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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday Sewing

I’ve been making the most of a lazy Sunday at home, assembling my candle-wick blocks. It’s been a matter of getting up and down and walking from the sewing machine, to the ironing board, to the cutting board, and back again.   All this exercise must count for something, I hope.  I admit that I started the blocks for this UFO way back in 1999 (gulp, I’ll just say that quickly).  But now this project has made it to number four on my List of Six UFOs, things are moving nice along.

Although the blocks had been hidden away for such a long time,  I didn’t choose the sashing fabrics till early this year.  I wanted a bit of colour between the plain cream blocks, and this is what I purchased.

Sashing fabrics

So far I’ve cut to my blocks to size, and that certainly had me busy with the tape measure and scratching my head for a wee while.  But my measurements all seemed to work out so I’ve now added two blocks to the top and bottom of the centre panel.  Next step is to assemble four blocks and attach them to each side.  If I keep at it tonight, I just might get one side on shortly.

Centre blocks

Leader and ender sewing has been taking place too, I’m pleased to say, and look at this lovely little bunch of strip pieced neutral blocks I’ve made during the week.  These are for another project waiting in the  wings, but every little bit helps, I feel.

String pieced leader and ender sewing

It's Monday tomorrow – so you know what that means.  I get to roll the dice again and see what the new week brings.  Hope everyone had a productive weekend too.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A little Stitching then a little ripping out

Many stitchers have dabbled in candle-wick stitching in the dim, dark past it seems.  As I did, many years ago, before my blocks got packed away in the wardrobe.   It is nice, easy stitching, and can get as creative as one likes.  I never mastered any of the more creative stitches, such as satin or feather stitch, so my blocks are very simply sewn indeed.  My designs came from two books I have by Alma Schwabe, and I chose romantic designs featuring hearts, flowers, birds and the occasional butterfly.


Then I stitched a pre-printed mini “Ribbons and Lace” with my candle-wicking thread.  The idea was to use this as the centre of my quilt, and arrange my other twelve blocks around the outside.


Ribbons and Lace panel for the middle

And that’s where my candle-wick project has reached a bit of a stand still.  I added a couple of borders around the centre panel, and decided that one has been cut too wide.  So I’m going to sit on my comfy chair, stitch ripper in hand, and remove them, while the torrential rain is beating on the roof.  Unpicking is not much fun, so I’ll probably need a coffee too.  But it is no use continuing if I’m not happy with how this project looks, is it?  Hopefully, I’ll have more to show for my efforts tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Candle-Wick Blocks

This week the roll of the dice brought up number four, my candle-wick blocks from long ago.  How long ago, you may well ask?  Way, way back in the distant past, these were started in 1999!  We were planning a three month trip to England, and I wanted to take a little something to do.  After driving around places of interest all day, walking through castles, and admiring stone circles, the idea was that I could relax in the B&Bs each night with a little hand stitching.  So I traced some some designs onto plain homespun, packed needles and threads to take with me.


There is nothing fancy about my stitching, and I can only do back stitch and knots, but I’m happy with that.  I love the simplicity of this sort of stitching, and I managed to stitch my way through quite a few of my blocks while were were travelling around the UK on our wonderful holiday.  Some nights I stitched, and some nights I was too tired, but it didn’t really matter – the blocks were there if I wanted to work on them.

I continued my stitching when we returned home and then everything got packed away and forgotten.  Then finally, my candle-wick blocks were taken out of oblivion, and added to The List of Six UFOs.  At long last they have their chance to finally become more than just a pile of lonely little blocks.


The first job to do of course was to wash them in hot water, dry and press the blocks – already done now.  Then I will need to cut them all to size and decide how I want to assemble them all.  I think I’ll do that step tomorrow.  How exciting, this is almost classed as a new project, and it is certainly time to start working on these blocks again, after all that time!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Have I caught up yet?

I’ve been trying very hard to catch up with things, and I’ve done quite well over the weekend.  With a flurry of finishes lately, (sorry, couldn’t resist a little brag), I’ve finally written each project up, printed them out and filed away in my quilt documentation folder.  I like to add snippets of the fabrics used in each project too, and it is so nice to look back through my books.  It’s so easy to let this step slide – a bit like not getting a label on your quilt.  And I’ve already mentioned to Robin that if I end up as a confused old lady in a rest home, my quilt folders must come with me!  If I happen to lose my short term memory, surely looking through my folders will help me remember happy quilting times.

With two new quilts on hand, it was time to ring the changes.  International Maples is now hanging over one of the couches in the lounge, and looking good, I must say.

International Maples

And as my grown-up granddaughters have assured me that they won’t having babies anytime soon, the Little Letters quilt I made for the next generation is now hanging up in my sewing room.  I may as well enjoy the bright colours myself for a while as I’m waiting to become a great-grandmother.  So down came my hand stitched pink and green angel quilt to be replaced with the ABCs.  It certainly adds a splash of colour to the room.

Hanging in my sewing room

Another bit of catching up was dealing with long overdue letters to my quilty overseas penfriends.  Sadly, I’ve been so caught up with my medical woes over the last few months that I’ve missed birthdays and neglected my penfriends appallingly.  That’s six letters written, and ready to post, so I’ve caught up on that job.  Not everyone emails, and I feel it is so nice to get a real letter in the mail box.

The weekend weather hasn’t been at all nice, so I had a pot of soup bubbling away on the stove.  Something a little different, cauliflower and potatoe, flavoured with cooked bacon and grated cheese.  Robin gets to use the wand in the soup pot to blend it all nice and smooth, as I can’t be trusted not to lift it out while it is still going – I’ve been known to get soup splattered everywhere!

Tasty soup for lunch on a cold day

So that’s what I’ve been doing this weekend, looks like I’ve caught up with things quite well.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Almost there with the Horse Quilt

I’m really pleased with how the horse quilt I’m making as a surprise gift for my grand-daughter Emma is coming along.  The last rows of blocks have been stitched together and added to the top and bottom  of the quilt – two rows at each end.  And I can’t believe it – I’ve got a pile of nine patch blocks over!  Probably because I sewed and sewed like a quilter possessed when I started this project.  Guess I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough.

Two rows of blocks added to top and bottom

There is lots of variety in the black and grey fabrics used in this quilt top.  Some lovely batiks, which are always so nice to work with.  Fabrics with writing, dots, spots and swirls, and I used up some pieces of a few older fabrics which got thrown in to the mix as well.  And I like the way that the raspberry sashing gives the sombre palette a bit of a lift. 

As I’ve used plain black homespun as the centre square of each nine patch block, I’ve decided to use this fabric to border the quilt.  So I will have to carefully measure the width and length to make sure the border fabric fits correctly.  Not sure if I will get this last step finished this weekend though.

We had a busy day out on Friday, had shopping and chores to do, driving around all over the place.  Then later in the day, when all the items were finally ticked off our long list, we stopped at Butlers Chocolate CafĂ© for a hot drink.  I chose a delicious cup of hot chocolate, of course, while Robin wanted coffee.  The attendant told me that each hot drink came with a complimentary chocolate and which ones would I like?  What a thing to ask me – someone who has trouble making a decision – procrastination should be my middle name!  After dithering around I finally made my choice.  Yes, could we have two double chocolate ones please.  Those little morsels were just divine, and a lovely finish to our busy day out.

Get your chocolate fix here

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sew Wots meet again

Our Sew Wot ladies met on Tuesday and the morning started with birthday gifts for Moira.  Small gifts came thick and fast, and she had a lovely time opening the parcels.  Moira actually celebrated her birthday a couple of weeks ago, but a few of us, myself included, couldn’t attend the previous get-together. 

Happy Birthday to Moira

Everyone must have been very busy as there was Show and Tell coming from all directions.  That’s my Maple Leaf quilt in the background, and Heather E was proudly displaying her hexagon quilt on the carpet.

The ladies admiring recently finished quilts

Moira’s mystery quilt had just come back from being commercially quilted, and Luchelle had done a wonderful job.  Using different Kaffe Fasset fabrics around the border is a lovely touch to this design.

Moira’s mystery quilt

The knitters had been busy too.  Carol had made several tiny sets of beanies and matching booties for premmie babies at Neo Natal.  And Rae has now knitted two cosy woollen beanies for Pam’s son Peter.

Carol and Rae with their knitting

What quilter wouldn’t love to have this?  Heather E had a panel of quilty sayings tucked away, so combined them with lots of colourful squares to make this beauty.

Made by Heather E

And our hostess, Heather B, had been really busy too.  She has called her pastel quilt “UFOs United”, as she combined lots of different blocks to make this pretty quilt.  And the striking circles on the dark background is being made for her grand-son’s 21st birthday.

Two quite different quilts by hostess Heather B

Heather B’s grand-daughter Naomi was staying for the school holidays and proudly showed us the winter nightgown she has just made.  That will keep her toasty warm at night.  With her Gran being a quilter, I’m sure there was plenty of help on hand if she got stuck. 

Naomi and her winter nightgown

Naomi had helped prepare the morning tea, including icing and decorating the banana cake.  No wonder one of the hubbies says we should be called “The Eat-Alots” instead of “The Sew Wots”.

Morning tea is served

The black cat of the household wasn’t worried about a houseful of ladies noisily chatting away, he was happily curled up in his basket by the fire.  He earns his keep, Heather told us, and recently brought home a rabbit!


It was another lovely morning meeting up with the Sew Wots, good company, lots of Show and Tell, and a delicious morning tea.  And most of us even managed to do a little stitching.  What could be nicer?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hello again, Horses

It is nice to say hello again to the horses and UFO number 5, which I am making for my grand-daughter Emma, and  came up on the dice roll today.  It’s been a wee while since this quilt surfaced, and I’m pleased the number rolled around again.

There are different horse breeds featured on this quilt

The middle portion had been previously sewn together over the last few months, so now I just need to add a couple of extra rows to the top and bottom of the quilt.  So today I pinned, sewed then pressed two rows.  Next I need to add a line of sashing strips at the bottom of each row of blocks before attaching them at the top of the quilt.

Stitching another two rows together

As an avid “leader and ender” fan, I’m also using a pile of half square triangles (from another project which hasn’t made the UFO list yet) at the beginning and end of my stitching.  But it really doesn’t matter how long I’ve been doing this quilting business, I still make mistakes.  Can you see what I’ve done?

Spot the mistake

After carefully drawing a line across the squares, I then sewed along the line on the top four squares – I had stitched along the cutting line.  Instead, of course, each side of the drawn line, as I’ve done on the bottom squares.    Luckily there are only four small blocks to unpick and re-stitch.  That’s why I’ll never be an award winning quilter!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Just a little sewing this week

Although I’m keen to get cracking on UFO number 2, I’ve not had too much spare time for sewing this week.  My excuse?  Two trips to the hospital, and three days (Thursday to Sunday) away in the caravan. Read about our weekend away here and here.  Brrr, the weather was cold, and the wind was fierce and seemed to cut through us.  But I spent a happy hour or so quietly working on a stitchery block.

But I’m pleased that I did manage to complete the quilting on the back portion of my new stitchery tote bag, and construct the handles, during the week.  So that is one step nearer, I feel.  Looks like I haven’t rubbed all those chalk marks off properly!

Back panel for the bag all quilted

Now I have the excitement of Monday morning to look forward to, when I roll the dice again to choose which UFO from the List of Six will get my undivided attention for the week.  Mmmm, wonder which number it will be?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What’s next on the List?

With a finish on Sunday, it was time to shake the dice and see what I’m working on this week.  And it is UFO number 2, a new addition to the List of Six UFO items. 


Several years ago I received this pretty stitchery panel from my penfriend Carol, who lives half a world away from me in South Dakota.  I had already gathered up the rest of supplies to finally turn this into a tote bag, and today was the day to start.

Ready to turn into a tote bag

Carol had stitched me such a lovely design, a pretty quilt shop.  Who wouldn’t want to go shopping here? I’m going to use the blue floral fabric for the back of the bag and the handles, and use the pink for the bag lining.  What do you think of that?

The first thing to do is quilt up the blue fabric (with wadding and backing) so it will be ready to construct the back of the bag.  So far I’ve ironed the blue fabric, pinned the three layers together, and marked out some quilting lines with chalk.  Then I’ll have to find my walking foot, and get quilting!

With another finish in the weekend, the UFO List of Six now contains 3 quilts and 3 smaller items.
No 1:  Caravan quilt
No 2:  Stitchery tote bag
No 3:  Winter Welcome wall hanging
No 4:  Candlewick quilt
No 5:  Black/grey horse quilt
No 6:  Caravan place mats and apron (replacing completed duvet cover)

So that is what has been happening in my household, each week I get to roll the dice to pick which project I get to work on for the week.  And I must say, this system is working great for me!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Another Finish

Another week – and another UFO finish!  Although I didn’t finish my mega churn dash duvet cover till early last evening (Sunday) so the light was not good enough for photos.  But here’s a couple of Monday photos, although I’m claiming it as a finish for last week.

Duvet cover on the clothesline

I added a strip of the pretty green, blue and lavender, speckled with gold fabric down the two sides, and across the bottom, where it hides the button fastening. 


We always have a quilt on top of the duvet, (I am a quilter, after all) during the day anyway, although we do remove the quilt when we go to sleep in the warmer months.  So the new duvet cover won’t really be seen too much.  I’m pleased I persevered and made it, although it was a bit difficult manipulating all that fabric.  But as I said earlier, I really wanted to try out the mega churn dash design, and yes, it really is mega.  And the green fabric was just sitting in my stash, waiting for inspiration to strike.

The really nice thing I got out of this project (wrestling with all that fabric doesn’t count) was discovering that the old white sheet I was recycling for the back had quite a family connection.  The name “Briggs” was marked onto one edge, which happens to be Robin’s Mum’s maiden name.  We can only suppose that Bonnie cleared out her parents linen cupboard when they passed away and took the extra linen home with her.    As I did when Robin’s Mum passed away.  And I stitched 15 pyjama buttons on the button band, digging into mother-in-laws button collection which I now have in a big jar.  Perhaps they were snipped off and saved from Robin’s outgrown pyjamas when he was a little boy?  That’s what I like to think, anyway.   

And no – I doubt if I’ll ever make another duvet cover again.  Once was enough for me!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Mega Churn Dash–almost there

I’m not quite finished, but several steps closer to the finish line with my mega churn dash duvet cover.  So that’s exciting.  Today I’ve added facings for the closure.  And – first time with this machine, (how many years have I owned it?)  worked out how to make button holes.  And here I am, stitching away merrily on the button band.

Yes, I can stitch buttonholes!

Mind you, this all came about after I carefully  read the instruction book, found the buttonhole sliding foot, and pressed the correct button on the machine.  I then carefully did a practise one on similar fabric to make sure I knew what I was doing!  And then, concentrating very hard while the machine cleverly sewed down one side and back the other, the button holes were born.  Phew!  Don’t know if my efforts would get a pass mark from the judges on The Great British Sewing Bee, but they are good enough for me!

How to stitch button holes

With that behind me, I then spent a very pleasant time sitting at the dining table with sunshine streaming in, sewing buttons on the button band.  I found just what I needed in the big jar of buttons.  Most of them coming from mother-in-law’s collection which I acquired after she had passed away.

Plenty of buttons here

That’s all I’m doing today, I’ve decided.  Tomorrow I’m going to add fabric panels to the sides and base of the duvet cover.  I think I know how to go about it.  As I’ve said before -  I’m making this up as I go along.

Buttons and buttonholes added, nearly there now

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Mega Churn Dash

A new week, and a new roll of the dice – the number of my UFO project this week is 6.  Which is the mega churn dash duvet cover.  Oh good, that project hasn’t been chosen much lately.  So far, I had stitched that giant churn dash together, making the top of a new duvet cover.

Top of the duvet cover

But a duvet top isn’t much good without the backing, so that’s what I was wrestling with today.  Using an old sheet, I carefully measured it against the duvet top, and you’ve guessed it, not quite big enough.  So I pieced and added extra fabric down one side.  That’s an awful lot of fabric to be dealing with and made me wonder why I was bothering.  Yes, I know that I could probably go out and buy a new duvet cover  without all this hassle.  But the answer is that I wanted to try the mega churn dash design,and had the pretty green fabric to make it with.  And think how pleased I’ll be when it all comes together!

Adding a little extra width to the backing

As it turns out, the old white sheet I’m using is practically an antique.  The name “Briggs” was marked onto one edge, which happens to be Robin’s Mum’s maiden name.  We can only suppose that Bonnie cleared out her parents linen cupboard when they passed away and took the extra linen home with her.    As I did when Robin’s Mum passed away.  No one else in the family wanted anything much from Bonnie’s linen cupboard, so I took some old sheets home with me to possibly use as quilt backings.  I’ll be sure to include this snippet of information when I write up my quilt documentation.


I haven’t really got much to show for my couple of hours in the sewing room today, but in reality I’m one small step further on.  I should be able to do more work on the duvet cover during the week, all going well.  So watch this space.

With several UFO projects crossing the finishing line over the last few weeks, the List of Six now has some new additions.

Number 1:  Caravan quilt
Number 2:  Stitchery tote bag
Number 3:  Welcome winter cottage wall hanging (replacing maple leaf quilt)
Number 4:  Candle wick quilt
Number 5:  Black/grey horse quilt
Number 6:  Duvet cover

Numbers 2, 3 and 4 have not yet been called up, so they are still a bit of a mystery to you all.  Not to me though, I know they have been there all the time, lurking in various secret places!

Things are moving ahead with three new additions, and three old favourites.  It’s always exciting to see what number the dice calls up each week.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

International Maples–finished.

I’m on a roll – three, no, make that four finishes in three weeks!  Can you tell I’m feeling rather pleased with myself?  Mind you, three of these four finishes were partially/almost completed, but it’s still a great feeling.

I’ve just finished putting the last stitches in the hanging sleeve of International Maples.  Like most of my UFOs this one has been hanging about for a while.  Way back in 2000 I took part in an international block swap organized by Morgan of Down Under Quilts (DUQ) Internet quilt group.  The idea was to stitch a maple leaf block using fabrics which related to your home country.

An arty outdoors photo

I have used seven large maple leaf blocks, and two sets of four little ones in my quilt.  The blocks arrived from Australia, New York, Ontario, Alberta, Indonesia, plus mine made with a New Zealand inspired batik.  Sadly, over such a long time, I have misplaced the names and origins of the other blocks. 

The blocks languished in a bag for quite a while, until I finally decided to “just do it” and assemble them.  The quilt top was then layered and pinned, and was added to my UFO List of Six when I decided to get serious about my indecent number of UFOs.  And finally, it’s finished.

International Maples

Cowboys and lassos from Calgary, and autumn colours and squirrels from Adirondack Mtns

Batik fabric from Indonesia

And from the Swap Hostess, who lives in Adelaide, Australia, who chose to make four small blocks.  The pale block features motifs from the indigenous Aborigine people, and the green fabric shows the outline of Australia and the Southern Cross star constellation.  The grape fabric acknowledges the world famous Australian wine, and the floral block features some of Australia’s unique wild flowers.

And from the Swap Hostess, who lives in Adelaide, Australia

I am thrilled with my finish, and feel the quilt turned out wonderfully well with all the different fabrics glowing against the black background.  I machine quilted in the ditch around all the blocks and sashing strips.  And then, with a little trouble as I'd forgotten how to go about it, I free motion quilted veins in all the maple leaves using variegated thread. That gave some texture to the blocks.   Many thanks to all the quilters who took part all those years ago.