Monday 26 July 2021

Weekend sewing.

For various reasons last week got a little busy and so very little sewing got done. Looking back I can't identify any specific reasons I was busy but it was a mixture of work, family, garden, cleaning and life in general. However there was some progress on sewing projects along the way. I completed the little frog embroidery,

and started on the next Pride and prejudice block. This block should have been stitched in June but it's better to get to it later rather than never. Picasso is convinced his legs are neater than the ones on the stitching. These are his back legs as he just walked across the shot.

I have already completed some more of this stitchery but not enough to warrant another photo. On Saturday I started to add the applique to the front of my cushion cover. When I last showed you the progress I had just completed the hexie flowers.

Two of these have now been added to the cover along with some leaves and the watering can. I'm using machine embroidery to add the raw edge applique. I'll remove the tacking threads when I have added the rest of the applique. I had intended to use bondaweb but I found I didn't have enough for all the pieces so used pins and tacking instead.

I was hoping to add the remaining flowers and the bird but I forgot we were going to an art exhibition with Katy on Sunday. After the exhibition she came home with us and once he had finished work, her finance Olly joined us for a family dinner. It was really enjoyable to have the family all together again. It was also a tiring experience since we seemed to all end up talking at once. Having not seen much of each other for the past year and a half we had so much we wanted to share. 

On Saturday I did some sewing on the blouse I'm making. I have the body all joined together and the front facings are done. Now I need to add the sleeves. I probably won't work on this until the end of the week. I had also hoped to do some quilting on my large quilt. So far I've quilted one block of 36. It's a lot cooler today so I decided it was a perfect day for quilting. I just got all set up when John reminded me we were going to the exhibition. \Never mind I'm only holiday soon and I'll have more time for sewing.

As we came out of the exhibition it was raining so we hurried back home. We arrived back safe but a little soggy from the rain. There were weather warning for thunderstorms over London and it bought more flooding with it, but luckily it did not affect our area of the city.

Once home scamp showed his disgust at being left at home by snuggling up with Lucy and looking really forlorn.

He desperately needs his fur trimming and generally tidying up. He has his appointment booked

I'm working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and I plan on spending some extra time trying to complete everything I need to get done. From the end of next week I'm on holiday and want to be able to forget all about work for the duration. Tomorrow evening I'm going to try and complete the cushion front but now I need to get ready for bed and spend a few minutes relaxing with my current book.

Take care


Wednesday 21 July 2021

Sewing in the heat.

 At the end of last week the heat wave finally hit the UK. It is fabulous that the rain has gone to be replaced by blue skies but all weather types bring their own problems. During the day our old Victorian house stays beautifully cool indoors and with the windows open there is a lovely breeze but at night it's hard to get the same airflow since we all close our bedroom doors. That means that for the first couple of nights of a heat wave it's difficult to get a good nights sleep.  After a couple of bad nights, last night I went to bed at 11 p.m. and woke up this morning at 7 feeling fully refreshed and ready to start the day. In addition the heat wave means that all the plants in the hanging baskets and pots have to be watered every day. We do this job in the late evening, before closing all doors and windows on the ground floor. On the plus side, any laundry put out on the line is dry in super quick time and I love spending time in our garden and enjoying meals outside. On the sewing front it's good I have a variety of projects on the go as the Austen Family Album quilt has been put to one side since its far too hot to be hauling large quilts around for quilting and I've stopped adding flowers to the grandmother's garden quilt for the same reason. I've also got some knitting to finish but that will have to wait for cooler weather. Instead hand stitching and smaller projects are the order of the day.

Having taught online for the last two days, today I'm interviewing online all day. The video camera has to be on and means 3 days spent looking at a screen and two days into this my eyes are tired but I have achieved a little sewing. I completed the 4 little hexie flowers for my cushion.

Now I need to remove the tacking stitches and give them a good press before I add them to the cushion front. I also picked the fabric for the watering can and cut the paper pattern pieces. I didn't separate the different parts of the watering can as it would be easy to misplace pieces. I will cut the fabric shapes at lunchtime so that I can start construction this evening.

I also sat down last night to complete the frog embroidery. I didn't complete it because I ended up napping but I got a little done. I'm sorry the photo is blurry.

When I looked out to the garden I found that the purple and red fuchsia had started to flower. These are very showy flowers and make me feel really happy. The purple skirt looks as if it could be made of fabric.

As we live in the city we have a small garden and are surrounded by other houses. My view from my work space at the dining table is limited because the door opens out onto the side of the house and the garden area is at the back. We got rid of a large shed, that used to house bikes from this area and need to sort out the concrete or put paving slabs or gravel down. This is a job for our holiday next month. The bay window on the left is the kitchen window.

I love our small garden but would love somewhere with more space outside. However we aren't going to move since where we live will be perfect as we get older with easy access to shops and services. There is enough room in the garden for the family to have meals outside and enjoy the garden. Having had the house re plumbed and rewired in the last 5 years we now need to get the outside space revamped. there is always work to be done around the house and garden.

My plan for today is to get the applique pieces fused to the cushion front with bondaweb and start the stitching. I should be able to get that done this evening but it all depends on what the day has in store. Now I need to take get myself ready for the days interviews and check there are no urgent emails. 

Take care


Sunday 18 July 2021

A hot and slow Sunday.

Yesterday, being Saturday,  was the usual run of catching up with household chores but we made time early in the day for a trip to the wetlands centre at Barnes. We planned an early visit as we knew the day was going to be very hot and because the centre is a good place for a family outings, it would be crowded later in the day. At this time of year there often aren't many birds to see but the area has a lot of dragon and damsel flies which are fun to watch and look very pretty. It was also ablaze with wild flowers. 

There was an Oystercatcher with a chick in the shingle on one of the little islands, a good number of black headed gulls with older youngsters. Away from the water the small brown birds were sitting amongst the leaves and singing. They would occasionally flit to another tree but you had to be quick to see them. The water lilies were just starting to open.

We ended our visit by enjoying coffee and cake sat watching the swans. Back at home and having finished the chores I got to work sorting out and measuring my fabric stash.  I have a range of fabrics, some for dress making, some upholstery and of course quilting fabrics. Over time they have got a little muddled. As I put them back in the right storage space, I'm writing down the size of the fabric and sticking in a sample piece. That way I can check what I have before I go out and buy any more. Whilst sorting I found two pieces I'd bought to use as quilt backing. They'll come in useful at some point. I found some floaty fabric which will make a great blouse. So having finished my sorting for the day I set to cutting out the blouse pattern. Casso came to help but didn't appreciate how slippery the fabric was. As he stepped onto it and started to make himself comfortable, the fabric started to slip and he landed on the floor, in a tangle with the fabric. He soon recovered and got back onto the table where he settled on top of the offcuts and refused to moved until he had tamed them.

Recently Casso has been wearing a collar. He always used to get them off but we decided to try again as so many people are feeding him and it was making him ill. he is an old cat and he has kidney problems and as a result is on a special diet. He is also an oriental cross and has the lean body of an oriental cat so people think he needs feeding up. Now he has a bright read collar with 'Please do not feed me' written on it.  Since he hasn't been getting extra food from people his health has improved.

Today I needed to work on the cushion I'm making.  I started by sewing the back pieces for the cushion cover. These are each made from 6 squares. One side of each section was hemmed.

Next I added the 2.5 inch squares to the centre panel of the front. 

When I started this project I wasn't sure about the fabric. It's vintage style and I like brighter and more modern styles. However the colours and patterns work well together so I'm happy.

I cut the fabrics for the hexagon flowers and I've stitched one together. I will work on the remaining 3 flowers tonight when I chill out at the end of the day.

I still need to cut the rest of the applique pieces but I want to get the flowers made first.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. Pop over and see what everyone is working on. Now I need to get those hexies sewn together so I can start the applique on my cushion.

Take care


Friday 16 July 2021

A day of appointments

Yesterday was one of those days when time is broken up by the need to attend appointments. For the first one I didn't need to go anywhere. Last week a warning light showed up on the dishwasher. We went through the sequence in the manual and when nothing worked we called customer services and an engineer was booked for the morning of 15th July. Bright and early, (07:30) we had a call from him to say he would be with us in the next half hour.  By 8.50 the fault was fixed, the dishwasher  was working again and now has a years warranty. The guy was polite and didn't mind being checked out by Casso and Scamp but we kept our distance and masks on as instructed by the company. A great start to the day and I'm off washing up duty. Next I had my foot care appointment. This is always a pleasure and I leave feeling as if I'm walking on air. Instead of going straight home I walked further along the road to a fabric store. I needed some buttons and zips plus a couple of cushion pads. I left with fabric and zips, no buttons or cushion pads.

Once home I set about cutting the fabric for my new project. I decided to make the applique cushion first.

Soon I had a neat pile of pieces all ready for sewing.

I still need to cut the applique pieces and the fabric for the hexies. The hexies are 3/4inch. I'll get these cut today once I finish work. Having finished the cutting Scamp wanted a little attention. As soon as I sat next to him he lay on his back and demanded tummy tickles.

He should have been having his grooming appointment yesterday afternoon but that got cancelled as they had staff off sick. His appointment is now in the middle of August. I hope that goes ahead as he is a very shaggy dog at the moment and with the weather warming up he's not going to be a happy dog.

Since Scamp's appointment was cancelled I set up my smaller sewing machine. When I put it away after finishing my dress it was stitching very nicely but as soon as I started sewing there was a loud clunk and the bobbin tension was completely off. No problem I can sort that, but on this occasion I couldn't, in fact I couldn't even take the faceplate off because the screw was done up very tightly. John tried but he couldn't move it either. The machine was serviced last August and I've hardly used it since then. I tend to use this machine when I want to do something that will be quick and then the machine will be put away again. It is much lighter and easier to move around. Now I need to book the machine another spa treatment.

Today I will cut the fabric for the second project and when that's all done I'll start sewing both projects. I also want to do some quilting on the Austen Family Album quilt. For now I need to get some exercise having been sat in one place interviewing all day.

Take care


Wednesday 14 July 2021

A finish and a new start.

Monday and Tuesday I was in the office. When it came to going home on Monday I was wishing the day had been online. The morning commute into work was much quieter than usual, even in these covid times. Many people had booked an annual leave day because of the Euro final on Sunday. Unfortunately England lost but I'm very reliably informed that it was a good game. The game went to penalties after a goalless extra time, which is not a great way to end a match. Anyway the drive into work was quiet and I knew my journey home would also be quiet. The problem was I didn't factor in the rain which started about 2 p.m. We could see the rain hitting the road and bouncing back up one to one and a half feet. By home time the rain had calmed down a bit but the roads were flooded. I was driving our little sports car and I was really concerned because it is very low on the ground. I had a very fraught drive home that took a lot longer than usual and involved several detours. As I neared home there was no evidence of flooding and I heard on the news later that evening that the heavy rain and flash floods had only affected the side of London where I work. The fire service received over 1000 call outs to help people trapped in their cars and with flooded home. On Tuesday I woke up to a much clearer sky and fortunately no rain. My drive from London to Reading and back was uneventful, just the way I like it!

On Sunday I sewed the binding onto the front of the baby quilt and started stitching it down. I got half way round the quilt and thought I would finish it on Monday but in the end it was Tuesday evening before I got back to it. This morning before I started work John and I walked to the local cemetery so I could do a photo shoot. I used the poplar tree that had been brought down by the high winds last month as a backdrop.

A finish is always good and this was my goal for July. It's the first time in several months that I have achieved my monthly goal.

I'm going to pull out another project that I want to get finished but I'm also going to start something new. I have two potential candidates for the new start. the first is a cushion, which will be for a friend's Christmas present. She is a very keen gardener.

The second project is another quilt.

The patterns for both of these projects are from my monthly subscription box. I will be adding an addition border to the quilt and this will also be a Christmas gift.

This evening I must get the frog hand stitching finished. I put it on hold while I made the baby quilt. I also have a silk blouse that has been lurking in my wardrobe for ages. It needs a revamp and since I don't currently wear it I've got nothing to lose by trying to transform it.

On our recent trip to Norfolk we stopped off on the way home at Welney Wetland Center. There was a bit of excitement going on as they had a Glossy Ibis visiting them. Although I could see it clearly through the binoculars and scope I couldn't get a good photo because it was too far away. To see what they look like click HERE You can see from this photo the distance we needed to look to see the birds. The white dots to the left of the picture were Avocets.

To get from the visitor centre to the hides you have to cross a waterway. I like the sweep of the bridge. The cattle were on the other side of the water and settled down under the bridge in the shade.

The weather was very hot and when we had finished our visit and returned to the car, it was extremely hot inside. Thank goodness for AC or we would have been cooked. 

I've now finished my lunch break and need to get back to work, as I have a meeting to attend this afternoon. I must fit in a walk later and make a decision which project to start.

Take care


Sunday 11 July 2021

Slow Sunday Stitching.

Yesterday was about catching up on various jobs about the house. There were the usual household chores, changing the beds, doing the laundry and some cleaning. Sometimes I really love cleaning and yesterday the sky was overcast and threatening rain so cleaning seemed a good option but a bit pointless. Every time Scamp needed to go out, there were little dirty paw prints across the kitchen floor and for some reason Picasso has taken to going out with him so there were two sets. In the end I tried to catch them at the door and wipe their paws before letting them any further into the house. Oh the joy of having fur babies, OK I wouldn't be without them but could they just learn to wipe their feet! Next we needed to go to the hardware store as John wanted some bits for his DIY project and then into town as I needed to pick up some shampoo. The shampoo I'm using at the moment is making my hair very frizzy so I need one to calm the frizz down. I also needed to make bread and I'd promised I'd make a lemon drizzle cake. In the end the chores took longer than expected and the bread and lemon drizzle cake still need to be made. I'll do that once I've written this post.

John started his DIY project late in the afternoon and so I decided I would get my sewing machine set up and make a start on the quilting. I hadn't decided what I wanted to do on the patterned rows but I was going to straight line quilt the blue rows. That took a fair mount of time but as I was finishing the lines I decided I wanted to quilt between each different fabric piece using a zigzag stitch. I decided to try it on one row and I liked the effect.

I had completed one full row when I needed to pack up. This morning, when I got up, I set myself the challenge of completing the quilting. It took a bit of time but I'm very happy with the result. I used King Tut in the top and the bobbin. The thread is a blue variegated thread and looks quite pretty. It doesn't show up on the photo but it looks good in person. I decided to attach the binding before packing the machine away for the day. The binding went on very easily and the mitred join caused no trouble for once.

My slow stitching this evening will be to start attaching the back of the binding. It shouldn't take too long as the quilt is only 33 by 40 inches. I'll use the same thread for sewing on the binding.

A project that I want to get finished in the next year is the grandmother's garden quilt. This is now my oldest UFO and I'd love to have it finished. This is all handstitched and originally I planned to hand quilt it once I'd finished the top. I'm not sure that will happen. I've added some more of the white round since I took this photo and it is getting quite big. I need to make the bread I didn't make yesterday and then I can work out how many more rounds are needed before I start to square it up. I can then work out how many 'flower' blocks that needs and try to set myself the challenge of completing so many every month.

Once the baby quilt is finished and sent off to its new owner I have a small project I want to start. Since I still have the Austen Family Album quilt that I'm currently quilting I don't want another large project at the moment. Well unless one comes along that just has to be made.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. Friends have told me I'm not allowed to watch the football tonight as England will lose if I do. I might have to see if I've got a good murder mystery to watch while stitch the binding. I'm hoping to finish the binding by Tuesday.

Take care.


Friday 9 July 2021

Another finish.

Yesterday was a busy working day with interviews in the morning and then meetings all afternoon. By the time I finished work I was feeling really tired and as a result I didn't get my sewing out. Instead I chilled out watching a couple of  episodes from an early series of the Great British Sewing Bee. I find it really good for ideas and it reminds me about techniques I haven't used for ages. Today is my day off (I only work 4 days) and so I was free to get on with my sewing. I decided to work on the dress for Luna Lapin first. I quickly hand stitched the collar to the inside and added the press stud closures. The hem was quickly completed as was the bow. Luna wanted to go out into the garden for the photo shoot. I found it difficult to please her with backgrounds, who knew a soft toy could be so demanding.

Luna now wants to know when I'll do the rest of the shoot for her portfolio and how many new dresses I'm making her.

Once I'd finished with Luna, I sorted out a backing and wadding for the baby quilt. It didn't take long to sandwich the quilt and now I'm ready to start quilting tomorrow. I used the blue fabric I'd used on the quilt top for the backing and I also sorted out two possible fabrics for the binding. I haven't taken a picture of the quilt sandwich.

Yesterday I told you about day 1 of our trip to Norfolk. On day 2 we went bird watching in the morning. We visited RSPB Snettersham. As we headed onto the reserve we met a couple who told us there were no birds to see. We found a very different situation, with loads of birds with young. The black headed gull colony had a lot of very cute chicks, there were groups of avocets and oyster catchers. There was a barnacle goose with a family of 8 goslings and we enjoyed watching their antics. We walked all round the reserve and I loved this mural on the new hide .

The whole reserve was alive with daisies and other wild flowers. We enjoyed watching the birds, and trying to identify the different flowers. The morning was really enjoyable. 

In the afternoon we went to Castle Rising. The village is called Castle Rising and so is the 12th century castle built by William d'Albini II. We parked near the church before taking a walk around the village. The church tower was an interesting shape

I like the decoration on the porchway.

To get into the castle you have to cross the deep earthworks. Once inside the earthworks the first thing we did was to take a circuit around the top. A child wanted to roll down the bank but the parents stopped them as the slope was very steep.

The keep is very well preserved and quite lavishly decorated.

There was quite intricate stone work above the doorway into the castle but I couldn't get a good photo

Through the doorway you had to climb a long set of steps to gain access to the building. Due to covid there was a one way system in operation and this meant that areas that could not be one way had been closed off. We will have to visit again when all the different areas are fully open.

I took a picture of John in front of the gatehouse with the keep behind.

The was one lone tree on the top of the earthworks alongside the keep. You can see the slope up to the top of the earthworks behind the tree

It was an enjoyable visit and we spent some time enjoying the peace and quiet before deciding to head back to our hotel. The day was very hot and we were both tired from the heat and the exercise. We needed a nap before dinner.

Tomorrow I need to do some grocery shopping but after that I want to make a start on the quilting. If I'm really lucky I may get it all finished tomorrow. I also need to pick another project to work on and tidy my sewing cupboard. Now It's time for bed. I don't seem to have done a lot today but I am really tired.

Take care.

Thursday 8 July 2021

That was quick

Having finished work yesterday, I cleared the table and set about arranging the charm squares for the baby quilt. I needed to cut 13 of the squares in half but first I needed to decide which ones to cut. Having done that and once I was happy with the layout I started sewing them together. I soon had all 5 rows sewn and I cut the blue fabric for the remaining rows. In no time at all I had a completed quilt top.

My work today is full with various meetings so time will fly by and before I know it I will be able to pack up my work and set about making the quilt sandwich. I haven't fully decided on the backing fabric for the quilt. I have enough of the blue fabric to do the job but I may piece together some of the children's prints in my stash. I'll see how that looks before I make a final decision.

Having completed the top I pulled out the dress for Luna Lapin. This is very fiddly sewing and doing it on the machine can be a little difficult but I wanted to get it done and out of the way. I set in the sleeves, sewed up the sleeve and side seams and attached the collar. This is dressmaking in miniature. I find making baby clothes very fiddly but this puts a whole new spin on it. However once completed and properly pressed it will look really good.

Having done all that, it leaves stitching down the collar on the inside of the neck edge, the hem, back fastenings and making the bow for the front. That should get finished this evening and I will have another empty project bag which means I could start another project. It also means I need to sort out something else that has been languishing in my sewing cupboard, waiting to be finished.

Back in June John and I took a long weekend away in Norfolk. We'd stayed at the hotel/inn before and knew that the rooms are very comfortable and the food is excellent. We were hoping for good weather and we weren't disappointed with sunshine for the whole of our stay. We had planned for some bird watching, walking and a visit. We started our first day by visiting Old Hunstanton where we found an old and interesting church.

The church yard was particularly interesting as it had these two old graves.

The area was remote with limited habitation and a flat but tricky coast which advantaged the sailors who knew the coast well. This made the area good for smugglers. The beautiful old oak tree had a massive trunk so was very old. We wanted to go and measure the trunk to estimate the age of the tree but unfortunately it was on private property.

The photo of the church from the other side shows its squat tower. The hedged area in front of the church had the memorials to the Le Strange family who were local dignitaries

The church wasn't open on the day we visited but a member of the church council arrived and chatted to us. He let us have a quick look round inside whilst he completed the check he needed to make. The stained glass window was beautiful.

I really liked the shape of the windows in the church porch. I'm sure those curves lend themselves to a quilt block

There were a lot of mallards on the village pond and we had to chase 8 ducklings from underneath our car before we could leave. There were two yellow ducklings and 6 brown ones and they split into two groups. The adult mallards had trouble shepherding them around.

The rest of the day was spent walking. We followed a circular walk from the cliff top car park in Hunstanton, along the coastal path, across fields and along roads. We stopped for a drink at a pub on the way. We passed this old barn. Although not in use when we passed it, the barn had obviously been renovated fairly recently.

We passed through wide open countryside and alongside the beach and mud flats.

We walked through the nature reserve on Ringstead downs and didn't see another person but we did have a deer crash across the path in front of us. No flowers, limited butterflies and a few birds we could hear off in the trees. For quite a distance the scenery was just what you see in the photo. It was so calm and quiet but also felt a little eerie. It was good to get back to a more populated area.

Once back at the car we were tired so we headed back to our hotel and had a nap before dinner. I'll tell you some more about our trip tomorrow. I've finished writing this post in my lunch break and I have another meeting I need to join in a few minutes.

Take care