Sunday 30 April 2023

Getting on with the quilting.

I've not been missing in action since my last post, just working. I have found work and sewing and trying to post on my blog is just too much and doesn't fit into the time available. In an evening after work I tend to do some slow stitching or planning but sometimes I get my machine out. It all depends on the time I arrive home, who is cooking dinner and how busy the day has been. In younger years I wouldn't have worried about any of that, I'd get my machine out and sew late into the evening and occasionally all night just to complete a project. 

On Friday I had a few chores to do and then I was able to set up my sewing machine and get on with the quilting on the tulip table topper. I still needed to finish sewing the applique down so that was the first job. Then I got on with the main quilting. I had spent some time thinking about how I wanted to quilt this piece and I'd decided I wanted to echo quilt around the tulips. I think the quilting has worked well. I've attached the binding but it still has to be stitched down.

I haven't finished the binding on the Christmas mini yet, mostly because I had a book I wanted to finish reading and I was working on a project for the Rose Coloured Glasses blog hop taking place next month. I think I may have over stretched myself on that project, only time will tell.

Yesterday John and I went walking to our favourite bluebell wood and 7 friends joined us. The weather was very warm and I forgot to take sun screen with me. Fortunately, I didn't end up with sun burn. The bluebells were beautiful.

There were also primroses, cowslips and violets.

and I almost forgot the wild garlic.

We ended the walk with a late lunch at a café, where John and I enjoyed a tasty prawn salad and a slice of lemon drizzle cake before heading home. The day was perfect for a walk and we really enjoyed it. Maybe we will have time to do another one next weekend.

This evening I am working on my project for the May blog hop. Sorry I can't show you a picture at the moment. Tomorrow is a bank holiday in the UK and John and I are having a craft day. John will be working on his Vulcan bomber model and I will be working on the dolls for my dolls house.  I'm hoping to make at least one of the dolls.

Take care


Monday 24 April 2023

Planning, sewing and enjoying life

On Wednesday evening Lucy and I usually run our Rainbow, Brownie and Guide units but last Wednesday we arrived at the church where we meet to find they had fitted new locks but forgotten to inform us or give them a new key. We cancelled the meetings and drove home. Yippee a free evening!  I spent the evening planning a new project and working through my WIP's. On Friday  I made a start on my plans. Some time back I bought a dinosaur quilt pattern and I wanted to get it started. This project is going to take some organisation and will take time to make.

On Friday I set about cutting the fabric. There are a lot of bits and the cutting is done in two stages. The fabrics required are background fabric for which I chose a grey solid and 36 fat quarters of bright fabric. The coloured fabrics are in sets of 6 from darkest to lightest. Just reading the instructions for cutting out left me confused! I took it very slowly and by the time I stopped I had cut some of the background fabric and all pieces required from the first two colour groups.

With so many pieces I made sure I labelled them all. The different sets are all in separate folders. The box on the left of the photo are the fabrics waiting to be cut up. By the time I finished my arms were aching.

Later on Friday evening John and I went to the Richmond theatre to see 'Wish you were Dead'. This is a story by Peter James that has been adapted for the stage. I took a photo of the stage set. The play was really good, the stage set worked well and the ice cream in the interval was delicious.

Saturday morning saw us up at 4 a.m. as we had booked places for a dawn chorus walk at Barnes wetland centre. We saw and heard a lot of different birds and enjoyed watching the sun rise. The walk ended with breakfast and then we did some more bird watching for 2 hours. Unfortunately the rest of Saturday was spent catching up with the household chores. I had a pile of ironing to do that was almost a high as mount Everest.

Today I set about stitching the dolls for the dolls house. I started the process by tracing the pattern onto the back of freezer paper. I then cut round the pattern leaving a quarter of an inch margin. 

The freezer paper was ironed onto the wrong side of the knitted fabric and I stitched around the pattern lines using a small stitch and a ball point needle. This was rather fiddly to do and involved a lot of stopping and starting. I managed to sew all the doll shapes. The freezer paper is then removed as I have done here for one of the patterns. It's odd seeing the outline.

Next I have to make a slit in the back and after cutting the raw edge down to one eighth of an inch I will need to apply flexible glue to stop it fraying. Only then can I turn the doll inside out and start the process of making them into mini people.

No slow sewing today as I ran out of time but hopefully tomorrow I will get some done when I get home from work. I'm driving to Reading tomorrow so I'm hoping it won't be raining.

Take care


Tuesday 18 April 2023

Dolls House Catch up

Work is proceeding slowly on the house but at least it's moving in the right direction. There are areas of both the basement and the main house that I've done work on but none of the rooms are yet full finished.  The wood flooring is finished in the basement and it looks really good. I still need to add the door between the kitchen and sewing room or whatever it becomes. For Christmas I was given some furniture for the kitchen

The second basement room has also been painted. All the windows are fully completed. I need to add the skirting boards and also the electrics to these areas.

Working on the main house I have inserted the main windows and the front door. The windows in the basement are fixed but the sashes in the main house work with the lower sash being able to open. The outside of the basement still has to be painted to match the rest of the house before I can finish the whole basement area. All of the windows need to have the sills attached. They have been painted and just need gluing in place.

Some of the attic area has been wallpapered and some painted but I haven't done any work on the roof. There are two dormer windows to be attached to the roof before I can add the tiles. The 4 rooms in the main house have all been painted.

There is still a lot to do including the floors, skirting boards and the electrics. I'm not worried or upset that it is taking so long as I wanted this as a long term project but I do want the main building completed this year. I am slowly starting on the bits I'm really looking forward to,  making the carpets and soft furnishings for the inside and also making the dolls that will live in the house. Don't ever suggest that I make things easy for myself.

I'm not working on Friday and my plan is to work on the dolls for the house. I want to make the four dolls so I have a complete family. I've read all the instructions and it looks very straightforward to make but due to the size it will be rather fiddly. Meanwhile in the evenings this week, I slowly stitching the binding down on the Christmas mini and also working on the cross stitch book marks. I'll show you how successful I've been on Friday.

Take Care


Monday 17 April 2023

Quilt shop and walking

 Back in March when we visited Somerset I was able to visit my favourite quilt shop, Midsomer quilting. I know March is a while back but I haven't shown you the photos of the quilts that were on display. Some of the quilts are made by the women who work there, some by customers, some are made as examples of the classes being run and others as examples of the patterns they are selling. The quilts decorate the walls, and give people ideas on what they could be making, whilst also demonstrating colour combinations.  So here are the quilts from that trip.

This quilt was made by the lady who does their longarm quilting. I love the colour and different blocks in this quilt. In the entrance hall to the shop there was a display of fabrics that could be used if making a coronation quilt. Hanging on the wall above the fabric was this impressive quilted union flag. The different fabrics play well together.

This one was a little difficult to Photograph due to the position it was displayed in. I like the graduation of colours from the top to the bottom.

This one created different patterns depending on how you looked at it. Some sections would seem to stand out whilst others receded. At times the square in the middle seemed to be at the bottom of a dip with the surrounding blocks coming up and then it would appear to be the top of a pyramid. I love visual illusions.

I like the interwoven effect on this quilt. The top of the quilt looks darker than it was due to the shadow but it was also darker than the lower part of the quilt.

Back in 2015 I made a baby quilt using a simpler interwoven pattern. I had won a jelly roll from Sharon at Vroomans Quilts in 2014 (I can't remember what for) but it was perfect for the quilt. 

My purchases on this visit were quite limited and included the fabric I've used to back the Christmas mini quilt and the sashing and backing for the bag ladies. I also bought two fat quarters. I don't have a plan for either FQ but I particularly liked them so had to buy them.

Last weekend we visited Barnes wetland centre. The sun was shining and we sat outside to have our coffee before we started our walk. There were so many robins singing in the hedgerow. They didn't fly off as we went by.

The sky was very blue with fluffy white clouds being blown across and there was a green hue on the trees.

The hedges were further forward with their leaves than the trees.

The snakes head fritillary were blooming 

The marsh marigolds were giving a great splash of colour.

and cowslips were poking their heads out of the grass

The clouds were beautifully reflected in the water.

At last I've caught up with our visits and walks. OK so I'm a little late with them but the old saying is that 'it's better late than never.' I'm not sure why I got so far behind!  

Over this coming week I want o make a start on the dolls for the dolls house. 

I'd planned to do this ages ago but didn't read all the instructions and items needed to complete them. Now I have and I have everything I need to get them made. First job is to trace the patterns onto freezer paper. So I'll go and get on with that.

Take care


Sunday 16 April 2023

A great day out.

 At the start of the year, John and I decided we needed to plan more 'us' days. A while back I booked tickets to join a guided bird watching day to Knepp rewilding project and RSPB Pulborough and yesterday was the day. We needed to be up early so we could meet the coach at 8 a.m. I tend to do a lot of the driving when we are travelling and so it was a treat to be able to sit and watch the scenery go by. Whilst still in London we drove past this old building. Although I've driven past it before I didn't realise it was a hospital. It explains the long verandas on the three floors 

The hospital was one of the earliest buildings on Waterloo road and the hospital had a long and sometimes dark history. The building is now owned by the University of Notre Dame (US) and is used as dormitories for students. The building is a grade-11 listed building which means it is subject to regulations that protects it historical and architectural significance. The façade can not be changed unless special permission is given. The dark history relates to the times between 1948 and 1973 when Dr William Sargent used it for psychiatric inpatients. He actively treated patients using sedation, electroconvulsive therapy and modified insulin treatment together and at the time was widely respected however now his ideas have been discredited.
The weather was cool at the start of the trip and it did look like it might rain but over the day the weather got sunnier and it was very enjoyable to be outside. Our visit to Knepp rewilding project was to see what the project was about and to hopefully see the white storks that had been reintroduced. The white stork was common in the Middle Ages in Britain but had died out. Other successful reintroductions have been undertaken in several areas of Europe. In 2016 white storks were introduced in Sussex UK. They used captive birds to seed the programme and establish a breeding colony. During our visit we saw a good number of storks in flight, on the ground and in their nests. As with all birds you can't get up close to them so my photos were taken with a 300mm lens which was the biggest size I had with me.

They are a large bird. The paths at Knepp were very muddy and in places flooded from all the rain. Here the little stream has overflowed its banks .

There was a small shop on site and I purchased some locally made gingerbread to take home for Lucy and Richard. There were a lot of birds flying round and several butterflies. It was fun watching them. Then back on the coach for the short journey to Pulborough.  Here the spot of the day was a white tailed eagle. Two have recently been reintroduced and appear to have settled and claimed an area as their territory. I saw one through a scope but it was a distance away, too far to take a photo. Here is a copyright free picture from Google. The ones at Pulborough haven't got their white tails yet as they are youngsters. They get their adult plumage at 5 to 6 years and their tails turn white at about 8years.

John and I did a full walk around the site stopping at viewing points and hides to watch the birds. We saw a good variety of birds and other wildlife including newts, water beetles and water boatmen, butterflies and we heard even more, especially nightingales. Towards the end of the afternoon we visited the feeders where there are a couple of benches. We enjoyed watching the small birds and squirrels on the feeders. I love the colours on the goldfinches

a Great Tit

and a pesky squirrel doing acrobatics to have dinner.

Having enjoyed his meal he rested on the frame supporting the feeder.

I had been hoping to get photos of the chaffinches and others that were flitting between the trees but I think their places at the feeders were reserved for a later time!

I took some final photos of the reserve before we needed to return to the coach.

A beautiful day out in the countryside enjoying nature and covering nine miles in the process.
The journey home was good and we arrive back in London at 7:30.  A quick journey on the tube meant we were home just after 8 p.m.

Today has been a rest day and a getting ready to go back to work day. A little later I will settle to do some slow stitching. I have the binding to stitch down on the Christmas mini and I also have a cross stitch bookmark I'm trying to complete. I think I'll work on the bookmark today and work alternate days on the two until they are finished. I'm not sure when the little book mark was started but it had been incorrectly or inadvertently packed away with some papers that needed to be stored for some years. I need to get it finished as one of my book marks fell apart from old age recently.

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

Take care



Friday 14 April 2023

Starting the quilting.

Last night was not a great night for a restful sleep. I work up at 4 a.m. and just couldn't get back to sleep. I ended up reading on my phone until it was a reasonable time to get up. I didn't want to disturb Missy as she would want to play or go for a walk. As a result I've spent the day feeling rather wooly. At 8:30 I spent some time chatting with my friend on Teams. Every Friday we meet on Teams for virtual breakfast club. There are several members but this morning there was just the 2 of us. It's always good to catch up with friend.

I was about to set up my sewing for the day when my grocery order arrived. The fridge and store cupboards are full again. Finally I was able to get on with some quilting. I decided to start with the little Christmas quilt. I stitched around the inner border and stitched in the ditch between the outer border squares. I didn't want to do too much quilting around the stitching. I added some roof tiles, extra stars and some lines.

Before I finished I added the binding which I now need to stitch down by hand. Once finished the little mini will make a great addition to my holiday decorations.

Next I made the quilt sandwich for the tulip table centre and started on the stitching. I stitched the appliqued stems and leaves but still have to do the flowers.

I packed my sewing up for the day and drove over to see my older daughter and my grandson.  Yesterday was her birthday and today John had been doing some painting and other jobs for her. Aubrey is almost 11 months old and a beautiful little boy but he has reached that stage when he just wants his mom and doesn't like her to go out of his sight. Hopefully this stage won't last too long. By the time we came home, time was getting on and we didn't feel like cooking so we ordered a Chinese take away. It was delicious.

Tomorrow we are going on a bird watching trip. We are travelling by coach and need to be at the meeting point at 7 a.m. Once at the venue we can decide to stay with the group and the guide will help point out the different species of birds or we can take ourselves off and meet up with the group later in the day. Since it's an early start and I slept badly last night I think I'd better pack up and head to bed.

Take care


Making sandwiches

Today was a bit of a hotchpot sort of a day. This morning I had to attend a meeting for work which took about 2 hours. The meeting went smoothly and soon I was free to get on with my holiday. I started by making sandwiches, quilt sandwiches that is. First I needed to piece the backing fabric for the quilting bag ladies. The ladies seemed to be annoyed that I'd taken so long to get the top together but pleased that I was getting nearer to finishing the quilt. I also sandwiched the Christmas mini. The bag ladies quilt fitted nicely on the dining table so no crawling round the floor needed to get the job done. A very satisfying job and two quilts now needing quilting. I love the little cottage fabric.

Having completed the quilt sandwiches, Lucy and I decided to take a walk to our local craft centre. This sells fabric, wools, haberdashery items plus other craft products. Lucy has been teaching herself to crochet and had almost run out of yarn. She is crocheting a blanket and really enjoying the process. We spent a little checking out the fabrics and stroking the yarns before lucy made a decision on what she wanted. On the way home we stopped and enjoyed a delicious coffee and shared a caramel chocolate brownie. After our coffee break we continued our walk home. The sun disappeared and it went gone very cold as it began to sleet. What is wrong with the weather this year?

Back home I pulled out one of my 'in progress' projects. This is a small table centre. This is how far I had got when I last worked on it.

Today I wanted to add the applique tulips to this piece. I used bondaweb to attach the tulips. I am happy with the way it looks and I will be stitching the applique down tomorrow before I make the quilt sandwich. There is a chance I may have three quilts finished in the near future

I'm not sure what fabric I will use for the backing for this quilt but quite possibly I'll end up piecing the back.

Having finished with my sewing projects for the day I prepared a lasagne for dinner and made some banana bread to use up three over ripe bananas. As a family we all like bananas so I'm not sure why these haven't been eaten already but no problem, I can guarantee the banana bread won't last very long. I also managed to fit in picking up food for Missy, doing some reading and walking Missy with Lucy. Fortunately our walk this time was dry. Tomorrow John is going over to Katy's to do some work on her house. There are shelves to put up and some painting to finish. I will go over later but before that I have some quilting to get started. I also have a work meeting in the early afternoon. I must  remember to take the time back for the work I've done while on holiday. In the run up to bedtime I'm going to start planning out Missy's quilt. She used Scamp's quilt when she was a small puppy but now she is fully grown she needs a larger size

 Take care


Wednesday 12 April 2023

Sewing and things

Since the beginning of the year I have been trying to do some hand stitching or sewing every day. I've found it my preferred way to relax and even if the project I'm working on doesn't go as well as I would like it doesn't stress me out. I have also found I don't need to be making something to enjoy my sewing hobby. Planning new projects, sorting fabrics, keeping all my supplies in order and using scraps are enjoyable. Last week, on the first day of my holiday i decided that some scrap management was in order. I have two boxes where I keep scraps and both were full. What better way to start the holiday that reducing the scraps by prepping them into usable sizes. I decided to work on one box this holiday as I had sewing I wanted to do as well. This was my box at the beginning of the week.

When I started the lid didn't fit on as scraps were just piled into the box. You can see some squares that I'd cut already on the right hand side of the photo. Today the box looks like this. I had emptied it completely but moved the overspill from the other box. A very satisfying activity and I now have lots of 2 and half inch squares ready to start a scrappy quilt.

In early March I also finally got round to sewing the quilting bag ladies into a quilt top. I found this fabric on my visit to Midsommer Quilting when John and I were in Somerset. I love the old sewing machine design and decided it was perfect for the sashing and borders.

I wanted all the machines to be the right way round and I think it was worth it. The top has been folded and scrunched up so I apologise for the creases. I'm hoping to get this top sandwiched tomorrow or Friday. Once finished the quilt will be displayed on the stairway. These ladies have waited a long time to be finished into a quilt. I started stitching them when Barbara from Cat Patches run a stitch along to complete one bag lady a month over 2017. If you haven't visited Barbara's blog follow the link. There is a lot of quilting and hand stitching but also cooking, gardening, cats, camping trip and so much more. 

Today I set out to turn the Noel stitchery into a little top. I was very pleased with how the stitching turned out.

I pulled some Christmas fabric from my stash and got busy with my rotary cutter. I needed to trim the embroidery before I could start. It all came together very quickly and easily. This will be sandwiched at the same time as the bag ladies.

On March 25th I visited the The Stitch Festival at the Business Design Centre in London with my friend and colleague Michelle. We both bought fabric to make some dresses, enjoyed a delicious lunch and enjoyed each others company. Michelle took this photo of the pair of us. We had a great time and she treated me to a glass of prosecco to round off a perfect day. We both have yet to make a dress with our fabric but we both have it in our sights. It is so much more fun to visit an event like this with a friend. It is something I always did with my mother when she was alive.

Finally to show how slowly some things happen in our house, here is a photo of one of the Christmas jigsaws we bought. Lucy and I started it in the week before Christmas and it has been waiting to be finished. At last over the Easter weekend John and I sat down and finished it. The second puzzle will have to wait until Christmas comes round again.

My plan for this evening is a little hand stitching on a cross stitch book mark and planning out a quilt. I'm currently rewatching all the Midsomer Murders and that will make a perfect accompaniment to the stitching. Meanwhile here in London it is raining again so I'm going to close the curtains and shut the world and the weather out. Missy will need her late evening walk but Lucy and Richard can do that. Tomorrow is older daughter's birthday and I was planning on going to see her but her plans have changed so it may be a sewing day.

Take care