more than a week. I was waiting impatiently for black thread to continue with Purdah so I felt obliged to fill my time with extra projects instead. I had to crack using the rolled hem foot so I spray starched the edge of some fine cotton and ticked that off my list.


I made two more ladybird purses from quilted fabric which took far longer than the leather versions in red and now orange but at least I can say I did it.

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I meant to have a go at making ONE test block for SewWonderful’s curved Christmas tree project but I seemed to end up making two samples which will now need quilting before Christmas. It was a bit of a rush job so they are not perfect;)


The job that I was dreading took me 2 whole days…the horse cushion that I promised LandyMan was never going to be easy for someone who does not draw and does not ever consider making pictorial quilts. Using a basic photo that I printed, I traced the outlines onto acetate then moved an old overhead projector to create an image that was roughly 18” square. I sketched that image onto paper that I taped to the roller blinds in my workshop. If I knew more about appliqué then I may have cut out and attached the pieces in a different order. The legs were tricky because I sort of mislaid the pieces or maybe I just muddled them up. The photo was not detailed enough for me to work out how to make the eyes lifelike but apart from that I think the horse looks passably like the original image.

The horse then required quilting, machine embroidery and a tail made from tapestry wool, which turned out to be navy rather than black in daylight. I hand-printed a back, purchased a feather pad and just need to sew it all together before plucking a figure out of the air to charge for it. If I was a driving instructor then I would be demanding a cool £300 plus materials but no-one is likely to want to pay even a third of that figure for a cushion. So the next time I am asked whether I can run something like that up I need to say “Neighhh!!!”

No Peeking!



I am sure that Fergus has been rooting around in my workshop to see what might have been stashed away for his birthday or Christmas. I think there is nothing more fun than surprise gifts so I hope he didn’t find any of my Ebay purchases!


I have made a couple more triangular pouches, still trying to decide on the “perfect” construction method. The red ladybird was joined by a fatter, orange friend and I spent a day printing chiffon for gift scarves. I was enjoying messing about with a gelli plate, which I had forgotten about. It’s a good job that scarves are usually seen all scrunched up because my printing was a bit wonky and distinctly artisan looking.


There were 3 DIY Quilters here this week, two of whom finished off long overdue projects. Carol bravely chose to quilt her Di Ford Montmellick appliqué quilt herself. I daresay that most folk would choose to hand stitch quilts like that as they have so many small pieces. I insisted on whizzing some stitch-in-the-ditch around a few of the larger motifs. It was definitely a good plan to use a puffier poly wadding to fill out some of the inevitable fullness. Shona allowed the Quilt Path computer to quilt leaves onto her large flannel quilt. Despite being made from flannel on both sides, it felt so light after quilting because we chose Tuscany wool wadding.


While other people were here I have made a little progress on the second Purdah quilt. Bernard, the Q24 proved to be excellent at ruler work. Having worked on a more intense project rather than just practice pieces, I realise that I have set the frame up too high so I will need to make some easy adjustments to its legs so it is more comfortable. An optional extra is a hydraulic lift system which would be great for different users or even for sitting on a stool to do intricate work.


I am trying not to panic that I have not bought any Christmas cards or started on the horse cushion, let alone get swept along with festive functions, last minute quilts or deciding to make more gifts from scratch. This week, in addition to my usual parental and pet duties, I am determined to master the rolled hem foot, write definitive instructions for the triangle pouches, make a quilted ladybird and finish quilting Purdah2…!