Monday, 18 September 2023

It's a dog's life.


It's September 18th and the start of the 'It's a dog's life' blog hop. Thank you Carol for organising the hop and I love the badge for this event. 

We have a dog who keeps us all amused and happy. Missy is a cockerpoo who came to join the family in April 2022 as a nine week old puppy.

She replaced Scamp who had shared our home for 15 years and still has a special place in our hearts. She is a very loving dog and likes everyone to be together. She loves long walks and lying in muddy puddles!

I set out to make 3 projects for Missy. The first one was a simple draw string bag. I needed a bag to keep her harness and leads together. This was simple  to make. I used animal paw print fabric for one side and in the absence of dog fabric chose a bright giraffe print.

Everyone now knows exactly where to find Missy's lead and harness and it saves time when taking her out.

My next make was a new mat to sit under her water and food bowls. Missy decided it was comfortable enough to lie on

I used dog fabric for the one side and animal paw prints on the reverse. I tried machine stitching the binding but it wasn't very neat. Missy doesn't mind. We use a mat under her bowls because Missy loves to get her paws in the water bowl and splash it around. A mat helps to soak up any spilt water. I had fun playing with the quilting making some of it geometric shapes and also quilting a rose.

Finally I started Missy's quilt. When I tidied my sewing cupboard I found 4 star blocks that I made some time ago. I added some nine square blocks to make a square quilt top.

This is a lovely bright quilt top. I'm not going to add a border as it covers Missy's sleeping mat very well. I already had the backing fabric - the paw prints but needed the batting. I visited my favourite quilt shop this weekend and stocked up on batting so I will be able to finish this quilt quickly.

My son is looking forward to this quilt being finished. Missy has taken to pulling his quilt off his bed so she can lie on it . She has fully grasped just how comfortable and cosy a quilt can be. Scamp always like to be tucked up in his basket with his quilt. Meanwhile she has decided to make use of the quilt on the settee. she often goes to sleep with something in her mouth, usually a sock! The fur on her back is black but the sun is catching it in patches and making it look white.

I hope you enjoyed your visit and will come and visit again soon. Now you need to go and visit the other blogs taking part in this hop, there is sure to be a lot fun things to see, Here is the schedule.

Sunday, 17 September 2023

A weekend away and slow stitching.

This weekend John and I had booked a weekend away. We had planned a visit to Basildon Park on the way to our hotel and the day was perfect for a walk in the grounds. We arrived at lunch time and decided to eat first. The Cornish pasties were delicious. After that we headed into the house.

Basildon Park estate was bought by Francis Sykes in 1771. He demolished the old house and employed John Carr, an architect to build the house as it is now. The house is made of Bath stone which looked beautiful in the summer sun. The Sykes family owned the house until 1838. From 1838 to 1928 the house was owned by the Morrison family. During the war the house was used by the military and it fell into disrepair having been badly damaged during the war.

In 1952 Lord and Lady Iliffe bought Basildon Park and they set about restoring the house but also adding modern updates such as central heating. They bought antiques they had found at auctions. In 1978 they gifted the property to the National Trust.

One of the rooms, known as the shell room was full of shells and also extensive decorated with them.

I have no idea who had the patience to stick all the shells into the intricate patterns.  The Portuguese hand made carpet in one of the room was beautiful.

After the tour of the house we took a walk through the park and visited the shop and garden centre.  We enjoyed our visit and then continued our journey to Somerset.

I always take some sewing with me when we go away. I took my little carpet I'm stitching for the dolls house. The holes in the canvas are very small and this has slowed down the speed of completion. By evening, when I have free time, my eyes are very tired. I have nearly finished it and then I can complete the edging. This is what I'm working on today.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching.  I'll stitch for a little longer then I need to head to bed as I have work in the morning.

Take Care.


Sunday, 10 September 2023

Feeling happy

Life has been busy recently but also I just haven't felt like doing much. The heat doesn't help but mostly it was because I needed to make a decision about my Guide groups. I have been running them since 1995 and I'm not getting any younger. I realised I had stopped enjoying the meetings and couldn't wait for the evenings to be over. That was not good for me or the girls. Lucy has been my assistant leader for some years and she was also feeling it was time to move on so we have resigned and we are both loving our decision. I need to close the bank accounts and clear our cupboard at the church where we meet, which I will do in the next couple of weeks. Having set everything in motion I feel much happier and yesterday I cleaned and sorted my sewing storage and made plans for my projects. I have so many half finished projects and loads of new ones I want to start. Life seems much calmer and happier so let the sewing commence.

I have finished two small projects started for the blog hop starting on the 18th September. I still have one item to finish. Friday, as my none working day was meant to be an all day sewing day.  Having visited the Festival of Quilts and seen a version of the Red House I decided I wanted to work on the next round of this quilt.

The next round involves the paper pieced arrows, and the appliqued sheep, birds and flowers. I started by cutting the background squares and then pulled out the fabrics I wanted to use for the other items. I photocopied the sheets I needed for the paper piecing and the templates for the applique pieces. I already had some fusible bonding web so I used this to cut out the shapes and then ironed them onto the back of my chosen fabrics, ready to be cut out and attached to the backing fabrics. The pattern uses needle turn appliques and raw edge applique. I prefer doing raw edge applique but I will give needle turn a go. You always need to move forward and learn and perfect new skills.

Yesterday, having cleaned and tidied my sewing storage I had planned to do some quilting on the bag ladies quilt but the heat was intense so I did some fabric cutting instead for the dinosaur quilt. I also pulled out my embroidery projects and I found a little kit to make rugs for the dolls house that I had been given. I didn't particularly want to make two rugs or use the pattern but I am using the canvas and the thread. I made a start on this yesterday evening and will be working on it today. This is my slow Sunday stitching work. It is nice and simple to do.

Although I haven't been doing much sewing I have worked on the dolls house and have added the dormer windows to the roof.  The attic is now fully decorated and has flooring but I need to varnish it. I need to order the tiles for the roof but that involves working out how many packs I need. I need to work out how many square inches of roof there is! It shouldn't take long to do but I will get John to check my calculations.

I bought a couple of bits for the house and one of them was a female mannequin for the sewing room. The stand need to be sanded and varnished but I thinks it's rather cute.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching party. For now I need to change the water in my flower vase as the heat has made it cloudy. The flowers are managing well in the heat and giving off a beautiful perfume.

Take Care


Friday, 18 August 2023

What a difference time makes.

Yesterday was a funny day, one of those day where you try to get a lot done but other things keep getting in the way. My list of things I needed to get done was lengthy but what I managed to achieve was very little. I did make bread, do some laundry and a general tidy up but I still have an ironing mountain to tackle. Also I didn't make it to my sewing machine but I did sort out a few 'on hold' projects.

I love starting new projects and if all goes well they get finished quickly. Sometimes they get tucked away in my storage cupboard and end up pushed to the back. At other times I decide I don't like the project and tuck it away for later. I know from past experience that when I work on something for quite a while I may decide I don't love it or even like it. If I squirrel it away and come back to it some time later I often find I like the project again and can then get it finished quickly. Yesterday was one of those days of becoming reacquainted with works in progress and finding I like them again. the first one was blocks I had made for the RSC a few years ago. I decided I didn't like the top and put it away for later. Yesterday when I pulled it out and pressed it I couldn't remember what I thought was wrong with it. The project in question was this one.

Having decided I like the top I measured it so I could add a border. Unfortunately I don't have enough fabric to make the border or anything suitable for the back and so I started my quilting shopping list. I can either go shopping locally or wait until September when I will be visiting my favourite quilting shop 'Midsomer Quilting'.

My purpose in going through my work in progress projects was two fold. One I need a accurate list of what I'm working on and two I wanted to find the Red House Mansion project. I saw a completed top made using the pattern at the Festival of Quilts and decided I needed to work on this again. The reason it got put away was because of the paper piecing, it really isn't my favourite way of making a block but it is extremely accurate if you do it correctly. Here's how far I got.

and here's the quilt I saw  at the NEC made by Brenda Otter and Lynda Edmunton from Abergele UK.

Unlike Brenda and Lynda, I am making my version from my stash and so yesterday evening I went searching for fabrics for the next round. To make the next round I need to print out the patterns for the paper piecing and then do some fabric cutting. In preparation for using my machine I gave it a thorough clean. It is amazing just how much fluff etc gets caught up during use. 

Talking of the Festival of Quilts, several people have asked how big it is. The information I have tells me it is the biggest quilting show in Europe and that approximately 22,000+ people will have visited it this year. As you can see it is a much smaller show than Houston International Quilt show but the population sizes are very different. US population is 333.1 million and the UK 67.3 million according to Mr Google so potentially a lot more quilters in the United States. The biggest quilt show in the world, Tokyo International Quilt Festival has been permanently cancelled.

The Festival of Quilts have now released the gallery of all the quilts in the show. Here is the link if you want to go and look.  

Today is a busy day. I have some paperwork to complete and I need to run to the shops for some curtain hooks. One curtain got caught up and when it was pulled to close it the hooks came out. Dear Missy decided they were meant for her to chew! We have a new dishwasher being delivered this afternoon and later in the afternoon we are heading into London to visit the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Sewing today will have to be fitted in between jobs.

Take Care


Thursday, 17 August 2023

Hand stitching and a visit.

John and I decided to have a two day, one night mini trip. Back in May we had visited Portsmouth because we wanted to visit the historic dockyard. There is so much to see, that when I bought the tickets I opted for the Ultimate Explorer ticket which means we can visit as often as we want for a year. This trip was to explore the next bit of the dockyard. Since we were going to be away overnight I needed a hand stitching project to take along, but I decided cross stitch wasn't appropriate since you can never be sure if the hotel room lighting will be good enough to see the holes in the fabric! Because of that I picked this pretty countryside scene that John bought me as a kit, a couple of years ago. It's a small piece, about 10cm /4inches square.

The threads are colourful and of different types, with strand embroidery floss, and wools. It comes with full instructions which are very clearly written and it tells you the order to sew in.

The background trees and bushes are done first, using French knots and then the trees nearer the front. I still have to finish the bush on the right hand side but I was tired of French knots by this point so I started on the straight stitch on the field. I'll finish the bush later this evening.

Whilst I stitched on Tuesday evening John was reading his book. A peaceful evening after our day. We left London early- well early for us and drove to Hinton Ampner, an elegant country manor in Hampshire that is owned by the National Trust. The grounds of the house are very beautiful and tranquil.

We started our visit by looking round the house. This is a very elegant house, not overstuffed with 'things'. I only took a couple of photos inside the house and these were in the dinning room. This room felt very calm and welcoming. We were told by the guide that guests used to ask to sit on the right side of the table because they would be able to look out over the gardens. Ralph Dutton, the owner had a large mirror installed on the wall on the right of the photo so guests facing that way could see the garden reflected in the mirror. This would be a fabulous room for a family party.

The ceiling of the dining room was beautiful with various paintings . This ceiling was partially destroyed in a fire but was restored and where needed new painting made in the original style.


We spent quite a lot of time walking in the garden. The views across the countryside were fabulous.

There were a lot of Dahlias in different colours. The obviously like the soil here

We took a walk along the Long Walk.

The flower beds were alive with colour and bees.

This is the view of the back of the house from the garden

We also looked at the little church 

Inside we found these beautiful stained glass windows.

Here is the information about the windows.

There were a lot of artichoke plants in full flower.

and this espalier apple tree was old but heavily laden with apples.

The garden felt quite intimate because it was dived into zones or areas by plants or hedges. This meant you weren't aware of the large numbers of people who were there.

We had a very enjoyable visit, including a tasty lunch. We then travelled to a nature reserve on Hayling Island that John wanted to check out. He wasn't expected to see many birds but in the event he was pleased we stopped. It also gave us the chance to get some more walking into the day. I don't get a lot of exercise when I'm working so I try and compensate when I'm off. We finished the bird watching and continued to our hotel in Portsmouth and dinner. We enjoyed our day and had our trip to the dockyard to look forward to.

Today I have some work to do and my flowers have just been delivered so I need to get them in water. I am also planning on making bread and getting to my sewing machine. I'll let you know how that goes in my next post.

Take care


Monday, 14 August 2023

Final photos from the quilt show.

Today I'm sharing the final photos I took at the Festival of Quilts. I really wish I'd taken more photos but there was so much to see, and at times I got so involved with what was going on that I forgot to take pictures. I am also very pleased I bought a show guide and competition catalogue. It meant I didn't have any problems identifying who has made the quilts.

This quilt titled 'The flux of time' was made by Tina Sommer Paaske from Fuglebjerg, Denmark. This is a glimpse of history in a tiny village in rural Denmark, which is Tina's new home town. I love the little cats.

I stood looking at this quilt for some time as I loved the stonework and it felt that if I touched it (which you were not allowed to do), it would actually feel like stone. The view is also intriguing. This quilt is titled 'Aoife's View' and was made by Ethelda Ellis Erasmus from County Laois, Ireland. It is collaged raw-edge applique and free motion quilted and embroidered. 

In the heart of Ireland, is a less well known site, Rock of Dunamase, with stunning views over the landscape, a castle that was built in 1170 for Aoife, the future wife of Strongbow. Ethelda took a picture of a view through the ruins, imagining what it looked like when Aoife stood there. This is one of my favourite quilts from the show.

Danuta Owczarek, from Wroclaw, Poland made this quilt titled 'My haven' using elements of raw edge applique. She wanted to show her eternal longing for places where sun is warm, sky is blue and people smile. The quilt certainly made me smile and forget the wet week we were having in London.

This quilt called 'Carnival Flower' was made by Cordula Ermler from Molln, Germany. The quilt is a Judy Niemeyer pattern and it was sewn from a kit from her. Cordula has been sewing patchwork since 2009.

'Summer Garden' was made by Hilary Jane Cheshire from Leigh-on-sea, Essex UK. Her inspiration was a summers afternoon in the garden. The quilt illustrates various handstitched patchwork techniques, using natural and tea dyed fabrics, combined with various stitches.

This quilt was made by Sheena J Norquay from Inverness UK and is titled 'Sixteen Pots and Jugs of Flowers 11'. It was made using fabric printing and painting, machine piecing, free motion embroidered trapunto and quilting. Reminiscent of Baltimore but Sheena's own original designs which she enlarged from a smaller hand embroidered piece.

I like the various flowers in this quilt and it gave me an idea for some embroidered hexies to go into my grandmother's garden quilt.

This quilt 'Hollyhock spires' by Tamzin Phillips from Nailsworth, Gloucestershire UK is another favourite of mine. I love hollyhocks and they always remind me of our garden when I was a child. I really must plant some for next year. Tamzin has used Suffolk puffs, applique, painted fabrics, hand stitching and free motion quilting, when creating this piece. It was inspired by the hollyhocks that grow in front of upright railway sleepers in Tamzin's garden. There are wild strawberries trailing over the top, 3 shield beetles hidden in the leaves and a snail at the top of the quilt.

This quilt made by Youn Kyung Song from Seoul, South Korea, is titled 'Time to loss' Everyone is given a fair amount of time but everyone has a different way of using it. The emptiness of time is expressed in broken clocks and watch gears.

This quilt is called 'A sower went forth to sew' and was made by Margaret Woodside from Larne, co Antrim UK.  Margaret said "After 30 years of quilting, squares and triangles are still exciting as the first ones I ever made. I live on a sheep farm and this is my interpretation of the parable of the sower. The seed is in the quilting and the harvest is of lambs".

A close up of the lambs and the grass.

This quilt was made by the Village residents of Rowhedge and is titled 'A walk through the village of Rowhedge'. Each square was made by a village resident to honour the past and present Rowhedge. It hangs permanently in the village hall, an heirloom for future generations.

This quilt was made for the sustainable Quilts challenge. To enter this challenge the quilt had to be made with minimal impact on the environment. At least 75% of fabric used in the piece must be repurposed from materials including functional textiles e.g. curtains. The remaining 25% of fabric would ideally be organic fabrics or taken from stash rather than buying new. Wadding and threads wherever possible should be made from sustainable and natural sources. 90% of the fabrics were donated by villagers.

This quilt is called Happy flowers' by the maker Sijke Banga, from Kollumersweach, Netherlands. It certainly made me feel happy while enjoying the embroidery and colours.

The following quilts were retrospectives of previous winners. I have included a photo of the information after the photo of the quilt. I loved this jigsaw quilt.


I spent quite a lot of time enjoying this longcase clock. There was a lot to see on it.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing these quilts. There was so much to see at the show and lots of ideas and techniques that I want to try at some point.  I have already booked my ticket for the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London in October. I'm looking forward to seeing the quilts and other stitcheries they have on display. The Festival of Quilts has re-energised me and since I have completed my big work project I will now have time to get sewing. I won't be starting sewing tomorrow however since John and I are taking a trip to Portsmouth for a couple of days. We went earlier this year but I didn't get round to posting about it. We visited the historic dockyard and this trip is to further explore the dockyard and the city. I am taking some hand stitching with me to do in the evening.

Take care