Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Joining a Quilt-A-Long

I am going to join the 1930's Farmers Wife Quilt Along!


I am not committing lightly to something that will take about a year but I have been wanting to try this kind of project for a long time now and since I have all the blocks I need (for now) for my Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses Quilt it seemed like a good time to start a new thing. This one is being run by Very Kerry Berry and there are details on her blog

The key thing now is what fabric to do it in. This is the full quilt. 
This image is from Quilting by the Bay who have a block of the month club for the quilt. I did consider something like that but then a crazy thought entered my head. Liberty. Liberty fabrics. But that's crazy. Right? Sheer crazy. I mean...who would even think that. Yep. Too crazy. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Catching Up With My Ickle Niece

I am back on the right side of the pond, which is to say back in England, my England. The view from one of the three trains I got form the airport to my sister's in the south west.
Needless to say, it has rained pretty much non-stop since I arrived. I love it!  I have really missed proper clouds and rain.

I gave Jasmine the i-spy quilt I made her and she took to it immediately.
Another thing she took to was the glitter wand thing I picked up on some shopping trip. I have been hit - mainly in the face - by that thing more times than I can count in the space of 48 hours.

Since I saw her last Jas has started saying phrases and attempting whole paragraphs of conversation. She has a very precise way of saying "Yes" which she combines with "Let's do that" or some other random phrase she's heard someone say and has stuck in her little head. She is just as inquisitive as ever but now, rather than simply emptying and refilling whatever bag she finds, she wants to know what everything is. I thought I might be able to use this to my advantage when she found my EPP pouch.
I explained what all the pieces were as she held each one up and then asked whether she wanted to try sewing. "No" was all I got in response. Very disappointing. I'll keep trying, although possibly using the lace-up cards Jan from SewandSowFarm suggested first.

Yesterday we went into Bath and got Jasmine some new wellington boots - not an easy task since the first pair she tried on caused her to howl with anguish. No doubt that it is not easy being two years old. Fortunately Clarks had some rabbit ones as well as a number of women to measure her feet.
Jasmine wore one of her patent "what's this woman doing to me?" looks through the whole thing but her enthusiasm about the wellies was the real indicator. While paying I asked the woman at the counter whether most children were happy about buying shoes - since when I was young I hated it. She said it was completely random and sure enough, as I got back to Jas and my sister, Jasmine was beside herself with woe because she was once again wearing the wellingtons she'd been so keen on 2 minutes earlier. Luckily by the time we got back to the house she was in love with them again and has hardly taken them off since. I even got an impromptu drawing lesson from her in them.

Today saw us arriving at a family friendly spa in Worcester which is a wonderful place. It's clearly been a country home for a family in the past and the set up is of that ilk circa 1910. Velvet covered sofas cover the ground floor rooms, decked with multiple cushions in all sorts of patterns. A huge carved mahogany fireplace sits nicely with the ornate grandfather clock and bar. I feel like we've done nothing but eat since we've got here although we did go for a swim this afternoon and Jasmine and I explored the large gardens earlier while Sian had a snooze. She got onto a trampoline for the first time and after some hesitancy was bouncing all over the place.
Because the place is aimed at families with small children there are some very nice touches like free milk and the place settings which echo those for the adults.
I am loving it - especially high tea this afternoon.
My sister is not quite as relaxed. There is a listening service so the little one can go to bed and you go back and have your dinner and, perhaps (she says with one at her elbow), a cocktail. However, Sian is convinced it will be Madeleine McCann all over again if she leaves Jas in the room by herself so I will be dining alone tonight. Not that I'll be eating that much. Not after that tea.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Slow and Fast Stitching

It has been a good week on the sewing machine. Yesterday I finished this i-spy blanket for my ickle niece.
The back is the very soft minky fabric I got from with the stars embossed in it. It should be good for cuddling when she's poorly and hopefully she'll enjoy looking at all the different pictures and making up stories about them.

I also finished the top of my latest decorative mat - this one for the chest of drawers in the bedroom.
It needs sandwiching and quilting of course but at least this bit is finished. Those y-seams! I will not be rushing to do that again.

Then my ongoing sewing has been on the blue EPP quilt for my Mum.
I've drawn a line to show how far I have got with the hand quilting.
Clearly I've got a loooong way to go - but I can only do it every other day because it makes my finger tips hurt. Ah! How we suffer for our craft!

Monday, 20 July 2015

The Renegade Craft Fair

From their website...
"Renegade Craft Fair is the world’s pre-eminent series of events showcasing the best and brightest talents from the modern Maker community. It’s a weekend-long celebration of DIY culture; a thoughtfully curated marketplace where shoppers and micro-entrepreneurs make meaningful connections. RCF was the first event of its kind when it was founded in 2003, creating a platform for the underground DIY community to stake a place in the design market on their own terms. 12 years later in 2015, RCF is still the largest and most far-reaching indie-craft fair out there, attracting over 325,000 attendees across 22 events in 8 cities. We currently produce Fairs in Chicago, IL; New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Austin, TX; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and London, UK"

Well this one was certainly quite a size. I thought this building. part of the SF Marina, held the whole thing.
Renegade craft fair, SF
But it turned out it was in both buildings...
Views of SF marina
...with just a little bit of coast in between. As you can see it was an amazing day, with Alcatraz looking rather pretty in the distance.
Views of SF marina

Inside it was busy but not too crowded so there was plenty of room to move about.
Renegade craft fair, SF
There were perhaps 60-80 stands in each building. There was a lot of jewellery - and a lot of that was laser cut or etched - definitely a recurring theme. I think it's fair to say laser cutting is now part of the mainstream. As for the rest....feast your eyes!

Delicious (but expensive) ceramics.
Renegade craft fair, SF
Vintage clobber.
Renegade craft fair, SF
Make your own necklace. I thought this was an interesting idea. The cord was free and you paid for the beads - $5, $10 or $20 each from front to back. But I baulked at the idea of paying £6.50 for a wooden bead half painted.
Renegade craft fair, SF
Planters or trinket dishes inspired my underwater elements. I was tempted by these but the price put me off a bit. These are from Relm Studios.
Renegade craft fair, SF
Gangster jewellery from Brooklyn NY via Snash Jewelry.
Renegade craft fair, SF
Embroidered Cards.
Renegade craft fair, SF
Nail decals from Cha Cha Covers. I really liked the look of these.
Renegade craft fair, SF
These guys were single-handedly trying to bring back the fanny-pack aka a bumbag in the UK.
Renegade craft fair, SF
Pop out wooden sharks, whales and birds from Julio Carreon-Reyes.
Renegade craft fair, SF
There were a lot of cards. I got some of these ones from A Jar of Pickles.
Renegade craft fair, SF

Speaking of what I it is!
Renegade craft fair, SF
The spiral bound books are two of four I got from Ex Libris Anonymous who make notebooks out of old books. All four are going to be xmas presents. The cat brooch and the Makers Gonna Make postcards are from Migration Goods. The screen printed chicken is a tea towel and is from Rigel Stuhlmiller who is a local print maker. The 'count the calories' tea towel is from Nourishing Notes and was part of their food philosophy range. The Dual Tetrahedron is another laser cut and etched pop out thing that you assemble - due to be another xmas present - by Thomas Houha Designs. I also got some food.
The jerky and Candied Bacon Caramel Popcorn are for Pooch while the Brazilian Chocolates (much more like fondant than french-style truffles) are to be "shared".

A month or two back I saw this bag at the MAKE Fair.
Because Ryan Gosling Bag
Today it was this bag.
Renegade craft fair, SF
I kind of hope someone shows that picture to Morrisey one day.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

San Francisco Sports

Although my job is to be 'Executive Assistant' to the CEO I also took on recruitment fairly early on and so now could legitimately call myself a part-time recruiter. My sister does this as a profession and was once bought a brand new Mulberry handbag by one of the recruitment companies she worked with. I hadn't expected to be quite so handsomely courted but I did find myself offered tickets to the baseball last week, and so along I went.
AT&T Park
AT&T Park is just around the corner from where we lived when we first moved here and the crowds on match days (which are about 4 days every fortnight) are something every native San Franciscan learns to avoid while still slurping mother's milk. For this match the SF Giants were playing the NY Mets and there is something of a historical rivalry. It was still very friendly though and I found myself in a sunlit stadium just in time for the game.
AT&T Ball Park Sunshine
The seats were very good and I watched, bemused, as all the pre-match preamble went on. There were bagpipes. There was the presentation of two of those ginormous cheques to charities. There was a big cheer for Firefighters. And then a man from a local church came out and sang the National Anthem. Now this was none of your British operatic warbling - it was more like a soulful baptist sort of thing - and the crowd all stood up and duly assumed the position.
National Anthem at the Baseball
Look at all those arms on chests. Amazing. I had always thought it was a Hollywood thing or possibly something WWE promoted to get people to buy Jack Swagger's t-shirt.
But no, they actually do stand there with their hand on their heart. Amazing. Anyway, after that they suddenly started to "play ball" and off we went.
AT&T Ballpark
It was at this point that I began to wish I had brought an American with me. Baseball, it seems, is a lot like teenagers and television. They like to be in front of it, but they're more likely to be looking at their phones or talking to a friend than watching what is going on. I had NO idea at all about what was happening. I thought the sides swapped when three people went out. But I couldn't spot people going out and it seemed like they were changing sides every couple of minutes on a collective whim. In fact it was a lot like the Mad Hatter's Tea Party where they all had to randomly move to a new place at the table when the butter knife got crumbs on.

I stuck it out for half an hour but then politely made my farewells. I was the richer in terms of experience and more importantly, from a handbag point of view, to the sum of one black hoodie with the company that invited me in small letters on the front and "San Francisco" written large on the back. Printed though, not machine embroidered. Machine embroidered freebies are my goal for the next rung up the recruitment ladder that has that Mulberry handbag waiting for me at the top.

Monday, 13 July 2015

My Own Machine Embroidery Machine!

My birthday vouchers plus some of my hard earned spondoolix means I now have a Brother SE400 which has all the bells and whistles of your average sewing machine but ALSO does a load of machine embroidery. The hoop I have is only about 4" square but that's enough for me for now.

A friend has just had a baby so I decided to make her some bibs but I knew your average baby material wasn't going to suffice. A beloved pair of jeans that has gone paper thin around the cheeks from much use had been put away so I could use the denim for some future project. This is the project that caused me to finally cut into them. I carefully read the manual and was finally ready to try some designs out on a scrap piece.
Trying out my embroidery machine
I am really glad I got the Madeira sample pack of stabilisers as the booklet that comes with it explains exactly which is best for each type of fabric and embroidery, including freehand and hand. I went with a cut-away black and repositionable spray glue for the denim. I had lots of fun fooling about and after a while had this.
Machine embroidery test
If you want to see a video of it in action you will find one here.

Having had a good fiddle about I was ready to go on my bibs and not so much time later I had these two!
Finished Denim Bibs
The "Hey baby!" uses one of the built in fonts and then the heart is another standard design and I just varied the size of each. On the back I used some standard quilting cotton.
Back of bibs
The binding is some red and white hearts I used on my Lucy Boston blocks. I also added plastic poppers allowing it to be fastened in two positions. I saw with my niece's bibs that velcro only gets stuck to other stuff in the washing machine.

There are either 4 or 5 fonts and about 80 built in patterns. I used some of the fonts to make this label for my Hand Pieced Mini Quilt, which is finally finished bar washing.
Machine Embroidered Quilt Label
The label fabric is one lovely Rachel from My Life in Knitwear sent me. I didn't spray the glue well enough to get it evenly stuck down on the stabilisor, hence the puckering. Still looks pretty good though! Here it is on the back of the quilt.
Back of Hand Pieced Mini Quilt
You can also see how I did the border of this one - effectively using more hexagons as a kind of 'binding'. I am pretty happy with how this turned out.
Hand Pieced Mini Quilt
The quilting/embroidery uses sashiko thread and the concentric circles are a very japanese design. It has actually ended up about an inch under the minimum size but I hope no one will complain about that! And having finished that one I have signed up for the Simply Mini Swap on Instagram so another mini will be entering my life soon. My Partner has been quite vague about what she likes so the field is open and I like to use these minis to try new techniques. In this one it was the use of colour but I have a feeling I might use paper piecing (not EPP) for the next so I can get lots of straight lines and angles connecting sharply. We will see!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A Different Approach to Hexagons

I have always avoided Y seams (those angled seams you get such as when you join three hexagons together). At some point in the last month though I seem to have decided the time had come, and so I started cutting out fabric for a runner to go along the top of my chest of drawers.
Hexagon Template for Cutting Out
I started with the trusty free online Hexagon Calculator to work out how many I'd need of which size. Then I drew one and made a cardboard template. My template showed both the outer edge AND the line I was going to sew along. I know you can buy things like this but making your own means it's available to you the instant you want it. Having cut out my hexagons and drawn the sewing lines on the wrong side, I was ready to go!
Hexagon Topper Assembly
It was slow work but I've finished the assembly and am now ready to move on to making the sandwich and quilting it!

Last weekend I was once again cat sitting and Luna was on fine form.
Luna the Cat
Pooch had given me some Godiva chocolates for my birthday and Luna adored the ribbon from the box. Once she'd done with playing we both had a lie down on the sofa.
Luna the Cat on my Lap
This was on my birthday, before Pooch and I went out for dinner, and it really was a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Having a zizz with a cat similarly sleeping on top of you on a lazy afternoon with some nonsense on the telly is really my idea of perfection. I *so* want a cat of my own!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Diamante Delight

I have a fairly good collection of diamante or costume jewellery dating back a century or so. I first started acquiring necklaces for £2 or £3 a time during my A-levels when an antique shop next to the bus stop I got off at when coming back from school started regularly displaying it in its window. Back then I bought pretty much anything they got that was old and sparkly. Now I'm a bit more discerning.

One of those side-effects of working is that they do pay you, so having a fair whack of disposable income for the first time in 18 months I've started occasionally looking at ebay to see what's out there. And I've made two purchases.
Vintage Diamante Necklace
I prefer silver metal but this one caught my eye as, in colour, it resembles another one I wear quite frequently (I collect to wear, not to preserve) and it was a design I hadn't seen before. That upside down horseshoe shape and the triple baguettes where the chain attaches made me think of Art Deco and Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers in Top Hat. Ah, to be Ginger Rogers in that film. Her grace of movement, those dresses, the settings, the romance....ahhhhh. Anyway. The second were being sold as a set but are mismatched and the necklace is actually slightly broken with half the clasp being missing.
Vintage Diamante Necklace, Bracelet and Brooch
Often jewellery like this is sold as being for repair or repurposing because it can break quite easily. Catches and clasps are usually quite easy to repair with some wire or, as a last resort, glue. I haven't done that yet with this necklace but I did wear the brooch and bracelet when we went out for my birthday dinner last night. Actually they paled into insignificance when compared with my most blingy accessory.
Me on my 37th birthday.
Yesterday was my 37th birthday and, since it just so happens that it falls on one of America's biggest celebrations, Pooch and I ventured out for dinner and fireworks. Fog managed to dull the fireworks but not the flashing of my headwear!

Related Posts with Thumbnails