Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Holiday Season

A week or so ago I was approached by a representative of ECT Travel to see if I would consider mentioning their quilting tours on my blog.
Before I go any further I must say I have not been offered any remuneration or favours other than a mention of my blog on their own social media sites. That said I am not in a position to offer any opinion on their tours, I have never experienced one.

I had however heard of the company and I have in the past heard of the quilt shows that are held in the Alsace area of France. Indeed I believe it was that very area's show that inspired our very own Loch Lomond Quilt Show.
When I heard that ECT are themselves affiliated to the Quilters' Guild of the British Isles then I thought the company must surely be worth a browse, so why don't you have a look too. Personally I have been to big quilt shows in this country and in far away places like Sydney as part of my own planned holidays but not as part of an organised tour but I do imagine there is an appetite for organised trips to specialised venues and some of ECT's venues look mouth watering.......what follows is their own words and pictures, so please enjoy.

Nestled deep in the enchanting French countryside, the region of Alsace is situated close to the border of Germany and Switzerland. It is here in mid-September, for 4 days only, that you will find 36 unique and quirky exhibition sites dotted amongst the villages of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Sainte-Croix-aux-Mines, Liepvre and Rombach-Le-Franc.

As the cradle of the Amish movement, Alsace has been a hub for quilting and textile artists for over 300 years. In 1993 the European Patchwork Meeting was devised to celebrate the talents of traditional and modern patchworkers and quilters. With a huge range of activities such as workshops, conferences, specialist stalls and exhibitions, it is no surprise that over 22,000 international visitors flock to the event every year.

Working together with the Quilter’s Guild, ECT Travel have put together a fantastic 3 night package that gives textile enthusiasts the chance to explore the art trail at their own pace, whilst all the hassle of arranging their transport and accommodation has been taken care of.

Staying in the town of Colmar, where on Friday and Saturday evenings the buildings are illuminated by an award winning light show, guests will have free time to explore after being transferred back to their hotel from the event by executive coach.

For more information on this amazing tour or to book, please visit ECT’s website or contact Sofia by email on sofia@ecttravel.com.











Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Fruity

Excitement levels are building Chez Bluepatch as our Disney holiday approaches.........I showed you a few things that I had made for Ava already but have one more project that I haven't shared and this one is courtesy of Ali at veryberryhandmade. It's a very nice art wrap, well, Ali's is, mine is a wee bit wobbly and I left out the ties as I thought the chubby five year old fingers might cope better with snaps, (and I am putting Kam snaps on everything that doesn't move at the moment). Anyway, thought I'd produce this on the flight, might keep her amused for half an hour or so..............






Meanwhile, I am now all up to date on the Bellaskillbuilder BOM that I am doing from the fatquartershop blog. This month we had to do seven Pineapple blocks, three in one size and four a little larger. There was a recommended ruler to purchase to help trim as you went along but I wanted to make a start and I am also a bit mean and thought I was unlikely to be making more Pineapples in my near future. I'd only ever foundation pieced this block before so had a bit of a look online to see if I could pick up some tips and found some help from this blog - once I got going I found I could use tape to mark my wide ruler at the point for trimming each round of the pineapple and this worked fine for me. Although my blocks look quite accurate they are actually quite wonky here and there but I am really quite pleased with them. Remember I am using old shirts for this project although in these Pineapples the peach is new solid from stash, the white is all shirt fabric.





Saturday, 15 April 2017

All Change

Well, it's almost exactly a year since I retired from my classes, how quickly those twelve months have flown by.
As so many of you know, while I taught class, I introduced my lovely ladies to the wonders of Aurifil thread and became a small time retailer of said thread.........
I so wanted to continue selling and wanted to try online sales so after much research found a platform and opened up a small online presence - I have enjoyed moderate sales this way whilst continuing with my real life customers that I see in my day to day quilting life here in Ayrshire.

I sort of gave myself a year of trying the online thing but have reluctantly decided to cancel my subscription to the shop and here are the two main reasons - I think my online Aurifil customers know their colours, are perhaps regular neutral users, I rarely sell "colours", so tricky to choose unless you know your particular shade, do you agree?
and the second reason? I just can't keep the P&P to rock bottom on 1 large spool. In its wisdom the UK Post Office has designated this one small product as a small parcel and basically it costs the same as a shoe box full, so frustrating.....

So to my lovely online customers I am truly sorry, but I will still be stocking Aurifil - and will do my best to accommodate your thread wishes, all you need to do is email me, or DM me on Instagram and I'll do my best for you.

For everyone else that knows me I shall turn up like a bad penny at any quilty event in Ayrshire that you can think of..............wouldn't want you running out of your favourite thread.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Catch Up

I did mean to come back and update you on my sewing projects but my blogging has fallen way behind my quilting, so here goes.

In March I looked forward to Month 2 of the Bella Skill Builder BOM that I started in February - it is being featured each month on the Fat Quarter's Blog, The Jolly Jabber. So March featured an Orange peel block that didn't fill me with enthusiasm - applique isn't my favourite but I got stuck in. I had a look at the YouTube tutorial and did consider the interfacing technique but I have used it before and am not too good at producing a result where the interfacing is completely invisible so I resorted to machine applique because I am very familiar with my machine stitches and have used the applique stitches many times. Here are my results -


and together, with February's blocks,

When I started this BOM, using old shirts and some solids I had in mind that I might used the odd patterned shirt but as I see the blocks grow I absolutely love the look of the solids together - I have never before made a quilt just using plain fabric, maybe it's after making a couple of very scrappy projects, but I am fast becoming a convert.

I was obviously in the mood for patchwork last month because I made a few blocks for Siblings Together - those of you previously in my classes will recall making quilts last year for this worthy cause. Perhaps you'd like to join in again this year? Nicky has asked for a different couple of blocks this year and instead of raking through my scraps I used some larger leftovers and made these co-ordinating blocks.


We have quite a special family holiday coming up and so I thought some holiday stitching might be the order of the day, or month...........

Matching backpacks for Grandma and Ava,

The big one, mine, was made from old jeans with lining and pocket from a horded Kaffe shot cotton - after an inner argument along the lines of "you've had it for two years, use it!!"
The little one, was made from two of Ava's daddy's old shirts. Merida was stitched out on my Janome embroidery machine from a purchased pattern.
The backpack pattern is a very old one that I have had for years, by Bethany Reynolds.

The small person also had a holiday purse crafted for her holiday pennies.........


And there is just one more item that has been made but it needs a few extras added before I can show it off here...............

Other holiday planning usually involves a little EPP for me and this year I have decided to do a small Lucy Boston project. A couple of years ago a book of Lucy Boston's quilts arrived in the post from an old friend, a totally unexpected gift. She had been visiting the Manor at Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire and thought of me.
I have been aware that one of the quilts in the book has become a very popular EPP project on the internet but noted that my friend had mentioned another as her "favourite" so I thought it might be an idea to go forward with that and try making a panel of LB keyboard patchwork, mostly made up of octagons.
I was really pleased to source octagonal templates and freezer papers from Pelenna Patchworks and they do little charm packs in shapes too. Great service as well.


Wasn't too sure about the orange, as I hadn't really chosen my main fabrics. Then one day when I was tidying my room............the fabrics just called to me! 


I got this lovely Cotton & Steel fabric from Helen in a recent destash - perfect!!
And to go with it? A lovely black Paisley -shirt!!

Since taking this photo I have stitched all the fabric onto the papers but have yet to make my mind up on the colour for the background squares, the tiny little squares that will peek through from behind. Leaning towards green. Of course!!

As I am about to begin a new EPP project, I am relieved to report that I have finished an old one, at least the EPP bit.


I think this has been a long time in the making, I wonder what it will end up as........................?

In a recent visit to friends in Edinburgh I had to snap their hall floor, don't know why I've never done it before. Maybe a quilt of the future?

Enjoy your week. 







Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Love is in the Air

I do have quite a few sewing project to share but I am just popping in tonight to share with you a new pattern launch.

As so many of you know, I retired from my P&Q classes last year and it has been in my mind to work through some of my class projects, adapting them as patterns, suitable for online sale.

So this first one to be added to my Etsy pattern stable is Love is in the Air. It started out life as a personal, quilted wall hanging to celebrate my own Silver Wedding way back in 2005.


I went on to make a second for another Silver Wedding before presenting it as a class workshop and it was one that became very popular over the years.
So now I have been working hard to adapt it for a wider audience. The 11 page pattern includes templates for appliqued hearts and optional foundation pieced blocks. Essentially, the pattern will take you to a finished quilt top but does have fabric requirements that will allow you to progress through to layering and quilting stage. The little quilt mesures approximately 34" x 33"
You will also find ideas and diagrams that show how this delightful wall hanging can be adapted to include 30 hearts, or even 40 hearts, so if you have a special celebration coming up in the family any time soon, maybe this is the pattern for you. 


Friday, 24 February 2017

Practising Proper Patchwork

Back so soon I hear you say, and it's not even March! Goodness me.

Thank you for the lovely comments on my last post - unfortunately several commentators (?) is that the right word, are no-reply bloggers which means I can't reply and that makes me a bit sad. I like to reply when someone takes the trouble to leave a comment. Especially these days as comments are as rare as hen's teeth.

So if you have commented here and haven't had a reply from me, why don't you have a look at this blog post and check out your settings.

Meanwhile, I have been in a bit of a patchwork mood this last couple of weeks. I spotted a post on Leanne's blog recently telling us about the Bella Skill Builder BOM. I was drawn immediately to the calm, uncluttered appearance of the quilt and it peaked my interest. The patterns will be published monthly on the Fat Quarter Shop's blog, free. The idea is to make the quilt from a palette of Bella solids.
Despite teaching P&Q for 12 years, I have never deluded myself that I am an expert and believe we all have skills to be learned.
So I have dived in but of course have  deviated slightly by deciding to finally start using my horde of shirt fabrics, mainly plain blues and whites. Along the way I will be happy to add from my regular stash of solids and I might even buy some if I have to. The first block was a kaleidoscope, made from a template, or a purchased ruler, but I opted to make a card template which worked fine. (I have always avoided template blocks so this was my first wee challenge). And I have to say I was pleased with the results of my blocks. I took a few progress shots along the way. I did go against the instructions in a couple of places when I decided to press two seams open, deciding that this would make the final seam less bulky.






More proper patchwork in my next post - I'm on a bit of a roll!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Deadline Smashed

Many moons ago I made this cushion for my son and his girlfriend when they were living apartment life in city centre Glasgow. I made it with a mix of Japanese textured cottons and Sweetwater's Road 15, one of my all time favourite ranges. The cushion fitted well with their modern style and I hatched a secret plan that this Road 15 print would be the basis of a future quilt..........perhaps a wedding quilt?? Who knew?
I had all but given up buying fabric from overseas and stuck to our LQS Kaleidoscope where I knew there was a good stock of this precious fabric. I also know that once a Moda line is gone, it's gone. So I invested in 6m of that particular vanilla print and stashed it away.


A happy engagement was announced back in May 2015 and I was then able to legitimately start planning a quilt. I had long planned something quite complex that involved a specialist ruler that had also been bought and stashed. But you know what - I decided that this couple would not necessarily be into complex patchwork. Their style is quite minimal with little frivolous touches. So I chose simple. I also decided that I wanted to Quilt As You Go and so designed something that lent itself to this. Instead of selecting more prints from the Road 15 line, I selected several single metre cuts from Jennifer Sampou's first Shimmer line - these are gorgeous, quite understated fabrics with just a wee bit of metallic interest in them. So all of these had been chosen for my original plan but I managed to incorporate them into my new simple plan. Another little hammer was thrown into the works.
The happy couple moved to the suburbs last Spring, and treated themselves to a new bed - and yes, you guessed it -super king - I groaned!! Definitely QAYG!!!
This was my final plan on EQ7, it almost seems too simple to have been planned but I did consider lots of options like big blocks, blocks with snowball type corners etc but opted for this.


So I made a start on it last year and have taken things pretty slowly. I made the Shimmer blocks first, eight, 18" blocks made up of 6" patches. Panels of Road 15 above and below these blocks plus a centre block made up a centre "quilt" that measures 54" x 94". The outer panels were just big pieces of Road 15 that had to be layered up and quilted bringing the full quilt up to a nice square 94".


I did straight line quilting, lots of it. The outer panels nearly felled me when I discovered slipped stitches and just knew this was the fault of having spray basted the long sections together. I didn't unpick, I just oversewed, reckon nobody will ever know, unless they read this, lol. I had quite a bit of fabric left when considering how to back this giant - I looked at Kaleidoscope again - they actually still have some Road 15 left in stock and Susan there was so very helpful. In the end I bought another Sweetwater in vanilla and some in black with a tiny white spot, to bind. And so I have, with careful placement, created a reversible quilt. I have machine embroidered a label in very subtle colours but won't show this here as it's a bit personal.

As far as QAYG goes, I reckon those of you unfamiliar with the technique would be hard pushed to spot where this has been done. For those of you who do use the technique, and especially ladies from my former classes - you might be interested to learn that when I folded the folded edge over to the right side, I used the machine blanket stitch to secure instead of straight stitching it down. I found this avoided the rather hard edge that I usually produce at this stage.

And lest you think I am sounding a little conceited, let me tell you about my binding. I bought black with a tiny white spot, made up yards and yards of binding. Then I decided the white looked.....too white. So I dipped the lot in a solution of cold tea, dried it, ironed it again and started, again, to sew it to the quilt. Not for the first time in my quilting life, I turned the last corner.....



Oops...........so I had to cut more, dye more, dry more, add it to the rest, with a 94" square quilt still attached.................

and all was well, finally. 

The wedding isn't until July so as the title of this post suggests, I reckon that is a deadline smashed.

Have a great weekend..


PS (Thanks to my quilting pals for holding this monster up yesterday for the photo shoot!!)






Thursday, 26 January 2017

Multi Use Mega Pinnie

Forgive me for pulling out the old Mega Pinnie, many of you will have one or have made one. It was something I taught a lot in classes and have gone on to offer for sale as a pattern.

When I taught, it used to give me such a kick to see all the different versions emerge as fabric choices gave each one a look of its own.

Here are some I made -

These two were by Lilian & Jenny.

And this one was Pat's.


Here is a huddle of them on display at one of our Open Days.

My pattern continues to sell in my Etsy shop and now and again a buyer will enter into correspondence with me, like for example, Becky, who lives in Texas. She really enjoyed making her first Mega Pinnie a few weeks ago and then thought of another use for it so went on to make another one.



All you have to do for this is to check the size of your pockets and just think how many husbands throughout the land could be kept happy forever................
..............but Becky didn't stop there. She is obviously a crafty lady, and went on to make a third version to house her tools for working with clay.

These are such good ideas and of course begin to make the old brain start ticking over with other uses for the Mega Pinnie. So I thought, why don't you leave me a comment with your new and fresh idea for using the MP. I shall read through the comments and choose the one I like best and reward the winner with a free digital copy of the pattern to make their own Mega Pinnie. Just a bit of fun really.
But do try to comment by Monday at 9pm UK time.
Meanwhile, my thanks to Becky for inspiring this blog post.






Monday, 23 January 2017

A Finished Top

So in my last post I might have suggested a finished top to show you and indeed I have such a beast - I give you, my Dog's Dinner.


I finished it about 10 days ago but waited for my lovely friends at my sewing group to assist with a photo. This quilt started life as the Today's Quilter Block of the Month, designed by Jen Kingwell. But, many months into the project it became clear that some of the required block numbers had led us a little astray and I found myself many blocks behind with the stuffing and momentum knocked out of me. That's when I went off piste a little. The centre of the medallion took on a different identity with a large block from my "collection" - it just needed a narrow border added to bring it up to the correct size. It had been pieced from a pile of HSTs given to me by a student many months ago along with some yardage which I decided to add into the remaining blocks that I had to do. The log cabin blocks that hug the corners of the centre panel were unpicked from a very old quilt top that had lingered in a drawer - I mentioned it in this post.
I had four 12" blocks to make for the centre positions on the outer rows and opted for simple nine patches. Almost as soon as I had cut and pieced them I wished I had cut the pieces just a little bigger and made them into Disappearing Nine Patch but that ship had sailed.
All that was left then was to make the four outer corner blocks and I knew I had planned to use Jo's Maple Leaf variation from her BOM currently running in Today's Quilter. I like the way they point outwards from each corner. The finished top measures 72" square.
I set out to make this a scrappy quilt using only fabric from my stash and this is exactly what I have done.
Despite my recent ramblings and reservations, I don't hate it, not sure if I love it. I think it might have cured me of scrappy. I enjoyed much of the process and am pleased to have completed it.
Not sure when it will transform properly into a quilt - I have just finished quilting and joining a 94" square monster and have been heard to mutter things like "I don't know if I have many more quilts left in me" but never say never eh?
Meanwhile, it's name - I shall free it from the shackles of Dog's Dinner.....as it's my first finish of 2017, I realise it is 19 years since I took up this craft so 19 it is. If it's good enough for Adele, it's good enough for me.

Have a good week folks.

PS. Lots of nice neutral Aurifil in stock

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Happy New Year

I last posted just before the Christmas madness overtook us and here I am, as if by magic, in the quiet aftermath.
Isn't it funny how we get caught up in the crazy supermarket frenzy, made worse somehow by the New Year holiday being so close to Christmas. Those of you, of a certain age, (coughs delicately) and living here, North of the border in Scotland, will recall the days when all the shops closed at New Year for THREE DAYS at least! I'm talking food shops. This instilled in us a siege mentality that weirdly still exists today, despite the fact that I discovered that supermarkets this year would be open throughout New Year, no holiday at all. I still sneaked an extra loaf into my trolley, just in case.

I had no turkey responsibilities this year so things were quite quiet Chez Bluepatch. I had extra encouragement to help me sew in the shape of a new sewing table. A kind friend tipped me off about a sturdy looking possibility in a local charity shop and I had a look, liked it, and it was delivered on 22nd December. My old table had become quite wobbly and this one is really solid, a little longer and wider so it just gives me more options for working.

I wasted no time getting to work on some sewing and spent a particularly pleasant morning a couple of days before Christmas.



Some of you may recall my Dog's Dinner BOM - what you see above is the dry run for the four outer corner blocks. Since this session I have almost managed to sew the blocks together, but not quite. Before long, I should have a Dog's Dinner quilt top to share............bet you can't wait.

Since New Year I have been making progress with a very important commission piece - I recently discovered Little Cotton Rabbits , a site with the most delightful knitted rabbits, teddies etc. I really wanted to have a go and offered to make one for my Grand daughter, warning her that it would take Grandma a long time. I gave her the choice of patterns and my heart sunk a little when she opted for the monkey, I thought it looked a bit tricky. I always claim to be a rubbish knitter, it's just not my first love, or my forte. But with this excellent pattern which is so explanatory and helpful, I did it.

She's actually quite tiny, and her accelerated progress caused great excitement, reaching its peak today after nursery. We have decided that Millie is a nice name for a monkey.

So, that is my first finish of the year, my next has to be the big wedding quilt, much done, not a lot to do.

In Aurifil news I am exploring the idea of concentrating my online sales on our favourite neutral shades.
For those of you attending Amanda's classes I will be popping in this week and next with my wee pop up shop and some fresh stock, so hope to see you there.

I'll leave you with an image of this beautiful Christmas gift I received from a kind friend from Down Under................










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