Tuesday, 30 July 2013

It'll Soon Be Christmas

I was very fortunate to be given a charm square pack at the weekend so I decided to make a table runner with it.  I found some very clear instructions by the lady from the Missouri Star Quilt Company on You Tube and set to work.

I began by laying the squares out rearranging them until I was happy with the placement.

Then I stitched them together in rows and pressed them.

I stitched the rows together to make the zigzag runner.

Then I cut some wadding and sheeting fabric for the backing and layered them up.

I sewed around the outside of the runner, leaving a gap for turning, then trimmed the excess wadding and backing fabric and clipped the corners to make it easier to turn right side out.

I turned the quilt the right way out then topstitched all around the outside to make a decorative edging and secure the seams and opening.

Finally I stitched in the ditch to secure all the layers.

The finished table runner, completed in a couple of days.  I think it looks fantastic (it's a bit too long to photograph in one go).

Thank you Dawn for the beautiful gift!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Oh - It's Green!

Today has been a little traumatic but some very good friends have seen me through.  HUGE THANKS go to Sylvia, Sheila and Dawn for their massive contribution to my sanity and their help in reminding me of the colour of the carpet in my craft room.  Love you!

Thursday, 18 July 2013


This is my other half modelling my recently made tea cosy.  Why do men feel compelled to put everything on their head?!!!!

Shortly before the modelling took place he was challenged by someone who shall remain nameless to see how many Maltesers he could fit in his mouth in one go.  This was rather foolish as anyone who can remember the marshmallow incident would attest!

Sadly this was at the end of the evening when a significant proportion of the Maltesers had already been consumed.  Surprisingly no alcohol was involved!

How many?  Just 18 on this occasion.

Saturday, 6 July 2013


Recently I've entered a phase of finishing off various projects.  Some of them have been projects by themselves, others have followed on from other, yet to be completed, projects ...  here are some of them.

We are in the process of installing a new kitchen so I thought it would be fun to make some bunting to decorate it.  I cut all the pennants out for the bunting and stitched them up but I have yet to finish this particular project - I don't think there's too much of a rush, the kitchen has been a while in the making and there's no sign of completion in the immediate future - but having cut the pennants I had a heap of fabric offcuts, the bits between the pennants.  What to do with them?  The fabric was far too good to waste but wasn't very big pieces.  I mused this conundrum over a cuppa one day and hit on the idea of making myself a tea cosy.  A quick search online lead me to a couple of blogs where people had made their own, unfortunately I can't remember where I found them.  I liked the shape of one cosy but loved the design of another so I amalgamated to two and hey presto, my tea cosy was born.  First of all I cut tiny squares from my remnants and stitched them together as a patchwork then oversewed the seams with one of the fancy stitches from my machine.

 I ironed Bondaweb onto some small pieces of fabric and marked a circle on one of the pieces to make the body of my appliqued tea pot then cut a handle and spout.  Once ironed on to the main piece of fabric I quilted steam coming out of the spout.  For this I had to drop the feed dogs on my machine and stitch freehand which was a little big scary and involved quite a lot of unpicking - I must practise more as it's fun to do but requires more skill than I currently have.

The design I liked also featured a motto stitched on a panel at the bottom so I found some offcuts of calico and some space-dyed thread and having marked them in fade-out pen I set to work embroidering the words.

A further search online found a YouTube video which demonstrated an easy way to line a tea cosy then I added a bit of binding to complete the cosy.  I found a ribbon off a box of chocolates we'd treated ourselves to while we were on holiday earlier in the year and stitched this in place which holds the lining in place too but I felt I also needed something to go on the other side.  Inspiration struck when I remembered the Kanzashi gadgets I bought recently.  I used them to make a fabric flower using the tiniest of the remaining offcuts and added a button from my stash.

I am very pleased to have made good use of fabric that would otherwise have been thrown away.  All I need now is to have the kitchen completed and to have some friends drop round for a brew.

The second project I have finished in the last couple of weeks is my second patchwork bag.  Once again the fabric is all leftover from other projects (in this case I'm using up my friend Sylvia's leftovers http://sylvias-ramblings.blogspot.co.uk/) other than the fabric for the straps and binding and the lining fabric which was in my stash although I have no idea where it came from.  I think it's another very stylish bag and it has already been used to transport a quilt-in-making (more about that very soon!)

The final project for now is a rather quirky owl.  He seems to be a bit of a Marmite figure, some people love him, others dislike him with a passion!  I think he's oddly appealing.  He's made up from a kit I bought last year when I was on holiday in Oxfordshire.  I went to Village Fabrics in Wallingford and picked up several of the kits and projects they were selling (see earlier blog entries featuring a quilt and some chickens!).

I think that's all I have to tell you about for now but I'll be back again presently with some more of my projects.  I hope you've enjoyed reading this and I'd really appreciate any comments you'd care to make.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Grand Day Out

Yesterday my friend Janet and I celebrated our unbirthdays.  Our actual birthdays are a week apart in October but what with one thing and another we never seem to find the time to celebrate our birthdays then so we always have a day out some other time.

We set off to London on the train and it wasn't long before we arrived at our first destination, North Greenwich.  The station is right next to the O2 Arena, formerly known as the Dome.  We'd not seen the O2 landside before, our previous trips having been made on the Thames Clipper boats.  We stopped for a coffee then made our way to the Emirates Air Line, the new cable car which crosses the Thames nearby.  Remarkably short of customers for such a new attraction we were able to board a car straight away and were whisked skywards with none of the jolting and lurching I remember of cable cars in the past.  We had a super view over London although it could have been much better if it hadn't been so cloudy.  We could see the Olympic stadium and it's weird knotted-helter-skelter sculpture thing, the Thames barrier, Canary Wharf, City Airport and lots of other landmarks.  http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modalpages/23863.aspx

After our trip on the cable car we decided to board the train once again and go to the Westfield shopping centre at Stratford.  After we'd crossed under the Thames on the Jubilee line we changed to the Docklands Light Railway at Canary Wharf.  This route took us alongside the Olympic park so we were able to see many of the venues.  We exited Stratford station and managed to miss Westfield entirely (we may have been chatting!) and crossed the road to the Stratford shopping centre.  This incorporated a vibrant market (what were all those strange fruits and vegetables and what do you do with them?) and lots of what I'd consider "useful" shops.  I managed to get some dishes I'd been looking for for months while I was there so as it turned out it was a handy detour.  When we left the Stratford shops and crossed over the road again Westfield was directly in front of us, we couldn't miss it this time!  We managed to find a Pizza Express (it took a bit of finding, the shopping centre is vast and not terribly well signed) for some lunch and I picked up some gorgeous fabric in John Lewis' sale but other than that we didn't do any shopping.  Although they had an impressive selection of shops there there wasn't anything that really appealed to Janet and I, there were lots of frou-frou shops with jewellery, expensive underwear or baseball caps (who knew they could be so pricey?!!!).

Shopped out, Janet said she'd like to visit Chinatown so we boarded the train once more and headed into town.  We'd intended to stop at Charing Cross on the way to visit a little ice cream shop I knew at the back of St. Martin in the Fields but when we arrived there it had closed down.  We felt a little bereft as ice cream is a now traditional part of our day out.  We set off on foot towards Chinatown and reached Charing Cross Road where we spied an Italian Cafe with a freezer full of gelati of all flavours.  What was going to be a cone with one scoop grew a little as we struggled to make our choices (see below!)!  Replete we finally made our way along the road to Chinatown where Janet began her quest for a dragon mask or other dragony item.  We asked in several Chinese supermarkets but noone had any.  Finally we spotted some paper dragons in the last supermarket and asked if they were available to buy.  Sadly they weren't, I was quite tempted by them myself as they were so pretty.  We decided it was time to call it a day and headed for the nearest station so we could get home before rush hour began.  We turned a corner and there, right in front of us was a shop with all manner of Chinese trinkets; tea pots, lanterns, costumes, you name it they had it and Janet was able to find what she was looking for so our trek wasn't in vain after all.

Friday, 3 May 2013


For Christmas I was given a lovely Jelly Roll and matching Charm Squares.  The Jelly Roll is currently partially made up into a quilt (more on that some other time) but I couldn't decide what to do with the Charm Squares until I was browsing Amazon one day and came across a pattern for a bag.  Of course this meant buying the book the pattern was contained in but you can never have too many books!  Love... Quilting: 18 Simple Step-by-step Projects to Sew  by
Marion Patterson, Sally Ablett and Sue Warren

On Monday I set to work making my bag.  I found some cotton ticking in my box of random fabrics and had just enough for the project.  Little did I know at the time that I was sickening with 'flu.  I thought it was just an inconvenient sniffle but as it turned out it knocked me for six and I remained in bed all day Tuesday and Wednesday and half of Thursday too.  When I finally felt able to resurface I continued with the bag-making and finished it off today.  I'm really rather pleased with it although it will be interesting to see if it can actually hold any weight!

 The front of the bag with it's co-ordinating button concealing the magnetic clasp underneath.
 The back of the bag.
A bright and cheery fabric for the lining!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

School Puds

Today I was feeling a little nostalgic so I decided to see if I could find a recipe for a school pudding that was a favourite of mine many, many years ago - Chocolate Concrete.  It turns out there are only 4 ingredients required; plain flour, granulated sugar, butter and cocoa and it's ever so easy to make.  Simply put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, melt the butter and combine.  No wonder it was a regular on the menu at my primary school.  I can't imagine why I haven't made it before.

Begin by gathering all the ingredients ...

Melt the butter either in a pan or microwave ...

Measure out all the dry ingredients and combine in a bowl ...

Line a baking tin in readyness ...

Combine the melted butter and the rest of the ingredients.  You can either do this with a spoon or if you don't mind getting messy use your hands ...  Tip the mixture into the baking tin, use the back of a spoon to pack it down and place in an oven ...

When the concrete has cooked take it out of the oven, sprinkle it with sugar, cut it into portions and leave in tin to cool a little.  By the time you've made yourself a cup of tea the concrete will be just right to eat.

To be truly authentic the concrete should be served as an island in the middle of a lake of pink custard with a thick skin on top in a chipped green china bowl.  It will come as no surprise that I scarcely have any unfilled teeth and need to lose weight.  My school has an awful lot to answer for!