Monthly Archives: October 2017

Baked Alaska and Other Adventures



The second week of the school holidays was certainly action packed with visiting family,  a 14th birthday and various outings. She loved the secret project – a camera bag and did not seem to mind that the lid does not fit as flush as I would have liked;) Nell got her braces off after 3 years, dyed her her neon pink and got a helix piercing expertly done by Maree at Rebel Ink in Aberdeen. We visited the Cat Cafe which was not teeming with cats as I expected. One feline did show up at our table but only because it wanted to steal the cream off the top of the milkshakes.

This year’s birthday cake request was a purple baked Alaska. I watched some Youtube recipes for inspiration but most of them used a blow torch which I don’t have among my many kitchen gadgets. I added parma violet syrup and purple colouring to white ice cream and dolloped meringue on top. It is essential to work at speed so I quickly put the cake back into the freezer so it would be nice and set for a blasting in the oven. I forgot that an oven tray would have been a good plan because my fancy plate exploded with the drastic temperature change so we had a bit of slippage on one side. Sparklers and edible glitter saved the day and I now know how not to oven-bake ice cream.

I had no phone for 2 days while the screen was being repaired but I did not really miss it as we were so busy out and about, although I should have taken more photos with a real camera! Bumble enjoyed her visit to Crathes Castle and kept up with the little-boy cousins on an expedition to Dunnottar, an almost impregnable ruined fortress near Stonehaven. Pumpkins were carved and the sludge collected for a pie but eventually the house emptied and things settled back to normal.


Over the weekend I managed to cut out and fuse wool felt pieces for a folk-art piece that I will be teaching in Germany. It was inspired by a painted panel in Coburg Castle but I don’t think I possess the geometry skills required to arrange six motifs around a central point, 8 would have been far more sensible. Since it is “folk-art”, I reckon it is fine to arrange by-eye.


I am hoping that the temporary supply-teaching job that I was offered will have been snapped up by someone else because I have so much that I want to create, although I have to be realistic and appreciate that some extra cash would come in handy…



Making Lots of Mess


During the school holidays it feels like there must be some kind of formula such as h = 2t – p otherwise known as “holidays mean more time but less productivity”. For example, the more I remind a certain teenage boy about homework, the less he is inclined to do it!

There was a severe weather warning at the beginning of the week but in the end it missed us. I think that was because I stocked up on baking potatoes and charged all of my gadgets in case of a power cut.

I completed 2 faux eiderdowns for Mo’ customer using very fat poly wadding, updating the tatty brushed nylon for pink silk. I ended up with silk threads everywhere and had made quite a mess working on my secret project so it was time to get the hoover out. It did not take long for me to mess it up again as fallen leaves kept getting dragged in and I cut out about a million small pieces of pleather. And I had to scrub spray glue off my table. I must remember to stash away some old newspapers in future!


I had hoped to cut out a tricky pattern from faux-leather using the San-n-Cut machine but the pattern was too intricate and it was not really big enough at a maximum size of 12” square. I had to resort to the old-school technology of an overhead-projector. The results were a bit sketchy as I traced the projected acetate image using a Sharpie pen onto paper taped to a board that was propped up on the table with a chair behind it. I realised afterwards that I did not have to draw around every single detail and my second attempt was an improvement. I had to abandon the attempt to cut out the pattern using a craft knife as only tiny scissors would do the job.

The pleather project will be offered to my German students as an extra challenge if they get the mini wholecloth and the other one (which I still need to make up as a kit) finished in 2 days. I think that one will involve wool felt because my plan is to explore a wide variety of materials, threads and techniques with the Bernina longarm machine.

Knowing that the week ahead brings visitors, a birthday and various outings, I cracked on with a customer quilt. The pattern requested was umbrellas which was very appropriate in weather so wet that my workshop carpet now needs drying out. I want to keep on top of customer quilts because it is inevitable that there will soon be a pre-Christmas rush;)

Remind Me Not To Do This Again!



I finished the first sample for my classes in Germany – a small whole cloth loosely based on BzB. I actually got a bit carried away and did more quilting than I intended so by the time I quilted the background with a twin needle it was quite stitchy;) The project took a fair while so I will have to make my pupils sew FAST! I have a couple of other samples to run up by the end of October so the students have some idea of what they will be working on.


Bumble was not speaking to me after her proper Scottie Dog haircut, she looks very smart, although quite hilarious so Mo and I may just take a little bit more off her legs so she looks less comical. She was mightily offended when the kids laughed at her!

Socially, I judged Battenberg cake at a WRI meeting where I was the speaker and attended an alcoholic Book Group, which I enjoyed so much that I offered to choose the next book and host the Readers.

My Sunday night blog feels rushed after spending 2 whole days in the workshop, working on a semi secret project for Nell’s birthday. I followed the instructions as carefully as I could but forgot to include the pocket that I had made, seemed to end up with a slight lining fit problem and resorted to hand sewing some binding because the item could not squash under my sewing machine. I am a little disappointed by the finish but looking at the original photo of how the finished article is meant to look, concede that mine comes pretty close. If I make a thing like this in future I think a zip should be involved.

The midterm break has started so I will need a Plan of Action to keep everyone fed, get on with some quilting and catch up on the mountain of laundry that I did not do while making the above said “thing”…

Perseverance Pays Off


I had 2 ladies in doing DIY quilts for 3 days in a row and quilting like crazy, 10 quilts were completed! I would love to have more weeks like that and would be able to turn down supply teaching offers guilt-free.

With some trepidation I tackled a wedding quilt that was a montage of black and white photos and written messages. I was a bit worried about some of the fabrics which included dress linen, sheeting, interfacing and T-shirt transfer vinyl but the machine just took it all in its stride with silvery Glide on top and Madeira cotton in the bobbin.

On Thursday I took the day off, caught up with friends for coffee and went on a jolly with Mo to a Christmas Fayre where we ended up buying ourselves treats, rather than Christmas presents for others. I keep telling myself that I will have an opportunity to do that when I visit the Christmas market in Coburg when I return to teach at Regina Klaus’ studio at the beginning of December.

After sulking a little about BzB’s lacklustre performance at MQX, I was delighted that Linda Hrcka (The Quilted Pineapple) awarded it her faculty ribbon. She is one of my most favourite, awesome quilters so that really gave me a boost. BzB has now gone to stay with my friend, Bonnie Botts, until it gets sent off to other USA show in 2018.

I persevered with the Dreaded Scanncut machine and successfully cut out samples of denim letters for one of my potential projects. I used Steam-a-Seam instead of Bondaweb and starched the fabric thoroughly, writing down everything that worked so hopefully it will co-operate another time. It was still rubbish at cutting paper and labels until I got a new blade except that it wanted to cut out everything dark coloured, including text. I have figured a simple way around this by just plonking a shape on top of a sticker and cutting out the shape. I have watched some helpful and other not so helpful tutorials on simple stuff that I want to do on Youtube but other than that, it’s still all Greek to me! It is a machine that can be extremely complicated if you want it to but I just want it to cut out fiddly shapes without having a hissy fit.

I achieved a lot of stuff on my ToDo list for the week then promptly jotted down a new one which seems even longer. Never mind, I seem to get more done when there is more to do.

I must apologise to anyone who has left comments on Blogger – sometimes they don’t show up for ages and then it won’t let me reply so I must fix that. I appreciate everyone who reads my blog, particularly if they go to the effort of leaving a comment:)

Is this my Comeuppance?



It’s been a funny old week where I have felt rather busy but not entirely sure what I have actually done. I had a go at filming a couple of demos on couching and using a twin needle on the Q24 using a machine mounted GoPro and a tripod mounted camera but I have not got sufficient editing skills to tie the 2 different views together. Much time can be wasted in this way, just like figuring out how to get sketchy diagrams to look more professional without any actual graphics design capabilities at all.

My Scan n Cut machine arrived but my initial efforts did not go well. After watching several Youtube video demos, I ordered a replacement sticky mat, a spare blade and a whole gamut of potentially handy items. I wonder if a machine like that should be bought from a shop like a sewing machine dealer where you get after sales training;)

I confess that I was disappointed that BzB did not win any accolades at MQX. I began to doubt myself and wonder if it is not up to scratch for shows in the USA. According to the judging sheet my quilting needs some improvement, as does my colouring in… I have entered it into Road to California so we will have to see if it fares any better there.

I also did what I call a lot of faffing around, deciding what to teach in Germany at the beginning of December, ordered thread cards from Madeira, gathered materials for a possible arty series, looked up the Chinese meaning of “Wu”, and had a go at a couple of blocks for the Fancy Forest quilt.

This quilt has been on my quilt bucket list for a while. I thought it would make a nice, therapeutic background project. Some of the animals have rather a lot of pieces, in fact, rather a lot of tiny pieces. Despite cutting and sewing carefully, I had some issues with accuracy. IF I decide to stick with this rather fiddly project I am going to double the size of the pieces so the animals are twice their normal size and I won’t have to make so many!


I wondered if I would like a background project with bigger pieces so I had a crack at a Victoria Findlay Wolfe DWR. Apart from working out exactly where ¼” from each end is, this was far more satisfying to construct. I wonder whether I should buy some fabric to make myself a whole quilt or whether I should just throw every ugly offcut that I have into the mix.

My Mother asked if I might be able to run up a baby quilt some time in October but I decided to just strike while the iron was hot, grab some stash fabric and run up some 5” squares on a rainy afternoon. A computer pattern called “Candyland” finished it off and a binding was quickly applied. A finished quilt always gives a greater sense of achievement than any amount of admin, research or general faffing about!