Thursday 30 July 2020

Christmas in July (then and now)

Hi and welcome to The Christmas in July, then and now blog hop. Thanks to Carol from Just let me Quilt for organising the event. As always it has been fabulous, so much quilting eye candy and lots of inspiration for future projects. Ohh I feel a new project starting! 

Christmas has always been special for my family. It's a time for the family to get together, chill out and spend quality time together. The fact that there are decorations, lots of yummy food and presents is the icing on the cake. Mmm cake!

When I started my blog several years ago one of the first things I did was to take part in a quilt along with Melissa from Happy quilting. The quilt along was based on tetras and there were weekly prizes. I won a jelly role of Christmas fabric - yipee. At the same time there were a lot of quilts being made using granny squares and I really liked the idea and so my first Christmas quilt was envisaged. It took a little time to complete - like all my projects. I love it and just wished the Christmas season was longer.

The quilt goes on my bed from December 9th. I insist on celebrating my birthday on December 8th before we usher in the Christmas decorations. This is still on of my favourite quilts.

I've also made advent calendars from panels and table runners.

This one was for my younger brother and I had fun filling it with his favourite sweets. The joy of these advent calendars is that each year I just need to supply the sweets as the calendar is still usable.

This year I made a new Christmas quilt. It was started on New Years day 2019 but not finished until earlier this year. Christmas 2020 will be its first chance to join in the festivities.

There is already an argument about who's bed it will be on for the festive season.. I just love the green stars.

For this hop I started a Christmas tablecloth. It isn't finished but I already love the way it looks. It will be the centre piece of my Christmas table. First I'll cover the table with a large  white lace table cloth that my mother bought in Malta. Then this will cover the centre. 

The centre square is all stitched together. Now I need to add all of the next layer round and finish it off. Unfortunately light was pouring in from outside and caused glare on the picture. This will be finished during the next two weeks as I'm on holiday. During that time I was also start my present list and ideas. I may even start my Christmas shopping, it just depends how much spare time I have.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of my Christmas then and can envisage my Christmas now completed and in pride of place on the table. 

Do go and visit the other blogs taking part today. I have some catching up to do as I haven't visited the ones from Thursday yet. The ones I've seen have given me so many ideas.


Wednesday 29 July 2020

July has been good for finishes.

Covid 18 has made the last few months hard work. Working from home is great because there's no commute, easy access to snacks and slightly more time for sewing. The down side is having annual leave but feeling the need to keep on working because there is so much to organise before the new academic year starts. This week I've tried to get everything finished and from tomorrow I won't be checking into my emails.  Tomorrow John and I will be heading for Norfolk where we have booked a hotel for a long weekend. Lots of walking, including along the coast and also some bird watching. I haven't checked yet if there is a quilt shop in the area where we'll be. I hope so.

July has been a good month for finishes and I finished my one monthly goal. 

My goal for the month was to finish a tote bag I'd started last year. It stalled because I hadn't got any fabric for the lining. When going through my stash I found some suitable fabric which I used.

The magnetic fastener keeps the content of the bag safe, a must when carrying my purse.

I was very happy when during the month I finished the rainbow batik flimsy. I have ordered some of the aubergine fabric for the backing and binding. Once it arrives I will need to decide how I'm going to quilt it.

The colours in this flimsy just make me smile. It's so bright and cheerful. I can't wait to get this quilt finished.

I've also finished the last bag lady embroidery,Thelma. Now I need to decide how I'm going to use these embroideries.

Whilst we're away I will be making some decisions on what to work on next month. I have several projects to choose from, the Austen family album quilt which I have been making blocks for this month, the Bear's paw quilt, the Mario quilt for Richard or some of the smaller projects. Of course i could always start a new project.....

I'm linking this post with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for the OMG Finish linky I must go and check out completed projects.

Don't forget the Christmas in July (Then and Now) blog hop. As a reminder here's the participants for the final two days.

Monday 27 July 2020

Slow stitching.

Last week was a slow week for sewing as work was exceptionally busy. I am now on three weeks annual leave and it is always a rush to try and clear any outstanding work load before relaxing into the holiday. As it is, although I'm on leave I will be interviewing on Wednesday and to protect myself from hundreds of emails on return to work I will check the emails over the three weeks. In amongst the ridiculous number that I will receive will be a couple that need urgent action and I can forward them to best person to deal with them.

Although it's been a slow week I have been doing some sewing, just not things that I can easily show you. This week there is a blog hop running, Christmas Then and Now and I've been working on a project for it. I'd thought about showing you a corner of some of the fabric but as I was packing my sewing away earlier in the week I decided to take a photo of the back.

I love how neat the seams turned out.

I've also made some more masks, this time for Olly and Katy. They liked the fabrics they chose.

This week John and I have done a fair amount of walking. We haven't hit our 4 to 5 miles minimum a day total every day but we did manage 5 out of 7 days. I've also managed to lose a couple of pounds weight and I'm feeling more energetic already. I'd like to keep up a two pound a week weight lose but the end of this week could be a problem as we are away for 3 nights. The food at the hotel where we're staying is delicious and I'll need to make good choices to make sure I don't put any weight on.

Over the week I've done a lot of hand stitching but quite a bit was boring mending, although it is satisfying once its done. Between buttons dropping off and zips breaking, the mending certainly keeps me on my toes. Once that was done I've had time to work on the lunar module on the millennium sampler. This will be finished tonight as I only have the legs and back stitching to do. The colours aren't showing up properly in the photo.

I have two more squares to do and I need to finish the spitfire. The square below the lunar module is William Shakespeare and I'm going to work on this next.
When I've finished the next square I will probably get excited that this could be finished this year, especially as I'm really enjoying working on it at the moment.

Do go and see what folks have been creating for the Christmas Then and Now blog hop. Here's the list of contributors.

July 27

Creatin' in the Sticks
Just Because Quilts

Words & Stitches

Quilt In A Not-Shell

Ms P Designs USA


Selina Quilts

Days Filled With Joy


July 28

Life in the Scrapatch

Cynthia's Creating Ark

Karrin’s Crazy World

Vroomans Quilts

Quilted Delights

Songbird Designs


 Karen's Korner


July 29



Day Brook Designs

Seams To Be Sew

Little Penguin Quilts

Bumbleberry Stitches

Samelia's Mum

Canyon Rim Quilting


July 30


Mary Mack Made Mine

DesertSky Quilting

For The Love Of Geese

Quilt Schmilt

Elizabeth Coughlin Designs

Becky’s Adventures in Quilting and Travel

Quilting Gail


July 31

Just Let Me Quilt

Pieceful Thoughts of My Quilting Life

Den Syende Himmel

Quilt Fabrication

Sew Many Yarns

Just Sew Quilter

Shirley C.

Kathy's Kwilts and More

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching

Take care and stay safe.


Monday 20 July 2020

A finished flimsy

Sunday morning and my younger brother phoned me to say he was going to take his boat out for a run up the river since the sun was so warm and made it a perfect day for an outing. He lives on a narrow boat at a marina which has access to both the river and the canal. I looked out the window at the rain and hoped it would clear up enough for us to walk later in the day. Not that rain mattered as I wanted to finish the batik rainbow quilt top. The pattern I used had the outside border made of lengths of the batik fabrics which meant they went round the corners.  This didn't give the look I wanted and seemed a little slap dash having put a lot of effort into matching the seams.

So I got my trusty tape measure out and carefully measured the sides before doing a quick bit of maths to get the length of fabric I needed. I wanted each side to have all six colours in it. It was then a case of getting the machine out and sewing. I had one iffy moment when I was pressing the seams which did involve a few choice words but I won't share the details. Fortunately there was no one around to hear. I've had my iron for some time and recently it has taken to suddenly going hotter than the setting it's on. When we went shopping on Saturday I had meant to look for a replacement but unfortunately I forgot. I was just about to put the iron on the fabric when I decided to put test it on the ironing board cover and it scorched the surface. I did manage to press the seams but the setting on the iron was the lowest it would go. When the laundry I've done this morning is dry I won't be able to iron it until I've visited the shops again.

The top was finished fairly quickly but I had to lay it on the bed to take a photo as it was raining again.

Now I need to either make the back or buy some fabric. I have some other batiks that I could use for the back but I think I may order some of the aubergine fabric for the back and the binding. Then I will need to think about the quilting. At the moment my head is completely empty of ideas so all suggestions on quilting very welcome.

Later in the day the rain stopped and the sun half halfheartedly came out. It was still very warm. John and I went for a walk around the cemetery. We saw a couple of Jays and also Green woodpeckers. John has become very interested in the wild flowers and is trying to identify different ones That will keep him busy for months!

In the evening I pulled out the millennium sampler cross stitch. I'm working on the lunar module at the moment. I haven't fully finished the spitfire but I need to study the pattern for that as I haven't worked on it for quite a time and I don't mark on the pattern to show where I've got to.

This really has to be finished this year as it was a present for Christmas 1999 and I started it at the beginning of 2000. If I tell you that cross stitch isn't my favourite form of hand stitching and that it has a lot of fractional stitches in it you'll probably understand why it's taken so long. 

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching  link up.  I love seeing what everyone's been working on.

Today being Monday it's back to work and in a few minutes I have a teams linkup with some students. I'm hoping to fit in some stitching later today.

Take care and stay safe.


Saturday 18 July 2020

Work in progress.

Hooray it's the weekend. The week has been busy with work and catching up with chores around the house and garden. All that took a lot of my time but I managed to finish two projects. First this week I needed to start a new project but not one that involves fabric and thread. I decided I needed to revisit losing weight. Lock down proved a little trying for my waistline and so I need to watch my food intake for a while. Stepping outside my usual routine and being surrounded by family members who all get hungry at different times has been the main problem but we have done more baking than usual and the cakes and cookies have been so delicious. I've found the best way for me to lose weight is to increase my exercise so I'm trying to walk between 4 and 6 miles a day but that takes time away from the household chores and sewing. That's where the planning comes in. If I plan carefully I can prep what I want to work on in the odd gaps of time that happen throughout the day and then I'm ready to fire up the sewing machine when its time for sewing in the evening.

My first finish this week was the stitching on Thelma and that means I've also finished stitching all 12 bag ladies. I'd love to meet up with these twelve ladies for a sewing retreat as I'm sure it would be a hoot plus many of them have got cookies in their bag.

Having finished Thelma I switched my hand stitching in the evening to my millennium sampler. The area I'm working on doesn't look very much at the moment so I haven't taken a photo yet.

My second finish of the week is my one monthly goal project. This is a tote bag I started last year but needed to make the lining and add the straps and fasteners. The sticking up tabs at the sides are the closures for the bag. It fastens with strong magnets

Here's a photo of the bag when closed. Currently the bag needs to have a piece of plastic template added to the base of the bag to give it a firmer. The template plastic is on order and the sleeve that it will slip into is made and in the base of the bag. It will take a matter of seconds to slip it into the sleeve when its delivered.

Today John and I ventured into Kingston as I wanted to do some shopping. One of my friends has been inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee to take up dressmaking and I wanted to buy her some basic items she'll need, scissors, pins, tape measure and an unpicker. She ordered a sewing machine and that should be delivered this week. She's really excited to get started. I'd also been looking for some new bed linen and I found exactly what I wanted. That's what I call a good shopping trip and I only went into one shop. We didn't go out until 5 we decided it would be quieter. The store was open until 7 and we had a great experience. We wore our masks and a few other shoppers were doing the same but most people weren't. From Monday it's mandatory to wear masks in shops. I'm not sure how well that will be followed but John and I are well prepared.

Tomorrow I'm going to sort through my various projects and choose another to try and get finished. I also want to get the batik rainbow quilt to flimsy stage so I need to finish the second border.

Take care


Sunday 12 July 2020

A slow week

This week should have been a good sewing week as I had a leave day booked on Wednesday and I don't work on a Friday. I had planned a full day of sewing and so was slightly annoyed when I needed to cancel my leave day because there was no one to do the interviews in the afternoon. Friday was a cleaning day and I decided to blitz the kitchen in between laundry and several other chores. As a result I have only done some hand sewing in the evenings and spent some time making crocheted squares.

Yesterday John, Lucy and I went for a long walk from the windmill on Wimbledon common, across to Richmond Park, a big loop round and back to the windmill to collect the car from the car park. When we set out for a hike we will often walk 10 to 15 miles but this walk was 7 miles in total so we took Scamp with us. This is the second long walk we have done since travel restrictions etc were loosened. Scamp loved the freedom of being off his lead in the open space and he spent his time just running around.

My plan for today was to work on the batik rainbow quilt and hopefully get it to the point where I needed to add the borders. I also wanted to work on my monthly goal. I started with the rainbow quilt and finished all the rows. I added the inner border but stopped at that point. I didn't like how the outside border was supposed to be added. I'll do the maths and add the outside border later in the week.

Next I made two blocks for the Austen Family quilt. I'd put them on a chair and they got sat on so they need another press, but that can wait until the rest of the blocks are made

I still have several blocks to make and at two blocks a week it will take a few more weeks before I can sew the blocks together.  I'd been given a panel with rabbits on it to make a pillow case. This took about 10 minutes to make 

The flap for the pillow case has loads of carrots on it. This was made for a small girl who loves rabbits.

This week I haven't had time to do very much hand stitching and as a result I haven't finished Thelma. I'll spend some time this evening and aim to get her finished this week.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching 

Finally I found this cute picture of Scamp taken on the 12 July in 2010 when he was 2 years old. He's still a little cutie.

Take care and stay safe


Monday 6 July 2020

Slow Sunday stitching

On Friday I told you about a new project I've started The Red Manor House. When I saw the picture of the quilt I decided I had to  make it and that it would be a scrappy quilt. I had fun sorting through my fabrics to find what I wanted to use for the central house block. This was a fun block to make and went together very easily. The photo doesn't really show the fabric I chose for the windows. It has a narrow silver strip on it and I wanted the strip to run top to bottom on all the windows. The applique still needs to be done on the little round window and I will do that by hand.

There is a narrow border that goes all round this block before a round of diamond blocks that are foundation pieced. I'm going to have fun picking fabrics for the border and the diamond blocks.

Over the weekend I made a couple of blocks for the Austen family album quilt and cut the pieces for another two blocks. I didn't have a lot of time for sewing as I needed to do some marking and some baking. Katy and Ollie also dropped off our weekly shopping and came in for a cup of tea and a chat. It's lovely that they are now able to come into the house but even inside we are still socially distancing since Katy has to go into school on some days as they have a rota for teaching children of key workers. Olly and Richard work in hospitality and both are back at work. As all of their jobs involve being around a large number of people when travelling or at work, it's a good idea to continue social distancing even among over selves.

I'm on the homeward straight with stitching Thelma. I'm currently working on her hair which is made doing french knots. I also have her shoes to do and the contents of her bag to finish plus her brooch and hat. A couple more evenings and this will be finished.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. Do go and visit to see what everyone's been working on.

Take care