Monday, February 29, 2016

Brit Bee Weekender 2016

What took me so long to tell you about our awesome Brit Bee Weekender?  Who knows.  Life gets in the way.  It has been wonderful re-living it all as I write this post :)  Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start: 

I was incredibly lucky to join the Brit Bee weekend hosted Feb 19-21!   Super Susan was kind enough to pick me up from Birmingham airport and bring me to her home on Thursday night.  On Friday morning as she made cake and lasagne (I drank tea) and then pre-cut her projects and packed her stash (I chattered away).  We popped in the car and arrived at our retreat house by early Friday afternoon.  There would be 8 other lovely ladies joining us that evening for a weekend of sewing, chatter, encouragement, a baby shower, a birthday celebration and delicious food.  I was so lucky to be able to join in.  

The house was lovely with one massive living room with dining room and kitchen.  The dining table fit all 10 sewing machines.  They were total work horses...except for my little featherweight.  She stuck out, but sewed like a champ all weekend long.

Joining me were some of my favorite sewing people - Di and Trudi, who make such a wonderful team....

Hadley, Laura and Fiona who were total pros at organizing everyone's quilt top to be balanced with the colors evenly distributed....

and then many other wonderfully funny, smart ladies like Susan, Ceri, Liz, and Ange.   We quickly settled in, threw fabric over every surface and started cutting/sewing.  Thank goodness there was plenty of kitchen counter space for trimming and three or four ironing boards set up through the living space.  We all had plenty of floor room, too, to set out our blocks before piecing tops together.

The total added bonus for me, but not Hadley, was Murphy.  He was a curious, kind, playful one year old pup who was MASSIVE, fluffy and friendly.  When I was missing my own Molly through the weekend, he was happy to have my attention and scratches.

Stay tuned this week and I will tell you about the pretties I made! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Big Stitch Swap Round 2 - Sign Ups Are Open!

I am incredibly excited to announce that the wonderful Sarah and I are hosting a second round of  The Big Stitch Swap.  We are hoping each and every one of you joins in the fun!  The theme of the swap is to include hand stitching of some variety as a significant contribution to the swapped item.  It can be embroidery, hand quilting, appliquĂ©, cross stitch...what ever you like.

What to make, what to make?  Well, our suggestions would be something along the scale of a doll quilt, tablet cover, messenger bag, zippy pouch, notebook cover, cushion/pillow cover or a tote bag.  You get the idea, something that allows enough space to incorporate a stitched motif, or hand quilting design. But not too big.  The only guideline is that your hand stitching has to be a significant portion and focal point of the item's design.  

The mini I made last round for Leanne - cross stitching and all.

Want to join in?  The swap is open to 50 people including myself and Cindy. It will be hosted on Instagram, so you will need to have a public account there - sadly, we cannot accept quilters with private profiles as we will not be able to see your progress pics etc. If you want to join, hop over and fill out the entry form here.  We will then secretly assign partners.  Know that your partner is not necessarily making an item for you. While you are waiting for your partner assignment,  start thinking about an inspiration mosaic, which you will need to post on Instagram.

The STUNNER of a pouch that I received from the amazing Ali in the first round.

The swap timeline is as follows:
- Signups open today (24nd Febrary) and will close on 1st March or when we reach 50 participants.
- Partner assignments will be distributed by 9th March
- If you haven't already done your inspiration mosaic, you will need to have it posted by 11th March
- Posting dates are from 24th - 28th April, giving you 6 weeks to stalk your partner, make something lovely and parcel it up ready to send off.
- Swap extras are limited to cards/postcards and a small selection of scraps and/or notions (eg. buttons, zippers, beads etc) 

A hoop might work for your partner.
As usual, we ask that everyone actively participate on Instagram by posting inspiration mosaic, commenting on photos and posting WIP pics etc.   If you have any questions before you sign up, please do ask!  Better to ask before you sign up than only makes our lives more difficult to find a substitute if you drop out.We are asking people to indicate what level of sewing skills they have so that we can match people as best as possible to someone of a similar level.

Very few things make me happier....
As always, can we ask you to please only sign up if you can commit to the swap deadlines. There is nothing more disappointing in a swap than your partner going awol and not receiving anything after you putting your heart and soul into making your item for someone else.

We do hope you join us!  This will be so very fun!

Thursday, February 18, 2016


I think we are finally nearing the end!  I have added onto the medallion the latest border of flying geese with pretty star corner blocks.  I found making that last border quite meditative - pretty fabrics, a perfect pattern to follow and it fit precisely on the existing medallion (thank goodness!).  Paper piecing is so rewarding.   

I think you can also see that I started to add on the skinny scrap border.  I have it attached to three sides, but ran short on the last edge.  Grrrr....   

Here's the question, folks.  There will be one more border added of a singular fabric, like the navy, green or red you see already.  What fabric would you go with?  I was thinking orange, but orange is a strong color in the center on point block.  Yellow?  Suggestions absolutely welcome, folks!  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Coming Soon: Big Stitch Swap Round 2

That's right!  Keep your eyes open.  A second round of the Big Stitch Swap will be starting before the end of the month.  Organized by the wonderful Sarah and I, there will be spaces available for another 48 people to join in.  The idea is that each participant will make something small (think mini quilt, zippy pouch, iPad cover) that involves hand stitching as a significant contribution to the swapped item.  It can be embroidery, hand quilting, cross stitch...what ever floats your boat!  Get your thinking caps on and we'll be back shortly with details on dates and a registration form.  Woo hoo!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sew Portable Travel Set

Although I had clear plans in mind of what I wanted to do this weekend to prep for a sewing retreat (pull fabric, download patterns, cut a bit...)  it was all thrown out the window Friday afternoon when I found this pattern: Sew Portable Travel Set by Jeni Barker.  Stop. The. Press.  

You know how it is when the perfect pattern finds you at the perfect time?  It is hard to do anything other than sew.  You see, this sewing retreat will be the first adventure for my new Singer Featherweight.  Meet Thimbelina.  She is a special girl who is up there in age, but sews like a mouse's heart.  She needs to travel in style and here was the perfect travel set for her.   I downloaded the pattern, drove home and dove into the shop's stock of Purebred.  I was only waiting for an excuse, really.  

The bag is a sturdy one, with reinforced corners, layers of batting and heavy weight (hidden) canvas and a solid wood bottom to take her weight.  The straps are belting prettied-up with coordinating strips of Purebred.  Quite straight forward, really.  This portion of the pattern was beautifully written with very clear instructions and super photos.  It was a joy to make.

Little Thimbelina fits inside perfectly with a little room to spare.  Jeni B is using her bag alone to carry her machine, but I am hoping that I can still fit the machine in her little case (to protect her in travel) and then inside the bag. The bag will offer a welcome set of handles when I really do not trust the one on the ancient case that came with her.  

Also included in the pattern is a draw string bag that perfectly fits the foot pedal and cords.  It is super.  Until now, mine have lived next to Thimbelina in the base of the case.  I have worried they will scrape the paint, but now they are safe and sound.  If you do buy this pattern, pay attention to the instructions making this bag.  Although Jeni B clearly states how to orient your directional fabrics to ensure the lining is right side up, I (being a picture girl) followed the diagram and now have upside down lining.  It is only me that will see it and I do not mind enough to rip it apart and fix it.  Just wanted to give you a heads up to follow the text and not the figure.

Finally, there are instructions to make a little quilted cover to protect the folding extension table from the metal screw on the front of the machine.   This is a wonderful solution.  I was quite jazzed when I read about it in Jeni's blog post.  

The only problem is that it does not fit my machine!  I guess Jeni's does not have a wedge support on the bottom.  With luck there was a tutorial posted today on IG to create this exact cover with a wedge/triangular side.  I will pop that on my do-do list for the retreat.  I am not sure what I will do with the little pouch I have now, though.  Pop a button hole in there and use it for the manuals?  I would need to install a zip to hold thread and bobbins.   I'll keep thinking.  

All in all it was a super pattern.  I am delighted with what I have made and can not wait to take it all with me next weekend.   I will leave you with a photo of Miss Molly, my photographic assistant.  She has just turned three and is looking all grown up to me....the little cutie.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Time To Stop Faffing....

 ....and get serious about sewing the goose border for my medallion quilt.  I had all of my focus fabric and most of my LV charms cut out last week.  I have my paper piecing templates printed and ready to roll.  I just needed a bit of time to dust off my reversed-piecing-guided-by-sunlight skills.   Time to settle in mentally.

This past weekend I dove in and pieced geese like a maniac.  I had a small bit of help...or distraction...or spot quality inspections.  It's good he's cute.

After a day and a half I had 19 of my templates finished and five remaining.  Now that's real progress - enough to keep me motivated to finish off those last few in no time at all.

I am 100% jazzed about they are coming together.  Paper piecing makes those points extra pointy, which I love.  The color in this photo doesn't do the focus fabric justice - stinkin' winter sun.  They are bright, saturated and shine with the LV background.  De-lighted. 

Although I am not looking forward to pulling the paper out of the back, I can not wait to stitch these together into rows.   Do you think we'll have a finished medallion top next week?  Here's hoping!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sewin' Scraps

It is so satisfying, isn't it?  Digging though your scrap bin, finding little tiny scraps and chain piecing them together willy nilly.  I love it.  It's quite peaceful.

I have three borders remaining in my medallion quilt.  The flying geese (which are coming along!), followed by a thin 3/4 inch scrappy border and then a wider (2-3 inch) border in block color.  The scrappy border seemed like a quick and easy project to take on in evenings after work last week.

I stitched together anything 1 inch - 3 inches long by 1.5 - 2 inches wide until I had a chain 240+ inches long.  I trimmed the whole thing to 1 1/4 inches wide to finish at 3/4 inches in the quilt.  There are some of my absolute favorite fabrics included in this border by using scraps that would be too small for me to use in any other project.  They make me so happy popping up like little pieces of confetti.

One of three remaining borders finished and ready to assemble.  Check!  Now back to focusing on those geese....

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