Sunday 24 January 2016

Not a great week for posting.

Last week was a bit of a disaster. First I developed a bad cold and that made working difficult. I had three full days teaching booked and no one to cover for me so I taught short days and gave the students reading to do. Next my younger brother, who has been suffering with weakness in his legs and numbness in his fingers found out that his spinal cord is being compressed at neck level. He needs surgery and that will happen between now and early march. Finally I managed to lose some important files on my computer so had to spend hours recreating them. The outcome of all that was no time to stitch or be creative. In addition my cold made me very tired so I've been sleeping a lot which is great because it make you feel better but not useful when there is a pile of things that have to be done and you just fall asleep. 

Anyway whinge over. This weekend John and I had planned a trip to Bath and to the wetland centre at Slimbridge. We headed out of London on the M4 at about 5 pm on Friday so we caught the rush hour traffic but the journey itself was OK and we found our motel easily. It didn't have a restaurant attached so we walked into the village and found a great pub called The Woolpack. I decided to have the fish and triple fried chips. The piece of fish was enormous but delicious.

John had sea bass with pesto infused mash potato and vegetables. The mash was delicious and I will be making it at home.

On Saturday we headed to Midsomer Quilting. I knew they sell Kona solids and I wanted a couple of yards of snow. I also wanted to look for red and gray fat quarters.  I've posted these pictures of Midsomer Quilting before so I didn't take any new photos of the shop itself

On the window sill I discovered this lovely display of nativity figures.

 There were also christmas figures.

and various animals.

They all had one thing in common. Each piece had a quilt block or several quilt blocks on them. It made a beautiful display.

Having made my purchases we headed into Bath and here I visited another quilt shop, Country threads. Between the two shops I spent a little money and came home happy. I bought some gloves for quilting, and I had been looking for a 1/4inch bias binding maker to use for applique for a while.

As well as the Kona snow I also bought these fat quarters. Not very exciting but just what I need to go with fabric I've already got for a couple of projects I'm working on.

Late Saturday we drove to another hotel nearer Slimbridge and we spent a quiet evening catching up with some reading.

Today we spent several hours bird watching. Fortunately the day was fairly warm so it was an enjoyable experience. I didn't take many pictures as we were watching the birds through John's scope and the binoculars. As we don't have the attachment for the camera the pictures wouldn't have shown a lot. I did take a picture of one happy husband  who'd enjoyed his day immensely.

The drive home was uneventful and Picasso and Scamp were very pleased to see us. This evening I've felt tired from the driving so I haven't touched my stitching but I have finished a book. One of my goals for 2016 is to read more. When we went away at the beginning of December I bought 'The kiss of death XO' by Jeffery Deaver in a second hand book shop. I wanted something light to read in the evening but I hadn't got round to finishing it. I finished the book whilst enjoying an early morning cup of tea on Saturday. I have several half read books on my kindle so I'm hoping to finish another book before the end of the month.

Having not seen any news over the weekend I have just been shown the pictures of the snow in America. I hope you are all safe, well and warm. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Take care of yourselves especially if you have to go out.


Monday 18 January 2016

Quilting with monofilament

Yesterday evening I got on with stitching the binding down on the baby quilt and sewing in the remaining ends from the quilting. When I started quilting it I decided to use monofilament as the top thread because I couldn't decide on an appropriate colour thread to go with the scrappy blocks. I chose a clear monofilament and set up the machine. I had a small square of quilt sandwich to practice on and with a little fiddling around the tension was great so I made a start on the quilt. All the quilting I did that day worked really well..... well some of my lines have a slight wobble to them but otherwise it was good. When I sat down later in the evening I decided to do a search on google about stitching with monofilament and I learnt a lot.
YLI Invisible Nylon Thread, Clear

Monofilament is a very fine thread and can be made from nylon or polyester. It is really down to personal choice but most of the blogs I read preferred nylon. You can also get it as clear or smoky. I had chosen clear. You need to take care when choosing your thread and make sure it is made by a reputable manufacturer such as YLI, Sulky or superior threads which will ensure the thread is very fine and pliable and feels really soft. It should also break easily as if it doesn't it can cut through the fibres on the quilt top, not something you want to happen after all your hard work to make it.

Without having done any research I had bought a reel of clear YLI nylon thread. It felt soft and was incredibly fine When I was setting the tension I found I needed to reduce the thread tension - this is because the thread will stretch. I also found I needed to reduce my needle size a little because the thread was so fine. I used my usual 50 wt  cotton quilting thread in the bobbin. This combination worked well.

I had put my cone of YLI  onto the upright thread pin of my machine purely because of the size of the cone. I found out this was the right thing to do. The spools made by the reputable manufacturers are straight wound so putting it in the upright position the thread comes off without twisting. Cones are usually cross wound and the thread needs to be lifted off the top of the cone to avoid twisting possibly using a cone stand similar to what I have for my overlocker machine.

With the rest of the quilting I had a few times when the thread broke but this didn't cause any serious problems. All in all I enjoyed trying a new technique and I love the final effect. I'm also using the monofilament to quilt my nine patch quilt.

I'm loving the way the quilting is looking.

If you haven't tried monofilament thread I would encourage you to try it on a suitable project as it could give you just the effect you are looking for.

Tonight I'm playing with my 1 1/2 inch scrappy squares as I have an idea in my head for a small quilt. I'll show you what I'm planning tomorrow.


Sunday 17 January 2016

Just hand stitching left

This morning was very cold and there was still some snow on the cars. I'm reliably informed it started snowing at about 1.30 this morning and at times was fairly heavy but by this morning it had all but gone. That's generally the story of snow here in London. Anyway I had a plan to finish the quilting on the baby quilt and snow and cold wasn't going to stop me. I settled at my machine and kept on going until the last of the quilting was finished then I added the binding. I still have ends to sew in as well as stitching the binding but that is all handwork so I can make myself comfortable with a good movie on the TV and just stitch away.

This was a great pattern for using up a load of scraps plus you can just about see the wave pattern quilting which I did for the first time. The quilt will go in the wash once I've finished the hand stitching as the air erasable pen I used to mark the quilting lines hasn't fully erased. Picasso also came running in from outside earlier and left muddy paw prints on it. I was in a rush to take this photo as Picasso has been trying to bite the binding clips, so I apologise for the angle.

I was really pleased to receive these clips from Richard this Christmas. They are making stitching the binding much easier and I'm enjoying not stabbing myself with pins.

Having trimmed the quilt this morning I left it neatly folded on a chair whilst I went and prepared my binding. When I finished that and was ready to attach the binding I found that Scamp had taken over the quilt and made himself comfortable including hiding his rawhide bone under it.

Scamp wasn't pleased when he got told to move. Both Scamp and Picasso seemed annoyed that I was sewing and Picasso decided to keep a very close eye on the goings on at the sewing machine.

Picasso can be very helpful and had just picked the bit of fluff you can see from the needle. 'Humph you're purrfectly hopeless at keeping this machine neat and tidy. I don't know how you'd cope without me..ow. Remember I'm watching you'

So lots of hand stitching this evening. I've been working on the christmas tree cross stitch. I decided to continue working on the sky so that the stitching I'd completed was worked down from the top. I do have to admit I'm bored of stitching in blue.

I'm really pleased with the progress of this piece but I must put some work into the millennium sampler as this is one of my goals for the year and preferably the first quarter of the year.

This week I'm only in work for three days so I'm hoping to get some of the quilting done on the nine patch quilt. So far January is looking good. I should have a finish by the end of the week and if I'm really lucky I should be able to finish the 9 patch.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching Why not visit and see what everyone is doing.


A little progress.

This week has been a busy work week with no time to get on with the quilting but I have managed a little work on my cross stitch every night. Today was supposed to be a long day with the machine so I could complete the quilting on the baby quilt and maybe even add the binding. That was my plan when I went to sleep last night but this morning I woke up with a screaming migraine which took ages to tame so it was quite late on this afternoon before any sewing was done.

I'm now about 3/4 of the way through the quilting and provided there are no more unexpected happenings I should finish that tomorrow. I was going to prepare the binding this evening but I decided it could wait another day. The quilting is looking good and I'm pleased I tried a different pattern. It is a lot slower than an all over meander but it looks a lot prettier.

I also spent some time making my blocks for the rainbow scrap challenge. This month's colour is blue and I had decided to make granny square blocks. I made 5 in all.

Making these blocks didn't make even a small dent in my blue scraps. I really hadn't realised I'd used so much blue fabric but thinking about it I've made several quilts for boys over the last couple of years. Whatever colour is picked for next month will involve cutting the scraps I have into 2 1/2inch squares as most of what I cut last weekend was blue. Maybe there'll be some time for that tomorrow. I also need to trim these blocks. 

Earlier in the week Kathryn and Olly came over. They were both very tired and Kathryn was feeling unwell so they had a little nap before dinner. Scamp is always willing to join in with a nap.


Scamp was in a very cute and sleepy mood all day and he sure looks tiny in that picture. I think he'd decided that since the weather had gone cold he might as well sleep.

I'm linking this post with Scraphappy Saturday Since I've got so many blue scraps I might make some other blocks as well.

Hope you've had some time for sewing tody.


Monday 11 January 2016

Half done

How's that title for putting a positive view on achievements? I'm halfway through the quilting on the baby quilt and it's looking really good but the pen marks are very slow to disappear. I could always be miserable and tell you I'm only halfway through but I'm so happy because it's going well and much more quickly than I anticipated. Although I've started the quilting on the nine patch quilt as well I've been concentrating on the baby quilt as I'd really like to gift it next week. Hopefully both quilts will be completed by the end of January.

In between sorting and quilting I found time to do some hand stitching. I find it very relaxing whilst watching TV in the evening. I've been working on the sky on the christmas tree cross stitch.

I've done a little more work on the tree and I also stitched the star so I can now just work the sky down that side. The side of the tree down to the level of the base of the star is complete and I'm trying to finish the sky down to this level by the end of the week.

I took time out from the cross stitch to make some hexagons for the Grandmothers garden quilt. Usually I stitch a few of these on train journeys but because of Christmas I haven't had to travel for work. Tomorrow I'm travelling to Reading so lots of stitching time because I catch the stopping train.

I'm linking this post with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts Why not visit and see what everyones been stitching this week.


A walk and lots of slow sorting.

Although rain was predicted the day was dry and quite bright so we rang Tony to see if he wanted to walk with us. We planned to start at Wimbledon common which is only 10 minutes away in the car and then do a circular walk taking in one of the highest points in the area  as well as Putney Heath. I'd already started sorting and organising scraps and it must have affected my brain because I totally forgot the amount of rain we've had recently and so didn't put my walking boots on. 

Scamp was really happy to be out walking, well running in his case. He bounced and ran for the whole 4 plus miles. He wouldn't even stand still for his photos.

Although it was dry it was still very cool so Scamp wore his coat as his fur is fine and short. It was late afternoon as we were walking so the sun was starting to set. As I looked behind me I saw the sun reflected off the buildings. 

Turning back to our route I was in time to get this shot of the sunset

When we got back to the car park the cafe was still open so we all enjoyed a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. Scamp was miffed to only have water. He had enjoyed running through the mud and puddles so his paws were mud encrusted. By this point he was very pleased to be wearing his 'Top Dog' coat.

Back home and having cleaned Scamp I went back to my organising. By the time I finished I had 3 neat piles of 2 1/2 inch squares and 5 inch squares in the plastic bags. All the 5 inch squares are children's fabrics from the various baby quilts I've made and some fabric I was given. The next job is to sort the cut squares by colour.

This pile of fabric and the three full plastic pots are the remainder of my scraps which I need to deal with when next I have time. Hopefully that will be Tuesday evening.

This getting organised really is exhausting. I went through my fabric stash and also through all my ongoing projects, making sure everything was in order. When I went through my stash I used the questions - do I still like and/or love it?, do I have a use for it?, is it part of an ongoing or soon to be started project? There were several pieces of fabric that were put into the bag to go to the charity shop. I made several discoveries including that I don't need to buy any white solid fabric for a while and I took the opportunity to hunt out blue fabric for this month's RSC block which will have to wait until Wednesday to get made.

I have work on 4 days this week but on Tuesday  I'm in Reading so I will get some hand stitching done during the train journey. Otherwise it could be a quiet sewing week. The weather is also supposed to go a lot colder at the end of the week and they say we will get snow. 

Anyway bedtime. Have a good week.


Sunday 10 January 2016

Quilting and cutting.

We cancelled our walk that we'd planned for today because the weather forecast predicted continuous rain but I woke to sun streaming in the window. However it didn't last and soon the rain began, a perfect stitching day. I had some jobs to do before I could get started but this afternoon I was able to settle down to sewing.

I needed to start the quilting on the baby quilt. I'm making this quilt from a pattern that appeared in 'Today's Quilter'. Here's their finished quilt.

You can just about see the quilting which is done in waves. I decided I wanted to do the same quilting, even though my lines are a bit shaky. They gave a full sized template so I printed this out and marked the quilt using my air erasable pen. I fully marked the first line for the first wave and then did dots to mark the following lines. It took a little time to complete the quilting on the first wave but after that it got easier.

Some of the marks have already disappeared but it doesn't matter if they don't as the quilt will have to be washed. I decided not to carry the wave into the border as I wanted to quilt the babies name there. You can see what I mean by shaky lines but they did get better as I got used to the pattern . I still have a lot to do but I stopped before I got too tired.

After a restorative cup of tea I started to attack my scrap collection. I'm planning on making a granny square quilt so I needed to cut the scraps into 2 1/2 squares. It took quite a time but I finished the first batch and had a neat pile of squares and some strings.

I got the next box of scraps ready to iron before cutting but I decided to call it a day.

As I took this picture I became very happy as I spotted my 61/2 square ruler which I'd misplaced a while back. That would have made it easier when I was trimming the 9 patch blocks. I really must keep better track of my rulers in future.

So to finish the day with a little hand stitching. The Christmas tree cross stitch is growing slowly and I like it more as it grows.


Friday 8 January 2016

An odd couple of days

Yesterday and today I was at work and that involved teaching all day. It's not as arduous as it sounds as I know the material I'm teaching so well and it was fun topics. The group yesterday was large with 40 overseas students, all with english as a second or third language. This can be very tiring but the students were very motivated and eager to join in so the day was fun. Today was a much smaller group of home students but again involved a lot of discussion and interaction.. I know I grumble about work at times but you what - I really love my job. The down side is I was too tired to do any stitching yesterday or today but that doesn't mean I wasn't trying or planning to be creative.

Yesterday in reading through the blogs I follow I came across this at Prairie Moon Quilts


Shelly likes to have a theme for the year and this year her theme is cultivating creativity. To help us achieve this she is posting a  challenge a week on a Thursday and inviting folks to join in. The challenges aren't necessarily quilty but some will involve sewing.

This week's challenge was to doodle for at least 30 minutes and see where it takes you and what you produce. Now getting out my sketchbook and doodling away has always been a favourite activity of mine  so I rushed upstairs and pulled my book and box of pens from their hiding place in the cupboard. My eyes were feeling too tired to cope with my cross stitch and this provided the perfect activity. Here's my end product.


This evening when I got in from work I sat down with my cup of tea and did my usual read through the posts from the blogs I follow. What grabbed my attention was the title 'resistance' for Kathy's post  What was she resisting? Oh I should never have started to read that post as unlike Kathy I have no resistance for the quilt blocks being offered each month by Sentimental stitches There are 64 blocks, mostly applique being offered over the next 20 months. I've already downloaded this month's blocks. Tomorrow I need to purchase the backing fabric and I'll use my scraps and stash for the applique. Yes I know I wasn't going to start a new project yet but I'm sure I can fit it in if I plan carefully.

This weekend as well as getting on with my quilting I'm going to get to grips with the fabulous birthday present John gave me.

My birthday was back in early December but I needed a memory card  and wanted to have space to read the manual before i started to play. Due to christmas reading the manual wasn't top of my priorities but now I want to find out exactly how this camera performs.

I also haven't fully looked at my christmas present from John and Richard.

When I was a child my father made me a scale model (1/12th scale) of the house we lived in and I loved to play with it but I loved making furniture and accessories for it more. Unfortunately it was completely wrecked by two of my male cousins but I always promised myself that if I had the space I would have a period doll's house. This victorian home is currently packed in the two large boxes it was delivered in as I need to buy a table or cupboard to put it on and it has to be built. First job will be to rub the wood down and decorate it before putting it together. I'm really looking forward to making miniature quilts for the beds and other pieces of embroidery work. I have already warned my children that this will not be a house for any young grandchildren I may have in the future to play with unless they are supervised.

I've still got a little bit of evening left so I'm going to finish now so I can do some hand stitching. John and I were going to walk tomorrow but the weather forecast is very wet  so I shall be sewing instead. There may be several more sewing days as the weather is due to get a lot colder and they are predicting snow as well as rain. The best thing to do in bad weather is stay in and sew.


Thursday 7 January 2016

Back to work.

Monday was my first day at work for 2016. It was a real bind getting up and leaving home whilst it was still dark and also driving home in the dark in the evening but apart from that it was an OK day. Monday evening I sat and did some hand stitching as I wanted to relax by watching TV. Yesterday I planned to start the quilting on the baby quilt but I had some jobs to do and once I'd finished those Kathryn came over to visit and wanted to go shopping. I bought myself a couple of jumpers for work but didn't see anything else that I needed or wanted. I have to admit I'm not a great shopper unless I have something specific that I need. Very little stitching got done on Tuesday evening as Kathryn and Olly stayed to dinner and we sat chatting until late.

That brings us to today. This morning I sat down with a cup of tea to catch up with my blog reading and in doing so found a link to OMG - one monthly goal. Sadly 'a lovely year of finishes' has come to an end but Heidi at Red Letter Quilts is running a monthly link up called 'One Monthly Goal'. You set yourself just one goal for the month and link that up at the beginning of the month. At the end of the month you link up again to share how you got on. The button is on my sidebar.

I have 2 goals for the month but the one I'm picking for this challenge is my nine patch quilt.

My goal is to quilt and bind this quilt by the end of this month. 

This morning I set up my machine ready for free motion quilting. It took a little while to get the tension right and decide on the thread I was going to use but I finally got myself sorted.  I quilted three blocks but wasn't sure about the thread so I went back to my quilting threads. That was when I saw the monofilament. I bought this early last year but hadn't tried using it yet. This seemed like a good time to give it a whirl. I was pleased with the outcome and decided to unpick the blocks I'd already finished and re quilt them. I'm just doing simple straight line quilting. Well simple isn't really a good word for it because I find quilting in a straight line quite taxing.

I do love the science theme fabric in that block. There are cute robots on it as well.

Jen at Quilter in the closet has set herself a 100 day challenge to complete three quilty or craft goals. In reading her post I realised this would help me to complete some of my goals as they will take more than a month and I don't do well with open ended goals. So my three goals I want to complete by April 15th (the end of the challenge) are.

1. Complete my millennium cross stitch sampler. This is one of my goals for 2016 as it has been hanging around since Christmas 1999.

2. To complete the arcs for my double wedding ring quilt. I can't remember off the top of my head but I think I need to make 98 in total. I'm not sure how many I've made but I guess it is about 10. I'd like to move this quilt on although I don't expect to finish the top this year as it is my long term project. 

3. I want to blog more. I let work get in the way and as a result I post for a few days and then get bogged down with work so don't do a lot of sewing and don't post. I don't want to set a number of posts I'll do in a month because you can't be that specific but it would be good to do a post alternate days if possible.

This evening I've been doing a little more work on the christmas tree cross stitch. I was going to switch to a different piece of stitching but I'll carry on till the end of the month before I switch on the millennium sampler. Shortly I must go to bed as I have work again tomorrow but I'm looking forward to doing some more quilting tomorrow evening.

Sunday 3 January 2016

The first slow Sunday of 2016

This morning I set to and finished the baby quilt top. Having got that far I went on to make the quilt sandwich and I didn't stop there. I'd already pieced the back for the 9 patch quilt and so I prepped that for quilting as well. I will start the quilting on Tuesday as I'm working tomorrow. I was going to make the quilt sandwich for the 'It's a dog's life' quilt but Kathryn and Olly arrived at that point so that will have to wait for another day.

As the weather is wet again we decided that staying in, watching TV and eating Christmas cake would make a fun afternoon. If I'm watching TV I do like to get on with some stitching so I made myself comfy and got on with the Christmas tree cross stitch. This is how it looks now. (I've finished more of the sky and the tree since I took the photo.) This will be the last week I'm working on this project until the Christmas season comes round again.

I'm not looking forward to tomorrow morning as I haven't been rushing to get up in the mornings during the holiday. 6am even sounds too early plus it's still dark. I'm teaching all day so the time will pass quickly and then I'm off for Tuesday and Wednesday. I must admit I had work I should have done in the last two weeks but I didn't so I'm going to need to spend some time on Tuesday and Wednesday catching up.

I am starting sorting out my scraps and I'm trying to work out the best way to store them. The dog blocks on the baby quilt were made using 2 and half inch squares and as I'd already cut these from some scraps it was lovely to just pick out the squares I needed and get on with the sewing. I'm leaning towards cutting my scraps into squares of various sizes and also strips. I'm also thinking about making some of the fabric boxes to keep my scraps in. I need to find the pattern.

I hope you've enjoyed some slow stitching this Sunday. I linking this post with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching


Saturday 2 January 2016

Loving the rain!

Dust Off Those Books

Today John and I should have been walking with our friend Tony but unfortunately it has rained all day. Such a shame, oh what should I do? Don't get me wrong I love walking but a wet day gave me the opportunity to get on with the baby quilt I'm making. When I last worked on it I had made one of the dog blocks. My plan was to complete the remaining three blocks today.  As soon as I sat down at the machine I started thinking about my ironing mountain. The good housekeeper part of me felt I should go and do the ironing but the quilter in me wanted to carry on sewing.  My decision was to get on with my sewing but whenever I needed to press a seam, I would iron 1 item. Several small seams equated to one larger item such as one of John's shirts. Outcome - a neat pile of ironing and the three blocks completed This is how far I got before I called it a day.

So three borders to add when I take time out for stitching tomorrow.

Sharon over at Vroomans Quilts run her 'Let's book it' linky party last year and she's running it again this year so I thought I would try and join in each month. This is an opportunity to make something from all those books or patterns that we have but haven't yet used. All you have to do is use one of the patterns and make the item in the month or over several months if it's a large pattern.  Although I made the first dog block last month I was going to be cheeky and use it for this month. At the same time I'm also going to work on 'Brutus at Christmas'. 

Meet Brutus. He is from a free pattern from Red Brolly. I saw this back at the start of last year and downloaded the patterns. Did I mention there is a whole bunch of them?  I set the pattern up before Christmas but only started it yesterday. This is going to be my portable hand stitching for this month as I have several train journeys in my diary for work. This helps make good use of the time I spend on the train. I use fabri solvy to transfer the pattern so I can stitch as I don't have a light box and find using the window rather tiring on my wrists. The paw prints are Picasso's and because the fabri solvy is water soluble I can't clean them off. At least they're not on the fabric

The rest of the day was family orientated but I will return to stitching last thing when I'll have a quiet time before bed.

I hope you've had some time for stitching today